It’s been a rollercoaster of a year—with good news to celebrate and challenges to overcome. Let me take this opportunity to summarize some of our achievements and whet your appetites for various developments to come.
I want to start by acknowledging that COVID-19 continues to be a cause for concern. The recent surge of cases in many parts of the world, and reports of mutations are worrying. We are watching the developments closely and hope that decision-makers rely on evidence to guide their responses to protect people and prevent the spread of this disease.
But COVID-19 isn’t the only crisis we’re grappling with—and we, as producers of evidence, and champions of using evidence—can help move the needle on some of them. Earlier this year, the UN warned that without urgent action, the world is headed for a climate catastrophe. When the world leaders met at COP27, agriculture and food security were high on their agenda, and it’s high on 3ie’s list of priorities. We updated our Food Security and Nutrition evidence gap map – it has more than 2,000 studies now—and will continue to do so next year. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a growing, living collection of evidence on everything from food supply systems to women’s empowerment and the effects of certain taxes (read our latest blog here). We are also promoting mapping food security interventions specifically in humanitarian settings through a program with USAID.
Our work in challenging environments includes generating evidence and strengthening capacity when we can. As part of our PeaceFIELD program, our staff were in Darfur to provide in-person impact evaluation training for peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and to promote evidence-informed decision-making. In addition to Sudan, the same program will also generate evidence on programs in Mali, Niger and Guatemala. This work is supported by the German foreign affairs ministry which recently approved the second phase of this program.
We are also focusing on women’s empowerment through different evidence partnerships. This year, we closed out our long-running program to evaluate India’s National Rural Livelihoods Mission and received additional funds to evaluate a related program, the National Rural Economic Transformation Project. We are excited to have partners in India’s rural development ministry and the Gates Foundation. We are proud to hear that our report was recently highlighted in the Indian parliament for the third time. Next year, we will see evidence and draw lessons from our Swashakt program. The program supports the implementation and evaluation of enterprises run by rural women’s collectives. Our sustainable livelihoods sanitation program will bring forth lessons about enterprises run by urban collectives.
Our work with West African governments, through our helpdesk program, is going strong. We received additional support from our partner, the West African Development Bank, for an impact evaluation using remote sensing in Niger. Next year, we are also looking to work more closely with partner organizations in Africa to improve capacities and generate and use evidence.
Speaking of capacities—our work is not limited to L&MICs, we just conducted a workshop with Norad to increase the use of impact evaluations in Norwegian development cooperation. And it’s not a one-time thing, Norad just announced a huge commitment to evidence-informed decision-making that I wrote about a few days ago (read the blog here). We are excited to keep working on improving evidence cultures within donor organizations through various mechanisms. For example, in one of our Evidence Dialogues this year, we sat down with donors, including the World Bank, Norad, FCDO, MCC and USAID to talk about institutionalizing the use of evidence—a very useful engagement to inform a longer and critical conversation we plan to continue in 2023 and beyond.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention one critical development: the US$ 4.5million one-time gift from MacKenzie Scott we recently received, together with the US$ 3 million general support grant we received from the Hewlett Foundation earlier this year, will be used to bolster our mission. We have said this before, and it’s worth repeating: unrestricted funds provide significant flexibility for us to pursue our mission in many ways.
We are turning 15 years old next year. I was there when 3ie was first set up and have been leading the organization for three years. So, I look forward to opportunities where we take stock of what we have learned, and where we are headed. We are planning events, engagements, and activities with various partners globally, and hope all of you will join us when and where you can.
You can expect to hear from us soon, through our newsletter and on our social media channels, if you don't already, please follow us at @3ieNews on Twitter and at @3ieimpact on LinkedIn.
That’s it from me and all of us at 3ie. We wish you happy holidays and look forward to continued conversations next year.