More evidence-based development policy in just a few clicks

  • KFW Development Bank

© Tim Samuel / Pexels

Evaluation department of KfW Development Bank presents IDEaL app

Everyone is talking about evidence-based development policy. Often the problem is not a lack of available evidence, but rather a lack of its systematic use. Institutional learning plays a key role in making measures as evidence-based and thus effective as possible. This requires two components: available evidence and its easy accessibility.

The work produced by the independent FC Evaluation Department has been fulfilling the first requirement for more than 20 years. Once completed, Financial Cooperation projects are systematically analysed in ex post evaluations based on OECD-DAC criteria. Since the introduction of an annual, representative random draw of completed projects in 2007, more than 1,100 evaluation results have been compiled in a structured manner.

To make use of this enormous wealth of evaluation findings for all interested parties, the FC Evaluation Department asked itself how allowance could be made for the second requirement – “evidence-to-practice” – and what properties a modern knowledge bank should have. The answer? Its contents should be focused and user-friendly, i.e. easily accessible and intuitive to understand, digital and interactive, and searchable with flexible filters.

Individually tailored evaluation findings at the click of a button

This is how IDEaL was created – an interactive app that stands for “Interactive Database for Evaluation and Learning” and contains more than 1,100 evaluation results from 2007 onwards. This knowledge, which was previously difficult to find across all PDF versions of the reports, has now been digitalised. This enables users to find exactly the evaluations they need, for instance, to plan new projects in just a few clicks.

Using the free text search function, users can enter keywords and then filter reports by region, sector and type of executing agency. For example, when a new energy project is designed in Uganda, experiences from similar projects in the country, region or even other places around the world can be integrated. What is more, the most important lessons learned from every evaluation have been processed separately and can be accessed directly without needing to open the entire document. In addition to a brief description, a summary or the entire report is available at the click of a button.

Search window in the IDEaL app

IDEaL therefore offers targeted, uncomplicated and individualised answers to questions such as: What are the possible factors for the success or failure of certain interventions? Do projects fare better depending on whether the project-executing agency is a state agency, multilateral organisation or NGO? Which indicators were used? Which targets were formulated for the implemented projects? The app is continuously updated with new results so that users have direct and fast access to constantly growing data.

Lessons Learnt and project data from an evaluation in the IDEaL app

How the app works

1) Who is IDEaL for?

In a general sense, it is for the general public in terms of transparency of results. In particular, however, for anyone working in or interested in development cooperation in the broadest sense. Specifically, the app can be beneficial for the following groups of people:

For anyone involved in project management: To quickly find out what lessons have already been learned in a given sector and/or region, and what risks the projects are typically exposed to. This makes it possible to consider the factors that contribute to the success or failure of new projects.

For anyone who needs an executive summary: To quickly find information on completed and evaluated projects and flagship projects, and to read up on average scores in a country, particular sector, etc. These may be employees of organisations active in development policy or anyone interested in the impact of development cooperation.

The application is also interesting for researchers: To systematically use existing FC knowledge, for example, to be able to produce cross-cutting analyses more precisely in relation to learning experiences.

2) What can IDEaL do?

A search window can be used to freely enter one or more FC-relevant search criteria, for example “rural electrification”, “waste water”, “protected areas”, “climate”, etc. IDEaL then displays results from evaluations that are relevant to the search term: For each evaluation displayed, this includes – in addition to the country, title and project number – the first three key lessons learned and a brief description of the financed interventions.

The results can be narrowed down using filters such as country, region, sector, core theme, type of executing agency and overall evaluation (evaluation rating). Alternatively, a search can also be performed using only the filters.

A dynamic analysis view shows the average evaluation ratings for the search results currently displayed: Overall assessment and ratings for the OECD-DAC criteria of relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impacts and sustainability. For all projects evaluated from mid-2020 onwards, the newly introduced OECD-DAC criterion coherence is also shown.

In the detailed view, information such as further lessons learned, targets and indicators, including their achievement at outcome and impact level, can also be viewed. The complete evaluation report can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking on it.

3) Where does the data in IDEaL come from?

IDEaL contains all ex post evaluations by the FC Evaluation Department since 2007, the year in which an annual, informative and statistically representative grab sample of all completed projects was introduced. The contents of all ex post evaluations were coded according to a predefined variable structure and entered in a database.

Video of the new IDEaL app


This is a partner contribution of KfW Development Bank. Find more news from KfW Development Bank here.