Dear colleagues,

While 3ie scored many successes in 2023, it’s been another year of multiple, often mutually reinforcing challenges and catastrophes across the world. While virus epidemics continue to be a concern, 2023 has witnessed epidemics of disinformation and democratic backsliding, wars of words and values, and zero-sum games being played over issues of land and climate. In the midst of this, 2023 has also seen medical and technological breakthroughs that while needing appropriate regulation, can bring new solutions and relief to the world.

Being an evidence partner to a growing number of organizations, we at 3ie have had the opportunity to bring evidence to bear on many of the challenges of our time. Some examples:
  • We produced a rapid evidence assessment – supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) – on the effects of democracy and freedom interventions in democratic backsliding contexts (read the brief and blog). The rapid synthesis builds on the body of evidence identified through six recently published evidence gap maps on democracy, governance, and human rights supported by USAID.
  • 3ie’s latest research, supported by USAID and IOM, aims to fill essential knowledge gaps for irregular migration programming in Guatemala and beyond. The evidence gap map and related systematic review have just been published. Here’s a blog where we share key findings.
  • As part of the ADN Dignidad program in Colombia, our impact evaluation shows that a multipurpose cash transfer program for Venezuelan migrants yielded positive effects on migrants' incomes, food security, savings, and labor force participation rates. Read the blog (view webpage – EN | SP)
  • There are big knowledge gaps regarding what works to improve resilience, either for households or communities, as shown in 3ie's new evidence gap map on building resilient societies.
  • Our partnership with ISDC Berlin grew stronger as we entered the second phase of PeaceFIELD, a program funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and Global Affairs Canada. We conducted trainings in Nyala, Sudan, and Guatemala City, on mixed-method impact evaluation of UN Peacebuilding interventions. We worked on building rigorous evidence on peacebuilding interventions with an aim to improve evidence-informed decision-making in the peacebuilding field.
  • In our gender livelihoods programs in India and Bangladesh – supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WorldFish – we were able to explore the pathways towards economic empowerment and self-empowerment for women in this Swashakt podcast series, in learning notes (here), and this blog.
  • Our work in immunization seeks to generate evidence around strategies to improve routine child immunization and reduce vaccine hesitancy and zero-dose children in L&MICs. We recently completed a Review of Reviews that synthesizes the best available evidence on effective interventions for improving routine child immunization outcomes. Read all about this work here.
  • 3ie supported Itad in examining how the COVAX Facility (which aimed to accelerate the development, production, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide) performed from its conceptualization in 2020 through to the end of 2021. The findings help us understand the reasons behind this result and reflect on them for future pandemic preparedness and response.
  • This year, we made multiple updates to the living food security and nutrition evidence and gap map supported by GIZ. The map now includes 2,452 studies. In the original map, we identified several evidence gaps, and although we have identified a few new studies in these areas, for the most part these areas still stand as gaps in the literature. Here’s the blog about the latest update.
  • Drawing and expanding on the above food systems and nutrition EGM in a number of ways, our nutrition-sensitive agriculture EGM includes a total of 1,952 impact evaluations and 155 systematic reviews. It shows the evidence base has increased steadily until 2019. View the interactive map, read the report, and brief
Being a mission-driven organization, what continues to drive our innovations and creativity is the fact that we incessantly ask ourselves: ‘What stands in the way of better use of evidence to improve lives?’. In a blog in March, I reflected on 15 contributions and innovations by 3ie for each of its years of existence. We haven’t rested on our laurels in 2023 either – some examples follow:
  • During 2023, in partnership with the Millennium Challenges Corporation (MCC), we developed a convenient tool that helps users find and select approaches to assessing and supporting policy and institutional reform (PIR). Explore the PIR methods menu
  • As part of an ongoing evaluation of Niger’s Agricultural Production Intensification for Food Security Project (PIPA/SA), 3ie and New Light Technologies are using remotely-sensed data to analyze various program outcomes, including changes in production, water availability, siltation, and desertification. We share the preliminary lessons here.
  • 3ie is also developing an inventory of remotely sensed proxy indicators, designed to help development practitioners understand differences between remote sensing proxy indicators, explore their application to social science sectors, and provide them with resources and tools to conduct analyses. 
  • 3ie is an early adopter of AI in the synthesis space and we have used machine learning (ML) in our synthesis work since 2016. Our continuously updated Development Evidence Portal (DEP) and living EGM on food systems are unique examples of the use of ML to create rigorous evidence. Our approach has been and will continue to be one of continuously exploring what AI can do for us while always setting rigour, unbiasedness, and credibility first.
One of the most important responses to the question ‘What stands in the way of better use of evidence to improve lives?’ is that existing evidence is not being sufficiently and correctly used and that development institutions, implementing organizations, and governments are not sufficiently nurturing and incentivizing a culture of evidence use and questioning mindsets in their institutions. This is the reason why we in 3ie used much of our 15th anniversary year to celebrate how far we have come as a development community but also to focus our discussions on how to further strengthen institutional evidence cultures.
  • With the Inter-American Development Bank, MCC, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), FCDO, and Germany’s KfW Development Bank (KFW), we signed the Global Evidence Commitment to improve the culture and practice of evidence use in our institutions (I wrote about it in this blog).
  • At the Africa Evidence Network’s Evidence 2023 conference, one of our priority discussions focused on institutionalizing evidence-informed decision-making in African governments. We also emphasized localization and why building and nurturing the relationships we have forged over the years is so important on this journey of evidence gathering and use.
  • Our 15th anniversary event in Washington DC in May co-hosted with the Centre for Global Development brought together stakeholders from government, academia, development, and aid organizations who emphasized the urgent need to mainstream the use of evidence into the culture of development institutions. Read the blog and watch the discussion here.
2023 has been a strong year for 3ie. We have been able to work with a range of dedicated evidence champions and partners across the world and across organizational types to improve lives. It has been an honor and a privilege!

We are also excited to see our portfolio expand and our sources of work diversify. For example, in our November newsletter, we announced the establishment of a new research commissioning center to support FCDO’s Research and Evidence Directorate. It is led by 3ie, the University of Birmingham, and a consortium of UK and global research partners – learn more about it here and sign up for opportunities here. We are also excited by the recent award by the USAID Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security, called ‘Evidence Mapping, Systematic Reviews, and Impact Evaluations’(EMSRIE) Program, which is the follow-on program to 3ie’s previous work under the REAPER program.  

The year culminated with the approval by our Board of Directors of 3ie’s 2024-26 strategy after nearly a year of internal and external consultations. We look forward to sharing it with you soon through our newsletter and on our social media channels! If you don't already, please follow us at @3ieNews on Twitter and @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.

Thank you,
Marie Gaarder
Executive Director, 3ie

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