Rethinking planning and evaluation

This research is funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT)

and conducted at the Centro de Estudos Africanos

Researcher Ana Catarina Larcher das Neves Santos Carvalho


Interventions for development seek to bring about positive change in the “recipient” societies.  These interventions are becoming increasingly more complex because they exist in an environment with multiple agents and interventions. Complexity also arises from the way these interventions are structured, from the procedural and reporting requirements and from the type and diversity of activities they undertake, In addition, they aim at influencing extremely complex realities in African societies, which are undergoing accelerated processes of change resulting from the interaction of internal and external drivers of change.

For development interventions to be effective, it is necessary to that they are based on an understanding of these complex processes of change. Evaluation, linked with planning and re-planning, is an important process, which can be used as a learning tool to better understand societal change and the impacts of interventions.

The subject of this research is the sub-system of evaluation/planning in agricultural development interventions and its goal is to conduct a critical reflection of this sub-system.

To reach this goal, the following objectives were set:

–          To analyse the dynamics of agricultural change in Africa, looking at development interventions and how they have impacted on agrarian societies.

–          To analyse planning and evaluation models used for development interventions identifying their strengths and limitations.

One of the key questions to discuss is how are evaluation tools helping to understand the complex realities in which interventions operate and which dimensions are they not shedding a light upon. The objective is to look at the planning/evaluation tools which can be used in the various evaluation process stages and to investigate how they can contribute to a comprehensive evaluation of change.

One of the deliverables from this analysis will be a toolbox for planning and evaluating agricultural development projects.

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