ME&A maps the impact of U.S. foreign assistance on some of the root causes of irregular migration from Central America — such as gang violence, natural disasters, and economic difficulties – for the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Missions in El Salvador and Guatemala.  The geospatial work is through the ME&A-led USAID/El Salvador Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (ME&L El Salvador) initiative that aims to enhance USAID’s monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ME&L) capability in El Salvador and, upon request, in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua.  

“GIS, data, and digital technologies enable USAID to make data-driven decisions – a game changer for development interventions,” said Randal Thompson, Ph.D, ME&L El Salvador Chief of Party. “They dramatically enhance knowledge about aid quality and geographic impact, especially critical in an area like the Northern Triangle region where the economy and political situation directly impact the United States.”

Since ME&L El Salvador began in 2016, its GIS team has produced more than 300 maps related to migration along with other issues, such as remittances, environmental management, and COVID-19 and natural disaster relief. About 50 of those maps were for USAID/Guatemala with the rest for the U.S. Embassy in El Salvador and USAID/El Salvador. The GIS team also provided GIS training for USAID implementing partners (IPs). IPs range from contractors like ME&A to nongovernmental organizations to universities and the United Nations Development Programme.

“We have provided GIS training services for USAID implementing partners in El Salvador, and we are now being requested to provide training in GIS to USAID/Guatemala,” said Ricky Perez, who serves as a GIS specialist for ME&L El Salvador and as a member of ME&A’s Digital Technologies and Research Unit (DTRU). “Moreover, the DTRU advises projects in the field about the use of GIS tools related to data collection and mapping. This enhances the use of GIS tools across ME&A activities and represents an opportunity to collect georeferenced data for mapping.”

The geospatial analysis and ME&L El Salvador’s broader emphasis on learning enables USAID/El Salvador to bridge the gap between what it plans and what actually happens in the field as well as assist its IPs adapt to change—from making mid-course corrections when the initiative’s monitoring and evaluation activities identify unintended or nominal impact to reallocating resources in response to community violence, political instability, or natural disasters.

Other initiative activities include continuous performance monitoring, evaluation, verification, training, and knowledge management and learning support across USAID/El Salvador’s portfolio. Upon request, the initiative also provides USAID missions similar services in Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua. This approach maximizes USAID resources in addressing issues requiring collaboration across countries. Six of the ME&A-led initiative’s 31 performance monitoring, evaluation, and assessment activities so far have been for Guatemala, Mexico, and Nicaragua.  

About Us: ME&A is an international development firm based in the Washington, D.C. area, providing innovative solutions for economic development and social progress in more than 80 countries. ME&A has conducted more than 200 evaluations and assessments in over 50 countries worldwide for USAID, the U.S. Department of State, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation.