Promising Practices

2021: Five years of lessons learned

Initially created in 2015, the Promising Practices Database collates impact and program evaluations of anti-slavery and counter trafficking interventions in a publicly available dataset. The aim of this work is to enable stakeholders to easily identify “what works” to combat modern slavery.

The 2020 update includes 83 new evaluations, for a total of 262 housed in the Database. This update presents an opportunity to reflect on what has changed, and what has not, in the last five years of programming, monitoring, and evaluation in anti-slavery and counter trafficking interventions.

Standout findings

Have we figured out what works to eradicate modern slavery? Since 2015, we have found…

More specificity

More evaluations describe programs tailored to tackle exploitation in specific sectors. Further, evaluations are clearer on whether or not program objectives are being met at all, which suggests that program objectives are becoming clearer and more measurable.

More program diversity

There is more diversity in the type and sector of intervention. Between 2015 and 2020, programs were less concentrated on raising awareness campaigns.

While sectors such as sex work, agriculture, domestic work and marriage remained common for modern slavery interventions, there were comparatively more evaluations of programs that targeted sectors such as textiles and garments, brick kilns, and carpets/rugs.

More reliable evaluations

Evaluations are becoming stronger, and more reliable. Since 2015, evaluations with strong methods often incorporate Randomised Control Trials to analyse learnings.

Still opaque theories of change

Despite the increased clarity of program objectives, program designers are still failing to clearly outline the links between the activities to be implemented under the program and how they relate to meeting the overarching objectives of the intervention. This limits what lessons can be learned.

Still see success as achieving outputs

As a result of having opaque theories of change, success is still defined as when a program has implemented its planned activities or created the desired outputs; rather than defined as when the planned deliverables reduced risk to modern slavery itself.

Less regional coverage

There was less diverse spread of regions where programs were implemented; the majority of evaluated programs in the 2020 Update were implemented in Asia Pacific, and specifically in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Indonesia.

While it is not clear why exactly this shift has occurred, it can suggest that similar countries of priority are emerging for funders and program designers in the global anti-slavery and counter trafficking movement.


Watch the webinar presented by the Walk Free team and an expert panel on 28 September 2021.

Promising Practices Database

The latest edition of the Database was released September 2021.

Note: This database has been compiled using EndNote. You will need a licensed version of EndNote to view it.

Policy papers

Walk Free will release policy papers outlining lessons learned in anti-slavery and counter trafficking programming and evaluations contained within the Promising Practices Database.

Read our policy papers on cash transfers and survivor inclusion.

Contribute to our work

If you are a program designer or funder involved in conducting evaluations on modern slavery programs, you can contribute to our work.

If you host evaluations on your website, ensure navigation is clear and search engine optimisation allows for appearance in search results or format your evaluations so they can be hosted on search engines such as Google Scholar. Alternatively, you can submit your evaluation directly to our team.

If you have used the Promising Practices Database to inform your work, we would also love to hear from you. Please reach out to us via our email.