New Trend: Results AND Efficiency
Development effectiveness continues to be a powerful driving paradigm for gauging the quality in international cooperation. No externally funded implementing organisation can afford to downplay the over-arching importance of results and achievements against the goals and targets that we find today in any given project and programme. Results frameworks can vary from being pertinent, realistic and well articulated compasses to theoretical, idealist or administrative tools to justify a development intervention. In most cases however, the moment will come when organisations have to report on delivery against the reference of the results framework.
Measuring the effectiveness and impact in development has thus witnessed a boom since the launch of the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness a good decade ago. While the overall resources spent on development have also substantially increased over this decade, more investments were undertaken in tracing impact and even the sustainability, no matter how complex and demanding they were regarding the establishment of solid evidence.
Recently however, and contrary to ever expanding global wealth, both the ODA as well as private resource flows for development cooperation from foundations or charities have come under more pressure for various reasons. It appears that development organisations will have to further the match between highest performance at limited costs. The cost-effectiveness perspective which has not been the predominant angle in establishing accountability in the past, will press higher on the political agenda in the future. Accordingly, evaluation specialists will have to trace the determining factors of development efficiency more rigorously and to ask: how relevant and lasting were the results at what costs?
This more pronounced efficiency-element calls for socio-economic professionalization in development evaluation. At the same time, we have learnt over the years that statistics and apparently hard evidence do not always withstand against a deeper analysis of the primary data at the roots. Hence, efficiency in development is also a conceptual construct, just like with effectiveness and impact. What matters down the line is to argue with traceable assumptions and logically reproducible chains of arguments.
| Martin Sommer
Managing Consultant devolutions Ltd.