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In a Wilson Center event discussing the LAPOP findings, Vanderbilt staff said a key element of the study was that it measured results of USAID’s work as the actual perceived impact on local communities, rather than based on the number of activities they were engaged in, using a rigorous methodology (see illustration). The researchers chose communities that were non-adjacent, and randomly selected which would receive the "treatments." They then developed a baseline and examined how this changed over time in both the control and treatment communities, measuring impact as the difference between the end results in the treatment communities and the predicted results if no intervention had occurred...

Until now, though, there was a lack of quantitative proof these strategies were effective. Eric Olson, the Associate Director of the Wilson Center’s Latin American Program, told InSight Crime: “Many of us have assumed that prevention is a good thing, an important element of any strategy, but there really hasn’t been any sort of systematic impact evaluation of that before.”

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