My name is Sara El Choufi and I wanted to share with you some of thoughts on evaluating the effectiveness aid to the environment.
As evaluators, we tend to focus our work on programs and projects. We thoroughly evaluate a project, or a set of projects and draw out conclusion, best practices, lessons learned, etc. But, I wonder if we ever take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture. I mean really take a step back and try to figure out what the world has achieved in terms of environmental protection in over four decades.
Of course such a study is not an easy task to undertake; for starters, where do we get the data? How reliable is it? Assuming we do have remarkably detailed and reliable accounts, how can we generalize and draw conclusions? To what degree do we rely on quantitative studies, and how much thematic and qualitative work needs to be done?
Thinking about this lead me to Greening Aid? – a book solely focused on the foreign assistance and its impact on the environment. I also discovered what could be considered the most comprehensive database for foreign aid – AidData. Collecting data from the OECD, donors, and recipients, AidData “aimed to create a database of development finance activities with as much descriptive detail as possible at the project level for use in the research community.”
Ok, so we have data, now what? How does one begin to evaluate the impact of aid to the environment on the protection and conservation of the global commons, or forests for example? What about measuring to what degree aid has contributed to the reduction of CO2 emissions? What about marine ecosystems? The list goes on…
Another layer is what indicators do we use? Are the World Development Indicators enough? Do we rely on locally assembled data (be it from government, research institutions, or civil society)? Do we need to have boots on the ground and do our own data collection? So on and so forth…
This seems like an impossible undertaking, or at least an impractical one. Should it be done? How can we as evaluators contribute to such a study?
This is meant as a thought piece, and I hope it compels you to respond and weigh in 🙂
Rad Resources: AidData – “a research and innovation lab making information on development finance more accessible and actionable.”
Greening aid? : Understanding the environmental impact of development assistance by R.L. Hicks (2010).
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