IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject todisclaimercopyright notice
  EUROPA > European Commission > EuropeAid > Evaluation > Methodology > Comment
Last updated: 08/12/2005

Methodological bases
Evaluation process (How?)
Intervention strategy


Rationale of the intervention


• Evaluation Guidelines
• Methodological bases
• Evaluation tools
• Examples
• Glossary
• Sitemap

• What
• When
• Why
• Who
• How

• Overview
• Strategy
• Questions
• References
• Design
• Data collection
• Analysis
• Judgment
• Quality

• Overview
• Rationale
• Intervention

• Related


What is this?

The rationale of an intervention is to address the needs, problems or issues that are considered to be priorities in a given context, and that cannot be addressed more effectively in another way.

It is in the programming stage that the rationale of an intervention must be justified. At the evaluation stage it is enough to note the main points or to redefine them if the programming documents lack precision.

The evaluation identifies the reasons for which the priorities have been chosen, for example: priorities of the policy in which the intervention takes place, urgency of the needs to be satisfied, and comparative advantages compared to alternative options.

What is the purpose?

  • To help in defining the criteria of the relevance family.
  • To present the intervention in the evaluation report.

How to clarify it

Reviewing the problems and responses

The evaluation report succinctly sets out the following:

  • Context of the intervention when it was initiated
  • Main problems diagnosed (needs, issues)
  • Why the institution responsible for the intervention and its partners (where relevant) are in the best position to solve the problems diagnosed.
  • Why certain strategic options have been chosen rather than others.

The evaluation team searches for this information in the official documents that instituted the intervention and in the preparatory design work. It completes its understanding with interviews with the key informants.

Certain evaluation questions may concern problems addressed by the intervention, for example:

  • Are there alternative options for solving the problems identified?
  • Has the nature of the problems that justified the intervention changed?
  • What is the precise extent of the needs justifying the intervention?

Reviewing the rationale

Where relevant, the evaluation report highlights the following:

  • Justification of the fact that the needs, problems and issues cannot be solved ad hoc by private initiatives.
  • Justification of the fact that they cannot be solved more effectively by other public initiatives.

The evaluation team looks for this information in the official documents that instituted the intervention. It completes its understanding of the rationale by interviews with key informants.

Certain evaluation questions may concern the rationale of the intervention, for example:

  • Could the institution that initiated the intervention have chosen other partners to address these problems?
  • Would the intervention have been more effective had it been run by other public institutions?



  • The official documents often focus on the strategic options that were finally selected. If we want to know what the alternatives were, it may be useful to hold interviews with key informants, whilst remaining wary of possible biases.