'Valuing development': Could approaches to measuring outcomes in health help make development more accountable?

Research reports and studies
March 2012
Claire Melamed, Nancy Devlin and John Appleby

The development business is being asked to get more serious about results and evaluation. This is an opportune time to think about the outcomes that 'development' is trying to achieve and who gets to decide what they are.

If the drive for results and value for money is to deliver improved benefits for poor people, and better evidence for politicians trying to justify aid spending to taxpayers, we need an improved metric that allows us to measure outcomes in a standard way, and identify which – of the possible outcomes that aid spending could achieve – poor people would value the most.

To be effective, this metric needs to be communicated in a way that is easy to use for decision makers in the development business. This information could feed into the allocation of resources and planning of interventions, to ensure that the ‘value’ in value for money is informed by what people themselves value. It could also be used in evaluations, to assess the extent to which interventions are delivering the changes of most value to poor people, and in ongoing monitoring to assess whether value is being delivered over time.

The challenge, and the research question, is to establish whether we can devise a way of measuring outcomes, based on poor people's own values, which strikes the right balance between a reasonable representation of reality and usability by policy makers.

This report proposes one approach to answering this question.  

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