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.
  • Small Bug, Big Trouble: The Fruit Fly Plague in Peru



    By Julián Aramburu and Lina Salazar

    The Fruit Fly in Peru

    Image: iStock

    Nothing is more annoying than a fly buzzing around your head.  But flies can be much more than an annoyance: fruit flies, for example, are one of the most harmful threats to fruit production in Peru, damaging crops by laying their eggs within the fruit.

    Since 1990, Peru’s fruit and vegetable exports have increased at an average annual rate of 16 percent, a growth rate faster than Peruvian merchandise exports as a whole. Read more…

    How to measure the effectiveness of development projects?



    By Arturo J. Galindo y Tracy Betts

    For those of us working in the field of international development, it’s more and more critical to understand what works, what doesn’t work, and why to be able to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of what we do.

    Picture: IDB

    Picture: Inter-American Development Bank. Suriname.

    That’s the reason why it is of utmost importance for a multilateral organization such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to systematically document progress on the projects it finances, as well as the lessons learned in implementation. Every year the IDB collects its progress and lessons learned in the Development Effectiveness Overview (DEO).

    The DEO is the gateway to the various IDB contributions to development in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Read more…

    Would you leave your children home alone while at work?



    By Claudia Piras

    Free daycare services do not ensure a significant increase in women’s participation in the labor market. Why? The results of an after-school activities program in Chile may have the answer.

    Picture: IDB

    Picture: IDB

    What is the most common reason given by women when asked why they are not looking for a job? Just what you might think: because they have to take care of their children.

    This was the answer given by almost 40 percent of non-working mothers of children under 14 surveyed as part of a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study in Chile. The results can be viewed in the IDB’s Development Effectiveness Overview (DEO), an annual publication by the Bank that describes what works–and what doesn’t–in development.  Read more…

    Night-time lights: Shimmering evidence of development effectiveness?



    by Maja Schling

    We have all marveled at these images: The Earth at night as seen from space, shrouded in hues of dark blues and greys, the distinction between continent and ocean barely perceptible in the darkness. Clearly visible, however, are the bright specks of light distributed across the world, some only dim dots surrounded by blackness, and some larger and brilliantly bright masses that stretch across the land like golden spider webs.

    Night-time lights recorded around the globe Photo: C. Mayhew & R. Simmon (NASA/GSFC), NOAA/ NGDC, DMSP Digital Archive.

    Night-time lights recorded around the globe
    Photo: C. Mayhew & R. Simmon (NASA/GSFC), NOAA/ NGDC, DMSP Digital Archive.

    Over the last few decades, technology has made impressive leaps that now allow us to examine our planet from a distance. The light emanating from towns and cities at night is popularly known as night-time lights (or luminosity, among experts) and can tell us a lot about human activity on the ground. A recent study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) shows this can be used to assess the effectiveness of development projects.

    Not only can night-time lights give an indication of the number of people living in an area, they also can reveal important insights about a region’s state of development. The greater the luminosity, the greater is the level  of technological and economic advancement of the shimmering clusters below.

    Read more…

    How much do impact evaluations (really) help policymaking?



    by Eva Vivalt.

    Increasingly rigorous studies have been done on the effects of development programs with the hope that these studies’ results will inform policy decisions. 

    However, the same program often has different effects in different contexts. There are many different variables that can affect what will happen.

    The key question is then: to what extent can we generalize from a research study’s conclusions? 

    impact evaluations

    Image: iStock


    If a policymaker were to decide to implement a program based on the results from impact evaluations, how different could they expect their own project’s results to be?

    Recently, I answered this question using data from over 600 studies in international development. The data focused on 20 different types of development programs, from conditional cash transfers to microfinance. Read more…

    Sign me up for the newsletter!