Learning Dojo Track Group Collaboration - Hanoi, 2022

USAID Learns Activity in Vietnam

By Nora Chamma, Program Manager – Program Management Unit 

Through the USAID Learns activity, Social Impact is supporting USAID/Vietnam to streamline monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) capacity across Mission teams, increase hands-on capacity building for local organizations and entities, implement innovative approaches, support effective collaboration among stakeholders, and develop a highly utilized M&E system.

USAID/Vietnam's Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) for 2020-2025 outlines priorities for its development assistance in Vietnam. To effectively implement this strategy and manage towards results, the Mission has contracted an institutional support mechanism - USAID Learns - to act as a force multiplier for the Mission and over 40 activities. USAID Learns staff and consultants provide ongoing technical assistance in the following Program Cycle processes: strategy; project design; activity design; monitoring; research and evaluation; and collaborating, learning & adapting (CLA). The ultimate 'why' of USAID Learns is to contribute to more effective results under USAID's programming. Our team does this by: (1) Advancing evidence-informed decision-making, (2) Strengthening collaboration between USAID, implementing partners, and local stakeholders, and (3) Improving staff knowledge and skills in monitoring, research and evaluation, and CLA.

Session on Design with Local Stakeholders – Hanoi, 2022 

USAID Learns has completed 335 program design, monitoring, evaluation and research, facilitation, and capacity strengthening tasks for USAID/Vietnam and its implementing partners since September 2019. Learns has also achieved a cumulative Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 73, nearly double the industry average for management consulting services (NPS determines how likely it is that stakeholders would recommend Learns’ services to a colleague; the higher the score, the better the performance).

Some Major Program Highlights Include:

  • In 2022, Learns created the Learning Dojo, a multi-month capacity strengthening program for USAID’s implementing partners (IPs) - both international and local - that helps staff improve their organization’s monitoring and collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) practices. In 2022, 53 participants from 26 USAID activities joined the three tracks offered: Leadership, Adaptive Management, and Foundations in Monitoring. Eighty-four percent of participants applied their learning from the track in their work and many shared stories of impact. For example, from the monitoring track, one participant learned new stakeholder analysis techniques that led the program team to select the best possible local partners based on evidence. In the adaptive management track, participants worked together to better analyze their gender data, learning that the program had very low female participation rates in their university offerings. After learning about pause and reflect practices, the team held a reflection session, leading to clear steps to increase the female participation rate in traditionally male-dominated fields of study. Sixty-four participants have signed up for the 2023 tracks.
  • Since 2021, Learns has supported USAID/Vietnam and implementing partners in securing local buy-in for projects before awards are signed. This happens during the design phase with USAID when Learns facilitates theory of change conversations between local stakeholders – particularly the Government of Vietnam (GVN) – and USAID. Then, during the procurement phase, Learns helps facilitate a process co-developed with the Mission called the Strategic Alignment Validation Exercise (SAVE) that gives the main GVN counterpart an opportunity to provide input on the design ahead of award and meet the anticipated implementing partner. This is intended to give the implementing partner and GVN counterpart a solid foundation from which to work together during implementation.