Today the world celebrates International Day of Charity, declared by the UN General Assembly in 2012. The UN’s agenda on sustainable development calls for the eradication of global poverty and the Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework by which institutions, organizations, and individuals can give charitably for the betterment of our world. To honor your giving, we want to show why we value your contribution today and every other day.
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Evidence Action Beta
At Evidence Action, we do not typically measure final impacts when we implement a program at scale. By “impacts” we mean the metric of ultimate interest - the real reason we are doing what we are doing. We don’t measure whether households with Dispensers have less diarrhea or child mortality. We don’t measure whether children that get dewormed attend school more or have better cognitive scores. We measure whether people use chlorine and whether worm infection levels fall.
Measuring “means” rather than “ends” could be a controversial stance in an NGO community where M&E teams pride themselves in always measuring ‘impact.’
We think we are doing the right thing. Here’s why.
For some time now, evidence-based development has been all the rage. Rigorous evidence about whether an intervention or program works, and for whom and why -- and, by caveat, whether aid money is effectively spent -- is a growing focus of attention. We have seen tremendous growth in so-called impact evaluations of social development interventions and policies to understand whether they work, and significant interest in considering rigorous evidence in making program and policy decisions. This is a welcome and important trend.
But it is easy for this conversation to miss an important element of evidence-based development: How do programs and policies that have been proven to work based on rigorous research studies, in fact, reach millions if not billions of people? What is that path to scaling what works to people who need it most?
Evidence Action Beta is currently pressure testing several evidence-based interventions to determine whether they are suitable for scale-up. One of these projects is 'No Lean Season' - a project to test seasonal income support for the very poorest in Bangladesh during seasonal famine. Part of pressure-testing ‘No Lean Season’ for the potential to scale up to many more people is to understand whether there would be unintended consequences of the intervention. Here is an update on our work.
We are thrilled to introduce Evidence Action Beta.
Borrowing from software development where ‘beta’ connotes software prior to commercial release that is still being tested to find any bugs, Evidence Action Beta explores what program with proven impact might work for millions of people. Similar to beta testing for software, we want to ensure that we maximize benefit while reducing any unintended consequences of massive scale up of an intervention.