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October 2012

Getting Evaluation Right: A Five Point Plan

Duncan Green's picture

Final (for now) evaluationtastic installment on Oxfam’s attempts to do public warts-and-all evaluations of randomly selected projects. This commentary comes from Dr Jyotsna Puri, Deputy Executive Director and Head of Evaluation of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)

Oxfam’s emphasis on quality evaluations is a step in the right direction. Implementing agencies rarely make an impassioned plea for evidence and rigor in their evidence collection, and worse, they hardly ever publish negative evaluations.  The internal wrangling and pressure to not publish these must have been so high:

  • ‘What will our donors say? How will we justify poor results to our funders and contributors?’
  • ‘It’s suicidal. Our competitors will flaunt these results and donors will flee.’
  • ‘Why must we put these online and why ‘traffic light’ them? Why not just publish the reports, let people wade through them and take away their own messages?’
  • ‘Our field managers will get upset, angry and discouraged when they read these.’
  • ‘These field managers on the ground are our colleagues. We can’t criticize them publicly… where’s the team spirit?’
  • ‘There are so many nuances on the ground. Detractors will mis-use these scores and ignore these ground realities.’

The zeitgeist may indeed be transparency, but few organizations are actually doing it.

Friday Roundup: Manufacturing, Inequality, and the MDGs

LTD Editors's picture

For those of us following the US Election 2012, the words ‘manufacturing’ and ‘jobs’ are hard to miss. Building on that buzz, The Economist recently conducted a debate: “Will manufacturing return to the West?” While the US election is a good ten days away, the decision on this debate is out: Manufacturing will return to the west. Irrespective of the verdict, both the sides – opposing and defending the motion- have provided numerous insights in to the trends that are unfurling in China and US. Read them here.

Inequality, alongside jobs, is the proverbial elephant in the room amidst the US presidential elections. Joe Stiglitz has a new 'Campaign Stops' blog in the New York Times online that draws on The Economist magazine's special series from earlier this month. Stiglitz discusses the perils of underplaying the great divide between the one percent in the US and the middle class. Meanwhile, on the other side of the debate, Kevin Hasset of the American Enterprise Institute along with Aparna Mathur, write in the WSJ that inequality studies that focus mainly on pre-tax incomes are flawed because they overlook transfer payments such as food stamps, unemployment insurance and other safety net programs. Read the article here.

Expansion for the Development Marketplace

Virginia Ziulu's picture

AVPN Logo - Photo Credit: avpn.asiaMarking the 10 year anniversary of Development Marketplace in 2011, the World Bank launched the Development Marketplace Investment Platform (DMIP) program.

The intent is to seek to help a pilot group of 30 selected social enterprises that have received prize money from DM, and that have been successful in their project, to attain a second or further round of financing from impact investors and foundations, in order to build up or replicate their project success.

A second purpose is to help respond to a familiar complaint of social enterprise funding organizations, that they do not see enough good projects to evaluate. In this context, the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network published the following article on its website highlighting the results achieved so far by DMIP and the prospects for the future of this program.


The 30 selected social enterprises by DMIn 2011 the World Bank Institute marked the 10th anniversary of the Development Marketplace. The programme was set up to provide early-stage funding to innovative social enterprises through a range of annual global and national-level competitions. Over 300 global winners have won US$200,000 each in grant funding.

But what happens to the winners beyond the life of the award? How many go on to the next stage of development? The tenth anniversary furnished an occasion to ask these questions. The answers suggest a significant new direction for the programme.

The main motive for the review was, ‘to move away from the traditional “fund and forget” model,’ as the DM’s Virginia Ziulu explains.

Some of the supported ventures have found subsequent funders, but this was largely outside the programme’s mandate. In 2011, the program shifted its focus to engage with past winners and discover how the World Bank could provide follow-on assistance.

Notes from the ‘Capital of Innovation’

Murat Seker's picture

This past summer, I joined my colleagues on a visit to the Global Innovation Summit and study tour in Silicon Valley—which is undoubtedly the world’s capital of innovation and entrepreneurship. Also joining us were representatives from Lebanon and Vietnam, who were clearly interested in enabling inclusive innovation in their respective countries.

Silicon Valley isn't afraid of failing and risking its way to success.  The Global Innovation Summit brought together more than 500 innovation practitioners—including entrepreneurs, financiers, think tanks, NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation, and government officials from emerging markets.  While we were there, we got an inside look at business accelerators, financiers, higher education institutions, and NGOs engaged in inclusive innovation.  It was an important learning opportunity for us, considering the importance of innovation to the development agenda and the World Bank’s role in fostering innovation in our client countries. 

Election Time: Be Careful around Men

Sina Odugbemi's picture

If there is an election campaign going on where you are, chances are that passions are galloping like unruly horses.  Everywhere, it seems, self-command is under threat.  The very air is thick with the clang of contention. The airwaves are clogged with clashing adverts and points of view. Supporters of rival political parties and candidates move from despair to euphoria and back again. Nerves are wrought; blood pressure levels rise; panic attacks spread like viruses.  Suddenly, everybody is an interpreter of opinion polls, of likely voters, registered voters, swing voters, independents, firm partisans, and all the subtle distinctions foisted on us by political communication experts for whom elections have become seasons to fatten up.

When Participation Works: Increasing CSO Involvement in Annual Meetings

John Garrison's picture

Involving CSO representatives in the planning process for the Civil Society Program has led to increased and more substantive civil society participation at the Annual Meetings over the past few years. This was vividly exemplified at the recently concluded Annual Meetings in Tokyo which witnessed the largest number of CSO participants and policy sessions to date.  The cornerstone of this participatory approach was the convening of a CSO Planning Group composed of 17 CSO and Youth Leaders from throughout the world invited to help plan the CSO Program (see photo and list).

Increased CSO participation in Tokyo was most evident in the number of CSOs who attended the Meetings.  A total of 630 CSO representatives from a wide range of constituencies such as NGOs, labor unions, youth groups, faith-based organizations, and foundations participated.  The Bank and Fund also sponsored the largest number of CSO / Youth Leaders and Academics – 56 from to 45 developing countries – who travelled to Tokyo to ensure that Southern voices and perspectives were represented (see sponsored CSOs list).  They participated in a week-long schedule of events which began with an orientation session on the Fund and Bank and included attending the Opening Plenary of the Annual Meetings which featured Crown Prince Naruhito.

What Do DFID Wonks Think of Oxfam’s Attempt to Measure its Effectiveness?

Duncan Green's picture

More DFIDistas on the blog: this time Nick York, DFID’s top evaluator and Caroline Hoy, who covers NGO evaluation, comment on Oxfam’s publication of a set of 26 warts-and-all programme effectiveness reviews.

Having seen Karl Hughes’s 3ie working paper on process tracing and talked to the team in Oxfam about evaluation approaches, Caroline Hoy (our lead on evaluation for NGOs) and I have been reading with considerable interest the set of papers that Jennie Richmond has shared with us on ‘Tackling the evaluation challenge – how do we know we are effective?’.

From DFID’s perspective, and now 2 years into the challenges of ‘embedding evaluation’ in a serious way into our own work, we know how difficult it often is to find reliable methods to identify what works and measure impact for complex development interventions.  Although it is relatively well understood how to apply standard techniques in some areas – such as health, social protection, water and sanitation and microfinance – there are whole swathes of development where we need to be quite innovative and creative in finding approaches to evaluation that can deal with the complexity of the issues and the nature of the programmes.  Many of these areas are where NGOs such as Oxfam do their best work.

Rosneft Wins Award for Gas Flaring Reduction Efforts in Russia

Yevgen Yesyrkenov's picture

Rosneft - Komsomolskoye oil field, APG booster compression stationAt the 10th anniversary of the Global Gas Flaring Reduction (GGFR) Partnership in London yesterday, the oil company Rosneft received an award for its Associated Gas Recovery Project on the Komsomolskoye oil field, located on the tundra in the heart of Russia over 3,000 kilometers east of Moscow. It’s gratifying to see that Rosneft is getting recognition for its hard work because this project is important not only in reducing flaring and greenhouse gas emissions, but also for the positive impact it is having on the local environment surrounding oil fields and for making better use of precious resources.

The centrality of collective action problems in governance for development: New evidence

David Booth's picture

Evidence is piling up on the need to revisit the standard ‘supply’ versus ‘demand’ concept of how to improve governance for development. This is pointing to an exciting set of new priorities for reform in sub-Saharan Africa.


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