DAI Tapped for Excellence in Evaluation Award from USAID

March 15, 2012

DAI was one of five winners of an Excellence in Evaluation award from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

To gather and showcase some of the best evaluation reports completed in recent years, USAID’s Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL/LER) studied reports submitted between January 2009 and August 2011. Thirty-three high-quality reports were received and five were selected “because they presented a detailed description of robust methodology used for data collection and analysis, findings that were linked to quality evidence, and a well-written and documented presentation of the results,” according to USAID.

USAID uses evaluation findings to inform decisions, improve program effectiveness, be accountable to stakeholders, and support organizational learning.

Contracted by USAID to evaluate the Zambia Production, Finance and Improved Technology (PROFIT) project, DAI measured the results of three Zambian project interventions that involved large numbers of smallholders: retail distribution of agricultural inputs and services, beef and cotton. The goal of PROFIT was to increase multi-sector growth to ensure poverty reduction at the household level, and exemplified this new generation of economic growth projects. Through a longitudinal, quasi-experimental design implemented through a mixed-method approach, DAI offered invaluable insight into lessons learned to improve the design and implementation of the new generation economic growth programs in Zambia and throughout the globe.

“This project was a new model for USAID and that made it appropriate for a real impact evaluation,” said Zan Northrip, who heads up DAI’s Economic Growth practice. “No evaluation is easy—but we were not operating in a sterile laboratory at all. In at least two of the value chain interventions we could see positive results that could be directly attributed to the project. This proved that you can actually do evaluations of some of those thornier questions that don’t lend themselves to randomized controlled trials.”

Watch the video of Northrip and other winners talking about evaluation methodology and download our PROFIT Zambia Impact Assessment here.

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