Myths about microcredit and meta-analysis

It is widely claimed that microcredit lifts people out of poverty and empowers women. But evidence to support such claims is often anecdotal. A typical micro-finance organisation website paints a picture of very positive impact through stories: “Small loans enable them (women) to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities. 

How 3ie is tackling the challenges of producing high-quality policy-relevant systematic reviews in international development

At its annual colloquium being held in Hyderabad, India, the Cochrane Collaboration is focusing on evidence on the global burden of disease of mostly treatable illnesses that are concentrated among populations living in low- and middle-income countries (L&MICs).  We already have a lot of systematic review evidence about what works to prevent and treat them.  Yet they remain prevalent due to the lack of resources, implementation capacity and population attitudes.

Early engagement improves REDD+ and early warning system design and proposals

At 3ie, our mission is to fund the generation and sharing of sound, useful evidence on the impacts of development programmes and policies work. Actually, we’re more curious (or nosy) than that. For impact evaluation that matters, we need to know which bits of a programme worked, which didn’t, why and through which mechanisms, in which contexts and for what costs.

Gearing up for Making Impact Evaluation Matter

Over the last week, 3ie staff in Delhi, London and Washington were busy coordinating conference logistics, finalising the conference programme, figuring out how to balance 3ie publications and clothing in their suitcases, and putting the last touches to their presentations. This is usual conference preparation for a conference that is going to be different. Why is this conference different? The participant mix – more than 500 people – is balanced among policymakers, programme managers and implementers, and researchers.

How fruity should you be?

A couple of months back the BBC reported a new study which questioned existing advice to eat five portions of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.  Five was not enough according to the study authors, it should be seven.  I really do try each day to eat five portions. Where was I going to find the time and space for these extra two portions?  But this looked like a sound study published in a respected academic journal, with data from over 65,000 people.

If the answer isn’t 42, how do we find it?

Those of you around my age may be familiar with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy in which the answer to the question ‘What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?’ turns out to be the number 42.  We wish that systematic reviews could be like that. Throw all the evidence into a big number cruncher and out pops a single answer.

How much evidence is enough for action?

One of the most useful ways in which evidence from rigorous evaluations can be used is to help policymakers take decisions on going to scale. Notable recent examples of scaled-up interventions based on high-quality synthesised evidence are conditional cash transfers programmes and early child development (pre-school) programmes.

Home Street Home

The International Day for Street Children provides a platform to call for governments to act and support the rights of street children across the world. But a recent study shows that we have very little evidence on the ways in which we could act most effectively to address the needs of street children. We need such studies as this is the only way we can avoid spending on ineffective programmes and channel funding to programmes that do work.

Matching policymakers and researchers

The chasm between policymakers and researchers is frequently observed but seldom addressed. A little over two weeks ago, 3ie organized a matchmaking market place to bridge this gap between research and policy. The setting for this was the Dhaka Colloquium for Systematic Reviews in International Development. The people who came together for this innovative matchmaking exercise were both ‘users’ and ‘doers’ of systematic reviews.

How useful are systematic reviews in international development?

Systematic reviews summarise all the evidence on a particular intervention or programme and were first developed in the health sector.  The health reviews have a specific audience: doctors, nurses and health practitioners. The audience is also easily able to find the systematic reviews. But there seems to be a big difference in the accessibility of evidence between the health and development sectors.