Evaluation of the Strategy for support via Swedish civil society organisations 2016-2022
In June 2016 the Swedish Government signed the new Strategy for support via Swedish civil society organisations 2016-2022, which replaces the previous strategy for the period 2010-2014 (extended until 2016). The strategy governs all activities under the CSO-appropriation and gives Sida directions for priorities in the management and monitoring of the strategy. The aim of the strategy is to work for a vibrant and pluralistic civil society in development countries that, from a rights based perspective, works for improved living conditions for people living in poverty in all its dimensions, greater respect for human rights and for global sustainable development. The strategy is expected to contribute to achieving (i) strengthened capacity of civil society actors in developing countries, and (ii) a more enabling environment for civil society organisations in developing countries. In 2020, close to SEK 2 billion was allocated to the strategy. These funds are mainly channelled through Sida’s 15 Strategic Partner Organisations (SPOs) and Associated Swedish Organisations (ASOs). A smaller share goes to International CSOs or International Agreements Partners (IAPs).
In order to follow results in a consistent way over time, the Sida department for civil societies (CIVSAM) commissioned a consultancy team to develop a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework as well as a baseline study in 2017. That M&E framework formed the basis for the subsequent strategy reports produced by CIVSAM.
FCG Sweden was commissioned to evaluate the implementation and results of the CSO-strategy for the entire strategy period: 1 January 2016 - 15 March 2021 (five years and 2,5 months). The purpose and intended use of the evaluation was to provide an evidence base for Sida's in-depth report for the CSO-strategy to be submitted to the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Evaluation questions were derived from the M&E framework for the evaluation. A significant aspect of the work was data quality assessment, where the evaluation assessed the quality of the M&E framework and data collected under it.
Data was collected through several on-line surveys, a desk review, interviews, specific information requests, and a workshop with CIVSAM. The main limitations and challenges of the evaluation were linked to the inherent weaknesses of the M&E framework, and the compressed time schedule.
The evaluation shows that strategic partner organisations (SPOs) have become less dependent on Sida funding. It also indicates that affiliated Swedish organisations (ASOs) have increased their dependence on Sida funding. The M&E framework requires CIVSAM to collect result examples. While the evaluation has identified a range of such examples, it is clear that some SPOs and international agreement partners (IAPs) to a greater extent than others have been able to capture and report on higher-level outcomes, and provide a clear link between these outcomes and their support. This calls for a closer link between the contents of results reports and the M&E framework. CIVSAM should review the Sida guidelines for application and reporting from SPOs to emphasize contribution to higher-level results, and try to provide a clearer link between such results and the activities of specific partner organisations.