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New evidence on humanitarian aid: Cash transfers improve outcomes for Venezuelan migrants in Colombia | 3ie

This recent impact evaluation from 3ie highlights the positive effects of a multipurpose cash transfer program (ADN Dignidad) for Venezuelan migrants in Colombia. With migration as ever a focus of political energies and much in need of rigorous study, this is a study with potential broad generalizability.  The program, implemented by humanitarian organisations and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), provided monthly transfers of approximately $100 to vulnerable households for six months. The evaluation, using a regression discontinuity design, compared eligible and ineligible households near the program’s threshold and found significant positive impacts. Recipients experienced increased income, reduced food insecurity, and improved coping mechanisms. The evaluation provides a measure of evidence that multipurpose cash assistance is an effective approach to alleviating suffering and improving the well-being of displaced migrants although, historically, such schemes have faced considerable opposition and struggled to establish themselves.


Innovative study to measure gender norm foundations and change in rural Bangladesh | 3ie 

Gender norms continue to play a crucial role in shaping society and while attitudes have evolved, so too have contemporary forms of regressive norms. Challenging and changing these norms is essential for achieving gender equality and hinder the effectiveness of development programs more broadly. Recent research highlights the importance of understanding the foundations of gender norms and the prevalence of misconceptions within social groups. Correcting these misconceptions can lead to rapid behavioural change. A study conducted in Saudi Arabia found that when men updated their beliefs about women’s participation in work, their wives were more likely to seek employment. This suggests that transformative change is possible under the right conditions. The WorldFish’s IDEA aquaculture project in rural Bangladesh provides an opportunity to examine how norms affect female participation. An evaluation team plans to conduct a study on gender norms to understand the restrictions on women’s decision-making and mobility and track changes among project participants. The findings will inform policymakers and practitioners in Bangladesh about effective interventions for norm change processes.


Leveraging technology to improve child-caregiver interactions at scale | The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab

Persistent and substantial ability gaps among children from different socioeconomic backgrounds emerge early in infant development, according to this article from J-PAL. Cost-effective interventions that can be scaled up are needed to address this challenge. Technology-based interventions have gained attention for their potential to reach more children at a low cost. The quality of parent-child interactions during the early years plays a crucial role in child development, but factors such as a fast-paced lifestyle, economic insecurity, and social isolation can hinder good parenting practices. According to the piece, caregivers can overcome these barriers by addressing behavioural barriers such as present bias, complexity of the parental role, status quo bias, and negative identities. Home visiting programs and mobile-based interventions, like “Crianza Positiva,” which delivers text and audio messages to caregivers, have shown promising results in improving parenting practices. However, the effectiveness of messaging programs may be influenced by factors such as human interaction, competing communication channels, and increased stress during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. Ongoing efforts are focused on implementing interventions that provide timely information, resources, and support to expectant mothers and families with young children, leveraging mobile technology and incorporating human facilitators. These low-cost interventions have the potential to enhance parenting resources and decision-making, contributing to improved early childhood development at scale.


A new pathway: how can funders support meaningful monitoring, evaluation, and learning practice in the field?

The Open Society Foundation’s Fiscal Governance Program has seen significant success by focusing on six key approaches, including empowering grantees and relinquishing power. The seven-year-long program, which disbursed over $150 million in grants, managed to improve monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) practices within the fiscal governance field. This was achieved by increasing capacities within key institutions and grantees, advocating for complexity-sensitive methods, and building a community of practitioners who could apply context-specific MEL to fiscal governance. The journey, which involved careful planning, learning, and adaptability, is now encapsulated in a new publication titled ‘Setting new standards for better MEL: Lessons for funders and grantees’. It provides resources and insights to enable better collaborations between donors and grantees.


Independent High-Level Evaluation of ILO’s COVID-19 response 2020-22

Few evaluation exercises will command as much scrutiny or require as much rigour as the forthcoming evaluations of COVID-19 response policy.  This Independent High-level Evaluation of ILO’s COVID-19 response provides one the first comprehensive approaches to institutional resilience in the face of the pandemic. While the report includes few novel insights unfamiliar to those with a knowledge of the subject matter, the report may prove to be a valuable template for other institutions’ approaches to pandemic evaluation. Separately, the report also leaves much of its analysis to ways that the ILO has been permanently altered by its response, how the pandemic revealed pre-existing deficiencies, how these were detected by evaluators and what their recommendations are.


Of satellites and surveys: How innovative data collection can speed up climate action 

The article discusses the significance of data collection and monitoring in climate change mitigation and adaptation. It posits that rigorous evaluation of climate innovations can expedite our progress by ensuring the real-world efficacy of public and private sector innovations. The article also discusses the use of real-time data collection and monitoring to identify vulnerable communities, target interventions effectively, and optimise our efforts to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. The article concludes by arguing that rigorous monitoring and evaluation, in turn, allow for more informed policy and private sector decisions during the current “window of opportunity” to drive a positive impact on the planet and the people who will most be affected by climate change.