Self-Reliance Learning Agenda

Self-Reliance Learning Agenda

Project Description

Research Team



Silva Hamie
Instructional Associate Professor, Department of International Affairs
Texas A&M University


Tushi Baul

Tushi Baul
Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
University of Notre Dame


Lila Khatiwada

Lila Katiwada
Senior Research Associate
University of Notre Dame



Khalil Dirani
Associate Professor
Texas A&M University

Project Information

Title of Project: Self-Reliance Learning Agenda

Sector: Cross-Cutting

Country: Uganda

Lead Institution: Texas A&M University

Co-PI Institution: University of Notre Dame

Partner(s): University of Haiti

Final Budget: $248,500

Project Length: 07/01/2019 – 12/31/2020

Research Objective:

Conduct research on the question: Does a strategic and/or programmatic focus on capacity and commitment support country self-reliance?

Project Description:

Through primary research that analyzes development actors’ (donors, private sector, and civil society, partner country governments) strategies and programming we hope to yield findings that can be used to refine the theory of change in the Policy Framework and guide further work into the linkages in the theory of change. We are interested in looking broadly across donor strategies and programs focused on building capacity and commitment to understand effectiveness on self-reliance outcome. The hope is to use this broad scan to identify past or ongoing work that can serve as potential case studies for a subsequent deep dive or developmental evaluation by the SRLA team or another partner.

Embedded Research Translation Product: As part of partners’ research translation efforts, the project developed contextualized documentations of how participants and stakeholders conceptualize commitment of themselves and others. This includes four evidence-based personas to help characterize the commitment that community leaders and members perceive and expect, respectively. 

Partners also produced candidate evaluation and research questions to consider when interrogating the locally-relevant conceptualization of commitment, and from a subset of these, candidate commitment indicators. The intent is for these questions, and candidate indicators to be used to provide rich descriptions of the Ugandan context, community-level characteristics, events, and other variables for a local definition of commitment. These indicators are specific to Uganda and are not generalizable, so the team developed a broadly applicable step-by-step guide to develop locally sensitive commitment measures in a participatory manner.

Embedded Research Translation Audience: USAID Uganda Mission & USAID Learning Lab

Learnings & Impacts:

The team found that commitment in general is significantly different at the local level than national, and necessitates locally adapted measures to adequately assess program impacts and sustainability. Context indeed matters in commitment in conflict zones, and large gaps exist in commitment at the local level. Lastly, those who measure commitment do not do so in a standardized manner. Developing indicators of commitment in a participatory manner can help measure and understand changes to commitment that result from programmatic interventions and/or changes to commitment.

The team delivered many relevant and usable outputs for USAID, targeted toward achieving a locally relevant understanding of commitment variables, issues, and problems, as well as generating a number of candidate indicators of commitment in one context. These questions and candidate indicators will be used to provide rich descriptions of the Ugandan context, community-level characteristics, events, and other variables for a local definition of commitment. They are tailored for use by USAID staff or their implementing partners to develop locally relevant indicators of commitment to a specific context.

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Project Details