Panel Discussion: Knowledge and Learning Exchange on Locally Led Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL)

Panel Discussion: Knowledge and Learning Exchange on Locally Led Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL)

On June 6, 2024, D4I hosted a panel discussion highlighting the experiences of local organizations leading monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning (MERL) work within the global health sector.  

Organizations based in lower- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have long been involved in the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) MERL activities, and many local organizations have the capacity to lead MERL work. As the number of local organizations in leadership roles increases and USAID’s localization efforts gain momentum, there is a growing need to define and assess examples of pathways for local MERL organizations to have leadership roles.  

This panel discussion explored the role of local actors in MERL activities, challenges and successes, and how local capacity strengthening efforts have been undertaken and received. Panelists from locally-based MERL organizations, the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) based in Kenya and Malawi, and New ERA in Nepal, along with USAID, shared knowledge and experiences in championing MERL work, followed by a Q&A session. The webinar was presented in English with simultaneous interpretation in French.   

Watch the recording in Englishdownload the presentation slides, or listen in French.

Speakers and Panelists

Kiran Acharya, MPH, is the Deputy Director of New ERA, a research organization based in Nepal, where he leads projects, and supports proposal development and office management.  He has expertise in data analysis, report writing, and stakeholder coordination, and his primary research focuses on analyzing health coverage inequalities and health system research.

Kristina Granger, MPH, is a Senior Social and Behavior Change (SBC) Advisor for USAID Bureau for Global Health, Office of Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition (MCHN). She supports behavior-centered programming for the maternal, child, and newborn health teams, and serves as the localization lead for MCHN.

Lwana Palwendo Kamanga, MPM, is a MERL expert at the African Institute for Development Policy (AFIDEP) where he leads MERL for the Institute and projects. He has worked for over 10 years designing, implementing, and managing MERL systems and efforts for development programs across sub-Saharan Africa.

Barbara Rawlins, MPH, is a Senior Implementation Research Advisor at the USAID Bureau for Global Health, Office of MCHN, Division of Research and Policy. She has extensive experience conducting and managing MERL activities for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health programs.  


Molly Lauria, MPH, PhDc, serves as the D4I Activity Lead and is a health systems and policy researcher with 15 years of global health experience in implementation, evaluation, and research.