The First Five Evaluations
MCC is releasing its first set of independent impact evaluations for farmer training activities in five countries. Impact evaluations are an important part of MCC’s evidence-based approach that uses data and evidence to guide decision making for selection of country partners, investment decisions, and measuring results. They help MCC measure increases in income, the ultimate impact on MCC’s continuum of results. MCC uses impact evaluation to learn and adapt our practice based on that learning.
- Rigorous: An impact evaluation is defined by the ability to estimate the counterfactual (what would have happened to the same group of individuals if they had not received MCC’s assistance).
- Independent: MCC uses teams of independent professional researchers to carry out its evaluations.
- Rare: The use of impact evaluations in global development remains fairly rare. In farmer training, for example, an expert study identified only three impact evaluations using experimental designs in farmer training anywhere in the world over the past decade.
While there are many tools to measure results and foster learning, there is no more rigorous tool than an impact evaluation to:
- Test attribution: Impact evaluations, through use of a counterfactual, makes it possible to know whether observed impacts were caused by an MCC investment or by external factors that affected everyone.
- Test assumptions about what works: Impact evaluations can be used to test traditional assumptions about how planned interventions are expected to lead to poverty reduction.
- Build evidence: Impact evaluation findings inform future program design, so program planners can rely less on assumptions and more on evidence about what works.
At a Glance
|El Salvador Compact|
- The independent impact evaluations are of farmer training activities in Armenia, El Salvador, Ghana, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
- The farmer training activities represent 13 percent of these five compact, and 2 percent of MCC’s global portfolio.
- According to MCA monitoring data, we were very successful in meeting or exceeding our targets for these activities. The average completion rate of output and outcome targets specific to the activities covered by these evaluations is: Ghana (103 percent), Armenia (103 percent), Nicaragua (112 percent), El Salvador (131 percent), and Honduras (158 percent).
- Impact evaluations allow MCC to take a step further—to test how outcome achievements translate into farm income and ultimately household income.
- Three evaluations detect increases in farm income: El Salvador dairy (farm incomes doubled), Ghana northern region (crop incomes increased), and Nicaragua (farm incomes increased 15-30 percent).
- Increases in household income are not yet detected. This is raising interesting questions about how to achieve and measure changes in household income.
- MCC is using impact evaluation findings to test traditional assumptions about what works, learn lessons, adapt business practice, and improve effectiveness.