Data-driven NGO programming

Protecting children’s rights with data-driven decisions

I started off my career as a psychologist working with kids in schools. In Australia where I am from, training to be a psychologist takes six to seven years, and is built around what they call the ‘scientist-practitioner’ model. First you learn the science, and how to do the research that influences the profession, then you learn how to practice. It takes time, but it sets you up to think in a specific way that I believe really benefits your clients.

After a few years, I found my way into international development where I’ve had the opportunity to apply my psychological training and research skills to a range of projects, mostly in child protection.

When thinking about the scientist-practitioner model, what’s struck me over the 15 years that I’ve worked in international development is how inadequately data and evidence is used to inform programming by NGOs. Research is on the agenda, but it is often done by people not fully enthusiastic or trained. Other times, good research is completed, but the time and resources to translate that data into sustainable change is rarely available amongst an overstretched workforce.

I set up Evident to address these challenges. I want to help NGOs with careful, well-planned and managed research projects, and to support them in applying what is learned to improve the ways that we look after children around the world.

Dr. Mark Kavenagh