Carlos Oya and colleagues recently published a systematic review of agricultural certification schemes that stands out for me as useful research for informing policy and programming. Why do I say that? Agricultural certification schemes set and monitor compliance to voluntary standards with the objective of making production socially sustainable and terms of trade fairer for smallholder farmers and workers.
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?
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.