By relying on paper records, Nepal’s health supply chain faced a challenge in ensuring essential medicines were reaching all of its population, including those in remote or hard-to-reach areas. To remedy this, our USAID Global Health Supply Chain Program-Procurement and Supply Management (GHSC-PSM) project worked alongside the Government of Nepal to co-develop an online database to track and record medicines. In the ever-changing landscape of international development, staying ahead requires adapting to change and actively embracing innovation and collaboration. This is just one of the many examples of collaborative, innovative, and impact-driven activities from the projects we implement.
In line with Chemonics’ values of continual learning and working inclusively and collaboratively, we have pioneered a distinctive approach to help foster this: an annual monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) Video Challenge. Every year we invite Chemonics’ project teams across the globe to capture their achievements, hurdles, and best practices in the field of MEL using the power of short-form video storytelling. The Video Challenge has emerged as a low-cost and effective way to promote peer-to-peer learning among project staff around specific MEL topics.
Submissions originate from all technical sectors and regions. Teams are given the opportunity to use their creativity and imagination to design, film, and submit videos based on the suggested topic areas. In this blog, we highlight the key themes that have emerged over the past three years of the challenge, and how other development stakeholders can integrate this approach into their own organizations’ efforts to foster a culture of learning and collaboration.
Tracking the Evolution of the Video Challenge
Over the past three years, submissions to the Global MEL Video Challenge have highlighted timely and topical themes, each reflecting the evolving landscape of the international development sector and the new challenges we face every year.
Year 1 (2020): Adapting to the Unprecedented
As the global COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, disrupting projects worldwide, the inaugural edition of the challenge centered on highlighting project teams’ expertise in utilizing remote solutions across MEL and responding to the constraints that emerged in response to the pandemic.
The theme for the first video challenge was identified through a survey we conducted of our global MEL staff, which reflected a desire to learn about a variety of data collection methods amidst pandemic restrictions. The videos showcased effective tactics employed by teams to sustain data collection, engage with communities, and uphold project efficacy amid lockdowns and mobility constraints. For example, the video submission from our Syria Injaz Activity, which worked to improve access to and quality of education in Northeast Syria, shows how the Activity installed an intranet in a camp for internally displaced people to support distance learning, with students accessing their virtual classrooms via the intranet and teachers communicating with students via mobile phones. In the latest project assessment, results showed a 96-percent decrease in non-readers.
Year 2 (2022): Empowering Decision-making with Data
In the challenge’s second year, the spotlight shifted to data-driven learning and adaptive measures. Project teams shared their experience using data to inform project decision-making and learning, pivot interventions, and amplify overall impact. Video submissions showcased the journey from raw data to actionable insights, underscoring the crucial role of MEL in shaping evidence-based programming.
The video from USAID/Colombia’s Venezuela Response and Integration’s Integra activity (below), which provides support to refugees fleeing Venezuela, described how they focused their efforts to provide more and better services to promote integration into Colombian society. This helped reduce xenophobia and increase social cohesion among the most vulnerable and invisible people who participate in migration dynamics, and who are identified through the investigation and monitoring of data.
Year 3 (2023): Collaborating for Locally Led Development
Building upon previous years’ focus on innovation and data-guided decision-making, this year’s video challenge revolved around effective collaboration with local stakeholders to conduct better MEL for projects. MEL teams from Chemonics’ global programs illustrated their close collaborations with local communities, local partners, and governments to champion locally led development. These videos powerfully captured the effectiveness of partnerships in achieving sustainable outcomes harmonized with local needs. For instance, the USAID/Ukraine Agriculture Growing Rural Opportunities Activity’s video demonstrates how the team employs the DevResults system to gather and analyze extensive information, with sub-grantees directly inputting data into the database. This partnership with the grantees improved tracking of grain type, location, quantity, and ownership by enabling farmers to identify shifts in grain loading rates and timely engagement with farmers.