Use of Empirical Evidence in Development Cooperation
In collaboration with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) we analyze how SDC and other development organizations use empirical evidence for policy making, with a focus on impact evaluations. Based on this analysis we will make recommendations to SDC on how to strengthen their use of empirical evidence for decision making.
An impact evaluation measures the effects of a development intervention on specific outcomes of interest (eg. income, test-scores, malaria infections). Impact evaluations can help donors and policy makers decide when to scale-up projects with proven positive effects, when to phase out projects which do not have the desired effects, and how to adjust projects to increase their impact - the final objective being improved aid effectiveness.
This research will address the following questions:
- How does project planning and selection make use of existing evidence generally, and impact evaluations specifically?
- What type of knowledge is created within development organizations, and by whom? What methodological standards are in place?
- How is evidence of intervention effectiveness, and other pertinent knowledge, disseminated within a development organization and beyond?
- How are evidence-based policy making and impact evaluations understood and perceived by professionals working in development cooperation?
- How does the organizational set-up of development agencies facilitate learning about the effectiveness of their (planned) interventions? What financial resources are dedicated to this end?
To answer these questions, we use a mixed methods approach combining survey techniques, document analysis, text mining, and stakeholder interviews. In addition to an in-depth analysis of SDC we will also study comparable development cooperation agencies in the UK (DFID), France (AfD), the United States (USAID), Norway (NORAD), Sweden (SIDA)and Germany (KfW). Based on this analysis, we will develop practical steps to strengthen SDC’s practice of using existing empirical evidence, as well as its capacity to contribute to knowledge creation in the international development community.
Partners: Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)
Funding: Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and ETHZ Center for Development and Cooperation (NADEL)