USAID Agency Learning and Evidence Month 2023
USAID and Partners
In April 2023, USAID celebrated Agency Learning and Evidence Month: a first-of-its-kind, month-long series of 35 virtual learning events - 19 of which were open to the public - providing a platform for the USAID workforce, Interagency colleagues, leading global academics and think tanks, international and local implementing partners, and fellow donors to engage with one another on the latest insights for grounding our development and humanitarian assistance responses in evidence.
Each of the Agency Learning and Evidence Month sessions contributes to USAID’s Fiscal Year 2022 - 2026 Agency Learning Agenda - the Agency’s highest-level learning agenda, which includes nine agency-wide learning questions and an annual cadence of activities, events, and communications that amplify evidence across the sectors and geographies in which USAID works, as we further the Agency’s policy priorities and implement the USAID Policy Framework.
Eleven featured Agency Learning Agenda sessions co-hosted by the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning and partner Bureaus averaged attendance of over 300 participants per session, attracting a total of 2,459 unique attendees from 115 countries and more than 150 organizations, and expanding the reach of Agency Learning Agenda implementation to an additional 1,525 USAID staff who had not previously attended an Fiscal Year 2022 - 2026 Agency Learning Agenda event.
Twenty-four guest-hosted sessions routinely attracted over 200 attendees, highlighting rigorous research on the impacts of our efforts; sharing tools for making evidence building more inclusive, equitable, and responsive to local needs; and strengthening awareness of ‘what works’ when it comes to building resilience and realizing sustainability.
Where can I find recordings and other session materials?
The Program of Events is a one-stop shop for all available resources for each Agency Learning and Evidence Month Session. This document includes the original calendar of events, maps sessions to each of the nine USAID Agency Learning Agenda questions, and provides an abstract, recording (where available), and additional resources for each session. Please note that certain resources are available only to members of the USAID workforce with access to USAID ProgramNet.
A Message from Assistant to the Administrator for the USAID Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning Michele Sumilas
What a month April was for Agency Learning and Evidence! It has been uplifting to see so many of our colleagues from across the Agency, and indeed across the development sector, come together to champion the use of evidence in our strategies and programs to improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable. I have heard from colleagues all the way up to the top that they are proud of what we accomplished together over the month of April.
This month highlighted how USAID is leveraging new sources of data and research and also learning from evidence generated by testing our own programming. We saw that USAID is not shying away from building and using evidence even in challenging contexts, for example in conflict affected environments where programming is urgent or on matters as complex as Climate Change or with difficult to reach populations such as migrating and displaced populations.
USAID is bringing evidence to bear in these contexts through our own ingenuity and careful data gathering and analysis, but also by working closely with our partners who are making gains in these areas. Indeed, USAID is grateful to the many partners who joined sessions during the month. This month highlighted the power of working with partners in academia, the private sector, faith based institutions, and more to achieve our objectives. Importantly, this month highlighted that we are increasingly working with partners in the countries where we work. From professors at Makerere University, University of Ghana, and Université Gaston Berger; to private sector partnerships such as our work with an Indian blended finance facility; to faith-based partners in Latin America, we heard how we are learning from local experts in our host countries.
Over the month I was struck by the sophistication of the research and learning - we have grown from doing our work based on our best intuitions to increasingly testing our assumptions, piloting new modalities for delivering our work, and adapting based on sound conclusions from those trials. While we are moving in this direction and have showcased this month some wonderful examples, as an Agency we still have a ways to go to institutionalize science-based approaches across all operating units and sectors. As we continue to build evidence generation and use into our program design, procure mechanisms that provide access to advanced research and evaluation capabilities, and to grow our partnership with research and evaluation entities in academia - in the Global North and South - we will be better equipped to support our Missions with the reliable evidence they need.
I want to express my thanks again to all who joined, participated, presented their work, and to those who organized this platform for sharing evidence related to the Agency Learning Agenda. As an Agency we can be proud of our dedication to testing our assumptions, learning from our work, and adapting based on evidence. I’m so proud to be working with all of you as we use this learning to improve our work and, ultimately, deliver more, faster for our partners around the world.