United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was established by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 after the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.  In the absence of a just and lasting solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2017.  UNRWA has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees.  Today, more than 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services.  UNRWA has field offices in Lebanon, Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, and Syria and has a staff of approximately 30,000.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.  The Agency's services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.  UNRWA programmes and projects are inevitably impacted by the conflict environments in which they are undertaken.  UNRWA and the Evaluation Division in particular, must take this into account in its evaluation methodology and procedures. 

Evaluation Function Snapshot Independence Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning Quality Assurance Use of Evaluation Joint Evaluation

Evaluation Function

The UNRWA Evaluation Division assumes functional leadership and oversight over UNRWA's evaluation system, which consists of the central evaluation system in the Department for Internal Oversight Services and decentralized evaluation functions.  Evaluations aim to systematically and impartially determine the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact and sustainability of ongoing and completed Agency activities.  These evaluations are conducted for strategies, policies, programmes and projects, as well as emergency interventions.  They examine expected and achieved accomplishments, result chains, processes, contextual factors and causality.  Evaluation findings, recommendations, and lessons learned are then incorporated into decision-making processes in order to strengthen learning and accountability in the Agency with the aim of improving operations and results.  UNRWA's evaluation function was established in 2009.


  • Evaluation Division Staff: one Chief, two Evaluation Officers, one JPO.
  • Field Offices and Headquarters Departments designated Focal Points for evaluation related matters.
  • The Evaluation Division non-staff budget is approximately USD 270,000
  • The Evaluation Division itself worked on six evaluations during 2013, with an additional nine evaluations led by field office and headquarters' departments:  five in Lebanon field, three in Gaza field, and one from relief and social service department.
  • The Mid-term Evaluation of the Medium Term Strategy was completed during 2013 and the final report was presented to the UNRWA Advisory Commission as a major input for the development of the next Medium Term Strategy of UNRWA (2016-2021).


UNRWA's Evaluation Division is a part of the Department of Internal Oversight Services (DIOS).  The Department of Internal Oversight Services reports to the Commissioner General of UNRWA, and is advised by the Advisory Committee on Internal Oversight, a committee composed of reputed individuals covering the areas of Audit, Evaluation, and Investigation. 

Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning

The Department of Internal Oversight Services produces an annual risk based work plan.  In addition the Evaluation Division produces a three year rolling workplan for evaluations, which is shared with the UNRWA Advisory Commission composed of hosts and donor representatives.  The work plans are approved by the Advisory Committee on Internal Oversight and the Commissioner General. 

Quality Assurance

The Evaluation Division quality assurance processes are currently under development.

Use of Evaluation

UNRWA's Evaluation Division conducts strategic evaluations that are inputs into the Agency strategy development.  So far these evaluation processes have impacted the Agency strategic direction through a systematic recommendation follow up process; the engagement with decision makers during field work and the production of evaluation products (reports).

The statuses of all recommendations are included in the Department of Internal Oversight Services' annual report, which is circulated to the Advisory Committee of Internal Oversight as well as the Advisory Commission of UNRWA. 

UNRWA's Evaluation Division is working to instil a culture of evaluation within the Agency.  To this end, the Division has targeted more than 200 middle managers across the Agency with trainings on evaluation; launched an Evaluation Community that connects Agency staff, and is working to make Agency evaluation information more readily accessible on its website.

Joint Evaluation

The mandate of UNRWA is very specific, making it more challenging to participate in joint evaluations.  So far Evaluation Division has not been able to identify an opportunity for a joint evaluation. 

UNEG Members

Leslie Thomas

Chief, Evaluation Division, UNRWA

Macu Barcia


Fact Sheet