Member Spotlight: Mapping Impact of US Development Programs in El Salvador
April 8, 2021 | By Monica Jerbi, ME&A Communications Specialist
Working closely with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission and the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, ME&A, Inc., a USAID contractor -- is able to map the impact of U.S. foreign assistance on some of the root causes of illegal migration, such as gang violence, natural disasters, and economic difficulties.
“The mandate of the ME&A-led USAID/El Salvador Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning initiative is assisting USAID/El Salvador manage its available resources to ensure accountability and maximum impact,” said Thomas C. England, president and CEO of ME&A. “Geographic information systems are a gamechanger for assisting USAID and the Embassy with informed decision-making. GIS dramatically enhances knowledge about aid quality and geographic impact, especially critical in an area like the Northern Triangle region where the economy and political situation directly impact the United States.”
Since the ME&A-led initiative began in 2016, its GIS team has produced some 250 maps for the USAID Mission related to migration along with other issues, such as remittances, environmental management, and COVID-19 and natural disaster relief. The initiative also provides similar GIS services to USAID in Guatemala.
The GIS maps and the initiative’s broader emphasis on learning enables USAID/El Salvador to bridge the gap between what it plans and what actually happens in the field as well as assist its implementing partners (IPs) adapt to change—from making mid-course corrections when the initiative’s monitoring and evaluation activities identify unintended or nominal impact to reallocating resources in response to community violence, political instability, or natural disasters. IPs in El Salvador range from contractors like ME&A to nongovernmental organizations to universities and the United Nations Development Programme.
Other activities of the five-year, ME&A-led initiative (2016 to 2021) include continuous performance monitoring, evaluation, verification, training, and knowledge management and learning support across USAID/El Salvador’s portfolio. The training events help close IPs’ identified information gaps while the knowledge management and learning events harness the collaboration and collective knowledge of IPs – and sometimes municipal government officials – to learn, share, and adapt to new evidence and data.
The ME&A-led initiative also provides USAID missions similar services in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. This approach maximizes USAID resources in addressing issues requiring collaboration across countries. Five of the ME&A-led initiative’s 27 performance monitoring, evaluation, and assessment activities so far have been for Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
ME&A is an international consulting firm based in Bethesda, Md., providing innovative solutions for economic development and social progress in more than 70 countries over the last 30 years.
Interviewing El Salvador Youth
Tropical Storm Amanda June 2020