German Institute for Development Evaluation

Developing instruments for country portfolio reviews (CPRs) (concluded)


The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) uses a three-pronged approach involving country strategies, programmes and modules with a view to supporting structural change processes to achieve sustainable development in the partner countries. Particularly with regards to implementation of the 2030 Agenda and support for the partner countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), country strategies play a key role in steering bilateral development cooperation (DC).

The OECD Development Co-operation Peer Reviews on Germany's development cooperation also call for country portfolio reviews (CPRs) to be introduced with the aim of adopting a more evidence-based strategic focus in the country strategies than before and to guarantee the competitiveness and legitimacy of German DC in the long term. In view of the strategic importance of CPRs for evidence-based development policy, DEval included the development of CPR instruments in its evaluation programme back in 2016 and will be consulting closely with BMZ to develop a set of instruments for CPRs and to generate proposals regarding procedure. The development of CPR instruments is designed as an exploratory process in which DEval coordinates its activities with BMZ on an ongoing basis. Questions, data collection and analysis methods and implementation processes are all developed, reviewed and adapted during the development process. In this context, the process draws on previous German and international experience and tests new approaches. DEval is currently at the data collection stage of developing instruments. The first case study was carried out in Kenya at the beginning of 2018, to be followed by a second case study in Mongolia in June. The report is scheduled to be published in the second quarter of 2019.


The aim of a CPR is to take an analytical look at the relevance of an existing country portfolio 'from the outside' ('Are we (still) doing the right thing in the specific country context?'), taking account of the points of view of the German Government, partners and implementing organisations. CPRs are designed to encourage decision-makers to think more about the overall portfolio and to take stock of progress made so far. Thus by taking a critical look at the portfolio, its potential and/or challenges can be highlighted to enable BMZ to take decisions on adapting or realigning the portfolio based on evidence.

Goals and potential research issues

The process of developing the CPR instruments is supported by various methods and data sources:

Evaluation of the literature and documents: An ongoing evaluation of various documents is part of the process. In particular, a structured assessment of existing BMZ approaches and of practical experience by other key donors is conducted when reviewing the portfolio.

Interviews with experts: DEval has set up a reference group (RG) for the process of developing instruments. The views of the RG experts and the points of view of other knowledge holders on various topics and at various points in time are recorded, for example using (semi-)structured individual and group interviews and at workshops.

Case studies: The key element in the development process involves conducting two exploratory case studies, in which approaches for CPRs are tested and adapted. Kenya was decided on for the first case study, and Mongolia for the second one.

Evaluation workshops: Evaluation workshops are held at different points during the process, attended by BMZ representatives and, if appropriate, other stakeholders. The workshops are designed to allow participants to reflect on and refine the instruments and the approach together on the basis of the experience to date. The workshops are designed to allow participants to reflect on and refine the instruments and the approach together on the basis of the experience to date.


September 2017 – January 2018: Develop instruments

January and February 2018: Kenya case study

April – September 2018: Refine/adapt the instruments

June 2018_ Mongolia case study

October – December 2018: Finalise the instruments and submit report

April 2019: Publish the report

As at: June 2018