Through a new project, the Evans School Policy Analysis and Research Group (EPAR) will partner with the Agricultural Development Team (AgDev) at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to increase the efficiency of, and maximize collective learning from AgDev's evaluations of its investments.
The project entitled “Evaluating Inclusive Transformation in Agriculture" (EVITA), aims to develop a robust evaluation approach that will generate evidence of the impacts of AgDev’s investments. EPAR will provide technical assistance and tracking systems to systematically collect data from the evaluation process and evaluation findings. Specifically, evidence generated from these evaluations will provide new, primary information that can deepen knowledge on how and why impact may or may not be reached, where there are new opportunities or risks, what results are sustained over time, and where strategic shifts or intensifying existing efforts is required, thereby enhancing overall evidenced-based decision-making for agricultural development.
We aspire to the following principles in awarding and managing evaluations under EVITA:
- We respect the limited time and resources of our evaluators. Our RFP and award process reflects this commitment in two ways. First, we endeavor to streamline the process and minimize the development of unsuccessful proposals through a stepped application process. Second, we commit to be transparent about expectations and workload from the start of the RFP process and throughout, by making all expected outputs clear and all deliverable templates available for review prior to firms applying.
- We value mentorship. We will create opportunities for newer and smaller firms to partner with larger and more experienced firms, and non-local firms to learn from local firms. We will actively facilitate partnerships to encourage multidirectional sharing of technical capacity, contextual knowledge, and other expertise among evaluators. Moreover, we believe in collective and transparent learning. We will provide support to evaluators throughout the process, including sharing how we make decisions and offering actionable feedback to hone the evaluation design and implementation. We also invite new ideas and feedback from evaluators on their experience with EVITA.
- We value diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will recognize and reward an organization’s demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our RFP process, and we will seek thoughtful, concrete, and culturally responsive plans for incorporating these principles into the design and implementation of evaluations.
- We prioritize data quality. We will hold evaluators to rigorous standards for the data they collect, with both contextual and technical considerations including requiring that evaluators use standardized indicators and collect data disaggregated by gender, small-scale producer status, and other dimensions of inclusion.
- We aim to maximize the power, value, and broader utility of evaluations, which includes a commitment to open access. We emphasize good practices of data and evidence sharing, transparency, and reproducibility. We see EVITA as an opportunity not only to learn more collectively across individual investments, but also to draw out lessons learned about commissioning “successful” evaluations.