Blog

How should donors manage adaptively? Market Systems Development as a case study.

Itad has recently completed a strategic evaluation for Sida to help them work through how they can best manage programmes that are adaptive and apply systems approaches. In doing this, the evaluation focused on Sida’s growing portfolio of MSD projects. But the conclusions from the evaluation about what funders need to do to manage adaptively are of broader …

Recommendations…to co-create and or not to co-create?

Utility-focused evaluation, an Itad mantra… because if the findings we produce aren’t being used then why are we doing what we do? As part of our efforts to make our work more useful for donors, implementing organisations and, ultimately, the people we’re trying to help, we are increasingly adopting a co-creation approach to the ‘recommendations’ aspect of …

Learning how to create a culture of learning

When we evaluated how the Norwegian Aid Administration practised Results-Based Management (RBM) earlier this year, one of our main conclusions was that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and Norad didn’t have a learning culture.  We found some parts of the administration learning from evidence, but these were isolated examples. Evidence-based learning was not …

The power of parsimony: why less might be more when it comes to grantee reporting

It’s a moment that many organisations dread: the looming deadline for a report to a funder.

Done well, the process of gathering and making sense of information about a grantee’s work can be a useful learning exercise for both grantee and funder.

Done badly, it is a time-consuming slog to both compile (on the side of the grantee) and wade through (on the …

What else does the MVP evaluation tell us?

The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in Northern Ghana Impact Evaluation is a fully independent, robust evaluation that aims to provide evidence of the impact, sustainability and cost-effectiveness of the Millennium Village Project model. In this blog, we dig deeper into the findings to explore the impact of the MVP on education, agriculture and health.

The MVP …

New paper on African investments: The limits of job creation and social metrics

Metrics are useful, and the widespread use of standardised metrics and ratings[1] have been helpful over the years. Still, many of the claims of the social impact from investments tend to focus on good news stories or a narrow set of metrics, such as jobs created. With the increased interest in mobilising private capital to address poverty and sustainable …

Reflections on evaluating integrated rural development

The latest IDS Bulletin The Millennium Villages: Lessons on Evaluating Integrated Rural Development brings together a series of reflections on integrated development and how best to know whether it works and why. It certainly doesn’t provide all the answers; rather it’s meant to stimulate debate. Some things you might agree with, others you might not. Hopefully, …

Unforeseen benefits of the Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana

Over the course of our five-year impact evaluation of the Millennium Villages Project (MVP) in Northern Ghana, I was part of the immersion research, referred to as reality check approach (RCA). The RCA was undertaken by a large research team across six Millennium Villages (MV) where each researcher lived with a family and had extensive conversations, observations and …

Beyond venture capital: Being purposeful about investing in Ghana

New paper on African investments offers insights into improving social benefits: it can be achieved but requires intentionality by business leaders and fund managers. This isn’t without a cost – something that only serves to highlight structural weaknesses in many fund operating models. The overheads available to support social performance are often tight. So, do …

Updates from the International Conference on Family Planning – a focus on young people

Gabrielle Appleford, independent consultant and member of our A360 evaluation team, is at the International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) in Kigali this week. Over the next few days, she’ll be blogging on what she’s seeing and learning at the conference – read on below…

Day 1

I’m attending the ICFP in Kigali, Rwanda, where youth and adolescents …

Changing gender norms at scale: Results and evidence of what works from Voices for Change in Nigeria

Recently, there’s been an increasing interest in the role of social norms in shaping people’s aspirations and promoting – or limiting – equitable development.  We’re all aware of how we are influenced by our peers, that sometimes we do things so we are accepted by a group that’s important to us.  But just how we can build on this human need to belong to …

Is my social protection programme ‘shock-responsive’ or ‘adaptive’?

What is adaptive social protection? How does it differ from shock responsive social protection? Why does it matter? These were some of the questions we’ve been asked over the past three years while working with governments in the Sahel to help set up their adaptive social protection programmes.

The concepts of Shock responsive social protection (SRSP) and Adaptive …

Five key principles for Adaptive Social Protection programming

‘Adaptive Social Protection’ (ASP) came from a realisation that social protection, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation were three communities of practice linked by the same fundamental objective of reducing vulnerability and building resilience. Within each of these communities is a wealth of experience, tools and methods, that, if explored …

Savings in Sub-Saharan Africa: Access, Policies and Priorities

Saving hasn’t kept up with access in the growth of financial inclusion. A new report sets out to understand trends in savings and how policies can help.

This week is Financial Inclusion Week and today is World Savings Day. In recognition of these concurrent days of reflection and support, we would like to use this digital space to discuss our work at …

Using a social norms approach to tackle corruption in Nigeria

As a teenager in a rural community in Nigeria, I often witnessed the scorn and disgrace heaped on officials of village associations who could not account for funds kept in their care. Such individuals are treated with disrespect including their family members, and their properties sometimes confiscated. So, although corruption has been around as long as I can …

Blended finance & addressing the evidence gap – Reflections from an OECD workshop

Earlier this week I was at an OECD workshop hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, Denmark. The topic of the day was blended finance and how we might address the evidence gap. This builds on the OECD Principles for Blended Finance.

Blended finance is often touted as a great opportunity to mobilise from the ‘billions to trillions’ needed to …

Engaging adolescent girls in governance processes: lessons from Northern Nigeria

Itad conducted an independent impact evaluation of the DFID-funded Mobilising for Development (M4D) programme, which aimed to enable adolescent girls to acquire life and livelihood skills and engage in governance processes across nine Local Government Areas (LGAs) in three Northern Nigeria States of Jigawa, Kaduna and Kano.

A Political Economy Analysis conducted …

Can football tackle violence against women and girls?

Over the years, there has been steadily growing interest in the idea that sport can make a difference in development, beyond the obvious benefits to health and wellbeing. Worldwide, hundreds of organisations from the English Premier League to the United Nations are using the power of sport to build peace, reintegrate child soldiers, support survivors of disasters, …

Costing the impacts of violence against women: six potential pitfalls

I recently attended an expert meeting in Lebanon to support the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Economic and Social Commission of Western Asia (ESCWA) to map out strategies, methods and tips for costing the impacts of violence against women (VAW) in the Arab region (and by ‘costing’ I mean calculating an equivalent of financial resources spent in addressing …

60 seconds with…Ekaterina Shaleva

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I joined Itad in summer 2018 and am a Research Analyst in the governance theme.

What does that involve?

I provide technical support, including most recently mapping qualitative …

60 seconds with…Joseph Thompson

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I’m a Research Analyst in the Social Protection & Livelihoods theme, working predominantly in the theme’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programmes.

 What does that …

The Collaborative Urban Resilience Exchange: lessons on informal settlement data and partnership building

After a three-day learning exchange focused on city resilience, urban development planning and informal settlement upgrading, what have we learnt about informal settlement data, community knowledge and partnership strengthening?

The Collaborative Urban Resilience Exchange took place in Cape Town, from 16–18th July 2018, as part of a collaboration between Slum …

Design for Health: the role of data and evidence

In this blog, Itad’s Senior Consultant, Emma Mulhern, describes her initial impressions of Design for Health, a joint venture by both the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USAID’s Center for Innovation and Impact.

In Design for Health, I’m really excited about the opportunities presented by using data and evidence to progress towards an end vision: to …

Mixing, matching and modifying methods in realist evaluation: should we be purists or pragmatists?

At Itad, we see choosing an evaluation approach as an art as much as a science: there’s always a lot to consider. As a result, our evaluation designs are often hybrids, drawing on a range of different approaches in order to tick all the boxes.

In fact, deciding which approach to use means considering the interplay between the evaluation questions, the …

Beyond a burden: what value does verification offer?

Police officers, auditors, teachers marking homework and giving out detentions – just some of the unfavourable analogies we have heard applied to the role of the independent verification team in the WASH Results Programme. In this blog, Catherine Fisher highlights the positive roles missing from these comparisons.

Our job is to verify that the achievements …

Reflections on Itad’s work to promote the equitable participation of people with disabilities in issues that affect them

The UK government has successfully co-hosted its first ever Global Disability Summit to boost efforts to identify and overcome barriers that prevent people with disabilities (PWDs) reaching their full potential. In this blog, Itad’s Abdulkareem Lawal reviews the highlights of Itad’s recent disability-focused projects and distils some key lessons for evaluators to …

The DCED standard for results measurement: four lessons from an audit of Enterprise Partners

In this blog, discover what Monitoring and Results Management (MRM) specialist, Adam Kessler, learnt during his DCED Standard Audit. Here, he distils four important lessons that highlight some of the the benefits of the audit.

I love working as a Monitoring and Results Measurement (MRM) specialist. Firstly, because it’s intellectually stimulating and you …

Itad’s Impact Strategy Audit of Nesta Impact Investments: What value did it offer for Nesta and the impact investing industry, and what next?

Itad conducted an Impact Strategy Audit of Nesta Impact Investments between October 2017 and January 2018 and we believe this is the first learning-focused Impact Strategy Audit undertaken in the UK.

The assignment was titled an ‘Impact Strategy Audit’, which could imply it was formalised exercise designed to assess Impact Measurement and Management (IMM) …

Capturing learning in Global Health: reflections from Itad’s Global Health Day

On the 19th April, the health theme at Itad welcomed friends and colleagues to an afternoon of exchange on ‘Capturing learning in Global Health’. Around 40 people joined us to think about what learning means for us in our work and what we need to do to help it happen. Here, two health theme members and two of our independent consultants reflect on what the day …

What will Ideas to Impact’s evaluation team know about prizes by 2020?

Ideas to Impact’s evaluators from Itad have been refocusing their prize evaluation plans. In this post, they explain what they hope to be reporting on when the programme draws to a close in 2020.

As you read the posts on this blog, you may spot a recurring theme: stay curious and don’t be afraid to adapt your plans as you learn more about using prizes for …

Truly exceptional? Handling misfortune within Payment by Results

An exceptional event or a predictable adversity? The difference matters more in a Payment by Results (PbR) setting, as this blog post explores.

Conflict, political upheaval, epidemic, drought, flooding and earthquake; the WASH Results Programme has been hit by a wide range of disasters across the 12 countries in which it operates. All these adversities had an …

60 seconds with…Laura Hopkins

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a consultant in the Organisational Effectiveness theme. There are four of us on the team, and we work really closely together on all sorts of interesting things.

What does that …

What we learnt at the 2018 UKES conference

Itad had several members of staff involved in this year’s UK Evaluation Society (UKES) conference, which was framed around the evaluation cycle, considering the demand for, supply and use of evidence from evaluations. We asked them to reflect on what they learnt while they were there – keep reading to see what they thought!

RCTs as a gold standard: an idea that …

Realist evaluation: is it worth it? Launching a new series reflecting on five years of realist evaluation practice at Itad

We like a challenge at Itad, and so four or five years ago we threw our hats into the realist evaluation ring. At that time, there was growing interest in the international development sector about the potential of realist approaches to answer tricky questions about how and why our programmes work or don’t work.

We’ve now conducted (or are in the process of …

60 seconds with…Itad’s Impact Investing theme

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

Why an Impact Investing theme?

Over the past few years, we have seen growing trends in investments in developing countries …

Learning about learning. Wait! What?

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks thinking about Learning Partnerships, what they are, what they can offer and how we can make them more effective.

In my role as Project Director on the MasterCard Foundation ‘Savings Learning Lab’ (MCFSLL) I get to work first hand on a learning partnership, and was recently with the foundation participating in a …

Measuring the impacts of capacity development: four things to consider

In my first blog on our experiences from the DFID-funded Mobilising for Development (M4D) programme, I looked at the challenges faced in measuring the effects of capacity development. In this latest blog, I look at what we need to consider when assessing the benefits of capacity development efforts.

Capacity development needs to be context-specific and …

Another 60 Seconds with Itad’s health theme

In 2017 Itad’s health theme and its portfolio of monitoring, evaluation and learning projects has continued to grow and expand in really exciting new directions.

Who makes up the health theme?

Ellie Brown, principal consultant, now leads the health portfolio having joined Itad in 2017, following nine years at Options and, before that, eight years as a health …

Global Health 50/50 – where are the men?

I was watching the launch of the Global Health 50/50 Report at UCL recently, and as we had also just celebrated International Women’s Day, a question sprung to mind: and what about the men?

The report, the first of its kind, presents the findings from a comprehensive review of the extent to which gender equality concerns are integrated into the policies and …

Reflections on International Women’s Day 2018

This International Women’s Day, three members of Itad staff reflect on what the day means for them, personally and professionally.

Claire Hughes, Gender theme lead

In my 20 year journey in international development, I have seen many twists and turns, some giving us hope and energy and others not so much. The launch of DFID’s new Strategic Vision for Gender …

Her potential, our future: the launch of DFID’s Strategic Vision for Gender Equality

In my 20 year journey in international development, I have seen many twists and turns, some giving us hope and energy and others not so much.

The launch of DFID’s new Strategic Vision for Gender Equality gives me fresh hope that we are about to start a new phase in our push for gender equality. As international development organisations grapple with the …

How can capacity building improve how policy makers use evidence?

Itad has just finished a three-year realist evaluation of the Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) programme – a £15.7 million, DFID-funded initiative that aimed to build capacity for evidence-informed policy making.

This involved six linked capacity building projects across more than 12 low and middle-income countries in Africa and Asia. BCURE …

The interactions between women’s economic empowerment and ending violence against women – Insights from the Pacific Women project

“I am just a woman, I am just a mother, I am just a wife…what can I do to seek justice?”  – anonymous woman in Papua New Guinea.

Itad recently undertook the year 3 evaluation of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development (‘Pacific Women’), a 10-year AU$ 320 million programme funded through Australian Aid, working in 14 member countries of the Pacific …

60 seconds with…Ben Harris

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I’m a consultant in the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) team – part of Itad’s Social Protection and Livelihoods theme.

What does that involve?

At the moment most of my work …