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    This blog highlights effective ideas in the fight against poverty and exclusion, and analyzes the impact of development projects in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • US Berkeley and IDB partner to improve impact evaluation of projects

    3
    Sep
    2015

    By

    impact-evaluations-IDB-USBerkeley

    With over 3,743 investment projects approved during the last 5 years in Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is the largest and oldest multilateral lender in the region. In order to address pressing development challenges within the 26 borrowing member countries, the IDB has invested billions in project design, implementation, and evaluation.

    As a result of the pressing need for evidence-based development, especially in the context of public fund expenditures, the IDB has put in place a system to design, monitor, and measure the impact of their development programs on the ground. Donors, decision makers, investors, and beneficiaries alike require rigorous evaluation to inform project investment decisions. Since approval of its Development Effectiveness Framework in 2008, the IDB has moved to institutionalize impact evaluation of its projects, implementing 274 impact evaluations between 2008 and 2014 (deo.iadb.org). Yet many of the government counterparts and implementing agencies in the region don’t have the know-how and experience required to conduct an impact evaluation.

    As a means to address this issue, the IDB launched the Berkeley Inter-American Development Bank Collaborative (BIC) in 2012, in partnership with the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) at University of California, Berkeley. The collaborative aims to build capacity for impact evaluation within the IDB and promote its mainstreaming within the Bank.

    Now operating for 3 years, BIC’s multi-pronged approach focuses on 3 components: 1) providing a sustainable platform for collaboration linking academic experts with operations and government professionals, 2) promoting IE among key stakeholders and, 3) building capacity in bank and government officials to conduct impact evaluations.

    This model encompasses several different activities designed specifically to address the needs of IDB project leaders and counterparts. The first of these, the two-week executive education course for IDB staff and government officials, is held off-site (at the UC Berkeley Campus) to minimize distraction. “The benefit of these weeks at Berkeley lies in having time away from the office to concentrate on this project. That makes a difference,” says IDB’s education specialist, Ryan Burgess. “Even if we did have the technical capacity to conduct IEs, we don’t have the time. The amount of detail we have the opportunity to think through for this project is not normal across the board. This evaluation is a smaller piece of a bigger project and [at BIC] we’ve had the opportunity to think through it, workshop it, and analyze it in great detail.”

    Participants attend with their team members to work on evaluations of their specific projects. During the two weeks, they are introduced to IE methods via lectures and case-based learning, and time is allocated for them to develop their own project evaluations under the guidance of University of California, Berkeley faculty members; enabling teams to gain new skills while developing an IE action plan. “IE is very important in our country.  We don’t have the capacity on the ground,” asserts Nidia Hidalgo, IDB’s Senior Specialist for Gender and Diversity in El Salvador. “For us, the added value is clear: the ability to strengthen our team’s capacity on IE while also developing an innovative, mixed impact evaluation thanks to our UC Berkeley mentor’s support. Bringing our own individual strengths to the table while having unlimited access to each other and to our mentors, provides our project with a great opportunity to advance.” Nidia’s government counterpart, Eli Landa, is based at the Secretariat for Social Inclusion in El Salvador and agrees with Nidia’s assessment: “having the Berkeley name behind our projects enhances their credibility, the likelihood of getting published, our ability to disseminate project results and to engage policymakers.”

    Upon course completion, participants continue to expand on their Berkeley experience through online learning and on-going, remote mentorship from research experts at UC Berkeley. The CEGA-developed online course (hosted on MIT’s online learning platform, edX) is more technical than the on-site workshop and complements the UC Berkeley experience by providing additional material such as statistical modeling, power calculations, data management, and research transparency, among others. As teams return to their project sites, they are able to reach out to faculty mentors to consult with them on their evaluation design, identify funding sources and re-evaluate projects as needed. “Kristin [Rosekranz, doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley] has been great in supporting us every step of the way,” explains Michelle Perez, from the IDB’s Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness, “including in the IE discussions which did not pertain specifically to the mentorship she was meant to provide our team. For instance, at certain points we were stuck in the quantitative methodology and even though she was meant to work on the qualitative portion, she sat with us and helped us work through the challenges. This is great as it means we are not the only ones invested in the project, she is fully aware of the challenges we are facing and is better able to support our project. We know faculty is limited in the amount of time they can spend on a single project like this, but the level of involvement on behalf of the mentors truly does make a difference.” Finally, at the end of a year, teams are invited back to UC Berkeley for a week-long follow-up workshop to update each other on IE status and consult with fellow participants and faculty experts as needed.

    A total of 115 participants have attended BIC trainings, approximately half of which represent government counterparts responsible for project implementation and/or evaluation. Over the last 3 years, 36 IDB-funded projects from 13 countries have benefitted from the BIC partnership.  In July 2015, 15 participants representing 6 projects in 5 different countries came together in UC Berkeley to update each other on their progress during the last year. With a diversity of projects, ranging from an impact evaluation for a social protection project in the Dominican Republic, to the evaluation of an innovative educational project in the Amazon region in Brazil, the workshop provided an opportunity for rich discussion. Nohora Alvarado, IDB Health Specialist describes it well: “it has been very helpful to interact with other teams, especially the teams that are working in the same area. For instance, our team has learned a lot about other early child development projects that were discussed this week. It’s motivating to work as a team and know you have similar struggles even if the projects are different. I’d really like to continue being a part of this team, and I’d especially like for the Bank to continue this partnership. Generally, we work with our own team members when working on IE, whereas this initiative is a Bank-wide collaborative that enables us to work across projects and learn from each other’s experiences. BIC aligns well with the IDB bottom line and what we are trying to do with and for our government members.”

    To read more about IE & BIC, please visit CEGA’s website.

    This blogpost was written in collaboration with the Global Networks team at CEGA.

    Best invention ever? Hands down, the washing machine … after electricity, of course

    4
    Aug
    2015

    By

    By Irani Arraiz*

    Imagine life without access to electricity.  No TV, no fridge, no washing machine! (Have you ever had to consistently wash all your clothes by hand?)  When I was a child, I spent summers in my grandpa’s ranch in the plains in Venezuela, without access to electricity (because of the ridiculously low population density).  I loved being in contact with nature, so I did not miss the TV at all. I especially loved the big family gatherings after dinner and hearing stories lighted by the moon (because, without being able to see much, there was nothing else you could do but gather and talk).

    I hated having to wash all my clothes by hand, though (oh man, I love a washing machine; I think it is the best invention after electricity). But it was OK, because I knew that that lifestyle was temporary and that back home, we were lucky enough to enjoy many amenities (including a washing machine).

    For many people all over the world, no electricity is a permanent condition.  For them, most activities end shortly after sunset, they are limited in the way they preserve food (and then in the type of food that they can regularly consume), they have limited access to information, and not much time to read, because their time is consumed by activities that could be shortened and simplified by the use of electricity. A case in point: a washing machine. Read more…

    How to increase the impact of  your impact evaluation ?

    2
    Jul
    2015

    By

    Disseminating the results of an impact evaluation is key to have a real impact in development policies

    By Paloma Acevedo*

    After designing, implementing, and analyzing the data, the results of your impact evaluation are ready to see the light! After all the effort you and your team have devoted to the evaluation, you know that the intervention is twice as effective when it is combined with information campaigns. You have shared the results with government, and incorporated comments into the report. Based on this evidence, they will extend  the more effective program across the country, saving a lot of money.

    Mission accomplished!  Or not? Read more…

    Empowering communities helps reducing crime in Trinidad and Tobago

    25
    Jun
    2015

    By

    By Dana King*

    Trinidad and Tobago shows how working with the community is the best weapon to fight crime.

    Awareness campaign to fight crime in Trinidad and Tobago

    Awareness campaign to fight crime in Trinidad and Tobago

    Betheem Gardens is a low-income neighborhood and   crime “hotspot” that sits on the outskirts of Port of Spain and runs alongside the East/West corridor highway and Trinidad’s largest landfill.  For those that live in this community, the stigma associated with the neighborhood can be as potent as the landfill’s fumes.  The Citizen Security Program (CSP), created with support of the Inter-American Development Bank, is working to transform these high-risk communities in Trinidad and Tobago.

    In piloting a new approach to crime and violence prevention, CSP couples innovative, human-centered support to communities with more traditional crime prevention support to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and the Ministry of National Security.  Six years ago when the project was approved, Trinidad and Tobago had a murder rate of 43/100,000, while the rate in CSP communities was 98/100,000 persons; almost ten times higher than what the World Health Organization considers epidemic levels.  The new approach to crime piloted under CSP aimed to make communities an integral part of crime prevention. Read more…

    Improving effectiveness of development co-operation and the role of private sector

    18
    Jun
    2015

    By

    By Ichiro Toda*

    Ichiro p sector

    The global development community is increasingly aware of the benefits of collaborating with the private sector as an equal partner in promoting inclusive and sustainable development. In November 2011, the global development community, including the IDB, agreed to the Busan Principles for Development Effectiveness, which promotes enhanced country ownership, a focus on results, inclusive partnership, and transparency and mutual accountability in development work.  Recognizing the central role of the private sector in advancing innovation, creating wealth, income and jobs, mobilizing domestic resources and in turn contributing to poverty reduction, the Busan final document  encouraged efforts to:

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