About the Special Evaluation Office


The Special Evaluation Office (SEO) is responsible for the evaluation of the Belgian Development Cooperation. The office plans and carries out the evaluations in cooperation with the Belgian development actors and the partner countries. 

The SEO is an external evaluation office under the administrative authority of the President of the Management Committee of the FPS Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. This status guarantees its independence in the choice, implementation and dissemination of its evaluations. 

Every year, the SEO publishes a report containing the results of the evaluations. It sends this annual report to the Minister of Development Cooperation, who can comment on it. The annual report is then discussed in Parliament. The Special Evaluator presents the results and recommendations of the evaluations at a session of the Committee on External Relations. 

Evaluation helps to account for the use of public funds, to draw lessons to improve Belgian Development Cooperation, and to support decision-making. 

Read our annual reports here in Dutch or French 

 

Note: the evaluation is not an audit. 
The audit focuses on respect for the regulations and procedures. The evaluation stresses the practices and the achievement of results and attempts to explain why certain interventions work well and others do not. 

 

Tasks 

The Special Evaluation Office has six statutory tasks, laid down in the Royal Decree (RD) of 25 February 2010, and its amended version of 25 April 2014. 

  1. Planning, execution and follow-up of evaluationsThese evaluations may concern any form of aid, by any instrument, organisation or channel financed or co-financed by the Federal State.  
  2. Accountability to the Parliament and the public opinion on the policy pursued and the use of funds. 
  3. Drawing conclusions from evaluations and formulating recommendations that can be used optimally to improve or adjust development cooperation policy. 
  4. Participating in international joint evaluations and in activities to support the evaluation capacity in partner countries. 
  5. Provide technical support to the Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD). 
  6. Harmonise and certify the evaluation systems of the actors of the Belgian Development Cooperation. 

 
The six evaluation criteria 

The evaluations are carried out according to the six evaluation criteria for development cooperation established by the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).  

  • relevance 
  • coherence 
  • effectiveness 
  • efficiency 
  • impact 
  • sustainability 

Relevance: is the intervention doing the right things? 
The extent to which the intervention objectives and design respond to beneficiaries, global, country, and partner/institution needs, policies and priorities, and continue to do so if circumstances change. 

Coherence: how well does the intervention fit? 
The compatibility of the intervention with other interventions in a country, sector or institution. 

Effectiveness: is the intervention achieving its objectives? 
The extent to which the intervention achieved or is expected to achieve its objectives and its results, including any differential results across groups. 

Efficiency: how well are resources being used? 
The extent to which the intervention delivers or is likely to deliver results in an economic and timely way. 

Impact: what difference does the intervention make? 
The extent to which the intervention has generated or is expected to generate significant positive or negative, intended or unintended, higher-level effects. 

Sustainability: will the benefits last? 
The extent to which the net benefits of the intervention continue or are likely to continue. 

More information on the DAC criteria?  
Read our 2020 Annual Report in Dutch or French, or consult the OECD website. 

 

Evaluation criteria

 

Collaborations 

The Special Evaluation Office cooperates with various actors, such as policy makers (government, Parliament), government departments, especially DGD (Directorate General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid), the Belgian Development Agency Enabel, the Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO) and the federations of non-governmental  and institutional actors (ngo-federatie, ACODEV and Fiabel). 

The Special Evaluation Office is a member of various national and international organisations to increase the quality of evaluations and promote the sharing of information and knowledge. 

  • OECD DAC EvalNet - Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development – Development Assistance Committee 
  • MOPAN – Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network 
  • EUHES  - European Union Heads of Evaluation Services 
  • DACH group - network of German-speaking evaluators 
  • VEP - Vlaams EvaluatiePlatform 

The SEO also cooperates with peers in international organisations (bilateral and multilateral) to share knowledge, carry out joint projects and conduct joint evaluations. 

 
History
 

The Special Evaluation Office has been operational since May 2004, but its origins lie in the scandals which occurred in the late 1990sThe establishment of an independent evaluation service was recommended by the Special Parliamentary Committee on Development Cooperation, in 1997.  

Two years later, major reforms were undertaken within the Development Cooperation. It was decided to pay more attention to monitoring (financial control) and evaluation in order to avoid ineffective use of Belgian Development Aid. These reforms form the basis of the current institutional structure of Belgian Development Cooperation. 

In 1999, the Belgian Administration for Development Cooperation (ABOS) was split into an administration, namely DGIS (later DGD), and an executive service, namely the Belgian Technical Cooperation (since 2018 Enabel). The first Special Evaluator for International Cooperation was also appointed, the start of an independent evaluation.   

In 2003, the Special Evaluator got the support of a full-fledged team: the Special Evaluation Office of the International Cooperation. Since the merger of the internal evaluation department of the DGD and the SEO in 2010, there is no longer an internal evaluation function within DGD. However, DGD does still have a 'results' department.  

In 2014, the SEO was officially named the Special Evaluation Office of the Belgian Development Cooperation.   
 

Timeline 

RD 4th of May 1999 
Appointment of the Special Evaluator for International Cooperation 

RD 17th of February 2003 
Creation of a Special Evaluation Office for International Cooperation  

RD 4th of April 2003 
Appointment of a Special Evaluator of the Special Evaluation Office 

RD 25th of February 2010 
Creation of a Special Evaluation Office of the International Cooperation (merger between internal evaluation service of the DGD and the SEO) 

RD 25th of April 2014 
Amendment of the RD of 2010 
Name change: the Special Evaluation Office of the Belgian Development Cooperation 

RD 8th of June 2016 
Appointment of Cécilia De Decker as Special Evaluator for a mandate of at least six years