USAID/Central Asia programming to enhance regional cooperation on shared water resources in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan is the focus of an ME&A evaluation under the USAID/Central Asia Learning from Evaluations and Assessments for Development (LEAD) Activity.
The LEAD team is conducting a performance evaluation of Smart Waters, a five-year (2015-2020) program aimed at building a cadre of professionals in Central Asia who are capable of managing shared water resources to maximize the economic value of water equitably over the long term, understand the value of such practices, trust each other, and demonstrate the potential of the basin management approach and cooperation with academia. Smart Waters has four objectives:
- Water managers in Central Asia and Afghanistan understand and apply sustainable water resources management on policy and practical levels
- Networking, collaboration, and trust among future water managers across the Central Asian region and Afghanistan have increased
- National water ministries apply integrated water resources management principles and provide enhanced support to basin management organizations
- Basin planning principles in selected basins have improved
LEAD’s external evaluation comes after three and half years of Smart Waters implementation. It will enable USAID/Central Asia to determine whether its objectives were met, what components and project aspects worked well and why, which did not and why, and make data-driven decisions to replicate success and reduce challenges in future water sector programs.
The ME&A evaluation team consists of a team leader, a capacity building specialist, a water resources specialist, and translator/logistics assistant. The team is designing and executing the evaluation using a mixed-data approach, which will include gathering and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data and verifying the data using triangulation to produce a more holistic set of findings.
USAID/Central Asia awarded ME&A the five-year LEAD Indefinite Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) Contract in 2018 to assist it in generating empirical data and fostering a participatory approach to knowledge management and learning to strengthen results and improve evidence-based programming. This, in turn, is expected to promote more effective use of USAID development assistance resources and provide greater transparency.