With the systematic use of collaborating, learning, and adapting (CLA) approaches, WI-HER continuously innovates in response to ever-changing challenges; measures and scales impact; and adjusts strategies to achieve and sustain results.
For the past 12 years, WI-HER has led and supported CLA on global and bilateral projects, facilitating knowledge exchanges and cross-country learning sessions between over 40 country programs.
Our CLA approach is grounded in strategic and inclusive engagement with all stakeholders. Our team strives to include and amplify the voices of local stakeholders, vulnerable, and commonly marginalized groups such as women, youth, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community.
We listen to and learn from the communities with whom we work, creating spaces for awareness raising, knowledge sharing, and capacity strengthening for constructive dialogue and discovery across diverse individuals and population groups. By using a variety of knowledge transfer techniques — including storytelling, theater, knowledge cafes, harvest meetings, after action reviews, and scheduled ‘pause-and-reflect’ sessions — we bring people together, giving them time to build rapport and construct linkages for safe, accessible, and inclusive collaboration and continued cross-learning.
Bringing iDARE and CLA together
Our results-oriented iDARE methodology promotes continuous CLA, which is a key driver for successful localized program adaptation and management. Based on local ownership and on-going learning, iDARE’s innovative application of improvement science and behavior change theory engages diverse individuals in participative research, builds their capacity for monitoring and evaluation, and creates pathways and practices for peer-to-peer learning and dissemination and application of knowledge.
The principles of CLA are largely engrained in iDARE, as iDARE encourages local stakeholders to repeatedly gather and question local understanding and context to develop solutions that work for communities. Further, iDARE provides space for continuous learning and adaptation around those solutions to forge opportunities to gather new information, validate previous assumptions, and co-create new ideas or solutions to address gaps and achieve goals.
iDARE is a pathway to autonomy and resiliency, democratizing data for accountability and enabling continued advancement toward mutual collaboration and adaptation for improvement. Using iDARE, we also strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to record and use data to learn and adapt, resulting in locally driven impact and sustainability.
Example of CLA in action
NTD interventions, particularly mass drug administration (MDA), are often implemented on a wide scale, covering large portions of the population—this leaves minimal time and opportunity to look more closely at communities that are missing MDA. The global NTD community refers to these communities as the ‘last mile’—meaning those that are often the hardest-to-reach, but key to achieving NTD elimination and control goals.
In response, through the USAID Act to End Neglected Tropical Diseases | East (Act | East) program, WI-HER, supported the program and Uganda MOH to apply a CLA-style approach, grounded in WI-HER’s iDARE methodology, to strengthen local capacity to identify GYSI-related gaps and barriers and inform the development of local solutions to reach a goal—in this case, increasing access and coverage of MDA for trachoma in Moroto district. Through use of iDARE, the communities achieved 100% MDA access and uptake among select cohort members.
In addition to 100% MDA coverage among the two cohorts within the iDARE behavior change activity, the CLA approach enabled WI-HER, the Act | East program, and communities themselves to continuously learn and improve in a small amount of time. Because the approach pushed us to learn from the communities, and enabled them to drive solutions, the solutions made more sense for the communities we were seeking to engage and improved MDA results.