The Country Partnership Framework, hereafter CPF, (MAP in Spanish) is the tool used by Spanish Cooperation, hereafter SC, for bilateral geographic strategic planning to ensure that SC actions contribute to sustainable development. Through the CPFs, dialogue is established between SC and the partner countries to benefit the development strategies and plans of these countries.
With this tool, the SC contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); and in particular, SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals, promoting synergies and building partnerships at all levels, both with the partner country and among the SC actors. The CPF seeks to obtain a strategic, global and coherent vision of the Spanish Cooperation as a whole, and seeks to avoid merely compiling a list of interests held by the different actors. It is precisely the strategic approach that differentiates this tool and provides an interesting added value to CPF evaluation.
In late 2021, the Directorate-General for Sustainable Development Policies at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (hereafter, DGPOLDES, MAUC) initiated a participatory process by offering a draft proposal as a basis for reflection and discussion with the end goal of collectively creating the CPF Evaluation Methodology.
The scope of the CPF evaluations incorporates the overall assessment of the Spanish Cooperation as a whole, taken from the sum of actions carried out by all SC actors present on the ground. Results from the CPF evaluations contribute to learning that improves the effectiveness and quality of the SC; aids decision-making required during the design of a new planning cycle; and provides elements for transparency and accountability purposes. Its subsequent use is not necessarily limited to the country in which the evaluation is carried out, but rather, the lessons generated from one CPF may be demonstrative and applicable to other contexts and territories.
The evaluation methodology proposes a set of simple and useful tools that guide the evaluation process: templates for drafting the evaluation plan and the Terms of Reference; a suggested evaluation matrix that includes questions designed to identify lessons learned and good practices; and templates for drafting the initial and final evaluation reports and the improvement plan that gathers the recommendations for each of the SC actors involved in the CPF process and the measures that are to be established.
All the tools proposed through the methodology comply with the Quality Standards for Development Evaluation, created by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the revised evaluation criteria, Better Criteria for Better Evaluation, by the same Committee.
This process was initiated in response to the need expressed by the Spanish Technical Cooperation Offices (hereafter, TCOs) for a simple and operational methodology that could be used when carrying out CPF evaluations to simplify the work of the evaluation managers and maximise the results/effort, with a view to improving the quality of the evaluation process. On the contrary, evaluations carried out previously used heterogeneous evaluation matrices and this has complicated subsequent comparative studies and the process of extracting lessons regarding CPFs.
The first phase of the participatory process consisted in carrying out a preliminary workshop with a pilot group. In this workshop, a suggested evaluation methodology was shared as a starting point for group reflection and contributions with the end goal of producing an agreed and achievable document based on the experiences of the workshop participants.
When selecting the pilot group, an effort was made to ensure that the pilot group sample was representative of the actors involved in the CPF planning and implementation processes. Assistance was provided in this respect by the Evaluation Department of DGPOLDES MAUC, members of the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECID), in particular the Unit of Planning, Effectiveness and Quality (UPEC) and coordinators and technical staff from some of the TCOs. The TCO representatives reflected a broad range of different contexts and countries with different capacity levels in terms of available human resources.
The contributions made in the initial workshop were incorporated into the preliminary document which was shared in a second workshop with the rest of the TCOs and AECID, as well as the Autonomous Communities that were carrying out the same process of discussing the proposal and making contributions. This second workshop produced an agreed final document.
In terms of the outputs proposed by the new methodology, it is worth highlighting the inclusion of a template that sets out certain CPF characteristics that are deemed suitable for inclusion in the evaluation process. This prior reflection and the anticipation of evaluation questions will facilitate the scope and ownership of evaluation results by the different actors involved.
Different Spanish Cooperation actors will participate in the process of evaluating the CPFs in different roles. The first governance level for the evaluation will constitute an evaluation management committee formed by the TCO, who will lead the process, and the Evaluation Department, who will support and accompany the TCO. Depending on the country in question, this level of governance may also include institutional representatives from the partner country.
The second governance level consists of members of the Permanent Coordination Group, hereafter PCG (GEC in Spanish), formed by Spanish Cooperation actors working on the ground (representatives of autonomous communities, municipalities, development NGOs, foundations, unions and universities, AECID). The PCG provides information for the monitoring of the CPF and these elements will provide key information for the evaluation process. Furthermore, they will also provide feedback on the Terms of Reference so their informational needs are integrated, and on reports generated by the evaluation team. Representatives from institutions in the partner country will also participate in this second level of governance, constituting key informants that will also provide feedback on any reports generated.
The third governance level is formed by Spanish Cooperation actors that are not present on the ground who could be key informants and provide feedback on the reports generated in the process. The participation of the actors in the different levels of governance will facilitate the ownership of the results of the evaluation and the incorporation of the recommendations proposed in the final report. Taking into account the importance of transparency, accountability and the sharing of lessons, the methodology foresees the dissemination of the results of the evaluation to partner institutions and organisations in the countries, SC actors and the general public.
The participatory nature of the process has been fundamental to ensuring that the resulting methodology has produced an agreed and useful document that is tailored to the expressed needs of all the actors involved. This guarantees that CPF evaluation will be improved and more effective.