CLA is a set of development principles—strategic collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptive management—that USAID is applying to become a more effective organization. USAID and its implementing partners are working to achieve better development results by:

  • collaborating intentionally with stakeholders to share knowledge and reduce duplication of effort,
  • learning systematically by drawing on evidence from a variety of sources and taking time to reflect on implementation,
  • adapting strategically based on applied learning.

Whether you call it CLA, a learning agenda, or something else, this approach helps to create the conditions for development success by: facilitating collaboration internally and with external stakeholders; feeding new learning, innovations, and performance information back into the strategy to inform funding allocations, program design and project management; translating new learning, as well as information about changing conditions, into iterative strategic and programmatic adjustments; and catalyzing collaborative learning and systemic analysis and problem solving among developing country citizens and institutions to foster country-led development.

In this sense, CLA is a multifaceted approach designed to exert a multiplier effect on the mission's development investments. The central function of CLA is to ensure that progress toward development objectives is guided by continuous learning (through analysis of a wide variety of information sources and knowledge, including M&E data, innovations and new learning that bring to light new best practices or call into question received wisdom, and collected observations from those who have particularly deep or unique insight in a given area), and iterative adaptation of program implementation and, where relevant, strategy. The intent is to continuously assess the causal pathway to desired outcomes and adjust activities as necessary to yield the most effective course of action.

For more information on the USAID Program Cycle and CLA policy, please consult the ADS Chapter 201.

To learn more about what CLA looks like in practice, check out these great examples from the CLA Case Competition.