Given the emergent nature of programming in a post response recovery transition period, D-MERL plays a vital role in evolving program strategy and enabling collaboration, learning and adapting. In such contexts, D-MERL systems should be flexible to accommodate the program’s needs for urgent action and allow for iterations of major D-MERL products to take place over time as conditions change. For example, aspects of the D-MERL system may need to change or be iterated, after review of initial program results or once new partners or program components are added on. However, D-MERL “stakes in the sand” need to mark each stage, so that implementation and other D-MERL activities can proceed without delays in planned and coordinated ways and not ad-hoc.
The purpose of this document is to help USAID staff plan for and implement effective and efficient programs and MERL systems in a post response recovery. This heuristic tool is quick reference document developed to assist program managers and MERL practitioners navigate the process of building the balanced D-MERL system in this evolving context.
The following are the six building blocks of a D-MERL system and corresponding framing question faced by staff:
Building block 1: Partners and collaboration: How can successful partnering and collaborating integrate MERL and adaptive management?
Building block 2. Program strategy – the big picture planning: Is the program Theory of Change realistically defined and does it reflect the inputs and buy-in of all key stakeholders?
Building Block 3. Results frameworks and MERL plans: Are IP results frameworks and MERL plans appropriately coordinated and harmonized to inform a program-level results framework?
Building Block 4. Reporting system: Does the program reporting system meet information and knowledge needs in the most efficient and effective manner possible?
Building Block 5. Data-based target setting: What matters and how much is needed to measure timely progress toward results?
Building Block 6. Performance monitoring, evaluation and learning: What opportunities are there for learning and adaptive management