Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity


CGD's weekly Podcast, event videos, whiteboard talks, slides, and more.

What Have We Learned? Improving Development Policy Through Impact Evaluation

Despite a host of challenges, hundreds of millions of people across the world have benefited from programs that have been rigorously evaluated and scaled up. Impact evaluation has generated knowledge about poverty and public policy leading to better programs.

At the event, policymakers and evaluators will discuss examples of how evaluation has helped enhance effectiveness, and a panel of evaluation funders will reflect on lessons learned and the way forward. In a time of political transition, we seek to re-energize the movement for increased evidence and value for money in public and aid spending.

Tobacco: Control or Eradicate? – Podcast with David Sweanor and Bill Savedoff

A billion premature deaths this century – that’s the estimated toll of smoking. As 80% of the world’s smokers live in low- to middle-income countries, that’s a huge problem for the developing world. So what’s the solution? You’ve heard before from CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff that increasing tobacco taxes can actually help turn people away from nicotine; on this week’s podcast, you’ll hear another idea. 

The Tobacco Epidemic – Bill Savedoff

Tobacco related diseases cut short the lives of 100 million people last century, a number expected to surge to 1 billion this century, according to CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff.

Video | Cash Transfers Conference

Cash transfer programs have shown mostly consistent success at improving conditions that matter for development; smoothing consumption, increasing school attendance and health care, sometimes impro

Impact Evaluation: Can We Learn More? Better?

The following presentations are from a conference hosted by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and co-sponsored by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) on July 17, 2013.

Program-for-Results: An Update on the World Bank's New Finance Tool (Event Video)

The World Bank's Program-for-Results (PforR) financing instrument was approved in January 2012 to complement the two existing financing instruments of the Bank: the Policy Financing instrument (DPL), which focuses on discrete policy actions within the direct control of governments, and the Project Financing instrument (IL), the Bank's main instrument to finance investment projects. PforR has been developed to enable the Bank to support the performance of a government program using the government's own systems, and when the risks to achieving the program's objectives relate to the capacity of the systems to achieve better results.

Corruption and Development -- William Savedoff


Pogo famously said: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That thought underpins my conversation with CGD senior fellow Bill Savedoff on corruption and development. Bill joined me last week after hosting a roundtable discussion with two anti-corruption experts who have recently published books on the issue, Frank Vogl, author of Waging War on Corruption and Laurence Cockcroft, author of Global Corruption Money, Power, and Ethics in the Modern World. In our conversation, Bill draws on the key ideas in these two books to unpack the various ways of thinking about—and addressing—corruption in development. We also discuss three emerging areas of CGD work on the issue, each of which focuses on the policies and practices of the rich and powerful—in global terms, us.

Closing the Evaluation Gap


In this four-minute clip from 2010, CGD senior fellow William Savedoff and former vice president Ruth Levine tell the story of how CGD’s Closing the Evaluation Gap initiative led to the creation of the International Institute for Impact Evaluation (3ie), a new institute for impact evaluation. Savedoff explains that before the 3ie, there was a gap in information between the implementation of aid programs and the eventual impact of those programs. For example, we knew that schools were built, but how many children attended the school and what did they learn? Such information was not as readily available. Savedoff and Levine formed a working group that promoted two major recommendations in its final report: (1) aid agencies need to invest more in their own capacity to do impact evaluations and (2)  independent institutions need to be created to mobilize and channel funding for high-quality impact evaluations. 3ie became that organization, and with the help of CGD it is working to close the evaluation gap. Learn more about this CGD initiative here.

Turning the Tide in the War on Tobacco: Bill Savedoff

Most people understand the personal risks associated with smoking, but surprisingly few understand its impact globally. Every year, more people die form tobacco related illnesses than from HIV/Aids, TB and malaria combined. Nevertheless, governments and international aid agencies have yet ot pay serious attention to what some believe to be one of hte most needless disease burdens in human history.

Here to breathe some fresh air into the fight to curb smoking is senior fellow Bill Savedoff, who joins me this week to discuss his latest blog post, Death by Tobacco: A Big Problem Needs Bigger Action. Upon returning from a meeting on tobacco control in New York City last month. Bill set out to raise the alarm about something he found to be shockingly little-known: the shockingly low cost of highly effective tobacco controls.

Impact Evaluations and the 3ie: William Savedoff

Efforts to design better aid programs often are hampered by the failure to evaluate what works—and what doesn’t—in existing programs. Today, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation and other important efforts are helping fill the evaluation gap.

My guest this week is senior fellow Bill Savedoff. He was a member of the Center for Global Development’s 2004 Evaluation Gap Working Group, led by Ruth Levine, that urged and helped create a new institution for impact evaluation: the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation, or 3ie (“Triple I E”). Following a recent CGD speech by Esther Duflo on the importance of impact evaluation, I sat down with Bill to talk about how new impact evaluations are shaping development projects and policy.

Nancy Birdsall on Cash on Delivery Aid

Nancy Birdsall

Can aid donors find a better way to deliver aid? My guest this week is Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development. Along with William Savedoff and Ayah Mahgoub, Nancy is working on a potential new way of disbursing foreign assistance called Cash on Delivery Aid. COD Aid seeks to devise simple, results-based contracts that reward developing countries for making progress towards previously agreed goals—such as increased primary school completion rates, vaccination coverage, or access to clean water.

In the podcast, Nancy explains that the traditional mode of giving aid, in which donors often take an active role in prescribing which actions recipient governments should take, can undermine incentives for governments to identify problems and design and implement locally appropriate solutions. "We have to create a system in which outside resources actually help the developing country governments find out what works in their particular setting," says Nancy.