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Rigorous Impact Evaluation

Unequivocally demonstrating the effects of development cooperation is a major challenge. Rigorous impact evaluations (RIE) meet this challenge, but so far, they have only been carried out sporadically and have hardly been used systematically in German development cooperation.

The aim of this research and advisory project is to increase the initiation of rigorous impact evaluations as well as the systematic use of rigorous evidence in German development cooperation.

What is Rigorous Impact Evaluation?

Rigorous impact evaluation consists of a group of evaluation designs that measure the causal effect of an intervention (e.g. a microcredit programme) on an outcome of interest (e.g. household income). This is done by using experimental or quasi-experimental techniques to create a control or comparison group that is as similar as possible to the group that received the intervention.

© DEval

Activities and Results

Phase I and II (2018-2021) of the research project examined the status quo of rigorous impact evaluation and identified relevant barriers and potential measures to increase both the initiation of rigorous impact evaluation and the use of (rigorous) evidence. The findings were published in a research report in 2022. In the report, DEval formulated concrete actions for policy makers and development cooperation practitioners:

Eight actions to increase rigorous impact evaluation:

In the current, third project phase (2022-2023), DEval is supporting the implementation of the actions from the research report. Specifically, DEval advises selected units of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) on the development of evidence agendas. The institute develops and realises capacity strengthening measures (e.g. RIE trainings). Practice-relevant materials are made available on the RIE website. DEval prepares existing evidence in a clear and user-friendly way and improves knowledge management by setting up and maintaining a rigorous evidence database. The institute advises on the anchoring of scientific evidence, such as rigorous evidence, in procedures and processes within German governmental development cooperation.

Further information

RIE Website

The RIE website offers information and learning materials about rigorous impact evaluation. In addition to explanations and definitions, a visual presentation of the research report can be found there. Furthermore, it provides practice-relevant resources for implementing rigorous impact evaluation and using rigorous evidence. The rigorous evidence database can also be found on the RIE website.

Rigorous Evidence Database

The rigorous evidence database provides information on ongoing and completed rigorous impact evaluations that have been implemented with the financial support of BMZ since 2014. Using various filters, the database allows users to search specifically for rigorous impact evaluations that are relevant to one' s own work. In addition, the database enables networking between RIE implementers and other development cooperation actors.

Register Rigorous Impact Evaluation

In order to keep the rigorous evidence database up to date, further rigorous impact evaluations should be registered on an ongoing basis (see the BMZ Evaluation Guidelines). You can register your new rigorous impact evaluation using this link.

RIE Funding Program

An RIE funding program has started at DEval in spring 2022. Through this program, up to nine rigorous impact evaluations will be funded within German development cooperation over the next four years.


Portrait Kathrin Wolf
© DEval

Dr Kathrin Wolf

Senior Evaluator - Team Leader RIE Research Project

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-949


[Translate to Englisch:] Portrait Martin Bruder
© DEval

Dr Martin Bruder

Head of Department: Civil Society, Human Rights

Phone: +49 (0)228 336907-970


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