The ideas catalyzing evidence-based decisions across the world

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The IDinsight Evidence-Based Decision-Making Primer:

Evaluations with Impact: Decision-Focused Impact Evaluations as a Practical Policymaking Tool


IDinsight announces new Chief Operating Officer


July 15, 2019 — Today, IDinsight announces appointment of its new Chief Operating Officer, Rebecca Gong Sharp, who previously served as its Director of Operations. Esther Wang, Founding Partner and IDinsight’s outgoing COO, will shift to a new role focused on fundraising and coaching senior leadership.

Becca will work with CEO Neil Buddy Shah and IDinsight’s Partner group to execute IDinsight’s overall strategy and ensure that the organization applies its own data-driven tools and principles to internal decision-making. Her areas of oversight will include people operations, systems, safety and security, new country expansion, strategic communications, board governance, and compliance. 

Becca joined IDinsight as its first Director of Operations in 2016. In that role, she helped the organization triple in size and installed new systems, with a focus on data-driven approaches. Prior to joining IDinsight, Becca worked as a strategy consultant for the Rockefeller Foundation and published research on seasonal migration for Evidence Action and GiveWell. She has extensive international development experience in Central Asia and East Africa, specializing in monitoring and evaluation, behavioral economics, and organizational management. Becca holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, an MBA from the Yale School of Management, and an MPA in international development from the Princeton Woodrow Wilson School.

“Getting to work with this amazing team towards an inspiring mission has been the highlight of my professional career,” Becca said. “These are enormous shoes to fill, but I am grateful for the significant support that made this possible and look forward to this next chapter together, transforming the way the global development sector uses data and evidence to maximize impact.”

“As IDinsight’s first COO, Esther has built an incredibly strong foundation for the organization,” said Neil Buddy Shah, CEO. “She created from scratch an all-star Ops team and a well-oiled machine to run an impactful organization. Without this foundation, we would not be where we are today. One of Esther’s important accomplishments was recruiting and mentoring Becca. Esther and I both could not think of a better person to craft the direction of this critical function for the next phase of IDinsight’s growth. Becca is everything you would want in a COO - deeply strategic in her thinking, exceptional in execution on items large and small, committed to creating scalable and lean systems, and service-oriented in freeing up all of our time to do what we do best.”

“Becca brings an energy, positivity, and commitment that is second to none, in all facets of her complex and far-reaching role,” Esther said. “She is a clear flag-bearer of our values, showing us what it means to be consistently humble, systems-oriented, impact-focused, and building our community of leaders.”

The transition comes at a time of continued growth for the organization, with eight offices in seven countries, and embedded government learning partnerships in four additional countries. Over the past two years, IDinsight has more than doubled in size, now with a team of more than 150 people. 

New learning partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the government of Himachal Pradesh


Himachal Pradesh (HP) is looking to emerge as a leading state in India’s government school system. To that end, the HP Samarth program is a 24-month statewide education transformation program focused on increasing accountability for learning outcomes, improving the quality of teacher training, and investing in critical education infrastructure.

We are excited to announce a new learning partnership based in the beautiful state of Himachal Pradesh. The Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) has selected IDinsight as an evaluation partner, alongside Samagra Development Associates as a management partner, to support the HP Samarth program. Through a learning partnership model, IDinsight will work with these stakeholders to generate evidence to inform the HP government on three high-potential policy areas in education:

  • Scaling up, and intensifying use of, student education technology

  • Strengthening teacher training interventions

  • Enhancing the use of data for review and monitoring

IDinsight will leverage two types of evaluation designs: traditional impact evaluations to inform state-level, and eventually, national-level adoption, as well as iterative design evaluations to provide rapid, yet specific, feedback on state-level challenges. As in any learning partnership, the IDinsight team aims to provide and optimize rigorous evidence, while remaining flexible and responsive to stakeholder needs.


IDinsight's Divya Nair presents our findings on Poshan Abhiyaan's Social and Behavior Change Communication at the National Council on India's Nutrition Challenges.

IDinsight's Divya Nair presents our findings on Poshan Abhiyaan's Social and Behavior Change Communication at the National Council on India's Nutrition Challenges.

IDinsight informs social and behaviour change communication programming and monitoring approach for India’s national nutrition mission

IDinsight AMAL Health and Nutrition team | June 2019

The IDinsight AMAL Health and Nutrition team has been working in India with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and NITI Aayog to support India’s National Nutrition Mission, POSHAN Abhiyaan. Our work has been informing social and behaviour change communication programming and the monitoring approach of the Mission.

As part of its focus on Social & Behavior Change Communication, in September 2018, the mission launched a month-long intensive campaign called POSHAN Maah. In November, IDinsight conducted a survey of about 6,000 pregnant and lactating women across 27 aspirational districts in 8 states of India for the Ministry of Women and Child Development [INSERT PHOTO]. A key findings was that across 21+ platforms ranging from mass media to interpersonal communication, home visits were the most effective in reaching women. Our findings have been presented to key stakeholders at top forums such as India’s National Council [INSERT PHOTO] and the evidence is  being utilised to inform national-level SBCC programming.

The team has also been engaged with IFPRI and NITI Aayog in developing and testing monitoring frameworks for the Mission. The need for a nutrition monitoring framework arose due to the fact that currently nutrition-related indicators exist in disparate data sources and no comprehensive, actionable monitoring tools exists for government officials. Our work has been well received at forums such as “Nutrition Data Bonanza” by BMGF nutrition partners in April and we  continue to refine the frameworks we have developed with the goal for these to be used widely.

Partnerships with government ministries in Zambia and Malawi to evaluate and improve social cash transfer programs


In April, IDinsight’s Southern Africa Regional Director, Chris Chibwana, attended the Transfer Project’s 2019 Workshop in Arusha, Tanzania. This workshop brought together over 100 researchers, policy-makers, academics, and development partners from 20 different countries in sub-Saharan Africa to promote cross-learning on cash transfers.

At the conference, Chris highlighted our partnerships with governments in Africa to help them use data and evidence to maximize the social impact of their program. In Zambia, we're working with the Zambia Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) to improve the social cash transfer program (SCTP) using data and evidence. Learn more about this engagement here.

IDinsight is also working with the Malawi Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare (MoGCD&SW) to conduct an in-depth analysis of existing SCTP data with the goal of helping the ministry understand where they can improve and scale their Social Cash Transfer Program. You can learn more about the data Chris shared at the Transfer Project Workshop here. Learn more about this learning partnership here.

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Tensions that arise between researchers and practitioners

Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness conference | March 2019

IDinsight Technical Team Director Marc moderated a panel titled “Results vs. Rigor: Balancing Tensions for Productive Evaluation Partnerships” at the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE) conference in Washington DC on March 7th.  The panel discussed the tensions that often arise between researchers and practitioners; specifically certainty, timing, and independence.

Do researchers/evaluators need a certain amount of independence to ensure they are not being pressured to (even if subconsciously) to produce results in a particular direction? On the other hand, will evaluators understand enough of the program details and nuances to ask the right questions if they are too independent? Will practitioners buy into the results if evaluators haven’t been engaging them all along throughout the process?

Read the full abstract here.

IDinsight conducts training for newest cohort of India's civil servants (IAS officers)

Engagement with the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) | March 2019

How can administrators in India improve nutrition outcomes at the state level? To answer this question, the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) organized a three-day workshop for district-level functionaries from 11 different states. IDinsight, along with International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), acted as technical partners.

“This workshop has enabled us to get an easy understanding of nutritional data and link it to action for improvement.”

- A district-level official who participated in the workshop

Learn more about this workshop here.

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Can Machine Learning Double Your Social Impact?

Stanford social innovation review | February 2019

Can machine learning double your social impact? IDinsight's Ben Brockman, Andrew Fraker, Jeff McManus, and Buddy Shah discuss “what it takes to successfully deploy machine learning tools for social good,” citing IDinsight's and Educate Girls' work locating out-of-school girls.

We are excited about the potential for machine learning in the broader development sector, because there are many other prediction applications that will allow NGOs and governments to provide better healthcare, education, and other services. Where the data and operating environments allow it, machine learning applications can help organizations that face prevention and data-void problems drastically improve their efficiency today. And in the longer term—if the social sector answers the call to invest in better data collection in more places—we believe machine learning can live up to the hype and become an even more powerful tool to improve billions of lives.

Read more here.

Can Child-Focused Sanitation and Nutrition Programming improve Health Practices and Outcomes?

BMJ Global Health | January 2019

Can child-focused sanitation and nutrition programming improve health practices and outcomes? IDinsight’s Gerishom Gimaiyo, Jeff McManus, and Lilian Lehmann share the findings from IDinsight’s two-year embedded learning partnership with UNICEF in Kenya in Volume 4, Issue 1 of BMJ Global Health.

Driven by IDinsight findings and recommendations, UNICEF is scaling their integrated sanitation and nutrition program to a second focal county in Kenya, West Pokot, which has over 100,000 children under 5 and the highest child stunting rates in the country.

Access the full article here.

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2018 Year in Review

2018 year in Review | December 2018

2018 was an exciting year of impact, innovation, and growth at IDinsight. We were fortunate to work closely with inspiring partner and client organizations towards our vision of improving millions of lives by transforming how the social sector innovates, learns and improves. Together, we started new embedded learning partnerships with governments across Asia and Africa, continued conducting rigorous “decision-focused” impact evaluations for leaders, launched innovative data and evidence tools to help our partner organizations solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges, and expanded into new geographies. To learn more, visit our 2018 Year in Review.

Fishers in Andhra pradesh discuss the latest round of the open-source fisheries experiment with Idinsight and tata trust staff. Photo credit: Rob sampson