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Community Contribution

Reflections on Bite-Sized Learning: Alphabet Soup for the Soul: CLA and DEIA

Mar 28, 2024
Neneh Diallo, Chief Diversity Officer, USAID

Administrator Samantha Power referred to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility as, “the lens through which we do development.” When we embed the principles of DEIA across and throughout our organizations we see improved development outcomes, much like Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA). That was certainly apparent when I joined the Bureau for Planning, Learning and Resource Management Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research’s latest CLA Bite-Sized Learning event. Focused on the link between CLA and DEIA, the event featured panelists and USAID implementing partners Juan Barco of Chemonics, and Rabecca Banda of Grassroots Soccer who shared lessons learned from intentionally incorporating DEIA into USAID programming. Through my framing of the session, I was pleased to introduce the 5P (People, Programs, Partnerships, Policies, and Processes) Framework, an approach to operationalize DEIA across all that we do throughout the Agency. We are currently rolling this framework out to USAID staff in our global missions and Washington, DC.  

Our first “P” is people: examining the variety of similarities, differences, and the unique contributions of all individuals to our work. To highlight a real-word example, Rabecca Banda spoke about Grassroots Soccer’s work to improve mental health outcomes among youth living with HIV in Zambia. The case emphasizes the importance of integrating program participants -- youth living with HIV in this example -- in program design and monitoring as a key driver of their success. Extensive stakeholder engagement, including participants’ parents and guardians, improved mental well-being among program participants and ensured that the program treated all individuals with dignity and respect.

Our second and third “Ps” are programs and partnership. These refer to designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating programs in ways that elevate local leadership and advance gender equality and inclusive development in pursuit of more effective, equitable, and sustainable outcomes. Simultaneously, these efforts will also help create and diversify partnerships, particularly with those working to support and from marginalized or underrepresented groups. Juan’s work with Integra, a migration management activity in Colombia, highlights both of these. The team took a holistic, locally-led approach from the beginning by using the Local Systems Framework to co-create tailored activities with local municipalities and other stakeholders. Juan Barco’s team used tools like pause and reflect, to intentionally expose different stakeholders to the CLA approach so that they may apply it more broadly. Juan works with 25 different civil society organizations and has seen them include more CLA as a result.

Finally, our fourth and fifth “Ps” are policies and processes. These focus on ensuring USAID’s policies, strategies, systems, structures, and processes reflect principles of inclusion, equity, and accessibility. When developing policies or processes, using CLA approaches can be useful vehicles to catalyze discussions regarding equity and inclusion and holding ourselves accountable for meeting these standards. CLA’s focus on collaboration asks us to think intentionally about who we are including, and at what time, to ensure more equitable outcomes. By considering who is involved in the learning process, we tailor our work to the needs of those most impacted, allowing us to be more thoughtful about whether we are meeting our goals and how to make incremental adjustments to keep ourselves on track. Both the processes we have in place and the resources available in our DEIA efforts are critical components of creating an inclusive culture.   

I want to emphasize again that DEIA is not a program or initiative. Like CLA it is a lens we use to be more systematic and intentional in our work. DEIA principles are embedded throughout USAID’s development and humanitarian assistance to promote innovation that drive results and create sustainable impact. Juan and Rabecca stand out as two examples of CLA and the 5Ps in action, among many others. As we continue to roll out this framework, I welcome any examples that may come to mind as you reflect on this piece.

To learn more about the 5P Framework, hear directly from Juan and Rabecca on their work, or review the CLA Bite-Sized Learning event resources, click here

About the authors
Neneh Diallo

Neneh Diallo is USAID’s Chief Diversity Officer, and leads the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Office of the Administrator. Neneh has a proven track record of championing diversity, equity, and inclusion in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, she served as the Senior Vice President for Marketing and Communications at pocstock, a global Black-owned media platform focused on increasing representation and diversity in stock media. Before that, she was the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Millenium Challenge Corporation.