Evaluability Assessments are an Essential New Tool for CGIAR Managers
Independent Advisory and Evaluation Service
The evaluation report has been finalized, recommendations have been made, the findings have been presented to management and funders, and then … nothing happens. For one reason or another, the evaluation failed in some critical aspect that would have made it useful for stakeholders. As experienced evaluators with almost 50 years between us, this is close to a worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, it is something we know happens more often than is generally acknowledged. The good news is that this scenario is avoidable. By conducting an evaluability assessment (EA), evaluations can become the management, accountability and learning tools they were intended to be.
What is an evaluability assessment?
During an evaluability assessment, judgements are not made about an intervention and what has been achieved but about the possibility of making such judgements and their likely utility. This involves an assessment of the clarity of an intervention’s design, the verifiability of the results, stakeholder’s expectations of an evaluation and potential institutional constraints on the evaluation. An EA can be a very formalized process, led by an independent assessor, or it can be something much more modest, conducted in-house by CGIAR staff. The one thing an EA is not is a one-size-fits-all tool! Traditionally, an EA is undertaken in preparation for an evaluation, but more recently, an EA has become part and parcel of a professionalized evaluation approach that can be conducted at any time in the intervention cycle. Evaluability assessments serve as a quality assurance mechanism of an intervention, including a health check on its monitoring, evaluation, learning and impact assessment (MELIA) components related to performance and impact
Evaluability assessments are nothing new; in fact, EAs have been used for over 35 years.¹ In other organizations, evaluability assessments are well-established practice. Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group (WBG) and many others have mainstreamed EAs into their evaluation workstreams.