All CDI blog posts are written by members of the CDI team or those working on projects in connection with CDI who can offer a personal analysis of development impact research and practice. The views expressed in these blogs may not represent those of CDI. Please do join the debate by 'commenting' on our blogs. You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #cdimpact and #impact eval. 

Blog Posts

Vicky Sword-Daniels, Emmeline Henderson, Chris Barnett, Dave Wilson
We urgently need a low carbon and climate-resilient future. Incremental adaptation may no longer be enough – transformational change offers the potential for fundamental change across and within complex and messy systems. There is significant recent interest in transformational change, but what does it mean in practice, and how can we know whether we are making progress?
November 2020
Richard Longhurst
“…evaluation tells us what works and what does not in a project or policy”. This simple description from the UK Evaluation Society (UKES) makes clear the absolutely vital role that evaluators globally have to play in assessing the impact, for example, of public and private investments on people’s lives. Despite this, the evaluation profession is still making progress in developing formal qualifications, and ‘anybody’ can claim to be an evaluator.
May 2020
Giel Ton, Dominic Glover

Giel Ton and Dominic Glover published the report ‘Improving Knowledge, Inputs and Markets for Legume Expansion: A Contribution Analysis of N2Africa in Ghana and Ethiopia’, They applied process-tracing to assess the contribution of the research programme N2Africa, which aimed to harness nitrogen fixation technologies.

January 2020
Inka Barnett, Peter O'Flynn
Young people are the future and their nutritional needs are critical for the well-being of any country. As highlighted in the recent Global Accelerated Action for Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!) report investing in the nutrition and health of adolescents brings a triple dividend of benefits for the adolescent now, for their future adult lives, and for the next generation.
October 2019
Philip Mader, Richard Jolly, Maren Duvendack , Solene Morvant-Roux
The three new Laureates deserve the prize in economics in memory of Alfred Nobel. But the award shows how poor the modern economics discipline is in terms of gender equality, research methods, self-examination, and genuine insight into the lives of the poor.
October 2019
Giel Ton
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 focus of this research is often to measure the effect on household income. Giel Ton argues that impact research might need to shift its focus to explore new policy options within the certification process, looking at crucial elements of the certification process that need to be improved to remain relevant and credible, especially ways to improve the cash premium and way to reach living wages for workers.
August 2019
Chris Barnett

Metrics are useful, and the widespread use of standardised metrics and ratings[1] have been helpful over the years. Still, many of the claims of the social impact from investments tend to focus on good news stories or a narrow set of metrics, such as jobs created. With the increased interest in mobilising private capital to address poverty and sustainable development, perhaps it’s time to be more evaluative about social impact?

January 2019
Chris Barnett

A new paper on African investments offers insights into improving social benefits: it can be achieved but requires intentionality by business leaders and fund managers. This isn’t without a cost – something that only serves to highlight structural weaknesses in many fund operating models. The overheads available to support social performance are often tight. So, do donors and philanthropists have a role to play while this fledgling investment ecosystem emerges?

January 2019
Lewis Husain, Gerry Bloom

Some years ago, Tony Saich likened doing research on local government in China to the story of the blind men and the elephant – the complexity of China, and the differences between places, mean that different people experience different things, and describe different realities.

December 2018
Chris Barnett

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 stimulate debate. Some things you might agree with, others you might not. Hopefully, it is at least thought-provoking.

December 2018