How to measure Development Programs?
By Olga Creamer, Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan MEL Manager, and
Gloria Funcheon, Mercy Corps Uzbekistan Communications Specialist
For the Department of International Relations, International University of Central Asia
February 26, 2021, 4:00 pm (Kyrgyz time), Dining Hall
International assistance (foreign aid) has been an integral part of the global landscape since the early XX century. After several decades of global humanitarian and development programs, the international community and policy makers started asking critical questions about the results and effectiveness of these efforts. Are we doing the right thing? Are we doing it well? How do we know? Can we do it better?
From these questions, a field of Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) was conceptualized and gradually professionalized, especially in the last 15-20 years. These days, every major donor and implementing agency has a MEL department and, in some cases, an independent evaluation unit. In addition, a whole ecosystem of consultants and specialized companies has developed to address the needs of donors and agencies in generating objective and verifiable evidence of international assistance effectiveness, efficiency, and relevance.
In this IUCA talk, we will explore the brief history of international assistance as part of the international relations ecosystem and focus on the role of MEL with Kyrgyzstan as an example. The conversation will be led by Olga Creamer, Mercy Corps Kyrgyzstan MEL Manager, and Gloria Funcheon, Mercy Corps Uzbekistan Communications Specialist.
Mercy Corps is a global non-partisan and non-governmental organization, that provides development and humanitarian assistance to more than 40 countries in the world. Mercy Corps has been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1994, when it launched one of the first microfinance interventions in the country to help people get through the severe economic downturn after the collapse of the USSR. In the early 2000s, Mercy Corps started providing humanitarian assistance to educational institutions across the country, which included delivering food to kindergartens and orphanages and repairing old school buildings.
Currently, Mercy Corps is implementing a Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program funded by the US Department of Agriculture. Since 2012, we have supported 510 rural schools in establishing nutritious school feeding programs for over 100,000 primary grade students across the country. Following Kyrgyzstan’s success, a similar program was launched in Uzbekistan in 2020 targeting 645 preschools over the next four years.