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Outcome mapping: learning brief

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Stephanie Buell

Hero image description: Landholders in Tanzania Image credit:Riaz Jahanpour / USAID Image license:CC BY 2.0

Adaptive programmes recognise that certain changes, particularly in behaviours, are complex, non-linear and difficult to measure. This briefing note explores the use of outcome mapping (OM) as a monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) approach to track behavioural change and inform adaptation for two programmes: the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE) research consortium and the Accountability in Tanzania programme (AcT I and AcT II). It discusses the implementation of OM, the ways in which it has enabled adaptation and enabling contexts in order to identify key considerations for MEL specialists and programme managers as they determine whether OM may be the right fit, and how best to use the approach.

Key messages

  • OM has a number of different benefits as a MEL approach, including unpacking different uses of information at different levels of programme implementation; helping to develop a common language around progress markers; and going beyond monitoring to inform adaptation throughout implementation.
  • These benefits are important aspects of monitoring, evaluation and learning for adaptive management (MEL4AM), as they provide richer evidence for decision-making at a frequency that could mean real-time learning and change.
  • OM works best when it is embedded throughout the organisation, and as part of programme and organisational culture, rather than tasked to a MEL unit or individual.
Landholders in Tanzania
Stephanie Buell, Haneen Malallah and Paige Mason

Corrected online 29 September 2020: an acknowledgements section has been added.

Published online 18 September 2020.