CommsConsult works at the nexus between evidence, policy and practice. We work with complex and ambitious research and development programmes to develop Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Units, and to ‘troubleshoot’ those which are ‘off-track’.
In 2013 we were asked by Development Alternatives International (DAI), managers of the AAWAZ programme, to critique the performance of such a unit. The ambitious £34m, five-year, DFID-funded voice and accountability programme in Pakistan aims to strengthen civil society and to develop a stable, tolerant, prosperous and democratic Pakistan which meets the basic needs of its people and achieves the MDGs. It work in 4500 villages and urban settlements across 45 districts in the two northern Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The Policy, Analysis, Results and Research (PARR) was set up to monitor and analyse data coming out of the programme; to use the learning to frame ongoing programme design; to generate and communicate evidence for broader communication and advocacy; and to identify and commission research to fill the gaps found in the evidence base. CommsConsult was employed to critique and provide recommendations to improve its performance. Working with an established researcher with in-depth knowledge of Pakistan’s academic literature and policy context, and using a mix of key informant interviews, desk research, and curation of best practice from other similar initiatives, we reconfigured the programme architecture; proposed processes and incentives to ‘re-link’ M+E reports with learning; and recommended an interim hosting to build the capacity of project partners to undertake the full suite of functions by mid programme.