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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Resources for adaptive management practices and cost-effectiveness in development

We recently added two new documents to our CEDARS Center resource repository to help development professionals think about adaptive management practices and program cost-effectiveness during implementation, planning, or evaluation.

Have a read through below and click through the links. As always, should you have comments or questions (or additional resources we can share with the sustainable health and human development community), do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Navigating Complexity: Adaptive Management at the Northern Karamoja Growth, Health, and Governance Program [document available here]

This paper, by Engineers Without Borders Canada, under contract with Mercy Corps (MC), is a case-study regarding adaptive management practices within Mercy Corps’ (USAID-funded) project, Growth, Health & Governance Program (GHG). The paper covers building the culture necessary for learning and adaptation, discusses some tools and processes that support adaptation, and some implications for funders and practitioners. Throughout the document, culture is emphasized as the most important factor to be successful in adaptive management and provides strategies and attitudes deemed necessary in achieving this culture. The tools and processes are presented with the purpose of reinforcing the described culture. One of the tools, the Results Chain, is an interesting way of conceptualizing the path to reaching the goals of the project and is similar to a results framework.

A blog post, with a summary is available here:

Cost-Effectiveness Measurement in Development: Accounting for Local Costs and Noisy Impacts [document available here]

This policy research working paper from the World Bank Group, Africa Region, can help individuals think about cost-effectiveness within their programs from implementation, planning, or evaluation perspectives. As evidence from rigorous impact evaluations grows in development, there have been more calls to complement impact evaluation analysis with cost analysis, so that policy makers can make investment decisions based on costs as well as impacts. This paper discusses important considerations for implementing cost-effectiveness analysis in the policy making process. The analysis is applied in the context of education interventions, although the findings generalize to other areas. First, the paper demonstrates a systematic method for characterizing the sensitivity of impact estimates. Second, the concept of context-specificity is applied to cost measurement: program costs vary greatly across contexts -- both within and across countries -- and with program complexity. The paper shows how adapting a single cost ingredient across settings dramatically shifts cost-effectiveness measures. Third, the paper provides evidence that interventions with fewer beneficiaries tend to have higher per-beneficiary costs, resulting in potential cost overestimates when extrapolating to large-scale applications. At the same time, recall bias may result in cost underestimates. The paper also discusses other challenges in measuring and extrapolating cost-effectiveness measures. For cost-effectiveness analysis to be useful, policy makers will require detailed, comparable, and timely cost reporting, as well as significant effort to ensure costs are relevant to the local environment.

You can find additional information on this paper here: