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Strategy and Results Framework

At the country level, the results and impact achieved by projects are dependent upon a well-conceived strategy and Results Framework, which is informed by evidence obtained from evaluation and other learning. Country strategies are informed by broad technical strategies that cascade from the Department of State – USAID Strategic Plan FY 2014-2017 through a range of topical priorities that includes economic growth and trade capacity building. USAID ADS 200 on Development Policy explains more fully the broader policy framework in which USAID operates.

USAID strategies guide the development assistance process at every level. Technical area strategy papers—in economic growth, health, education and other areas—draw on evidence across these fields to identify strategic paths for action that capitalized on USAID’s strengths. Strategies that address cross cutting issues include USAID’s 2012 paper on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment and its 2014 policy on Local Systems: A Framework for Supporting Sustained Development.

For trade facilitation projects, USAID’s 2016 Policy on Trade Capacity Building updates USAID’s first Trade Capacity Building Strategy published in 2003 and provides guidance for field personnel. The new policy continues the focus on implementing trade agreements, facilitating trade flows and enhancing economic responsiveness. However, the world has changed and the nature of trade has evolved and so the policy takes into account the changing environment that includes the e-commerce boom, expansion of trade in services and the dispersion of production across multiple countries with integrated global value chains. It also addresses other evolving factors such as increasing regionalism, the increasing numbers of international trade agreements, as well as the greater focus on environment, labor and gender matters, and the greater role of the private sector. The Trade Capacity Building Policy is consistent with the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (also referred to as Trade Promotion Authority) and the Trade Preferences Extension Acts signed on June 29, 2015.

USAID/TRR supplemented this strategic perspective through its initiation of the Partnership for Trade Facilitation, in 2011, which is working with 17 countries to respond quickly to requests for assistance from trade and customs authorities for help with implementing aspects of the WTO agreement on trade facilitation adopted in December 2013 in Bali. This Trade Facilitation Agreement is considered by the WTO to be "one of the biggest reforms of the WTO since its establishment in 1995." USAID's Partnership for Trade Facilitation can be a strategic resource for Missions that want to help country partners implement this new WTO Agreement.

This section of the E3 MEL toolkit provides you with tools for drawing on suggestions from these strategy papers as well as on a strong understanding of country level needs and constraints to develop an evidence-based country strategy (CDCS) and a portfolio of projects through which its Development Objectives will be achieved. 

Pages in this section will help you clarify the cause-and-effect logic that links USAID funded activities to country-level results. If you are relatively new to USAID, start with the section’s introduction to Development Hypotheses and then move on to its page on the development of a Results Framework. If you have experience with these tools, you may wish to jump directly to a template for preparing a Results Framework. One version is for developing a Results Framework without Intermediate Results (IRs). A second template option is for developing a Results Framework with IRs and Sub-Intermediate Results (Sub-IRs).