Eyes on the Prize - Evaluation Priorities for 2016
New Year, new beginnings, and new resolutions - but how quickly do we go back to business as usual?
Now that 2015 - the year of a renewed development agenda of Sustainable Development Goals as well as the year of evaluation - is over, it's time to regroup and make sure we follow through on our commitments. Far too many times, we have seen the focus shift from one set of priorities to another, until a couple of years later when an anniversary reminds everyone of commitments made earlier. As we grapple with new and ongoing challenges in 2016 - climate change, conflict and fragility, the refugee crisis to mention a few - how do we adapt and stay on track at the same time?
This is where evaluation can help: objectives-based evaluation takes stock of progress towards earlier promises. At IEG, we are committed to keeping attention on the issues that matter for development outcomes. One of our priorities in 2016 is to produce a steady flow of evidence to help global players like the World Bank Group keep their eyes on the prize.
In 2013, the World Bank Group adopted the twin goals: eliminating extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity, measured as the income of the bottom 40 percent in any given country. These goals are also captured in the SDGs.
The twin goals will define the World Bank Group's success, and in order to track their progress, IEG has focused its evaluation work program on three strategic engagement areas (SEAs): Sustained Service Delivery for the Poor, Inclusive Growth, and Environmental Sustainability. These engagement areas cover a significant share of the World Bank Group's work that is directed towards sustainable development outcomes.
The SEAs will enable IEG to:
Focus and bundle our evaluations to generate greater (deeper and broader) insights into how the World Bank Group contributes to the global development agenda;
Set the agenda for innovating and testing new methodologies, which will be instrumental to spur intellectual investments of the global evaluation community; and
Provide a platform for our engagement with the World Bank Group to deepen dialogue and our influence.
One of the SEAs is better defined than the others. Sustained Service Delivery for the Poor builds on the 2004 World Development Report, which found that too often, services fail poor people - in terms of access, quantity, and quality. Public spending typically benefits the rich more than the poor, money often fails to reach frontline service providers, and service quality is consistently low for poor people. This SEA will assess the models most commonly used for service delivery in different sectors, and compare their effectiveness in reaching the poor, in terms of quantity, quality, access, behavior change and impact, and the sustainability of services over time. Working papers will discuss methodology challenges and approaches, then be applied in relevant evaluations, and at the end we will produce a number of learning products to shed light on various aspects of delivery and financing models.
For the other two areas - Inclusive Growth and Environmental Sustainability - IEG has set the following priorities for 2016:
A dialogue with colleagues at the World Bank Group to identify key challenges to development effectiveness in these two areas, to help us shape strategic choices of our evaluation agenda that address these concerns. We also aim to define indicators to measure IEGâs effectiveness in influencing change in these areas;
Methodology development, which needs to grapple with key challenges like evaluating distributional effects of interventions (targeted and non-targeted), integrating complexity into our evaluation methods to capture effects that are not linear, and firming up our methods to assess dynamic changes over time to add to the objectives-based assessment we typically do;
Delivering an evaluation work program that sheds light on the World Bank Groupâs experience in ways that creates new insights for each of the SEAs, complemented by learning products that build on existing evaluations to satisfy information needs of specific audiences; and
Sharpening our strategic approach to outreach to optimize our resource use with the depth and breadth of reach we can achieve.
I am excited about this agenda.
It will increase IEG's relevance and influence and thus support the World Bank Group in its mission to eradicate poverty and boost shared prosperity, and its contributions to achieving the SDGs. It will also link our investments in methodology work into a broader agenda of the evaluation profession and open opportunities for collaboration with professionals around the world. These efforts will demonstrate how evaluation is directly relevant to the SDGs and complements and deepens the investments in data collection.
Our What Works blog will continue to share our latest work with you. I look forward to your engagement with us.