Promoting local capacities and demand for impact evaluation in East and West Africa

In 2022, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation renewed its partnership with PEP to support a two-component, three-year initiative that aims to:

  1. Strengthen experimental Impact Evaluation (IE) capacities among experienced researchers and within governments in East and West AfricaI
  2. Increase the demand for rigorous evaluations from these governments.

This initiative is coordinated by PEP’s Experimental Research group, and supports 5 projects of experimental impact evaluations in 5 different African countries.

Male researcher surveying woman sitting outside with a child on her knee
Photo: Marcel Crozet / ILO

Addressing an urgent need

Evidence-based policymaking is essential to foster growth and achieve long-term development. Despite recent increases in sound IEs carried out in Africa, local capacity remains insufficient for autonomous research, and demand from governments for experimental research is still low.

Local IE capacity is particularly important as researchers based in the study country are more familiar with the local context, better able to monitor all the steps of an IE, and develop closer ties with policymakers before, during and after the evaluation.

The lack of capacity is not limited to the scientific aspects of IE, but also include the “soft” skills such as policy engagement and communications that are required to successfully attract and implement locally-led IEs.

Meanwhile, the low levels of demand are attributed to the organizational culture within government institutions where the capacity to commission research to inform decision making is not embedded. Institutionalizing evidence-informed decision making must start from the inside.

A base of better-trained and policy-engaged researchers, combined with increased government enthusiasm for IEs, should lead to better quality public policies for development in the target countries.

Strengthening Impact Evaluation Capacities for Development (SIECD)

In this first component of the initiative, three teams of in-country PEP alumni and senior local researchers working alongside government officers will undertake impact evaluations of new and existing policy initiatives that have not previously been evaluated.

PEP will support the project teams to enhance the researchers’ technical skills in conducting IE research in an autonomous manner. This initiative will also target governments to boost their capacities in commissioning and implementing sound IEs that can inform decisions on local priority issues.

Country projects

Gambia       Malawi       Tanzania

Fostering Autonomous Local Impact Evaluations for Policymaking (FALIEP)

Under this second component of the initiative, representatives of local or national governments (government officers) will set out the research agenda to undertake an RCT IE in their country.

Teams of in-country PEP alumni, government officers, and IE experts (appointed by PEP) will carry out the impact evaluation to provide valuable evidence for policymaking while advancing institutional and researcher capacities for experimental research.

In parallel to the impact evaluations, this initiative will include an in-depth analysis to better understand how to foster more locally-led IEs in each country. This will include an analysis of current and potential demand for IEs, identification of obstacles to their local leadership, and implementation of complementary activities to address some or all these obstacles.

While the whole set of complementary activities will depend on the demand and obstacles analysis, some key activities are already planned. On the demand side, participating and invited government officers will benefit from training in RCTs (for non-researchers), using evidence to inform policymaking, and policy engagement and communication.

On the supply side, training and mentoring in IE, policy engagement and communications will be extended to other members of participating research institutions. As the senior IE experts leading each team have previously received intensive training, they will receive customized mentorship from PEP experts to explore new opportunities for locally-led IEs.

Country projects

Benin       Guinea Bissau

Supported by

Logo: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation


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