Studies have found that insured farmers grow riskier crops with higher yields (Mobarak & Rosenzweig, 2013). Thus, impact evaluations establish the direct connection between projects or policies and measurable, observable changes in people’s lives.

While the term impact evaluation comprises a wide range of methodologies, one of them has garnered the lion’s share of funding, attention, and criticism in the development community: the randomised controlled trial (RCT; see also articles "RCTs and rural development – an abundance of opportunities" and "Randomised controlled trials – the gold standard?"). RCTs are the most well-known form of impact evaluation, but it is very important to note that there are many other methods of constructing a counterfactual to estimate what would have happened to the target population in the absence of the project or policy without resorting to randomly allocating the target group to a control and treatment group.

Monitoring – useful, if interpreted carefully

To better understand what impact evaluations are, it also makes sense to clarify what they are not.