Evaluating the impact of aid to Africa: lessons from the Millennium Villages

Posted on Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

3 July 2012 17:00-18:30 (GMT+01 (BST)) – Public event, Overseas Development Institute and screened live online

Register to attend

“At the turn of the century, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, in partnership with the United Nations, established integrated rural development projects, known as Millennium Villages in ten African countries. When they came to be evaluated in 2011, an intense row broke out between development experts about their impact and sustainability.

ODI and the Royal Africa Society are delighted to host Michael Clemens who will argue that aid projects in Africa need much more careful impact evaluations that are transparent, rigorous, and cost-effective. Our panel of experts will also discuss the Millenium Villages project within the wider context of international aid to Africa, analysing other development models and questioning the impact of each one.”

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AEA Conference: Evaluation in Complex Ecologies

Posted on Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Relationships, Responsibilities, Relevance
26th Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Conference: October 24-27, 2012
Workshops: October 22, 23, 24, 28

“Evaluation takes place in complex global and local ecologies where we evaluators play important roles in building better organizations and communities and in creating opportunities for a better world. Ecology is about how systems work, engage, intersect, transform, and interrelate. Complex ecologies are comprised of relationships, responsibilities, and relevance within our study of programs, policies, projects, and other areas in which we carry out evaluations.

Relationships. Concern for relationships obliges evaluators to consider questions such as: what key interactions, variables, or stakeholders do we need to attend to (or not) in an evaluation? Evaluations do not exist in a vacuum disconnected from issues, tensions, and historic and contextualized realities, systems, and power dynamics. Evaluators who are aware of the complex ecologies in which we work attend to relationships to identify new questions and to pursue new answers. Other questions we may pursue include:

  • Whose interests and what decisions and relationships are driving the evaluation context?
  • How can evaluators attend to important interactions amidst competing interests and values through innovative methodologies, procedures, and processes?

Responsibilities. Attention to responsibilities requires evaluators to consider questions such as: what responsibilities, inclusive of and beyond the technical, do we evaluators have in carrying out our evaluations? Evaluators do not ignore the diversity of general and public interests and values in evaluation. Evaluations in complex ecologies make aware ethical and professional obligations and understandings between parties who seek to frame questions and insights that challenge them. Other questions we may pursue include:

  • How can evaluators ensure their work is responsive, responsible, ethical, equitable, and/or transparent for stakeholders and key users of evaluations?
  • In what ways might evaluation design, implementation, and utilization be responsible to issues pertinent to our general and social welfare?

Relevance. A focus on relevance leads to evaluations that consider questions such as: what relevance do our evaluations have in complex social, environmental, fiscal, institutional, and/or programmatic ecologies? Evaluators do not have the luxury of ignoring use, meaning, of sustainability; instead all evaluations require continual review of purposes, evaluands, outcomes, and other matters relevant to products, projects, programs, and policies. Other questions we may pursue include:

  • How can evaluators ensure that their decisions, findings, and insights are meaningful to diverse communities, contexts, and cultures?
  • What strategies exist for evaluators, especially considering our transdisciplinary backgrounds, to convey relevant evaluation processes, practices, and procedures?

Consider this an invitation to submit a proposal for Evaluation 2012 and join us in Minneapolis as we consider evaluation in complex ecologies where relationships, responsibilities, and/or relevance are key issues to address.”

 

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Conference: Measuring Impact of Higher Education for Development

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2012

From: Monday 19th March 2012 to Tuesday 20th March 2012

Venue:  Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London

Organisers: London International Development Centre (LIDC); Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU)

Background: Higher education for international development has been, in recent years, a neglected area relative to other educational interventions. Yet higher education (HE) is necessary for the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and for economic development in low and middle income countries.

There is a long history of development assistance interventions in HE to support development goals, directed at strengthening individual, organisational and institutional capacity. These have included scholarship programmes as well as support to specific universities and university networks in low and middle income countries, and support to academic research and training partnerships.
However, there has been little comparison of these different interventions in terms of their international development impact. This limits our understanding of “what works” in HE interventions for development, and our ability to invest effectively in future.
The aim of this two-day international conference is to examine the current status of impact evaluation for HE interventions and to identify research gaps and needs for the future. The conference will focus on three issues:
  • What has been, and should be, the development intention of HE interventions?
  • How should development impacts be measured?
  • What is our experience with measurement methods and tools to date, where are the gaps and what research priorities emerge?

The programme will be posted online soon.

Who should attend:

The conference will bring together experts from three research sectors: higher education, international development and impact evaluation from academia, think tanks, government agencies and civil society organisations. PhD students are welcome if their research is relevant to the theme of the conference.

Registration is open between 2 February and 5 March 2012.
To register, please fill in and return the registration form.
Attendance is free of charge.

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Conference: Evaluation in a Complex World -Balancing Theory and Practice

Posted on Monday, February 13th, 2012

April 29- May 1, 2012 (Sunday-Tuesday)
Seaview Resort, Galloway, NJ, USA. (http://www.dolce-seaview-hotel.com)

Organised by the Eastern Evaluation Research Society, a Regional Affiliate of the American Evaluation Association. Flyer available here

Keynote Speaker: Jennifer Greene, University of Illinois and President of AEA Featured Speakers: Eleanor Chelimsky, U.S. Government Accountability Office and former AEA President Rodney Hopson, Dusquesne University and incoming President of AEA

Sunday Afternoon Pre-Conference Workshops and Session: Meta Analysis Ning Rui, Research for Better Schools

Focus Group Research: Planning and Implementation Michelle Revels, ICF International

Career Talk with the Experts (NEW!): An unstructured conversation about your evaluation career This session is free to participants! Sunday Evening Interactive & Networking Session: John Kelley, Villanova University Concurrent Sessions Featuring: Skill Building Sessions, Individual Presentations & Panel Sessions

A full conference program will be posted at (www.eers.org) by Mid February 2012.

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Assessing the impact of human rights work: Challenges and Choices

Posted on Friday, February 10th, 2012

The International Council on Human Rights Policy has produced two documents under the above named project(See here for details of the project):

  • No Perfect Measure: Rethinking Evaluationand Assessment of Human Rights Work. Report of a Workshop, January 2012. Contents: Introduction and Context,,A Brief History,,NGO Hesitations, The Shift, Assessing the Impact of Policy Research, Impact Assessment in the context of Advocacy, Impact Assessment in the context of Capacity Building and Development, The Donor perspective, Third-Party Perspectives—Building a bridge, A note on integrating Human Rights Principles into development work, References, Selected Additional Bibliographic Resources
  • Role and Relevance of Human Rights Principles in Impact Assessment: An Approach Paper. July 2011. Contents: Introduction and Context, A Brief History, NGO Hesitations, The Shift, Assessing the Impact of Policy Research, Impact Assessment in the context of Advocacy
    Impact Assessment in the context of Capacity Building and Development
    The Donor perspective, Third-Party Perspectives—Building a bridge
    A note on integrating Human Rights Principles into development work
    References, Selected Additional Bibliographic Resources

PS 14 February 2012: It appears the ICHRP website is not working at present. I have uploaded a copy of the No Perfect Measure paper here

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Conference about “The Future of Evaluation in Modern Societies”, Germany.

Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012

“The Center for Evaluation (CEval) of Saarland University, Germany, is a globally active research institute for applied social science in the field of evaluation and member of the DeGEval (German Evaluation Society). On this occasion, we organize an international conference about “The Future of Evaluation in Modern Societies” on 14th and 15th June 2012 in Saarbruecken, Germany.

The objective of this event is to discuss the role of evaluation in societies comprehensively and on an international comparison for bringing different discussion strands together into a joint debate. For keynote speeches and lectures, we could already win numerous renowned scientists from the USA, Latin America, Africa and Europe.

Please find the detailed program and registration form on our homepage: http://futureofevaluation.ceval.de

You also find a review about our recent book “A Practioner Handbook on Evaluation” which will appeal to evaluation practitioners, policy-makers who conduct evaluations in their daily work, students training in applied research and organizations which are implementing projects and programs that could be the subject of an evaluation.

—————————————

Maria Albrecht,  M.A., Center for Evaluation (CEval), Saarland University, P.O. Box 15 11 50, 66041 Saarbrücken – Germany, Fon: +49 (0)681 302-3561, Fax: +49 (0)681 302-3899, www.ceval.de

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UKES CONFERENCE 2012 Evaluation for results: What counts? Who stands to gain? How is it done?

Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

16 March 2012
The Macdonald Hotel, Birmingham

[from UKES website] UKES conferences address leading issues of the day in programme and policy evaluation. The 2012 Annual Conference will address the current drive towards evaluation focused on results – frequently linked to ‘Payment by Results’ and what, in international development and elsewhere, is familiar as ‘Results-Based Management’.

Evaluators and those who commission evaluation who advocate a focus on results reflect a legitimate concern with the productivity and efficiency of programmes and the capacity of interventions to secure gains and improvements in practice and provision. They point out that programmes should be held to account to accomplish what they were designed to do and paid for, often out of public funds. A primary focus on results seeks to emphasise main effects and outcomes that have been valued and agreed. In times of austerity and unusually scarce resources, proponents of a strong focus on results argue that emphasising value for money is socially responsible.

Others argue that an over-emphasis on measuring a programme’s results neglects important questions of how results are generated in a context, whether results capture the real quality and accomplishments of a programme, and how those results may reflect the values and ambitions of all programme stakeholders. They remind us of secondary effects and ‘unintended beneficiaries’ of programmes that may not be readily captured by results. Some also raise questions about the source of criteria over what counts as a worthwhile result given that not all programme achievements can be measured, and stakeholders may differ over a programme’s objectives. 

Against this background conference participants are invited to contribute their own perspectives on the dominant issues they consider relevant to the theory and practice of evaluation in the public interest. We anticipate a lively and informative debate to stimulate professional learning and to contribute to the improvement of evaluation practice and commissioning.

Potential contributors are invited to propose discussions, seminar presentations, lectures or poster sessions which explore issues around this theme. Those issues may fall within one of the following categories – though you are invited to propose your own theme:?

  • How do we define a valid ‘result’ and whose results get counted?
  • How do we best measure a result – including taking account of counterfactuals?
  • How do we understand where results came from, what significance they have and whether they can be replicated – i.e. what is the relation between a result and context?
  • Where do benchmarks come from to measure results achievement?
  • If a result is, say, a 4% improvement – how do we know whether that is a lot or a little under the circumstances?
  • How do we represent the circumstances and mechanisms that give rise to a result?
  • How do we account for programme accomplishments that are not represented in results?
  • Is results-measurement a robust foundation for replication/extension of a programme?

A formal call for papers and proposals for sessions will be circulated shortly.  The conference will be preceded on 15 March 2012 with a choice of training workshops on specialist topics.

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The Big Push forward: The Australian Debate (Oct 2011)

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011

October 26, 2011 by Chris Roche.

On 19 October 2011, Oxfam Australia hosted a ‘Big Push Forward‘ event in Melbourne with the co-conveners of this initiative – Rosalind Eyben and Irene Guijt. Sixty development practitioners, including AusAid staff and academics came together to discuss whether the concerns voiced by the Big Push Forward project are relevant in Australia.

 HOW RELEVANT ARE THE ISSUES TO AUSTRALIA?

Following an introduction from Rosalind and Irene, we  had short inputs from three speakers on how these issues resonated in our part of the world.  Dennis Altman, from the Institute of Human Security, at La Trobe University suggested that the neo-liberal language which permeates Western society has been recast in the development world. into an auditing culture, focusing on evaluation, monitoring, and counting beans.  Marc Purcell the CEO of Australia’s International NGO umbrella group ACFID noted that the commitment to international aid in Australia is extremely brittle, and that the public debate about aid in Australia has led to a deep anxiety in government about how the aid programme is being perceived. But he argued that maybe it’s no bad thing for economists to look at the work of ‘pampered NGOs’. Jess Dart, the Managing Director of consulting company Clear Horizon, felt that whilst Australian NGOs do more internal evaluation than most there was a view expressed at this year’s Australasian Evaluation Conference that ‘development is the cowboy of evaluation’.  If we can’t tell the story of what we’ve done, people will ask for results. There are lots of really good methods out there and we can use these to offer solid alternatives to tell more complex stories of transformation.

OZIFYING THE THEMES
(more…)

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27 Oct Symposium: NGO-IDEAs – grassroots based impact monitoring

Posted on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Date: 27 October 2011
Venue: Bonn, Germany

Dear all,
For the last three years, 14 German NGOs with 40 NGOs from Asia and Africa have been working to develop tools for assessing change and its causes, in short: impact monitoring that were to be specifically relevant for NGOs. Under the name of NGO-IDEAs, tools were developed through which target groups set their own goals and monitor their achievements. NGOs  and in some cases government agencies use the data generated for quantitative and qualitative assessment and reporting on outcome/impact.
Filtering according to poverty category is possible. The tools have been successfully applied in various sectors (from Saving and Credit through lactating mothers and primary schools to the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities). NGOs in East Africa, South Asia and the Philippines are now sustaining the application of the tools and spread them spontaneously to other projects and organisations. Programs have been improved through the tools and the application itself leads to more ownership and autonomy of grassroot organisations.
On Oct 27, the results of the 3-year phase will be discussed publicly. Two partners Mary Mate, Catholic Diocese of Embu; Kenya and Alma de la Paz, Kapwa Upliftment Foundation, Philippines) will present their experiences and international experts will discuss the approach. Speakers and Panel: Christiane Bögemann-Hagedorn, Head of Civil Society and Economy Department and Michaela Zintl, Head of Evaluation Department (BMZ/German Ministry for Development), Robert Chambers IDS Sussex), Cecile Kusters (Centre of Development Innovation,Wageningen), Susanne Neubert (National Opinion Research Centre at the University of Chicago, Dörte Segebart, Freie Universität, Berlin).
Some places are still available. More information and the registration form: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/news/, items of 10/10/2011 and 06/30/2011.
Publications can be downloaded from www.ngo-ideas.net/publications. The symposium focuses on the Impact Toolbox – one of three main products of NGO-IDEAs.

Check the Impact Toolbox: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/impact_toolbox/ and
the Field Experience: http://www.ngo-ideas.net/field_experiences/

NGO-IDEAs also has an advisory role to VENRO, the German development NGO’s umbrella body. VENRO recently published a position paper “Quality before Proof” that sets “empowerment” as one of four purposes of impact observation. http://www.venro.de/evaluation.html. The symposium takes place in the wider context of this paper that has generated some discussion in Germany.

Kind regards

Bernward Causemann/NGO-IDEAs


Bernward Causemann, www.causemann.org

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Workshop: Case Studies in Development Evaluation: Validity, Generalisation and Learning

Posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Venue: University of Copenhagen
Date: May 21-23, 2012
Invitation and Call for Papers to International Workshop
Centre for Social Science Development Research

The Evaluation Department of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Social Science Development Research at Institute of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Copenhagen are pleased to invite you to submit an abstract (preparatory to a full paper) to an International Workshop, which will focus on methodological and practical considerations when using case studies in evaluations of development. The workshop will be organised in collaboration with the journal Evaluation:the international journal of theory, research and practice.

A large number of development evaluations are broader, learning-oriented evaluations based on cases at country, sector or project level. A key challenge in these evaluations is how to deal with the question of external validity. Within the field of development evaluation the methodological and practical debate on how to address this issue has been relatively limited.

The Organising Committee of the International Workshop is seeking abstracts that address theoretical/methodological challenges as well as more practical experiences when using case studies in learning-oriented development evaluations. Abstracts could e.g. focus on: (more…)

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