Strengthening Evidence and Economic Modelling Partnership Project
3ie, in partnership with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), is working to strengthen evidence use in MCC’s program designs and investment decisions. 3ie will support MCC to ensure their economic modelling, project design and evaluation approaches are at the cutting edge of development science while simultaneously building a repository of learning that benefits other policymakers and funders.
Created by the US Congress in 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign assistance agency helping to lead the fight against global poverty. MCC partners with developing countries who are committed to good governance, economic freedoms, and investing in their own citizens to deliver large-scale grant programs to reduce poverty through economic growth.
MCC is at the forefront of evidenced-informed program design and holds itself to a high standard for grounding its logic models in the best available data. 3ie has partnered with MCC to contribute to their evidence-informed approach while at the same time furthering our core mission of providing reliable, relevant evidence to policymakers. Leveraging our extensive repositories of rigorous research, we are bringing this evidence – as well as the thought leadership of relevant experts from our extensive network of academics and practitioner-researchers – to bear as an aid to MCC investment decisions.
Phase 2 activities
3ie is supporting four MCC teams through three different activities.
Rapid evidence assessments in Malawi and Benin/Niger
3ie worked with MCC’s teams for Malawi and the regional Benin/Niger compacts to conduct rapid evidence assessments on the proposed interventions.
The Malawi country team is planning to invest in land rights-related interventions. They are seeking to understand the effectiveness of specific interventions as well as implementation considerations to take into account when designing the activities. To support the country team, 3ie conducted a rapid evidence assessment of local and district land administration strengthening, direct implementation of data collection and formalization activities, and voluntary land consolidation. This assessment is informing the cost-benefit analyses of these interventions and is being used to help refine the intervention designs for the Malawi II compact.
The Benin/Niger Regional Integration Transport Program and the Niger Compact are planning to use performance-based contracts for road maintenance and management. The teams are interested in understanding the effectiveness of these contracts in improving road quality as well as implementation considerations when implementing these contracts. To support the regional compact team, 3ie conducted a rapid evidence assessment of the use of performance-based contracts in road maintenance and management. This assessment is informing the cost-benefit analysis of this intervention and is being used to help refine the intervention designs for the Benin/Niger regional compact.
Policy and institutional reform scoping review
Policy and institutional reform (PIR) projects are particularly challenging as development interventions, both from a project design and M&E perspective. Traditional project logic models do not adequately account for the complexity in PIR activities. There is also not enough clarity in the development field on the types of methods that can be used to evaluate PIR activities, especially if the interest is to look at causal impact. In collaboration with MCC’s PIR working group, 3ie is conducting a scoping review on PIR evaluation methods. This scoping review will inform the creation of a user tool that will provide guidance on evaluation design questions for teams evaluating PIR activities.
Evaluability assessment panel
As a follow-on to the evaluability assessment process review from Phase 1, this activity continues to explore the findings and implications of that review, with an emphasis on understanding how MCC’s processes compare with that of peer organizations. Along with MCC’s Monitoring and Evaluation Division, 3ie is facilitating a closed-door panel between MCC, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on how each organization approaches project readiness. We will summarize the learnings and key themes from this panel and the evaluability assessment review.
Phase 1 activities
3ie supported four MCC teams through three different activities from September 2019 to December 2020.
‘Just-in-Time Support’ for policy and institutional reform
Sound public policies and functional institutions provide the conditions in which sectors can develop and the economy can grow. For example, the impacts of legal and regulatory climates on sectors like infrastructure are of critical concern to the viability and sustainability of projects. To design and implement reform initiatives, improve policies and institutions, decision-makers require solid evidence on what works, doesn’t work, and why and how. While some relevant evidence exists, it might not be easily available in a format that is useful for decision-makers.
To support MCC teams and their country partners, 3ie developed and tested a ’Just-in-Time Support’ model where our experts are providing tailored support to the MCC Tunisia country team. The model includes support to the Tunisia country economists to develop their cost-benefit analysis models to inform policy and institutional reforms aimed at improving the business climate in the country.
Rapid evidence assessments in Burkina Faso and Timor-Leste
3ie worked with country teams in Burkina Faso and Timor-Leste to conduct rapid evidence assessments on proposed infrastructure interventions.
The Burkina Faso country team was designing a randomized controlled trial to understand what interventions work best to increase electricity grid connections in two urban cities in Burkina Faso. 3ie conducted a rapid evidence assessment on demand-side interventions that aim to increase affordability and reduce the administrative burden of accessing electricity for households. This assessment was used to refine the country team’s design of the RCT.
The Timor-Leste country team was planning to invest in urban water infrastructure interventions in the city of Dili. To support the country team, 3ie conducted a rapid evidence assessment of large-scale urban water infrastructure interventions, including chlorination of centralized water supply, expansion of drainage systems, and construction of an urban sewer system. This assessment informed the cost-benefit analyses of the three interventions and was used to help refine the intervention designs.
Evaluability assessment process review
3ie, with the MCC economic analysis team and the M&E team, conducted a review of MCC’s evaluability process. This review aimed to help MCC improve how they assess.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation has provided funding and support for this joint project.
Note: The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Millennium Challenge Corporation or the US Government