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Measuring the hard to measure in development

Time (GMT +00) 16:00 17:30
Hero image description: An evaluation discussion in Cambodia - Arnaldo Pellini/ODI Image credit:An evaluation discussion in Cambodia - Arnaldo Pellini/ODI Image license:© ODI


Simon Hearn @simonhearn – Research Associate, Research and Policy in Development, ODI, and Coordinator, Outcome Mapping Learning Community


Samuel Addai-Boateng @careintuk  – Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, CARE International in Ghana

Kate Dyer – Independent consultant and former team leader, Accountability in Tanzania (AcT) Programme

Tiina Pasanen – Research Fellow, Research and Policy in Development, ODI


Catherine Harbour @CIFFchild – Manager, Evidence, Measurement, and Evaluation, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF)


Measuring the effectiveness of development and humanitarian initiatives continues to be a challenge. Interventions often seek to address entrenched economic and social problems under conditions of uncertainty and instability, without clear solutions. They are increasingly implemented through programme structures involving multiple stakeholders pursuing different, sometimes competing, interests.

Measuring their effectiveness is crucial to achieving better development outcomes, but these factors can make measurement more difficult. While some of the challenges are technical and methodological, relational and political factors also have implications for measurement, even where interventions are not complex.

Moreover, evaluators and practitioners are under pressure to assess change over unrealistic timeframes, demonstrate value for money, and communicate unqualified ‘success’ to policy-makers and the public. These tensions pose a huge challenge to those trying to enhance sustainable development, and gather credible evidence as to ‘what works, when and why’.

In partnership with CARE International, our expert panel leads an interactive session on ‘how to measure the hard to measure’ in development. The event explores and compares learning from three projects tackling these challenges, based on four dimensions of ‘hard to measure’ aspects of development interventions, and is followed by a networking reception.


Simon Hearn is an independent consultant supporting clients to develop systems for monitoring and evaluating research impact, policy influence and advocacy. He specialises in Outcome Mapping and has been the coordinator the Outcome Mapping Learning Community for the past ten years.

Tiina Pasanen is a Research Fellow in the Research and Policy in Development programme at ODI. She is specialised in monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practices and methods. Tiina currently works with multiple projects focusing on designing, testing and developing M&E practices and frameworks, and the use and usefulness of M&E data and systems. She is also involved in several learning partnerships.

Kate Dyer is an independent consultant who has spent most of her working life in Africa. Her most recent long-term assignment was as team leader of the Accountability in Tanzania (AcT) Programme, which brought together longstanding interests in citizen empowerment, strategic planning, systems development, monitoring and learning. 

Samuel Addai-Boateng is the M&E Specialist of the USAID-funded Governance Project; Ghana’s Strengthening Accountability Mechanisms project being implemented by CARE International in Ghana. He has more than 10-years’ experience in leading monitoring and evaluation functions of development projects in Ghana.

Catherine Harbour of CIFF’s Evidence, Measurement, and Evaluation team manages a portfolio of evaluations of programmes that seek to improve children’s health and to mitigate climate change. Before joining CIFF in 2014, she was with BBC Media Action, Population Council, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.

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