16.05.2019 - Rigorous Impact Evaluation and Evidence Synthesis: An Opportunity for Germany
The Campbell Collaboration and DEval brought together around 80 policymakers, practitioners, researchers and evaluators for an international conference on evidence synthesis, 9 – 10 May in Bonn. The event marked the beginning of a DEval research project financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) aiming to increase the implementation of rigorous impact evaluation and use of rigorous evidence in German development cooperation.
Howard White, CEO of the Campbell Collaboration, kicked off the conference with a strong plea for rigorous impact evaluation and for the production and use of systematic reviews for policymaking and development programming: “Most interventions don’t work, most interventions aren’t evaluated and most evaluations are not used. As a result, billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective programmes. Funding research on what works is the best investment we can make.”
Marion Krämer, team leader of DEval’s policy-oriented research project on rigorous impact evaluation, outlined the situation in Germany: “Despite the large international evidence base of rigorous impact evaluations and systematic reviews that was built up in the last decades, stakeholders in Germany still hesitate to use this evidence and to implement rigorous impact evaluations of their own. We want to understand existing barriers and learn from other countries’ experiences, to see how they might be adapted to Germany.”
The conference provided an opportunity for direct exchange between national stakeholders and international participants. Lisa Hjelm from the Expert Group for Aid Studies (EBA), Claudia Casarotto from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) and Sheree Bennett from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) shared the lessons learnt from their institutions for creating an enabling environment for evidence-based policymaking. Marie Gaarder from the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) gave an introduction to systematic reviews and evidence (gap) maps as concrete tools for evidence synthesis.
In his closing remarks, DEval-Director Jörg Faust concluded that the conference had confirmed the learning potential of bringing together national and international experts, sharing their experiences with rigorous impact evaluation and evidence synthesis. He stressed the importance of thoroughly analysing the heterogeneity of the demand for rigorous analysis, in order to provide the right incentives for rigorous evaluations and synthesis. Finally, Faust made a case for increasing investments in rigorous assessments in German development cooperation to strengthen evidence-based policymaking, supporting Howard White in his call to “join the evidence revolution”.