further & higher education
voluntary sector

Demonstrating the Impact of International Development Projects

further & higher education

voluntary sector

08:45 - 16:00

Thursday 19 September 2019

Central London

Early Bird Discount Offer

10% off all advertised rates for a limited time only. Discount available to public / voluntary organisations only.


This Forum provides an opportunity for participants to consider the importance of evaluating the impact of international development programmes, and to be able to demonstrate this impact to current and potential donors. Policymakers and sector leaders will provide updates on key priorities in this area, particularly in light of recent reports of misconduct among the aid community, and the subsequent need to improve trust. In addition, best practice case studies will share methods for successfully embedding monitoring, learning and evaluation (MLE) into each stage of projects and programmes, developing outcome-focused theories of change, and reporting progress on these back to the donor in a timely manner that allows real-time adaptation across programmes.


This Forum is specifically designed for Development Charities, Non Governmental Organisations, Think Tanks and Research organisations. Typical job titles will include:

  • Chief Executive Officers
  • Directors
  • Development Managers
  • Research and Policy Officers
  • Programme Managers
  • Directors of Fundraising
  • Heads of Impact
  • Campaign Directors
  • Directors of Partnerships
  • Heads of Strategy
  • Professors and Lecturers in Development Studies

The Forum is also open to Higher Education, Central Government, Multilateral Organisations, Embassies and the Private Sector to encourage debate and networking.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Catherine Owens, Head of the Evaluation Unit and Head of Profession for the Government Social Research Profession, Department for International Development (DfID)
  • Dr Tamsyn Barton, Chief Commissioner, Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI)
  • Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive, Bond
  • Edoardo Masset, Deputy Director, Centre of Excellence for Development Impact and Learning (CEDIL)
  • Dr Justin Pulford, Senior Lecturer and Project Manager for the ACBI, Liverpool School Tropical Medicine
  • Dr Femi Nzegwu, Head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and Director of Strong and Equitable Research & Knowledge Systems (SERKS), INASP
  • Helen Stawski, Head of Policy, IRC UK
View the agenda and additional speakers

The UK government is committed to spending 0.7% GDP on official development assistance (ODA), as enshrined in law since 2015. In 2017, total ODA spend amounted to £14.4 billion. While the Economic Development Strategy outlines how money will be spent, placing focus on areas of national interest, as well as international including trade, investment and growth, there is a growing need across the sector to ensure value for money (VfM) and demonstrate this through tangible impact. This is not only the case for the Department of International Development (DfID) spending, but for funds spent through related departments including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). 

With recent reviews into DfID procurement methods and the role of the private sector in delivering aid, there has never been a greater focus on the impact that grant and project managers can deliver. There has been a prominent drive towards Payment by Results (PBR) models as donors seek to encourage demonstrable impact from the very start of project implementation, though this has caused cash-flow difficulties for smaller organisations and NGOs. In its December 2018 report on the UK’s approach to funding the UN humanitarian system, the Independent Comssision for Aid Impact (ICAI) also found that DfID has yet to establish positive performance incentives into this PBR funding of UN agencies, and is not yet able to independently verify these indicators, despite having increasingly burdensome reporting and diligence requirements.

Funders are also reconsidering key areas in need of aid, aiming to deliver for those where there is greatest opportunity for impact, which could mean issues that are more difficult to gather data around or report on miss out on much needed funding going forward.

It is vital therefore that stakeholders across the aid sector work together to improve the quality of evidence gathered across programmes, building in capacity for monitoring, learning and evaluation (MLE) from the point of proposal writing. If evidence is gathered from the inception phase, effectively reported to donors in a timely manner, and a willingness for adaptive management shown from donors and implementers, the potential for greater impact of aid could grow exponentially.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Dr Anke Schwittay, Head of International Development, University of Sussex (invited)


Morning Keynote: Enhancing the Capacity of NGOs to Deliver and Demonstrate Impact

  • Sharing details of the Bond Effectiveness Programme which provides civil society organisations with the tools and support required to maximise their effectiveness, developed in collaboration with over 100 UK NGOs
  • Understanding the key areas of MLE: Organisational effectiveness, programme and evidence quality, evaluation, VfM and training and peer learning
  • Highlighting the need to alter public opinion around aid and how taxpayer money is spent, and discussing methods for doing this including through more accessible reporting of impact and project outcomes through the media
  • Discussing next steps for achieving an aid regime based on solidarity, human rights, feminist principles and that addresses the root causes of poverty and inequality, following the January 2019 The Reality of Aid Report

Stephanie Draper, Chief Executive, Bond (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Maximising the Impact and Value for Money of Aid Projects Through Effective Spending

  • Outlining the role of ICAI in leading the way for impact evaluations of UK aid, ensuring that spending is conducted in a way that offers VfM as well as offering maximum benefit to those who need it most
  • Sharing updates on the evaluation of DfID supply chains and procurement since the 2018 Review
  • Considering how suppliers can work in partnership most effectively to deliver and demonstrate the most impact, including by working with specialist researchers as well as private sector stakeholders experienced in reporting mechanisms
  • Disseminating best practice evaluation methods from ICAI’s approach to examining DfID’s wider impact, including strategic reviews that map expenditure and conduct comparative assessments
  • Considering how to identify the most relevant case studies for centrally managed programmes

Dr Tamsyn Barton, Chief Commissioner, Independent Commission on Aid Impact (ICAI) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Workshop: Effectively Conducting Real-Time Monitoring for Greater Project Impact

  • Discussing the benefits of real-time monitoring and on-going learning from project inception to completion, and how this concept of adaptive management can improve impact for beneficiaries as well as VfM
  • Successfully budgeting time and money for M&E throughout a project from the very first point of development, when writing the proposal
  • Evaluating the cost of adaptive management approaches in comparison to traditional MLE, and the financial impact of needing to collect more data or collecting data through different methods
  • Demonstrating how to report changing needs in M&E approaches and cost to project donors, and subsequently adapting and updating theories of change or the reporting of outputs and outcomes

Dr Femi Nzegwu, Head of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) and Director of Strong and Equitable Research & Knowledge Systems (SERKS), INASP (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Utilising an Outcomes and Evidence Framework to Design Effective Programmes

  • Outlining the key components of the Outcomes and Evidence Framework including guidance for humanitarian and development professionals on how to measure progress and build these mechanisms into programmes, with 32 outcomes across 5 themes including theories of change and indicators
  • Sharing best practice in developing effective theories of change that facilitate the achievement of realistic outcomes and regular reporting of these, as well as real-time reporting
  • Demonstrating success through outcomes rather than outputs, and how to deliver other information including contextual factors and client views to the donor when reporting these
  • Exploring how to conduct several impact evaluations to form a systematic review that can help implementers and donors better understand the impact of an intervention and how different beneficiaries are effected

Helen Stawski, Head of Policy, IRC UK (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: Outlining the Government’s Vision for Enhancing the Impact of UK Aid

  • Summarising the key findings of DfID’s January 2019 Evaluation Annual Report 2017-18, and how evaluation evidence is being used to inform the quality and VfM of programming
  • Highlighting lessons learned across evaluations including economic, health and governance, such as the need for increased transparency, and a more streamlined steering committee to make more effective use of MLE tools
  • Reflecting on the use of Payment by Results approaches in recent years, and how this has supported improvements in MLE practices and evidence reporting
  • Exploring the need for stronger impact evaluations in order to support continuing investment in UK aid post-Brexit
  • Looking to the future of DfID decision-making and how evaluating evidence, including from aid spending across other departments, will drive better delivery in line with the creation of a new Evidence Department

Catherine Owens, Head of the Evaluation Unit and Head of Profession for the Government Social Research Profession, Department for International Development (DfID) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Accessing Funding to Design and Develop Innovative Monitoring and Evaluation Methods

  • Outlining the role of CEDIL in developing and testing innovative evaluation methods, with DfID grant funding, administered through LSHTM and hosted at the London International Development Centre
  • Exploring the gaps in evaluation methods across the sector that have informed the research agenda of CEDIL, including around key thematic areas including infrastructure and justice, and DfID priority countries
  • Sharing details of the funding available for research projects to contribute to the Centre’s strategic agenda in relation to evaluating complex interventions, generalising evidence through middle range theory and enhancing use and usefulness of evaluation findings
  • Understanding what DfID wants to learn to improve MLE across its programmes and projects more broadly including around where results are not context dependent and how to translate lessons from impact into policy
  • Discussing the benefits of partnering with private sector organisations to more effectively procure research and report findings to the donor

Edoardo Masset, Deputy Director, Centre of Excellence for Development Impact and Learning (CEDIL) (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Delivering a High-Impact Aid Programme to Transform and Save Lives

  • Outlining how CIFF engaged in partnerships with governments and organisations in India, Ethiopia and Kenya to help develop and implement deworming programmes, with the aim to reach at least 75% of all at-risk children by 2020
  • Sharing lessons learned to treat almost 110 million children in 2015, which was double the number reached in 2014
  • Discussing best practice from the world’s largest public health intervention in a single day, as India’s national school-based deworming programme reached 270 million children in all 29 states and 7 union territories
  • Highlighting the role of data and evidence in Kenya’s deworming programme to conduct risk assessments and identify need, as well as to effectively demonstrate how numbers of those infected fell by 17%, to 16% of children, by year three of the programme

Anna Hakobyan, Executive Director, Evidence, Measurement & Evaluation, Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) (invited)


Case Study: Embedding MLE into Capacity Building Programmes

  • Sharing research approaches and evaluation tools developed and published by the Unit that can be adapted for use on various projects, including to examine the impact at consortia and programme level
  • Examining various indicators used across different thematic areas, and how to translate use to other areas for more innovative evaluation
  • Developing the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Project, led by the Capacity Research Unit, and embedding this into the DfID-funded Africa Capacity Building Initiative (ACBI), with the aim of generating research-informed learning from the Initiative
  • Discussing how this learning is being used to improve the Initiative during its life span as well as contributing to the global pool of evidence on the science of research capacity strengthening through effective reporting

Dr Justin Pulford, Senior Lecturer and Project Manager for the ACBI, Liverpool School Tropical Medicine (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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