Embargo Period


Degree Name

MA in Diplomacy and International Relations

First Advisor

Bruce Dayton


This capstone asks the following question: What shared challenges do USAID evaluators face when evaluating programs in the same region on similar topics? This research aims to inform the question through a comparative review of six evaluations published in the past five years of USAID projects in Latin America on the themes of rule of law, governance, and democracy building. Evaluations review program goals and actual outputs to determine effectiveness of a program and develop lessons-learned for future programming. However, this evaluation process occurs in real-world settings that inevitably present challenges to data collection. I find that the primary challenges faced by evaluators in the sample include insufficient program documentation, difficulty contacting stakeholders, political upheaval, and concerns regarding the accuracy of data collected.

This paper contributes to the field of monitoring and evaluation by exploring on a small-scale the real-life USAID evaluation methods and challenges. Due to the limited scope of this research, the findings of this paper cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about USAID evaluation practices. Instead, this research will contribute to the conversation on real-world evaluation practices and raise further questions about development program effectiveness and the contributions of evaluation to the field of development.


Government Contracts | International Relations | Latin American Studies | Policy Design, Analysis, and Evaluation