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Some tips on doing impact evaluations in conflict-affected areas

Markus Goldstein's picture
I’ve recently been doing some work with my team at the Gender Innovation Lab on data we collected that was interrupted by conflict (and by conflict here I mean the armed variety, between organized groups).  This got me thinking about how doing an impact evaluation in a conflict situation is different and so I reached out to a number of people - Chris Blattman, Andrew Beath, Niklas Buehren, Shubha Chakravarty, and Macartan Humphreys – for their views (collectively they’re “the crowd” in the rest of this post).   What follows are a few of my observations and a heck of a lot of theirs (and of cou

New paper: "Milking the Data"

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Quick: how much milk did you drink last year?
If you can answer that accurately, you’re either taking the “quantified self” thing a bit far, or you may have been reading some of our research.
A new paper co-authored by our colleges on the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) team compares different methods for estimating how much milk is being taken from livestock for human consumption.
Alberto wrote about this research last year and the work has been published in Food Policy under an open access license. I think the findings are super-interesting - the authors are trying to understand how to accurately find out from individuals “how much milk did you collect from your animals this year?”
Simply asking that question isn’t likely to get you an accurate answer, but if you had to rely on questions in a survey, which questions would you pick? The study compares the answers provided by different survey “recall methods” in Niger against benchmark data gathered by actually measuring the volume of milk taken (weighing it in a jug... ) one day every 2-weeks over the course of a year.

Mobilizing Development via Mobile Phones

Otaviano Canuto's picture

I'm sure I'm not the only one who uses my mobile phone for almost everything but to make a call. Thanks to technological advances and the explosion of social media, we text, tweet or do Facebook posts on our devices. But beyond mere communications tools, mobile phones are also crucial for fostering economic activity and development. And I don't mean just in the U.S. and rich countries, but in developing countries.

Getting better access to impact evaluation data

Markus Goldstein's picture

If the data and related metadata collected for impact evaluations was more readily discoverable, searchable, and made available, the world would be a better place.   Well, at least the research would be better.   It would be easier to replicate studies and, in the process, to expand them by for example: trying other outcome indicators; checking robustness; and looking for heterogeneity effects (e.g.

Web 2.0 for Development Professionals Part 2: Innovative Uses of Existing Cloud Services

Tanya Gupta's picture

In my last blog I wrote about some useful cloud based services that could be used by development professionals for their convenience, and also for understanding the broader implications of moving towards the cloud.  Today we will look at some innovative uses of cloud services.  

A service or a tool is only as good as the use you make of it.  Two interesting uses of cloud services are the use of Google Docs to do surveys, and the potential for real time collaboration. 

Tell us – is there a missing market for collaboration on surveys between WB staff, researchers and students?

David McKenzie's picture

The thought has occurred to me that there are more people than ever doing surveys of various sorts in developing countries, and many graduate students, young faculty, and other researchers who would love the opportunity to cheaply add questions to a survey. I therefore wonder whether there is a missed opportunity for the two sides to get together. Let me explain what I’m thinking of, and then let us know whether you think this is really an issue or not.

What central banks say about monitoring and regulating remittance markets

Dilip Ratha's picture

We have just published a working paper reporting on a global survey of central banks on how governments regulate and collect data on cross-border remittance flows.* During 2008-9, we sent questionnaires - an inflow module or an outflow module, depending on whether the country is largely migrant-sending or migrant-receiving - to 176 central banks and other national institutions involved in remittances. 114 institutions responded. 

These responses indicate that:

  • There is a need for more frequent and better coordinated data collection across national institutions, among different divisions within the same national institution, and among countries.
  • Countries should monitor (I mean, try to understand) new channels and technologies in monitoring remittance flows. Authorities should work closely with mobile phone operators to strike the right regulatory balance.
  • The high cost of transfers was cited in the survey as the top factor inhibiting the use of formal channels.
  • Many countries, particularly in Africa, have made progress in avoiding exclusivity contracts, which helps increase competitiveness and reduce transfer costs. But further policy reforms and initiatives are needed.

Nam Theun 2 – How are the resettled people doing overall? In their own words… (part 2 of 2)

Nina Fenton's picture

In the last blog we saw that most resettlers are broadly satisfied with the resettlement process and are positive and optimistic about their lives as a whole. But…how do they feel about their lives in comparison to the very different world they lived in before relocation? What are the changes they value or regret?

The respondents were asked directly how they felt about life now compared with life before resettlement. The overwhelming majority think that life has got much better, and that the vulnerable households are even more likely to feel this way than the non-vulnerable—no vulnerable households felt that life had got worse.

Nam Theun 2 – How are the resettled people doing overall? In their own words… (part 1 of 2)

Nina Fenton's picture

In last week’s blog I showed that, when we examine consumption—a commonly used measure of household welfare—the resettled households appear to be doing relatively well, and much better than before resettlement. But economic circumstances are just one small part of what really matters to households. In order to get closer to a broader picture of “well-being”, I’m going to present some evidence of how these households themselves view their lives overall and how they feel about the changes going on around them. I hope that this will provide new insights to the question of “how are the resettled people doing overall?”

Nam Theun 2 – how are resettled people doing? (a note on epistemology, or what we can and can’t learn using socioeconomic data)

Nina Fenton's picture

On the Nakai plateau, a large proportion of income is non-monetary. If we fail to account for this income, we grossly underestimate the living standards of most households. (WB photo)