Evaluation of Projects
The evaluation of the project one, for example, demonstrates that these types of efforts are short term but can result in long term effectiveness if they are carried out consistently. The capacity building of the civil society is crucial and it is possible to sustain only with the help of financial support and resources that the country does not possesses and receives from the donors.
The second project is still in the process of implementation and the results of improvements of capacities are already observed. The cooperation of the local government and civil society actors eliminates the argument brought up by Knack, that “foreign aid could undermine accountability processes essential for healthy democratic government, or even encourage violent conﬂict and coup attempts” (S. Knack, p.1). Educated and strengthened SC actors and government representatives work more effectively together towards achieving democratic standards.
How does this help to answer the question of foreign aid’s role as an external agenda or mission? This question does not have a unilateral answer as the following argumentation shows. Viewed on the project level, foreign aid does not impose direct democratic strategies or standards. So, it is easy to assume that it does not impose the external agenda. However, the successful implementation of the projects leads to the introduction of donor proposed norms. This is especially easy as civil society engagement in projects is huge. Thus, in long run the agenda has some presence in the internal society that is now familiar with those democratic practices.
However, the shortcoming with this type of evaluation approach is that for most of the time, the projects are evaluated on the basis of the outputs not outcomes. Accordingly, its role as well, is distinguished on output level only, that is the immediate product of the project not its accomplishment towards the overall goal of democratizing. Further studies compliment the evaluations of the relationship between foreign aid and democratization.
The empirical evaluation of USAID’s aid provision and democracy progress made during the period of 1988-2001 reveals that the democracy aid has more influence on the process of democracy establishment than the economic aid or other types of aid (Scott, J. Steele, 2011, p. 47).
As for EU strategies, the evaluation is done in two stages for the different instruments or tools EU has practiced to promote democracy. The early one of those was European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). This tool was a mean to allocate money to Eastern European countries including Armenia through macro and micro level projects as the amount of funds was not equal for all the countries. In most cases the finances were channeled through the Council of Europe and in other cases through UN institutions and other international organizations. However, these resources were not directly forwarded to civil society enhancement or democracy promotion; rather they were used to improve spheres such as human rights, freedom of media, peace building, etc. Second instrument more directed to democracy promotion was the EU enlargement program with ENP Action Plan as its main element came into play. It was to facilitate civil society development. However, Shapovalova and Youngs state that regardless of improvements such as more focus on civil society, engagement of more non-profit actors, even the ENP was not an effective tool to promote democracy. They conclude that EU needs to put more emphasis on civil society development, engagement and their participation in evaluation of the aid provision and utilization (Shapovalova N., & Youngs R., 2012, p.16).