RE: Developmental evaluation | Eval Forward

Dear Mustapha,

Thank you for a contribution that raises an interesting issue for the development of this Community of Practice.

I share your hope that EVAL-ForwARD will serve practitioners, to promote evaluations that are useful for refining development interventions. On the other hand, I would be more nuanced about the place, in our exchanges, of more theoretical contributions, which I do not believe should be restricted to an academic community: on the contrary, our platform of exchange plays an important role in that it makes it possible to build bridges between academics and practitioners. Of course, we do not all have the same time to digest the more abstract inputs, but the opportunity is there.

As for your substantive question on developmental evaluation, you raise an interesting point, which applies to so many other concepts: that of differences of interpretation. How many times, when reading an evaluation journal, did I tell myself that the author did not have the same understanding as me, on a definition, an approach...

If I share in my turn, what I believe characterizes Developmental Evaluation, over more ‘traditional’ evaluation or M&E, my interpretation is that Developmental Evaluation brings particular  value in cases where the subject to be evaluated is still too uncertainly identifiable  (e.g. because it is complex or innovative) to allow an evaluation on the basis of already formulated indicators or models. The value add of DE would thus be to accompany the intervention whilst it develops and test its effectiveness according to indicators that the evaluator can develop as the intervention is invented, so as to provide a real-time feedback, and so despite the constraints linked to uncertainty. So it seems to me that there is a real place for this approach, which I perceive as more exploratory - perhaps less mechanical - than the approaches based on change theories known ex-ante. In particular, because often the interventions we evaluate are placed in contexts involving many factors, and in cases where interventions evaluated seek to propose innovative solutions.

I hope that this interpretation will enrich the set of contributions on this subject and that the whole, although of a somewhat theoretical nature, can feed the reflections and practices of the members of this network.

Best regards,