M&E Plan Learning Component

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USAID Program Cycle Learning Guide


USAID’s Knowledge-Driven International Development PortalFor pages and documents tagged “learning”

Outcome Mapping Learning Community

If a Mission has a learning or adapting approach and implementation plan, this section should indicate the project's role in implementation of that learning approach and how the Mission will utilize this approach to achieve adaptive management during project implementation.

USAID's expects that every Mission that develops a CDCS will include a well though the Learning Approach in that document that can serve as a basis for developing a learning plan At the project level that will link to the Mission's overall learning strategy. Even in Missions that do not currently, or may not be required to have, a CDCS, USAID is optimistic about opportunities for learning, particularly when Mission staff identify realistic approaches and practical plans at the DO and project levels.

Within USAID, work on learning approaches is proceeding in parallel in Missions and in PPL/LER. An earlier kit page on Designing a CDCS Learning Approach provides and overview of USAID learning initiatives. A key resource for developing a Learning Approach and specific plans at the project level cited on that page is USAID's Program Learning Cycle Guide.

Recognizing that Missions differ from each other, and that every project and its context are somewhat unique, USAID's Program Cycle Learning Guide offers a series of questions to consider when drafting plan for enhancing learning from monitoring and evaluation in a project MEL Plan. In a paraphrased form, these questions encourage MEL planners to consider how actively the plan they are developing fosters learning and adaptive management:

Learning Guide Questions for Project MEL Planners

  • What approaches to monitoring can generate early warnings that implementation may not be going as planned, or that it is but it is not producing the results as expected?
  • How likely is it that the project's performance indicators will signal whether or not the theory of change outlined in a project's Logical Framework is driving implementation? What supplementary methods might the Mission use to answer this question?
  • Would Outcome Mapping be a useful tool, in addition to routine performance monitoring for determining where a project is leading?
  • How can monitoring data best be fed back into adaptive implementation? What is the current link between performance information and adaption and how can that be strengthen tend?
  • How are planned evaluation linked to performance monitoring and adaptive management?
  • Does the Mission have plans for tracking how evaluation recommendations are used and whether their implementation increases project effectiveness?

Using the Learning Approach section of a project MEL Plan to address some of these questions and developing at least the outline of an action plan for fostering learning by the project team as well as by its stakeholders is encouraged, as is relating the project level plan to the Mission's program level Learning Approach in a CDCS, wherever a CDCS exists or is being prepared.

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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.

Last updated: July 12, 2021

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