Evaluation 2017: From Learning to Action

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Freedom to Learn: How Adaptive Management Can Lead to Better Data, More Learning, and Stronger Programs

Session Number: 2509
Track: Democracy and Governance
Session Type: Panel
Tags: adaptive management, international collaboration, International development, political systems
Session Chair: Jonas Mikkelsen [PhD Candidate - SOAS, University of London]
Discussant: Laura L Adams [USAID Democracy Fellow - Institute for International Education]
Presenter 1: Nic Van der Jagt [Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator - Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy]
Presenter 2: Graeme Ramshaw [Director of Research and Evaluation - Westminster Foundation for Democracy]
Presenter 3: Imara Dunovant Crooms [Senior Program Design & Monitoring Specialist - International Republican Institute]
Presenter 4: Jonas Mikkelsen [PhD Candidate - SOAS, University of London]
Time: Nov 08, 2017 (06:15 PM - 07:15 PM)
Room: Virginia C

Abstract 1 Title: A Framework for Adaptive Management
Presentation Abstract 1:

NIMD, in partnership with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), have started a five year (2016 – 2020) Strategic Partnership program with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs called “A Conducive Environment for Effective Policy Influencing: the role of Political Parties and Parliaments”. The program focusses on political parties, parliaments, and parliamentarians and the essential role they play in shaping an enabling environment for policy change, and in making sure that lobby and advocacy efforts by civil society fall on fertile ground. The program uses a Theory of Change approach and a flexible results framework that allows for adaptive programming and learning, and that is well-suited to complex and dynamic political environments. NIMD will present this adaptive management approach, highlighting what a flexible monitoring systems for adaptive programming looks like in design, and what difficulties and barriers can exist in implementing flexible monitoring of an adaptive program in practice. In addition to this, operational lessons learned on what is needed to make flexible monitoring and learning a reality, will be shared and discussed.


Abstract 2 Title: An Analytical Framework for Learning
Presentation Abstract 2:

WFD will present findings from its learning initiative on how international support to democratisation can be redirected to take account of current debates on politically smart, adaptive, flexible and locally led approaches. Starting from the premise that the existing evidence base has not sufficiently been used to inform the underlying assumptions and practice of international democracy support, the initiative with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has produced an analytical framework to help implementers bridge normative agendas, technical expertise and politically creative approaches in an effort to improve programme design and evaluation. The presentation will include case studies on the application of more adaptive practices to parliamentary and political party strengthening drawn from the UK Community of Practice. 


Abstract 3 Title: Participatory Monitoring Tools for Adaptive Management
Presentation Abstract 3:

IRI will discuss the use of participatory approaches to monitor progress and inform adaptation in its work to build stronger, more responsive and inclusive political parties. IRI has long used scorecards to assess whether its programming was helping to increase the organizational capacity of beneficiaries like political parties. However, IRI learned that when political parties participated in the design and regular updates to these scorecards, the scorecards more accurately reflected milestones that are feasible and in which the parties are invested, and that keep pace with the fast changing political contexts that parties operate in. IRI will discuss its participatory scorecard approach and provide a few case studies explaining how they have been used to inform program learning and adaptation, and document the rationale behind this decision-making.


Abstract 4 Title: A Summary of Adaptive Management Practices from the Democracy Assistance Community
Presentation Abstract 4:

International IDEA has taken stock of the current debates on results management and evaluation designs and produced a discussion brief and policy paper on the topic. The presentation will show examples and lessons from democracy assistance work that have successfully enabled flexibility, learning and ownership. These emerging illustrative examples of learning and ownership centered results management approaches were shared with International IDEA by the Program for Young Politicians in Africa (PYPA); the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the National Democratic Institute (NDI); the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida); Global Partners Governance; and BBC Media Action.


Theme: Learning What Works and Why
Audience Level: All Audiences

Session Abstract (150 words): 

Clearly defined objectives and a well crafted theory of change are critical to conducting results-oriented programming. But evaluators and implementers alike also understand that to achieve its goals in complex environments, a program must respond effectively to emergent challenges and opportunities. Rather than force programs to comply with an increasingly outdated results framework, properly designed and implemented monitoring and evaluation tools can encourage so-called “Adaptive Management.” These tools deliberately incorporate processes for programmatic learning and adaptation in response to a changing context. Four organizations with extensive experience working in the fast-paced, ever-evolving world of democracy assistance will share tools and approaches to encourage adaptive management during program design, implementation and evaluation based on experiences in political party assistance and parliamentary development. 



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