Communications, Evidence and Learning (CEL) used a holistic approach that integrated evidence and research with knowledge management and strategic communications for development to broaden and deepen the influence, utility, and impact of USAID work.





CEL worked with USAID’s Urban Team to strategically share, disseminate and apply/use the results of evidence-based knowledge to significantly increase capacity and commitment among USAID development stakeholders that work across key USAID objectives to improve urban development, urban-based programming, sustainable cities, and local sustainability.

The project was structured to guide program design and implementation, inform policy discussions and improve decision making to maximize the effectiveness of resources in the areas of 1) land tenure, property rights, and resource governance, 2) urban development, urban-based programming, and sustainable urbanization, and 3) locally-led sustainable development.

CEL was a field support mechanism available to provide technical assistance to USAID field missions and Washington operating units.

Key activities under CEL included:


CEL provided on-demand support to the Urban team, Missions, and operating units on a broad range of issues in the urban space. The assessments conducted under CEL contributed to a strong evidence base and new learning on effective development programming.

Communications and Knowledge Management

CEL raised awareness of the work and role of urban development among USAID staff and target audiences, including USAID Washington staff and leadership, Missions and implementing partners. CEL highlighted USAID’s successes and results in the urban field and how urban issues influence and are connected to other USAID development sectors. CEL produced various communications approaches and products, including communications strategy and message document and training, event support, and content creation and distribution. CEL also managed the UrbanLinks website – the central online platform featuring USAID, partners’ and related organizations’ work in the urban field.


CEL worked to advance awareness and build skills in urban programming among USAID staff to improve development outcomes. Learning activities leveraged evidence, strategic communications, and knowledge management and used best practices in adult-learning to develop skills for programming and sectoral integration. Creating opportunities for exchange and the generation and application of knowledge and lessons learned take a variety of forms under learning. This included in-person and virtual training and knowledge exchanges, the development of job aids and ever-green learning products, coaching and mentoring, and strategic facilitation for partnership, collaboration, and relationship building.


CEL undertook policy research to identify analytic and practical entry points for USAID programming in the international urban policy space. With this research, CEL helped ensure USAID programming was based on a robust evidence base, produced highly relevant and impactful analytics supporting missions, and created greater visibility of USAID’s work in the global urban development community of practice. Research followed two principles: 1) applying the urban lens to understand long-standing development challenges to contribute to USAID’s ongoing internal discussions on ways of achieving self-reliance and 2) making the Urban team’s analytic and operational support services more accessible to the mission, with a clear demonstration of added value.