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The Special Evaluation Office (SEO) is responsible for certifying the evaluation capacity of all Belgian development actors financed with federal funds.
The 2013 Belgian Development Cooperation Law stipulates that these actors are responsible for the evaluation of their interventions. The certification of their evaluation systems and an ex-post evaluation will ensure the quality of these systems.
In 2017, the SEO conducted a pilot study and tested the certification tool. The chosen approach is primarily focused on learning and continuous improvement.
The instrument for certification, the Evaluation Capacity Building (ECB) Initiative, consists of several documents, namely the self-assessment manual, the assessor's manual and the study report.
In concrete terms, the instrument leads to the awarding (or not) of an "ECB certificate" to individual organisations, by the SEO. This certificate confirms the quality of the (external) evaluation system, of the evaluation practice and the commitment to improvement of an organisation.
To date, more than three quarters of the recognised organisations have committed themselves to this exercise and have made substantial efforts to integrate the evaluation function more strongly and to improve its quality.
To give organisations that did not yet apply or were certified with reservations another chance, a final certification round was held at the end of 2020 for the period 2017-2021.
For the period 2022-2026, the SEO foresees a new round of certification. This will be a simplified exercise, allowing organisations that are already certified to renew their certificate. The improvements made by these organisations are thereby examined. Organisations that did not apply or were certified with reservations can apply for certification by following the full procedure.
It should be noted that the previously obtained certificate remains valid until the award of a new certificate (if any). The conditions pertaining to the preparation and submission of a certification application can be found in the self-assessment manual.