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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Sri Lanka: Evaluation of the European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) Sri Lanka

Author: Dr Reinhard Skinner (Team Leader) Mr Jean Noel Perrin Mr Mario Martelli Mr Benedict Jeyakumar Mr Gamini Kudaliyanage

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.


The ‘European Union Support to District Development Programme (EU-SDDP) was implemented by the six implementing partners five United Nations (UN) agencies ¬-- Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) -- and one member of the World Bank Group, International Finance Corporation (IFC). A private contractor was also hired for visibility and communication.
The project was implemented during the period 2012 to 2018 with a total budget of EUR 60 million.  The objectives of the EU-SDDP were (i) to support poverty reduction and the provision of basic infrastructure and services for vulnerable populations; (ii) to support local economic development (LED) and (iii) to strengthen local governance.

The European Union contracted a team of Evaluators from ‘EPRD Office for Economic Policy and Regional Development Ltd. ” to conduct the final evaluation of the project. Together with the other implementing partners, UNICEF provided inputs to carry out the planned evaluation.

The field work for this evaluation was carried out between 27 October and 7 November 2017 with visits to the EUD and implementing agencies at their head offices in Colombo from 23–25 October and 9-14 November.


To contribute towards better attainment of EU development cooperation objectives by empowering key stakeholders involved in EU-SDDP in Sri Lanka with recommendations to undertake well-informed decisions, corrective measures, complementary activities or policy decisions identified through the Programme's evaluation.


The methods used for this final evaluation have involved 112 interviews, 81 focus group discussions (FGDs) and 56 observations, as well as documentary research. In addition, an End Line Survey was carried out by a separate organisation, which covered a statistically significant sample of 545 beneficiaries and 650 non-beneficiaries and is used in this report (See Annex 12).

Findings and conclusions:

• Relevance: The nature of the issues UNICEF has addressed under the EU-SDDP are likely to address both district policies and plans and community needs.
• Effectiveness: UNICEF has achieved all its results and exceeded many.
• Efficiency: The budget for management and administration accounted 16 %. This is a substantial amount compared with programmes like AUP 2010.  UNICEF also achieved cost savings during construction and thereby was able to deliver more outputs than planned.
• Impact: UNICEF’S work under the EU-SDDP has made substantial contributions to addressing these aspects of poverty.
• Outcome: As for UNICEF, 65 % of beneficiaries (but only 43 % of non-beneficiaries) stated they felt conditions had improved in the previous four years in the area of water quality, as well as safety and security (81 % compared with 53 %), health and nutrition (79 % and 55 %)  and educational achievements (86 % and 65 %).
• Sustainability: To ensure sustainability, all UNICEF interventions were implemented through existing government systems, by strengthening them and building stakeholder capacity to take ownership.


• Support a similar programme for school attendance committees in which local initiative is taken by parents, principals and teachers and where zone educational department representatives are supported by UNICEF professionals, such as psychologists and speech experts to improve the programme further and reduce any risk of relapse by the child beneficiaries.
• Injury prevention projects should be scaled-up to cover the whole of districts.
• The Vavuniya GA informed the ET that malnutrition remains a problem in his district. He has set up a village level team with UNICEF to monitor nutrition in 11 000 families with insufficient levels of nutrition and a new programme of support would be welcome to address the findings.
• When engaging in future large actions, UNICEF should focus on its normal mission and not attempt to work in areas outside its core competence. Engaging in new ventures (for example, water schemes or sewerage treatment plants) could create defective outcomes unless there are strong collaborations with specialised agencies such as UNOPS.

Lessons Learned:

• The children’s ward UNICEF constructed in Mannar district shows that a good quality construction serving priority needs still requires soft infrastructure to optimise its success. The ward has insufficient doctors and nurses to allow it to operate fully and, although these may still be assigned, the lesson is to ensure that when this kind of infrastructure is provided there are enough human resources at regional level to staff and to sustain it.
• Much of UNICEF’S work is soft development and will have impacts, which can only be measured in the long-term. These are in the sectors of education, health, nutrition and WASH. Many of UNICEF’S targets are, understandably, activity-based and have been achieved within the five-year duration of the EU-SDDP. However, its impact will be confirmed when its initiatives, such as child friendly learning environments, nutrition counselling, clinics, schools and hygiene programmes are continued to future beneficiaries.   

Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Sri Lanka

Region: ROSA

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Advocacy and Communication

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/001 

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