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Centre for Development Impact

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation, through the use of appropriate, mixed-method, and robust evaluation designs. It is a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia (UEA).


Debates around impact evaluation have received renewed interest in recent years. Alongside a growing pressure on politicians and policymakers to demonstrate results and value for money, conventional evaluation approaches are being critiqued for lacking in rigour, and/or being too narrowly focused and unable to capture complexity. CDI’s work will help to broaden the range of evaluation designs and methods, providing funders and evaluators alike with valuable insights and tools to measure and understand impact.

Our current focus is on:

  • Exploring a wide range of evaluation designs and methods, including complexity theory, systems thinking and different approaches to causal inference, in order to understand what works, for whom, why, and in what context.
  • Designing appropriate methodologies for evaluating complex interventions in challenging contexts, such as interventions in emergent, dynamic and uncertain situations (such as conflict), those that are multi-sectoral in nature (like nutrition or empowerment), and those not readily amenable to counterfactual construction (such as value chains).
  • Better understanding the realities of the evaluation process, such as when evaluations are conducted under severe resource (or other) constraints, the politics of evaluation, and the use of evidence.

We achieve this through:

  1. Doing evaluations that provide scope for innovation in a particular domain.
  2. Doing research on evaluations, including meta-research and meta-evaluation.
  3. Developing and delivering training and learning programmes.

Seminars, presentations and events:


CDI is a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia.

Image: South Africa. Mobile health team visiting rural communities. Credit: Giacomo Pirozzi / Panos

Team members
Chris Barnett Rachel Eager Emmeline Henderson