Friday, February 8, 2019

Alext Tabarrok: First in-depth, independent evaluation of one MVP project & it doesn't look great: The project did some good but the big push failed & the good could have been done at lower cost

Barnett, C., Masset, E. Dogbe, T., Jupp, D., Korboe, D., Acharya, A., Nelson, K., Eager, R. and Hilton, T. (2018) 'Impact Evaluation of the SADA Millennium Villages Project in Northern Ghana: Endline Summary Report', Brighton: Itad in association with IDS, LSHTM and PDA Ghana.

Abstract: The Millennium Villages Project (MVP) aims to demonstrate how the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be achieved locally through an integrated approach to development. While the MDGs have now been superseded by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, 2016–30), there remains a consistent thread to the MDGs around issues such as eradicating poverty, preventing avoidable deaths and improving education. Furthermore, the interconnected nature of the SDGs means the MVP model also has relevance for those seeking to address extreme poverty by taking an integrated approach to sustainable development. This report summarises the findings from what we believe to be the first independent impact evaluation of the MVP approach. It is hoped that the evidence and analysis will be of relevance to a wide range of actors in international development.

Comments by A Tabarrok at The Big Push Failed, Oct 16 2018,

"The initial MVP evaluation claimed great success but simply compared some development indicators before and after in the treated villages without comparing to trends elsewhere. In 2010 such a study was completely out of step with contemporary practices in impact evaluation. Red flag! Clemens and Demombynes showed that comparing to trends elsewhere significantly moderated the impact. A second MVP paper was published in the Lancet but then was quickly retracted when Bump, Clemens, Demombynes and Haddad demonstrated that it had  significant errors. Clemens and Demombynes wrote a summary piece on the controversy then in an astounding and under-reported scandal the MVP tried to stifle Clemens and Demombynes. The MVP, with Jeff Sachs at the head, also sicced their lawyers on Nina Munk and her book, The Idealist: Jeffrey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty. More red flags.

Yet, despite all of this controversy and bad behavior, the MVP project continued to move ahead and in 2012, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded US $11 million into an MVP in Northern Ghana that ran until December 2016. Under the auspices of the DFID, we now finally have the first in-depth, independent evaluation of one MVP project and it doesn’t look great. The project did some good but the big push failed and the good that was done could have been done at lower cost."

Check the post, it has lots of links.

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