D4I Moldova - Applying CLA to Improve The Lives of Children in Adversity
“Harnessing the Power of Data for the Benefit of the Child” is an activity of the USAID-funded Data for Impact (D4I) project implemented in the Republic of Moldova, a country in Eastern Europe affected by out-migration and with a large number of children left behind by parents who migrate for labor opportunities. Despite government measures, patterns of institutionalizing children with disabilities and children ages 0‒3 continue; many need social services. The country’s political situation is unstable, with frequent changes in the leadership of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection and severe staff turnover. The National Social Assistance Agency, set up to implement government policy, is young and unexperienced. Territorial Social Assistance Structures lack SOPs. D4I used CLA approaches to deal with administrative delays resulting from the political environment, and to address the challenges caused by COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of a data use culture. The CLA approach consisted of development of a Theory of Change and flexible workplan/budget; hiring the right staff able to operate in a complex environment; development and implementation of an external communication plan with USAID Headquarters, the Mission, UNICEF and government counterparts; institutionalization of team meetings that tracked shifting socio/epidemiological/political factors and focused on reflecting and adapting; and coaching of staff in key competencies to facilitate CLA. After one year of implementation facilitated by CLA, we overcame significant barriers and were able to achieve key deliverables (e.g., achieved an MOU for the D4I workplan, approvals on development of a CMIS; uninterrupted implementation of activities) as well as identify new and better ideas to strengthen D4I implementation, including positive engagement with the NSAA to guide its transformation into a learning organization; an outcome-oriented M&E training course that resulted in data use and DQA plans; relationships with UNICEF for joint impact; and new technologies to deliver trainings and meetings virtually.