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Submitted by John Burton on

One of the arguments made by Nick York in a previous blog in favor of impact evaluation was that it was a global public good. So this might beg the question of the ethics of imposing costs on the poorest post conflict environments in favor of a global public good that will benefit other countries including less needy communities and countries.

In a similar vein, the ethical issues of imposing participation costs or excluding treatment from the control groups would seem to be more compelling in a post conflict environment where the priority might be more immediate.

And on a practical level, it is harder to administer impact evaluation where the administration is weak or absent. I think a lot of the pioneering work in impact evaluation was done in middle income countries.

Would you think there is a case for steering clear of fragile and post conflict environments (particularly if the evaluation process itself might exacerbate conflict)?

I am guessing this is not always the right answer because with increasing shares of resources going into difficult environments we would need the evidence to know what is working and not working in those very environments.