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USAID/Moldova M&E Challenger: Demystifying CLA

Tracy Thoman
2022 CLA Case Competition Winner Ribbon

USAID/Moldova operates in a highly-complex and dynamic environment. Mission stakeholders share a collective sense of constant crisis - whether from the COVID-19 pandemic, political instability, high energy prices, or the recent influx of refugees from the invasion of Ukraine. In such complex environments, collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) is critical to achieving sustainable development results. In other words, the context within which activities are implemented is changing rapidly, and the Mission needs to learn from these changes and adapt its course of action so that the higher-level results can still be achieved. The enabling conditions within a Mission for CLA are often an overlooked, yet critical, component of CLA in USAID programming. Mission culture, processes, and resources surrounding CLA are key to a supportive context within which to implement a Mission's CDCS.

The Mission in Moldova was faced with this challenging operating environment and a culture that was proficient at checking the various boxes of MEL, but did not consistently collaborate or utilize data and learning to improve programming and adapt so that sustainable development results could be achieved. It met this challenge, with the support and encouragement of senior leadership, by initiating a simple, new CLA process - the M&E Challenger - which highlights a new activity every two weeks and focuses on different MEL challenges and successes at the activity level. The Mission was deliberate in choosing to focus on the CLA enabling condition components of culture and processes. Attracting broad Mission participation and in-depth discussions, this new process focusing on the CLA subcomponents of continuous learning and improvement (culture) and decision-making (processes) has already resulted in a more supportive CLA culture across the Mission. Collaboration, learning and adapting as context continues to change are becoming regularized processes at USAID/Moldova.

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