Beyond Good Intentions

Posted by on May 31, 2016

more evidenceMeasurable, lasting impact. I wish it weren’t so elusive. In a developing country, surprise variations of the something-went-wrong scenario can sabbotage great planning. I just heard cases like that from two well estblished and highly credible organizations: the cash crop catches fire or the market disappears because the processing plant stops operating.

Our eight years of experience have convinced us that good ideas and good intentions aren’t enough. How can we deploy our “development toolkit” effectively if we can’t predict which combination of tools will work best in which situation? Even widely touted interventions like microcredit don’t hold up to rigorous data analysis as well as we hoped.

Innovations for Poverty Action, a research and policy non-profit, conducts radomized controlled trials to measure the impact of various interventions that are designed to reduce poverty.  We agree with the premise that evidence-based decisions will result in better programs and policies, which will in turn reduce poverty. This research is producing useful information, but a lot of questions are still unanswered.

We are committed to following the data to identify best practices, but while all this is happening, we are adopting a follow-the-leader-and-try-to-partner approach. We’re looking for organizations that are doing great work in Sierra Leone and learning all we can from them. If you read this blog or follow our Facebook feed, you’ll be hearing about some of them.


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