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Humanitarian assistance has long been a part of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in direct support of the broader strategic goals underlying U.S. policy, such as reconstruction and stabilization. Thus, although they are often short-term, such projects must be designed and implemented with a longer-term vision so they are compatible with these broader policy goals. Project assessment is central to achieving this objective. In response, the Office of the Secretary of Defense asked RAND to develop a handbook to support the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of humanitarian assistance projects to assist DoD staff and their civilian counterparts in developing, monitoring, and assessing these projects and in collaborating to achieve broader strategic-level goals. The prototype handbook includes two parts: an M&E primer, which provides a thorough introduction to M&E terms, approaches, and best practices, and a step-by-step user's guide to walk project teams through the data collection and monitoring processes at various stages, including project planning, implementation, completion, and follow-up. It also includes guidelines for involving the local population and avoiding bias when conducting surveys, interviews, and focus groups. The accompanying worksheets guide users through the planning and monitoring requirements for humanitarian assistance projects, including management and core indicators for all humanitarian assistance projects and additional indicators for each specific type of project currently undertaken by DoD. Further testing and feedback from project staff in the field will help refine the prototype handbook and increase its utility in future project assessment initiatives.

The research described in this report was prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted within the Center for Military Health Policy Research, a RAND Health program, and the International Security and Defense Policy Center, a RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI) program. NDRI is a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

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