COVID-19 experience unlocks innovative methods for evaluation - IOE
Luxembourg, 6 March 2023 – The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) did not back down during the height of the COVID-19 crisis, and continued to carry out its evaluative work. To do so, IOE made use of a number of innovative solutions, whilst maintaining methodological rigour and credibility. Today, these resources offer important opportunities for the evaluation world to enhance its toolbox. Fabrizio Felloni, IOE Deputy Director, presented these experiences during the course of a high-level conference titled ‘Picking up the pace: Evaluation in a rapidly changing world’, on 6 March 2023.
Organized by the Evaluation Division of the European Investment Bank, the conference addressed how evaluation functions are adapting to respond to an increasing demand for just-in-time evaluation insights and how this is fostering innovations in the field of evaluation. The event brought together the European and international evaluation community, as well as experts from other fields, including futures thinking and strategic foresight, to share and contrast experiences in supporting evidence-based decision-making. Participants included high-level delegates and practitioners from multilateral and bilateral finance institutions, the European Commission, governments, and academia.
Mr Felloni acted as a speaker during the first breakout session, titled ‘Innovative digital tools for evaluation – Remote sensing’. In his presentation, IOE’s Deputy Director provided technical and methodological insights into the use of innovative approaches for enriching data collection methods during crisis response and volatile times.
What were challenges, at the onset of the COVID-19, became opportunities to revisit some of the evaluation practices and processes that can be considered not only for future crises but also for ‘normal’ times, to add evidence and simplify processes. For IOE, these included rediscovering under-utilized secondary data; conducting remote interviews with national counterparts and mini-surveys where feasible; increasing the use of national consultants; introducing additional steps and processes to strengthen quality and validity of data; and testing alternative methods for primary and secondary evidence collection and validation, such as remote sensing, GIS, and satellite data for evaluation, which was especially useful for projects investing in physical infrastructure.
Mr Felloni further confirmed that, in terms of using information communication technology, for IOE the emphasis currently remains on the use of low-cost tools, involving time-bound consultant input, such as Geo-based data, as an additional source of evidence analysis to complement traditional evaluation methods. Looking ahead the Office plans to make use of artificial intelligence, which offers opportunities to synthesize from a very high number of sources and interface between different databases.
For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]
- The experience of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD in conducting evaluations during Covid-19. Learning note [here].
- La Rovere, R., Smith, S. E., and Felloni, F. (2021). ‘Evaluations under COVID -19: how the pandemic affected the evaluation of the performance of the Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure project in Bangladesh, and what we learned’, eVALUation Matters, Volume 2, 2021 [here].