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ODI general feed - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 00:00
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Male gender-based violence: a silent crisis

ODI general feed - Mon, 06/23/2014 - 00:00

'Men and boys have also been sexually abused in conflicts. We don’t know the full scale of this crisis globally and how many have experienced sexual violence precisely because this has been such a hidden issue.'

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DVR TIG Week: Johanna Morariu on the DVR Logic Model & Introducing the DVR Week

American Evaluation Association 365 Blog - Sun, 06/22/2014 - 01:15

Hey there! I’m Johanna Morariu, a Director of Innovation Network and the Co-Chair of the DVRTIG. DVR is the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG, and we work within the AEA community and through our evaluation work to improve the quality of communications through better data visualization and improved approaches to reporting evaluation findings.

You could say the first DVRTIG meeting was in 2010, when Stephanie Evergreen convened a small, rowdy group of us to discuss interest in founding the a new TIG to advance issues related to data and information design and reporting within the evaluation community. Since then, we’ve been a fast growing TIG with more than 800 members. (Thanks Stephanie!)

Since those earliest days, TIG members and leaders have worked hard to develop a knowledge and resource base for members and the broader AEA community. One of those newest resources that we’d like to share is a DVRTIG logic model. Yes, our very own logic model!

Rad Resource: The DVRTIG Logic Model was developed by DVRTIG leadership coming out of the Evaluation 2013 DVRTIG business meeting. The logic model reflects the ideas and ambitions suggested by TIG members at the business meeting. There are more activities than we can hope to achieve, but this is our record of ideas and possibilities for the TIG for the next two years. Check it out and leave a comment in the AEA resource library.

Rad Resource: Another great resource if you’re interested in learning more about the DVRTIG is our website. Anne Worthington is our TIG webmaster and maintains an excellent resources hub of dataviz resources, DVRTIG videos and content, and much more!

Hot Tip: Did you know there is a forum for chatting directly with AEA members interested in data visualization and reporting? Through the DVRTIG website, you can access the DVRTIG eGroup to start a conversation, get feedback on your visualization or report, or share new resources!

We’ve got a great week of posts lined up for you! First, Ann Emery (my colleague at Innovation Network and DVRTIG Co-Chair) will wow you with some stats and visualizations about the DVRTIG. Up next will be Rakesh Mohan and his colleagues from Idaho State’s Office of Performance Evaluations to explain Sankey diagrams. Then we’ll hear from Tony Fujs of the Latin American Youth Center about using R and ggplot2 for data visualization. From there we’ll turn it over to Gretchen Biesecker, Vice President of Evaluation at City Year, to explore storytelling as an effective communication method. And we’ll wrap up the DVR week with Ann Emery and Stephanie Evergreen with a test drive of their Data Visualization Checklist.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Week with our colleagues in the DVR Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from DVR TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Related posts:

  1. DVR Week: Amy Germuth and Johanna Morariu on Kicking off the DVR TIG Week
  2. DVR Week: Stephanie Evergreen on the Data Visualization and Reporting TIG
  3. DOVP Week: Aimee Sickels on the Two Minute Logic Model

Best of aea365: Sheila B Robinson on Being an AEA365 Sponsored Weeks Archaeologist!

American Evaluation Association 365 Blog - Sat, 06/21/2014 - 01:15

Hello! Sheila B. Robinson here, aea365′s Lead Curator and sometimes Saturday contributor. I originally composed this post in May of 2013, but feel it deserves another go as I’m feverishly queuing up some fabulous sponsored weeks for summer. Keep up with aea365 through weekly Headlines and Resources, the new and improved AEA website, and AEA newsletters.

I work in PK12 education at Greece Central School District, and in higher education at the University of Rochester’s Warner School of Education. As aea365’s current Lead Curator, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of groups – American Evaluation Association Topical Interest Groups (AEA TIGs), AEA Affiliates, and other groups that are united by evaluation practice in various contexts.

Hot Tip: Leave no stone unturned! In other words, don’t skip entire weeks. You can learn a lot even when a sponsored week’s group name doesn’t resonate with you. During sponsored weeks, you can read about how evaluators in different contexts from your own have grappled with evaluation challenges, learned something from working in diverse communities, or tried new technologies to enhance their evaluation practice and are now willing to share their experiences with all of us.

Hot Tip: Dig for enticing artifacts! Look for posts with content that transcends the focus of the sponsored week. For example, while I am not an environmental program evaluator, nor do I evaluate extension education programs, I found these two gems during sponsored weeks:

  • In this post, Sara El Choufi shared resources for learning Excel during the Environmental Program Evaluation (EPE TIG) sponsored week.
  • In this post, Melissa Cater shared information on creating a Community of Practice during Extension Education Evaluation (EEE TIG) week.

Lesson Learned: While our sponsored week authors may share evaluation foci with each other, they offer Hot Tips, Cool Tricks, Lessons Learned, and Rad Resources that appeal to and can be educative for a broad range of evaluators.

 

Cool Trick: Get your hands dirty! Sift through the archive and unearth your own gems in sponsored (and non-sponsored!) weeks.

Lesson Learned: Many sponsored weeks have themes that cut across evaluation contexts. In addition to TIG-sponsored weeks,we’ve hosted Cultural Competence Week, Innovative #Eval Week, Video in #Eval Week, AEA affiliate weeks, Bloggers Series Weeks, and Local Area Working Group Weeks, among others.

Rad Resource: History in the making: Check out aea365 and our archive for a list of over 1000 nuggets of evaluation wisdom from hundreds of authors. With about 70 sponsored weeks on aea365, there’s a lot to learn! So, get into comfortable clothes, get your virtual trowel, sieve, and brush and get your read on!

 

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

 

Related posts:

  1. Sheila B. Robinson on Being an AEA365 Sponsored Weeks Archaeologist!
  2. Cultural Competence Week: Dominica McBride on Cultural Competence and aea365
  3. Jeremy Jewell on Using Wait List Control Groups in Evaluation

Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box

Within days, the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) conquered parts of north-western Iraq and revealed the fragility of a country ruined by sectarianism, hollowed-out institutions and high-level, pervasive corruption. Accumulated grievances of Sunnis in the area meant that ISIL pushed against a house of cards. But its possibilities are limited and a kneejerk international military intervention risks stoking the conflict instead of containing it. The International Crisis Group’s latest briefing, Iraq’s Jihadi Jack-in-the-Box , outlines necessary actions by Iraq, Iran, the U.S. and the wider international community to end the harmful course of events and reverse its underlying drivers.

CLEAR Week: Claudia Maldonado and Alicia López on Creating “Enabling Environments” for Monitoring & Evaluation

American Evaluation Association 365 Blog - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 01:15

We are Claudia Maldonado and Alicia López from the CLEAR Center for Spanish-speaking Latin America, proud members of the CLEAR Initiative.

Would you recognize an “enabling environment” if you “saw” it?  The enabling environment concept is very popular among professionals in evaluation. But what does it mean?   How you create and cultivate this kind of environment requires some out-of -the-box kind of thinking.

Last November the CLEAR Centers of Latin America and Anglophone Africa organized a South-South roundtable in Pretoria, South Africa that tried to do something different.  We brought together members of government, parliament and technical experts from eight developing countries (Benin, Colombia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Peru, South Africa, and Uganda).  We had them role-play, discuss and reflect informally about the role of evidence in development. The idea was to provide a neutral space for people in high-level decision positions, with the ability to push legislation, and technical experts to share experiences and knowledge in a very open forma.  And what did we get out of it?  A fascinating working-group, specific country-level commitments and a lot of fun.

Lessons Learned: Plan, plan, plan, ahead! The selection of participants and a well-thought agenda are essential.

Hot Tip: We held bimonthly meetings with a steering group of senior specialists from Mexico, South Africa and Ghana and the facilitation team to plan the round-table’s content and goals. In-depth, participatory work for the construction of the agenda and the selection of adequate strategic participants (combining enough experience, decisiveness and expertise) was crucial for success.

Lessons Learned: A traditional lecture format was just not going to cut it! We needed participants to get to know each other and be willing to openly share the frustrations and challenges they face. A flexible format and a facilitation process that enabled collaboration and engagement across institutional roles and national boundaries helped.

Hot Tip: Carefully select well prepared and experienced facilitators. Group dynamics help to create an atmosphere of trust.  At first these activities may seem silly or a waste of time. They are not!

Lessons learned: Ok, meeting our colleagues is rewarding, but we came here for results!  Aim for written commitments.

Hot Tip:   Set aside enough time to establish agreements. The last three sessions of the event were dedicated to drafting country and regional action plans taking into consideration learning and insights from the interactions.

Country action plans included: Designing of a legal/administrative framework to promote compliance and learning through evaluation; effectively supply relevant information; ensure that recommendations outputs are evidence-based, timely, clear, and politically and economically feasible; and create a parliamentarian forum on M&E.

Rad Resource: South-South Round Table on the Demand and Use of Evidence in Policy Making and Implementation.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Related posts:

  1. CLEAR Week: Tim Clynick on Beyond Rhetoric: Africa’s National Evaluation Movement
  2. CLEAR Week: Diva Dhar and Urmy Shukla on Designing Courses for M&E Capacity Building: Lessons from South Asia
  3. FIE/MME Week: Donna Podems on Applying Feminist Evaluation for Non-feminist Evaluators

Whose Palestine?

For a moment in early June, it seemed to many Palestinians that their political leadership was on the verge of making a historic shift. On June 2, seven years of political division—between the unelected government in the West Bank dominated by Fatah, and the elected government in Gaza controlled by the Islamist party Hamas—formally came to an end. Hamas ministers in Gaza resigned, surrendering their authority to a new government of national consensus that would rule over both Gaza and the West Bank.

Working and discussion papers

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00

Working and discussion papers present results of ODI research in preliminary form for discussion and comment.

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Infographics

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00
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Multimedia

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00
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Food prices update June 2014

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00
ODI’s Food Price Updates focus on tracking international prices of key staple cereals maize, rice, and wheat, and provide commentary on events in markets that affect these prices. They also follow international food and commodity price indices.
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Incorporating people's values in development: weighting alternatives

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00
Timely information about people’s desires could improve policy-makers’ ability to allocate resources to maximum effect and monitor interventions and outcomes. In developing a multidimensional well-being tool to compare the effectiveness of different interventions, weights aim to capture the relative importance of each component to a person’s overall well-being. In this Development Progress Project Note, Laura Rodriguez Takeuchi explores how we may obtain weights based on people’s perceptions of what is important, proposing two methodologies for testing in a pilot project.
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Beyond Stuff: Capacity as a Relational Concept

ODI general feed - Fri, 06/20/2014 - 00:00

What are we talking about when we talk about capacity? The answer should be straightforward, given that ideas of “capacity building” frame the way many of us think about – and do – development. But so often the response is fuzzy and unclear. This post tries to clarify things a little.

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In Defense of Forecasting: Its Importance in the Budget Process

PFM blog - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 13:53
Posted by Tom Josephs1 Recent research by IMF economists Hites Ahir and Prakash Loungani shows that forecasters comprehensively failed to predict the recessions that followed the 2008 financial crisis.2 This was the case even for forecasts made in early 2008...
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The CAR Crisis: Thinking Beyond Traditional Peacekeeping

The crisis that has been occurring in CAR is certainly the most dramatic in its history: more than 600 000 Central Africans are internally displaced or sought refuge in neighbouring countries; according to the United Nations, 1.7 million live in a constant situation of food insecurity and 878 000 need immediate medical assistance; Muslim communities are fleeing Bangui and the western region, subsistence economy no longer exists and the de facto partition of the country, caused by the sectarian violence, is gradually becoming a reality.

CLEAR Week: Boubacar Aw on Evaluation Capacity Building in Francophone Africa: Development of teaching materials through training of trainers (TOT)

American Evaluation Association 365 Blog - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 01:15

I am Boubacar Aw, Coordinator of the Regional Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) for Francophone Africa hosted at Centre Africain d’Etudes Superieures en Gestion (CESAG) in Senegal, Dakar. I am writing today to offer practical tips on how to develop teaching materials through a Training of Trainers (ToT) model. These tips are especially helpful when you are trying to develop teaching materials adapted to different contexts.

Lessons Learned Through Experience:

There are numerous teaching materials on M&E in English. The main challenge faced by Francophone Africa is to develop materials in French– there is work do to! It is not just about translation; it is about how to adapt materials to Francophone African context with “real example” case studies to make them useful to the practitioners in the field. A great way to develop such materials is through a ToT approach.

Before a ToT program begins, teaching materials are prepared by a team of master trainers. During a ToT event, trainers use these materials for the training. At the same time, trainees are asked to divide themselves into groups by modules of their interests and to provide feedback on the teaching materials. Moreover, trainees share their own experiences in M&E and provide “real examples.” Such examples are incorporated into the teaching materials as case studies.

During the ToT event, mock-training is organized so that trainees can already test the materials as well as case studies. When trainees go back to their own countries and work places, they can further test the materials and provide further suggestions of necessary adjustments to the trainers.

Hot Tips:

  • Involving trainees to develop teaching materials turns out to be a very effective way to make necessary adaptations to the materials to a Francophone African context.
  • Organizing a mock-training during a ToT event is a good way to make necessary modifications to teaching materials. Trainees also feel more at ease to use case studies suggested by them during a mock-training.
  • It is important to have one trainer responsible for harmonizing and finalizing the teaching materials!

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Related posts:

  1. Seth Kaplan & Sue Sarpy on Organizational Factors When Trying To Evaluate Training Initiatives
  2. Marybeth Neal on Using a Wall to Engage Stakeholders
  3. Ed Eval TIG Week: Amy Gaumer Erickson on Evaluating the Quality of Professional Development

Meet Lam Tungwar, refugee, former child soldier and political activist

ODI general feed - Thu, 06/19/2014 - 00:00
'Lam’s story is just one of many that demonstrate the incredible potential within refugees and displaced communities – and on World Refugee Day, this is what we should celebrate and strive to make possible for all refugees.'
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The Hidden Corners of Public Finance: Where Can CSOs Look, and for What?

Open Budgets blog - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 11:43

This post was written by Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow for the Open Budget Initiative

Budget transparency, the mantra goes, is key for citizens to hold governments accountable for how they spend public money. But what if public spending does not happen through the budget, or if a good share of public resources are not captured in budget documents? Time and time again, the Open Budget Survey has shown that many governments keep certain corners of public finance hidden from public view. Questions in the Open Budget Survey that are linked, for example, to extra-budgetary funds, state-owned enterprises, and other similar activities consistently score very low, highlighting a problem that an increasing number of civil society groups are becoming aware of.

In Angola, for example, vast sums of money have been spent outside of the official budget process through Sonangol, a state-owned oil company. Sonangol engages in a number of so-called “quasi-fiscal activities” on the government’s behalf, including providing fuel subsidies and contributing to the servicing of the national debt. In many countries, tax incentives and concessions are used by governments to stimulate activity in certain sectors of the economy. The tax revenue that is forgone from such arrangements often amounts to more than 10 percent of total revenue. Yet little or no information is publically available on why they were originally granted, how long they are supposed to last, and how much they cost the public purse.

To cast some light on what we have called the “hidden corners” of public finances (see figure below), the IBP has embarked on a project to look at how some governments  chosen among those that perform better on the Open Budget Index  have set up reporting requirements and transparency practices on extra-budgetary funds, tax expenditures, state-owned enterprises, and quasi-fiscal activities. Eight country case studies were commissioned to gain a better understanding existing practices in these four areas, and help to define the basic pieces of information that governments should make publicly available to allow for independent monitoring and enhance accountability.

Figure: The public sector, its components, and the “hidden corners”

The case studies reveal a wide variety of country circumstances and approaches. In a number of cases it is possible, by looking beyond the key budget documents that the Open Budget Survey focuses on, to gather extensive amounts of information on these areas of public finance. Many of the governments of the countries we studied approve laws and publish reports that allow for a reasonably detailed picture of government-funded activities and operations beyond the core budget to emerge. These take the form of annual reports published by state-owned enterprises, special appropriation laws for extra-budgetary funds, and tax expenditure reports, among others. Some areas, such as quasi-fiscal activities, remain more difficult to detect and monitor, and some extra-budgetary institutions are still not reported on in any detail.

Civil society groups and other actors interested in monitoring government activities and operations in these areas can use the report and the case studies as a resource to gain a better understanding of some of the issues involved, some of the innovative practices that exist around the world, and some of the key topics to look into if they decide to investigate these areas in their own countries. The Annex of the report presents a more detailed checklist of the types of information that governments should make publicly available, which could serve as a basis for advocacy campaigns asking for more transparency around the hidden corners of public finances.

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CLEAR Week: Gemma Stevenson on Building M&E Skills and Knowledge: Lessons from Pakistan

American Evaluation Association 365 Blog - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 01:15

Hello – My name is Gemma Stevenson. I am Associate Director for the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan (CERP) where we run rigorous research projects and deliver evaluation trainings as part of CLEAR South Asia.

So what have we learnt over the last three years delivering trainings on M&E to the Pakistani government and NGO community? What are their most pressing constraints to conducting quality evaluations, and what do they need in the way of training?

Cool Trick: Taking the time to conduct a demand assessment is a great way of answering such questions. CERP conducted an assessment at the end of last year through a brief survey and in-depth interviews with our partners. The exercise unearthed a number of interesting findings for the Pakistani context

Lesson Learnt: First, there remain a number of conceptual hurdles in M&E among many government and NGO partners. A common confusion is mixing up inputs and outputs and outputs and outcomes. For example, a project to build a library – the outcome was seen as the completion of the physical building and the purchase of all the books rather than, say, an improvement in literacy or an increase in IT skills. Well, good to know so we can try to tackle these fundamental issues head-on when engaging with certain partners during our training activities.

Lesson Learnt: Another interesting finding was that our partners in Pakistan are less immediately focused on developing skills for collecting their data, but more concerned about up-skilling when it comes to analysing data sets. In fact our partners expressed an overwhelming level of interest in developing their skills using statistical software such as STATA.

But here is something which is really telling: when asked about the most significant challenge in conducting more frequent monitoring & evaluation activities, it was not a lack of infrastructure, nor a lack of qualified personnel that posed the biggest challenge, but the lack of specific technical capacity of their personnel. So CLEAR still has a very important role to play in Pakistan! We’ll continue to roll out further training and other capacity building initiatives to try to meet this demand.

Rad Resources: Did you know that if you are teaching a short course using STATA, you can contact STATA Corporation to arrange for a free temporary license for you and your students to load on their laptops.  It’s not advertised, so call them in their Texas offices.

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The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Centers for Learning on Evaluation and Results (CLEAR) week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from members of CLEAR. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

Related posts:

  1. CLEAR Week: Diva Dhar and Urmy Shukla on Designing Courses for M&E Capacity Building: Lessons from South Asia
  2. CLEAR Week: Tim Clynick on Beyond Rhetoric: Africa’s National Evaluation Movement
  3. Pedro Mateu on Evaluation Meta-analysis

Women's empowerment in fragile and conflict-affected countries

ODI general feed - Wed, 06/18/2014 - 00:00

Our new blog series focuses on the challenges and opportunities for advancing gender equality goals, women’s voice and agency in fragile and conflict-affected countries.

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