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LIDC-3ie Seminar: Value of Participatory Impact Assessment and Learning Approach (PIALA) in impact evaluation

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 17:00 to 18:30
LIDC Upper Meeting Room
Adinda Van Hemelrijck, IDS

The past ten years have seen a surge in interest and investment in impact evaluation in development. Bulletproof numbers must justify programme investments at scale, while credible explanations of observed changes are essential to influence national policy and local responsibility for greater impact. Programmes with big investments, however, are growing more complex and political. Interventions are less standardized, stakeholders more diverse, influences more dense, problems more intertwined and systemic, solutions less straightforward, changes emergent and less predictable. Additionally, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are adding demands for greater inclusiveness and sustainability to those of effectiveness, forcing a rethink of impact evaluation.
In this seminar, Adinda Van Hemelrijck and Irene Guijt will present their findings regarding how impact evaluation can live up to standards broader than statistical rigour in ways that address challenges of complexity and enable stakeholders to engage meaningfully. Their findings build on their work with IFAD and the BMGF to develop a Participatory Impact Assessment & Learning Approach (PIALA) that can meet standards of rigour, inclusiveness and feasibility. 
PIALA draws on five important design elements: a systemic Theory of Change (ToC) approach, multi-stage sampling centred on ‘open systems’, participatory mixed-methods, participatory sensemaking, and configurational analysis. The approach was piloted in two IFADfinanced government programmes in Vietnam and Ghana. Trade-offs occur in every impact evaluation aiming to produce greater value and meet different needs of learning, reporting and advocacy. The PIALA pilots show that these can be reduced and turned into win-wins by thinking out of the mainstream box and building sufficient research and learning capacity.
Adinda Van Hemelrijck works as a freelance consultant on design, evaluation and learning around impact in collaborative settings in international development, while also pursuing a PhD at IDS on challenges of rigour in impact evaluation of complex development. Her background is in anthropology (1995) and international relations (2006), and her work focuses on capacity building and facilitation of multi-stakeholder engagements to foster social innovation and transformational change. Her present work is with IFAD and BMGF (Ghana, Vietnam, BIH, global), UNICEF and WHO (Pakistan, Laos, regional), Oxfam GB (Myanmar), and IIED (global). Until February 2012, she worked at Oxfam America as an advisor assisting regional offices and partners with designing and managing collective impact assessment and learning frameworks for rights-based programs and innovation projects (East Africa, Southeast Asia and Central America). In the 10 years prior to this, she worked for various EU-based agencies on
performance evaluation, learning and communication (incl. the Belgian Special Evaluation Office for ODA, the European Platform for Undocumented Migrants, and Communication for
Sustainable Social Change at the Universities of Brussels and Wageningen).
Irene Guijt (PhD) has worked in international development for 25 years, combining her degrees in agricultural engineering and communication to inform practice and academic thinking. She is particularly curious about how to tap into and understand the unknowns that are critical fortransformative change. She undertakes research, system design, facilitation and advisory work
on learning-oriented knowledge processes, and is known for her innovative thinking on monitoring, evaluation and organizational learning in rural development. She has been team
leader on several large evaluations on civil society participation and North-South NGO relations. In 2000, she was team leader for researching and writing the widely used IFAD guidance on programme evaluation 'Managing for Impact', and coordinated the M&E function of an 11- country action research network in Latin America funded by IDRC. Recent work includes pioneering a stories-at-scale approach SenseMaker® in international development for (impact) evaluation in East Africa, Latin America and Asia on issues including girls’ empowerment, inclusive business, accountable democracy, water service delivery, and youth leadership. 
She is active in global evaluation capacity building through the BetterEvaluation platform and working on theory of change for transformational development with Hivos. She has pushed debates on the politics of evaluation as co-convenor of the Big Push Forward, including co-editing the book ‘The Politics of Evidence and Results’. For the past six years, she has co-organised annual ‘Hot Topics in M&E conferences’, with the Centre for Development Innovation in Wageningen, with 2015 focusing on ‘M&E for Responsible Innovation’. She has just joined Oxfam Great Britain as their Head of Research.
Discussant: Clare Chandler, LSHTM