This quarterly report covers July 1 – September 30, 2013. During this period, the ERC team focused on planning, developing and implementing activities in support of the project’s goals of generating evidenced-based knowledge through research and evaluations; communicating lessons learned, best practices and USAID thought leadership; training and capacity building among USAID and USG staff and partners to identify and address LTPR-related issues, and piloting innovative approaches to strengthen LTPR. Highlights of the quarter include:
Task 1: Evaluations
ERC staff – Cloudburst’s Daniel Monchuk and MSI’s David Callihan – conducted a scoping mission to Ethiopia to inform the design and strategy of the impact evaluation (IE) of USAID land certification programs in Ethiopia, which is currently being developed and will be carried out next year. This scoping mission also provided assistance on project design and implementation to the recently launched Land and Rural Development (LAND) program.
Task 2: Research
The research subtasks on large-scale land acquisitions (LSLA) and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) are still in the design phase. Research activities adjusted in focus from desk and literature review activities towards developing a research agenda involving identification of sites of interest and designing and implementing a methodology to collect data in a highly rigorous and structured manner to inform key research questions. We have begun reaching out to Missions and implementing partners to identify sites for implementing the research agenda.
Task 3: Communications
The three major communications activities for the quarter were a month-long Land Matters campaign, the development of the Global Donor Land Governance Program Database and Map, and a beta version of a STARR Document Approval Tracking System (DATS). Through ERC, USAID sponsored Devex’s Land Matters campaign. The campaign provided an opportunity to promote USAID’s research, projects, and thought leadership in land tenure and property rights to a broader audience focused on economic development, gender, governance, and other topics.
This quarter, ERC finalized the development of the new Land Governance Program Database and Map, a USAID-led data collection and visualization project to bring together information on the land and resource governance programs from 12 different donors and development agencies. Lastly, ERC launched the beta version of DATS, a web-based project management tool.
Task 4: Training
ERC and LTD staff worked to prepare for the LTPR Issues and Best Practices training, which will provide up to 40 USG foreign assistance practitioners training that strengthens their knowledge and skills in addressing LTPR challenges in their portfolios. We developed a training agenda, which includes learning objectives, course structure, and module topics for the training and we selected appropriate technical experts to lead each module.
ERC staff also worked closely with LTD in preparation for USAID’s participation in the 40th session of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) – one of the most important events of the year for USAID to influence ideas and practice in land and resource governance and to share lessons learned and best practices in addressing LTPR issues, particularly in regard to implementing the Voluntary Guidelines (VGs).
Task 5: Pilots
ERC and LTD staff developed a work plan for mobile technology pilot project, which provides a roadmap for initiating an integrated pilot project that tests innovative data collection methods and low-cost, readily available technology to document property rights.
The ERC Year 1 work plan was approved during this quarter. Cloudburst also continued to finalize key personnel and supporting staff. Lauren Kuritz took over as Communications Specialist and assumed leadership of Task 3: Communications. Jeremy Green took over leadership of Task 4: Training. A graduate student, Rahul Menon, was brought on as a consultant to support ERC research activities. Recruitment activities are ongoing for an International Operations and Finance Manager, an Evaluation Specialist, a Task 5 Project Manager, and a Junior Analyst to primarily support Task 3. We hope to fill all of these positions in the next quarter.