Why We Need Your Financial Support?
GIDE's work on impact evaluation to improve lives continues to be inspired by the following challenges, benefits as well as past and recent developments in Evidence based Practice (EBP):
1. Despite some achievements made through EBP, most programs or policies outside medicine are still implemented with little attention to evidence, costing billions of dollars yet failing to address critical socioeconomic problems. Ironically, poverty for instance is on the rise in Africa which remains the poorest continent on earth with the most vulnerable populations despite an estimated $600 billion aid funds spent over the past 40 years! Evidence remains underused and sometimes unknown among potential users in African countries. This is partly because there is little or no policy-ready evidence that decision makers can access for interventions in development, and partly because there is hardly any existence of local institutions which undertake SRs. And, capacity gaps exist in promoting, using, disseminating evidence from impacts of development policies and practices.
2. Evaluations investigating the effects of specific interventions through EBP in healthcare have greatly increased as a means of ensuring that decisions and choices are informed by SRs. As a result, public policies based on scientifically-rigorous evidence have produced amazing advances in health over the past 30 years. No wonder, evidence-based decision is increasingly used in other sectors such as education, nutrition, logistics, etc. Relief and emergency agencies such as the Red Cross also over the past decade have turned to SRs. Moreover, SRs are now being promoted as capable of strengthening evidence-based policy-making by major development institutions like the UK Department for International Affairs (DFID), International Development Research Centre (IDRC), AusAID, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the World Bank.
3. A growing number of governments in low income countries are trying to improve their performance so they can operate more efficiently and provide better services to their people. Governments, international agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) need to know how policies and programs shape the lives of people today and in future generations. And, citizen demands for evidence and greater accountability from governments are growing world-wide. Importantly, it is now widely acknowledged that national development policies and programs should be informed by evidence generated by country-led monitoring and evaluation systems, rather than donor-led ones or based on opinion, while ensuring policy coherence at regional and global level.
4. Year 2015 was officially declared as the International Year of Evaluation at the Third International Conference on National Evaluation Capacities held in São Paulo, Brazil, 29 September-2 October 2013. The aim of the International Year of Evaluation is to strengthen the demand for and use of evaluation and evidence-based policy making at international, regional, national and local levels. Also, In 2015 the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be replaced by a new set of internationally agreed goals, most likely to be called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While the MDGs drove a global vision on human development and facilitated its implementation and monitoring, a comprehensive evaluation of what has been achieved has not been carried out so far. This is partly because the country level building blocks for such a review were not available. The International Year of Evaluation, the upcoming SDGs and the growing bottom up movement for greater accountability that is leading to new innovations to strengthen and hold policy makers accountable together present a strong case for strengthening national capacity in impact evaluation in the coming years.
5. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness endorsed in 2005, and the Accra follow-up meeting, state that national ownership and leadership are overarching factors for ensuring good development outcomes. The recent Busan High-level forum re-affirmed the above principles and recognized that the international development arena has changed significantly*. The principle of ownership means that partner countries should own and lead their own country-led evaluation systems, while donors and international organizations should support sustainable national evaluation capacity development. Consequently, new modalities such as South/South and triangular cooperation, and new stakeholders such as Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), have been explicitly recognized in the Busan’s Declaration on “Partnership for effective development cooperation”.* Thus, the need for impact evaluation and the urgent need for enhancing national and regional capacities in this area can not be overemphasized.
6. The Malabo Declaration of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on June 24-27, 2014, in Equatorial Guinea on “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development" endorsed the commitment of African countries to "evidence-based planning, policy, efficiency, dialogue, review and accountability"; "Strengthening national and regional capacities for knowledge generation and management that support evidence-based planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation" and "Commitment to Enhancing Resilience of Livelihoods and Production Systems to Climate Variability and other related Risks". This important shift in planning or policy making process means that African countries would need to enhance their capacity to undertake Systematic Reviews (SRs) of evidence, initially with support from external institutions such as GIDE with expertise in this area.
7. With an ever-increasing number of studies, SRs are important for users (development agencies, donors and practitioners) who don’t have time to search multiple websites or published sources. They can save considerable time/funds when they are provided with access to pre-filtered evidence and other resources including capacity building. A systematic review of evidence on average takes about 6-12 months to complete at a cost of approximately $80 - 100,000. Such a modest investment can save millions of dollars on several interventions which are not often guided by SRs of evidence of what works.
8. SRs are also a method of mapping out areas of uncertainty, and identifying where little or no relevant research has been done, but where new studies are needed. Better still, SRs flag up areas where false certainty abounds. These are areas where we think we know more than we do, but where in reality there is little convincing evidence to support our beliefs. Reviews summarizing the outcomes of various intervention studies are therefore an extremely efficient technique for obtaining the “bottom line” about what works and what doesn’t.
9. Our reviews investigate impacts of interventions and assess accuracy of the cause of the socioeconomic problem. Each systematic review addresses a clearly formulated question which is the aim of the study such as: Can women’s economic empowerment or improved productive employment increase economic growth? Is adaptation to climate change cost-effective in helping communities fight effects of climate change and other natural hazards? Can feedback and accountability system in agricultural extension increase productivity?
10. Whether it is undertaking impact evaluation through Systematic Reviews (SRs) of several studies focused on a research question to produce high quality evidence relevant to that question, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of actions or Performance Evaluation of projects, programs or policies, low income countries can use SRs to provide evidence of what works; to develop national guidelines; to assess the effectiveness, feasibility and appropriateness of projects, programs and policies; to identify gaps in the knowledge and practices in policy areas; and identify both positive and negative impacts of interventions. Besides, GIDE provides technical support in preparing checklists of issues to consider in Medium-Term Economic Frameworks (MTEFs) of governments to increase budgetary allocations for gender and climate change.
11. With the responsibility duly placed upon us by the generosity of our donors, often accounting to millions of dollars in total, we have a responsibility to ensure that their investments are based on sound decision making systems, and not opinion. Therefore, GIDE wants to help change existing systems based on past experiences or good practices which are in effect ad hoc, by supporting decision makers have ready access to evidence based information to improve lives of vulnerable populations in low income countries.
* In line with the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) resolution of the UN General Assembly, and the Paris/Accra/Busan Declarations