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Fostering Reflective Practice in Complex Development Programming: Zambia's Mawa Project

Guy Sharrock, Tom Archibald, Jane Buckley, Emily Burrows, Jenny Haddle

This case is concerned with Catholic Relief Services’ learning around a safe-fail pilot of the use of evaluative thinking (ET) in the Feed the Future ‘Mawa’ Project located in the Eastern Province of Zambia. It is CRS’ belief that nurturing a culture of ET can contribute to raising overall program performance in the context of collaborating, learning, and adapting. The pilot initiative has sought to strengthen project staff capacities in ET and to embed ET into their work routines. Mawa has hosted two rounds of 3 or 5-day training events involving managers, administrators, frontline personnel, MEAL staff, and representatives of partner organizations; a third round is planned. Results to date make us cautiously optimistic about the potential contribution of ET. Our work hints strongly at the prospect of ET serving as a conduit for greater beneficiary and frontline staff involvement in development processes.


This case study was submitted as part of USAID's CLA Case Competition, held in August 2015. Taken together, this collection of submissions illustrates the diversity of ways collaborating, learning, and adapting approaches are being operationalized in the field. Stringent judging criteria was used to determine official CLA Case Competition winners, so not all submissions should be considered an official USAID endorsement of best practice. To view all entries, visit the CLA Case Competition page.

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