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Joint evaluation of civil society engagement in policy dialogue

Itad led an evaluation to gain a better understanding of how CSOs engage in policy dialogue, & provide recommendations on how donors can best support them.


The increased focus on aid effectiveness has led to a growing interest in how to make the work of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) more effective. With this, there is a growing demand for more knowledge on the results of CSO work beyond the achievement of individual organisations, towards the collective contribution of civil society to development.

This evaluation was commissioned jointly by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark (Danida), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Austrian Development Agency (ADA), on behalf of a larger group including Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, and Swiss Development Cooperation. The purpose was to gain a better understanding of how CSOs engage in policy dialogue, identify the enabling and disabling factors affecting the ability of CSOs to play an effective role in policy dialogue, and provide recommendations on how donors can best support them in their work.

Our approach

This evaluation was led by Itad in association with COWI A/S, and was carried out by a team of 12 international and national consultants between May 2011 and June 2012. Our approach was structured around two phases: firstly an in-country mapping exercise to conceptualise the issue of policy dialogue and provide contextual information on the CSO landscape in the three case study countries of Bangladesh, Mozambique and Uganda. This was then used to answer the more analytical evaluation questions and provided a basis for a sampling process to identify key policy processes and CSO to be evaluated in the second data collection phase. Some of the key methodological tools used by the team included the policy cycle tool, participatory power cube analysis, force field analysis, focus group discussions and stakeholder web surveys.


We produced three country reports and a cross-cutting synthesis report, and presented our findings in the three case study countries as well as in Copenhagen, Stockholm and Vienna. We also held a Global Workshop in Kampala in May 2012 to discuss initial findings from the country studies and to inform the synthesis report. Our findings and recommendations were intended for use by donor agencies to inform decisions about future programming and funding, the CSO community and government in Bangladesh, Mozambique and Uganda, and the wider development community.

Image © Chimoio market – boabab fruits. Photo Credit: Ton Rulkens
Team members