Image of Giel Ton

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 research on agricultural value chains and private-sector development. He promotes Contribution Analysis as an overarching approach of theory-based evaluation and a stepwise process to identify the hot spots where additional data collection and reflection is needed. He co-convenes the professional course Contribution Analysis for Impact Evaluation.

He applies his methodological skills to projects relating to institutional arrangements and collective action in agricultural value chains, such as collective marketing, certification, and market system development. Currently, he is involved in research on the governance of food safety in urban food markets in Peru (GICCAP), the scaling of inclusive business projects in Africa (2SCALE), the impact evaluation of a private sector development programme in Ethiopia (PEPE), sustainable intensification in poultry production (One Health Poultry Hub) and social protection and action research on child labour in Bangladesh (CLARISSA).

Most of these projects focus directly or indirectly on value chain governance and coordination. These imply configurations of incentives and institutional arrangements as ‘value chain governance mechanisms’. These mechanisms are based on an amalgam of (sometimes conflicting) formal and informal rules and regulations. Giel’s research focuses on those chains in the value chain where smallholders, local agents, farmer groups and traders exchange agricultural products or related services and negotiate the quality attributes, risks, and rewards in these transactions. In this analysis, he explores the role of other influencing factors and actors upstream or downstream of the value chain and in the institutional environment and the inequity of power in those relations.

To do so, he tries to analyse the heterogeneity of effects/impact, using the core question of realist evaluation: What works for whom under what conditions, and why?  A realist analysis typically results in various context-mechanism outcome configurations (CMOs) that explain why certain contextual characteristics make that specific subgroups of actors benefit (or not) from particular support activities.



Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture

Action on Children’s Harmful Work in African Agriculture (ACHA) is a seven-year research programme supported by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) that started in January 2020. The aim of the programme is to build evidence on: the forms, drivers, and experiences of...


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.



Food certification schemes, impact and existential questions

Certification systems, like Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and organic agriculture are crucial social capital in the food system. They need to show that they are credible. Therefore, a large part of published research on sustainability in food production concerns the impact of certification. The...

31 July 2019


Working Paper

Evaluating CLARISSA: Innovation Driven by a Participatory Learning Agenda

CLARISSA Working Paper 2

Children end up in child labour as a result of many, often unknown or hidden, interactions between multiple actors and multiple factors within households, communities, and labour systems, leading to unpredictable outcomes for children and other sector stakeholders and sometimes resulting in the...

Image of Marina Apgar
Marina Apgar & 6 others

25 June 2020

Giel Ton’s recent work

Past Event

Nuggets, smoking guns, and the wild west of evaluation

In recent years, international development programmes have increasingly sought to address complex problems, and this has led to growing demand for "complexity-aware" approaches to monitoring and evaluation. One key area of this frontier is the family of approaches known as theory-based...

3 December 2020