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Become a Certified Professional Impact Analyst

Limestone Analytics is excited to spread the word about a new professional program at Queen’s University called Certified Professional Impact Analyst. The program, referred to as CPIA, offers three courses: Social Impact & Project Identification, Results-Based Financing, and Collecting Data & Building Evidence. Individuals who complete all three courses and a qualifying exam, are eligible for the designation of Certified Professional Impact Analyst.

Three Courses. One Designation.

These courses are designed for individuals involved with designing, financing, managing, monitoring, and evaluating development projects and social programs. The program provides professionals with a thorough introduction to impact evaluation across the lifecycle of a project, from identification, finance, evaluation, to reporting. It is no longer enough to implement a project. Organizations are increasingly required to provide evidence of impact.

Each course is one week and includes an effective combination of lectures, in-class discussions, and applied case studies. Courses are held on the historic Queen’s University campus in Kingston, Ontario.

To learn more about the program please visit, https://cpia.queensu.ca/

LEAP III: $19 million contract with USAID in partnership with Integra

Limestone Analytics is pleased to announce its partnership with Integra Government Services International LLC for USAID LEAP III. Integra was awarded $19 million for the Learning Evaluation, and Analysis Project (LEAP III), released by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment. LEAP III is intended to provide a mechanism for USAID field missions and bureaus to easily and cost-effectively access rigorous, independent, and high-quality analytical services to support economic and policy analyses, project design, monitoring and evaluation, and training.

Integra has assembled a team of partners, including Limestone Analytics, Bixal Solutions, and Palladium International to assist in the implementation of this project.

“Together, we look forward to improving development programming by providing USAID and its partners with high-quality analytical and evaluative services” – LEAP III Chief of Party, Integra, Mark Gellerson

Limestone Analytics will provide field support for a variety of analytical services, including cost-benefit analysis, public financial management analysis, and performance and impact evaluations. Assistance will be provided across all sectors, including economic growth, agriculture, education, women’s empowerment, environment, and infrastructure.

You can read more about the project here: http://www.integrallc.com/events/integra-awarded-19-million-usaid-leap-iii/.

ICER Honours Limestone Analytics team with 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award

Limestone’s team members – Juan Belt, Bahman Kashi, Jay Mackinnon, and Nicolas Darius Allien – were honored to receive the 2018 Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Confederation of Energy Regulators (ICER). Every four years, this award celebrates important contributions to scholarship in electricity and natural gas regulation. More specifically, the 2018 awards recognized scholarship on the theme of “Regulating in a Time of Innovation: Empowered Consumers, Dynamic Markets and Sustainable Infrastructure”. Our paper, entitled “Cost Benefit Analysis of Power Sector Reform in Haiti”, was selected by an international group of leaders in energy and regulation as the best within the “Impact on Developing Countries” category.

“The ICER Distinguished Scholar Awards recognize pioneering thinking in energy regulation” – ICER Chair and National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President John W. Betkoski III

In March Bahman Kashi travelled to Mexico to accept the award on behalf of the co-authors. The awards ceremony was held during the 7th World Forum on Energy Regulation, hosted by the Mexican Energy Regulatory Commission (CRE). At the ceremony Bahman was given an opportunity to speak about the paper and its conclusions.

Broadly, the paper argues that to improve the power sector in Haiti it is necessary to carry out significant regulatory and utility governance reform. The paper assesses the feasibility of a multi-phase reform program.

Read the full paper here: http://icer-regulators.net/ds-award/

Bahman Kashi (center), pictured with outgoing ICER Chair & NARUC President Jack Betkoski (right) and ICER Coordinator Francisco Salazar (left).

The team is proud to have won this award and we will continue to think innovatively to support decision makers in this sector.

Finally, we would like to acknowledge that the work on this paper was led by Juan Belt under contract with Copenhagen Consensus Center.

The interventions assessed by Limestone Analytics are selected as the top priority for Haiti among 85 proposals

After billions of dollars of foreign investment failed to return promising development prospects in Haiti, the Canadian government began to examine different ways of making money spent achieve more. Canada funded a project led by prominent think tank, the Copenhagen Consensus Center, to identify and prioritize development opportunities in Haiti.

“Like every nation, Haiti has limited resources. Prioritization is needed. Understanding the costs and benefits of different policies and proposals can help decision-makers to focus on the most effective investments” – Bjørn Lomborg, Director of Copenhagen Consensus Center

The project, called Haïti Priorise, commissioned 45 research papers from economists from Haiti and abroad. A panel of Haitian economists and a U.S. Nobel laureate then reviewed all 85 proposals. The panel issued a prioritized list which they presented to Haitian President, Jovenel Moïse. Limestone Analytics is excited to announce that our proposal, “Cost Benefit Analysis of Power Sector Reform in Haiti”, was ranked as the top priority by the esteemed panel.

The focus of our proposal was a two-phase reform of the nation’s energy provider, Electricité d’Haïti (EDH). Expensive and unreliable electricity is a significant barrier to Haiti’s sustained development. Drawing lessons from energy reforms in Afghanistan and our own experiences working with the electricity sector in Haiti, our research suggests that changing the institutional and regulatory framework, corporatizing and reforming the provider, and establishing cost-reflective tariffs would significantly improve Haiti’s economic prospects. While the cost of this proposal is $45-million, benefits exceed $978-million. In other words, each dollar spent would generate $22 of social benefits. The project can also eliminate the need for $200 million in annual subsidies – money that can be invested elsewhere to boost prosperity and health. President Moïse acknowledged that there will be no development in Haiti without energy reform.

“Prioritizing problems, and then focusing on the most effective solutions, is a narrative that would benefit every country” – Bjørn Lomborg, Director of Copenhagen Consensus Center

Limestone Analytics’ Juan Belt, Bahman Kashi, Nicholas Allien, and Jay Mackinnon presented the proposal. The panel was comprised of Ketleen Florestal (advisor to the Executive Directors of Haiti at the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund), Philome Joseph Raymond Magloire (former governor of the Central Bank), Kesner Pharel (renowned Haitian economist and economics commentator), and Vernon Smith (Nobel laureate economist). 

Read the final edition of the paper here: https://www.naruc.org/about-naruc/press-releases/icer-honors-recipients-of-2018-distinguished-scholar-awards/

The original proposal here (rough draft): http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/publication/haiti-priorise-electricity-reform-kashi-belt

For more information about Haiti Priorise: http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Haiti-Priorise

This story was also featured in The Economist: https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2017/06/08/a-possible-future-for-haiti

International Aid and Haiti: One Success Story!

Imagine that you are put in charge of conducting a training program to enhance the skills of civil servants in a developing country, and within less than a year you see those participants putting that knowledge into practice at a level that is presentable to Nobel laureates. This is the experience I went through in Haiti in 2016 and 2017 through two independently planned and financed interventions. This was somehow a coincidence and comes with important lessons that can enhance the effectiveness and sustainability of similar programs elsewhere.

Better governance has been targeted by many donor institutions as an alternative or a complement to traditional “brick and mortar” aid. The outcomes are often difficult to measure in the short-term and there has been a range of criticism on the actual effectiveness of interventions such as training programs and short-term technical advisory missions. Haiti is a country in need of international aid and, at the same time, full of controversies around its effectiveness. Despite the discouraging background, USAID and Global Affairs Canada initiated two independent projects that resulted in outcomes for the country far greater than what is usually hoped for from similar projects in other countries.

USAID financed the implementation of four training programs in the area of cost-benefit analysis in 2016, training more than 60 civil servants from project analysis units. This was done not only in collaboration with, but directly managed by representatives from key stakeholders in the country including two of the local universities. The project on its own is considered a great success, one of the few of such programs in Haiti that was successful in gathering the attention of all relevant public institutions to contribute and participate.

I had the opportunity to witness another consequential and tangible benefit of this program when combined with an activity sponsored independently by Global Affairs Canada, which is called Haiti Priorise and was implemented by Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC).

Haiti Priorise was the second time CCC has implemented a project of such nature. The process is simple yet effective, it starts with recruiting local and international economists to conduct cost-benefit analysis of development projects in a range of sectors. Then a conference is organized to assess the quality of these studies and later share a subset with government and donor institutions, something like a menu of best interventions. The first one was done during 2015 and 2016 in Bangladesh.

The timing of Haiti Priorise enabled the alumni of USAID courses to take part and perform a significant share of these studies. This rarely happens with other training programs, where trainees get the chance to practice what they’ve learned on an actual project and then present it in front of a panel that includes a nobel laureate.

The earlier experience in Bangladesh had none of the studies conducted by individuals in charge of identifying, budgeting, appraising, implementing, or evaluating public investments in the government. However in Haiti, 14 out of 18 local researchers who presented their studies were civil servants who have gone through the USAID courses. These individuals did not only get a chance to practice what they learned, but also took the Haiti Priorise to the reality of public investment management as it happens in Haiti.

With such a great synergy, it seems ideal for future such interventions to combine these models: training civil servants, and then asking them to participate in a conference of such nature. The effectiveness of both programs increases significantly beyond what can be expected from each of these alone. It is however important to mention the factors that were crucial to the success of these programs on their own, the “oil” that is needed to ensure smooth operation:

  • USAID training programs
    • The logistics and participant selection was conducted by a steering committee with members from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation, Center for Public Financial Reform, and two of the local universities. Consultants reported to this committee instead of USAID.
    • The programs were hosted and their quality was certified by the local universities.
    • Throughout the first four programs, the share of contribution from local faculty members increased from 10% to 60%.
  • CCC Haiti Priorise (funded by GAC)
    • Payments made for each study.
    • A simplified, yet flexible framework was in place, in which the studies must primarily report a benefit-cost ratio.
    • Use of notable local and international experts as reviewers and member of the final committee including Nobel laureates.
    • Engagement with donors and government offices.

In addition, the link between the two programs only happened because the Ministry of Planning coordinated and supported the participation of alumni in this conference, which requires providing the civil servants with paid days off their office duties.