A New Approach to Monitoring and Evaluation

Authored by

Microlinks Team

In the most recent episode of the USAID Learning Labs podcast, Learning Lab speaks with Tulane University Associate Professor Nathan Morrow about how he has incorporated learning into resilience project design in Somalia, particularly the feasibility of conducting resilience programming in conflict zones. Nathan explains how new tools and technologies have helped overcome the previously held notion that resilience programming cannot be conducted in a country like Somalia, which has experienced conflict for over 25 years.

The project engaged the use of mobile phones, to which over 80 percent of the population in Somalia has access. His team used live-call mobile phone surveys to gather data about experience on the ground at a faster rate than previous baseline surveys conducted by implementing teams through in-person surveys. 

Key takeaways from the mobile survey research include: resiliency can happen in conflict zones, timing is everything, and as soon as communities start seeing results, the rest of the programming comes together. Morrow believes that high-frequency monitoring, especially via mobile phones, is the future of monitoring for emergency resilience projects. With phone monitoring and smaller local baselines, Morrow and his team have been able to engage right away with the evidence base, rather than wait two years for survey results. A change in information appears to drive an adaptation of programming as well as adaptations for plans at the community level. As Morrow argues, high-frequency monitoring is an effective option for conflict-prone regions, and USAID is taking this model and scaling it up to all of their Somalia programs in advance of the impending drought. 

To explore more of Nathan’s project and its outcomes, as well as how and why USAID is learning, listen to the Learning Lab podcast.