The Monitoring and Evaluation Handbook for Business Environment Reform

Two sections of this MEL Handbook will likely be as useful for teams designing trade project MEL plans as they will be for project designers focusing on the status of a country's business enabling environment. See in particular Section 3 on baseline data collection, including from enterprises and Annex 1 with it's eleven case studies that demonstrate the impact of well-conceived and topically customized MEL plans.



USAID Project Design Guidance

USAID Evaluation Policy


Monitoring and Evaluation Planning: Guidelines and Tools (Catholic Relief Service with USAID)

Guide to Monitoring and Evaluation System Design for Value Chain Projects (CARE with USAID)

Developing a Monitoring and Evaluation Work Plan (FHI with USAID)

Development of the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan is an essential step to manage the process of assessing and reporting progress towards achieving project outputs and outcomes, and to identify what evaluation questions will be addressed through evaluation. The MEL Plans contribute to the effectiveness of the CDCS-level Performance Management Plan (PMP), as well as the project itself, by assuring that comparable data will be collected on a regular and timely basis.

A Project MEL Plan is technically an annex to a Project Appraisal Document (PAD). Functionally it is a separable document that provides guidance to USAID staff over the life of a project.

This section of the kit is designed to help you develop a project MEL plan. It is divided into four segments, as listed in the menu below. You can go through this section sequentially, by using the forward arrow at the bottom of each page, or you can jump directly to topics on the list below. The Program Cycle menu at the top of this page and the Sitemap provide even more detailed views of the coverage of this section, should you wish to consult them.

MEL Plan Elements That Involve Monitoring, Evaluation or Learning

MEL Plan Monitoring Component

     Project Performance Reporting Template

MEL Plan Evaluation Component

     Project Evaluation Plan Summary Template

MEL Plan Learning Component

MEL and Learning Plan Budget

USAID guidance does not prescribe any particular format for a Project MEL Plan. Missions are free to structure MEL Plans so that they are useful to the project for team. One possible outline for a Project MEL Plan is shown on this page.

To support teams that are developing a Project MEL Plan, the remainder of this kit section provides ideas and tools for developing the sections of an MEL Plan. While not specifically required by USAID’s ADS, the E3 kit includes learning as a component of the sample MEL Plan outline above.

Approaches to MEL planning used in other organizations may be of interest, such as the featured MEL Handbook for Business Environment Reform and in several other topical USAID MEL planning volumes listed below it on the sidebar on this page.

Possible Project MEL Plan Outline

  1. Project Overview
    1. Relationship to the CDCS Results Framework
    2. Theory of Change
    3. Anticipated Implementation Mechanisms and Partners
  2. Monitoring Component
    1. Performance Indicators Indicator list and characteristics
    2. Baseline & Performance Data — Schedule & Frequency
    3. Performance Targets
    4. Context Indicators
    5. Monitoring Assumptions
    6. Data Quality Standards and Assessments
    7. Sharing and Reporting Project Performance
    8. Schedule of Performance Monitoring Tasks and Responsibilities
  3. Evaluation Component
    1. Priority Evaluation Questions
    2. Impact evaluation (if applicable)
    3. Performance Evaluation
    4. Evaluation Schedule
    5. Evaluation Quality Control Procedures
    6. Evaluation Sharing and Dissemination
  4. MEL Plan Roles and Responsibilities
  5. Project MEL Funding Requirements Annexes:
    1. Logical Framework
    2. Performance Indicator Reference Sheets
    3. Performance Reporting Template
 << MEL and Learning at the Activity LevelUpProject MEL Plan Monitoring Component >>



A toolkit developed and implemented by:
Office of Trade and Regulatory Reform
Bureau of Economic Growth, Education, and Environment
US Agency for International Development (USAID)

For more information, please contact Paul Fekete.