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As you know, accelerating social progress in low- and middle-income countries requires knowing what kinds of social programs work. In our work, we’ve found that this information is often lacking because governments, development agencies, and foundations have few incentives to do rigorous impact evaluations. I write with news and resources from the Center for Global Development's Evaluation Gap initiative.
Leading Edge Group Convenes to Design and Launch New Impact Evaluation Entity Pioneering stakeholders have agreed to serve as members of the ad hoc "Leading Edge Group" for impact evaluation. Included among this group are six low- and middle-income countries, four bilateral aid agencies, three development banks, three foundations, one international NGO, and one multilateral organization. Supported by CGD staff, members will design a new impact evaluation entity as mandated by the June 2006 meeting in Bellagio, Italy. Among the group's tasks are identifying an appropriate governance structure, membership responsibilities and financial arrangements. The group aims to complete its work in the first quarter of 2007.
An Evaluation Agenda for the World Bank In a recent CGD publication, Rescuing the World Bank, Bill Savedoff and I co-authored a chapter (pdf) on the Bank's opportunities in impact evaluation. We urge the Bank to become more of a "knowledge bank" that invests in rigorous studies to produce new evidence about what works in poverty reduction and economic growth.
GAO Audit of MCC Focuses on Evaluation As reported on our MCA Monitor blog, the MCC was recently subject to an audit by the Government Accounting Office. A review of MCC operations in Madagascar, Cape Verde and Honduras resulted in four major recommendations, the first of which was to improve monitoring and evaluation. The report recommends not only strengthening of monitoring and evaluation activities, but also improving the collection of baseline data to enable more rigorous social impact assessments.
"Poverty: what counts", a recent article in the Financial Times recognizes the evaluation gap: "It is astonishing that we still know so little about what sort of aid works. Donors - and their critics - are too quick to embrace the latest fashion and too slow to ask the hard questions about what really works in development."
As a continuing advocate of rigorous evaluation of US government programs, the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy (see Help Desk) has developed a Hierarchy of Study Designs For Evaluating the Effectiveness of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Education Project or Practice, that was accepted by the US Academic Competitiveness Council as the standard for rigorous evaluation (see one-page overview).
If you have news or highlights to share in future mailings, please send them to Jessica Gottlieb (firstname.lastname@example.org). For those currently in Washington, DC, I will be discussing impact evaluation with CARE's Jim Rugh at a development roundtable (pdf) at the School of Advanced International Studies on Friday, November 17 at 12:30 PM.
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