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Is Your Impact Evaluation Asking Questions That Matter? A Four Part Smell Test

In 2006 I was in West Bengal with a World Bank team and was asking questions of a group of women about a “livelihoods” program that built and financed women’s self-help groups as a means of increasing women’s productivity and incomes.  After asking them questions for an hour or so I asked them if they had any questions for me or the team—after all, they had been so gracious to answer our nosey questions we would be rude to not allow them to ask us anything they wanted to know.  After an awkward silence, one woman said “You all are from countries