Journal Article


Impact Evaluation: The Experiences of Official Agencies

Published on 1 March 2008

Aid effectiveness has long been disputed, after decades of inconclusive macroeconomic analysis. Now there is a growing body of evidence from detailed, field level, microeconomic impact evaluations.

The articles in this IDS Bulletin show how the design of these studies increasingly address the various sources of bias for which previous projects were criticised. These later evaluations provide a firm basis on which to draw conclusions on aid effectiveness. Generalisations – bearing in mind specific contexts in which interventions have or have not worked – will come from further evaluations. This volume presents examples of these studies from a number of agencies: AFD, ADB, IDB, JBIC, the Netherlands Ministry for Foreign Affairs, USAID and the World Bank.

Challenges – such as enlarging study scale and technical skill, and resistance to new techniques – remain. While the situation is changing, deliberate action is required, specifically greater understanding of the scope and limitations of quantitative impact evaluation. Greater use of well-designed, theory-based, rigorous impact evaluations will enhance the likelihood of achieving international poverty reduction targets.

Impact evaluation design should ensure policy relevance and be able to answer not only what works but why, or why not. Qualitative fieldwork can lead to further quantitative analysis, resulting in clear and focused policy conclusions. While impact evaluations can be perceived as more expensive, within tight budgets the money must be best spent to ensure most effective learning and accountability. Local stakeholder involvement is another ingredient for the desired aim of policy impact.

Table of contents

  • Introduction: Impact Evaluation: The Experience of Official Agencies (pdf) – Howard White and Michael Bamberger
  • ‘Fostering Impact Evaluations at Agence Francaise de Developpement: A Process of In-house Appropriation and Capacity-building – Jean David Naudet and Jocelyne Delarue
  • ‘”You Can Get It If You Really Want”: Impact Evaluation Experience of the Office of Evaluation and Oversight of the Inter-American Development Bank’ – Inter Jit Ruprah
  • ‘Analysing the Effectiveness of Sector Support: Primary Education in Uganda and Zambia’ – Antonie de Kemp
  • ‘Impact of Microfinance on Rural Households in the Philippines’ – Toshio Kondo, Aniceto Orbeta, Jr., Clarence Dingcong and Christine Infantado
  • ‘Learning to Evaluate the Impact of Aid’ – Seiro Ito, Nobuyuki Kobayashi and Yoshio Wada
  • ‘Evidence-based Evaluation of Development Cooperation: Possible? Feasible? Desirable?’ – Kim Forss and Sara Bandstein
  • ‘Lost Opportunities and Constraints in Proudcing Rigorous Evaluations of USAID Health Prjects, 2004-7’ – Charles H. Teller
  • ‘Of Probits and Participation: The Use of Mixed Methods in Quantitative Impact Evaluation’ – Howard White


Publication details

published by
White, H.
Howard White
IDS Bulletin, volume 39, issue 1


About this publication

Research themes
Inclusive Economies

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