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Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Social Development Direct is a leading supplier of Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) grounded in feminist principles. We combine our expertise across all dimensions of MEL with Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) expertise. We integrate a feminist approach to MEL in our offer across all our thematic portfolios to contribute to a gendered evidence base.

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What is Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning?


The field of monitoring, evaluation, and learning relate (MEL) includes: data-gathering and analysis activities to monitor and strengthen the performance of development programmes; process evaluations to determine whether programme activities have been implemented as planned with the intended results; review and assessment of  programmes impact; and harvesting of lessons, learning and innovations to enable adaptive programming and influence a wider community of development practice.

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SDDirect's approach


SDDirect’s MEL Unit uses data to monitor, evaluate and learn within the programmes we help to implement; to advise on appropriate MEL tools and methodology to measure progress against GESI strategies and objectives; and to assess the impact of programmes implemented by other stakeholders. We support our clients to take GESI- and MEL-informed decisions about programmes, striving to elevate and amplify the voices of those intended to benefit from development initiatives. We do this by:

  • Developing and implementing inclusive and participatory MEL systems (designing inclusive MEL frameworks, and inputting to results frameworks).

  • Leading research, reviews and evaluations employing participatory approaches and methods. 

  • Developing effective safeguarding and ethical approaches to MEL activities.

  • Producing accessible learning and evidence products for diverse audiences. 

Our MEL work is rooted in co-creation and co-ownership, putting our localisation and inclusion principles into practice by working with locally based experts and engaging people with lived experience of the development issues at stake, as well as their representative organisations.

Our work in this area


We deliver MEL work based on rigorous social, gender and inclusion analysis to measure transformational outcomes such as empowerment, accountability, institutional change, collective action, enhanced social capital and greater inclusion. We develop and deliver safe, ethical MEL frameworks for complex programmes. We carry out qualitative or mixed-methods evaluations (in local, multi-country or global settings) and provide design, facilitation and technical support to inclusive learning partnerships and platforms.

Our team of in-house experts, in collaboration with our global network of Associates and specialist advisors, provides expertise in inclusive,  participatory MEL approaches and methodologies across SDDirect’s thematic areas of focus. Our approach is grounded in feminist principles and intersectional analysis. We collaborate with clients and partners to co-create bespoke approaches, selecting the right mix of methodologies to respond to specific needs and context, in line with key MEL objectives and questions. Our work is used to inform decision-making by a range of clients (multilateral organisations, donor agencies, governments, foundations, and civil society organisations) on issues relating to policy, programme design and implementation, levels of investment and performance management. 

“The evaluation was very professionally carried out from start to finish. SDD assembled a very strong team – responsive and receptive to feedback, able to deliver high-quality products within agreed timelines and very pleasant to work with.”

If you would like to hear more about our work on Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL), please reach out to Alix, Head of the MEL portfolio,