In 2007 Oxford Policy Management undertook an evaluation for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of its development aid programme in Zambia, The terms of reference for the evaluation took as its starting point the general perception that aid, including Norad assistance, had been used ineffectively in Zambia to reduce poverty. The evaluation team was asked to explain whether power relations within Zambia and between Zambians and donors might have been responsible for this ineffectiveness.
The assessment framework combined DAC evaluation criteria– relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability – with political economy analysis of formal/informal power and political relations, and critical-discourse analysis. The team found that using these analytical tools for aid evaluation helps to answer the important ‘why’ questions – why aid is ineffective or non-sustainable – that are the bread-and-butter of evaluations. Moreover, evaluation drawing on these tools can look at political factors which lie beneath ‘lack of will’ and can help link unwillingness of those in powerful positions to invest in new capacity or institution building with embedded social processes.