An evaluation process generally has four phases: Preparation, Implementation, Utilisation and Follow-up.


When the general topic of an evaluation has been identified, the Evaluation Unit defines Terms of Reference in conjunction with the evaluation ‘owner’ (the entity requesting the evaluation). The Terms of Reference specify the background for the evaluation, its overall purpose, methodological requirements, the geographical and thematic scope, specific evaluation questions, requirements concerning the composition of the evaluation team etc. The draft Terms of Reference are forwarded to the identified stakeholders for consultation, and their comments are taken into account in the final Terms of Reference.

The Evaluation Unit then releases a call for proposals to both the MSF evaluation network and the general humanitarian evaluation community via prescribed portals. The Evaluation Unit is responsible for contracting the evaluation team; however, the evaluation owner and/or the evaluation steering group also agree on the proposed selection. 


Selection of evaluators

Implementation begins with the selection and contracting of an evaluation team, which usually consists of evaluation and/or medical humanitarian experts. The selected team receives background information from the Evaluation Unit and other relevant departments within MSF (e.g. Operational Desks, Medical Department, etc.) and develops an operational plan for the evaluation.

Inception Report

The inception report (or ‘operational plan’) helps to further sensitise the stakeholders of the evaluation and forms the basis for the upcoming field visit(s). It typically involves an extensive review of existing documents; further development of the approach and methodology; field work with interviews, focus groups discussions and/or questionnaire surveys among stakeholders in the field; analysis of collected data; final reporting etc.

Report writing

On the basis of the data analysis, the evaluation team prepares a first draft of the evaluation report, including conclusions and recommendations, which is shared with the Evaluation Unit. The Evaluation Unit reviews the draft in terms of methodological quality and comments on factual information, methods, conclusions and recommendations. The draft is then circulated to relevant stakeholders for feedback.

Prior to finalisation, evaluation outcomes are shared and discussed with as many of the relevant stakeholders and MSF management members as possible at a presentation workshop. Again, the evaluation team considers all comments and feedback received at the presentation workshop when preparing the final draft, but it has the right to draw independent conclusions. The evaluation team has the sole responsibility for the final conclusions of the evaluation.

Roles and responsibilities

The Evaluation Unit serves as manager for the evaluation, either alone or, for joint evaluations, together with one or more of the other evaluation units. For larger evaluations, a steering group is established, with a composition that reflects the topic and purpose of the evaluation. The steering group advises and provides feedback to the evaluation team throughout the entire evaluation process, mainly at the level of evaluation content.

The Evaluation Unit monitors the evaluation process in order to ensure i.a. that the evaluation is undertaken in accordance with the Terms of Reference, MSF’s evaluation guidelines, and other relevant quality standards. The division of responsibility between the Evaluation Unit, the evaluation team and other stakeholders is defined and communicated at the start of every evaluation. 

Further information about how evaluations are implemented can be found in MSF’s evaluation guidelines, which are available at Resources.