Thursday, August 20, 2009

Evidence of a Crusade

I'm back from a few days without internet at an IPA retreat near Kumasi. It was a great time, and despite two full days of meetings and two full days of travel, it felt like a good break.

Catching up on the news, I was pleased to see that Kriftof and his wife took on the plight of women in a special issue of the NY Times Magazine this weekend.

I spent the first few pages of the article thinking, "Gah! Enough anecdotes, let's see some evidence!" Then pages 4-6 are filled with IPA's work. I read Kristof's op-eds regularly, and I'd never noticed any interest in evaluations before. Maybe that part was written by his wife, Sheryl? (I like the idea of an analysis-anecdote partnership).

All in all, I thought it blended the storytelling and the evidence well, but I was a little disappointed his take-away recommendations weren't more solidly grounded. I liked my coworker's description: "he spent most of the article saying, 'this is what works' then ended by saying 'here are some cool-sounding ideas'."

The problem is, all failures fueling the aid skeptics started off as cool-sounding ideas.

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