Research and Evaluation Needs to Support Sustainable Health Programs

On August 2, 2023, D4I hosted a webinar discussion of research and evaluation capacity and resources that support strong, sustainable health programs. The webinar was led by D4I’s Lwendo Moonzwe Davis, Molly Lauria, Oluwayemisi Ishola, and Sara Hachemian (ICF) and was presented in English with simultaneous interpretation to French.

There is growing interest in assessing the sustainability of country-level health programs, as evidenced by USAID’s Local Capacity Strengthening Policy and localization guidance. Yet recent initiatives promoting sustainability have focused on programmatic concerns, with limited attention to research and evaluation considerations. Since sustainable health programming requires continued assessment and realignment to meet evolving needs, research and evaluation capabilities are also essential.

Drawing on peer-reviewed and grey literature alongside interviews with a range of stakeholders from the USAID and local research organizations, presenters shared recommendations for USAID to support sustainable research and evaluation capacity strengthening for health programs centered around six thematic areas:

  1. Importance of shifting to a systems approach to strengthen and maintain capacity 
  2. Strong governance structures and a supportive environment areneeded for sustainability
  3. Locally led development isa critical element to support sustainable approaches
  4. Funding for local experts to lead research and capacity strengthening efforts is needed
  5. Invest in the career development of the evaluation and research workforce   
  6. Use metrics and frameworks to assess strengthening efforts including a systems lens

During this webinar, D4I presented these recommendations in detail and provided an opportunity for the audience to share insights, including any additional recommendations that should be considered.


Lwendo Moonzwe Davis, MPH, PhD, is an activity lead with D4I. She has training in sociology, public health, and women’s studies and has extensive experience conducting global health research and evaluations.

Molly Lauria, MPH, is a senior researcher with D4I. She has expertise in program implementation and implementation research and is a doctoral student in health systems and policy research.

Oluwayemisi Ishola, MSc, MPH, is a senior researcher with D4I. She has expertise in program implementation and public health research and is pursuing a doctoral degree in health promotion. 

Sara Hachemian, MPH, is a research assistant with D4I. She has expertise in global health, public health research methods, and recently completed a master’s in public health.