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Community Contribution

CLA in Action: Five Missions Gather to Learn from Each Other

May 02, 2016
Jessica Ziegler

As my colleague Monalisa Salib had previously discussed, we on LEARN feel strongly that it is important to “walk the talk” and so I was excited when I was invited to join USAID staff in a CLA Peer Sharing Event last week. USAID/Uganda, a mission on the forefront of CLA, hosted representatives from four other missions in the region—Ethiopia, South Sudan, Southern Africa, and Tanzania—for a 3-day gathering to exchange “experiences, learning, examples of how CLA is being conceptualized and put into practice” across the five missions.

Image of people meeting together

Participants worked together ahead of the event to crowdsource topics of particular interest to the group that could benefit from a peer-assist approach. Among the list, these included integrating monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL); operationalizing CLA; and knowledge transfer to smooth staff transitions. Here are just a few of the examples that the missions shared of their CLA in Action:

  • USAID/Ethiopia: Although relatively new to the CLA conversation, the mission has tried to address the very challenging knowledge transfer issue, in part, by piloting a 3-day orientation for new staff to provide an overview on Ethiopia’s context and culture.
  • USAID/South Sudan: The mission had convened an Advisory Council with representation from all geographic areas, ethnic groups, and sectors. This gender-inclusive council meets regularly, facilitated by the Deputy Mission Director, to help the mission understand the country context and public policy issues to inform its operational framework.
  • USAID/Southern Africa: This mission is one of a relatively few to have in-house KM capacity. Having already developed an intranet platform, the Learning Team (which includes the Senior MEL Specialist, the Regional Organizational Learning Advisor, and the Knowledge Manager) is now developing a robust KM strategy that includes a focus on change management to improve uptake.
  • USAID/Tanzania: With a strong mission focus on integration, USAID/Tanzania is designing an “integrated activities hub” for one of its districts. In the very early stages of development, this hub will be directed by a steering committee of staff from all of the mission’s Development Objective teams who will work with implementing partners and local government authorities to craft “development services packages” that can be delivered in the target district in Phase 1.
  • USAID/Uganda: Working with its Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Contract, the mission recently piloted an innovative MEL training course for mission staff and USAID/Uganda implementing partners. The course was conducted in two parts with time in between to apply selected MEL improvements so that participants could share their experience implementing these changes during part 2 of the course.

Beyond the peer exchange, the event also included the opportunity for visiting staff to hear from USAID/Uganda’s Mission Leadership Council, other mission technical staff, and a panel of activity Chiefs of Party about how they implement and leverage CLA at their various levels.

We will share more takeaways from the CLA Peer Sharing Event in future posts here on Learning Lab, but in the meantime, these graphic notes from the sessions offer a great snapshot of rich conversation:

CLA Week Graphic Notes - April 2016 from USAIDLearningLab. These graphic notes were produced with the support of the USAID/Uganda Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Program, implemented by The QED Group, LLC.