A Self-Assessment Online Tool for National Evaluation Diagnostics and Strategising Options in the SDG Era

The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of UNDP has developed a self-assessment online tool for national evaluation diagnostics and strategising options. Get an overview of the self-assessment tool in this evaluation view.
Illustration of the four modules in the self-assessment tool. The development of the Tool, its piloting, and rollout initiatives are funded by Norad.
Indran Naidoo (Director), Arild Hauge (Deputy Director), and Vijayalakshmi Vadivelu (Senior Evaluation Advisor) work in the The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of UNDP.


The 2030 Agenda calls for a systematic follow-up and review of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Have national evaluation capacity considerations changed with the adoption of the SDGs? In terms of the development issues, while there are no major changes, the SDGs promote a more holistic approach to development. It reinforces that development processes cannot be pigeonholed into isolated projects/interventions if the goal is sustainable development. With the focus on the poorest and most vulnerable, whether it is regions or individuals, ‘leave no one behind’ needs specific emphasis.  National evaluations in the current context, therefore, should help capture this to some extent. Multiple factors have an effect on to evaluation capacities; use, development data, and institutional systems.
Responding to the demand for national evaluation capacities, the Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) developed an Online Self-Assessment Tool for Diagnosing National Evaluation Strategy Options (hereafter Tool). The Tool can be accessed at undp.org.
The Tool details action points to be considered in developing a country’s evaluation framework for the national development strategies and the SDGs, and will facilitate identifying various steps in developing a country-level evaluation framework. The development of the Tool, its piloting, and rollout initiatives are funded by Norad. 

About the tool

The main objective of the Tool is to facilitate a national evaluation framework for the development strategies, including SDGs, and to inform country-led evaluation processes and systems which are central to the follow-up and review of the SDGs. The Tool enables its users to:
  • Unpack national evaluation requirements through a series of steps to assess key evaluation bottlenecks and specific needs;
  • Determine pathways and parameters for strengthening national evaluation or sectoral evaluation;
  • Outline action points to be considered in developing a country’s evaluation framework.
The Tool is primarily for use by government entities, lending itself for application at different levels of the government. The Tool is flexible and can be used by the federal government, regional/state government, as well as the local governments. The approach is non-prescriptive to account for institutional or other development context differences. The Tool helps to set realistic expectations. 
Modules for diagnostics and strategising
The Tool has four modules to help unpack evaluation requirements, through a series of steps to assess key evaluation bottlenecks and specific needs and develop context-specific evaluation parameters. Module 1 and 2 deal with diagnosing existing capacities and enabling environment, while Module 3 and 4 deal with exploring strategy options. 
Module 1 facilitates understanding and building and enabling an environment for national evaluation systems. It covers; assessing the need for evaluation, mapping evaluation needs of the stakeholder, taking stock of existing national evaluation policies and institutional arrangements, identifying paths that would facilitate and accelerate national evaluation capacities, collaborating with constituencies with comparable objectives, and building constituencies and partnerships.

Module 2 enables taking stock of national prioritisation of the SDG framework (in parts or more comprehensively), mainstreaming of the SDGs in ministries, departments, agencies, and at sub-national levels, balancing sectoral priorities vs an integrated agenda, and setting up and empowering coordination mechanisms. An understanding of this is critical for moving forward on national evaluation planning.
Module 3 provides instruments for strengthening and institutionalising evaluation capacities. The Module presents key steps in developing a national evaluation system or sectoral or subnational evaluation system. The emphasis is on enabling ownership throughout the process, leveraging the process for capacity-development, awareness-raising, and information-sharing. The Module entails updating mandates and policies, assigning responsibilities and resources for evaluation, mainstreaming evaluation at the ministerial, sector and subnational level, assigning responsibilities and resources for evaluation capacity development, use, follow-up of evaluation, promoting core development values in evaluations (GEWE, Human Rights), developing a national evaluation community of practice, and strengthening data and statistics.

Module 4 outlines measures to integrate SDG principles and approaches in evaluations. Integrating the SDG specificities into evaluation practices will be critical. The 2030 Agenda outlines key programming principles such as sustainability, resilience, equality, partnerships, and leave no one behind. The evaluation systems should capture progress on this.  The module clarifies new expectations to the country, to ensure the integration of appropriate evaluation approaches, questions, and values into evaluation plans and methodologies to capture progress on SDG principles.
Using the Tool and the essential process
Commitment at the highest level in the government/ institution(s) is critical during the diagnosis and setting of evaluation milestones. Using the online Tool is not about ticking the boxes to assess capacities and strategising options. The process of carrying out a national evaluation diagnostic matters just as much as its ultimate findings. A mandatory process is outlined for carrying out diagnostics and strategising.  

It is easy to use the Tool with a user-friendly interface. The dashboard will be accessible through login. Once a profile is created, the information put into the Tool is confidential.  Each Module will produce a Summary of Responses based on responses to each individual parameter. The Tool entails two Report Cards, one on Diagnostics, and the other on Strategy/measures adopted; and generates a capacity score.  The Report Cards not only provide an assessment of the current situation, they also help to set the benchmark and enable the user to track their progress.

Challenges in sustaining the process

Evaluation diagnostics and strategising exercises by itself does not guarantee a design of evaluation systems or ensuring efforts to strengthen national development and SDG evaluations. While the Tool enables strategising for different policy and capacity contexts, the commitment of resources, and identifying the use of evaluation in strengthening development policies and processes, is critical. Similar to other institutional strengthening, evaluation capacity strengthening, and the use of such Tools, cannot be externally driven, but should be nationally led. The governments therefore should ascertain the level and depth of evaluation capacities they wish to prioritise, and the Tool facilitates this process.
Published 19.06.2019
Last updated 19.06.2019