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‘Tis the season to be jolly – Symposium Season

When I worked in Bangladesh in the mid-90s there was always a steady flow of project and programme workshops going on in Dhaka. One individual always turned up; he became known as ‘Mr Workshop’ and we eventually realised he’d just figured out a good way to get a decent lunch several times a week.

At the end of November, I went to four evaluation symposia in …

Stories of Bank Linkages

What are we learning from savings group members on how bank linkages are working for them?

In a recent webinar, CARE shared compelling outcomes of savings groups having access to formal finance such as bank accounts and mobile money services, often referred to as ‘savings group linkages’. To assess the impact of linkage on group savings, businesses, member …

What has the evaluation team discovered so far about the Ideas to Impact prizes?

In this blog post, Ideas to Impact’s evaluators share their findings from the assessment of the first round of prizes and lessons learnt from evaluating them.

While the Evaluation and Learning team’s main focus will be Ideas to Impact’s longer-term prizes or stage 2, we have been looking at what happened with stage 1 and the whole prize …

Are leadership and accountability systems the key to delivering increased gender equality in our work?

We’re about to do a stock take of where we’ve got to in increasing attention to gender issues in our monitoring, evaluation and learning services.

A recent Gender and Development Network learning event on gender mainstreaming was therefore timely. There was a fair amount of despondency amongst the twenty-odd participants from NGO and consultancy organisations …

IDEAS in Mexico: A new chapter for evaluation?

We’ve just published a chapter in a new book, “Evaluation for Agenda 2030: Providing Evidence on Progress and Sustainability.”

Our chapter captures some of the rich discussions held at the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) over the years, as well as a fascinating panel session at the last IDEAS Global Assembly in Bangkok.

While you might not have time to …

Reflections on our experience of DFID’s results agenda

As verifiers of a DFID Results Based Finance programme, ODI’s research on the UK’s results agenda prompted us to reflect on our experience.

In their report ‘The Politics of the Results Agenda in DFID: 1997 to 2017’, Craig Valters and Brendan Whitty argue that 2007 saw a new explicit focus from DFID on aggressively implementing results-based …

Reflections from the IAAH

In October 2017, we attended the International Association for Adolescent Health, 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health in New Delhi, India. We were really excited to contribute to the global dialogue on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, particularly given our work on the Adolescents 360 (A360) programme. Itad, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical …

What evidence is there for the impact of market systems development?

The strength (or weakness) of evidence to support use of the market systems approach is a topic that always provokes heated debate.

As part of Itad’s work with BEAM we recently completed a second annual review of evidence in the BEAM Evidence Map. The Map is a database of around 100 carefully vetted documents that report results achieved by MSD …

How much value do Value Added Models provide for the quality of schools?

The anticipation of the value that Value Added Models (VAM) might bring to developing an accountability measure for school quality has been palpable in the development sector over the past two years. They were a focus for discussion at this year’s 2017 UKFIET Education and Development conference. The technical limitations of VAM were highlighted by the University …

‘Not Everybody is Online’…but All Voices Count

I recently attended the final Making All Voices Count (MAVC) Policy and Practice Dialogue to learn more about tech-focussed citizen engagement and accountable governance as the programme comes to an end and we look to the future.

An impressive line-up of speakers across two days of plenary and breakout sessions discussed issues ranging from citizen’s online …

What do we mean by client empowerment in financial inclusion and how do we do it?

At the 2017 SEEP Annual Conference, I had the pleasure to facilitate a session with colleagues from the MasterCard Foundation Savings Learning Lab. We talked about successful approaches to client empowerment in savings programming, with a focus on the overarching problem of financial exclusion of two vulnerable groups – women and the very poor.

I was joined by …

Issues and challenges of assessing the benefits of capacity development – experiences from the M4D programme in northern Nigeria

It is often argued that good governance is possible only when governing institutions perform to certain standards and that failures are due to declining capacities and capabilities. Capacity development[1] efforts, even when targeted at institutional strengthening, focus on the individuals that make up the institutions with the hope that they will use acquired skills …

Why is it so hard to measure handwashing with soap?

As Global Handwashing Day approaches, the WASH Results MV team explores the challenges of verifying changes in handwashing behaviour.

Hygiene has tended to be the Cinderella of WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene): relegated to the end of the acronym and with hygiene promotion often having been treated as an afterthought in larger water and sanitation …

Shining a light on Violence against Women and Girls programming…the need for evaluation

In September 2017, Sam McPherson and I attended the launch of the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) new, global, multi-year initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG) – the Spotlight Initiative – at the UN General Assembly.

As the impressive speakers, ranging from António Guterres, UN Secretary-General to Malala Yousafzai, spoke …

What can we learn from the Government Outcomes Lab?

Learning Advisor Catherine Fisher investigates a new research centre on outcomes-based commissioning and finds plenty of interest for the WASH Results Programme.

You know an idea has traction when the University of Oxford sets up a research centre to investigate it. This is the case for outcomes-based commissioning (aka Payment by Results), which is the focus of …

Innovation prizes and support to solvers – how much, how little?

Here we discuss the challenges of running innovation prizes for development and the questions around additional support to solvers and value for money. 

Several of Ideas to Impact’s prizes have moved into their longer, implementation stages where the demands on solvers are higher and the potential for positive social change is greater. At this critical point in …

Measuring progress towards SDGs: a Payment by Results perspective

Attending the 2017 WEDC Conference prompted WASH MVE team members to share their reflections on measuring progress towards SDGs from a Payment by Results (PBR) perspective.

Some of the e-Pact Monitoring and Verification (MV) team recently attended the WEDC Conference – an annual international event focused on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), organised by …

Measuring Social Norms on WEE Programmes: Lessons from Itad’s Work in Gender Equality

The role of social norms change in economically empowering women was a hot topic at the SEEP Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Learning Forum earlier this year.

The event was opened by Professor Naila Kabeer, who argued that not taking cultural and social norms into consideration when enhancing women’s economic empowerment (WEE) can undermine the …

What works for social accountability? Findings from DFID’s macro evaluation

I wrote my first blog on DFID’s macro evaluation of its empowerment and accountability project portfolio way back in 2015, at the end of the evaluation’s 11-month inception phase. Some 18 months on, I’m over the moon to finally publish findings from the evaluation which focus specifically on DFID’s support to social accountability initiatives.

The macro …

What role will China play in global health and how will we work together?

China has historically been a recipient of development assistance and funding, but this is changing with the country’s economic development, continuing rise, and with increasing pressures on aid budgets of other donors.

Alongside trade, investment and infrastructure, health is becoming an area to watch. How will China engage, and how should existing donors work …

Three lessons from the 2017 UK Evaluation Society Conference

Itad was well represented at this years’ UK Evaluation Society (UKES) conference; we were involved in four presentations across a range of subjects (though all rooted in this years’ theme of ‘demonstrating and improving the usefulness of evaluation’), and we had several staff members among the general delegates. Here, some of them reflect on the lessons they …

How accountability trumps learning: three lessons from evaluating the Tilitonse programme

At this year’s UK Evaluation Society Conference, we reflected on Itad’s experience working on the independent evaluation for the Tilitonse programme.  Tilitonse, which means ‘we are together’ in Chichewa, is a multi-donor fund to promote civil engagement and support more accountable, responsive and inclusive governance in Malawi.

Along with partners …

The road to impact: how do we ensure that evidence is both useful and used?

At the March 2017 convening of the Resilience Measurement Community of Practice in Uganda, two questions resonated as common challenges across diverse communities. How do we use evidence to influence? How can we broker a dialogue with new audiences and create spaces where we can learn from each other?  The discussions centred on both reaching wider audiences to …

The irony of evaluation – thoughts from the annual UKES conference

My initial reaction to my first UKES conference was that it all seemed slightly ironic that a group of dedicated evaluation professionals gathered for two days to discuss how the products they spend most of their professional life toiling away over are not always as useful as they could be. Sighs of self-pity aside, this is, unfortunately, the case in many instances. …

Pushing the boundaries: considering new ways of utilising evaluations

This year’s UKES conference explored the current uses of evaluation. The role of evaluators in delivering learning products and enabling evaluation uptake featured in many conversations, as well as new ways of working with clients to improve their business & management strategies. My takeaways focus on the latter: evaluation reports aside, in what other ways …

Itad’s 4 top takeaways from the SEEP Women’s Economic Empowerment Forum

Did you know that there are more CEOs in Australia called John than there are CEOs that are women? And that in 95% of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa there is at least one law impeding women’s economic opportunities? These laws include everything from restrictions on married women opening bank accounts, to signing contracts and travelling outside the home.

There …

Increasing the use of evaluation results: three tensions to navigate

As pressure to demonstrate Value for Money and results in international development increases in the current political climate, funding and implementing organisations alike are commissioning a growing number of evaluations. But how many expensive and well-intentioned evaluation reports end up gathering dust on a shelf?

Unfortunately, basing an evaluation on sound …

60 seconds with…Richard Burge

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Richard had to say…

What’s your job here at Itad?

Associate Director – Governance Cluster Lead. I joined in early January 2017.

What does that involve?

It is a leadership position within the company and I work alongside three …

Evaluations – are they of any use? Reflections before and after the UKES conference

I’m looking forward to attending the UK Evaluation Society’s annual conference this year. Its focus on the usefulness of evaluations appears to be more topical than ever.

In a political climate dominated by stories of ‘fake news’, ‘alternative facts’ and ‘not trusting experts’, the conference presents an opportunity to show how good quality evidence …

Too complex to measure? Exploring the dynamic processes of resilience and recovery

Resilience measurement is complex. Yet measuring resilience helps to build crucial evidence about how and why resilience is being strengthened, for whom, and in which contexts. This builds our knowledge to inform, tailor and improve development interventions to support processes that lead to better resilience outcomes.

Different understandings of what makes …

Six things that help grant-makers learn and adapt

There’s an emerging body of literature identifying key strategies that can both improve learning and enable adaptive management amongst grant-makers. We recently reviewed a host of publications from eight grant-making organisations. Those organisations have diverse aims and approaches but we’ve identified six common themes that stand out:

Strong leadership and …

Causality and attribution in market systems development

A new paper aims to shed light on the current theoretical/academic and practitioner understanding of attribution and causality.

Attribution is the establishment of a causal link between (parts of) an observed change and a specific intervention. It is something that we all have to measure as part of monitoring and results measurement (MRM) and evaluation activities …

Thoughts from the International Association for Impact Assessment conference

I attended and presented at the International Association for Impact Assessment conference last week in Montréal, where this year’s theme was “Impact Assessment’s Contribution to the Global Efforts in Addressing Climate Change”.

Most participants focused on environmental impact assessment (EIA) around extractive industries and infrastructure and, as a …

Expect the unexpected: unanticipated consequences and development programming

You’ll be familiar with the basic logic of development programmes: there’s a serious problem to address; we have designed a solution, we can implement it, and the situation will improve in the following ways…

Naturally, we tend to be more certain about what we will do, but a good programme will think hard about the immediate benefits and how it can best …

60 Seconds with…Itad’s Gender and Empowerment theme

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. To celebrate their launch, we’re talking to Itad’s new Gender and Empowerment theme about what they do…

Who makes up the Gender and Empowerment theme?

We’re Itad’s smallest (and newest!) theme, so a very select group.  Claire Hughes, one of …

Evaluation is crucial to reaching the FP2020 goals

With the announcement this week that the UK will be holding the Family Planning Summit later this year, the Health Theme in Itad has been thinking about what evaluation means to them in the family planning arena.

Sexual and reproductive health (SRH), particularly family planning, is very close to our hearts. As highlighted in our 60-second interview, before we …

60 Seconds with…Mollie Liesner

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Mollie had to say…

What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a consultant in the Private Sector Development theme. I also do some work in the Impact Investing theme and work on women’s economic empowerment for the Gender theme.

What does …

Itad and cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is fast becoming a focal point for companies that deal with personal data, employee information and emails.

Itad has recently achieved both the Cyber Essentials and the IASME Governance security certifications. This demonstrates we have attained a government accepted standard when it comes to governance and risk management of cybersecurity. This is …

60 Seconds with…Daria Kisiel

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick run down of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Daria had to say…

What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a Business Development Officer.

What does that involve?

I am involved in preparing proposals and conducting market intelligence. I am also working on improving processes and …

How and when should evaluation be brought into innovation prizes

Previously we shared our thoughts on why prizes for development are interesting for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practitioners and how evaluating them can bring new challenges during evaluation.

In this post, we look at why evaluators may need to adjust their usual approach to working when evaluating prizes for development.

What’s different about the …

Adaptive social protection: linking theory to reality on the ground

In their recent Working Paper[1] on Shock responsive Social protection, Oxford Policy Management (OPM) suggest that Social Protection (SP) is often seen as “intrinsically intended to be shock-responsive in the sense that it should support people in the event of a shock or help to mitigate their susceptibility to shocks”.

The OPM paper also points out that this …

Can we learn from system level social protection interventions?

Influencing change at the system level is often very difficult to do, requiring different inputs in different contexts. It is also very difficult to evaluate, as the effects of interventions that seek to make changes at system and policy levels are difficult to disentangle from changes that occur outside the intervention.

An attempt at providing an answer to this …