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Project MEL Plan

Development of the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan is an essential step to manage the process of assessing and reporting progress towards achieving project outputs and outcomes, and to identify what evaluation questions will be addressed through evaluation. The MEL Plans contribute to the effectiveness of the CDCS-level Performance Management Plan (PMP), as well as the project itself, by assuring that comparable data will be collected on a regular and timely basis.

A Project MEL Plan is technically an annex to a Project Appraisal Document (PAD). Functionally it is a separable document that provides guidance to USAID staff over the life of a project.

This section of the kit is designed to help you develop a project MEL plan. It is divided into four segments, as listed in the menu below. You can go through this section sequentially, by using the forward arrow at the bottom of each page, or you can jump directly to topics on the list below. The Program Cycle menu at the top of this page and the Sitemap provide even more detailed views of the coverage of this section, should you wish to consult them.

MEL Plan Elements That Involve Monitoring, Evaluation or Learning

USAID guidance does not prescribe any particular format for a Project MEL Plan. Missions are free to structure MEL Plans so that they are useful to the project for team. One possible outline for a Project MEL Plan is shown on this page.

Possible Project MEL Plan Outline

  1. Project Overview
    1. Relationship to the CDCS Results Framework
    2. Theory of Change
    3. Anticipated Implementation Mechanisms and Partners
  2. Monitoring Component
    1. Performance Indicators Indicator list and characteristics
    2. Baseline & Performance Data — Schedule & Frequency
    3. Performance Targets
    4. Context Indicators
    5. Monitoring Assumptions
    6. Data Quality Standards and Assessments
    7. Sharing and Reporting Project Performance
    8. Schedule of Performance Monitoring Tasks and Responsibilities
  3. Evaluation Component
    1. Priority Evaluation Questions
    2. Impact evaluation (if applicable)
    3. Performance Evaluation
    4. Evaluation Schedule
    5. Evaluation Quality Control Procedures
    6. Evaluation Sharing and Dissemination
  4. MEL Plan Roles and Responsibilities
  5. Project MEL Funding Requirements Annexes:
    1. Logical Framework
    2. Performance Indicator Reference Sheets
    3. Performance Reporting Template

To support teams that are developing a Project MEL Plan, the remainder of this kit section provides ideas and tools for developing the sections of an MEL Plan. While not specifically required by USAID’s ADS, the E3 kit includes learning as a component of the sample MEL Plan outline above.

Approaches to MEL planning used in other organizations may be of interest, such as the featured MEL Handbook for Business Environment Reform and in several other topical USAID MEL planning volumes listed below it on the sidebar on this page.