Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD)


Health Evaluation and Applied Research Development (HEARD) is a USAID-funded project that brings the implementation and technical capacity of 33 global partners together to improve policy development and program implementation in maternal and child health and related USAID global health priority areas by ensuring that evidence is relevant and accessible.

The HEARD Project is part of a series of projects supporting USAID’s Health Research Program. It is comprised of organizations that work to advance global health goals such as implementation support organizations, regional health governance bodies, policy advocacy groups, civil society based evidence advocates, research organizations and academic institutions. This strategic mix of partners will help to inform which research questions are prioritized in different contexts; to generate and analyze evidence; and to better package and move evidence through channels making it more accessible to inform policy and practice.


The Challenge

The HEARD Project addresses three major challenges:

  • The disconnect between research conducted, data use, and service delivery improvement
  • The lack of focus on understanding program implementation (design, processes, impact) which makes it difficult to inform program improvement and policy processes and apply evidence across different contexts
  • The lack of understanding and prioritization of how research can be translated into practice and policy and its potential to develop and refine interventions and technologies that benefit communities worldwide



The HEARD Project seeks to effectively respond to these major challenges by:

  • Actively engaging communities of implementers, policymakers, investigators, and advocates interested in identifying evidence needs and priorities relevant to current implementation gaps and challenges to improve programs and policies;
  • Developing issue-specific implementation science collaborations that bring together a diversely-skilled set of partners well-positioned to link evidence with the design and improvement of programs and policies;
  • Creating iterative processes of evaluation and improvement, linking those with specific skill sets and capacities to evaluate current work and those empowered to make necessary changes in support of health goals, emerging threats, and new opportunities; and
  • Expanding and sustaining these activities through the development of a global health Implementation Science Collaborative (ISC).

The four main strategies of the Project are:

  1. Partnership and Agenda Development
    ​By engaging the right mix of partners at the right time, determine the most relevant priorities and questions while minimizing the “stalling” of evidence in the research-to-use pathway
  2. Data Liberation and Evidence Strengthening
    What do we already know? What is already available? Is it of good quality? By increasing access to and public use of data, we liberate it. Data includes non-published documents (e.g., gray literature). Evidence strengthening refers to the vetting of data to make sure it’s high enough quality so we can make decisions. The generation of more relevant evidence results in a more inclusive agenda setting process.
  3. Research and Evaluation Study Design and Implementation
    If there is a gap in existing data, we support new research studies or evaluations (e.g., systematic review of literature that would inform a new implementation research study). It’s possible to do both data liberation and research and evaluation studies.
  4. Acceleration of Evidence-to-Use Processes
    The three strategies above, combined with appropriate stakeholder engagement, will set us up for more potential to accelerate evidence use. Evidence-to-use acceleration is also facilitated by creating useful products (beyond publications), engaging useful platforms, and linking to communities of practice and others to package and share findings. Eventually this will inform new sets of better questions that feed back into the process, which will hopefully influence prevention of death and disability.

Emphasizing effective stakeholder engagement and knowledge management throughout will lead to more relevant questions, which leads to more effective and efficient evidence generation and liberation with less delay in evidence uptake.




  • Evaluation Studies
    • Independently-led, partnered-approach to rapid scoping and implementation with sound technical design has been well-received by clients
    • HEARD approach a good fit with USAID aim to progress from input/output compliance to continuous (leveraged) learning/CLA
    • Leveraging existing HEARD partners and new in-country partners allows rapid mobilization of technical teams
  • Research Studies
    • Developed activities that are reflective of client and stakeholder priorities
    • Appreciation of consultative process to ensure relevance of work and findings
    • Demonstrated an effective approach for mobilizing fit-for-purpose teams
      • Facilitated the development of implementation science teams to conduct study activities
      • Successfully managed sub-award processes
      • Technical support approaches
      • Used a range of study designs based on evidence needs and budgets




2016 to 2021
US Agency for International Development (USAID)
Regions/ Countries 
Geographic Scope