Cross-Sectoral Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Support for USAID Missions

USAID has long recognized the importance of cross-sectoral programming to advance sustainable development. Integration is key to both the Biodiversity Policy and the Environmental and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) Framework; yet monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) can be a challenge for integrated activities because practitioners need to assess performance across multiple sectors and technical elements. USAID’s Health, Ecosystems, and Agriculture for Resilient Thriving Societies (HEARTH) program is working with the Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM) team to help USAID Missions meet this challenge.

Developing a cross-sectoral package of MEL tools

The HEARTH program creates public-private partnerships to advance integrated investments in conservation, agriculture, health, governance, and other sectors. HEARTH aims to foster sustainable conservation of threatened landscapes and the prosperity of communities that depend on them. While USAID Missions co-design, fund, and manage activities in the field, a cross-bureau HEARTH team in Washington supports the design process and MEL across the program.

INRM is a 5-year task order managed by USAID/Washington to help the Agency design, assess, and improve integrated development activities. INRM amplifies USAID’s impact by providing cross-sectoral expertise to tackle complex development problems.

Together, HEARTH and INRM are working to create a suite of indicators and guidance that will help aggregate common metrics from across HEARTH sites in an effort to build the evidence base around the effectiveness of integrated strategic approaches. Using standardized indicators to monitor metrics common to multiple HEARTH sites will facilitate comparison across similar components of HEARTH theories of change. INRM is packaging these tools as customizable modules for different sectors—including biodiversity and climate change, food security, health, governance, and economic growth—so that individual HEARTH Missions can apply the modules most relevant to their work. The modules draw on global best practices in each sector to allow high-quality, consistent measurement of a broad range of outcomes for integrated programs.

The HEARTH MEL package will help Missions conduct MEL for other unique cross-sectoral interventions and also help the Agency assess performance and learn from experience across multiple countries and contexts.

Putting it into practice

INRM is already gearing up to apply HEARTH MEL tools in Madagascar, and possibly other Missions, where USAID is buying-in to the INRM mechanism for targeted MEL support.

  • In Madagascar, INRM will work directly with the Mission’s private-sector partners to coordinate environmental monitoring, develop MEL plans, and standardize monitoring and data collection in accordance with HEARTH indicators and protocols.
  • INRM is exploring additional opportunities to develop impact evaluations that will rigorously assess outcomes of a HEARTH programming for forests and biodiversity as well as economic well-being, nutrition, and health services for participating communities.

Effective MEL for integrated programming requires linking multiple strategic approaches and outcomes across sectors to achieve larger development goals. The HEARTH package of MEL tools is designed to help USAID Missions and other Operating Units do just that. 

Interested in learning more?

To learn more about HEARTH and INRM support to Missions for cross-sectoral MEL, contact the USAID lead for HEARTH MEL, Sara Carlson (, or the INRM COR Ioana Bouvier ( or A/COR Olaf Zerbock (