Around 2 billion people live in countries affected by fragility, conflict and high levels of violence, and around half of the world’s poor live in fragile or conflict-affected states (FCAS)1. The percentage of the poorest living in FCAS increased from 20% in 2005 to 43% in 20152, and the World Bank estimates that, by 2030, their number will rise to nearly 50%3 while OECD considers that – without action – this number will be higher than 80%4.

The EU and its Member States have committed to pay particular attention to fragile and conflict-affected states and to support the most vulnerable5; this has been one of the key priorities of both EU development and foreign policy over the last decades. In 2016 the EU’s development cooperation with countries in situations of conflict and fragility represented EUR 4.970 billion in commitments, or 52.8% of total commitments of DG DEVCO.

In terms of commitments, the yearly engagement in 2016 was 76% higher than in 2015 and 249% higher than in 2014. To limit the analysis to just five fragile countries (Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen), the EU disbursed over the period 2010 to 2018 EUR 4.195 billion; with 73% financed by DG DEVCO and 27% by DG ECHO6.

A traditional approach to evaluation in fragile or conflict-affected states and, more generally, in hard-to-reach areas is destined to fail: the number of professional evaluators available to travel to these countries is limited and the security risks during in-country travel make conventional field missions unrealistic, particularly in the most remote areas. In response to this, various development partners have started encouraging the use of methods and techniques that are innovative in an evaluation context. These include use of geo-spatial data, surveys administered by non-specialised local enumerators, phone/tablet voice or data surveys, location tracking, communication through online platforms, etc.

It is now time to learn from the experiences of these early pioneers, and reflect on some paradigms that are often overlooked, such as the importance of integrating conflict sensitivity as an area of analysis when evaluating in FCAS, and the impact of these techniques on the ethical standards of the evaluation profession.

With this initiative, organised by the Evaluation Support Service of DG DEVCO, the Unit ‘Evaluation and Results’ of DG DEVCO invites interested colleagues in both Headquarters and EU Delegations to reflect on the possibilities offered by innovative evaluation methods to respond to the difficulties that traditional evaluation missions inevitably face in hard-to-reach areas. It will also discuss the use of such methods beyond FCAS.

This initiative is open to other EC services (notably DG NEAR, ECHO and FPI), other development partners and to professional evaluators working in development cooperation and in the humanitarian field.

This reflection will start with a cycle of lunchtime conferences that will take place from February to June 2019, from 12:30 to 14:00 CET; the conferences will be hosted by the External Cooperation Infopoint of the European Commission (43 Rue de la Loi – 1040 Brussels, Belgium).

All the conferences will be webcast in order to allow remote participation of colleagues based in EU Delegations and in other locations outside of Brussels; the livestreaming links will be published on the dedicated pages of the conferences and will be accessible at and on DG DEVCO intranet.

Interested in participating? Please register here to receive a reminder a few days before each conference:

At the end of the cycle, a call-to-action paper will present the key highlights from the conferences. This, along with the video recordings of the conferences, a call-to-action paper and relevant bibliography will then be published on Capacity4Dev, DEVCO intranet and DEVCO Academy, an open learning platform accessible with a EU Login (

The latest version of this presentation paper can be downloaded from

Should you need any further information about this initiative, please contact the ESS at

Click here to learn more.

2 Same as footnote 1
4 OECD (2018), States of Fragility 2018, OECD Publishing, Paris,
5 European Consensus on Development, 8 June 2017,
6 DEVCO’s Statistical Dashboard, viewed on 12 November 2018 (EC internal)