In high-risk contexts, higher stakes for impact evaluation

Young men attend an ICT training course at a vocational institute in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Impact evaluations in conflict-affected countries like Afghanistan can be challenging. Photo by: International Labor Organization / CC BY-NC-ND

Impact evaluations often come with a steep price tag, but in settings where data can be limited and where respondents and researchers alike are potentially vulnerable to a constantly changing environment, the costs of conducting them could be even greater.

Last month, a panel on impact evaluations in conflict areas, which was part of the “Making Impact Evaluation Matter” conference hosted by both the Asian Development Bank and the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, tackled this subject. Organized by Jon Kurtz, director of research and learning for Mercy Corps, the four-person panel aimed to answer the question that looms large when evaluating impact in a risky environment: How does one effectively and ethically measure the impact of a program in a conflict-affected setting?

Conducting an impact evaluation in itself is challenging, but running one in a conflict-affected setting complicates the picture even further, said Juliette Seban, research and evaluation adviser for economic interventions at the International Rescue Committee.

In these contexts, it’s important to employ both quantitative and qualitative aspects to the research design and work with researchers who have a deep understanding of the conflict, Nassreena Sampaco-Baddiri, country director of Innovations for Poverty Action Philippines, emphasized.

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    Anna Patricia Valerio

    Anna Patricia Valerio is a Manila-based development analyst focusing on writing innovative, in-the-know content for senior executives in the international development community. Before joining Devex, Patricia wrote and edited business, technology and health stories for BusinessWorld, a Manila-based business newspaper.