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Giel Ton

Research Fellow

Giel Ton is a Research Fellow at the Institute of Development Studies and Director of the Centre for Development Impact. He specializes in the design of mixed-methods impact evaluations in agricultural value chains and private-sector development and applies Contribution Analysis as an overarching approach of theory-based evaluation. Contribution Analysis helps to identify the hotspots for additional research needed to verify critical assumptions in the theory of change. He encourages the critical reflection on methods, anticipating the threats to validity to the type of inferences associated with a particular research design.  He is particularly interested in research designs that integrate methods for pattern detection in data sets (e.g. regressions, qualitative comparative analysis) and in-depth causal explanation (e.g. process tracing, realist evaluation).

Between 2005 and 2017, Giel worked for Wageningen Economic Research as a Senior Researcher on projects relating to business training, contract farming, export promotion and certification schemes. In 2017, he completed a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of contract farming for smallholder income for 3ie and the Campbell Collaboration, together with Ghent University. Giel coordinated the IFAD-funded ESFIM-programme, Empowering Smallholder Farmers in Markets implemented by Agrinatura (WUR, CIRAD and NRI). He also led the PRIME project, Pioneering Real-time Monitoring and Evaluation in small and medium enterprises to assess the impact of the Centre for the Promotion of Imports (CBI) and Netherlands Senior Experts (PUM).

Previously, he worked in the Netherlands on the illegal timber trade (2004) with Friends of the Earth. In Bolivia (1999-2004), he was policy advisor for the National Platform of Economic Farmer Organisations (CIOEC) and developed proposals for Bolivia’s poverty reduction programme, analysed the legal and administrative environment for farmer associations and cooperatives, and analysed Bolivia’s role in international trade and regional integration (MERCOSUR, CAN, WTO/Cairns Group). In the Netherlands (1997), he worked with the Dutch workers’ union on the Horticultural Restructuring Plan. In Nicaragua (1989-1996), he worked for VECO/Rikolto developing service facilities (e.g. Seed Exchange, Land Acquisition Fund, and Modular Post-Harvest Storage) for the local association of smallholder farmers in Condega-Estelí.

Most of his publications are available on ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Giel_Ton/contributions?ev=prf_act

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Centre for Development Impact

The Centre for Development Impact (CDI) contributes to learning and innovation in the field of impact evaluation. The Centre aims to improve the assessment of impact on the poor, particularly through the use of appropriate, mixed method, and robust evaluation designs.



Giel Ton’s recent work


Rural Futures

The big development issues of the coming decades, including inequality, sustainability, exclusion and security, all have specific and critically important rural dimensions. Rural societies, economies and areas face challenges and opportunities that can be qualitatively different from their...