Making science work for development

Measuring the hard to measure in development

16 January 2018
London or online


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.