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New on 3ie website: Web profiles of member agencies

Jennifer Ludwig

3ie is pleased to announce that we are launching member profiles as a new website feature to showcase the important work our members are doing with impact evaluation. The new website feature is one of several ways that 3ie is responding to increased demand from members for activities and support for member networking and peer learning. The profile for each member can be easily accessed by clicking on their listing on the 3ie members’ web page. The profiles, written in consultation with members, offer information on their interest in and experience with impact evaluation. They also include examples of members’ engagement with 3ie and other members, such as providing support for 3ie programmes, helping to plan our annual members’ conference, hosting a study tour for other members, presenting at 3ie-organised events and receiving training and technical support from 3ie experts.

Published on: 26 apr 2016

Improving adolescent lives in South Asia

Stuti Tripathi

At the recently concluded Kathmandu conclave for evaluators, 3ie moderated a panel on improving adolescents' lives in South Asia, which included panellists from Breakthrough, Catalyst Management Services and UNICEF. The panellists highlighted adolescence as the critical formative years when gendered social attitudes and power relations and perceptions take shape and drive their behaviours as adults. To change existing unequal gender norms and for that change to be sustainable, it is crucial that gendered attitudes among adolescents change. There was an assessment of the steps being taken to understand gender-based inequality and current interventions on the ground. Panellists agreed that a multi-level, multi-actor nuanced approach is required to reduce gendered marginalisation and discrimination.

Published on: 14 dec 2015

3ie replication consultation: feedback for the future

Jennifer Ludwig

Three years ago 3ie established the impact evaluation replication programme to highlight the benefits of internal replication studies of impact evaluations in the development sector. The programme soon became the subject of much debate that revolved around the scope, methods and timing of replication research. To get feedback from its stakeholders on the way ahead, 3ie recently hosted a consultation event in Washington DC that brought together both the proponents and the critics of replication. The event featured rich discussions and threw up some important ideas and questions on the future of replication research and the role 3ie could play. ?

Published on: 18 jun 2015

3ie Annual Report 2014: Evidence • Influence • Impact

The year 2014 was one of innovation and impact at 3ie. We are filling large knowledge gaps by funding policy-relevant research in new thematic areas. Our studies have informed development policies and improved programming. Read highlights about our work and achievements in our latest annual report.

Published on: 09 apr 2015

Building networks for evidence-informed policy in Africa

Paromita Mukhopadhyay

Networks of researchers and policymakers promoting research evidence in policy are gradually gaining importance in many African countries. The first colloquium of the Africa Evidence Network brought together representatives from these networks, policymakers, practitioners and researchers to discuss the future of evidence-informed policy in the region.

Published on: 18 feb 2015

A message from the 3ie Executive Director

The Executive Director of 3ie, Dr. Howard White will be leaving at the end of 2014. In this open letter, Dr. White reflects on 3ie's journey from being a small start-up with just one person to becoming a strong, successful organisation that has established itself as a leader in the field of evidence-based development.

Published on: 19 dec 2013

The HIV/AIDS treatment cascade: where are we getting it right?

Annette N. Brown and Anna Heard

One of the reasons we appreciate international days is that they prompt us to pause and reflect on what we’ve been doing in the past year, as well as think about what the next year will bring. On this International AIDS Day, our first reflection is realising how much we have grown our HIV/AIDS programming in 3ie in 2013.

Published on: 30 nov 2013

A pitch for better use of mixed methods in impact evaluations

Shagun Sabarwal

At the opening session of 3ie’s recent Measuring Results conference, Jyotsna Puri, Deputy Executive Director and Head of Evaluation at 3ie, said, “It takes a village to do impact evaluation.” What she meant was that, for an impact evaluation to be successful and policy relevant, research teams need to be diverse and include a mix of disciplines, such as statisticians, anthropologists, economists, surveyors, enumerators and policy experts, as well as use the most appropriate mix of evaluation and research methods.

Published on: 26 nov 2013

Making good ideas actually work

Heather Lanthorn

At 3ie’s recent Measuring Results conference in Delhi, one of the key speakers proposed a ban on new ideas in India. This speaker was not a Luddite, nor was she on a crusade against creativity, nor did she represent the tourism industry to claim that India had already achieved perfection in all dimensions. Rather, she was echoing a sentiment that has been bouncing around classrooms and corridors and cafes and corner-markets in which people discuss improving human welfare: we need to figure out how to implement the ideas we already have

Published on: 27 oct 2013

Shining a light on the unknown knowns: 3ie launches a new registry for prospective registration of impact evaluations

Annette N. Brown and Drew Cameron

Donald Rumsfeld, a former US Secretary of Defense, famously noted the distinction between known knowns (things we know we know), known unknowns (things we know we don’t know), and unknown unknowns (things we don’t know we don’t know). In international development research, these same distinctions exist. There is published evidence that can be used to inform programmes and policies; there are research questions that have yet to be tested and interventions that have yet to be evaluated; and there are, we certainly hope, ideas and innovations that have yet to be developed or discovered. But what about the fourth category? Is there such a thing as unknown knowns?

Published on: 17 sep 2013

How will they ever learn?

What works to improve education in developing countries

Howard White

The low-quality of education in much of the developing world is no secret. The Annual status of education report (Aser), produced by the Indian NGO Pratham, has been documenting the poor state of affairs in that country for several years. The most recent report highlights the fact that more than half of grade five students can read only at grade two level. Similar statistics are available from around the world.

Published on: 09 sep 2013

Can we learn more from clinical trials than simply methods?

Eric Djimeu

What if scientists directly tested their drug ideas on humans without first demonstrating their potential efficacy in labs? This question sounds hypothetical because we all know that using untested drugs can be potentially dangerous. If we were then to use the same logic, should we not be exercising similar caution with randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of social and economic development interventions involving human subjects?

Published on: 15 aug 2013

The importance of buy-in from key actors for impact evaluations to influence policy

Reflections from the CGD-3ie workshop on 17 July in Washington, DC

Howard White

At a public forum on impact evaluation a couple of years ago, Arianna Legovini, head of the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation programme (DIME), declared that ‘dissemination is dead’. But her statement does not imply that we should stop the dissemination of impact evaluation findings for influencing policy. Quite the opposite: impact evaluation studies should be published in academic journals, be distilled into effectively formulated policy briefs, be disseminated at workshops and have social media fanfare. Legovini’s point was that this approach was not enough. For influencing policy, we need to move beyond dissemination and have strategies that include ongoing communication and active engagement with key actors. At a minimum, policymakers, programme managers and field staff, need to be involved in the evaluation from the design stage.

Published on: 24 jul 2013

Moving impact evaluations beyond controlled circumstances

Thomas de Hoop

The constraints imposed by an intervention can often make designing an evaluation quite challenging. If a large-scale programme is rolled out nationally, for instance, it becomes very hard to find a credible comparison group. Many evaluators would shy away from evaluating programmes when it is hard to find a plausible counterfactual. Since it’s also harder to publish the findings of such evaluations, there don’t seem to be many incentives for evaluating such programmes. But the evaluation of a large-scale programme provides crucial information to policymakers. Doesn’t this make it important that evaluators take up the challenge of evaluating these types of programmes? If impact evaluators want to influence policy, they have to move beyond evaluating small programmes for which they have optimal control over the design of the intervention.

Published on: 11 jun 2013

Do implementation challenges run impact evaluations into the ground?

Déo Gracias-Houndolo and Jyotsna Puri

Economists use a variety of tools to understand impact caused by development programmes. Theories of change, qualitative analysis, quantitative techniques and advanced econometrics are all arrows in the quiver. But are these methods sufficient to ensure high quality impact evaluations?

Published on: 30 may 2013

Waiting for Allah: the case for impact evaluations in humanitarian assistance

Jyotsna Puri

I recently met with the acting chairperson of the Pakistan Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). He described in proud detail ERRA’s successful reconstruction efforts after the disastrous 2005 earthquake that claimed more than 70,000 lives. In more muted tones, he described the 2010 floods, which claimed more lives than the 2005 earthquake. The rescue and relief effort was excellent in 2005. It failed miserably in 2010.

Published on: 27 may 2013

Is impact evaluation of any use to ‘project beneficiaries’?

Howard White

Impact evaluation might be seen as a prime example of what leading participatory proponent Robert Chambers has called extractive research. Researchers go out to communities, collect data, scurry back to their ivory towers to analyse and publish their findings. They build up their career and reputation, and then move onto the next study. In doing all of this, the research subjects have received nothing. They don’t even know the research ‘findings’.

Published on: 26 may 2013

What is true impact?

Howard White

Earlier this year I had a knee operation.  So I turned to the Cochrane Library to find evidence on whether post-operative physiotherapy really works. What I found was a systematic review, which showed that post-operative physiotherapy has too little benefit to be worthwhile. Those assigned a course of physiotherapy had hardly any greater joint flexibility one year later than those who were not.

Published on: 18 may 2013

When will the press ever learn?

Howard White

My last blog discussed the possible link between the dramatic reductions in crime in the UK and the adoption of evidence-based policing. But the Sunday Times recently ran a front page story which says that rather than solving crime, police are ignoring 850,000 cases a year which go uninvestigated.

Published on: 12 may 2013

Impact Evaluation Databases: Can You Find EVERYTHING You’re Looking For?

Drew Cameron

We’ve all been there. You’ve just come up with an interesting international development research question, or your NGO or government agency is about to embark on a new project, and you need to find research evidence. You set off in search of the most rigorous kind available – impact evaluations (IEs). But where do you start? Perhaps your research library is expansive, and you have too many portals to choose from. Or maybe your organization is too small to afford annual database access. One thing is for sure, the search for relevant studies can be a time consuming, and frustrating endeavor.

Published on: 05 may 2013

Crime reduction in the UK: evidence based policy in action?

Howard White

While watching BBC news some time last year, I heard the new head of the Metropolitan Police, (London’s police force) make a very cogent statement of the need to base policy and programmes on evidence.

Published on: 30 apr 2013

Placing economics on the science spectrum

Benjamin Wood

Where does economics fit on the spectrum of sciences? ‘Hard scientists’ argue that the subjectivity of economics research differentiates it from biology, chemistry, or other disciplines that require strict laboratory experimentation. Meanwhile, many economists try to separate their field from the ‘social sciences’ by lumping sociology, psychology, and the like into a quasi-mathematical abyss reserved for ‘touchy-feely’ subjects, unable to match the rigor required of economics research. However, the dismal science’s poor (and thin) replication record does little to lend credence to the claim that economics is more rigorous than the other ‘social sciences’.

Published on: 19 apr 2013

Home Street Home: What works for improving the lives of street children?

Esther Coren and Birte Snilstveit

On 12th April 2013 street children, NGOs, celebrities, policymakers, businesses and individuals will observe the International Day for Street Children. The theme for this year is Home Street Home – highlighting that for many children across the world the street is their home.

Published on: 11 apr 2013

Uganda shows its commitment to evaluation

Christelle Chapoy

Uganda’s cabinet has just approved a new monitoring and evaluation policy, which will be officially endorsed and disseminated next month. It comes as a positive signal after several donors suspended aid to the Government and provides a solid foundation to boost the country’s commitment to evidence informed policy-making.

Published on: 01 apr 2013

Tips on selling randomised controlled trials

Howard White

Programme implementers often claim that it is unethical and not possible to randomise the assignment of their intervention. In his blog, 3ie’s Executive Director outlines how different designs of randomised controlled trials can overcome all these objections. Randomisation need not be a big deal.

Published on: 25 mar 2013

Collaborations key to improved impact evaluation designs

Paromita Mukhopadhyay

A 3ie-supported study, highlighted as best practice, at the South Asian Evaluation Conclave of Evaluators, shows how active engagement between research teams and funding agencies improves the study design of an impact evaluation. Paromita Mukhopadhyay reports from the conference.

Published on: 25 mar 2013

Of sausages and systematic reviews: making better use of existing evidence

Hugh Waddington

“Literature reviews are like sausages... I don’t eat sausages as I don’t know what goes into them.”

Dean Karlan said this to an unfortunate researcher at a conference recently. The ‘sausage problem’ puts in a nutshell why at 3ie we favour the scientific approach to evidence synthesis -- evidence as encapsulated by the systematic review.

Published on: 17 mar 2013

Unraveling the opaque through impact evaluations

Markus Olapade

“If anybody tells you to conduct an impact evaluation, tell that person to go to hell!” 

This was the comment made by a renowned impact evaluator after Khalid Al Kudair presented the achievements of his NGO Glowork in mobilising the female labour force in Saudi Arabia and promoting substantial changes in the country's labour legislation. The impact evaluator was trying to drive home the point that if a programme is obviously working, why spend the time and money on conducting an impact evaluation? I disagree.

Published on: 28 feb 2013

Using the causal chain to make sense of the numbers

Howard White

At 3ie, we stress the need for a good theory of change to underpin evaluation designs. Many 3ie-supported study teams illustrate the theory of change through some sort of flow chart linking inputs to outcomes. They lay out the assumptions behind their little arrows to a varying extent. But what they almost invariably fail to do is to collect data along the causal chain. Or, in the rare cases where they do have indicators across the causal chain, they don’t present them as such.

Published on: 11 feb 2013

Of rumours related to blood, poison and researchers

A pitch for an interdisciplinary approach to impact evaluation

Radhika Menon and Thomas de Hoop

A recent analysis of 67 3ie supported evaluations shows that distrust and suspicion among community members can sometimes slam the brakes on the implementation of development programmes. The distrust in almost all cases was sparked off by a ‘rumour’.

Published on: 27 jan 2013

Delivering Global Public Goods: A Snapshot of 3ie in 2012

Howard White

3ie is now making an important contribution to filling the evidence gap of what works in development and why. And it is not that evidence is being produced for evidence’s sake. Pre-schools are being rolled out across Mozambique, independent audits are being adopted in Gujarat and discussed with other states, registration requirements for small farmers in West Bengal have been abolished, and the NGO in northern Ghana has gone back to the drawing board. These are just some of the examples of how evidence from 3ie-funded studies is being used to inform better policies. And better policies can improve lives.

Published on: 08 jan 2013

Your well-being matters, I sell good health

Female condoms reduce transmission of sexual diseases including HIV/AIDS. And they put the woman in charge in situations in which the man not be willing to use a condom. But adoption of female condoms remains low.

Published on: 03 jan 2013

Matching policymakers and researchers: Using systematic reviews to make a difference

Jyotsna Puri

The chasm between policymakers and researchers is frequently observed but seldom addressed. A little over two weeks ago, 3ie organized a matchmaking market place to bridge this gap between research and policy. The setting for this was the Dhaka Colloquium for Systematic Reviews in International Development. The people who came together for this innovative matchmaking exercise were both ‘users’ and ‘doers’ of systematic reviews.

Published on: 03 jan 2013

Using impact evaluation to improve policies and programmes: second generation impact evaluation questions

Howard White

Conditional cash transfers increase school enrolments and use of health facilities. Community-level water supply does not have health benefits. There is emerging evidence that community-driven development programmes do not increase social cohesion.

These statements can be made with confidence based on the considerable body of evidence from impact evaluations undertaken to answer the question of what works in development. 3ie is now adding this body of evidence as more completed studies are becoming available.

Published on: 25 dec 2012

Making systematic reviews policy relevant

When a group of UK policymakers were surveyed about what they thought about research evidence they said it was verbose, dense, full of jargon, untimely and irrelevant for policy. This is not surprising. Getting technical research evidence to seep into policy thinking has always been a challenge. The fact that the culture of opinion based policy still persists makes it difficult for researchers to reach out to policymakers. 

What is the way forward then for systematic reviews? This was the big question that Philip Davies, Deputy Director-Systematic Reviews, 3ie, Kent Ranson from the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research, WHO and Howard White, Executive Director of 3ie tackled at the final plenary of the Dhaka Colloquium on Systematic Reviews in International Development. The plenary brought to a close a very successful week of deliberations on the use of systematic reviews in international development among 130 researchers and policymakers from 30 countries across the world.

Published on: 19 dec 2012

DFID and 3ie share experiences with systematic reviews

As major funders of systematic reviews, the UK Department for International Development and 3ie had several insights to share at the Dhaka Colloquium of Systematic Reviews in International Development.

Overall DFID considers its systematic reviews programme to be a success and a valuable addition to its toolbox for evidence based policymaking. Raymond Kennedy, Systematic Review Lead at DFID said that as an evidence product, systematic reviews offer great value for money. “They offer a lot of synthesis for the money invested,” he said.

Published on: 18 dec 2012

How useful are systematic reviews in international development?

Martina Vojtkova

This thought provoking question was the highlight of the opening plenary of the Dhaka Colloquium of Systematic Reviews in International Development. 

Systematic reviews summarise all the evidence on a particular intervention or programme and were first developed in the health sector.  The health reviews have a specific audience: doctors, nurses and health practitioners. The audience is also easily able to find the systematic reviews.

Published on: 12 dec 2012

Special feature for World AIDS Day 2012

Tackling HIV/AIDS: what works?

Eric Djimeu

There has been only a small decline in the prevalence of HIV in the last decade, dropping from 5.9 percent to 5 percent between 2001 and 2009 for those aged 15-49 (UNAIDS, 2010). This decrease, whilst important, does not seem impressive compared to over US$5 billion spent fighting AIDS in low and middle income countries each year (the latest available figure is US$5.1 billion in 2008).

Published on: 29 nov 2012

Field notes on implementing impact evaluations

Radhika Menon

To get a sense of what has been happening on the ground with respect to its funded impact evaluations, 3ie recently carried out a field monitoring visit to four projects. Radhika Menon highlights some of the lessons learned through this visit, and how it gave 3ie the opportunity to learn a lot about the relationship between implementing agencies and researchers, and the challenges involved in implementing an impact evaluation.

Published on: 11 nov 2012

Impact of daycare interventions in Latin America

Paola Gadsden

A systematic review of daycare programmes in Latin America shows encouraging results both in terms of short and medium term development of children. Based on the evidence, Paola Gadsden, one of the researchers of the study, recommends that policymakers implement daycare interventions and continue to monitor and evaluate the programmes.

Published on: 05 nov 2012

Marginal farmers get access to electric irrigation in West Bengal

A 3ie-supported study shows that, in water-abundant West Bengal, price-based reforms reduced costs for tube well owners but increased them for small farmers buying water. Recommendations from the study to reduce red tape and costs for small farmers to acquire electric pumps were adopted by government.

Published on: 26 jul 2012

Early stimulation and micronutrients interventions: the next frontiers to break the cycle of child poverty

Christelle Chapoy

Why should we put more money into early childhood development interventions? Does this help children in secondary education? Should we invest in preschool programmes or more in home stimulation or parenting classes? What is most cost-effective?  These are key questions that policymakers are grappling with at a time when early childhood development is emerging as a priority issue for many developing countries.

Published on: 08 jul 2012

Can we do small n impact evaluations?

Christelle Chapoy

Why should we put more money into early childhood development interventions? Does this help children in secondary education? Should we invest in preschool programmes or more in home stimulation or parenting classes? What is most cost-effective?  These are key questions that policymakers are grappling with at a time when early childhood development is emerging as a priority issue for many developing countries.

Published on: 28 jun 2012

Evidence to policy: bridging gaps and reducing divides

Evidence-based policymaking is important but not always straightforward in practice. The complex reality of policymaking processes means that the availability of high quality research is a necessary, but not sufficient, ingredient for evidence informed policy.

At the recent 12th Annual Colloquium of the Campbell Collaboration, all the vibrant and in-depth discussions conveyed one clear message: we need to get better at bridging the gap between research and policy. Over 150 researchers and policymakers gathered in Copenhagen for the three-day event, which combined training in systematic review methods with plenary sessions focusing on policy and practice. The takeaway messages from the sessions offer a clear and sharp call to action for researchers.

Published on: 11 jun 2012

Credible evidence for policy making: help us launch the 3ie Replication Programme

The outcomes of evidence-based policy making are only as good as the evidence used. Impact evaluation methods, which are scientifically rigorous, provide highly useful evidence for policy making. But as with all scientific research, the only way to validate the findings of impact evaluation is to make sure that if we conduct the analysis over again, we yield the same results - that is, to replicate them. A well-known example of replication is the Roodman and Morduch replication of Pitt and Khandker on microfinance. But it is to be hoped and expected that most replications confirm the validity of study findings, which is very important for increasing the credibility of evidence for policy making.

Published on: 18 may 2012

Building evidence on the impact of social protection

Cash transfers are estimated to reach between 0.75 and 1 billion people (DFID, 2011). Evidence on the effectiveness of these transfers in increasing school enrolment and health care utilization in Latin America (Gaarder, 2010) has spurred the wide-spread growth of similar programmes across many developing countries.

Published on: 26 apr 2012

Evaluating vocational schools in rural China

16 year old Kou Yaokang’s family are poor subsistence farmers. They cannot afford to pay for Kou's high school education. Instead of ending his formal education after middle school, Kou Yaokang enrolled in a vocational school. This seemed like a good idea at the time. “The government was providing subsidies for vocational schools, and I thought I could learn new skills to get a good job,” Kou Yaokang told a team from the Rural Education Action Project in December 2011.

Published on: 05 apr 2012

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

780 million people in developing countries lack access to clean water. That's approximately the same number of people that live in the United States and the European Union, combined. Waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea are the leading cause of death among children under five in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, 1.4 million children die every year from diarrheal diseases attributable to access to poor water and sanitation, and poor hygiene conditions.

Published on: 22 mar 2012

Making mothers matter

A review of evidence on what works in reducing maternal mortality

Every 90 seconds, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth.  99 per cent of these deaths are in developing countries (UNFPA, 2011).

Maternal mortality fell by 34 percent in the nineteen years from 1990 to 2008: far short of what is required to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of a reduction of 75 percent by 2015.  Some countries are doing better than others, but clearly there are substantial challenges in improving birthing conditions for poor women in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In many countries, childbirth remains a death sentence rather than a blessing.

Published on: 07 mar 2012

Happy Endings for Mozambican Preschoolers

Abandoned by her family and severely malnourished, four-year-old Castera's story seemed destined for an unhappy ending.

But, this is where the plot changes. Taken in by Alda Mate, the strong, determined village chief of Machalucuane, and enrolled in Save the Children's supported early childhood education program, today Castera is a happy, curious second grader.

Published on: 15 feb 2012

African theories of change: lost in translation?

The word ‘evaluation’ has several different meanings in African languages. In the Yoruba language, evaluation is often associated with ‘ayewo’ which means ‘investigation’. The meaning ties in with the cultural concept of evaluation. Many African societies have ‘evaluation’ rooted in their traditions in that they undertake all  kinds of ‘investigations’ before they embark on a major project – farming, marriage, travel, assessment of causes and sources of illness.

Published on: 05 feb 2012

Evaluating the impact of information on electoral accountability

Nearly a quarter of the 543 elected members of the Indian Parliament have been charged with crimes, including rape and murder (Association for Democratic Reforms, 2009). Civil society movements have made corruption among politicians a topic of national importance using approaches such as voter education campaigns to empower citizens and demand more effective leadership.

Published on: 20 dec 2011

Toward results-based social policy design and implementation

Most development practitioners, academics, and decision makers would agree that usually social policy is not redesigned, upgraded and fine-tuned according to evidence. In fact, the past decade has witnessed a growing concern that very little evidence is available on what works in development policy, and that only a small part of this little knowledge is used in social policymaking.

Published on: 12 dec 2011

Evaluating the impact of anti-poverty interventions in Bangladesh

Despite progress in recent years, over 30 percent of Bangladesh’s population lives below the poverty line, making it one of the poorest countries in the world (Poverty estimate based on cost of basic needs method,Government of Bangladesh and World Bank, 2011). Many evaluations assess short-term gains from development interventions but few studies have evaluated impact in the long run. Have development programmes in Bangladesh led to sustainable and lasting benefits for people?

Published on: 15 nov 2011

Roadblocks to safe deliveries: Evaluating impact on maternal and child health in India

Over 70,000 women die every year in India due to complications during childbirth. Several Indian states have developed programmes that encourage pregnant women to deliver their babies in medical facilities (institutional delivery) rather than at home. Poor women can use their Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards as vouchers to receive free maternity care at designated maternity hospitals. Contracted providers, usually an obstetrician or a small maternity facility, receives flat payments for each BPL delivery.

Published on: 07 nov 2011

Evaluating the impact of daycare on children in developing countries

Women's labour force participation is growing - especially in  Latin America and the Caribbean - with more than half the women around the world now working outside the home (UN, 2010). As more women take up jobs in developing countries, the demand for daycare services is increasing.

Published on: 24 oct 2011

3ie launches the first systematic review database in international development

Evidence on the effectiveness of development programmes is now just a click away. 3ie is pleased to announce the launch of the systematic review database, a one-stop shop for synthesized evidence on development programmes. Funded by the UK Department for International Development, this database contains systematic reviews focusing on development interventions in low and middle income countries.

Published on: 05 oct 2011

The impact evaluation roller coaster

I was recently talking with one of my younger colleagues and she was lamenting something that was going wrong in an impact evaluation she was working on. She was thinking of throwing in the towel and shutting down the work. This reminded me of the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach when I started doing impact evaluation (as well as research more generally) when something went wrong.   Now, of course, I am bald…

Published on: 23 sep 2011

Malaria and bednets

Around one million people die each year from malaria and 90 percent of these deaths are in Africa. Malaria kills a child every 45 seconds, killing more children than any other disease.

While a variety of treatments have been used to tackle this deadly disease, the use of insecticide-treated nets, a corner-stone of the approach advocated by the roll-back malaria partnership, has come under close scrutiny following a recent study in Dielmo, Senegal by the Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, published in the Lancet. This study has grabbed media attention and been the subject of articles in theTelegraph and the Independent, among others, and been covered by the BBC. The researchers found that after the introduction of bed nets, the incidence of malaria attacks fell from 5.5 percent in August, 2008 to 0.4 percent in August, 2010.But the incidence rose back up to 4.6 per cent between September and December, 2010.

Published on: 06 sep 2011

How can NGOs rigorously evaluate their impact?

Non governmental organisations (NGOs) need credible, reliable feedback on whether their interventions are making a meaningful difference. But they struggle with how they can practically access it. Like all credible research, impact evaluation takes time, resources, and expertise to do well, and many NGOs are not set up to rigorously evaluate the bulk of their work.

Published on: 23 aug 2011

Building peace with impact evaluations

Since the 1990s, many multi-lateral and bi-lateral donors have expanded their peace-making and peace-keeping assistance to conflict-affected countries to include peace-building activities. The objective of these interventions is to prevent the conflict from reoccurring and return countries to a stable situation in which the economy can operate.

Published on: 08 aug 2011

Evidence-based development …. lessons from evidence-based management

Evidence based development is treading in the footsteps of evidence-based medicine: innovating, testing, and systematically pulling together the results of different studies to see what works, where and why. Other disciplines as diverse as sports science and management have been going down the same route. Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: profiting from evidence-based management by Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton contains valuable insights for practitioners of evidence-based development.

Published on: 21 jul 2011

Moving from evaluation to learning and doing

“Policymakers act when they see an opportunity to tell a good story … They also act when they see an opportunity to avoid criticism. The good news is that the world is changing. Right now we have a growing movement for accountability with social media playing a lead role” commented Felipe Kast, Chile Planning Minister at the 3ie conference “Mind the Gap: From Evidence to Policy Impact.

Published on: 30 jun 2011

The unhappy marriage of impact evaluation and the results agenda

Howard White

The results agenda gained momentum in development circles during the 1990s, becoming firmly established with the widespread adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. This focus on results is welcome. Simply measuring success by the volume of spending, or even the number of teachers trained, kilometres of road built and women’s groups formed, is not a satisfactory approach. Input monitoring does not ensure that development spending makes a difference to people’s lives. Spending that makes a difference; that is what we mean by a result.  So we would expect this agenda to go hand in hand with impact evaluations. But that has not been the case.

Published on: 16 jun 2011

What if BRICS countries were committing to evaluation?

Marie Gaarder

Brazil, under the leadership of President Lula, has already made some headway in demanding evidence to stop spending tax payers’ money on programs that don’t work and committing to evaluation.

Published on: 13 jun 2011

Join the debate: Live updates from 'Mind the Gap: From evidence to policy impact'

From June 15 to 17, the city of Cuernavaca in Mexico will be the center of discussions on how to use evidence to find effective solutions to critical development problems. Over 400 policymakers, practitioners and researchers from Latin America, as well as Africa and Asia will come together to take stock of what we have learned from evaluations and the way forward for adopting new approaches.

Published on: 09 jun 2011

New UK watchdog to improve aid impact

Howard White

Is aid money used effectively to improve lives? Public opinion surveys in developed countries show that people are very sceptical about the benefits of aid.

Published on: 23 may 2011

The mothers' effect

We know that the level of education of mothers has a direct effect on children’s health, nutrition and education. Many development programmes are directed at educating mothers for improving their children’s health and education outcomes. The premise here is that a more educated mother will have better knowledge, have healthier behaviour and allocate more resources to her children’s health and education. But, is nutrition and health knowledge learned outside school more effective than literacy and numeracy skills learned in schools?

Published on: 08 may 2011

Netting Malaria: Evaluating the impact on health and education

Every 40 seconds, a child in sub-Saharan Africa dies from a mosquito bite. Every year 781,000 people die of Malaria and most of them are children, infants and pregnant women. While the funding for malaria control has increased to around US $1.8 billion in 2010, it is still much lower than the required resources of $6 billion (WHO, 2010).

Published on: 24 apr 2011

Making health count

Lack of resources, conflict, poor governance, economic and humanitarian crises have impeded progress towards the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Undernutrition continues to be an underlying cause in about one third of all child deaths. Half a million women, most of them in developing countries, still die each year of complications during pregnancy or childbirth (WHO, 2010).

Published on: 06 apr 2011

Providing evidence to influence policy

3ie Annual Report offers an insight into 3ie’s work in funding actionable research, informing policy and building capacity.

Published on: 21 mar 2011

Social cohesion: building bridges to effect change

Poverty can manifest itself in many non-material ways. It could be expressed in feelings of powerlessness, lack of voice, exclusion, shame and break-down of the social fabric. This insight has meant that the role of social cohesion in improving people’s well being has received a lot of attention in recent years. Many governments, multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and other international agencies have encouraged community driven development and curriculum interventions to promote social cohesion.

Published on: 28 feb 2011

Taking stock: An international call for papers

Does microcredit do more harm than good? Do we know which humanitarian progammes work best in complex situations like Haiti? What are the lessons learned from conditional cash transfer programmes in Latin America and elsewhere? These are some of the key questions to be addressed at the evaluation conference "Mind the Gap: From Evidence to Policy Impact," in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on June 15 -17, 2011.

Published on: 03 jan 2011

From impact evaluation to policy action

Do we really need more money to realize our anti-poverty goals? Or is the real need to find more cost effective solutions to development problems? Are the programmes we are carrying out the best ones to achieve our goals?

Published on: 18 nov 2010

Farmers in focus: Research grants for more effective pro-poor policies

The pressing issues of farmer debt, climate change and food security reinforce the importance of agriculture as a global priority. This priority is clear from the high demand for impact evaluations of agriculture and farmer-related interventions. 3ie announces today the 16 awardees under the third round of its Open Window grants, half of which are in the area of agriculture and rural development. A total of US $ 6.1 million will be awarded for conducting these 16 rigorous and policy relevant studies.

Published on: 04 nov 2010

The evidence-based revolution: Donors and researchers call for rigorous evaluations to ensure that aid works

Each year billions of dollars are spent on development programs with little evidence on whether those programs are having any impact at all on things that matter to poor people, such as poverty, child mortality, maternal health or girl’s education. But academics and policy makers believe that an ‘evidence-based revolution’ is now imminent in international aid policy.

Published on: 21 oct 2010

Building evidence and enhancing policy effectiveness in China

Around 150 Chinese high level policy makers, government officials and researchers participated in a series of events in Beijing organized by 3ie together with the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) of theChinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Stanford University, who collaborate in 3ie Associate Member,REAP. Over five days, the team offered three separate, but interlocking events: a half day conference, a one and a half day orientation workshop and a three day hands-on training.

Published on: 04 oct 2010

Designing impact evaluations with an impact: A 3ie-DFID experience sharing workshop

At the recent 3ie-DFID Impact Evaluation Workshop, grantees working in India teams from many institutions, including J-PAL, MIT, IFPRI, Delhi School of Economics, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the International Water Management Institute and Pratham, presented the rationale, questions and design for impact studies in the diverse areas of governance, health, education, environment, water and agriculture.

Published on: 15 jul 2010

Education for all: What is the right formula?

Around 75 million children are still not enrolled in primary school, over a third of children drop out before completing primary school, and many more leave having ‘failed’ (UNESCO, 2009). As the global movement to meet the learning needs of children, youth and adults by 2015 gathers pace, it is time to reflect on whether education for all can also mean quality education for all.

Published on: 01 jul 2010

Haiti five months on - What have we learned?

More than five months after the earthquake, over 1.5 million Haitians are still living in makeshift camps and a heightened hurricane season gets under way. While relief efforts are still going on, medium- and long-term recovery strategies are being planned and mechanisms are being put in place to track recovery funds and monitor reconstruction programmes. The marathon of recovery and reconstruction has slowly begun in Haiti.

Published on: 22 jun 2010

Delivering solutions for mothers and children

Every minute around the world, a woman dies in childbirth. Every year, two million babies die on their first day. A majority of these deaths could be prevented with early recognition and proper implementation of required skills and knowledge (Ray and Salihu, 2004). The Millennium Development Goals call for a reduction in maternal mortality by three quarters and child mortality by two thirds (MDG 4 and 5), but this can only be achieved if health care coverage of mothers and newborns is significantly scaled up.

Published on: 07 jun 2010

Fair and Square: Better market share, more benefits through Fairtrade

Over two thirds of poor people in the world depend on small-scale agriculture. Lack of access to information about markets, vulnerability to the fluctuating demand for commodities such as coffee or cotton, and low margins have dented the profitability of small-scale farmers.

Published on: 15 mar 2010

Facts with an impact

International Women’s Day: Do you know that ...

Quotas for women in politics cost practically nothing and help overcome bias against women leaders in India (Chattopadhyay and Duflo, 2004; Duflo and Topalova, 2004).

Published on: 05 mar 2010

The UK Department For International Development (DFID) calls for systematic reviews to promote evidence based policy making

This innovative pilot project aims to increase the use of evidence in shaping and improving the effectiveness of development policy by commissioning over 40 priority systematic reviews in eight thematic areas: Growth and Investment, Governance, Fragile States, Climate and Environment, Social Development, Human Development, Agriculture and Aid Delivery.

Published on: 23 feb 2010

US $10 million research grants to find new evidence on what works for the poor

The International Initiative for Impact evaluation (3ie) awards grants to 21 cutting edge impact studies which are set to have a significant impact on future policy-making.

3ie unveiled earlier this month the 21 winners for its second round of open window grants. The funds, totalling US$ 10 million, will be channelled towards assessing the impact of key development interventions in countries spanning Africa, Asia and Latin America. The awarded research teams are responding to the need of policy-makers and program managers for real evidence, by applying rigorous methodologies to investigate if development spending is indeed making a difference in people’s lives.

Published on: 01 feb 2010

Building on what works: First 3ie Annual Report

2009 laid a solid foundation in building the evidence base to help policy makers and development agencies invest more in effective programs. This first annual report explains how we are moving forward and constantly learning to do better.

Published on: 15 jan 2010

Climate change interventions: Learning how to be more effective

While experts call for increased financing of climate change mitigation and adaptation by hundreds of billions of dollars a year, evidence of the effectiveness of current spending has become more and more essential. Donors will likely remain hesitant to provide additional funding unless it is clear that interventions are reaching their environmental and developmental objectives.

Published on: 15 dec 2009

Climate change: Effective ways of cutting greenhouse gas emissions

The World Bank says developing nations need US$400 billion per year for mitigation. The UN climate change summit is the deadline for countries to agree on a new global deal. Since funding and mandate for climate change mitigation and adaptation interventions is increasing substantially, there is an urgent need to ensure effective allocation of these resources and for policy makers to know which mitigation policy works, under what circumstances and at what cost.

Published on: 04 dec 2009

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