A series of seven lunchtime conferences took place from February to June 2019 at the External Cooperation Infopoint of the European Commission (EC) in Brussels. The cycle of conferences shared knowledge, case studies and innovative methodologies on how to conduct evaluations in fragile or conflict-afflicted states where traditional field missions are not possible due to security risks during in-country travel.
The conferences targeted EC services staff including DG DEVCO, DG NEAR, ECHO and FPI as well as EC development partners and professional evaluators. Each session had an average of 40 participants, 260 online streaming viewers, and 338 online views of the recordings, reaching a peak of more than 800 views.
The cycle of conferences can be viewed online and present innovative techniques such as the use of geo-spatial data, surveys administered by non-specialised local enumerators, phone/tablet voice or data surveys, location tracking and communication through online platforms. Guest speakers came from a variety of organisations including the European Evaluation Society (EES); International Development Evaluation Association (IDEAS); Overseas Development Institute (ODI); Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), and Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP).
The Evaluation Support Service (ESS) organised the conferences with administrative and logistical support from Landell Mills. Landell Mills is currently implementing the ESS service contract, a 4-year project (2017-2020) with a total value of €3,813,320, to support the Evaluation Unit at DG DEVCO in ensuring substantive use of robust evaluation findings in decision-making processes, both at HQ and in EU Delegations.
The EU's development cooperation with countries in situations of conflict and fragility, where around half of the world's poor live, is one of the key priorities of both EU development and foreign policy over the last decades. The cycle of conferences highlights the EU’s commitment to adapting evaluation methods in fragile contexts and hard-to reach areas to ensure that evaluation can take place as part of EC Project Cycle Management.