This article reviews recent Norwegian aid evaluations with a mandate to study impact, and assesses how the evaluators establish causal effects. The analytical challenges encountered in the seven studies reviewed are:

(1) the Terms of Reference ask for evidence of impact where this is not possible to identify,(2) the distinction between impacts of the aid element versus other components is often blurred, and (3) the methodological approaches to identify impact are either poorly developed or applied superficially.

A main conclusion is that most of the evaluators did not have the necessary time or budget to conduct a proper impact evaluation given the large number of questions raised in the commissioning agency.

Espen Villanger

Deputy Director, Research Director

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