Blog

60 seconds with…Chris Perry

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a Principal Consultant within the Governance and Institutional Strengthening Practice.

What does that involve?

I provide thought leadership across several thematic areas …

Eyes on a prize for climate information services

The UK Aid-funded Ideas to Impact programme, which is managed by an IMC Worldwide-led consortium, has just launched our evaluation report of the Climate Information Prize (CIP).

The CIP is one of the innovation inducement prizes that Ideas to Impact designed and ran to incentivise solutions to development challenges related to energy access, climate change …

Until no-one is left behind: Strengthening CSOs’ role in immunisation

Global immunisation coverage is advancing towards the 90% target set by the Global Vaccine Action Plan.

According to UNICEF data, global diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis coverage rate reached 86% in 2018. But in the same year, 19.4 million children under one year of age worldwide did not receive the three recommended doses, and an estimated 13.5 million did not …

Synergies in SDGs: How holistic monitoring can support global goals

The UN sustainable development goals (SDGs) promote human rights, equality and empowerment – especially for women and girls – peace and prosperity.

There are 17 goals (and 169 targets) harmonised across economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. They range from ending hunger and malnutrition to providing universal access to …

Nobel prizes and methodological wars. But are we using enough evidence to end poverty?

We were pleased to see development economists Michael Kremer, Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo win the Nobel prize for economics this week. Their work has done a lot to raise awareness of development evaluation and the need for better evidence to address global poverty.

Of course, they are not alone: there are others who take a different view, such as Nobel prize …

Lessons from an ex-post evaluation – and why we should do more of them

Even as evaluation specialists, rarely do we get the chance to carry out ex-post evaluations. We recently carried out an ex-post evaluation of Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Expanding Financial Inclusion (EFI) programme and believe we’ve found some key lessons that make the case for more ex-post evaluations.

We’ll be sharing learning from the evaluation …

Why we joined the Global Climate Strike

On Friday 20th September, colleagues from across Itad walked out to join the Global Climate Strike in Brighton. Here, some of them reflect on why they decided to march.

“I joined the global climate strike to put pressure on policymakers to do more to protect our environment for future generations and to conserve our planet’s delicate ecosystem. To quote Ami …

Youth Financial Inclusion: What we’re missing & how can we serve them better

In a recent review of evidence of youth savings initiatives, we found that many studies struggled to disentangle results for youth from the rest of the household and either lacked a definition for youth or used a rather wide age range, making it difficult to understand the impact of savings products and services on them, and how it varies for different age …

A world at risk? A role for evaluators in strengthening Global Health Security.

‘We are not prepared for the threat of a fast-moving respiratory pandemic that could spread across the globe within 36 hours and eventually kill up to 80 million people.’

These chilling words called for action in a recent annual report on global preparedness for health emergencies by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), an independent group of 15 …

Final Evaluation of DFID’s FoodTrade East and Southern Africa Programme

With the conclusion of Itad’s five-year longitudinal evaluation of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) FoodTrade East and Southern Africa Programme (FTESA), we are very pleased to share our report on the Final Evaluation and two accompanying learning briefs: the first on key findings, lessons and recommendations from the evaluation; and the …

My takeaways from working on the Nigeria National Livestock Transformation Plan and Implementation Framework

As part of our work on the Programme to Engage, Reform and Learn (PERL) in Nigeria, I worked with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to develop a Strategy Document for the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP) 2019-2028, and an accompanying implementation plan. It was a tight turnaround, given that the request came through in November 2018 and the …

Rapid evaluations: how an evaluation with a quick turnaround can support adaptive management

Adaptive management requires learning as you go. Decisions need to be taken to support course-correction – and they need to be based on evidence.

We often think about monitoring for adaptive management, making sure we are aware of the changes in a particular metric so that we can base decisions on whether something has improved, worsened, or stayed the …

Checking in With the Savings Evidence Map

The Savings Evidence Map was launched in 2018 as part of the Savings Learning Lab activities. The first annual update just added 37 new resources on evidence, bringing the total number of studies included in the map to 299. The overall distribution and characteristics of the evidence have not significantly changed since the first mapping. Studies documenting …

60 seconds with…Ruth Sherratt

Our ’60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick rundown of what our staff do here at Itad. Here is what Ruth had to say…
What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a consultant working mainly for the Health theme within the Human Development practice

What does that involve?

Currently most of my work is within evaluations around Global Health …

Adaptive Approaches and Conflict Sensitivity in FCVAS – a comparison of approaches

The need for flexible, adaptive approaches in development assistance is increasingly accepted, and over recent years, a number of related tools, approaches and ways-of-working have been developed: Thinking and Working Politically, Adaptive Management, Problem-Driven Iterative Approaches. But does the term ‘adaptive programming’ risks being used to designate all …

60 seconds with…Itad’s Inclusive and Sustainable Business 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 Inclusive and Sustainable Business theme about what they do…

Why a theme for Inclusive & Sustainable Business?

Businesses are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their responses to …

From compliance to love with MEL: Supporting busy advocacy organisations to embrace monitoring, evaluation and learning

Over the past year, Itad has provided tailored capacity-building support in monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) to six advocacy organisations which focus on the Global Fund for Aids, Tuberculosis, and Malaria replenishment. At the start of the project, we developed a bespoke framework for advocacy grantees to self-assess MEL capacities in their …

Itad’s Green Team: Can we mainstream environmental sustainability into our work?

It’s no secret that we have entered a pivotal time for Climate Change. In October last year, the UN issued a report stating that there were only 12 years left to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, with so much as half a degree above this target having disastrous consequences for our planet.

Itad is a socially-conscious organisation who is committed to …

Reflections from DSA Conference 2019

In June, I attended the annual Development Studies Association (DSA) conference on the theme of ‘Opening up Development’, hosted by the Open University. The goal was ‘to draw attention to shifts in the global political economy; new forms of development intervention and activism; and the call to ‘de-colonise’ the teaching and learning of development …

The complex reality of evaluation independence

A recent article in the Guardian explored serious concerns raised in the journal BMJ global health about major development funders such as DFID exaggerating the impact of their programmes or ‘gagging’ evaluations when they aren’t as positive as expected.

As a company that does a lot of evaluation for the UK government, including DFID and the FCO, it provoked …

60 seconds with…Katherine Gibney

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

Design and Brand Coordinator. It’s a new role in Itad’s growing communications team and I’ve been here since January 2019.

What does that involve?

Creative design support …

Reflections from the 2019 UK Evaluation Society Conference

Our takeaways from the 2019 UK Evaluation Society conference really reflect the event’s theme of ‘Evaluation: A Diverse Field’. In our blog this year, Talar Bogosyan explores how evaluation can keep pace in our digital world, Jessica Rust-Smith reflects on the importance of accessible evaluation outputs and Elisa Sandri wonders how the field is only now beginning to …

Complex systems thinking in international development

One of the key themes of the 2019 UK Evaluation Society conference was complex systems thinking. Keynote speaker Dr Matt Egan, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, suggested that systems thinking is vitally important to help us understand a complex reality.

For evaluation practice, this entails moving away from ‘traditional evaluations’ of …

No time to wait: evaluating the fight against ‘Drugmageddon’

This week, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies, called for an Extinction Rebellion-style campaign to raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). This followed a breakthrough report published by the UN’s Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (IACG) which emphasised that AMR is a global crisis that has the potential to reverse …

Reflections on decentralised climate finance from CBA13

I recently witnessed the potential of a funding mechanism that allows indigenous people and local communities to determine how to protect their forests and enhance their livelihoods. As our review of the Forest Investment Program’s (FIP) Dedicated Grant Mechanism (DGM) shows, a significant level of commitment can be generated when solutions are genuinely developed …

Is open access worth it? Maybe not yet, but we should still do it!

During the impact evaluation of the Millennium Villages project in northern Ghana, we opened up our datasets for wider scrutiny. It was an arduous and often painful journey, taking years just to make small steps forward. On reflection, I do often wonder whether it was worth it. Read on for our story, and why in the end I’d probably do it again!

While the data …

Linking mine action to development: the need for generating evidence of longer-term change

With the annual UN International Mine Awareness Day on April 4, Jason Collodi and Tom Gillhespy from Itad’s Fragile and Conflict-Affected States team outline the importance of linking mine action to longer-term change.

Our recent trip to Somaliland to assess a de-mining programme was enlightening. The programme operates in the border areas with Ethiopia, at the …

Why funders need to practice adaptive portfolio management to support systems change

Much like traditional investors, development funders often manage portfolios of investments. But what does it mean to manage a portfolio, rather than a collection of grants? And how can you ensure a portfolio adds up to more than the sum of its individual parts?

These are important questions for funders given their unique position in funding social change.  …

60 seconds with…Fergal Turner

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

What’s your job here at Itad?

I’m a consultant in the education theme.

What does that involve?

At the moment most of the education theme’s time is taken up with the evaluation of the Global Partnership for …

Evaluating transformational change in global programmes that tackle climate change

Last week I was at the “Power of 10: Shaping the Future of Climate Action” – a major climate change summit in Morocco organised by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) to mark their ten-year anniversary.

The summit was held at the heart of the hugely impressive and futuristic Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant. The largest facility of its kind …

Does adaptive programming work in fragile contexts, and why? The case of PERL in Nigeria

We’ve just published a case study based on a fascinating week in Nigeria last summer, exploring what ‘adaptive programming’ looks like in PERL (the Partnership to Engage, Reform and Learn), a flagship £100 million DFID-funded governance project.

Adaptive programming or adaptive management has rapidly become the new zeitgeist in international development, …

Changing a Theory of Change: six important lessons from our work with iDSI

Designing a theory of change* – we’ve all been there, right? It took hours of work from many team members – lots of back and forth, nuancing arguments, moving Post-It notes around the wall, wordsmithing, working with a design partner…but it was worth it – a gorgeous theory of change that not only motivates our staff towards pulling in the same direction but …

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. …

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 …

‘Tis the season to be jolly – Symposium Season

When I worked in Bangladesh in the mid-90s there was always a steady flow of project and programme workshops going on in Dhaka. One individual always turned up; he became known as ‘Mr Workshop’ and we eventually realised he’d just figured out a good way to get a decent lunch several times a week.

At the end of November, I went to four evaluation symposia in …

Stories of Bank Linkages

What are we learning from savings group members on how bank linkages are working for them?

In a recent webinar, CARE shared compelling outcomes of savings groups having access to formal finance such as bank accounts and mobile money services, often referred to as ‘savings group linkages’. To assess the impact of linkage on group savings, businesses, member …

What has the evaluation team discovered so far about the Ideas to Impact prizes?

In this blog post, Ideas to Impact’s evaluators share their findings from the assessment of the first round of prizes and lessons learnt from evaluating them.

While the Evaluation and Learning team’s main focus will be Ideas to Impact’s longer-term prizes or stage 2, we have been looking at what happened with stage 1 and the whole prize …

Are leadership and accountability systems the key to delivering increased gender equality in our work?

We’re about to do a stock take of where we’ve got to in increasing attention to gender issues in our monitoring, evaluation and learning services.

A recent Gender and Development Network learning event on gender mainstreaming was therefore timely. There was a fair amount of despondency amongst the twenty-odd participants from NGO and consultancy organisations …

IDEAS in Mexico: A new chapter for evaluation?

We’ve just published a chapter in a new book, “Evaluation for Agenda 2030: Providing Evidence on Progress and Sustainability.”

Our chapter captures some of the rich discussions held at the Centre for Development Impact (CDI) over the years, as well as a fascinating panel session at the last IDEAS Global Assembly in Bangkok.

While you might not have time to …

Reflections on our experience of DFID’s results agenda

As verifiers of a DFID Results Based Finance programme, ODI’s research on the UK’s results agenda prompted us to reflect on our experience.

In their report ‘The Politics of the Results Agenda in DFID: 1997 to 2017’, Craig Valters and Brendan Whitty argue that 2007 saw a new explicit focus from DFID on aggressively implementing results-based …

Reflections from the IAAH

In October 2017, we attended the International Association for Adolescent Health, 11th World Congress on Adolescent Health in New Delhi, India. We were really excited to contribute to the global dialogue on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, particularly given our work on the Adolescents 360 (A360) programme. Itad, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical …

What evidence is there for the impact of market systems development?

The strength (or weakness) of evidence to support use of the market systems approach is a topic that always provokes heated debate.

As part of Itad’s work with BEAM we recently completed a second annual review of evidence in the BEAM Evidence Map. The Map is a database of around 100 carefully vetted documents that report results achieved by MSD …

How much value do Value Added Models provide for the quality of schools?

The anticipation of the value that Value Added Models (VAM) might bring to developing an accountability measure for school quality has been palpable in the development sector over the past two years. They were a focus for discussion at this year’s 2017 UKFIET Education and Development conference. The technical limitations of VAM were highlighted by the University …

‘Not Everybody is Online’…but All Voices Count

I recently attended the final Making All Voices Count (MAVC) Policy and Practice Dialogue to learn more about tech-focussed citizen engagement and accountable governance as the programme comes to an end and we look to the future.

An impressive line-up of speakers across two days of plenary and breakout sessions discussed issues ranging from citizen’s online …

What do we mean by client empowerment in financial inclusion and how do we do it?

At the 2017 SEEP Annual Conference, I had the pleasure to facilitate a session with colleagues from the Mastercard Foundation Savings Learning Lab. We talked about successful approaches to client empowerment in savings programming, with a focus on the overarching problem of financial exclusion of two vulnerable groups – women and the very poor.

I was joined by …

Issues and challenges of assessing the benefits of capacity development – experiences from the M4D programme in northern Nigeria

It is often argued that good governance is possible only when governing institutions perform to certain standards and that failures are due to declining capacities and capabilities. Capacity development[1] efforts, even when targeted at institutional strengthening, focus on the individuals that make up the institutions with the hope that they will use acquired skills …

Why is it so hard to measure handwashing with soap?

As Global Handwashing Day approaches, the WASH Results MV team explores the challenges of verifying changes in handwashing behaviour.

Hygiene has tended to be the Cinderella of WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene): relegated to the end of the acronym and with hygiene promotion often having been treated as an afterthought in larger water and sanitation …

Shining a light on Violence against Women and Girls programming…the need for evaluation

In September 2017, Sam McPherson and I attended the launch of the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) new, global, multi-year initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls (VAWG) – the Spotlight Initiative – at the UN General Assembly.

As the impressive speakers, ranging from António Guterres, UN Secretary-General to Malala Yousafzai, spoke …

What can we learn from the Government Outcomes Lab?

Learning Advisor Catherine Fisher investigates a new research centre on outcomes-based commissioning and finds plenty of interest for the WASH Results Programme.

You know an idea has traction when the University of Oxford sets up a research centre to investigate it. This is the case for outcomes-based commissioning (aka Payment by Results), which is the focus of …

Innovation prizes and support to solvers – how much, how little?

Here we discuss the challenges of running innovation prizes for development and the questions around additional support to solvers and value for money. 

Several of Ideas to Impact’s prizes have moved into their longer, implementation stages where the demands on solvers are higher and the potential for positive social change is greater. At this critical point in …

Measuring progress towards SDGs: a Payment by Results perspective

Attending the 2017 WEDC Conference prompted WASH MVE team members to share their reflections on measuring progress towards SDGs from a Payment by Results (PBR) perspective.

Some of the e-Pact Monitoring and Verification (MV) team recently attended the WEDC Conference – an annual international event focused on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), organised by …

Measuring Social Norms on WEE Programmes: Lessons from Itad’s Work in Gender Equality

The role of social norms change in economically empowering women was a hot topic at the SEEP Women’s Economic Empowerment Global Learning Forum earlier this year.

The event was opened by Professor Naila Kabeer, who argued that not taking cultural and social norms into consideration when enhancing women’s economic empowerment (WEE) can undermine the …

What works for social accountability? Findings from DFID’s macro evaluation

I wrote my first blog on DFID’s macro evaluation of its empowerment and accountability project portfolio way back in 2015, at the end of the evaluation’s 11-month inception phase. Some 18 months on, I’m over the moon to finally publish findings from the evaluation which focus specifically on DFID’s support to social accountability initiatives.

The macro …

What role will China play in global health and how will we work together?

China has historically been a recipient of development assistance and funding, but this is changing with the country’s economic development, continuing rise, and with increasing pressures on aid budgets of other donors.

Alongside trade, investment and infrastructure, health is becoming an area to watch. How will China engage, and how should existing donors work …

Three lessons from the 2017 UK Evaluation Society Conference

Itad was well represented at this years’ UK Evaluation Society (UKES) conference; we were involved in four presentations across a range of subjects (though all rooted in this years’ theme of ‘demonstrating and improving the usefulness of evaluation’), and we had several staff members among the general delegates. Here, some of them reflect on the lessons they …

How accountability trumps learning: three lessons from evaluating the Tilitonse programme

At this year’s UK Evaluation Society Conference, we reflected on Itad’s experience working on the independent evaluation for the Tilitonse programme.  Tilitonse, which means ‘we are together’ in Chichewa, is a multi-donor fund to promote civil engagement and support more accountable, responsive and inclusive governance in Malawi.

Along with partners …

The road to impact: how do we ensure that evidence is both useful and used?

At the March 2017 convening of the Resilience Measurement Community of Practice in Uganda, two questions resonated as common challenges across diverse communities. How do we use evidence to influence? How can we broker a dialogue with new audiences and create spaces where we can learn from each other?  The discussions centred on both reaching wider audiences to …

The irony of evaluation – thoughts from the annual UKES conference

My initial reaction to my first UKES conference was that it all seemed slightly ironic that a group of dedicated evaluation professionals gathered for two days to discuss how the products they spend most of their professional life toiling away over are not always as useful as they could be. Sighs of self-pity aside, this is, unfortunately, the case in many instances. …