What we’re reading in October: World Food Day, Corruption, Demography and Financial Inclusion

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Evaluation synthesis: an added boost to corporate learning

Most large organisations face a problem of knowledge creation that is subsequently underused and miscommunicated, even internally.  Major research projects fail to achieve their potential impact because they cannot reach their intended audience or said audience does not perceive their practical value.  Evaluation synthesis, for which there is no single agreed definition, attempts to combat this issue by adapting existing evaluation work for use by other evaluators. This blog from FAO’s Rachel Sauvinet Bedouin is a useful guide to the difficult task of constructing an evaluation synthesis, requiring an often intimidating combination of stakeholder involvement, careful data source exploration, triangulation and validation.

On World Food Day, think once more about food systems, instead of just deciding what to eat today

October 16 was World Food Day, which commemorates the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945 and in 2021 was conducted under the theme of “Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.” Given the importance of food to many of the Sustainable development Goals, much work of the 2030 Agenda continues to focus on agriculture, agroforestry, food waste and many other connected issues.

3ie’s Food Systems and Nutrition Evidence Gap Map is a great place for evaluators to start when assessing what has been achieved in the sector and what is still to be done.  Much like Evaluation Synthesis, the Evidence Gap Map is useful in that it helps evaluators utilise existing efforts and deploy their own skills where they are most needed.  This blog provides a quick analysis of the EGM as it stands, pointing out the current areas of insufficient study, inadequately measured outcomes and incomplete synthesis.  

Anti-corruption in Nigeria: Lessons and recommendations for future programming

At a time of increasing state budgets and urgent reliance on public services, the issue of corruption is more important than ever before. Itad’s Abdulkareem Lawal provides an overview of the Anti-Corruption in Nigeria (ACORN) program, which utilised state and non-state partnerships and civil society participation at the local and global level to proactively change attitudes and social norms closely related to corruption.  The evaluation concludes that pre-emptive measures offer a rewarding new method of combating corruption: by vigilant monitoring of the dynamic economic and social conditions that give rise to it, the roots of corruption can be eroded by close engagement with citizens through a variety of online and offline channels.  As an introduction to the fast-changing landscape of anti-corruption activities, this blog is a useful addition.

Adapting development in response to population aging

Earlier in the year the EES blog looked into the challenges of evaluating development initiatives in the context of population ageing.  This blog from the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group, again building on the IEG’s Support to Aging Countries report, focuses on the profound distributional consequences of demographic change, specific country ageing reports and on areas for improvement in the Bank’s recommendations.  In the view of the author, far greater emphasis needs to be placed on pre-emptive policy to address ageing before acute problems emerge.  Additionally, she recommends that analysts approach the issue cross-sectorally, with an awareness of the problematic interactions between chronic illness, gender inequality, irregular work and finance among other factors.

Advancing inclusive digital financial services to empower women in Indonesia|

Although there is no shortage of attention on women’s empowerment in economics and evaluation, one relatively neglected area is the issue of financial access and independence.  Especially in developing countries, the challenges of accessing basic financial services and products poses a very real threat to the gains made in law by women’s rights advocates. For that reason, this blog, and the IFII Learning Collaborative Forum in Women’s Economic Empowerment and Financial Inclusion from which it is drawn, are a welcome contribution.

The blog examines the evidence presented at the Forum on the link between access to financial services and empowerment.  The findings wade through the scattered studies and superficially reassuring statistics to uncover a clear need for action.  Drawing on several randomised evaluations, the Forum assessed the interplay of microfinance, microcredit, account ownership, social capital and income streams among other factors.  As a primer on women’s empowerment in practice, this blog – the first in a series – is required reading.