Browse by Theme: Social Accountability

In this final blog in the 3-part blog series on Contribution Tracing, we want to show you how an ancient monk, who has been dead for over 250 years, can help us to find data with the highest probative value – in other words, helps us find strong, reliable evidence.

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In the second in this 3-part blog series on Contribution Tracing we turn our attention to finding out which items of evidence are the most powerful.

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This 3-part blog series highlights a new approach to impact evaluation called Contribution Tracing. The blog series explains key steps in Contribution Tracing that can guide evaluators, and those commissioning evaluations, to avoid common data traps, by identifying and gathering only the strongest data.

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On the plane to Accra just over a week ago I read Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me (the origin of the term “mansplaining”), and it struck a chord with me. A colleague from Kenya who hadn’t heard the term before asked if there was such a thing as “white-splaining”. And, indeed, there is. But, recently, I’ve been concerned with another phenomenon: “toolsplaining”.

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In the development community, we typically interpret a government pushing for greater decentralisation as a positive step for governance reform and an opening for greater citizen participation and voice. Donors invest considerable funds in supporting the decentralisation processes of global governments, and NGOs focus energy and resources on preparing citizens to influence public decision-making as it comes closer to them.

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For those of us that sing the praises of social accountability (citizen-driven initiatives to hold those in power to account), making a claim about “impact” (or transformative change) is a challenge we face on a daily basis. And CARE’s not alone. The title of the first session at an NGO political economy analysis working group at which I’m presenting this week (“Building the Evidence-base for Social Accountability”) speaks to the same concern.

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After disasters many international agencies, including CARE, undertake a whole range of projects to help affected people recover, including the construction of houses. These may be described as all sorts of things, including temporary shelter, transitional shelter, durable shelter, semi-permanent shelter, core houses or permanent houses. Which description is used often seems almost arbitrary, decided by a mixture of assumptions about people’s recovery, donor mandates and priorities, government policy and the level of expertise available in agencies. The description rarely matches reality.

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