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Last updated: 27/05/2005

Methodological bases
Evaluation object (What?)


Sectors, themes and cross-cutting issues


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What does this mean?

Public interventions are usually classified by sector or theme. A particular intervention or set of interventions can be evaluated from the point of view of a cross-cutting issue. This is also referred to as a thematic evaluation. These terms need to be clarified.


  • The sectors defined by the OECD Development Aid Committee.
  • The horizontal issues of European development policy  (see policy statement, paragraph 20).


How to make the distinction?


Interventions are classified in a particular sector according to the nature of the activities and outputs. For instance:

  • Support to training primary school teachers will be classified in the Education sector
  • Advice provided to groups of farmers will be classified in the Agriculture sector

Cross-cutting issues

A cross-cutting (or horizontal) issue is defined in relation to impacts and not outputs, as shown by the two examples in the table below:

Output Teachers trained Advice provided to groups of farmers
Sector Education Agriculture
Impact Girls benefit from a better access to education New breeding practices that limit desertification
Cross-cutting issue Gender Environment


The term "theme" is sometimes used in the sense of a sector and sometimes in the sense of a cross-cutting issue. It is therefore advisable to redefine it every time it is used.



  • Take cross-cutting issues into consideration in the preparation of evaluation questions. Questions on cross-cutting issue s are particularly relevant in the evaluation of a complex intervention such as a strategy or programme.


The same term can denote a sector or a cross-cutting issue , as shown in the table below:

  Human rights = sector
= secteur
Human rights = cross-cutting issue
= aspect transversal
Output Staff of the law courts trained in human rights Creation of access to Internet in poor rural areas
Sector Human rights NICT
Impact   Information on human rights violations circulates more easily
Cross-cutting issue   Human rights