Informing policies with causal impact evaluations: Co-creation and trust matter

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BY KIBROM ABAY, AKHTER AHMED, CLEMENS BREISINGER, NAUREEN KARACHIWALLA, SIKANDRA KURDI, AND ALEMAYEHU SEYOUM TAFFESSE
OPEN ACCESS | CC-BY-4.0

Policymakers have incredibly complex decisions to make, and they rely on a broad range of information to support that process. Which policies and programs work best for their constituents? What is the best use of limited resources, especially in times of crisis?

Tracking policy outcomes and costs over time helps stakeholders monitor progress and budgets. However, that approach does not measure the impacts that a program or policy has on the intended beneficiaries—for that, you need a “counterfactual.” For example, what if people in some districts get a program and people in other districts do not? People and circumstances vary across districts, so we would not expect that the program would have the same impacts in both places; it’s a classic apples-to-oranges comparison. Thus, assessing a program by comparing its impacts in one district to conditions in a “control” district without it may not yield meaningful results.

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