Key Tools and Initiatives
KEY TOOLS AND INITIATIVES
The following MEAL Tools and Key Initiatives are intended to provide our partners, prospective donors, and MEAL staff a better understanding of CRS’ approaches, and aim to contribute to MEAL efforts in the global humanitarian and development sector.
CRS has developed a compilation of resources designed to improve the quality and outcomes of human resources activities in MEAL, that we refer to as HR4MEAL. Attracting, hiring and managing good MEAL staff—at every level, from field staff to MEAL directors—who are content and fulfilled in their work at CRS. Visit our Careers page.
MEAL DPro is a comprehensive orientation for entry-level Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) specialists and program staff on MEAL throughout the project cycle.
The MEAL DPro Guide is accompanied by a series of videos and self-led learning modules to help learners deepen their understanding of key MEAL concepts and processes.
Learners are encouraged to participate in ongoing MEAL DPro courses and to seek MEAL DPro certification upon completion. MEAL DPro is part of the DPro suite, along with Program DPro and FMD Pro.
ICT4MEAL is the utilization of information communication technologies (ICT) for MEAL systems. ICT4MEAL emphasizes collaboration and coordination between MEAL, programs, and ICT4D staff and partners globally, capitalizing on staff and partner experiences and expertise to create strong networks of knowledge and skill sharing. Together we develop and share tools and templates; test and implement new hardware and software; and provide training in person or online to improve CRS staff capacities in digital MEAL.
CRS believes that MEAL systems must be grounded in project design, built by MEAL and program staff with participation from partner organizations and key stakeholders, and updated during implementation as activities progress and information needs evolve. CRS’ SMILER+ is a participatory process that enables teams to develop MEAL systems that are responsive to context and contribute to adaptive program management.
CRS has developed guidance to strengthen feedback, complaints and response mechanisms, or FCRMs, across all programs, responses and contexts. FCRMs help ensure programmatic and operational decisions are informed by local perspectives and priorities, and they contribute to the protection and safeguarding of program participants from harmful impacts and conduct. It is relevant for field staff to operationalize and senior leadership to create a strong enabling environment for FCRMs. The guide is accompanied by 12 hands-on tools which are accessible within the PDF itself.
CRS recognizes that change we seek in our programs is not linear but more dynamic, reflective and responsive. Evaluative Thinking (ET) is defined as critical thinking in the context of M&E motivated by an attitude of inquisitiveness and a belief in the value of evidence.
The evaluative thinking workshop series is designed to promote ET across an organization and, in turn, increase the quality and efficiency of program planning and MEAL work generally.
Evaluative Thinking Workshop Series
- An Overview of Evaluative Thinking
- Introducing Evaluative Thinking
- Theory of Change Pathway Models
- Discovering Assumptions
- Developing Project Learning Plans
- Making Informed Decisions
- Becoming a Learning Organization
The evaluative thinking (ET) workshop series is designed to promote ET across an organization and, in turn, increase the quality and efficiency of program planning and MEAL work generally.
Evaluative Thinking is one way CRS brings to life USAID’s Collaborating, Learning and Adapting (CLA) Framework. Evaluative Thinking facilitates collaboration, learning, adapting and also creates the needed enabling conditions. More information on USAID’s CLA Framework can be found here.
CRS has recognized that the way people tell stories can uncover rich information about their lived experience. This knowledge can be contextualized by identifying patterns, a process which is facilitated by polling data and analyzing it together. Sensemaker is a complexity-aware, narrative-based method that can be used to conduct assessments, monitoring, evaluations, and research studies. In SenseMaker data analysis is based on narratives that respondents share and to which they give additional meaning. It recognizes that personal narratives allow better insights that can help contextualize knowledge.
To learn more about the method and decide if it is a good fit for the purpose, use the links below: