WDI Part Of Two Projects To Measure Development Impact

Monday, October 12, 2015

WDI’s Performance Measurement Initiative is part of two consortiums that were recently awarded funding from USAID’s U.S. Global Development Lab to test and implement innovative approaches to measuring development impact.

The consortiums seek to provide measurement solutions that depart from traditional approaches that can be overly rigid and often are slow to deliver results. Instead, the measurement solutions that will be tested by the consortiums seek to increase efficiency, efficacy and provide the ability to more quickly adapt to changing circumstances.

These consortiums resulted from a call for proposals by the development lab to leverage MERLIN (Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, Learning and Innovation). The goal is to find new and practical ways to assess hard-to-measure results within complex systems in which development occurs that are critical for global development. Through this work, the consortiums hope to enable quicker learning and adaptive management from data, as well as evidence-based decision-making and policy creation.

A select group of organizations, including WDI, developed the solutions at a three-day workshop in Washington, D.C.  After the workshop, the groups continued to refine their ideas over the next months.

“WDI is very excited to be working on both of these consortiums and for the opportunity to collaborate with other innovative organizations in pioneering new measurement approaches that better meet the needs of organizations,” said Heather Esper, program manager for the Performance Measurement Initiative. “The goal is that our work will ultimately result in improved development outcomes.”

One of the consortiums WDI has joined will develop new methods to create and pilot balanced monitoring and evaluation methods in order to establish efficient measurement approaches and collect data that is better used for decision-making and accountability.  Best practices from these pilots will be shared through field guides, case studies and technical assistance.

World Vision is the lead organization for the project, and other WDI partners include Search for Common Ground, Institute for Development Impact, and Innovations for Poverty Action.

The other initiative will study the effectiveness of developmental evaluation (DE) through a number of pilots. DE is a relatively new evaluation approach that allows organizations to innovate, adapt and respond to realities in complex environments as they arise. DE is empirically driven and centers on collaboration between the implementing organization, the evaluator and the beneficiaries. It allows organizations to react as issues are identified through continuous feedback loops. The methodology enables organizations adjust their design, theory of change and strategy accordingly instead of waiting for a multi-year study to be published. Similar to the other consortium, some of the outcomes of this consortium will be guidance for the broader community on applying developmental evaluation in order to enable enhanced impact.

For this project, WDI will conduct performance assessments of each of the developmental evaluations. Assessing similar metrics at standardized points in time will allow comparability of the usefulness of the developmental evaluation approach and the different contexts they operate, such as type of program, project, activity, location, and contracting mechanisms, among others. Findings from the performance evaluations will be used to develop guidance for conducting developmental evaluations in different contexts as well as useful information for refining programs.

In addition to WDI, the other project partners are Social Impact and Search for Common Ground.

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