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Are we suffering from obsessive measurement disorder?

August 15, 2019
ODI’s Tiina Pasanen argues that more data doesn’t necessarily mean we make better decisions. It often means just having more data that is not used Do any of these situations sound familiar to you? as an M&E manager, you worry that there’s a crucial aspect of your project that the current logframe doesn’t cover as a programme manager, most of

Simplicity, Accountability and Relationships: Three ways to ensure MEL supports Adaptive Management

July 3, 2018
Chris Roche, a mate and mentor in all things system-y, reflects on what sounds like a Filipino version of our recent Bologna workshop. The week before Duncan was slaving away in Bologna on adaptive management I was attending an Asia Foundation ‘practitioners’ forum’ in Manila.  The focus of the event was on Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning for Adaptive Programming. The

The Project Cycle in Complex Systems – cartoon version

June 7, 2018
Jo Rowlands spotted this gem in a recent Intrac Newsletter. It’s drawn by Bill Crooks, based on an original concept by Nigel Simister.

What do we know about the long-term legacy of aid programmes? Very little, so why not go and find out?

May 21, 2015
We talk a lot in the aid biz about wanting to achieve long-term impact, but most of the time, aid organizations work in a time bubble set by the duration of a project. We seldom go back a decade later and see what happened after we left. Why not? Everyone has their favourite story of the project that turned into

Participatory Evaluation, or how to find out what really happened in your project

October 23, 2014
Trust IDS to hide its light under a bushel of off-putting jargon. It took me a while to get round to reading ‘Using Participatory Process Evaluation to Understand the Dynamics of Change in a Nutrition Education Programme’, by Andrea Cornwall, but I’m glad I did – it’s brilliant. Some highlights: [What’s special about participatory process evaluation?] ‘Conventional impact assessment works on

Ups and downs in the struggle for accountability – four new real time studies

September 5, 2013
OK, we’ve had real time evaluations, we’ve done transparency and accountability initiatives, so why not combine the two? The thoroughlybrilliant International Budget Partnership is doing just that, teaming up with academic researchers to follow in real time the ups and downs of four TAIs in Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Tanzania. Read the case study summaries (only four pages each,

How realtime evaluation can sharpen our work in fragile states

September 2, 2013
Pity the poor development worker. All the signs are that their future lies in working in ‘fragile and conflict-affected states’ (FRACAS) – the DRCs, Somalias, Afghanistans and Haitis. As more stable countries grow and lift their people out of poverty, that’s where an increasing percentage of the world’s poor people will live. And (not unconnected) they are the hardest places

Can impact diaries help us analyse our impact when working in complex environments?

July 8, 2013
One of the problems about working in a complex system is that not only do you never know what is going to happen, but you aren’t sure what developments, information, feedback etc will turn out (with hindsight) to be important. In these results-obsessed times, what does that mean for monitoring and evaluation? One answer is to keep what I call

So What do I take Away from The Great Evidence Debate? Final thoughts (for now)

February 7, 2013
The trouble with hosting a massive argument, as this blog recently did on the results agenda (the most-read debate ever on this blog) is that I then have to make sense of it all, if only for my own peace of mind. So I’ve spent a happy few hours digesting 10 pages of original posts and 20 pages of top quality

Theory’s fine, but what about practice? Oxfam’s MEL chief on the evidence agenda

February 6, 2013
Two Oxfam responses to the evidence debate. First Jennie Richmond, (right) our results czarina (aka Head of Programme Performance and Accountability) wonders what it all means in for the daily grind of NGO MEL (monitoring, evaluation and learning). Tomorrow I attempt to wrap up. The results wonkwar of last week was compelling intellectual ping-pong. The bloggers were heavy-hitters and the

The evidence debate continues: Chris Whitty and Stefan Dercon respond from DFID

January 23, 2013
Yesterday Chris Roche and Rosalind Eyben set out their concerns over the results agenda. Today Chris Whitty (left), DFID’s Director of Research and Evidence and Chief Scientific Adviser and Stefan Dercon (right), its Chief Economist, respond. It is common ground that “No-one really believes that it is feasible for external development assistance to consist purely of ‘technical’ interventions.” Neither would anyone

Lant Pritchett v the Randomistas on the nature of evidence – is a wonkwar brewing?

November 21, 2012