Pathways to Progress: Exploring Successes and Opportunities

Track I: Leveraging Evidence

Panel 1: Fund­ing what works: how can donors make evi­dence and money meet

This panel will focus on efforts within donor orga­ni­za­tions to increase the qual­ity and effec­tive­ness of aid by using evi­dence to drive decision-making. With greater empha­sis being placed on eval­u­a­tion efforts, the panel will dis­cuss what can be done to ensure that the evi­dence being col­lected is acted upon in fund­ing, pol­icy and pro­gram­ming processes. It will also explore the ten­sion between evi­dence and other fac­tors that influ­ence deci­sions.


Alex Hall is a Research and Train­ing Man­ager at EPoD. He pre­vi­ously worked as an Eco­nomic Offi­cer in the U.S. For­eign Ser­vice in Wash­ing­ton, DC, Nairobi, Kenya and Bel­grade, Ser­bia. As a For­eign Ser­vice Offi­cer, Alex was involved in a wide range of pol­icy issues includ­ing sus­tain­able energy, min­ing and min­er­als, infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy, inter­net free­dom, intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, U.S. for­eign assis­tance, and con­sular affairs. He holds a Master’s in Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion in Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (MPA/ID) from the Har­vard Kennedy School and a BA in inter­na­tional pol­i­tics and eco­nom­ics from Mid­dle­bury College.

Marie Gaarder
Is a Man­ager in the World Bank’s Inde­pen­dent Eval­u­a­tion Group (IEG) with respon­si­bil­ity for human devel­op­ment and cor­po­rate eval­u­a­tions. Prior to join­ing the Bank, she was the Direc­tor of the Nor­we­gian Agency for Devel­op­ment Coop­er­a­tion (NORAD) Eval­u­a­tion Depart­ment and Deputy Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Inter­na­tional Ini­tia­tive for Impact Eval­u­a­tion, 3ie. Dr. Gaarder is a con­trib­u­tor to the recently pub­lished book, Eval­u­a­tion Method­olo­gies for Aid in Con­flict, and her research inter­ests include aid effec­tive­ness and pol­icy influ­ence, impact eval­u­a­tions, sys­tem­atic reviews, GapMaps, and con­di­tional cash trans­fer programs.

José Manuel Argilés has been engaged in devel­op­ment coop­er­a­tion since 1999 and he lived in Ger­many and Costa Rica before becom­ing a civil ser­vant in 2007. Since 2012, he has served as the Direc­tor of the Eval­u­a­tion and Knowl­edge Man­age­ment Divi­sion in the Span­ish Min­istry of For­eign Affairs and Coop­er­a­tion. Pre­vi­ously, he worked for the Span­ish Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment Coop­er­a­tion (AECID), in the Depart­ments of Orga­ni­za­tion, Qual­ity and Legal Affairs (2007–2010); and Cul­ture and Devel­op­ment (2010–2012). He holds a degree in Law and Mas­ters in Inter­na­tional Aid and Devel­op­ment, Anthro­pol­ogy, and Eval­u­a­tion. He has pub­lished sev­eral arti­cles about the rela­tion between devel­op­ment and anthro­pol­ogy, indige­nous peo­ples, legal anthro­pol­ogy, cul­tural her­itage and eval­u­a­tion of pub­lic policies.

Negar Akhavi is the act­ing Direc­tor of USAID’s Office of Learn­ing, Eval­u­a­tion and Research which is part of USAID’s Bureau for Pol­icy, Plan­ning and Learn­ing. Her office focuses on bring­ing greater rigor and use of evi­dence to how USAID designs, mon­i­tors and eval­u­ates its inter­na­tional devel­op­ment inter­ven­tions. Prior to join­ing USAID in Jan­u­ary 2011, Negar worked on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health team for approx­i­mately seven years. Her port­fo­lio at the Gates Foun­da­tion included the India AIDS Ini­tia­tive, social account­abil­ity invest­ments, and immu­niza­tion pol­icy work. She came to inter­na­tional devel­op­ment after work­ing as a jour­nal­ist in Wash­ing­ton DC and the Mid­dle East. Negar received her bachelor’s degree in for­eign affairs and Russ­ian from the Uni­ver­sity of Vir­ginia and her master’s degree in inter­na­tional rela­tions from Johns Hop­kins School of Advanced Inter­na­tional Stud­ies (SAIS). Is a Man­ager in the World Bank’s Inde­pen­dent Eval­u­a­tion Group (IEG) with respon­si­bil­ity for human devel­op­ment and cor­po­rate eval­u­a­tions. Prior to join­ing the Bank, she was the Direc­tor of the Nor­we­gian Agency for Devel­op­ment Coop­er­a­tion (NORAD) Eval­u­a­tion Depart­ment and Deputy Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Inter­na­tional Ini­tia­tive for Impact Eval­u­a­tion, 3ie. Dr. Gaarder is a con­trib­u­tor to the recently pub­lished book, Eval­u­a­tion Method­olo­gies for Aid in Con­flict, and her research inter­ests include aid effec­tive­ness and pol­icy influ­ence, impact eval­u­a­tions, sys­tem­atic reviews, GapMaps, and con­di­tional cash trans­fer programs.

Panel 2: Look­ing to the future: the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges of big data in development

This panel will explore the oppor­tu­ni­ties and chal­lenges posed by the increased avail­abil­ity of big data in devel­op­ing coun­tries. Panel par­tic­i­pants will dis­cuss and eval­u­ate cut­ting edge big data appli­ca­tions in a range of devel­op­ment sec­tors – from health care to finance.

Mar­tin Kessler is a sec­ond year stu­dent in the Mas­ter in Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion in Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (MPA/ID) at HKS. He is inter­ested in the appli­ca­tion of machine learn­ing and big data approaches to inter­na­tional devel­op­ment; and their role in mon­i­tor­ing eco­nomic activ­ity and prices, uncov­er­ing cor­rup­tion, tar­get­ing social pro­grams, etc. Pre­vi­ously, he worked at the Peter­son Insti­tute for Inter­na­tional Eco­nom­ics where he pub­lished work on inter­na­tional trade and finan­cial sys­tems, as well as the euro cri­sis. Before that, he was Eco­nomic Attaché at the French Embassy in Berlin. He holds a Master’s degree from the Paris School of Eco­nom­ics and a B.A. from the Ecole Nor­male Supérieure de Cachan.


Jeff Stew­art is a ser­ial entre­pre­neur, inven­tor and investor spe­cial­iz­ing in internet­enabled growth busi­nesses. He is the founder and Chair­man of Lenddo, the world’s first online ser­vice that empow­ers the emerg­ing class to use their online social con­nec­tions to build their cred­it­wor­thi­ness and access local finan­cial ser­vices. Lenddo enables busi­nesses to sim­ply and securely eval­u­ate both the char­ac­ter and iden­tity of cus­tomers using alter­na­tive data in order to extend credit and deliver life ­improv­ing services.

Flo­rent Silve is a senior econ­o­mist and data sci­en­tist at Premise where he over­sees client engage­ments focused on eco­nom­ics, finance, and mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion. Prior to join­ing Premise, Flo­rent was a man­ager in the finan­cial ser­vices prac­tice of Econ One Research, an eco­nomic con­sult­ing firm, where he focused on finan­cial mar­kets, energy and com­mod­ity mar­kets, and risk ana­lyt­ics. He also worked as an Econ­o­mist within the Office of the Chief Econ­o­mist of the Euro­pean Bank for Recon­struc­tion and Devel­op­ment where he con­ducted eco­nomic analy­ses and was involved in the struc­tur­ing and impact assess­ment of debt and equity invest­ments across Cen­tral and East­ern Europe, Rus­sia, the Cau­ca­sus, Cen­tral Asia, and the MENA region. Flo­rent holds a grad­u­ate degree in Eco­nom­ics from the École Poly­tech­nique and Sci­ences Po Paris, an MPhil from the Judge Busi­ness School of the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge, and a Master’s degree in Physics and Engi­neer­ing from ESPCI ParisTech.

Steve Glovin­sky has been with the UN Sys­tem for 40 years, pri­mar­ily with the United Nations Devel­op­ment Pro­gram, work­ing with gov­ern­ments in over 40 coun­tries and the UNDP itself on institutional/organizational reform and change facil­i­ta­tion, most notably in demo­c­ra­tic tran­si­tion, decen­tral­iza­tion, poverty alle­vi­a­tion pro­grams, and knowl­edge net­work­ing. The lat­ter inno­va­tion, within UNDP, spread to the rest of the UN sys­tem and is now offered as a UN ser­vice to pro­fes­sional Com­mu­ni­ties. Steve cur­rently works as Spe­cial Adviser to Car­los Lopes, UNECA’s Exec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, facil­i­tat­ing repro­fil­ing efforts to make ECA “the think tank of ref­er­ence on issues relat­ing to African development.”

Sarah Cairns-Smith Sarah is a mem­ber of BCG’s Social Impact Lead­er­ship Team, with respon­si­bil­ity for global devel­op­ment. She has worked across a broad vari­ety of sec­tors in global devel­op­ment and health includ­ing water, san­i­ta­tion and hygiene; finan­cial ser­vices and edu­ca­tion; mobile and big data; agri­cul­ture; and health prod­uct research, devel­op­ment and deliv­ery. She also con­sults within the pri­vate sec­tor in R&D and inno­va­tion and leads BCG’s Sci­en­tist Net­work. Sarah received her PhD in Bio­chem­istry from the Impe­r­ial Can­cer Research Fund, Lon­don and MBA (Dis­tinc­tion) from Colum­bia Busi­ness School. She joined BCG in 1996.

Work­shop: Choos­ing the right mea­sure­ment tool for your organization

This work­shop will intro­duce par­tic­i­pants to sev­eral com­mon mea­sure­ment tools avail­able to orga­ni­za­tions and give them an oppor­tu­nity to work through a mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion (M&E) exer­cise in small groups. It will also explore top­ics rel­e­vant to mea­sure­ment within orga­ni­za­tions, such as when mea­sure­ment is appro­pri­ate, how to obtain resources for M&E, and how to com­mu­ni­cate the results of eval­u­a­tions to dif­fer­ent stake­hold­ers.

Marc Shot­land is the Direc­tor of Research and Train­ing at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Cam­bridge. In the Research Group, he over­sees research oper­a­tions, ensur­ing that the imple­men­ta­tion of eval­u­a­tions within the J-PAL net­work is of high qual­ity, eth­i­cal, and trans­par­ent. In the Train­ing Group, he over­sees J-PAL’s capac­ity build­ing ini­tia­tives, to pro­mote the pro­duc­tion and use of rig­or­ous evi­dence out­side of the J-PAL net­work. Marc has a Mas­ter of Pub­lic Admin­is­tra­tion in Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (MPA/ID) degree from Har­vard University’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment and a Bachelor’s degree in Eco­nom­ics from Williams Col­lege. He first joined Pro­fes­sors Duflo and Baner­jee in the sum­mer of 2002 to run ran­dom­ized eval­u­a­tions of edu­ca­tion inter­ven­tions as a field research asso­ciate in India. In 2004 he joined the Poverty Action Lab’s Cam­bridge office as a senior research man­ager. He left in 2006 to earn his mas­ters at Har­vard before rejoin­ing J-PAL in 2008. His research focuses on edu­ca­tion, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion sys­tems, and capac­ity building.

Rohit Naim­pally is the Man­ager of Research and Train­ing at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in Cam­bridge. He holds an M.A. in Social Sci­ences from the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, where he focused on social sci­ence method­ol­ogy. Prior to join­ing J-PAL in 2013, he spent three years work­ing at Inno­va­tions for Poverty Action (IPA). While at IPA, Rohit worked on a vari­ety of finan­cial inclu­sion stud­ies in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, research meth­ods and train­ing, and data analy­sis. At J-PAL, Rohit works on the Research and Train­ing Team on devel­op­ment of research resources, and on J-PAL’s var­i­ous train­ing courses, with a focus on e-learning platforms.

Panel 4: Evi­dence to Action: Bridg­ing the gap between data and discourse

How can rig­or­ous evi­dence be suc­cess­fully com­mu­ni­cated to deci­sion mak­ers? Pol­i­cy­mak­ers agree that using evi­dence to inform deci­sions is essen­tial for good pol­i­cy­mak­ing and pro­gram design, so why do researchers and advo­cates con­tinue to encounter chal­lenges in shar­ing their find­ings? This panel will explore how to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where research informs pol­icy, and how, both researchers and deci­sion mak­ers, can col­lab­o­rate and jointly invest in the process of bring­ing evi­dence to pol­icy. Speak­ers from acad­e­mia and research, media, and pol­icy will dis­cuss engage in a lively dis­cus­sion about chal­lenges oppor­tu­ni­ties for progress.


Gon­zalo Fan­jul is a researcher and activist focused on poverty and inequal­ity. Orig­i­nally trained as an econ­o­mist, he later com­pleted stud­ies on poverty and inter­na­tional devel­op­ment and holds an MC/MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment. After work­ing in Cusco (Peru) on rural devel­op­ment, he joined Oxfam, where he was Research Direc­tor and Senior Advi­sor between 1998 and 2011, play­ing a strate­gic role in its global cam­paigns. Since then, he co-leads the inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism project por­Causa, is Pol­icy Direc­tor of the Insti­tute of Global Health of Barcelona (ISGlobal) and advises inter­na­tional NGOs and orga­ni­za­tions on issues like migra­tion, child poverty and food secu­rity. Reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to news­pa­pers and pub­lic media, he is the author of the FAO awarded poverty and devel­op­ment blog of El País 3.500 Millones.

Mr. Xavier Agostinho Cha­vana is a national tech­ni­cal expert on Dis­as­ter Risk Reduc­tion, Cli­mate Change and Envi­ron­ment, and a senior plan­ning offi­cer in the Min­istry of Econ­omy and Finance, where he cur­rently holds the posi­tion of Deputy National Direc­tor for Mon­i­tor­ing and Evaluation.Mr. Cha­vana has served his coun­try as nego­tia­tor of bilat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral fund­ing for envi­ron­ment, dis­as­ter risk reduc­tion and cli­mate change adap­ta­tion, from inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions such as the UN Sys­tem, the World Bank, the Cli­mate Invest­ment Funds, and WWF. Through his com­mu­ni­ca­tions which include par­tic­i­pa­tion as speaker in inter­na­tional and national con­fer­ences and lec­tures, pub­lic debates on radio and TV, and hun­dreds of arti­cles pub­lished in sev­eral news­pa­pers in Mozam­bique, Mr. Cha­vana has inspired hun­dreds of peo­ple of all ages, sta­tus, back­ground and gen­der for enhanced com­mit­ment and action on human devel­op­ment. As com­mu­ni­ca­tor and facil­i­ta­tor for bridg­ing evidentiary-based solu­tions from sci­en­tists and experts to deci­sion mak­ing processes, since 2013, Mr. Cha­vana serves as the UN Advo­cate for main­stream­ing dis­as­ter risk reduc­tion and cli­mate change adap­ta­tion into devel­op­ment in Africa. Mr. Cha­vana holds a Mas­ter degree on Haz­ards and Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment from Kingston Uni­ver­sity, in the UK and BSc in Geog­ra­phy, from Eduardo Mond­lane Uni­ver­sity, in Mozambique.

Iqbal Dhali­wal is the Deputy­Di­rec­tor of J-PAL and the global head of Pol­icy. Based at MIT, he works with pol­i­cy­mak­ers in gov­ern­ments, devel­op­ment orga­ni­za­tions, foun­da­tions and NGOs to dis­sem­i­nate the pol­icy impli­ca­tions of research, imple­ment the scale-up of suc­cess­ful pro­grams and insti­tu­tion­al­ize a cul­ture of evi­dence informed pol­icy. He coor­di­nates J-PAL’s eight sec­tor pro­grams and is the Sci­en­tific Direc­tor for J-PAL South Asia, Co-Chair of J-PAL’s Gov­ern­ment Part­ner­ship Ini­tia­tive, and an advi­sory board mem­ber of the NGO Evi­dence Action. He is co-PI with Rema Hanna (Har­vard) of a five-district ran­dom­ized eval­u­a­tion on improv­ing health out­comes and ser­vice provider atten­dance in rural India.

Before join­ing J-PAL in 2009, Iqbal was a Direc­tor in the Eco­nomic Analy­sis prac­tice of a con­sult­ing firm in Boston where he man­aged numer­ous engage­ments involv­ing antitrust issues, reg­u­la­tion, and strat­egy. Ear­lier, he was a mem­ber of the Indian Admin­is­tra­tive Ser­vice (IAS) where he worked on many pol­icy issues dur­ing stints as a Deputy Sec­re­tary in a state gov­ern­ment, Direc­tor of a statewide wel­fare depart­ment, and CEO of a pub­licly owned com­pany. As the head of one of the state’s largest county gov­ern­ments, he led a large bureau­cracy that imple­mented numer­ous devel­op­ment pro­grams in the field.

Iqbal received the Director’s Gold Medal for stand­ing first in the nation­wide Civil Ser­vices selec­tion and train­ing at India’s National Acad­emy of Admin­is­tra­tion. He received a B.A. (Hon­ors) in Eco­nom­ics from Delhi Uni­ver­sity, an M.A. in Eco­nom­ics from Delhi School of Eco­nom­ics, and an MPA from Prince­ton University.