5 More Years for USAID Rapid Feedback Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning

March 6, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Results for Development (R4D) announced that USAID has provided a five-year extension for the Rapid Feedback Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (RF MERL) initiative, which R4D has been implementing in partnership with USAID Operating Units since 2015.

RF MERL is funded by the USAID Global Development Lab in partnership with the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning, and the Bureau for Global Health. The program brings learning to the early stages of USAID activities and is designed to inform program implementation on an ongoing basis. RF MERL uses a variety of monitoring, evaluation and learning methodologies to optimize design and implementation decisions, and continually adapt to get to better activities faster.

The extension from USAID allows for extended engagement with current Operating Units investing in the RF MERL mechanism. In addition, it opens up opportunities for new engagements to apply RF MERL across other country activities as interest in new approaches to MERL within USAID grows.

RF MERL works closely with USAID Operating Units and their implementing partners to identify and test areas of uncertainty within an activity. The approach allows stakeholders to measure change in short-term to intermediate outcomes, and generates evidence to support the adaptation of program activities. It also employs a flexible menu of options — such as testing the theory of change, formative research, Lean Testing, or Feedback Experiments, which are selected and designed depending on the level of certainty and how far along in development program activities they are.

“RF MERL was an experiment by USAID to test whether different approaches to monitoring, evaluation, and learning could work within the agency – we are extremely excited to see continued investment in the mechanism as it represents real momentum in moving the needle on MERL,” said Christina Synowiec, a program director at Results for Development, which leads the RF MERL consortium of partners.

Alongside consortium partners, R4D will continue to work on these RF MERL pilots over the next few years and build additional opportunities to test RF MERL within USAID:

  • Family Care First Cambodia (USAID/Cambodia), Completed: RF MERL has completed a series of activities to design and evaluate interventions to reduce the number of children growing up outside of safe, nurturing, family-based care in Cambodia. The aim of the pilot was to generate evidence on the effectiveness of behavior change communication activities. This included testing approaches through formative research and experimental studies to two different behavior change campaigns: one targeting vulnerable Cambodian communities and one targeting international donors. The findings can be reviewed here.
  • TB Health Action and Learning Initiative (USAID/India), Active: This study is focused on understanding tuberculosis (TB) patient engagement across various medication adherence technology models. The aim of this research is to produce learnings that will help improve the targeting and deployment of current and future adherence technology models for TB patients.
  • Lecture Pour Tous (USAID/Senegal), Active: This study has two components: one is testing ICT tools for teacher coaching using Lean Testing design to inform the scale up of the tools; the other is conducting a randomized controlled trial to identify the most effective community engagement activities.
  • Tusome Pamoja (USAID/Tanzania), Active: This study is focused on understanding which Tusome Pamoja community engagement activities (school committees, parent teacher partnerships, community-led action planning) are most effective at increasing parent and community engagement. R4D and partners are examining how different program activities contribute to increased parental and community engagement, and how these can ultimately contribute to changes in learning outcomes.

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About Results for Development
Results for Development (R4D) is a leading non-profit global development partner. We collaborate with change agents around the world — government officials, civil society leaders and social innovators — to create strong systems that support healthy, educated people. We help our partners move from knowing their goal to knowing how to reach it. We combine global expertise in health, education and nutrition with analytic rigor, practical support for decision-making and implementation and access to peer problem-solving networks. Together with our partners, we build self-sustaining systems that serve everyone and deliver lasting results. Then we share what we learn so others can achieve results for development, too. For more information, visit our website at: www.r4d.org.

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