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Community Contribution

CLA in Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Tanzania

Jan 16, 2018
Erica Kuhlik

Erica Kuhlik is a Results and Measurement Advisor with Pact.

Since the release of the revised ADS 201 in September 2016, Pact has accelerated efforts to incorporate innovative approaches to collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) in our work. Learning has always been a core element of Pact’s work, and introducing CLA enables us to be more intentional and systematic about institutionalizing learning across Pact’s programming. Our orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) portfolio, which includes work in five sub-Saharan Africa countries (Ethiopia, Tanzania, South Africa, Swaziland, and Zambia), is a key learning area for Pact.

Within this context, I recently had the opportunity to work with the USAID Kizazi Kipya team in Tanzania, and particularly Amon Exavery, the project’s Research and Learning Coordinator, to put CLA into action. Since the project's inception in July 2016, the team has been eager to implement a learning agenda designed to contribute to the evidence base for OVC programming in Tanzania and the region more broadly by working with consortium partners, other OVC stakeholders and USAID to address key learning questions related to the project.

USAID Kizazi Kipya Learning Workshop Participants:

  • Government of the United Republic of Tanzania
  • Pact
  • Aga Khan Foundation
  • Ifakra Health Institute
  • Restless Development
  • JSI
  • MEASURE Evaluation

Instead of Pact creating the learning agenda in isolation, USAID Kizazi Kipya set out to engage OVC stakeholders in Tanzania through a participatory, action-oriented, and critical approach to developing learning questions. Using training I received last year on learning agendas, along with adapting USAID Learning Lab's guidance, Amon and I coordinated a successful one-day workshop to develop a prioritized, achievable set of learning questions to generate results that are useful for both the project and OVC stakeholders. Participants included USAID Kizazi Kipya’s senior technical and MERL staff, USAID, and representatives from the project’s consortium partners, the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, and other local OVC stakeholders such as UNICEF and MEASURE Evaluation. 

Amon and I took participants through presentations on the meaning of learning, how participants benefit from USAID Kizazi Kipya learning activities, and how to develop learning questions. Participants broke into teams based on their areas of interest in OVC programming, and collaborated in three, results-oriented exercises designed to help them better understand and assess the programmatic context and respond to learning needs with constructive learning questions. By the end of the day, the teams had developed between three and five learning questions per topic and prioritized the questions based on the significance of the results to the project and the feasibility of responding to the question.

Overall, the workshop was a success: Nearly all participants rated the workshop a "great experience" and said they would like to participate in USAID Kizazi Kipya’s future learning activities. Not only did the team create a prioritized set of learning questions, but doing so through a participatory approach with partners and local stakeholders ensured both local ownership and buy-in to the learning agenda. Stakeholder, government, and USAID’s active participation in the workshop was also valuable in ensuring that learning opportunities would be responsive to their needs. Now the USAID Kizazi Kipya team is turning the learning questions into an actionable learning agenda by determining the methods used to respond to each question, developing a timeline for implementation and results dissemination, and assigning responsibilities among project staff, consortium partners, and even other stakeholders who will remain active in the learning process.

We appreciate the active participation of all the contributors to the learning workshop and are excited to bring the learning agenda to fruition in the coming years of the project.