The Social Observatory: building adaptive capacity in large-scale projects

Speaker: Vijayendra Rao, lead economist, Development Economics Group, The World Bank 

Chair: Emmanuel Jimenez, executive director, 3ie

Discussants: Prof Ashwini Deshpande, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics; and Yamini Aiyar, senior fellow, Centre for Policy Research and director, Accountability Initiative

Date: 1 February, 3.00-5.00 p.m.

Venue: India International Centre, lecture room II (basement) New Delhi - 110003

The Social Observatory: building adaptive capacity in large-scale projects

The World Bank’s Social Observatory team has been working for four years with livelihoods projects in Bihar and Tamil Nadu to improve their capacity to adapt and scale up. An interdisciplinary team of economists, sociologists, behavioural scientists and management information system specialists have been embedded with project offices in these states to help improve implementation on the frontlines. In this talk, Dr Rao described this approach and highlighted the findings from impact evaluations and in-depth long-term qualitative research to reflect on how and why livelihoods interventions succeed and/or fail. He also demonstrated a new method of peer tracking that allows communities to generate census data with which they can monitor their own progress, make better allocation decisions and provide a source of information to engage with the government to improve public services. 
About the speaker: Dr Rao leads The Social Observatory, which is an inter-disciplinary effort to improve the implementation of anti-poverty projects by building their adaptive capacity. He integrates his training in economics with theories and methods from anthropology, sociology and political science to study the social, cultural and political context of extreme poverty in developing countries. For his detailed profile, click here.
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