An evaluability assessment (EA) is an assessment that helps to check whether a programme is ready for an evaluation and, if so, how the evaluation should be designed to ensure maximum efficacy and to allow evaluators to measure the programme’s effect accurately. But the assessment goes further than merely providing information on whether or not a programme can be evaluated.
An EA is an important step in determining which elements of a programme are open to further evaluation and which are not. These are especially important for non-profit organisations whose activities and goals are more often quite broad. An assessment can be undertaken jointly by the evaluator, programme staff, evaluation sponsor and other relevant stakeholders.
This is an especially important aspect of development in South Africa, a country that lacks data. This gap can mean that programme goals are not realistic or lack clarity and there are no logical links between activities and objectives. Such inconsistencies between plans and what actually occurs results in evaluators not being able to determine which activities of the programme were implemented as planned and measure the true impact of the programme .
As a result, evaluations undertaken under such circumstances are limited and waste resources as well as programme staff and stakeholders’ time trying to evaluate a programme that is not ready for a comprehensive evaluation.
Evaluation effectiveness is improved by the EA process in three ways:
1) by stating, plainly and concisely, the programme’s measurable actions,
2) by clearly articulating goals in a realistic and measurable way, and
3) by making a rational link between the program activities and envisioned goals
It is also important that the environment is favourable to conduct an evaluation and that key stakeholders are all in agreement for the evaluation to take place. The stakeholders need to agree to use the results of the evaluation to improve the programme. There has to be positive feedback from the programme staff, who are willing to provide support in undertaking an evaluation.
So if one or more of the above-mentioned conditions are not met, the program is deemed unevaluable until further clarification and reassessment can be provided.
An EA is vital in the evaluation process as if it is effectively conducted on a poorly designed programme, it has the potential to save programme staff and stakeholder’s time and funding resources that would be otherwise wasted if the programme were to continue functioning unchanged.
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