Impact Assessments at the CGIAR & SPIA

ex post Impact Assessment (ex post IA) is only one component of a comprehensive evaluation package which also includes ex ante assessments, programme reviews, performance monitoring and evaluation, and process evaluations, among others. This website primarily concerns ex post impact assessment of research activities of the CGIAR.

ex post IAs of CGIAR research are conducted or commissioned by the Centers, CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs), and the Independent Science and Partnership Council's (ISPC) Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA), often in collaboration with national and international experts from partner institutions and universities. In some senses, SPIA can be said to support impact assessment at the system-level. SPIA's predecessor, the Impact Assessment and Evaluation Group (IAEG), was initiated in 1995 and reorganised into SPIA in 2000.

This website, while hosted by SPIA and focussing on its work program, features a subset of ex post IA reports and publications from Centers and CRPs. Visit the individual Center or CRP websites for a full list of IA related activities and publications, and the Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA) site for information on external evaluations of the CGIAR.

SPIA's mandate is

  • Accountability: To provide CGIAR members with timely, objective, comprehensive, credible and digestible information on a whole spectrum of realized impacts from past CGIAR research investments and resultant outputs in terms of the CGIAR goals of enhanced food and nutrition security, poverty reduction and enhanced natural resources.
  • Quality assurance: To work in consultation with the Consortium, the CGIAR Research Programs (CRPs) and the Centers to enhance the rigor, quality, coverage, number and scope of ex post impact assessments and to catalyse the development and use of novel methodologies.
  • Strategic feedback: To encourage and facilitate strategic feedback from ex post impact assessments in research planning at both the System and individual CRPs and Center levels.

For the purpose of its work, SPIA defines ex post Impact Assessments as

"...a specialized area of evaluation that is designed to identify and measure consequences resulting from earlier interventions of a program or project. Its timing is ex post IA's defining characteristic: ex post IA takes place after the program's or project's investment has generated the intervention, and sufficient time has elapsed and experience accumulated to assess the intervention's performance in terms of longer term economic, social and environmental consequences. Ex post IA contributes mainly to accountability and secondarily to learning in evaluation of agricultural research. Impacts of an intervention may be positive or negative, direct or indirect, and intended or unintended."
Extracted from: Instructions for Reporting of Performance Indicators for CGIAR Centers (Science Council and CGIAR Secretariat, 2010)


SPIA has a biennial work plan that it implements in collaboration with consultants, usually academics based at advanced research institutes around the world. The Chair of the ISPC submits the work plan annually to the CGIAR Fund Council for their approval. For an overview from 2008 of the rationale for SPIA and how ex post impact assessment in the CGIAR system works, see this article (Kelley et al. 2008). Information on SPIA members and staff can be found in the About SPIA page

In 2005, SPIA commissioned a survey of the donors to the CGIAR to elicit information about whether and how information on ex post impact assessment is used, and to find out what information donors would value in the future. See original report (Raitzer and Winkel, 2008) and journal article (Raitzer and Kelley, 2008). Note: SPIA redid the donor demands survey in early 2014 (but without a personal interview follow up round), and highlights can be found here (from a presentation during the IAFP meeting in Boston, July 2016).

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