External evaluation capacity

External evaluation capacity refers to the ability of entities outside the government, such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academic institutions, and private sector firms, to conduct thorough and high-quality evaluations and to contribute to capacity-strengthening activities.

External evaluation capacity contributes to a robust ecosystem outside of government with the requisite skills, experience, and resources to conduct evaluations that can complement and enhance the national M&E system.

This capacity is useful for a number of reasons and purposes:

  • Third-party evaluations: Governments often outsource evaluations to external parties to ensure independence, bring in specialised expertise, or manage workload. 

  • Independent evaluations by civil society: Even when not commissioned by the government, evaluations carried out by civil society can contribute to a culture of transparency and accountability, providing a check on government performance.

  • Capacity strengthening: The skills and expertise required for robust monitoring and evaluation may be developed through various means, including partnerships with development agencies, internal training within CSOs, or academic programs.

  • Ability to scale up M&E activities: Understanding the existing capacity is important for planning. If a government plans to scale up its evaluation activities, it needs to know whether there is a sufficient market of capable evaluators to meet this increased demand.

External capacity outside of government entities can include actors such as:

  • Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): These may include NGOs, community-based organisations, and advocacy groups that often have on-the-ground insights and can provide valuable evaluations from a societal perspective.
  • Academic institutions: Universities and research organisations have methodological expertise and can contribute to robust evaluations and research into monitoring and evaluation.
  • Private sector firms: Consultancies and private research firms can offer professional evaluation services.
  • External consultant: An individual contracted to provide professional evaluation services.


The Twende Mbele Project has funded studies to look at the supply of evaluators and demand for evaluations in Benin, South Africa, and Uganda.

In South Africa, many professional service providers do not employ permanent evaluation staff – rather, they form evaluation-specific  associations with individuals with the required qualifications, expertise, and experience. There is therefore a pool of people, some evaluation specialists and some sector specialists, that can be drawn on by evaluation consultancies. Many of them work for a range of different evaluation consultancies. Their interest in carrying out evaluations often depends on factors such as who the client is, the track record of the client in terms of the way in which it manages evaluations, the quality of the ToR, and whether the budget is realistic. Nevertheless, it is possible to conclude that to date, supply has generally been adequate to meet demand, apart for some exceptions for highly specialised evaluations. A lag and increase in demand and in supply should be expected, due to the time required for capacity building.

A study on impact evaluation skills in Sub-Saharan Africa found that some countries (notably South Africa, Kenya, and Uganda) have a strong supply of impact evaluation specialists, although this is concentrated in a few sectors, mostly health.

In Mexico, various CSOs have started doing evaluations themselves. This contributes to intensifying accountability and pressure on government to perform. Furthermore, there have been seminars and workshops where evaluations commissioned by CONEVAL coincide with evaluations done by CSOs.

In the north-east region of Brazil, there are several universities that have been conducting evaluations of public policies: Federal Universities of Ceará (UFC), Bahia (UFBA), Pernambuco (UFPE) and Paraíba (UFPB). Within these academic institutions, research centers and labs have also been created to conduct evaluations:

  • M&E Study Lab (LEMA), at UFPB
  • Public and Economic Policy Evaluation Group (GAPPE), at UFPE
  • Results-based Management Center (CGPR), at UFC

In addition, UFC has recently created and is offering the Professional Master’s Program in Public Policy Evaluation (MAPP).

Source: Global Evaluation Initiative (2022); Twende Mbele (2022); Lázaro (2015)


Examples of CSOs in Mexico doing evaluations

Global Evaluation Initiative (2022). MESA Guidance Note: Diagnostic Tool for a Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.globalevaluationinitiative.org/mesa

Lázaro, B. (2015). Comparative study on the institutionalisation of evaluation in Europe and Latin America (Study No. 15 Series: State of the Art Area: Public Finance). EUROsociAL Programme. Retrieved from http://sia.eurosocial-ii.eu/files/docs/1456851768-E_15_ENfin.pdf

Twende Mbele. (2022). A catalyst for knowledge sharing. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://twendembele.org

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