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USAID Contribution

Discussion Note: Managing MEL Platforms


This Discussion Note complements ADS 201 and shares considerations for managing monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) platforms that support Missions to implement the Program Cycle.  Although intended for USAID staff, others may benefit from its recommendations. Increasingly, USAID Missions have established MEL platforms to support MEL functions (i.e., practices, processes, and requirements). MEL functions encompass the development and use of tools and practices for: monitoring (including data management); evaluation (including other studies or analyses); and collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA).

This Note, along with Discussion Note: Designing MEL Platforms synthesizes learning drawn from interviews with staff and partners of USAID’s Office of Learning, Evaluation and Research in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning. This Note is divided in four parts. The first part highlights general considerations and tradeoffs for managing across monitoring, evaluation, and CLA functions. The subsequent three parts summarize key considerations by function: monitoring, evaluation, and CLA.

The Mission-Based Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Platforms Assessment Report (available on USAID’s Development Experience Clearinghouse) is the effort that informed this Discussion Note and is considered a companion document. It summarizes the key findings from the desk review of 55 MEL Platform SOWs (available as of April 2016) and key informant interviews and group discussions with 155 individuals associated with 30 of the 55 mechanisms. Those interviewed include staff from USAID missions, Platforms, activity implementing partners (IPs), and USAID/Washington.

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