Using humanitarian evaluation for change: Insights from humanitarian practitioners

This guide, written by Alistair Hallam and Francesca Bonino for Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP), outlines a framework for strengthening the capacity of humanitarian evaluations. The main aim of the paper is to motivate and encourage the discussion of ways to address the poor or ineffective use of evaluation.


"It is hoped that this study will contribute to strengthening the capacities of individuals, teams and organisations to become better-informed commissioners, users and consumers of evaluative information and knowledge. The three main approaches to this are to:

  • highlight the key issues around improving use of evaluation of humanitarian action
  • present a framework for analysing and some practical suggestions for improving the capacity of agencies to fund, commission, support, carry out, and meaningfully use humanitarian evaluations
  • further illuminate the issues by providing case studies and insights from evaluators that explore what has worked in practice." (Hallam and Bonino,2013)


  • Capacity Area 1: Leadership, Culture, Structure And Resources 20
    • Ensure leadership is supportive of evaluation and monitoring 21
    • Promote an evaluation culture 24
      • Decrease perception of evaluation as criticism and evaluators as critics 27
      • Use both internal and external personnel to carry out evaluations 30
      • Re-brand evaluations 32
      • Be flexible and have fun 34
      • Get incentives right 35
    • Create organisational structures that promote evaluation 38
    • Secure adequate resources – financial and human 40
  • Capacity Area 2: Purpose, Demand and Strategy 43
    • Clarify the purpose of evaluation and articulate it in evaluation policy 44
    • Increase the demand for evaluation information 47
      • Strive for stakeholder involvement 49
      • Ensure evaluation processes are timely and integral to the decision-making cycle 52
    • Develop a strategic approach to selecting what should be evaluated 55
  • Capacity Area 3: Evaluation Processes and Systems 59
    • Strengthen pre-evaluation processes 60
    • Improve the quality of evaluation 61
      • Limit the focus of evaluation 62
      • Involve beneficiaries 62
      • Quality assurance 64
      • Engage in peer-review of the evaluation function 66
    • Disseminate findings effectively 67
    • Strengthen follow-up and post-evaluation processes, including linking evaluation to wider knowledge management 72
      • Ensure there is a management response to evaluations 75
      • Ensure access to and searchability of evaluative information 76
  • Conduct meta-evaluations, evaluation syntheses, meta-analysis and reviews of recommendations 78


Hallam, A. and Bonino, F. (2013) Using Evaluation for a Change: Insights from humanitarian practitioners. ALNAP Study. London: ALNAP/ODI. Retrieved from: