International training program examines effectiveness of development assistance

While G8 and G20 leaders meet to discuss issues like global development, green energy and democratic governance, Carleton will be hosting over 200 senior-level managers and evaluators who assess the effectiveness of these initiatives.

Participants from over 80 countries will be coming to Carleton for the 10th annual International Program for Development Evaluation Training (IPDET) from June 7 to July 2, offered each year at the university in collaboration with the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank.

It’s a truly international program: Carleton professors Katherine Graham and Jose Galdo will join international co-directors Ray Rist and Linda Morra Imas, along with international faculty coming from as far away as Ghana, Laos, and New Zealand, to share expertise and build capacity in evaluation.

The month-long training program aims to help governments, international agencies, private consultants and not-for-profit organizations to understand and assess the results of development initiatives.

“The training is especially important” says Barbara Levine, Carleton’s IPDET program manager, “as citizens of developing countries as well as donors rally round the Millennium Development Goals and call for greater accountability and transparency.”

IPDET provides participants with the skills and tools needed to evaluate development policies and programs from the local to global levels. It has trained over 1,500 individuals since its inception. As well, IPDET manages more than 50 scholarships offered to candidates from governments and not-for-profit organizations in developing countries.

Khadija Khan, an IPDET alumna from Pakistan, had this to say about the program: “IPDET reinforces the idea that evaluation is not about finding fault. Rather, it’s a management tool that should be integrated into project planning from inception. We need to accept failure as part of experience; we need to build the capacity of people to conduct meaningful evaluations.”

IPDET touches on some important emerging trends in the world of global development. Considering the long list of major disasters – from the earthquake in Haiti to the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico – a new workshop on evaluating humanitarian assistance will be especially timely.

Another new workshop provides instruction and tools for evaluating governance programs that aim to strengthen government’s accountability to its own citizens.

Positive change is possible. In the last 10 years, Levine has heard many success stories.

“Many people go back to their home countries and report that their IPDET experience has made them more effective evaluators and helped enhance the credibility of their organizations,” says Levine, an adjunct professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration.

“Equally encouraging is that many IPDET alumni volunteer in their spare time to either create or get involved with a professional association that is enhancing evaluation skills,” she says. “That says to me that people recognize it’s really important to strengthen the profession as a whole.”

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