Be careful what you wish for: cautionary tales on using single studies to inform policymaking

For a development evaluator, the holy grail is to have evidence from one’s study be taken up and used in policy or programming decisions that improve people’s lives. It’s not easy. Decisions are based on many factors. The availability of evidence is just one of them. And of course, even when evidence is taken up, it does not mean that it will lead to the right decision.

Learning power lessons: verifying the viability of impact evaluations

Learning from one’s past mistakes is a sign of maturity. Given that metric, 3ie is growing up. We now require pilot research before funding most full impact evaluation studies. Our pilot studies requirement was developed to address a number of issues, including assessing whether there is sufficient intervention uptake, identifying or verifying whether the expected or detectable effect is reasonable and determining the similarity of participants within clusters.

Implementing impact evaluations: trade-offs and compromises

In June this year, 3ie and the International Fund for Agricultural Development organised a workshop where we had several productive discussions around two key questions: Are impact evaluations answering policy-relevant questions and generating useful evidence? What are the challenges faced in designing and implementing impact evaluations of cash transfers and agricultural innovation programmes?

Toward evidence-informed policies for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

So, 2015 has arrived and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are to be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). But shouldn’t we stop and ask how we have done on the MDGs first? “How we have done” can be seen an outcome monitoring question: have the targets been reached? But since we have fallen far short on some targets, such as access to improved sanitation, we need to dig deeper and ask which policies have been successful in helping achieve the targets.

Making impact evidence matter for people’s welfare

The opening ceremony and plenary session at the Making Impact Evaluation Matter conference in Manila made clear that impact evidence – in the form of single evaluations and syntheses of rigorous evidence – do indeed matter.

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.

How will they ever learn?

The low-quality of education in much of the developing world is no secret. The Annual status of education report (Aser), produced by the Indian NGO Pratham, has been documenting the poor state of affairs in that country for several years. The most recent report highlights the fact that more than half of grade five students can read only at grade two level. Similar statistics are available from around the world.