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Community Contribution

Making Connections, Measuring Results: CLA in Zambia

Dec 04, 2017
Guy Sharrock, Erin Baldridge

Development Challenge: Feed the Future’s Mawa Project was designed to bridge the gap between agriculture and nutrition in Zambia via interventions in farming; savings and loans; maternal, infant and young child feeding and care practices; and gender dynamics. It was clear to the project designers, USAID and the implementing team that a "blueprint" approach to changing the status quo would not be successful. Although well designed, there was an inevitable degree of uncertainty around how individuals affected would respond. Agreement was reached on adopting a more responsive (later "CLA") approach to project implementation.

CLA Approach:

  • Openness: The project’s operating environment encouraged staff to focus on teamwork, listening, and being open to feedback from participating farmers.
  • M&E for Learning, Theories of Change: Field-based and senior staff analyzed annual survey data to test the project’s theory of change: Does diversifying production lead to diverse diets, and how?
  • Adaptive Management: In response to concerns about the feasibility of a land preparation technology that triggered the growth of weeds, Mawa management introduced demonstration plots that directly addressed the problem of weeds, while simultaneously adding a nutrient-rich crop to the harvest. The demo plots enabled staff to test an adapted technology in a “fail-safe” manner.


  • CLA has had a positive impact on the Mawa project's development outcomes. Mawa staff are now conducting joint monitoring and learning visits with government ministry counterparts, demonstrating the added value of working together. The team's current task is to transfer the CLA approach to these government entities as services are transitioned to them.

Read the full case here.

This blog post is part of a series featuring the 10 winners of the 2017 Collaborating, Learning and Adapting Case Competition. A new case will be posted on USAID Learning Lab each Thursday: October 12 - December 14.