Partner-led evaluation for policy research programmes: A thought piece on the KNOWFOR programme evaluation

This paper discusses the strengths, challenges and appropriateness of a partner-led evaluation approach, drawing on the experience of the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID)-funded International Forestry Knowledge programme, ‘KNOWFOR’. 

This resource and the following information was contributed by Stuart Raetz.

Authors and their affiliation

Tiina Pasanen (Overseas Development Institute), Stuart Raetz (Clear Horizon Consulting), John Young (Overseas Development Institute) and Jess Dart (Clear Horizon Consulting)

Key features

In this paper, a ‘partner-led evaluation’ is where the implementing partners play a leading role in the evaluation design, data collection, analysis and reporting. An evaluation facilitator coordinates and supports activities, and a quality assurer helps to increase rigour, validity and quality. This evaluation approach is most appropriate when there is a strong focus on internal learning and capacity-building. It is more likely to increase partners’ sense of ownership and, in turn, uptake of results. While the approach may be more prone to biases, such as assessing one’s own work more favourably, it is possible to introduce measures to mitigate these potential biases and increase impartiality.

How have you used or intend on using this resource?

Findings from this resource were also presented at the United Kingdom Evaluation Society (UKES) and at the Australasian Evaluation Society (AES) conferences in 2018. It is hoped that this paper will encourage other donors, implementers and evaluators to consider this approach.

Why would you recommend it to other people?

Partner-led evaluation has been endorsed by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) as an approach to evaluation that has potential to fostering shared learning in evaluation between donors and implementing partners. Despite this endorsement 'partner-led' evaluation has not been widely used by evaluators.  This paper provides practical insight into the challenges and opportunities afforded by 'partner led' evaluation based on a case study of a global programme where it was used. 


Pasanen, T., Raetz, S., Young, J., and Dart, J. (2018). Partner-led evaluation for policy research programmes: A thought piece on the KNOWFOR programme evaluation. Working paper 527. Overseas Development Institute (ODI). Retrieved from: