Expanding Evidence on the Impact of CGIAR Research Investments

While SPIA’s goal under Objective 1 of the workplan is to increase CGIAR center capacity to be the main source of robust impact assessments on CGIAR Research, SPIA has a critical role in conducting or commissioning impact assessments to complement center work. SPIA works to expand and deepen the evidence of the impact of CGIAR research investments through various strategic studies.

  • Accountability studies: Documenting long-term, large scale impacts of research;
  • Learning-oriented studies: Coordinating sets of impact assessments of more recent innovations where results can inform both scaling up strategies and research priority-setting;
  • Methodological studies: Pioneering development of new methods for under-evaluated areas, including the collection of data on adoption, policy influence, and impact assessment.


Ongoing Accountability Studies

Accountability studies document the impact of CGIAR research on development outcomes. In 2019-20, six accountability studies were selected to receive funding from SPIA.

Table 1. Accountability studies funded
Evaluating the Restoration of the Commons: A Quasi-Experimental Impact Assessment of a Large-Scale Land Restoration Initiative in India Founded on the Tenets of Collective Action and Property Rights (INDIA)

Promise of Commons Institutional innovation-NRM

IFPRI research on the importance of property rights and collective action for managing natural resource

ICRAF, IFPRI, Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)
Rangeland Health and Index-Based Livestock Insurance: Innovations in Measurement and Evaluation (KENYA, ETHIOPIA)

Index-Based Livestock insurance

ILRI research on pastoralist risk management that led to the development of index-based livestock insurance

Cornell, USDA, ILRI
Impact of a Second-Generation Conservation Agriculture Technology (Happy Seeder) on Crop Residue Burning and Air Quality in Northwestern Indo-Gangetic Plains (INDIA)Happy Seeder technology MachineryCIMMYT, IISER (India), U Michigan
Land-Use Land-Cover Change (LULCC) Impacts of Sorghum and Millet Upscaling Project in Mali (MALI)

Improved variety-crop

Improved sorghum and millet varieties

IAMO (Germany), UC Louvain, UCSB, ICRISAT
Long-Term Diffusion and Impacts of Index-Based Livestock Insurance (KENYA)

Index-Based Livestock insurance

ILRI research on pastoralist risk management that led to the development of index-based livestock insurance

Evaluating the Impact of Stress-Tolerant Rice Varieties Through Remote Sensing and Econometric Methods (BANGLADESH)

Improved variety – Stress-Tolerant Rice Varieties

Submergence tolerant rice

IRRI, University of Arizona
Communal Grazing Exclosures for Scaling Improved Forages in the Ethiopian Highlands

Scaling approaches for improved forages

The basic intervention consists in providing inputs and technical assistance to set up demo plots during the first year in exclosure areas (areas from which animals and other activities are excluded for land maintenance)

Universidad de los Andes, ILRI


Impact areas addressed in funded accountability-oriented studies

Principal Investigators (PI) field of specialization in funded accountability-oriented projects

SPIA is also funding proposal development grants for study teams to explore the availability of suitable data on diffusion of the innovations that they had proposed for impact studies, with the objective of supporting the development of a full proposal for a subsequent accountability study if data from these development grants point to its feasibility.

Table 2. Proposal development grants
StudyCenterSecondary Data to Be CollectedLevel of Data Collection
Data Collection on the Historical Dissemination of ASI Threshers in Senegal and NigeriaAfricaRiceAnnual data on the historical dissemination of ASI threshers. Since 1997 in Senegal and since 2015 in NigeriaRegion/state level: Teams will visit 5 regions in Senegal (Dakar, Saint-Louis, Matam, Fatik, and Kaolak regions) and 6 states in Nigeria (Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Kastina, Jigawa and Kebbi states)
Data Collection on the Historical Dissemination of Early-Maturing Lentil Varieties in Bangladesh and IndiaICARDASeed distribution data for lentil growing areas in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal

Bangladesh: 5 major lentil-growing districts

Nepal: 10 major lentil-growing districts in 3 provinces

India: 12 districts in 3 states (Madehya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal)

Ongoing Learning Studies

Learning studies focus on innovations that have not yet experienced widespread uptake and impact. These could be recent innovations or older ones that have not gone to scale despite solid evidence that they could provide substantial (net) benefits to users. Learning studies are designed to inform future research processes and scaling strategies and are closely linked to the ToC of the specific research programs. The results of learning studies can help make stage-gating decisions.

Table 3. Learning studies funded
Demand and Liquidity Coordination to Foster the Adoption for Livestock Vaccinations: An Experiment with Small-Holder Dairy Cooperatives in KenyaVaccine Infection and Treatment Method - ECF-ITM, developed 40 years ago and regularly improved but still not widely adopted.ILRI, UC Santa Cruz, Indian School of Business
Diffusion and Adoption of Labor-Saving Technology in the Presence of Complementarity With Other Inputs, Intra-household Frictions, and Coordination Costs, Uganda (Pilot)Two-row Adapted Motorized Paddy Weeder (AMW) developed in TZ as part of SARD-DCIPA, AfricaRice, Northwestern U, UC Berkeley, U Sydney.
Diffusion of Machine-Harvestable Chickpeas and Implications for Labor Markets in India

Machine-harvestable Chickpeas (MHCP)

Erect to semi-erect growth habit and the first pod height is at least 25 cm above the soil surface

Sustained Adoption of Environmentally Sustainable Practices: Spillovers and Long-Run Impacts in Niger (Full Study Based on 2015 Pilot Funded by SPIA)Demi-lune RWH techniqueTufts, UCSB, ICRISAT
Scaling Pathways for Accelerating Adoption of the Sweetpotato Triple S Technology in Dry Areas of MozambiqueTriple S (Storage in Sand and Sprouting) technologyWilliam and Mary, CIP
Small Mechanization Impact Stimuli in Ethiopia (SMISE)Small mechanization hire service business modelsWilliams College, Amherst College, CIMMYT

Action areas and cross-cutting impact support areas addressed in funded learning-oriented studies*

Principal Investigators (PI) fields of specialization in funded learning-oriented projects*

*Do not include the Communal grazing exclosures for scaling improved forages in the Ethiopian highlands-study, for which the funding decision was made in 2021

Ongoing Methods Development

In addition to accountability and learning studies, SPIA also supports work on methods development in areas where lack of appropriate methods make it hard to measure impacts of important areas of CGIAR research.

Table 4. Methods development grants
StudyCenterMethodological Contribution
Impacts of Blast Resistant Wheat in BangladeshCIMMYT

Compare BARI Gom 33 variety to the entire crop portfolio – not just a farmer’s other wheat varieties

Two-stage experiment to demonstrate a methodology for determining whether some farmers successfully adapt to abrupt environmental change by switching their crop portfolio

Institutionalizing, Tracking and Monitoring the Dissemination of Aflasafe in AfricaIITADevelop and put in place a system in order to document the spatial and temporal dissemination of Aflasafe at scale in target countries

Recently completed studies

Table 5. Recently completed studies
Data Collection on the GIFT Dissemination Process From Hatcheries to Farmers in BangladeshWorldFishGenetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT)