ERC Quarterly Report: April – June 2016

ERC completed its Work Plan for Year 4 during the past quarter.  The Work Plan outlines activities to be completed during the period and presented two funding options:  Plan A (which had more limited activities and funding) and Plan B (which included additional activities and funding). During the course of the quarter, ERC was informed that USAID would fund all activities under Plan B. The ERC contract will be modified as needed to accommodate this change and new funds will be obligated.

The ERC Task Order covers a variety of tasks and activities operating at different stages. This quarter several activities were completed. This includes an endline impact evaluation (IE) of two USAID programs:  the Ethiopia Strengthening Land Tenure and Administration Program (ELTAP) and the Ethiopia Land Administration Program (ELAP) under Task 1. This work represents the first completed endline impact evaluation under ERC and it also closed out Task 1. Under Task 2, ERC closed out activities for the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD II) impact evaluation. Several academic journal articles, which are based on impact evaluation work of USAID’s land programming, were finalized and submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. Finally, during this quarter the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) pilot project closed out.

Other activities under Task 2 are progressing well. In Zambia, ERC presented results from baseline reports for the Community-based Forest Management Program (CFP) and for the Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) program to the USAID Mission and other stakeholders. Baseline data collection for the Ethiopia Land Administration to Nurture Development (LAND) impact evaluation in the Afar region is completed and data is being reviewed. ERC also completed revisions for the baseline report and prepared for mid-line evaluation of the Community Land Protection Program in Liberia and worked with the NGO Namati to incorporate Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) findings into the impact evaluation.  Finally, pre-analysis planning for several IEs got underway this quarter.

Under Task 3, ERC worked closely with sub-contractor Bixal and USAID to identify needs, improve functionality and revise the design of the E3/Land offices’ website: The redesign will continue throughout the summer and the new site should be ready to be launched in the early autumn of 2016. New communications products were developed this quarter including brief Factsheets that communicate critical information about the effectiveness of land tenure intervention. ERC also produced first draft of updates for 11 Country Profiles and worked with authors to revise a number of these based on comments from USAID and other reviewers. ERC also continued to produce social media materials to communicate key messages related to USAID’s impact in the land sector and to place a human face on this work.

Activities under Task 4 were limited this quarter. Given that Plan B activities were approved, ERC began planning for the next iteration of the Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) on Land Tenure and Property Rights, working with E3/Land Office staff to conceptualize a new module on geospatial information and land tenure programming. ERC will work with presenters to develop new modules on common property and the USAID programming cycle in the coming quarter.

Under Task 5, as noted above, the MAST pilot project closed out. The pilot worked in three rural villages in Tanzania to map and record land rights and to deliver formal land rights documents to villagers. During the next quarter ERC will coordinate activities with USAID/Tanzania’s Land Tenure Assistance (LTA) Activity to ensure that formal documents are finalized for delivery to villagers in Kitayawa, the third pilot village and to ensure that MAST’s government partner, the District Land Office, has the data (and access) it requires to continue to manage this land rights information.

In Burkina Faso, ERC conducted a Needs Assessment to identify what would be required to adopt the MAST technology for use in the country. The Assessment identified the National Land Observatory as a strategic organization to deploy MAST in Boudry Commune.  ERC is supporting the NLO as it transitions from start-up phase to its projected role as an important member of the land sector in Burkina. This quarter, the NLO produced initial research papers that represent early efforts to develop and share land information.

Finally, ERC worked with USAID to implement a final pilot that is focused on Responsible Land-Based Investment. During this quarter ERC selected a set of eight participants who will co-create approaches to “road test” the New Alliance’s Analytical Framework for Responsible Land-Based Investments in African Agriculture. This group was selected from the 41 respondents to a Call for Expression of Interest that was issued earlier in 2016. During the quarter ERC also worked with USAID to arrange for a co-creation workshop that will be held simultaneously in Landover, MD and in Pretoria, South Africa early next quarter.

This quarter ERC also wishes to share the following learnings from work under Tasks 1 and 2.  We will plan to share learnings for Tasks 3-5 in the next quarterly report:

  • The rigor and validity of our impact evaluations is greatly improved through the development of M&E data collection tools and collection of qualitative and quantitative M&E information regarding program implementation. This process was used for the TGCC IE and is being replicated for CLPP. The M&E data is used to improve the endline instruments and analysis plan and can also be integrated into the IE datasets.
  • In sensitive study settings it is particularly important to have stakeholder buy-in across multiple groups. ERC is, for example, working closely with E3/Land and program designer Namati on a collaborative multi-stage instrument development process with key in-country stakeholders. This instrument design process is consensus-based in order to foster support for the study and investment in its success across actors.
  • As evidenced by ERC’s experience with the CLPP evaluation, in cases where it becomes infeasible to continue an impact evaluation, the evaluation can be adapted into a rigorous performance evaluation and this can provide critical information and feedback for policy makers about the program.
  • Community listing in advance of the baseline survey is very valuable for both sampling and design purposes and to discover logistical challenges that a survey firm may face in advance of the full baseline survey. ERC recommends that USAID continue to plan the time and budget for this process in future baseline surveys.
  • Switching to SurveyCTO provide significant cost savings in terms of time for data checking, coding and cleaning. ERC recommends using SurveyCTO for all future surveys: the monthly cost is easily offset by labor cost savings.
  • ERC will, in future contracts with survey firms, require the firm to submit the names of those persons who will do qualitative translation work at the same time that a firm submits the names of the enumeration team. ERC will also clearly identify any qualitative materials that need to be submitted along with the final transcripts in the deliverables section.