Development that Works
  • About

    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.
  • LACEA’s Impact Evaluation Network: Call for Papers



    By Oscar Mitnik


    Call for papers

    The Impact Evaluation Network (IEN) of the Latin America and the Caribbean Economic Association (LACEA) is calling for papers for its upcoming 10th Annual Meeting. The meeting will take place at the Inter-American Development Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC from Wednesday March 22 until Friday, March 24, 2017.

    Active since 2007, the IEN is an initiative that aims to advance the state of knowledge and expertise regarding impact evaluation of different policies in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. The Network aims to promote impact evaluation methodologies, increase capacity building, and bridge research and policy in the region.

    The IEN is seeking papers that use impact evaluation techniques applied to programs or policies, with priority given to evaluations in countries in the region. Methodological papers advancing the state of knowledge of program evaluation techniques are also welcome. A scientific committee will review submitted papers, and select up to 13 papers for presentation.

    The meeting’s program will include a keynote address by Prof. Miguel Urquiola (Columbia University), the presentation of invited and contributed academic papers, as well as two panel discussions with policymakers, researchers, practitioners and representatives of multilateral organizations about actual policies, the implementations of programs, and their rigorous impact evaluation.

    Interested researchers, practitioners and advanced graduate students are welcome to attend and participate in the meeting even if they are not presenting papers. All participants (including paper presenters and discussants) must register here starting March 1st, 2017.

    Papers (in Word or PDF formats), and any inquiries concerning the meeting, should be sent by e-mail to:, not later than January 20th, 2017. Financial aid covering economy tickets and accommodation will be available for paper presenters only. Further information can be found here.

    About the author:

    Oscar Mitnik is lead specialist in the IDB’s Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness.


    Program in Bolivia improves nutrition practices but increases prevalence of overweight children. Where did it go wrong?



    By Gastón Gertner, Julia Johannsen, and Sebastián Martínez


    Bolivian mother and daughter. Photo: Consejo de salud rural andino

    Stunting and wasting, just like anemia, have been persistent problems in several Latin American and Caribbean countries for decades. Bolivia is no exception. About three out of every 10 Bolivian children under the age of five are affected by malnutrition, the result of which is delayed growth. However, despite advances in recent years, Bolivian children, especially those in rural and poor peri-urban areas are still affected by malnutrition. Read more…

    Leaving cash on the table



    By Mario González Flores


    Photo: Getty images.

    If someone offered you cash payments to keep your kids in school, would you turn these down? The answer seems simple enough.  Most of us would respond with a clear “of course not!”  Yet, the answer might not be so simple for the poorest and most vulnerable families.

    Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programs pay cash to poor households on the condition that eligible children enroll and attend school regularly (80% of the time). The justification for these cash transfers is the idea that many poor families cannot afford to pay enrollment fees, buy school supplies and uniforms required for attendance, as well as the fact that the opportunity cost of receiving an education is often higher for poorer households; they might prefer to send their kids to work.  In principle, then, providing cash linked to school outcomes should help overcome both constraints and induce greater school attendance. Yet, the link between the provision of a cash transfer and greater school attendance does not always materialize. Read more…

    WhatsApp: A tool for development work in Bolivia



    By Gastón Gertner


    A program coordinator using Whatsapp in one of IDB’s water and sanitation projects. Photo: Gastón Gertner.

    Back in 2010, as an Argentine attending grad school in the United States, a close friend of mine introduced me to the free text-messaging service called WhatsApp. There was only a handful of us who used it on campus. Most of my American fellow students just used regular text messages, but for me, WhatsApp offered a free way of staying in touch with my friends and family back in Buenos Aires.

    Almost six years later, WhatsApp has vastly expanded its reach, making it easier than ever to connect with people, especially in the developing world. It has been joined by other platforms such as Viber, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger.

    According to the global web index, 86% of the population in Latin America and the Caribbean’s have mobile phones. And the use of WhatsApp is the highest in the region with a user penetration of 66%. Read more…

    Opinion Surveys, Text Mining, and Social Media Monitoring for Better Gender Mainstreaming 



    By Tracy Betts

    Photo: Getty images.

    Photo: Getty images.

    Since my early days working in evaluation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) I was convinced of the value of good data for the formulation of effective development policies and programs. Yet how to use data to ensure the Bank is reaching its overall strategic goals came a bit later.

    The year was 1997. I was team leader for a Bank project aimed at reducing crime and preventing violence in Uruguay. It was the first time a request for such a project was made to the IDB and the topic of “women in development” was already an institutional priority. So as part of preparing this project, we explored the topic of women and violence. To do so, we carried out face-to-face interviews with 545 women to understand the nature and incidence of domestic violence. Read more…

    Sign me up for the newsletter!