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.
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.