8 Responses

  1. Sue Cant
    Sue Cant June 20, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks Terence for this review. I am the social accountability adviser for World Vision (citizen engagement in service delivery). World Vision and other NGOs, including CARE, Oxfam, Plan and Save the Children do undertake rigorous evaluations including randomised control trials when circumstances permit. See here an Oxford led study of our social accountability work in Uganda. However RCTs are rare because of the lag times and the costs of such studies (between $500K and $1m) make these a prohibitive evaluation option except in very large projects. Even then, RCTs are such a specialised field that finding a researcher interested in the particular intervention can be difficult. I was recently at a ‘match making’ workshop run by the University of California and advocating a very interesting evaluation proposal around testing whether giving politicians information – as we do in our social accountability work – actually stimulates them to successfully advocate for better services to District government on behalf of their constituents as we are seeing happening across very different contexts including Indonesia, PNG and Uganda. We would have gone ahead but for the giant sample needed which only a government could provide. Unfortunately, donors also appear to be less willing to fund high quality researchers to do rigorous qualitative or mixed method evaluations that can be more suited to international development interventions. Beyond this, M&E consultants in international development are paid an absolute pittance, so it is no wonder we struggle so hard to get good evaluations.

  2. CDH
    CDH June 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Since you mention OxfamGB, worth noting that they openly publish impact evaluations of mature projects as well as other effectiveness reports here.

    They’re not necessarily RCTs but as you say, not everything is going amenable to that

  3. shaun
    shaun June 20, 2016 at 11:41 am

    You accuse the author of failing to think carefully, yet the nub of your argument seems to be that his requirement for objective evidence of good fails to support some of the activities you personally like based on your “leap of faith” thesis. You might genuinely want to consider what principled approach you are advocating here.

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