Adapting Theories of Change: Pause and Reflect to PROTECT Wildlife in Tanzania
The USAID Promoting Tanzania's Environment, Conservation, and Tourism Activity (USAID PROTECT) addresses dynamics that threaten biodiversity conservation and inhibit private sector-led growth in the natural resources sector. After two years of implementation, it became clear that the Activity's original Theory of Change and the reality of implementation were not aligned. Together, RTI International and USAID/Tanzania intentionally took a step back to pause, reflect, and re-examine to ensure that USAID PROTECT’s interventions were accurately aligned with indirect and direct threats to biodiversity conservation objectives and targets.
USAID PROTECT had already built a CLA approach into the Activity that ensured systematic and intentional internal and external collaboration. The collaborative pause and reflect exercise examined changes in the local wildlife conservation sector context and the shifting priorities of both the USAID Mission and the Government of Tanzania. Using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation methodology and MIRADI software tools, the team developed a new Theory of Change for the activity, which they then used to adapt the Activity's work plan, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) Plan, and implementation approach.
Through using this CLA approach, all activities are now effectively contributing to biodiversity targets and indicators, and are helping to prove the Theory of Change and deliver the intended results. The technical team is more focused, and uses the Theory of Change to determine which activities are important for achieving the desired results. Using a CLA approach has now become part of the organizational culture of the USAID PROTECT Activity, and the team allocates resources each quarter to examine challenges and successes, and to adjust as needed to ensure results.