Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency committed to improving food security around the world. Our three main goals are: eradicating hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; eliminating poverty while catalysing economic and social progress; and improving the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations.
FAO is headquartered in Rome, Italy, with 1 800 professional staff members and an annual budget of just over USD 1 billion. FAO’s decentralized network includes five regional offices, nine subregional offices and 80 country offices.
A key objective of FAO’s Office of Evaluation (OED) is to measure the effectiveness of development interventions for policy and programming purposes, as well as to promote greater accountability in the use of resources and in achieving results. Within this context, OED provides evidence-based feedback to member countries, donors and FAO management through an independent evaluation process, enabling stakeholders to improve the relevance, coherence, impact and sustainability of future projects and programmes.
OED is responsible for ensuring the relevance, effectiveness, quality and independence of three types of evaluations: thematic evaluations; country evaluations; and evaluations of individual programmes and projects. In addition to informing programming priorities, the findings of these evaluations contribute to FAO’s results-based management system, helping to optimize institutional effectiveness.
OED employs an average of 33 staff at FAO headquarters, with an annual budget of USD 5.2 million.
Promoting a culture of evaluation in-house
OED promotes a culture of evaluation by continually improving the relevance of evaluations for all stakeholders, and by reaching out to users and audiences beyond those immediately involved in the evaluation process. Instead of providing mostly passive information in the form of reports or briefs, OED facilitates opportunities and events for active learning such as workshops and conferences. These activities are complemented by improved evaluation dissemination strategies, including findings and recommendations tailored to the specific needs of each stakeholder group, as well as participation in evaluation oriented discussion groups and fora.
- Charter for the FAO Office of Evaluation, 2010
- Independence, quality assurance
- Director: 1
- Evaluators : 25
- Support staff : 4
- Information and communications staff: 3
Evaluations produced per year by central unit and by decentralized units (where applicable)
- 43 evaluations in 2015
Key resource: web link/key document here
OED is located inside the FAO Secretariat structure, reporting to the Director-General and to the Council through the Programme Committee, which is composed of one Secretary, one Chairperson and 12 Permanent Representatives of Member Countries, who serve on a two-year rotational basis.
The Office receives guidance from the Council and its Programme Committee and consults with the internal Evaluation Committee, which includes four Assistant-Director Generals of FAO departments and regional offices; two Deputy Directors (Operations and Knowledge); two Directors (Office of Strategic Planning and OED); and one legal counsel. OED is solely responsible for the conduct of all evaluations (with the exception of auto-evaluations), including the selection of evaluators and the terms of reference. It is thus operationally independent within the Organization.
Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning
In consultation with FAO senior management, OED selects thematic and strategic evaluations based on a systematic review of past evaluations to identify gaps in coverage. Relevant emerging topics are also considered, as well as suggestions from FAO Governing Bodies. OED’s proposal is then reviewed by the Evaluation Committee and approved by the Programme Committee.
Country evaluations are identified based on a number of factors, including requests by the Programme Committee by country, socio-economic indicators or the size of FAO's programme. Projects and programmes with budgets over USD 4 million, as well as smaller projects of particular interest, are evaluated at least once during the project lifetime. In terms of timing, country evaluations take place when FAO is about to end a Country Programming Framework cycle and has to start preparing a new one.
Evaluations of individual programmes and projects are usually funded from extra-budgetary resources. The results of such evaluations are used directly by the stakeholders, including managers, donors and others directly involved, often at country level.
Stakeholder involvement and promoting national evaluation capacity development
Stakeholders are involved throughout the evaluation process – from design and planning to implementation and follow-up. The evaluation team selected by OED often includes professionals from the concerned countries. Whenever appropriate, especially for country evaluations, OED seeks the involvement and support of Governmental evaluation units as well as other national evaluation institutions and partners.
OED has developed the following measures to ensure that the evaluation function in FAO corresponds to the needs of Members and conforms to UNEG norms and standards: i) peer review of major evaluation reports; ii) biennial review by a small group of independent peers for conformity of evaluation work to best practices and standards; and iii) independent evaluation of the evaluation function every six years.
The results of the biennial review and independent evaluation of the evaluation function are compiled in a report for the Director-General and the Council, together with recommendations from the Programme Committee.
Use of Evaluation
Each evaluation is followed by a management response, including management’s appraisal of the overall evaluation, comments on individual recommendations, and an operational plan for implementing the agreed recommendations. OED then prepares a follow-up report to ensure compliance with the recommendations. These responses are reported to the Governing Body and the Director-General and are publicly available on OED’s website.
FAO is committed to collaborating with sister agencies on joint evaluation and synthesis activities. In the past biennium, for example, the agency participated in the following:
OED conducted with the World Food Programme (WFP) a joint evaluation of food security cluster coordination in humanitarian action. As a result, the consolidated appeals and response plans were made more strategic, comprehensive and inclusive. The evaluation found that additional support and capacity are needed for coordination at national and global levels.
The Joint Evaluation of Renewed Effort Against Child Hunger and Undernutrition (REACH), commissioned by the Offices of Evaluation of FAO, UNICEF, WFP, WHO and DFTAD Canada, assessed the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability of REACH, as well as the REACH secretariat, processes and coordination arrangements, governance and partnerships at all levels. The evaluation also examined cross-cutting issues such as gender and equity, participation, national ownership, use of evidence, progress monitoring and reporting.
In late 2013, OED and IFAD’s Evaluation Office conducted the Joint Synthesis Report of FAO/IFAD Engagement with Pastoral Development, covering the period of 2003-2013. The purpose of this evaluation was to: i) create and share awareness and knowledge of the respective agencies’ work and comparative advantage on pastoral development; ii) increase effectiveness, including widening the possible impact of evaluation work; and iii) provide a platform for reflection aimed at improving the agencies’ future approaches to engaging with pastoral development.
PROMOTING LEARNING AND EVALUATION SKILLS
FAO participates in inter-agency learning events several times each year. Past topics have included gender analysis in evaluations of agriculture and food and nutrition security; evaluating humanitarian action; and new methodologies for evaluating complexity.
Along with other Rome-based agencies and CGIAR’s Independent Evaluation Arrangement, FAO will participate in a technical seminar entitled “Enhancing the evaluability of Sustainable Development Goal 2: How can we evaluate progress towards achieving SDG2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture?” The specific objectives of the seminar are to: (i) share lessons learned on the evaluability of MDGs and other partnership initiatives of similar scale (for example the Paris Declaration); (ii) jointly review key challenges for evaluation in relation to the post-2015 development agenda in general and SDG2 in particular; and (iii) identify concrete steps for Rome-based agencies towards building the evaluability of SDG2.
Associate Evaluation Officer, FAO
Director, Office of Evaluation, FAO
Evaluation Analyst/Associate Evaluation Manager, FAO
Office of Evaluation
Evaluation Manager, FAO
Office of Evaluation
Evaluation Office, FAO