Promising practices

If we’re committed to eradicate modern slavery and achieve Sustainable Development Goal Target 8.7, it makes sense that we also share information on “what works.” The Promising Practices Database aims to do just that: it was created in 2015 to collate evaluations of anti-slavery and counter-trafficking programs in a searchable format.

This is so policy makers, donors, and program designers can quickly identify what works – and what does not – through a simple search by country, target population, type or sector of slavery, or type of intervention. The theory is that we can learn from the evaluations already undertaken – even if the learning is, “there is a lot we still don’t know.”

The Database houses 179 evaluations covering all forms of modern slavery, including human trafficking, forced labour, and forced marriage. It includes interventions such as community empowerment programs, cash transfers, training for police, awareness raising campaigns, case management among other initiatives and activities.

The Database is currently undergoing an update to include program evaluations published between 2015 and 2020. It is due for release July 2020.

Beyond the Database and overview paper, we have developed a series of policy papers to begin to answer the question, “what works to tackle modern slavery”?

Standout Findings

The number of anti-slavery evaluations are few, but continue to grow over time

While the evidence base is patchy, programs are being assessed and data is being collected. There are currently 179 evaluations in the Database and this number is expected to grow in the next iteration.

Project evaluation should be part of project development

It is important to use a cyclical approach to ensure that project design can build on prior learnings, and that relevant data is being collected during project implementation to support the assessment of impact at the end of the project.

We need more impact evaluation

Too few evaluations measure the impact on modern slavery. Most evaluations assess the progress of the program (achievement of activities or outputs) or the outcomes of the program (achievement of objectives or overall outcomes) but not how the program impacted modern slavery, such as by decreasing the number of people in slavery, or changing behaviours that allow slavery to occur. To truly understands what works, we need to conduct more impact evaluations either in hotspots of slavery or across a particular type of intervention.

Woman organizations protest against child marriage in front

Dhaka, Bangladesh, December 3, 2014. Women’s rights groups protest against child marriage in Dhaka. Photo Credit: Mohammad Asad/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.
We need to improve the quality of underlying program design

A clear theory of change and clearly articulated relationships between the program objectives and the activities being implemented are fundamental to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of a project.

We need to differentiate between types and qualities of evaluations

Evaluations are often opaque — it can be unclear which methodology and data sources were used. This undermines any conclusions made, while a clearer articulation of methods of analysis will allow more transparent conclusions to be drawn.

Promising Practices policy papers

Beyond the Database and overview paper, we have developed a series of policy papers to begin to answer the question, “what works to tackle modern slavery”? These policy papers are based upon an analysis of specific groups of evaluations in the Database, for example, those evaluations assessing a specific intervention, such as cash transfers, or targeting a form of modern slavery, such as forced marriage, forced labour, or human trafficking.

The policy papers will be updated periodically and uploaded here, along with an annotated bibliography of the evaluations underpinning our analysis.

What works: Lessons in the use of cash transfers

What makes cash transfers effective in combating child labour and child marriage? This policy paper provides a review of 16 evaluations in the Database, which focused on the impact of cash transfers. The findings highlight that when used in combination with other interventions and when implemented over a longer time period, cash transfers can reduce child labour and child marriage.