The evaluation on development cooperation by civil society organisations receiving programme-based support, commissioned by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, was processed during 2017. The programme of Demo Finland was evaluated in the last prong and the report was published in September. According to the evaluation the programme of Demo Finland is well in line with the objectives of Finland’s development policy, the role of Demo Finland is globally greater than its size and its resources should be increased.
The evaluation of Demo Finland was carried out by Finnish Consulting Group and the data was collected during the spring and summer of 2017 relating to the programs financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the years 2010-2016.
Demo Finland’s programme is relevant and it corresponds to the needs in the programme countries
The results of the evaluation show that the democracy support provided by Demo Finland is highly relevant and it answers to the demand in the partner countries. Demo Finland has significantly supported multiparty cooperation in its partner countries, in which cooperation over party boundaries and building confidence among political actors are crucial factors in building democracy. In addition, Demo Finland´s support to political participation of women and youth is considered important. Throughout the years, Demo Finland has adapted its programs well to new possibilities opened by democratization processes. Also the selection of partners has been successful.
Demo Finland is considered as a neutral player in the programme countries. This is a precondition for a multiparty based democracy support actor in order to realize multiparty cooperation development in the partner countries. According to the evaluators, this neutrality should not be endangered by starting to promote private donations as a source of funding. Public support is a well justified source of funding for a neutral actor like Demo Finland.
The democracy support carried out by Demo Finland is well in line with Finland´s development policy objectives, in which supporting human rights, democracy and gender equality are in the core.
The funding of Demo Finland has been very moderate, but the evaluators state that for example in promoting democracy support and political party support at the EU-level, it has had greater impact than its budget foresees. At the moment the staff of Demo Finland is very limited in size, but according to the evaluation it is extremely committed and efficient. Demo Finland´s added value even globally amongst democracy support organizations was mentioned.
The cooperation of Demo Finland and its partner NIMD (Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy) is vaunted and wished to be continued. The cooperation has increased impact and efficiency of both sides and it is considered as an excellent example of cooperation and coordination between organizations.
The evaluation report states, that through Demo Finland´s democracy support, there has been significant impact in changing the attitudes and behavior of political actors towards peers in the programme countries. These changes are described in project reports in enthusiastic terms, and while the findings may be anecdotal in nature, they still – due to their uniformity across the field in all countries of operation and confirmed by interviews – probably reflects a real change. So far, there is no evidence-base of wider impact at the level of political system to which transformation of attitudes has contributed to.
External factors like elections and changing of the political environment affect the progress of programs like this.
Demo Finland and NIMD have streamlined their monitoring and evaluation systems and reporting has been of a high quality. In addition, Demo Finland gives constantly feedback to its partners which has improved the quality of work. Management of finances has been done in accordance with the instructions of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. One of the recommendations is, that Demo Finland should support more the capacity of its partner organizations in management and administration, in order to strengthen their role.
The evaluation recommends, that Demo Finland should focus on improving its strengths in the regions where it already has programs instead of expanding to new geographical regions. The emphasis of work could be transferred more from strengthening the political actors’ know-how to develop the political system in their countries. This would promote the democratic development even further. In addition, more work at the parliament level could be done. According to the evaluation, human resources of Demo Finland should be increased significantly.
Background of the Evaluation
The report of the evaluation of the programme support of Demo Finland is based on analyzing documents, interviews done in Finland and in the partner countries as well as field visits in Zambia and the Netherlands.
The evaluation is comprised of three parts and it explored the programme-based support of the MFA as well as the success of development programs of 22 Finnish CSOs that receive programme-based support. The last part was completed in late summer whereas the first part in September 2016 and the second part in August 2017. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland has published a meta-evaluation of all the organizations together on its website.
The aim of the evaluation was to get a general evidence-based view about the impact and results of the programs and to identify best practices as well as those that need to be improved, so that it would be easier to focus the programs in the future. The linkages to Finland´s development policies as well as to the strategies of the CSOs and to the needs of the beneficiaries were taken into account in the evaluation. Recommendations for developing the programme-based support were given for the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
The evaluation was based on the criteria of relevance, coherence and coordination, efficiency, impact, effectiveness and sustainability. The evaluation was done in accordance with the regulations of development cooperation evaluation of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and it was implemented by independent consultants. All the evaluation reports are public.