The Unit of Development Evaluation
of the Finnish Foreign Ministry held this evaluation seminar inviting Ministry staffs, NGOs, consultants and researchers. The trainers were “evaluation experts,” Oumoul Ba Tall and Jim Rugh.
, “Competition is high (in the development cooperation world) to receive funding. And thus expectation towards evaluation is high.” However, in the very complicated world as of now, evaluation of a single intervention particularly pertaining to impacts assessment has become extremely challenging. There was a lot of discussion on unrealistic TOR for an evaluation work: too big scope and demands of commissioners (often donors) on the evaluation, as well as too short timeframe and too little budget. Often TOR is not negotiated between the commissioner and the consultant(s). But it was recommended to discuss on it and negotiate so as for the evaluation work to be realistic and feasible.
was to start the evaluation process already in the beginning of an intervention in the form of baseline study and continue with mid-term evaluation and then finally the end evaluation, if possible also post-evaluation. The Finnish evaluation works are mostly done only in the end of interventions, which was suggested to change.
More participatory approach
involving local consultants was also discussed, as hitherto Finnish evaluation works are mostly externally done by consultants from Finland. Both internal and external perspectives would be beneficial for an evaluation work.
I was very concerned
about the seminar discourse which did not properly involve marginalized population including persons with disabilities. I raised my hands for a few times to point out the importance of human rights-based approach with the principle of non-discrimination so that marginalized population would also be included properly both in development cooperation activities and evaluation works. However, the trainers replied to my comments by saying, “Yes, special study and special intervention focusing on marginalized population are also good.” Disaggregated data collection and specialized interventions are obviously important, but they are not sufficient. My point was to mainstream persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups in practice of development cooperation as a whole. At least in small group discussions, seminar participants in the same group took my ideas seriously, which was encouraging. When I talked with Aira Päivöke of the Evaluation Unit of the Ministry over a lunch, she was also aware of the fact that implementation of a human rights-based approach in the Ministry has still been largely missing, though DPOs are filling the gaps at the grassroots level and the development policy is based on human rights. She claimed that disability sensitiveness is missing in between grassroots and policy within the Ministry. To improve this situation, the Ministry is calling for an advisor specializing in marginalized population. It’s so dynamic and interesting time to live in Finland particularly in terms of international cooperation in the field of disability!