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Chris Barnett

Honorary Associate

Chris Barnett is an Honorary Associate affiliated with the Centre for Development Impact. The Centre is a joint initiative between IDS, Itad and the University of East Anglia. His current research interests include innovative ways to evaluate impact, civil society, governance, livelihoods as well as the ethics of evaluation. He is also working on impact investing and innovative finance, including ways to assess social impact beyond aid.

Chris is an experienced team leader and project director of several high-profile evaluations. This includes: the quasi-experimental impact evaluation of the Millennium Villages Project (Ghana, 2012-2018); and the ten-year longitudinal study of CDC’s contribution to mobilisation (global, 2017-2027). In both of these evaluations, Chris’ interest lies in the credible mixing of evaluation designs and methods; whether Difference-in-difference and qualitative methodologies (in the former), or Contribution Analysis and macro-economic modelling (in the latter). Chris has facilitated a number of training courses on evaluation methods, including the CDI / IDS short course on ‘Designing effective ways to evaluate impact’.

Past work has also focused on governance in Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere, and the relationships between state and civil society. This includes: a four-year, case-based evaluation of the Tilitonse civil society fund in Malawi; a multi-donor evaluation of US$ 4 billion of aid to Conflict Prevention and Peace Building activities in Southern Sudan; and providing technical and value for money support to several governance funds in Ghana and Nigeria (STAR-Ghana, SAVI, SPARC). Presently, Chris is exploring the role of ‘evaluation’ in assessing the social impact of non-aid interventions, including impact investing, innovative finance and prizes. This includes the study of CDC, recent research for Swedfund and the Venture Capital Trust Fund in Ghana. He also provides monitoring, learning and evaluation support to ‘Ideas to Impact’, a programme of innovation prizes in energy, water and climate change (global, 2013-2018).

Chris has published on power imbalances in evaluation, evaluation ethics, feedback loops, and the role of development evaluators in blended finance and social impact investment.




New Frontiers for Evaluation

An unprecedented revolution has swept over the development scene since the turn of the century: it is market-led and emphasizes the mobilization of private energies, funds and skills. A brand new cast of influential development actors is transforming the state aid monopoly. The development...


Impact Innovation

This programme will assess the impact of new interventions and policy options across a range of policy areas.


Independent Impact Evaluation Agent (IIEA) for Tilitonse, Malawi

This Independent Impact Evaluation aims to measure the impact of Tilitonse, formerly the Civil Society Governance Fund, in Malawi. It is a challenging area for impact evaluation as the anticipated 'impacts' are likely to require a shift in power relations, and are likely to be transformative...



Reflections on evaluating integrated rural development

The latest IDS Bulletin ‘The Millennium Villages: Lessons on Evaluating Integrated Rural Development' brings together a series of reflections on integrated development and how best to know whether it works and why. It certainly doesn’t provide all the answers; rather it’s meant to...

14 November 2018



The Millennium Villages: Lessons on Evaluating Integrated Rural Development

Integrated development projects seem to have largely fallen out of favour since their heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Integrated projects are by their nature often complex and messy – and this has thrown up challenges for researchers and evaluators attempting to assess the benefits of...

13 November 2018

Journal Article

Integrated Development, Past and Present

IDS Bulletin 49.4

Recent years have witnessed a renewed interest in integrated rural development (IRD) projects, which were a common feature of international development in the 1960s and 1970s. In this article we critically review the literature on past IRD with the goal of informing current practice. We...

Edoardo Masset

12 November 2018