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2022 CLA Case Competition

Important Dates

Case Winners and Finalists Announcement
September 22, 2022 at 10am EDT
CLA Case Competition-Related Events
TBD - Stay Tuned!

Announcing the 2022 CLA Case Competition Winners!

The Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) is delighted to announce the winning cases and finalists of the 7th annual CLA Case Competition! All the cases submitted this year are now available to explore on Learning Lab.

120 cases covered more than 70 countries and a wide range of sectors. These numbers show the reach and breadth in this year’s case submissions of USAID and partners putting collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) into practice for better development outcomes.

We celebrate and share these cases, not because of the aggregated numbers - though these are remarkable! - but because each case tells a unique story about meeting challenges, learning from experience, and achieving transformative progress by incorporating CLA into development work.

In fact, the USAID judges were so impressed with the quality of submissions that, for the first time, they have selected additional cases for special mention. This is testament to the growing strength of CLA practices within development and the insight, honesty, and clarity with which these practices have been documented and shared in the cases this year.

See the winners, finalists, and special mentions below, and explore all the cases from this year.

Stay tuned for updates on CLA Case Competition-related events to come in the next months as we continue to celebrate and build on the shared learning.

>>> Browse CLA Competition Cases

2022 Case Winners and Finalists

2022 CLA Case Competition Winners and Finalists!

The 2022 CLA Case Competition submission period lasted from May 23 to June 6, during which 120 cases were received.

A team of judges from USAID read all entries and selected finalists for review by a second panel of judges. Out of the 120 submissions, the judges identified ten winners and ten finalists. 

For the first time, additional cases were selected as special mentions.

See the finalists and winners in alphabetical order below. Special mentions can be found in the next section.

2022 CLA Case Competition Finalist Ribbon


A Collaborative Design: A CLA Approach to Ensuring Religious and Ethnic Minority (REM) Representation in Yemen | By Sophien Ben-Achour, Search for Common Ground (USAID Advancing Tolerance in MENA Program)

Adaptive Management and Openness Guide the Redirection of the USAID Greening Prey Lang Activity in Cambodia | By Matthew Edwardsen, Tetra Tech and USAID Greening Prey Lang Activity

Budikadidi Internal Collaboration Drives Improved Integration and Nutrition in the DRC | By Elizabeth Shaw, Catholic Relief Services

CLA Enabled Finding Missing People with Tuberculosis (TB) in Urban Slums of Addis Ababa | By Eden Mengistu, REACH Ethiopia and USAID Urban TB LON Project

Development in Challenging Times - Strengthening Local Capacity and Partnership | By Gayane Martirosyan, USAID/Armenia

Facilitating Private Sector and Government Collaboration in Nepal to Reduce Rice Imports | By S. Regmi, M. Khanal, G. Shrestha, and A. Ellicott, Winrock International and KISAN II Project

Learning by Doing: Adaptive Management in Kosovo | By S. Pfund, J. Cana, D. Greenberg, M. Cacaj, USAID/Kosovo

Leveraging CLA’s “Je Ne Sais Quoi” for East Africa’s Wilderness Landscapes | By K. Flower, N. Oguge, K. Mutu, and K. Connolly, Environmental Incentives

No Power, No Water: Using CLA to Adapt to Lebanon’s Unprecedented Water Crisis | By Toufic Chemaly, Christelle Safi, and Scott Short, DAI

Using Data for Adaptive Management to Successfully Transition Programs | By Irene Mirembe, IntraHealth International

2022 CLA Case Competition Winner Ribbon


CLA Drives First-of-its-Kind Cash Grant Model in Morocco | By Salma Kadiri and Jamila Abass, USAID/Morocco and GiveDirectly

CLA for Evaluation Use: The Case for Stakeholder Engagement | By Nancy Ebuenga, Nigoon Jitthai, and JP Petraud, USAID/Pacific Islands, USAID/RDMA, and USAID/Asia

Contingency Plan for USAID AGRO Activity in Ukraine | By Viktoriia Gultai, Chemonics and USAID AGRO

Expanding the Reach of Women + Water in India through Collaboration and Adaptation | By Ella Lazarte and Saswat Rath, USAID/Bureau for Resilience and Food Security and Gap, Inc.

How Restructuring and Culture Change Impacted Our Performance | By Dominic A., Aswani M., Rachkara J., Falade A., Mercy Corps and Rural Resilience Activity

Learning from Disaster: How CLA Helped to Mitigate Disaster in Ethiopia | By William Baron, Mercy Corps and CARE International

Libya’s Taqarib Project Channels the CLA of Local Politics | By Hunter Keith, DAI Global

USAID/Liberia’s Government-to-Government (G2G) Promotes and Strengthens Decentralization in Health Sector | By J. Gorelick, S. Ayamba, M. Holmes, J. Healey, and J. Elenes, USAID/Liberia

USAID/Moldova M&E Challenger Demystifying CLA | By Tracy Thoman, USAID/Moldova

USAID/Timor-Leste’s Youth-Led Listening Approach | By Local Works Timor-Leste Team, USAID/Timor-Leste

2022 Special Mentions

2022 Special Mentions!

For the first time, cases were selected as special mentions in addition to the ten winners and ten finalists. This is testament to the quality of case submissions, and the growing strength of CLA practices in development.

See the special mentions in alphabetical order below. Winners and finalists can be found in the section above.

Adapting Primary School Literacy Instruction during COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic | By Karin Obritzhauser, USAID/Dominican Republic

Why we like it: This case demonstrates how valuable it can be when Technical Offices at USAID Missions take the lead on CLA. When schools closed across the Dominican Republic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Education Office in USAID/Dominican Republic continuously adapted their children’s reading activity, working remotely with teachers and supporting the government’s efforts to mitigate potential learning losses. 

CLA Culture and Outcomes in USAID Morocco’s FORSATY Program | By Vincent Carbonneau, International Organization for Migration

Why we like it: This case demonstrates the power of strengthening internal collaboration and working outwards. The International Organization for Migration’s FORSATY Program started with creating a learning culture inside the organization through regular pause and reflect sessions. This culture then emanated outwards to strengthen partnerships and improve its ability to adapt to COVID-19.

LEAPing in to Improve USAID DRG Program Design | By Matt Baker, USAID/DDI/DRG/EL

Why we like it: This case describes an innovative approach to knowledge management and data use. The DRG Center Evidence and Learning Team in USAID’s Bureau for Development, Democracy and Innovation describe their approach to developing a new system for collecting, analyzing, and organizing relevant data, eliminating many of the barriers to using that evidence throughout the Program Cycle.

Pivoting in Response to Contextual Changes: Adaptive Management in Mozambique | By Lindsay North, DAI Global

Why we like it: In this case, DAI Global offers a clear list of steps they took to create a culture of learning and improved information sharing within the Mozambique Community Resilience Program. The case also notes how working on the organizational culture improved development impact, helping them adapt to the dynamic contextual changes of the conflict environment in which they worked.

Toward a Community-Led Approach to Building Resilience in South Sudan | By Shannon Sarbo, DAI

Why we like it: This case demonstrates how CLA approaches can help put local communities in the driver’s seat after decades of donor dependence. DAI’s Policy LINK, a global Feed the Future program describes how they shifted to a more community-led approach to building resilience in South Sudan - one that also enabled them to learn and adapt more quickly in a challenging environment.

USAID/Colombia Regional Integration Strategy: Internal and External Collaboration to Deepen Local Development Outcomes | By Andres Ucros, Camila Gomez, and Erika Avila, USAID/Colombia and Panagora Group

Why we like it: This case offers a great example how CLA approaches can support integrated cross-sectoral programming. By breaking down silos between technical offices and partners alike, USAID/Colombia is overcoming some of the core barriers to doing good development, while bringing local knowledge and voices to the forefront.

CLA and Competition Details

What is Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA)?

In 2012, USAID’s Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) introduced the concept of collaborating, learning, and adapting at USAID as a way to operationalize adaptive management throughout USAID’s Program Cycle. Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA)—USAID’s approach to organizational learning and adaptive management—is intended to help USAID and its partners address common challenges that pervade international development assistance, including when:

  • Coordination among donors and implementers is lacking, resulting in missed opportunities for greater impact
  • Development is donor-driven, rather than country-led or community-owned
  • Data and evidence that could inform programming are not utilized
  • Outdated practices are still used despite evidence of their ineffectiveness
  • Programming is not relevant to the local context
  • Donors and implementing partners stick to existing plans and implementation approaches even as the context changes

As development practitioners, USAID staff and implementing partners do their best to avoid these common pitfalls. However, significant demands on time, limited resources, and a need to show immediate results often means that collaborating, learning, and adapting effectively to overcome these challenges remains elusive.

In the simplest terms, integrating collaborating, learning, and adapting throughout the Program Cycle can help development practitioners address the above challenges by thinking through:

  • Collaborating: Are we collaborating with the right partners at the right time to promote synergy over stovepiping?
  • Learning: Are we asking the most important questions and finding answers that are relevant to decision making?
  • Adapting: Are we using the information that we gather through collaboration and learning activities to make better decisions and make adjustments as necessary?
  • Enabling Conditions: Are we working in an organizational environment that supports our collaborating, learning, and adapting efforts?

The CLA Framework

While collaborating, learning, and adapting are not new to USAID or international development in general, they often do not happen regularly or systematically and are not intentionally resourced. To address this, USAID's Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) Framework helps USAID missions and implementing partners think more deliberately about how to plan for and implement CLA approaches that fit their context and assist them in achieving their development objectives.

CLA Framework supports implementation of USAID’s Program Cycle.
Graphic: CLA Framework supports implementation of USAID's Program Cycle.

The CLA Framework identifies components and subcomponents to help USAID staff and partners think more deliberately about what approach to CLA might be best tailored to an organizational or programming context. The framework recognizes the diversity of what CLA can look like in various organizations and projects while also giving CLA structure, clarity, and coherence across two key dimensions:

  • CLA in the Program Cycle (portion shaded in red on the left-hand side of the CLA Framework above): how CLA is incorporated throughout Program Cycle processes, including strategy, project, and activity design and implementation; and
  • Enabling Conditions (portion shaded in dark blue on the right-hand side of the CLA framework above): how an organization’s culture, business processes, and resource allocation support CLA integration.

Organizations need both integrated CLA practices appropriate for their context and conducive enabling conditions to become stronger learning organizations capable of managing adaptively. The framework stresses the holistic and integrated nature of the various components of CLA to reinforce the principle that CLA is not a separate workstream—it should be integrated into existing processes to strengthen the discipline of development and improve aid effectiveness.

View the CLA Framework two-pager to learn more about what each of the subcomponents mean.

Want to learn more about CLA? Check out these resources in the CLA Toolkit.

The 2022 CLA Case Competition is closed and no longer accepting submissions for this year's competition.

What are the important dates?

  • Case Competition closed: Monday, June 6, 2022

Who may enter?
The Case Competition is open to all USAID staff and partners from all types of organizations (charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) working with USAID around the world. Note: The specific activity doesn't necessarily have to be funded by USAID; however, USAID must somehow be connected to the work.

What are the case submission requirements?

To enter the Case Competition, you are required to submit: (1) the 2022 Case Submission form, (2) an original photo related to your case submission, and (3) the Basic Data webform. For additional information, please refer to the Submit Your Case section on this page.

Cases must:

  • Use a collaborating, learning, and adapting approach.
  • Be associated with USAID in some way. The specific activity doesn't necessarily have to be funded by USAID; however, USAID must somehow be connected to the work, such as through collaboration or a partnership, or through an implementing partner improving their own internal CLA-related work, which by extension impacts the work they do with USAID.
  • Be submitted in English.
  • Be submitted before the Case Competition closes on Monday, June 6, 2022 at 5:00pm EDT.

How will my case be judged?
A panel of judges from USAID will review entries.

We’re looking for cases that:

  • Are intentional, systematic and resourced - CLA doesn’t just happen, it needs to be planned and budgeted. Be sure to write about the decision-making processes behind your CLA approach.
  • Are holistic, covering multiple subcomponents in the CLA framework - The strongest CLA cases involve the CLA in the Program Cycle components on the left side of the CLA framework (Collaborating, Learning and Adapting) and the enabling conditions on the right side (Culture, Processes, and Resources).
  • Have an ongoing effect on your organization and its work - If you choose to write about a conference or one-off event, strengthen your case by explaining how the learning and relationship-building continued after your event.
  • Could potentially be adopted by others - Describe your CLA approach in such a way that someone with a similar development or organizational challenge may replicate it.
  • Have clarity of expression and storytelling - this includes good, written English; punctuation; and grammar.
  • Clearly track to CLA components and subcomponents - reference the subcomponents of the CLA Framework in your narrative.

For examples of how others have used a CLA approach, browse our collection of CLA Case Competition submissions.

How will winning cases be recognized?
All eligible cases will be published on USAID Learning Lab and may be featured in newsletters, email blasts, and other social media.

Answers to Common Questions

General Questions

What is the purpose of the CLA Case Competition?

The CLA Case Competition captures real-life examples of USAID staff and partners using a CLA approach. The Case Competition helps us learn about what works and what does not when implementing CLA. Cases will help inform our adaptive approaches to COVID-19, climate change, addressing equity issues, and other contextual challenges. The past five years of case submissions have been important to informing USAID's and partners' ongoing work in advancing how CLA approaches can be applied for organizational learning and improved development results.

Can I submit a case about an activity that is just getting started?

Yes, we welcome examples of newer CLA activities or approaches that are just beginning. Documenting your work for this competition can enable you to be more systematic, intentional, and resourced about CLA in the future. It can also allow you to track your progress as you implement your programming.  

Do cases have to represent only USAID-funded work?

The specific activity doesn't necessarily have to be funded by USAID; however, USAID must somehow be connected to the work, such as through collaboration or a partnership, or through an implementing partner improving their own internal CLA-related work, which by extension impacts the work they do with USAID. If you have a case in which USAID is not somehow connected to the work, we encourage you to contribute it as a blog post or resource on Learning Lab!

Can cases be submitted in languages other than English?

Unfortunately, we are not able to process and display cases in any language other than English.

Can I submit more than one case?

There is a limit of one case per activity. There is no limit on how many cases an organization may submit. If an organization is submitting multiple cases (each from a different activity), then please complete a separate entry form for each case. Please note that the Basic Data webform that is filled out and submitted as part of the complete submission is a Google survey, and only one submission per email address can be accepted.

Can I edit my entry once it has been submitted?

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept an updated entry or additional materials related to it after you have already submitted your entry.

Was the CLA Case Competition held in 2020?

No, the Case Competition was not held in 2020. It was held in 2021.

Who is managing the CLA Case Competition?

The CLA Case Competition is managed by USAID's CLA Team in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) and by the Program Cycle Mechanism (PCM), a PPL mechanism implemented by Environmental Incentives and Bixal.

Submission Form Questions

Are the ADS 201 definitions linked in the PDF entry form?

They are not, but here’s the link to the ADS definitions.

Are there a specific number of pages, font type and size required?

Please do not change the presets, which include font type, size, and character limits, in the Adobe Fillable PDF form.

When we talk about culture in the USAID CLA Framework, what do we mean? Is it organizational culture?

Yes, we mean organizational culture, not country culture. See page two of this document to learn more about what we mean by culture in the CLA Framework.

Eligibility/Submission Limits

Can we submit a case when we helped others use CLA approaches, vs. doing it ourselves?

Yes you may.

Are there limitations on when the case took place? (e.g., is a case from several years ago permissible?)

There are no time limits, as long as the case hasn’t already been submitted in previous CLA Case Competitions.

My activity was not fully funded by USAID, it is only about 20% funded by USAID. Do you have any requirements on the minimum percentage of the USAID portion of activity funding to be eligible for this case competition? Also, can we submit entries from U.S. Government activities aside from USAID (for example, U.S. Department of State)?

The specific activity doesn't necessarily have to be funded by USAID; however, USAID must somehow be connected to the work, such as through collaboration or a partnership, or through an implementing partner improving their own internal CLA-related work, which by extension impacts the work they do with USAID.

Is there a limit on how many cases one organization can submit (if the organization manages multiple programs)? Is it possible to submit more than one case from one activity?

There is a limit of one case per activity. There is no limit on how many cases an organization may submit. If an organization is submitting multiple cases (each from a different activity), then please complete a separate entry form for each case. Please note that the Basic Data webform that is filled out and submitted as part of the complete submission is a Google survey, and only one submission per email address can be accepted.

Acceptable Cases

Will a case that involves an approach to learning from across multiple countries be considered?

Yes! Check out this former winner.

Can we only focus on one CLA sub-component?

Because all of the CLA sub-components are so interrelated, we think it would be hard to write a case featuring only one. And, we’re looking for holistic cases that, ideally, draw on both sides of the CLA Framework.

What if I have more than one example of (multi-faceted) CLA? Can I submit multiple cases or should I put it all into one case?

It’s really up to you. If you can pull multiple approaches into one case while telling a cohesive story, that can make a very strong case. However, we also want you to be able to describe your CLA approach step-by-step, so if you won’t have enough space to do that well for such a multi-faceted approach, you might consider submitting multiple cases. However, the limit is one case for each activity.

How much should my case be data-driven? Do we need to be more fact-based?

Please include as much data about the outcomes of your CLA approach as you can. However, we recognize that it can be difficult to measure the outcomes of CLA. All types of data and evidence are welcome, and the very nature of the Case Competition is qualitative.

Is the CLA Maturity Tool the preferred tool to use or can we submit a case with our own approach?

We welcome cases on any kind of CLA approach.

Can the case consist of the approach/methodology we use in our activities?

Yes, as long as it also reflects a CLA approach and clearly articulates how your approach or methodology relates to CLA.

Can a case be based on the use of tools such as GIS in improving learning?

Yes, as long as the submission clearly articulates how you used the tool to support an intentional, systematic, and resourced CLA approach to address an operational or development challenge.