Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV)

IDEV logo

About IDEV

Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) is an independent and impartial unit dedicated to enhancing the development effectiveness of the African Development Bank in its regional member countries through:

  • independent and instrumental evaluations
  • oversight over self-evaluation processes and products, and
  • proactive engagement in evaluation partnerships and knowledge-sharing activities.

The three objectives of IDEV’s independent evaluation

IDEV’s core objectives are:

  • to contribute to enhanced learning
  • to provide a basis for accountability, and
  • to promote an evaluation culture within the Bank and regional member countries.

Evaluation Activity

IDEV undertakes evaluations of completed projects, sector policy reviews, country assistance evaluations, business process reviews, and other studies relevant to the Bank’s policies, operations, and results. Additionally, IDEV is also tasked with the oversight of the overall evaluation system within the Bank; the internal and external communication of evaluation findings and lessons; and the promotion of evaluation capacity development.  

Lessons Learned

IDEV’s evaluations provide compelling lessons for the direction of future projects. They highlight the factors that have been shown to determine success across sectors (infrastructure or water for example), themes (e.g. poverty or health), regions (projects across borders) or countries. Lessons learned also identify the issues that most commonly hinder outcomes and highlight the areas where specific attention in programme design and implementation can produce the most positive impact.


IDEV enjoys organizational and behavioural independence; it is protected from outside influences and pressure and avoids conflicts of interest.  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, endorses and recommends IDEV’s work program and the associated budget to the Board of Directors for approval, and ensures that the department’s budget is ‘ring fenced’ and insulated from management influence.


Over 25 Years of Evaluation Heritage

Evaluation at the African Development Bank dates back to 1977; however, the first evaluation unit was not set up until 1980, when a special division was created within the Bank’s Research and Planning Department

A short history of evaluation at the African Development Bank:

  • 1980: First evaluation unit set up
  • 1987: Unit becomes the Operations Evaluation Office, reporting to the President
  • 1993: The Board of Directors assumes oversight of the evaluation function through the General Audit Committee
  • 1995: The Operations Evaluation Office is upgraded to a department
  • 1996: The Operations Evaluation Department is placed under the umbrella of the newly created Committee on Operations and Development Effectiveness
  • 2002: The function of the Operations Evaluation Department is reviewed and a Presidential Directive defining the department’s mandate is issued
  • 2007: The Board of Directors approves the independent evaluation policy and functional responsibilities of the Operations Evaluation Department
  • 2012: OPEV undertakes a self-assessment that forms the basis for a revised Independent Evaluation Policy and a new Independent Evaluation Strategy, and informs the Rolling Work Programme for 2013-2015 
  • 2013: The Independent Evaluation Strategy 2013-2017 is adopted by the Board of Directors, and an update to the rolling Work Programme is presented for 2014-2016
  • 2014: OPEV changes its name from operations evaluation to Independent Development Evaluation (IDEV) to better reflect its independence and its mandate


Guided by our approved Work Programme, IDEV normally applies a four-part process:

1. The Approach Paper

The “Approach Paper” (sometimes referred to as Concept Paper or Issues Paper) identifies and conceptualizes the objective of the evaluation study, how it will be designed, and how the outcomes will be shared. This is distributed for constructive comment and feedback from all interested parties.

The Approach Paper sets out the issues, expected focus and outcome, key questions and evaluation methods. It covers data collection methods and sources of information and includes the proposed schedule of activities, resource requirements, and plan for communication and dissemination of findings and recommendations.

In addition to being distributed to all parties directly involved in the evaluation, the Approach Paper is also publicly disclosed and posted on the website. This helps to ensure that the evaluation process is transparent to all stakeholders, and helps coordinate their inputs and participation according to a realistic timetable.  

2. Conducting the Evaluation

As an independent unit, IDEV has open access to any documents and information it requires and operations staff cooperate actively in the evaluation process. 

To improve the quality and credibility of evaluation reports, a peer review process is used, starting from the evaluation design and continuing on through to reporting. In certain circumstances, IDEV uses consultants, for example: in areas where it lacks expertise or has insufficient capacity; when it needs innovative evaluation methods and approaches; or when it needs input from independent external evaluators/peer reviewers.

3. Evaluation Field Mission

Field missions help to guarantee the quality and impartiality of the evaluation evidence. They often include participatory methods, which help to ensure that the views from the ultimate beneficiaries of each project are taken into account.

Triangulation and validation of data generated through different sources is used to compare the information gathered with the opinions of key informants and information from other secondary sources. Evaluation missions present and discuss a “Debriefing Note” containing preliminary field mission findings in order to ensure accuracy and appropriateness with evaluation stakeholders and development partners.

4. The Evaluation Report

IDEV shares the draft report with Bank Management and the recipient country’s authorities, implementing agencies and co-financiers before publishing its findings. 

Our Evaluation Reports section can be searched by projects, countries, sectors and policies, providing an invaluable knowledge resource for development professionals, evaluation staff, the Bank and its partners and stakeholders.