USAID Expanding the Reach of Impact Evaluation (ERIE)
Many development projects are pursued with the belief they will ultimately achieve long-term impacts. Rigid funding cycles and changing programmatic priorities lead researchers to focus only on short-term results. A lack of evidence and reliable information regarding long-term impacts can lead to costly and ineffective development interventions.
Partnering with AidData, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), Geo-Spatial Impact Evaluation (GIE), and Mathematica Policy Research (MPR), the Pulte Institute is leading an initiative to demonstrate the value of long-term evaluations (or studies) for decision-making at USAID.
Expanding the Reach of Impact Evaluations (ERIE), part of the MERLIN group in USAID’s Global Development Lab, is an approach to conducting retrospective long-term impact evaluations of development projects. To demonstrate the power of long-term evaluation, the team plans to conduct evaluations that assess the impacts of an aid intervention years after the project is completed. This method helps USAID staff understand if short-term impacts are sustained, or if theorized long-term impacts are realized.
USAID has increased the number of evaluations commissioned each year to an average of more than 200. Advanced technology and the availability of “big data” allows for the use of Geocoding, data extraction tools, and satellite imagery to help define what activities took place where, when, and by whom. These two developments combined create powerful opportunities for evaluating development interventions that currently lack evidence of long-term impacts.
The ERIE team is on track to complete eight pilot studies, including:
- Southern Malawi: A retrospective longitudinal evaluation of Food for Peace's Wellness and Agriculture for Life Advancement (WALA) activity and its impact on agriculture, nutrition, resilience and sustainability outcomes.
- Israel/West Bank: A retrospective evaluation of the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation's People to People (P2P) activities and its potential effects on conflict peacebuilding.
- Globally: A long-term evaluation of the Center for Development Research's Partnership for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) and Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) activities, examining the impact of the two programs on researcher capacity and data-driven policy in developing countries. Researchers will travel to Uzbekistan, Colombia, Morocco, and South Africa to interview PEER/HESN researchers in 2020.
- Bangladesh: In 2020, the team will begin a 3-year evaluation on food security in Bangladesh.
- Potential Future Pilots: The ERIE team is exploring a potential future pilot studies on biodiversity and education in Peru, as well as a potential project with Feed the Future in Uganda.