Programs & Projects

Advancing the Use of Developmental Evaluation at USAID (DEPA-MERL)


Overview

Developmental evaluation (DE) was created to evaluate innovative programs that operate in complex environments and are thus expected to adapt over time. The Developmental Evaluation Pilot Activity (DEPA-MERL) under the U.S. Global Development Lab’s Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning Innovations (MERLIN) program at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is testing the effectiveness of DE in the USAID context. The DEPA-MERL consortium consists of Social Impact (prime), Search for Common Ground (Search), and the William Davidson Institute (WDI) at the University of Michigan.

As part of the consortium, Social Impact and Search are implementing DEs while WDI is serving as an evaluator to assess the effectiveness of this approach in the USAID context.

WDI seeks to answer the following three research questions:

  1. How is developmental evaluation effective in the USAID context?
  2. What are the barriers and enablers to implementation of developmental evaluation in the USAID context?
  3. What do key informants consider to be the value (added or lost) of conducting a developmental evaluation compared to a traditional evaluation approach?

The Work

1. Family Care First in Cambodia (Nov 2016 – Mar 2018)
DEPA-MERL conducted a DE with Family Care First (FCF) in Cambodia, in service of FCF’s goal of increasing the number of children living in safe, nurturing family-based care.

  1. A Study of the Family Care First in Cambodia Developmental Evaluation
    Executive Summary | Full Report | Annex
    This report provides results from an in-depth mixed-method analysis of a 15-month DE that was conducted with Family Care First in Cambodia.
  2. Final Report from the Family Care First Developmental Evaluation
    Full Report
    Developed by Search for Common Ground, this report documents the implementation of the DE with the Family Care First Initiative in Cambodia.

2. US Global Development Lab (Feb 2017 – Dec 2018) 
The Sustained Uptake DE was conducted in service of the Lab’s mission to source, test, and scale development solutions. The 22-month long DE helped several of the Lab’s teams to collect, analyze, and disseminate learnings regarding the uptake of the innovations that these teams seek to promote within and beyond USAID.

  1. A Study of the Sustained Uptake Developmental Evaluation
    Executive Summary | Full Report | Recommendations
    This report shares results from an in-depth mixed-method study of a 22-month DE that was conducted with the US Global Development Lab.
  2. Top Tips for Conducting Developmental Evaluation at USAID
    This one-pager provides guidance on how to manage barriers and promote enablers that influence DE implementation.
  3. Developmental Evaluation: How Barriers and Enablers Emerge Over Time
    This document shares the results from an in-depth qualitative analysis of the barriers and enablers that surfaced during implementation of the Sustained Uptake DE.
  4. Final Report from the Sustained Uptake Developmental Evaluation
    Full Report
    Written by Social Impact, this report documents the implementation of DEPA-MERL’s DE pilot with the Global Development Lab.

In addition to the pilots, the consortium also provides guidance for organizations, managers, and evaluators that seek to implement the developmental evaluation approach. See this resource: USAID Developmental Evaluation in Practice- Tips, Tools, and Templates

 

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of WDI and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government. This article was produced by the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in collaboration with Social Impact under the Developmental Evaluation Pilot Activity (DEPA-MERL), Contract Order Number AID-LAB-C-15-00002, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development.


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