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Research Challenges

Posted by Brendan 
Research Challenges
May 03, 2009 09:00AM
Interesting approach to aid evaluation. It seems like the projects featured in the episode were perfect examples of projects that would benefit greatly from this type of (research) evaluation. However there are so many types of projects that are much more difficult to evaluate in this manner. I think this rigorous evaluation is great and any effective NGO should have a specialized approach to the evaluation of the service they provide. I do think it would be challenging for the MIT poverty task force to implement this model of random sampling in a diversity of projects around the world and maintain high levels of effectivness. It is one thing to measure how much food people are buying with or without additives, this seems straight forward (and easy to evaluate) but it is much different measuring the effectiveness of small-scale reforestation programs that help farmers diversify their farms while improving the quality of their natural environment, for example. The latter project takes years. Does this model really hold promise for more complex long-term projects? Either way evaluation comes from talking with the people being served, if this is happening on the ground then we are moving in the right direction, but when we pretend to collect objective data we begin to slide down a slippery slope. I am hesitant to applaud this model because I think there is great potential to rely too much on quantitative data and not qualitative data. These are my concerns.
Re: Research Challenges
May 04, 2009 05:12PM
Sadly the world has to spend resources making sure that the programs are really making a positive and significant impact in communities. I think it is a bit childish being in this kind of surveillance but it is necessary. Now I agree with the comment before mine, it is just applicable to some projects.
Something is for sure. We need to get together as society and be more proactive not just donating money but following up with it. Hands on.
Re: Research Challenges
May 04, 2009 05:27PM
I appreciate MIT's effort to evaluate the effectiveness of various programs world wide. This method of collecting data can be applied to communities with small population and non-migrating population. Infact it can be very effective in the red light areas where the primary occupation is prostitution, where the health hazards faced are similar by most, therefore the prevention/treatement programs will be the same and where limited number of people( prostitutes,their children and health care workers) are present. House to house survey can be very very effective here. By personally talking to people for some months to a year many grass root problems can be dealt with besides data collection.

I encourage the use of such programs for dealing with high priority projects like AIDS prevention, TB treatment because these problems are associated with stigma in most societies and to get real data on effctiveness through registers in hospitals is very difficult.
Re: Research Challenges
September 10, 2010 04:31PM
i agree that such manner of "evaluation" may not necessarily work for all developmental aid projects across the board. but that it not to say that it has no place in certain kinds of projects; developing countries can always use any form of tool that can make aid more effective. however, my concern is, and i am not sure if i am off-topic here, what about evaluating whether the aid funds actually get allocated for the purpose for which it was sought or given? i am raising of course an issue of graft and corruption, and i wonder to what extent does "re-channeling" or "siphoning" aid funds affect the viability of such projects? in another life, i worked in the "legal" side of developmental work, not out in the field, and i was just so frustrated with all the paper works and all the legalese where at the end of the day, more money lines the pockets of politicians than it going into the projects themselves. i know that the procurement process has in place a check and balance system to ensure that the aid funds are used "correctly", but i feel that it is not enough and corruption just takes away too much from the effectiveness of these aids funds.

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