Theme 5_1_

Systems Expert
Soumya Alva, Sr. Research Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, JSI

Emily Stammer, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, JSI

ECD Expert
Mark Tomlinson, Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research, Stellenbosch University

Shekufeh Zonji, Global Technical Lead, ECDAN

Session Description

Traditionally, program implementation strategies and interventions in complex contexts have followed a linear approach to assess progress against original plans and expected targets. However, the context and complexities influence how programs evolve and their effects. There is an increasing need to understand the strategies used, the context of implementation, their effect on outcomes, the complexities involved in program implementation, and where adaptation is needed. The objectives of measurement have changed from solely determining whether a program has achieved its outcomes to understanding what influences achievement and how. This need to continuously learn and adapt is all the more relevant today in the context of political, environmental and health shocks such as COVID-19, conflict and more frequent natural disasters. This session will provide an overview of context and complexity-aware monitoring and research methods elaborating on when and how they can be used during program implementation to facilitate adaptive learning and management for program improvement. We will go in-depth into a few of these methods with examples of how they have been used to answer program-specific research questions.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will develop a better understanding of the following:

  • The key concepts associated with complexity-aware monitoring.
  • Each approach and guidance to quickly compare selected approaches and resources to support their use. 
  • How to apply the findings of complexity-aware monitoring for program learning and improvement

Session Homework:
Please review the following resource before the session:

  1. Short technical brief on complexity aware monitoring

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Speaker Bios

Soumya Alva, Sr. Research Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, JSI

Dr. Soumya Alva is a social demographer by training with more than 25 years of experience leading Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) teams for data-led public health programming. She is currently a Sr. Research Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor at JSI, Washington DC and the Sr. MEL Director for MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator, one of the 6 USAID flagship reproductive health, maternal, newborn, and child health projects under the MOMENTUM umbrella. She leads a team developing monitoring. evaluation, research and learning frameworks, tools, and guidance to monitor programs, compile and analyze data to tell the MOMENTUM story. She has strong analytical skills and expertise in developing research, monitoring and evaluation strategies and frameworks, designing and conducting evaluations using mixed method approaches. Her recent work focuses on the use of complexity-aware monitoring methods to capture information on hard-to-measure concepts, adaptive management and learning, and learning approaches that use real-time data for program improvement.

Emily Stammer, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Advisor, JSI

Emily Stammer is a global public health measurement professional with over 15 years of experience working in both academic and program-focused settings. Emily’s expertise lies largely in the area of monitoring and evaluation of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health programs using innovative mixed methods and adaptive approaches. She currently works for JSI on the USAID-funded MOMENTUM Knowledge Accelerator project where she champions complexity aware monitoring approaches and adaptive learning and works to build capacity in these areas across the suite of awards.

Mark Tomlinson, Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research, Stellenbosch University

Professor Mark Tomlinson is the Co-Director of the Institute for Life Course Health Research Stellenbosch University. He is also Professor of Maternal and Child Health in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queens University, Belfast, UK. His scholarly work is primarily interested in how to improve early childhood development, child and adolescent mental health, maternal mental health, and developing life course approaches to improving health. He was elected as a member of the Academy of Science in South Africa in 2017. He has published over 372 papers in peer-reviewed journals, edited four books and published numerous chapters

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Have any questions or ideas for the series, contact [email protected].

For more resources on systems thinking, please visit the Systems Thinking for ECD webpage.