Delivering Critical USAID Project Design Course

In 2010, MSI conducted more than 20 Project Design and
Management (PDM) courses worldwide with 24 participants in each course.

MSI also offers courses to USAID on evaluation, communications, and crisis and conflict training.

The PDM course consistently ranked by students as one of the best courses USAID offered. Students who completed the course said it was timely for their field offices as they developed new strategic plans.

Students include an equal number of new Foreign Service officers, civil service staff and Foreign Service nationals.

With the influx of large numbers of new Foreign Service officers, USAID has qualified but inexperienced staff. The international aid agency lost experienced staff to retirement. This resulted in a workforce in need of skills development in USAID practices such as how to design and employ programs and projects in their respective countries.

The course is based in Promania, a fictitious country case study. The PDM course focuses on building teams to collaborate on creating the course products and carrying out the many course tasks.

Participants learn to tease out Promania’s development problems, including a weak civil society, high maternal and infant mortality, and lack of agricultural diversity. Teams tackle these realistic issues by using a systems analysis approach.

They develop programs from determining the objective of the aid given to the final stage of assessing the program’s effectiveness. Teams then focus on how to design and develop a project that is within their manageable interest.

Finally, as part of the planning phase of project design, teams develop an independent cost estimate for their project.