There is a strongly supported view that better access to knowledge on development issues improves debate and decision-making on development.
The Mobilising Knowledge for Development (MK4D) programme is a suite of five knowledge services that DFID funds at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Their shared aim is ‘to reduce global poverty and injustice by supporting more informed decision-making by those in a position to influence change’. There were previously five separate projects – MK4D brings them together under one programme. They also receive funding from other donors.
The five MK4D knowledge services are: ELDIS – a gateway to online development information; id21 – a research reporting service aimed at policy makers and practitioners worldwide; BLDS – the British Library for Development Studies, a large specialist library on social and economic aspects of development; BRIDGE – a gender and development research and communications service supporting gender advocacy and mainstreaming efforts; and Livelihoods Connect – a learning platform focusing on sustainable livelihood approaches to poverty reduction.
This was a two-part contract; we reviewed MK4D for DFID and undertook an in-depth evaluation of the Eldis component for its donors. We formed a small team of international and national evaluation, research communications and knowledge management specialists. Data collection included three country case studies in Bangladesh, Malawi and Tanzania. We drew on the records from IDS’ own M&E systems and surveys of the services’ users; consultations with users, potential users, funders, and services managers in IDS; document review; and our own web-based surveys of MK4D’s target audience.
Our review contributed to IDS’ own strategic review of its knowledge services and to donor decisions about future funding. The review found that MK4D had been very active in collecting user feedback, but did not have a theory of change for how information contributes to decision-making processes in development. Developing an over-arching theory of change was a key recommendation, which the programme consequently did.
IDS’ subsequent Theory of Change work here.Image © Traffic Jam in Ngorogoro_Itad