German Institute for Development Evaluation

German aid from a partner perspective (Phase I) (concluded)


If development cooperation (DC) is to lead to structural impacts rather than only short-term effects, it needs to mesh clearly with the processes of politics and reform in the recipient countries. This is true whether it concerns direct support for policy setting, a more advisory role, or a contribution to implementation. Establishing this orientation towards partners as the foundation for effective development policy is closely connected to the principles of ownership and alignment – guiding themes in modern development cooperation. After all, the core message of the principle of alignment is that in order to be effective, DC needs to strongly orient itself towards the interests of partner country actors relevant to developmentally beneficial reforms, who are to be found in government, administration, parliament and civil society. In this regard, the principle of ownership assumes that these actors can better assess the needs and challenges of their societies than external actors and that they possess the legitimation needed for the reform processes. For these reasons, the ownership principle also includes the commitment from the partner countries to base their reform designs and implementation on the public interest of their society. Furthermore, consideration of the Sustainable Development Goals means this emphasis on reform and the principle of ownership will continue to characterise DC in the future.

Knowledge Gaps

With this background in mind, it is astonishing to discover there is almost no available evidence on the experiences in developing countries of state and civil society actors with bi- and multilateral DC actors when it comes to designing reforms, advising policymakers and implementing those reforms.

How do government, public administration and civil society in developing countries perceive the contributions to reforms made by individual funders? What experiences do you have with different funders in regard to agenda setting, policy advice and reform implementation? What strengths and weaknesses do you think those funders have, based on your experiences in different fields of policy that have been the subject of reforms? Additionally, if we consider the possible ideas from external actors as a creative competition for ideas and concepts, as well as their implementation, then the deficiencies in systematic, cross-border and intersectoral evidence described above is even more astonishing.

Object of Study

Appraising the multitude of perspectives of central stakeholders is to be seen as one of the cornerstones of this evaluation. Individual or group interviews, focus group discussion, workshop and standardised surveys are therefore used in order to understand the perceptions and points of view of internal (managerial staff and collaborators) as well as external stakeholders of Engagement Global (from BMZ, civil society, the so called ‘Länder’, communes and the private sector. Furthermore, selected programmes of Engagement Global will be further analysed in the context of so called ‘programme case studies’. Engagement Global will also get the opportunity to formulate its self-perceptions with regard to selected questions from the four major thematic areas.

The evaluation will lead to conclusions and recommendations addressed to Engagement Global as well as to external stakeholders, especially the BMZ.

Aim of Study

The aim of the study is to investigate the following hypothesis-based core research questions on the perception of German DC in the period 2004-2013 from the perspective of the partners:

• How useful was the policy consultation felt to be that the named German actors offered? Did individual and/or country-specific factors have an impact on this?

• In the experience of the respondents in the developing countries, how significant was the influence which the named German actors had on the decision to pursue reforms (agenda setting)? Are there individual and/or country-specific factors which have an impact on these responses?

• From the partners’ viewpoint, how useful were the named German actors with regard to the implementation of reforms? Did individual and/or country-specific factors have an impact on this?

• In comparison to other funders, did the named German actors have strengths or weaknesses in regard to their contributions to agenda setting, policy consultation and implementation - in general or in specific sectors (e.g. environment, governance, social)?

• In which countries or regions of the world do German DC actors possess specific strengths or weaknesses with regard to the perceived usefulness of their policy consultation, influence on the reform agenda and support for implementation of reforms?

Road Map

• The concept for the evaluation was presented at the end of April 2015.

• Preliminary research results were presented to the reference group in September 2015.

• The Final Report was published in 2016.

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