Evaluation: the International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice vol:18 issue:1 pages:129-150
European Evaluation Society Conference location:Prague date:2010
Capacity development support of Southern partners has become a corner stone of the work of many Northern development NGOs. While there is a growing consensus in the aid sector about the importance of capacity development (CD), the support base amongst the general public and policy makers for these kinds of activities is weak. This is linked with the observed difficulties of demonstrating the relevance and effects of CD efforts. In 2008 the Belgian Special Evaluation Office commissioned a large-scale evaluation focusing on CD support within NGO partnerships, including 31 partnerships of 21 Belgian NGOs in six countries. Important methodological challenges emerged, related to (1) the large diversity in actors, projects, themes and contexts that had to be assessed, (2) the dynamic nature and non-linearity of CD processes, (3) and the implicit character of NGO practice in this area. This article argues that the eclectic use of different frameworks - including more recently developed ones related to the nature of CD, support for CD, and organisational change - supports the production of comprehensive evaluation results.