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Improving Development Aid Design and Evaluation: Plan for Sailboats, Not Trains

By: Rachel Kleinfeld, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The development field increasingly looks to sophisticated metrics to measure impact. Simultaneously, practitioners are recognizing that most development programs must engage with politics and policy. Unfortunately, the measurement techniques gaining popularity are those least able to determine how to implement political reforms.

Effective reform efforts require planning for and measuring change that is nonlinear and non-incremental. Complexity, or systems, theory offers insights for improving program design and evaluation.