Supporting the Next Generation of Evaluation Experts in Jordan

MSI’s Jordan Monitoring Evaluation Support Project (MESP) helps the USAID/Jordan Mission assess and improve its programming, develop data-driven best practices, and effectively communicate the Mission’s commitment to accountability and aid effectiveness.

Part of this effort involves strengthening the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) community of practice in Jordan. Jordan MESP is addressing the persistent shortage of qualified entry-level M&E professionals through the development of a 3-month rapid Apprenticeship Program in Monitoring and Evaluation, managed by USAID/Jordan. The program provides targeted skills training courses for Jordanian young professionals and prepares them to join the M&E community within the development sector.

Throughout the program, participants take part in intensive classroom courses, complimented by practical, on-the-job training with USAID’s implementing partners. This innovative approach has already made an impact. From the first graduating class, 12 out of the 13 apprentices successfully found employment in M&E roles within a few months of completing the program. Watch the video below to hear from participants and learn more.

MSI has been one of USAID’s leading Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) service providers for more than three decades. We have successfully managed 23 USAID Mission-level support projects over the last 15 years, including in Pakistan, Jordan, Colombia, South Sudan and Afghanistan.  Our work contributes to USAID’s commitment to rigorous monitoring and evaluation to improve aid effectiveness and inform decision making about current and future programming.

Under these support projects, we deliver a combination of Mission-level strategy support;  performance monitoring technical and advisory services; and design and implementation of performance and impact evaluations.  MSI also designs and manages assessments and special studies; strengthens knowledge management systems; and implements capacity building activities for monitoring, evaluation and learning.

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Fighting Corruption on the Big Screen

 

Earlier this year, USAID’s CEGAH anti-corruption initiative worked alongside Indonesia’s Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) to launch an innovative film festival competition aimed at engaging more young people and creative professionals around issues of government accountability and transparency.

The launch included a five-city tour hosted by the BPK, featuring filmmaking workshops, screenings and interactive talk shows. In total, more than 1,400 students and filmmakers attended the events, and now have the opportunity to submit films, documentaries and public service announcements highlighting the importance of responsible state budget and asset management in Indonesia.

The festival’s organizers hope to use film as a medium to engage a younger and more diverse audience around anti-corruption issues often perceived as dry or inaccessible. At the competition’s launch event in Jakarta, USAID Indonesia’s Director of Democracy and Governance, Kevin McGrath, said, “This festival presents the opportunity for filmmakers, journalists, researchers, and other civil society actors to join the fight against corruption. With the addition of these communities, and by taking advantage of their creative talent, we hope to see films that appeal to a larger and more diverse audience with messaging about corruption.”

The film festival will come full circle, returning to Jakarta for Awards Night on August 29, 2017 as part of the commemoration of Indonesia’s Independence Day. The event will feature screenings of all of the winning films, which will go on to form part of a public awareness campaign around BPK’s future anti-corruption initiatives.

MSI is the prime implementer of the USAID-funded CEGAH program, which aims to reduce corruption in Indonesia by addressing its root causes and strengthening the community of accountability. In addition to our work in Indonesia, MSI also supports transparency and accountability programming in Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Sierra Leone, and Ukraine.

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Is Effective Messaging for Development More Critical than Ever?

With the international affairs budget facing a proposed 32% reduction from FY17 and little understanding among the American public that it is less than 1% of the federal budget, the Society for International Development – Washington (SID-W) recently convened a panel of communications experts to consider the importance of communications. In particular, the panel looked at how to frame international development successes and challenges, the need for more robust outreach, and the success of education efforts with members of the U.S. Congress and how it might be translated to a wider American audience.

The panel was moderated by MSI Vice President for Public Affairs, Ellen Yount, who also serves as a senior advisor to USAID on their overseas communications efforts. She was joined by Former Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID’s Bureau of Legislative & Public Affairs, Stephanie Bluma; Lester Munson, Vice President, International, BGR Government Affairs; and Moira Whelan, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Digital Strategy at the State Department and currently a partner with BlueDot Strategies.

“Many of us in the international development community have long understood not just the importance of effective project implementation, but as importantly, communicating the results and impact of our work,” said Ms. Yount. “But in today’s climate, it’s more important than ever that we not only show the very real human impact of our work, but also show how our modest investments in development alongside diplomacy and defense, help us advance America’s interests at home and abroad.”

MSI has a strong focus on strategic communications both as a partner to USAID on its flagship Development Outreach and Communications (DOC) Training Program – which has helped Missions successfully raise awareness and understanding of foreign assistance among host country audiences – and by offering specific assistance to USAID Missions. MSI has also worked directly with government bodies and officials, to help them to improve communications and increase transparency.

In addition to Ellen Yount’s participation in the Annual Conference, MSI President Emeritus Larry Cooley was recently elected to serve as president of SID-International, after 13 years of service in various SID leadership positions.

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Is Civil Society Healthy in the Middle East/North Africa?

A robust civil society is a crucial element of inclusive and transparent democracies. Civil society organizations (CSOs) can help foster civic engagement, ensure greater government accountability, and increase inclusivity by amplifying marginalized voices. With this in mind, MSI worked alongside partners from USAID, The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, the Aga Kahn Foundation, and regional CSO experts to complete the 2014-2015 CSO Sustainability Index for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The index tracks trends affecting CSOs in several key MENA countries, including Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen. Drawing upon the expertise of local practitioners, the report scores the CSO sector in each country based on dimensions such as organizational capacity, financial viability and advocacy. This research provides development practitioners, donors, and policymakers with a better understanding of the unique challenges facing CSOs, while also illuminating opportunities for regional partnerships and increased sustainability.

From 2014 to 2015, CSOs faced challenging operating environments due to the spread of militant groups, severe humanitarian crises, mass displacement, and economic downturn. Increased Islamic State activity also intensified security concerns, causing many governments to clamp down on CSOs in the name of combatting terrorism.

In spite of these serious challenges, the index documents how CSOs in MENA are finding ways to adapt, create new coalitions and build upon growing public support. Nevertheless, instability and political stagnation continue to threaten their viability. They require increased support from local governments, private sector actors and international donors. Access the full report for further insight and country-specific analyses.

MSI works with local civil society partners to fight corruption and increase government accountability in the Middle East, Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America. Learn more about our work.

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U.S. Ambassador Recognizes Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, Elizabeth Richard, praised the commitment of youth to drive positive change in their communities after visiting MARCH, a Lebanese NGO promoting conflict resolution and peacebuilding through the performing arts among youth in Tripoli.

With support from MSI and the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), MARCH worked with youth from two rival neighborhoods in Tripoli to craft an interactive play about their daily lives and struggles. The play and subsequent documentary, Love and War on the Rooftops, toured Lebanon and were met with standing ovations all over the country.

The international success of this work allowed MARCH to leverage funding for the construction of the Ahwetna Café, a dual purpose coffee house and performance venue situated on Syria Street, the former frontline for clashes between rival neighborhoods in Tripoli. With support from MSI and USAID/OTI, the Ahwetna Café now provides youth workforce development training in hospitality management, bookkeeping, inventory management, marketing, and graphic design.

MARCH’s youth performers welcomed the U.S. delegation to Ahwetna Café with food, break dancing and free style performances. Ambassador Richard reaffirmed the U.S. Embassy’s commitment to continue investing in the youth of Lebanon.

USAID/OTI’s Lebanon Community Resilience Initiative program aims to capitalize on windows of opportunity to strengthen resilience in Lebanese communities so they can more effectively cope with destabilizing factors of the Syrian crisis. Started in September 2014 and ending in September 2017, the program seeks to strengthen the most vulnerable Lebanese host communities by promoting peaceful alternatives to violence and reducing marginalization and isolation of community groups. USAID/OTI strengthens youth empowerment and civic participation, increases moderate space, and supports moderate actors. Together, these outcomes promote increased resiliency and community stability.

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