Key Lessons From An Attempted Developmental Evaluation Pilot

Speeches Shim


Developmental evaluation (DE) is an emerging approach in international development and although several DEs have been conducted within USAID, there is still much to be learned from these experiences. By sharing lessons and applying them to future DEs, USAID can improve DE implementation and success rates, reduce delays in DE start-up, and strengthen its overall cost-effectiveness.

This short brief captures six key lessons learned1 from the Developmental Evaluation Pilot Activity’s (DEPA-MERL) experience trying to launch a DE within the Bureau for Food Security (BFS). Offered from the perspective of the Developmental Evaluator and DEPA-MERL, these lessons focus closely on the various factors that impacted the DE start-up and buy-in processes. They are broadly applicable and can be used by USAID (or other interested practitioners) to decide whether or not to conduct or participate in a DE.


In response to the growing interest and knowledge gaps in DE, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) commissioned DEPA-MERL as part of a larger Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning Innovations (MERLIN) program to test promising new practices in monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning in the Agency context.

DEPA-MERL is led by Social Impact, Inc. (SI) in partnership with Search for Common Ground (Search) and the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan (WDI). SI and Search oversee and manage DE pilots. WDI, on the other hand, serves as DEPA-MERL’s learning agenda partner. To facilitate learning, WDI collects data from Developmental Evaluators and DE stakeholders involved in the pilots to capture and share learning on the implementation of DEs in the USAID context.

Since 2015, DEPA-MERL has implemented three DE pilots, assessed the potential of many other pilots, created a number of resources on DE management and implementation, and has managed a community of practice of Developmental Evaluators.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 11:45am