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Our story

Since forming in 1984 to evaluate rural development projects, Itad’s services and specialisms have evolved at pace. Today, we support organisations globally to achieve positive and enduring gains in their development and humanitarian efforts across a wide range of geographies and topics. Read our (hi)story.

1984: Itad is founded

Amid the digital revolution, in 1984, Itad begins life as a global consultancy organisation. Led by founders, Derek Poate and Mike Felton, our initial focus is on monitoring and evaluating rural development projects in low- and middle-income countries.

1980s: Digital innovations for global development

Itad quickly earns a reputation for its innovation with technology to support agricultural development efforts. In the mid-1980s, Itad is contracted to deliver an unprecedented 11-year-long impact evaluation of a major intervention in Pakistan to improve soil fertility, crop irrigation and famers’ livelihoods. Working with partners, we design and implement large-scale surveys and data management systems that provide real-time insights to guide regional and national government agencies as they implement the initiative. During the project we make a substantial contribution to capacity building through training workshops and advising on computer equipment and statistical software for the analysis of the vast data being collected and acted upon.

Applying digital innovations remains a central tenet of our work today. Recent collaborations, include supporting UK Government to reduce the impact of landmines using satellite imagery, and helping philanthropies to apply AI to improve young peoples’ wellbeing.

1990s: Supporting politically smart, locally led programming

Around the turn of the century, the international development community becomes increasingly interested in how to respond to complex, non-technical, adaptive challenges. At the same time, Itad starts work on a project to improve the lives of people who depended on wetlands in Nigeria. It becomes one of the first projects in Nigeria to use an innovative ‘issues based approach’ to improve governance through politically smart, locally-led programming. Our work supports project partners to lobby Nigeria’s government to invest in better water management in the river basin. During the life of the project, Nigeria commits $15 million to create a Fund to fund small-scale water management improvement projects, such as dredging, reed clearance and sluice gates. Over the course of the next decade, Itad helps to evolve the principles of this approach and apply them to other major adaptive programmes on state accountability.

2001: Addressing global challenges

From 2001-9, Itad leads the first and second global evaluation of UNAIDS – two high profile evaluations that contribute to tackling a major global health challenge. The evaluation findings, conclusions and recommendations feed into the development of the next UNAIDS global strategy and a new results, resource allocation and accountability framework for the UNAIDS Joint Programme.

Since then, we have led on a range of monitoring, evaluation and learning activities to help address major global health challenges. This includes a five-year evaluation of the The Fleming Fund, a £265 million programme to help tackle antimicrobial resistance worldwide, and two strategic reviews of the Global Fund to fight HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. And in 2022, we assessed the COVAX Facility, a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by the GAVI vaccine alliance.

2003: Influential evaluations for rural development

In 2003, we step into high-level evaluations of international organisations – including the first ever global evaluation of the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD). During a time of decreased Official Development Assistance to the agricultural sector, IFAD’s work shifts from a focus on agriculture to a broader focus on rural development. We are commissioned to assess the effectiveness and impact of IFAD’s work, including projects, policy and advocacy. Our evaluation lays the foundation for important structural and organizational changes; with the introduction of new corporate policies, and the streamlining of internal process. It is later recognised by IFAD as one of their most influential evaluations.

2010s: Speaking truth to power

In the mid-2010s, Itad leads one of the largest, high profile evaluations of its time. The  Millennium Villages Project is a bold initiative that sought to demonstrate how the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved through an integrated approach to rural development. Over a decade, around half a million people across 10 African countries are part of initiative. Itad leads the evaluation, providing rigorous evidence into a controversial debate about whether the approach works. It is a good example of ‘speaking truth to power’ in the face of political pressure, and putting robust evidence into the public domain for others to draw their own conclusions. The evaluation provides an important evidence base for decision makers and spurs calls from practitioners and policymakers for more open, transparent, and rigorous evaluations of public policies.

2013: Hello Itad, goodbye ITAD

At first, Itad is known as Information Technology and Agricultural Development (ITAD), a name that changes in the 1990s to ‘Information, Training And Development’ to reflect the expansion of our work. But by 2013, we have grown substantially, working in more than 85 countries on issues ranging from health and education, to climate change and governance. In recognition of this expansion of services and specialisms we change our name and lose our acronym to become simply Itad.

2016: Supporting policymaking in the world’s most fragile contexts

In 2016, more countries experience violent conflict than at any point in almost 30 years. The nature of conflict is also becoming increasingly complex and internationalised, and the demand for evidence to help tackle its underlying causes is greater than ever. Itad expands into many of the most fragile contexts in the world, diversifying our services to help policymakers make evidence-informed decisions that improve the lives of people at the sharp end. We start work on a series of major initiatives with UK Government teams across Africa and the Middle East to provide insights into how their funding is contributing to stability and security outcomes in the region. This work includes developing an innovative Political Access and Influence tool which has is subsequently widely adopted to support capacity building, cooperation and diplomacy efforts.

2022: A new strategy for an era of complexity and uncertainty

Covid-19, conflict, climate change and geopolitical shifts accelerate a series of cascading and connected global crises that have devastating effects on the world’s most marginalised and vulnerable communities. To respond to the complexity, scale and urgency of these challenges Itad sets out an ambitious new strategy for 2022-25. Now with 110 staff and a network of more than 500 trusted consultants in key locations around the globe, we seeks to foster a bold new agenda for monitoring, evaluation and learning – one that is driven by equity, innovation and sustainability for social and environmental justice.