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Each year billions of dollars are spent on development programs with relatively few rigorous studies of whether they actually work. In 2004, CGD set out to address this lack of good quality impact evaluations and our recommendations led to the creation of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) in 2009. The number and quality of impact evaluations has risen significantly, but there is still a long way to go to make sure future development interventions are based on evidence of what works.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), established by Congress in 2004 to administer a major new U.S. development assistance effort, has undertaken a concerted strategy to address this evaluation gap, sponsoring rigorous independent evaluations of its funded projects so as to build scientifically-valid evidence about "what works." On October 29, the nonprofit, nonpartisan Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, in collaboration with MCC, will host a forum with leaders of the development policy and research community on MCC's evidence-based approach. The forum's purpose is (i) to discuss the approach, including some initial results and MCC's new web-based effort to make the results public in a transparent and timely way; (ii) to explore whether the MCC approach can help spark rapid, evidence-driven progress in development assistance, similar to that which has transformed other fields such as medicine and U.S. welfare policy; and (iii) to seek input and suggestions on the approach from forum participants.
In September 2008 official aid donors and recipients will meet in Accra, Ghana, to discuss how to make development assistance more effective. CGD president Nancy Birdsall and co-author Kate Vyborny suggest that advocates of better aid who really want a win at Accra forget haggling over broad conceptual issues and focus instead on getting a public commitment from donors to one or more very concrete steps to improve aid effectiveness and to hold donors accountable.
Accelerating social progress in low- and middle-income countries requires knowledge about what kinds of social programs are effective. Yet all too often, such basic knowledge is lacking because country governments and donor and implementing agencies dedicated to development have few incentives to start and sustain the impact evaluations that generate this important information. This event is designed to bring NGOs together to discuss: a) the perceived gap in learning about what works in social and economic development programs, b) the parameters of a solution to closing that gap, c) the progress that has been made on implementing a collective solution, namely the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3IE), and d) how NGOs can contribute to and benefit from this initiative in the future.
Starting in the 1950s, Norman Borlaug led an international effort to develop short, fertilizer-responsive grain varieties that became the basis of the Green Revolution, more than doubling harvests and helping to avert famines in much of the developing world, especially Asia. Borlaug has also been a tireless and effective force for better food policies, better aid strategies—and for a Green Revolution in Africa, which failed to reap the benefits of the first Green Revolution. The discussion will address several dimensions of the global food economy, including the role of food aid, the agricultural policies of rich countries, and the potential of bio-technology, with a focus on what will work in Africa.
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane has created an independent non-government body, The African Monitor, which aims to monitor fulfillment of economic and social development projects, raise expectations and awareness of grass roots groups-including faith networks-and motivate groups to hold authorities accountable for results. One year following the G8 Gleneagles Summit, Archbishop Ndungane will discuss The African Monitor's role in maintaining this momentum, implementing development in Africa, and assessing if development promises are being kept.
Each year billions of dollars are spent on thousands of programs to improve health, education and other social sector outcomes in the developing world. But very few programs benefit from studies that could determine whether or not they actually made a difference. This absence of evidence is an urgent problem: it not only wastes money but denies poor people crucial support to improve their lives.
This brief outlines the problems that inhibit learning in social development programs, describes the characteristics of a collective international solution, and shows how the international community can accelerate progress by learning what works in social policy. It draws heavily on the work of CGD's Evaluation Gap Working Group and a year-long process of consultation with policymakers, social program managers, and evaluation experts around the world.
CGD program director Ruth Levine argues that independent impact evaluation of anti-corruption programs will be crucial to the success of the new World Bank campaign against corruption. As corruption-fighting programs are put into place, she writes, donor and recipient countries should request and fund careful, credible and independent third party evaluations—then publish the results whether or not they make the funders and implementers look good. Learn More