CDI's events programme covers the key issues of impact evaluation in international development.

Our regular CDI Seminar Series invites academics, practitioners, and other experts working on impact evaluation to explore the application of a range of approaches and designs for assessing the impact of complex development and policy interventions. The seminars aim to stimulate debate between theory, methodology and practice, and in doing so, explore new frontiers and cross-disciplinary opportunities to advance the field of impact evaluation. 

CDI events are hosted mainly in the UK at the Institute of Development Studies, Itad and the University of East Anglia. Write-ups and audio recordings of many of the events, along with short interviews with speakers, are available online.


3 December 2020 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
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 evaluation. This webinar will argue that there is a need for combining theory-based methods to improve evaluation practice and shed light on causal mechanisms.
Speaker(s): Tom Aston
25 March 2020 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
The international development sector faces many thorny and interconnected global challenges, from climate change and cross-border trade to corruption and violent extremism. This has sparked a growing interest in evaluation approaches that can cope with complexity and generate lessons about how to tackle these kinds of challenges.
Speaker(s): Melanie Punton
21 February 2020 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
Evaluating what research achieves is always challenging given the diverse pathways for outcomes and related impact.  Therefore, longitudinal research lasting an extended period presents unique and real methodological challenges. This presentation will discuss the application of contribution analysis to a recent evaluation of the Young Lives Research programme, which is the first comparative, longitudinal, mixed-methods study of children in developing countries.
Speaker(s): Alma Agusti Strid, Jonathan France and Richard Longhurst
23 May 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
ISEAL, the global membership association for credible sustainability standards, will explain the role of impact evaluation in the institutional architecture of credible certifications (internal control systems, third-party verification, control on control). What type of evidence is needed to make certifications credible, what are ISEAL’s requirements to certification bodies in relation to monitoring and impact evaluation?About the speaker
Speaker(s): Joshua Wickerham
25 April 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
The seminar will discuss how Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) can be applied as a tool for evaluating policy change and advocacy interventions. Oxfam will present how they used QCA for a meta review of Oxfam’s Good Governance initiatives, and the process of sensemaking and validation of the detected patterns.
Speaker(s): Ruth Mayne, Irene Guijt
3 April 2019 - 3:00pm to 4:30pm
This seminar will reflect on the challenges of synthesizing evidence about effectiveness through systematic reviews. Based on their experiences with meta-analyses of the literature on contract farming and microcredit, the presenters identify ways to conduct and use systematic reviews sensibly. They will further reflect on the next level of systematisation, i.e. the usefulness of conducting systematic reviews of systematic reviews, drawing on recent work on financial inclusion.
Speaker(s): Maren Duvendack and Giel Ton
3 April 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
In this seminar, the results of a systematic review of systematic reviews will be presented to better understand the impact of a range of financial inclusion interventions on economic, social, gender and behavioural outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. Financial inclusion is a dynamic space with a growing range of intervention types and players. However, the present high-level evidence does not suggest that financial inclusion initiatives have transformative effects or are changing the world. The review finds that the impacts of financial inclusion interventions are small and variable and may be no better than those of comparable alternatives, such as graduation or livelihoods interventions.
Speaker(s): Maren Duvendack, Philip Mader
14 March 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
China’s size militates against one-size-fits-all solutions, and the government encourages experimentation as part of a change management process that helps manage complexity. Simultaneously, government and researchers have used various strategies to help capture emergent policy solutions that can inform policy making by central and provincial governments. As China’s reforms deepen and become more complex, Chinese research institutions are looking to tools from the development M&E community to help strengthen systemic learning. Equally, as China increases its overseas engagement, including in health, Chinese approaches to change management face new challenges. The presentation draws on recent publications by the authors on the evaluation of China’s domestic health reforms, and on the evaluation of a major UK-China collaboration supporting increased Chinese engagement in global health.
Speaker(s): Lewis Husain
20 February 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pm
This seminar presents findings from a mixed-methods evaluation that used Contribution Scores and qualitative data to assess the impacts of Solidarity Groups. While saving and lending are elements, Solidarity Groups represent a holistic departure from microfinance models. Groups collect the resources of poor and marginal people with the aim of enabling their members to escape debt and exploitation, gain resilience and build more cohesive and equal communities.
Speaker(s): Phil Mader
6 December 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:00pm
The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) aimed to demonstrate how the Millennium Development Goals could be achieved locally through an integrated approach to sustainable development. The project was first piloted in Kenya and Ethiopia, and in 2006 was launched at scale, eventually covering 14 project sites in 10 countries in Africa. The project has been controversial, and by 2010 there were significant criticisms of the evidence being used by the project’s proponents.
Speaker(s): Chris Barnett
8 November 2018 - 1:00pm
This seminar will present results on a DfID funded research study on the nature and quality of smallholder data collection by Agribusinesses in East Africa. Looking across six different value chains (leather, mangoes, livestock, dairy, tea and maize), the seminar will cover barriers and incentives for collecting more relevant data on smallholders who work with agribusinesses and their applicability towards the SDGs. The seminar will also reflect on the challenges for evaluators in engaging with stakeholder groups (such as investors and purchasing groups), the role of digital technologies making information collection easier, and how that ultimately effects evaluation results.
Speaker(s): Peter O'Flynn, Seife Ayele
22 March 2018 - 1:00pm
In this CDI seminar, James Copestake will introduce the QuIP and explain how and why it combines features of causal process tracing, outcome harvesting and realist evaluation while addressing confirmation bias and confirmability problems associated with much qualitative social research.
Speaker(s): James Copestake

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