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Building the Evidence Base for Post Project Evaluation

This report to the Faster Forward Fund compares findings from eight end-of-project and subsequent post project evaluations. Given their rarity, there is little real evidence about project impact on long-term sustainability so this helps build the evidence. 

Highlights from the whole report include:

  • Finding suitable projects for this review was difficult because so few post project evaluations are done, fewer are publically available, and fewer still had comparable final evaluations and included local voices.
  • Agencies that fund post project evaluations offer a range of reasons for doing so: to learn, to promote a success, to inform replication or scale, to provide justification for future funding, to promote accountabilities.  However, many funding agencies consider post project evaluation a luxury or not necessary. JICA and OECD are notable exceptions in this regard.
  • The review highlights the range of methods that have been used in post project evaluations, and point to the advantages of planning for sustainability measurement from the outset of the project.
  • The cases reviewed in the study highlight the (sometime dramatic) difference between the anticipated trajectory of a project, what is happening as the project ends, and what actually continued, was adapted, ceased or changed course after close out. 
  • Taxonomies, knowledge management about evaluation, data retrieval/ retention, analysis, use and dissemination are elements of sustained impact evaluation that require attention.
  • Little documentation is available about how post project evaluations have actually informed and influenced organizational learning, sectoral dialogue or future programming.

Post project evaluations shed particularly interesting light on what emerged post-project that was entirely due to the efforts and resources of participants and partners after project investments stopped. More on these Sustained and Emerging Impacts Evaluations (SEIEs) at Better Evaluation.