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Does Aid work?


11 February 2014
On Wednesday February 12 the (Dutch) Parliament’s Commission on Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation will discuss aid effectiveness on projects focussed on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). Evaluating aid effectiveness is important to show impact and maintain support for development cooperation. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently undertook a Policy Evaluation on SRHR. The impact evaluation  undertaken by KIT and partners in Nicaragua is one of the case studies in this report and also on the Commission’s agenda.

Case study in Nicaragua

The Dutch government offered 2,4 million EUR support to the Ixchen Centre for Women cervical cancer screening and treatment programme from 2005 to 2009. KIT was leader of an impact evaluation in 2011-2012, working together with partners ETC Crystal, Ecorys and CDR.

Number one on the mortality list

There are almost 900 cases of cervical cancer in Nicaragua every year, a rate (40 cases/100,000 women) that is twice as high as in the rest of Central America (22 cases/100,000). With over 400 deaths annually, cervical cancer is the number one cause of mortality among women 15-49 years.

Reaching the unreached

While there were Ministry of Health efforts for cervical cancer services in Nicaragua, these often did not reach disadvantaged women. The Ixchen Women’s Centre programme was set up to bring cancer screening and treatment to the doorstep of poor women in remote areas. Between 2005 and 2009, six mobile health teams toured 75 municipalities, in collaboration with government clinics, organizing education sessions and offering cervical cancer screening services and referral for treatment, free of charge.

Does aid work?

This IOB study concluded, yes. The money in this project has been spent effectively: Over 40,000 women, who otherwise would not have accessed services, now were screened for cervical cancer. More than 1,200 of these were treated, contributing to lowering the high mortality rate. Women were satisfied with the services received, although information and awareness activities still could be improved.
Hermen Ormel, advisor KIT Health: ‘I was happy that the outcome of the independent review was a positive one. I believe this program has saved lives. But, even if the evaluation had not shown positive results, impact evaluations teach us how to be better and more effective next time. I am happy that the Dutch Government is making sincere efforts evaluating whether development efforts and investments actually have the impact they intend to make. KIT’s contribution to those evaluations also teach us about our own programmes where we try to make a difference.’