Projects are analysed on the basis of six key criteria (relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, overarching developmental impact and sustainability) agreed upon by the international community of donors as represented by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The rating is summarised using a numerical scale.
The criterion of relevance is used to assess whether the project fulfils an important function from a development perspective ("priority"), and whether its design was fundamentally suited to achieving the goals associated with the project ("validity of the results chain"). This means that an assessment is made of whether the project appropriately addressed an important development goal, took into account the strategic requirements of the partner country and the German Federal Government, and was coordinated with other donors.
The criterion of coherence refers to the compatibility of the development policy measure taken with other interventions and policy objectives in the partner country and/or sector. This means that the effects of DC interventions are considered in a more systemic and context-coherent manner, distinguishing between internal and external coherence. While internal coherence focuses more on the consistency of the formulated intervention with the policy objectives of the same institution/government, external coherence addresses the complementarity of the formulated intervention with interventions of other actors. External coherence should take greater account of the coordination between different actors and thus emphasize the questions of synergies and duplication of interventions.
The criterion of effectiveness is used to assess whether a development project achieved its goals. In order to allow a meaningful comparison of the targeted and actual outcomes, the project's goals should be expressed in the form of quantifiable levels of production or consumption. Any unintended positive or negative effects that can be observed are also included in the evaluation.
The criterion of efficiency is used to assess a project's cost-effectiveness. The central issue here is the economical use of resources. The evaluation is carried out on two different levels. On the one hand, an assessment is made of whether the effort required to provide goods or services was appropriate ("efficiency of production"). However, even more important is what we call "allocation efficiency" – achieving an adequate ratio between the funds used and the effects achieved. This involves looking into what other methods were available that could have achieved similar results.
In addition to a project's direct goals, there is also the overarching developmental impact, the big objectives that are the reason why the decision was made to promote the project in the first place – for example the impact on health in the case of improving the water supply. It is always not possible to measure overarching impacts. In such cases it is necessary to check their plausibility and estimate them using circumstantial evidence.
Our aim is to achieve not only short-term improvements but also sustainable results. For this reason we investigate whether any improvements are likely to endure. We consider the criterion of sustainability to have been met if the project-executing agency or target group is in a position to successfully continue the promoted project once the external financial or technical support has been withdrawn.
The key criteria are initially assessed on the basis of a six-point rating scale. Scores of 1 to 3 indicate a "successful" project, while 4 to 6 are "unsuccessful". For the criterion of sustainability we only use a four-point scale, which mainly reflects the anticipated future trend (albeit with a certain degree of uncertainty). A score of 4 indicates "insufficient sustainability".
The partial scores for the six key criteria are combined in accordance with a specific weighting that is defined for each project in order to give an overall score. This overall rating indicates at a glance whether a project has been successful, and to what extent.
It should be noted that a project can generally be considered developmentally “successful” only if the achievement of the project objective (“effectiveness”), the impact on the overall objective (“overarching developmental impact”) and the sustainability are rated at least “satisfactory” (level 3).