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About The Big Push Forward


Our aim

The Big Push Forward is creating the space for discussion, thumb debate and the exploration of appropriate approaches for assessing transformative development processes. Hard evidence, order rigorous data, conclusive proof, value for money, evidence-based policy are tantalising terms promising clarity about what works and what should be funded in international development. Yet behind these terms lie definitional tussles, vested interests and contested world views. For those who hold the purse strings certain ways of knowing and assessing impact are considered more legitimate than others. Yet increasingly people are recognising the need for multiple and mixed methods and approaches to better understand complex change and that, compared to imposed standards, are more likely to lead to fair assessments helping us learn how to support a fairer world. 

Launching the Network, 2010

Who we are

We are an informal international network of practitioners seeking constructive ways to advance conceptually and methodologically development aid’s support of a fairer world, beyond the narrow bureaucratic protocols that assume guaranteed predictable outcomes. 

Discussed at a meeting at the Institute of Development Studies in September 2010 as ‘the Big Pushback’ against what we saw as a narrowing of what is valued and how value is measured, a steering group has since been building the network with initial small grants from MISEREOR, SDC and WaterAid that we gratefully acknowledge.

 What we are doing

  • Exploring the degree to which narrowly defined evaluation methodologies may be negatively affecting donor capacity to support transformative development;
  • Alerting development practitioners to the politics of evidence:  how power is associated with certain ways of knowing that are shaping and constraining evaluation approaches;
  • Working with practitioners to develop appropriate and utility focused approaches to assessing value for money that encourage learning and reflect their values and theories of change
  • Analysing how bureaucratic practices can result in over-bearing, even oppressive management regimes that oblige grantees to use tools and methods inappropriate to what they are trying to achieve and which prevent learning and adaptation;
  • Identifying and sharing strategies to expand the space for grantees and funders to experiment with and adopt additional, useful approaches to assess and report on international aid programmes and projects in support of transformative development. 
  • Tapping into practitioners’ energy – encouraging collective efforts to make development programmes work for social justice.

If you would like to support the Big Push Forward

Please contact us. The network needs your help to keep the initiative going.

7 Responses leave one →
  1. January 29, 2014

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve really loved surfing around your weblog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  2. Priyanka Dubey permalink
    April 23, 2013

    Very informative. Great initiative. Got to know of this at Evaluation Conclave 2013, held at Kathmandu, Nepal. Would like to learn more on different evaluation methodologies and approaches.

  3. January 13, 2013

    Refreshing and informative. Great work. Glad to join your network. As well as being professionally interested in issues related to the impact of the dominant development discourse on those in the field, I am interested to read more about how the latest pressures for TOC, VfM, etc can be addressed in a practical way by NGOs and PMs.

  4. December 21, 2012

    I am keen to participate / follow this initiate given the noble objectives that affects many develpment actors in the global South

  5. Tessy permalink
    August 1, 2012

    This is quite interesting. keep up the good work

  6. Kene C. Onukwube permalink
    July 26, 2012

    Great idea guys.
    I would love to see how this initiative turns around/ influences political manifestos and inflamed presentations and makes them real in favour of the larger citizenry.

  7. May 11, 2012

    Great initiative. I’m a fan – but would of course have preferred all this not to be necessary. keep up the good work.


    Senior Political Economy and Governance Advisor, ECDPM

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