Moreover, spending money on anything or conducting any kind of activity produces some positive effect in many cases: when farmers are trained on a new, semi-automatic irrigation technique, at least some of them will change their behaviour and get some better yields. But was this the most effective and efficient way to increase yield or could a training on improving traditional irrigation have produced much better results? Then again, if there is no measurable improvement, it could well be that the programme acted as a safety net if for example the same outcome worsened in the rest of the country (Gaarder and Bartsch, 2015).

A challenging task

In designing an impact evaluation, it is important to carefully consider first what is already known (no need to reinvent the wheel), what the important questions are that the programme implementers and wider development community want answered (are they interested in effectiveness? – compare DEval’s Evaluation Programming and Reference Group Model), and how much time and resources are available.