Evidence of What Works
Data and knowledge to inform aid decisions have improved greatly in the last 20 years. In all models of planning, programming and change the cyclical process requires information and data to provide the evidence for the next iteration of action. Recent global conversations on issues such as the effectiveness of humanitarian action, child survival, value for money and many others, indicate the need for more attention to operational research and evidence generation on actually What Works on the ground.
The increased attention to evaluations of all aspects of the humanitarian system is highlighting common themes including the gap between the generation of evidence and its rapid use in the field. The innovative use of technology, such as mobile phones, often increasingly involving partnerships with the private sector, offers opportunities to speed up the collection of data and information and bringing analysis and availability of evidence and decision making tools closer to decision-makers on the ground and in more real-time. Many information systems are in a process of evolution taking advantage of these types of innovation but examples to date do not always achieve the last and most crucial step of turning evidence into action. What are the technological and technical approaches that would work to make evidence influence action at a local level in real-time and at scale?
Evaluation and production of learning documents are often seen as an extractive process that influences policy (slowly) with little direct benefit to the practitioners on the ground. What if the people adapting and applying the more effective aid projects were the ones also influencing how others work? Can good practice directly guide current practice through a system of cross-cultural and cross-organizational coaching, mentoring and demonstration? Can the good practice be recognized and ‘champions’ be identified to teach others throughout the region? Can innovative learning build local capacity and turn evidence into action?
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