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David Roodman's Microfinance Open Book Blog


Of all the microfinance network groups, none has shown more commitment to studying of the impact of its activities than Freedom from Hunger. Under the leadership of Christopher Dunford for 20 years, FfH has commissioned a series of studies using various methodologies. You won't find much mention of them in my book because they have not been as credible is the more recent randomized ones. But I respect the culture of FfH nonetheless.

Last October Chris stepped aside as the president of FfH and become a Senior Research Fellow there. One exercise of his new-found freedom is the launch of a blog called The Evidence Project, where, I gather, he will share his ruminations on the interaction between evidence and practice in microfinance and, by extension, philanthropy generally. He invites others to join him.

You can get a good sense of his style, which combines passion and intellect, from his appearance on this panel last year (starts around 34:00), and from this recent comment on my blog.

Chris says that his blog was inspired by mine. But from the early posts, I wonder if he faces a challenge that I do not, an apparent need to be diplomatic. E.g., he writes of whether certain evidence "divides us," but I'm not sure who "us" is and who is on which side of the divide. I suspect the posts will get sharper as Chris settles into the new role.

I hope he blogs the story, which he told me, of how Freedom from Hunger moved into microfinance. And I hope he blogs about the practical challenges of incorporating randomized trials into project execution. It ain't as simple as "test, find what works, implement."

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