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Last updated: 13/01/2006

Methodological bases
Timing of the evaluation (When?)


Evaluation and the intervention cycle


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What does this mean?

The evaluation can be scheduled:

  • For the beginning of the cycle, in the design phase;
  • During the cycle (mid-term or at the end of the implementation phase);
  • After the end of the cycle.

Is there a best time to evaluate or should three evaluations be performed for each cycle?

What is the purpose?

Many interventions are characterised by successive cycles and show a relative continuity between cycles.

A new cycle can start before the intervention of the previous cycle has yielded all its effects.

In light of this, several cycles need to be considered when choosing the timing of the evaluation, in order to:

  • Draw conclusions from an observation of the effects of the intervention in cycle "n-1".
  • Feed into reflection on the intervention in cycle "n-1".
  • Observe the implementation of cycle "n" and rapidly provide feedback.

How to take the cycles into account?

For defining the purposes of the evaluation:

  • If the evaluation takes place at the beginning of the cycle, it verifies the relevance and coherence of the objectives of intervention "n" by analysing needs and also the effects of previous interventions "n-1" and "n-2".
  • If the evaluation takes place in the middle of the cycle, it aims to improve intervention "n" by taking into account its first observable effects, and also by analysing the effects of intervention "n-1".
  • If the evaluation takes place at the end of the cycle, it draws conclusions from the analysis of the first observable effects and also from the effects of interventions "n-1", with a view to preparing the strategy and objectives of the next intervention "n+1".

For choosing evaluation questions

  • Retrospective questions relating to the impacts and sustainability of preceding interventions.
  • Concomitant questions relating to the direct results and relevance of the intervention under way.
  • Prospective questions relating to the strategy of the interventions in the next cycle.


Where possible, ensure that the evaluation ends about a year before the end of the cycle. At that stage it will still be possible and useful to adjust the implementation because it always lasts for a year or two after the end of the cycle. It will also be possible to assist in planning the intervention strategy of the following cycle. Finally, it is not too late to perform a sound analysis of the impacts of the previous cycle's intervention.