Woman at radio station (Photo Jeroen van Loon)

'Dutch Development Cooperation is effective and efficient'

In the context of the Dutch subsidy system MFS II (Co-financing II) unique evaluations have been carried out worldwide with regard to the results of developing programmes of 64 Dutch development organisations. The work was unique in its complexity and dimension: the work of dozens of Dutch NGOs has jointly been evaluated. These evaluations were carried out by independent academic researchers and give an evidence based confirmation that Dutch development cooperation is efficient and effective.

The study focussed on researching effectivity, efficiency and relevance of the programmes that were financed by MFS II. Besides, one wanted to learn from and to improve the interventions and to test and learn about (new) evaluation methods. All parts of the study received due attention. Dutch and international researchers studied over 200 projects between 2012 and 2014, among which dozens of programmes that focused on international lobby. The programmes were studied for four thematic areas: contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), capacity building of organisations, capacity building of civil society and the effects of international lobby & advocacy programmes.

Conclusions

The complete study has provided ten comprehensive reports with important results, useful findings and insights. Most importantly, programmes have positively  contributed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and lobbying and advocacy programmes have clearly influenced the agenda of policy makers. With regard to capacity building positive results have been achieved: organisations have improved their capacity to manage their own affairs successfully. Researchers also found positive results with regard to capacity building of civil society, though it must be said that this is the area hardest to measure given the limited time.  “We should be proud of what we have achieved. The Dutch development organisations have done a great job that is not only effective, but has been executed very efficiently. We may call ourselves a top sector indeed”, according to Bart Romijn, Executive Director of Partos, the Dutch branch organisation for development cooperation.

Keep learning

Despite some restrictions that were involved during the process, such as a very limited time of two years in which it was difficult to draw conclusions with regard to social changes, the study has provided many relevant conclusions and lessons learnt that we can put into practice. This research has shown that being involved with partners and programmes over a long time period is an important success factor. Though efficiency is ingrained in the DNA of development organisations, it still needs explicit attention so that choices and their consequences become clear. These lessons learned will have to be applied as much as possible when continuing the programmes. “The approach of the MDGs appears to be successful and is therefore reason to adopt them when working on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It has also turned out that a long term strategy is best for achieving greater effectivity of lobby programmes,” according to Lucia Helsloot, evaluation manager at Partos.

The Council for Collective Evaluations and NWO WOTRO

Sixty-seven Dutch development organisations, joined in 20 alliances, received subsidies through the Co-financing System II  (MFS II) and have thus been able to contribute to poverty alleviation in developing countries. Important condition of the Ministry at awarding subsidies was that the work would be evaluated. The Ministry also presented certain requirements to the way the evaluations were carried out. In order to meet these requirements the best way they could, 19 alliances joined forces in the Council for Collective Evaluations  (Stichting Gezamenlijke Evaluaties (SGE). To manage the studies the SGE in its turn contracted NWO – WOTRO, and they sent out a call in research land to submit proposals. The studies that were carried out by different research teams, were coordinated by NWO - WOTRO. 

Reports

The reports are published at partos.nl (English)

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