Replication research promotes open discourse

The just-released International Journal of Epidemiology (IJE) suite of publications reexamining the effectiveness of deworming in Kenya demonstrates the potential impact of replication research. The headline publication is a 3ie-funded replication study.

Tackling radicalisation through sports

Ten years ago, on 7 July, four suicide bombers killed 52 people in London. This included the bombing of the number 30 bus at Tavistock Square, just yards away from the building that now houses 3ie’s London Office. Today, ten years on, in the town of Dewsbury, home to the mastermind of the 7/7 bombings, cricket is being used to combat radicalisation. The NGO Chance to Shine has put together three cricket teams for getting the youth to mix with each other.

Do communities need funds or facilitation?

A group of villages in Haryana, India came together to build a much-needed bridge to reduce travel time to the nearest town. This sounds like the sort of community initiative that donors have been supporting for more than a decade with community driven development (CDD) programmes. Except it isn’t.

Trends in impact evaluation: Did we ever learn?

In 2006, the Evaluation Gap Working Group asked, “When will we ever learn?” This week, 3ie’s Drew Cameron, Anjini Mishra, and Annette Brown (hereafter CMB) have published a paper in the Journal of Development Effectiveness that uses data on more than thirty years of published impact evaluations from 3ie’s Impact Evaluation Repository (IER) to answer the question.

On target? Why participant selection matters for development programmes

Many development programmes reach only a fraction of the people they aim to include. One reason for this is that attrition erodes target group participation at various stages between programme conception and completion. Programme targeting using selection criteria, eligibility assessment and participant registration is one of the ways this problem can be addressed. But how far does targeting address this issue?

MDG for water: is the job done?

Water provision remains high on the global development agenda including political commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and associated post-2015 targets. By 2012, the United Nations declared that governments had met the MDG drinking water target to ‘halve the number without access to safe drinking water (defined as access to water from an improved source within 1 kilometre of the household).’  This suggests that some development efforts are working.

Reversing the resource curse through impact evaluations

Countries such as Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria have large reserves of natural resources. They are also countries that have suffered extended periods of political violence, authoritarianism, corruption, inequality and poor growth. What causes this imbalance of high wealth on one side and extreme poverty on the other? The correlation between the quantity of natural resources reserves and poor economic growth is generally considered to be proof of a natural resource curse.

Not all ‘systematic’ reviews are created equal

In a recent World Bank blog based on a paper, David Evans and Anna Popova argue that systematic reviews may not be reliable as an approach to synthesis of empirical literature. They reach this conclusion after analysing six reviews assessing the effects of a range of education interventions on learning outcomes.  The main finding of their analysis: While all these reviews focus on the effects of learning outcomes based on evidence from impact evaluations, there is a large degree of divergence in the studies included in each review, and consequently the conclusions they reach.

Understanding what’s what: the importance of sector knowledge in causal chain analysis

My recent blog, How big is big enough?, argued that you need sector expertise to judge if the effect of a programme is meaningful rather than just statistically significant. But the need for sector expertise goes far deeper than that. I have recently been reading impact evaluations of water supply and sanitation studies. The studies by the non-sector researchers (mostly economists) collect data on the outcome of interest, usually child diarrhoea. But they do little more than that.

What’s wrong with evidence-informed development? Part 2

3ie’s recent systematic review of farmer field schools (FFS) found that these programmes worked as pilots and small- scale programmes. But the few impact evaluations  of  national-level programmes found no impact.  The evidence suggested that problems in recruiting and training appropriate faciliators impeded the scale-up of the experiential learning model of farmer field schools.