Evidence-led adaptive programming: Lessons from MUVA - Sharp, Riemenschneider and Selvester (2022)


This paper explores the experience of MUVA - an adaptive female economic empowerment programme in Mozambique. The authors suggest that MUVA is atypically evidence-led. They detail how the programme combines systematic, inclusive reflective practice with extensive real-time data collection. The paper describes the fundamental features of MUVA’s monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) approach that supported this. Firstly, how data collection and analysis are synchronised with set cycles for learning and adapting projects. Secondly, how MEL systems are designed to prioritise actionable learning, with data collection oriented more to the needs of implementing staff than to the reporting requirements of funders. 

The paper suggests that MUVA’s approach was enabled by building collective ownership over the programme’s objectives and the purpose of MEL from the outset. Implementers were asked about their motivations, and these are related to the programme’s Theory of Change. The evidence culture was supported by the proximity of MEL staff to implementing staff; and through structuring upwards accountability to funders around justifying evidence-based adaptations instead of reporting on more narrow indicators. The paper concludes by considering the relevance, or not, of MUVA’s approach to programmes in other contexts or issue areas trying to replicate a similarly evidence-informed approach to adaptive management.