Understanding the underlying rationale for the "Big 5" DAC evaluation criteria helps us to determine how they might be adapted for the current development context.
Many development institutions subscribe to what has come to be known as the DAC evaluation criteria. Specifically, there are five criteria – relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, and sustainability; in short R/E/E/I/S – that underpin most evaluation systems in international development.
Evaluation questions get framed around these criteria, and reports get written up using this language. But, many an evaluation struggles to implement these criteria in sincerity. Others are accused of using too much jargon as they report faithfully on these criteria. And often, the evaluations tend to leave readers with unanswered questions.
After nearly 15 years of adhering to the DAC evaluation criteria, is it time for a rethink? The Rethinking Evaluation series is dedicated to unpacking and debating evaluation criteria by which we judge success and failure, and whether they are fit for the future.