Frequently Asked Questions


What are the functional responsibilities of Independent Development Evaluation?

Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is responsible for the independent evaluation function of the Bank. IDEV’s mission is to help the African Development Bank to foster sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Africa, through independent and influential evaluations.

IDEV undertakes, independently of the Bank’s management and operations complexes, performance evaluations of completed and selected ongoing projects, programmes, policies and strategies and assesses their outcomes and impact on the economic and social development of regional member countries. It also conducts thematic evaluation studies, sector policy reviews, country assistance evaluations and ad hoc reviews as may be directed by the Board of Directors. It disseminates the lessons generated from independent evaluations and assists complexes in incorporating the lessons of experience by organising technical workshops and seminars.

It additionally assesses the adequacy of the operational evaluation system and ensures that the lessons of experience drawn are used to improve the quality and effectiveness of Bank Group assistance strategies, policies, processes and procedures.

IDEV plays an advisory and catalytic role in assisting regional member countries and national or regional evaluation associations in their efforts to develop their own monitoring and evaluation capacity.

IDEV selectively organizes evaluation workshops and seminars in collaboration with the African Development Institute (EADI), and in partnership with other development agencies and evaluation entities.

It also cooperates and exchanges best practices with bilateral and multilateral development agencies, with a view to harmonising evaluation methods and practices and fostering collaborative evaluation of country assistance strategies, sector policies, and development projects and programs.

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Does IDEV’s work have any impact on the Bank’s activities?

Yes. Recent examples of ways in which independent evaluation has strengthened the work of the Bank include the following:

▪  Evaluation of the Assistance of the African Development Bank to Fragile States, 2012: Following the evaluation, the Bank set up a taskforce on its engagement in fragile regional member states. The “Fragile States Facility – Semi-Annual Information Note”, states: “the Task Force draws heavily from the findings of the OPEV Report...” and: “In preparation for the ADF-12 [African Development Fund] Mid Term Review, OSFU [Fragile States Unit] is reviewing and updating the Bank’s strategy for engagement in fragile states. This review coupled with the OPEV external evaluation of the Bank’s assistance to fragile states will strengthen the focus of the Bank’s engagement in delivering appropriate programming in regional member countries and regions still experiencing fragility.”

▪  Quality of Project Results Reporting at the AfDB, 2008–2009: The findings of this report informed the ongoing revision of the Project Completion Report (PCR) template for public sector operations. Some of the deficiencies in the quality of PCRs – highlighted by the evaluation – were addressed in the revised PCR template. These include the need to (i) ensure consistency with international definitions, (ii) improve the assessment of risk and sustainability, (iii) strengthen lessons learning, and iv) enhance the analysis of cross-cutting and fiduciary issues.

▪  Mainstreaming Gender Equality: A Road to Results or a Road to Nowhere? (2011): This evaluation synthesis provided input for the design of the Bank’s first gender strategy. The department jointly managed – with the Results and Quality Assurance Department – a review of gender equality results of AfDB-funded public sector operations, 2009-2011. This review also informed the design of the Bank’s first gender strategy. In 2013/2014, the Independent Evaluation Department collaborated with the Results and Quality Assurance Department and with the Office of the Special Envoy on Gender to foster ways of mainstreaming gender into evaluations and into the Bank’s operations.

▪  Evaluation of Policy-Based Operations (PBO) in the African Development Bank, 1999-2009 (2011): This evaluation helped shape the current Bank Policy on policy-based operations. The Policy addresses the key short-comings in the Bank’s use of PBO instruments, as revealed in the independent evaluation, notably: (i) the existence of disparate procedures and guidelines on PBOs, hence the need for a consolidated Policy, (ii) the lack of genuine multi-sector approach to PBOs, (iii) insufficient guidance from Country Strategy Papers on the role of PBOs, and (iv) uncertainty about audit and fiduciary risk requirements.

▪  Independent Evaluation of the Bank’s Decentralization Strategy and Process, 2009: Following IDEV’s Independent Evaluation of the Bank’s Decentralisation Strategy and Process in 2009, Bank Management set up a Decentralization Road Map Task Team to prepare an action plan in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the decentralization process.

▪  Evaluation of the Joint Africa Institute, 2008: This evaluation informed the Bank’s current Capacity Development Strategy. In 2007, the Bank’s Independent Evaluation Department, at the request of Bank Senior Management, undertook an independent evaluation of the Joint Africa Institute (JAI). The overall objective of the evaluation was to provide Management with a valid basis for appropriate decisions about the future of the JAI. “The results of the workshop, along with the internal evaluation of EADI and the external evaluation of JAI by OPEV formed the basis for a preliminary draft discussed by Bank Directors on June 10, 2009.” Bank Group Capacity Development Strategy, 2010

▪  IDEV’s Independent Evaluation of Project Supervision at the African Development Bank, 2001-2008, highlighted key issues affecting the Bank’s supervision systems and processes. Bank Management is addressing these through such measures as the revamping of the entire system, including the electronic management information system.

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What is the Independent Development Evaluation’s Mission?

IDEV’s mission is to help the African Development Bank to foster sustainable growth and poverty reduction in Africa through independent and influential evaluations.

Such evaluations assess the Bank Group’s policies, procedures and operations, review performance, and report on results in order to draw useful lessons and promote accountability. IDEV will ensure effective communication of evaluation results to the Bank’s stakeholders.

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How is IDEV independent?

To ensure that IDEV is organizationally and behaviourally independent of management, the Evaluator-General reports directly to the Bank’s Board of Directors through its Committee on Operations and Development Effectiveness (CODE).

CODE maintains oversight of IDEV’s work and endorses and recommends to the Board of Directors for approval, IDEV’s work program and the associated budget. IDEV’s budget, once approved by the Board, is ‘ring fenced’ (i.e. not subject to management influence or control).

IDEV’s evaluation reports are submitted to CODE together with a formal response by management. Management does not impose restrictions on the scope, content, conclusions and recommendations of evaluation reports. CODE takes key reports for discussion, considers the evaluation lessons and recommendations presented, along with the management response and decides on any action to be taken.

In addition, IDEV’s independent evaluation work is guided by internationally accepted principles for the evaluation of development assistance, in particular, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee  (DAC-OECD) evaluation guiding principles and the good-practice standards issued by the Multilateral Development Banks’ Evaluation Cooperation Group  (ECG).

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When was IDEV established?

Evaluation at the African Development Bank dates back to 1977, though the first evaluation unit was not established until 1980, when a special division was created within the Research and Planning Department. This division became a free-standing evaluation office in 1987 attached to the President and was upgraded to the status of a department in 1995 (Operations Evaluation Department, OPEV). In 1993 the oversight responsibility for evaluation was shifted to the Board of Directors under the General Audit Committee and later placed under the oversight of the Committee on Operations and Development Effectiveness created in 1996. In 2002 the department’s mandate was further clarified by a Presidential directive. In 2007 the Board approved the first independent evaluation policy and the evaluation department’s functional responsibilities. In 2014 OPEV changed its name to Independent Development Evaluation

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How are IDEV’s work program and budget determined?

IDEV’s work program is a three-year rolling plan that allows IDEV to accomplish its mandate and adapt the evaluation strategy and priorities to changes in the institutional environment. It also responds to the changes in development thinking and innovations in evaluation methods.

IDEV develops its three-year rolling work program based on consultations with the Board, senior management in the operations complexes, and the Office of the Chief Economist. It includes evaluations of projects and programmes, sector and thematic evaluations, country and regional strategy evaluations, corporate evaluations, joint evaluations, and capacity development and knowledge management activities for effective feedback, dissemination and learning.  

The authority to select programmes, policies or themes for evaluation and the formulation of the work programme rests with the Evaluator-General, under the oversight of CODE and approval by the Board of Directors.

The evaluation budget is determined on the basis of the approved work programme. The IDEV work programme is then prioritized in the light of human and budget resources available.

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Does IDEV evaluate all completed projects?

No. The IDEV 2014-2016 approved Work Programme sets out that IDEV will undertake 50 PCR Validation Notes in 2014, followed by 30 each in 2015 and 2016. 25 XSR Validation Notes will also be part of the work programme each year. IDEV will also start conducting a small number of field-based Project Completion Report (PCR) Validation Notes in 2015 and is planning to gradually increase the field based validations to at least 50% of the cohort in the outer years (2016-2018).

In addition, IDEV will undertake one project cluster evaluation each year. The cluster evaluations will provide a building block for thematic and sector evaluations as well as the development results component of the comprehensive evaluation.

IDEV seeks to ensure an appropriate balance between project level evaluations and Sector, Thematic, Country and Corporate level evaluations. It also aims that evaluations support the priority areas set out the Bank’s Strategy for 2013-2022: At the Center of Africa’s Transformation:

  • Infrastructure development
  • Regional economic integration
  • Private sector development
  • Governance and accountability
  • Skills and technology
  • Fragile states
  • Agriculture and food security
  • Gender

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What is the difference between self-evaluation and independent evaluation at the AfDB?

Self-evaluation is primarily conducted by country operations/sector departments under management oversight. It is the foundation of the evaluation function. Self-evaluation processes are used to measure the achievements and results of operational activities including projects, grants and technical activities and culminate in the preparation of a Project Completion Report (PCR) at the completion of implementation of each of these activities. Self-evaluation is extended to cover country strategies, advisory and analytical work as well as Bank sector/thematic policies and strategies through the provision of country strategy completion reports, performance assessment reports of advisory and analytical work, and implementation updates of sector policies and strategies.  

Independent Evaluation is defined as an evaluation carried out by entities and persons free of the control of those responsible for the design and implementation of the development intervention. It consists of a systematic and objective assessment of an ongoing or completed project, programme or policy, its design, implementation and results. The aim is to determine the relevance and fulfilment of objectives, development efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability.

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