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Is randomization fair?

Feb 22/11 | From the blog

A common concern from new partners on our projects is whether it is fair to deny the benefits from a program to some participants (in order to establish a control group). This question really rests on how many resources we have. Do we have enough money to vaccinate every child on the planet with this project? If not, we have to choose which people benefit and which don't anyway. Randomization is often one of the fairest and most transparent ways of doing this.

Visual Aids

Feb 19/11 | From the blog

Yesterday Tania wrote about some of the methods we use to ensure the accuracy of our data, including extensive training for interviewers, auditing a sample of questionnaires by going back to households and re-surveying them, and moving towards the use of electronic devices.

How IPA is like the IRS (except for the "death and taxes" part)

Feb 18/11 | From the blog
by Tania Alfonso

I love doing taxes.  This season, I will have spent every Thursday evening (when I am not travelling for IPA workshops and meetings) volunteering as a preparer at a tax assistance site in Washington DC.  What does this have to do with IPA? Well, as I was taking the certification course it struck me how similar it was to surveyor training.  We sit down with respondents and conduct interviews.  Based on their answers, we can skip some sections of a two page survey and fill out additional forms in other sections.

Dean Karlan speaks on CBC about the great superbowl t-shirt giveaway

Feb 17/11 | From the blog

"The question that I can't help but wonder, is that really the best that we can do?... Even if it was just a rag, even if it was sold for 50 cents as a rag, the cost-benefit analysis probably means its better off selling it as a rag and taking the money and buying something else like bednets and deworming pills and sending that to Africa."

What Happens to All Those Super Bowl T-Shirts?

Feb 15/11 | From the blog

The Super Bowl stirred up an old controversy in the international aid community.  What happens to all those preprinted “Pittsburgh Steelers 2011 Super Bowl Champion” t-shirts?  Apparently, each year the NFL gives them to the international relief and development organization World Vision, who then ships them to Africa.

Is this good or bad? And why should anyone care?

Sending Money Home to Mum and Dad

Feb 08/11 | From the blog
by Alexandra Kobishyn

Imagine you are a bicycle rickshaw driver in Delhi who's migrated from your small hometown in Bihar to the Indian capital metropolis of close to 15 million.  You earn on average about $5 a day peddling your clients around the city, out of which you spend $1.5 to pay rent on your bicycle, and another $1.50 on food, alcohol and other daily needs.  Whatever remains of your meager income you send home to your mother and ailing father.

There are no Shortcuts to Good Surveys

Feb 04/11 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

In order to avoid heaps of paper like this; 

Heap of paper

and move into the 21st Century, more and more of the surveys we implement are being done on electronic gadgets or netbooks. These offer numerous benefits in terms of the quality of and speed with which data is obtained, but it certainly does not necessarily make a Project Associate's life that much easier. 

USA! USA! We're number one!

Feb 02/11 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

A couple of weeks ago USAID administrator Rajiv Shah unveiled a new Evaluation Policy, which Nancy Birdsall sees as "a big step ahead of the World Bank". 

The New USAID Evaluation Policy is Not Getting Nearly Enough Attention. It not only outlines a new policy.  It amounts to fostering a new culture, of transparency and learning.

Notes from "the Field"

Jan 28/11 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

Julian Jamison and Chris Blattman are in the field. Meanwhile my colleague Noompa ruminates on our use of the term "field"

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