Synthesis of Evaluations for the Feed the Future Learning Agenda

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Date Published:
March 10, 2016
USAID Contribution
The Feed the Future Knowledge-Driven Agricultural Development project recently compiled and synthesized nearly 200 performance and impact evaluations from Feed the Future projects to assess evidence gathered between 2010 and 2015. While useful as a standalone resource, these evaluations also hold valuable information to increase global understanding of what works best for boosting food security and nutrition.
To guide this exercise, reviewers used the Feed the Future Learning Agenda’s six themes and corresponding questions in the areas of agricultural productivity; improved research and development; expanded markets, value chains and increased investment; improved nutrition and dietary quality; improved gender integration and women’s empowerment; and improved resilience of vulnerable populations.
This report highlights the initial trends and patterns that emerged after analyzing 196 program evaluations using this framework.
The Feed the Future Learning Agenda, launched in 2011, contributes to the body of knowledge on food security that serves to improve the design and management of interventions in the agriculture and nutrition sectors. It lays out how the initiative will learn from its programs, systematically assess critical gaps in evidence, and measure the success of its activities in partner countries, particularly through impact evaluations. Measuring impact requires a long-term effort, so in the interim this report examines what existing evaluations can tell us about these questions now.
While this report highlights concentrations and gaps in evidence across areas of the Learning Agenda framework, it does not provide a comprehensive review of the quality of the evaluations being analyzed and synthesized. Rather, it takes an initial stock of the sources that can be further explored to generate more detailed findings under each Learning Agenda question. Moreover, the majority of the evaluations in this synthesis were performance evaluations rather than impact evaluations. Although performance evaluations cannot always determine causality, they provide substantive insight into the challenges that projects face in their attempts to achieve their intended outcomes.
This synthesis should not be read as a final analysis, an attempt to comprehensively answer the Learning Agenda questions, or guidance to promote specific development approaches. Rather, it is a review of information and findings in the pool of 196 evaluations as they relate to the Feed the Future Learning Agenda questions. It reveals trends and provides the reader with an opportunity to identify evaluations that addressed these questions. Readers can use the citation information throughout the document and access the full evaluation reports if they would like more information related to any particular finding. Additionally, the synthesis can be used as a tool to target further research and analysis on Learning Agenda questions. 
Filed Under: Learning, Learning Agenda