At the core of our work, impact evaluations are rigorous studies that measure the effects of international development programmes. We focus on conducting impact evaluations on policy-relevant research questions where credible findings can drive decision-making.
3ie invented evidence gap maps, which provide a visual overview of existing and ongoing studies or reviews in a sector or sub-sector of international development. These maps help policymakers find the most relevant evidence for a given question, thereby improving decision-making.
Our synthesis products, including systematic reviews, integrate findings from multiple different studies which address a common research question. Because they look systematically across the evidence base to see what works and why, systematic reviews and other synthesis products are more reliable for decision-making than results from a single study used in an ad hoc way.
Often, policy decisions must be made quickly. To make sure that decision-makers get the evidence they need when they need it, 3ie has developed a set of helpdesk services and rapid evidence products. Our Rapid Response Briefs and Rapid Evidence Assessments draw from the latest high-quality research to answer policy questions in a fraction of the time of traditional evaluations or systematic reviews.
We work with governments and other organizations to build their capacities in evaluation and evidence-informed decision-making. In addition to providing trainings on a wide range of evaluation methods, we offer ongoing support services to ensure our partners have access to the most up-to-date evidence and evaluation tools.
3ie specialises in increasing access to, demand for and use of evidence by governments, parliaments, programme managers, civil society, programme participants and the media. We do this by emphasising the value of planning and engaging with stakeholders to ensure that evaluations and reviews are relevant and useful. We use robust and effective monitoring to measure evidence use so that we can convey evidence impact on programmes and policies with greater confidence.
Since 3ie was founded, transparency, reproducibility, and ethics (TRE) have been core considerations in our work. We have developed and refined tools and best practices to ensure our studies apply technically rigorous methodologies, transparently share design and analysis decisions, yield computationally reproducible analysis, and incorporate foundational principles of research ethics into design, implementation, and dissemination. 3ie’s Transparency, Reproducibility, and Ethics (TRE) Policy articulates this commitment to TRE best practices.
3ie’s Development Evidence Portal is the largest-of-its-kind repository of rigorous evidence on what works in international development. This portal includes evaluations and synthesis of studies conducted in low-and middle-income countries. It combines records from 3ie’s Impact Evaluation and Systematic Review repositories, as well as, evidence gap maps.
These provide a visual display of completed and ongoing systematic reviews and impact evaluations in a sector or sub-sector, structured around a framework of interventions and outcomes.
Evidence impact summaries briefly describe how 3ie-supported evidence has informed and influenced decision makers. Each summary highlights verified instances of evidence impact.
We provide funding for replications, conduct in-house replication research and publish guidance on replication methodology. We also provide funding to original authors of 3ie-funded for preparing their raw datasets.
As part of our mandate as a knowledge producer and translator for our main audiences, we publish a range of knowledge products. These include briefs, impact evaluation reports, systematic review reports and summaries, replication papers, evidence gap map reports, scoping reports and working papers.
3ie’s Registry for International Development Impact Evaluations (RIDIE) aims to enhance the transparency and quality of impact evaluation research before it begins.
3ie’s evidence programmes support studies to fill critical knowledge gaps in a sector, sub-sector or in an area with limited rigorous evidence. We fund studies under a specific theme or which address a particular question or set of questions in programme areas where our donors want to expand global public knowledge of what works and what does not.
Improving adolescent sexual and reproductive health requires decision-makers to have evidence on what works or not, for whom and why, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (L&MIC).
Despite the availability of agricultural technologies, few smallholder farmers in developing economies adopt new inputs and practices. One of the factors preventing this is the lack of effective knowledge dissemination.
Agriculture is a major source of sustenance for rural populations in low- and middle income countries. But owing to weather, pests, diseases and price fluctuations, farmers face numerous risks, including crop and livestock losses.
The production and consumption of fish, a nutritious source of food for around one billion people, is rising globally. The bulk of aquaculture still originates from small-scale farming in developing countries, such as Bangladesh.
According to the United Nations estimates, 103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 per cent of them are women.
3ie, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is supporting studies and other work on HIV combination prevention to maximize the useful knowledge and policy implications from these interventions.
To gain a better understanding of whether providing HIV self-tests to people would increase HIV testing rates, and who might benefit most from availability of tests, 3ie funded seven pilot interventions and their impact evaluations in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.
The Saamuhika Shakti or Collective Impact initiative aims to improve the lives of waste pickers in Bengaluru, in India’s southern state of Karnataka, through a coordinated multi-sectoral approach.
We are supporting the generation of rigorous evidence in humanitarian contexts on interventions related to water, sanitation and hygiene, food security, multi-sectoral humanitarian programming and interventions targeting malnutrition.
In alignment with our mission, 3ie promotes rigorous, efficient, and ethical use of innovative data sources for impact evaluations, including in those conducted by 3ie, by 3ie research partners, and in the global development community more broadly.
A major challenge in the fight against vaccine-preventable deaths and diseases is the limited evidence available on innovative and successful community-based approaches for expanding immunization coverage in countries with low or stagnating vaccination rates.
Much of the evidence surrounding the integration of HIV services with maternal, neonatal, and child health services, as well as with sexual and reproductive health and family planning services, does not come from rigorous studies.
3ie, the World Health Organization and the Partnership for Maternal Newborn & Child Health worked together to create a gap map to assess the evidence available on social, behavioural and community engagement interventions related to reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health programs in low and middle-income countries.
Everyone needs reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. However, all too often, this need is not fulfilled. Despite best efforts, significant gaps persist between global nutrition targets and actual achievements.
Fragility has expensive, long-term consequences and trying to build peace in situations of protracted conflicts is becoming the norm. In 2016, 1.8 billion people – nearly a quarter of the world's population – were living in situations of fragility. Social cohesion is widely considered important in building sustainable peace in fragile contexts.
Safe sanitation is a key determinant of many public health outcomes and ending open defecation is necessary in order to achieve safe sanitation. To this end, the Indian government has led a massive sanitation program, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan - Gramin, to improve latrine access and use.
Launched in 2011, the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) aims to link the rural poor in India to sustainable livelihood opportunities and financial services.
We set up our Replication Programme to address the need for a freely available global public good that helps improve the quality and reliability of impact evaluation evidence used for development decision-making. Replication is the most established method of research validation in science, yet it has not been fully embraced by the research community or development donors, leading to this gap.
The natural resource governance sector is under-researched and programs in it are under-evaluated. 3ie supported seven impact evaluations to fill critical knowledge gaps on what works to improve governance in the extractives sector in low- and middle-income countries.
3ie, in partnership with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), developed this program to build the evidence base in L&MICs and to support global efforts towards increasing equitable access to and use of WASH services.
We support impact evaluations to build the evidence base on the effectiveness of interventions that reduce the risks faced by the poor through participation in public works and employment programmes.
India has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in South Asia. Among rural women, less than 30 per cent are engaged in productive work, paid or unpaid.
It is widely recognized that preventive measures are crucial in tackling the HIV epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa. Three randomized controlled trials and numerous observational studies have shown that male circumcision reduces HIV acquisition by approximately 60 per cent for men, suggesting that efforts to increase male circumcision can play a significant role in HIV prevention.
3ie champions the research transparency and reproducibility movement as a means of understanding and mitigating challenges to the credibility of social science research, while also working toward stronger integration of ethical principles into practice.
3ie, in partnership with the Philippines National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is implementing a multi-year Philippines Evidence Program (also known as Policy Window Philippines).
Working in collaboration with the Office of the Prime Minister, the primary aim is to improve developmental outcomes through evidence-informed decision making in Uganda. 3ie is currently supporting evaluation of government programmes around youth livelihood, family planning, public service delivery and local governance, and universal primary education.
3ie and the government of Benin are working on a a multi-year regional initiative that aims to promote the institutionalization of evaluation in government systems across eight countries in West Africa, including: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
View our current funding opportunities for evaluations, systematic reviews and internal replication studies.
Reflections on 2021
As this year comes to a close, I want to share with you my reflections on the lessons we have learned in 2021, the challenges it posed, and opportunities I see for the future.
In 2020, we were reeling from the “first wave” of COVID-19 and its myriad impacts. In 2021, we were still finding our feet in this ‘new-normal’ world when the COVID-19 variants inflicted unprecedented physical, emotional and psychological costs across the globe. We felt it deeply.
Like many of you, members of our 3ie family have experienced loss. We continue to grieve together and support each other as best we can. We cannot wish away the pandemic, but we hope that we enter the new year a little more prepared.
We are in an era of uncertainty. As development professionals, we are trying to lean in and adapt to people's changing needs. I am both awed and humbled by those at 3ie and beyond who, despite everything, have tried to do their best to understand the needs of decision-makers and program implementers, and delivered actionable evidence, tools and resources to help inform their work. Please join me in recognizing these efforts as I take you through a few of those in this letter.
Generating evidence that is needed.
One of the biggest lessons from the pandemic has been the importance of ensuring access to timely and credible information wherever it is needed. Through our Helpdesk services, delivered by our West Africa Capacity-building and Impact Evaluation (WACIE) project, we have provided rapid evidence responses to policymaker questions (learn more here). We also co-hosted a hybrid event in Abidjan to understand the role and contribution of impact evaluations to inform progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. The workshops organized under the event brought together local partners with the specific aim to increase capacity in producing rigorous, demand-driven evidence, identifying opportunities in implementing evaluations with local teams and avenues for supporting those conducting evaluations.
Amidst growing concerns around climate resilience and sustainable food systems, addressing challenges relating to nutrition remains a priority. Our first-ever “living” evidence gap map on food security and nutrition interventions was just updated. We believe this innovative tool can help facilitate investments and decision-making aimed at addressing the needs of the world's hundreds of millions of undernourished people in the face of a changing climate. I had a chance to present the highlights of our work at two high-level policy events in the run-up to the World Food Summit: a policy prioritization learning event in the ECA and MENA region organized by IFAD and a Food Systems Summit independent dialogue organized by the evaluation offices of FAO, IFAD, WFP and the CGIAR (learn more here). We are also actively working with USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security to develop evidence gap maps that inform their strategy on agriculture-led growth, resilience, nutrition, and water security.
Much of our work focuses on programming that aims to empower women. Our evaluation of the Indian government’s Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM), in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is nearing completion and has generated rigorous evidence on the impacts of this large-scale program on livelihood promotion and social mobilization. In response to questions regarding impact of the program, India’s rural development minister, Giriraj Singh, mentioned 3ie’s study and outlined its key findings in the Upper House of Parliament in July 2021. Similarly, our Swashakt program is set to deliver lessons and evidence on the effectiveness of women’s collective enterprises in India. We also have active programs on aquaculture in Bangladesh and with self-help groups in India, both of which focus on women's empowerment outcomes. We know evidence on women’s empowerment is both vast and varied, particularly in fragile and conflict-affected states. So, we developed a systematic review on gender equality with a specific focus on what works in fragile contexts. We are also working on impact evaluations in Sudan and Guatemala in cooperation with the International Security Development Center and the UN Peacebuilding Fund on programming with a strong gender focus.
Ensuring evidence access.
To ensure evidence is accessible to all, we invested in upgrading our Development Evidence Portal. It now includes more than 10,000 high-quality studies: impact evaluations, systematic reviews and evidence gap maps. It also features a refined taxonomy to help you navigate available evidence. We are committed to keeping it updated and will keep you informed about our new initiatives.
Capturing evidence impact.
In January, we launched our evidence impact summaries portal, a searchable database of stories of how 3ie’s work has facilitated change in the real world. Based on several years of tracking and evaluating the use of our work, we are sharing these stories of impact to help spur conversations on how to measure, monitor and verify it. Our 2021 blog campaign highlights both how we measure impact and some of the cases where our work has led to real-world change. To understand our approach, I recommend reading our blog on the seven ways decision makers use evidence and how we can claim impact with confidence. You can read all our blogs on the evidence impact campaign page.
What to expect in 2022.
When 3ie first started, there was hardly any impact evaluation evidence; in fact I wrote a blog about this topic earlier this year. While evidence is still lacking in some contexts, we are confronted by a different set of challenges now. Where evidence exists, we need to understand the barriers-to-use in a more cohesive way. We also need to engage more and cultivate more evidence users.
We need to actively facilitate change in the systems and mindsets of those working in development to ensure high-quality evidence is used. We need to have some tough conversations to evaluate ourselves and the evidence we have been generating. We also need to foster a more sustainable learning culture within organizations across the development community. We will be discussing these issues through different lenses throughout the coming year. 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.
Executive Director, 3ie
Here is a round-up of our work and open opportunities at 3ie.