Monitoring, Evaluation,
Research, and Learning (MERL)

At Sayara International, we believe that effective MERL is essential for the credibility of humanitarian and development actors, helping them remain accountable to their donors and the people they serve. Leveraging our local networks and innovative technologies, we develop systems that allow our partners to manage their resources for maximum impact in the field.


Sayara has extensive experience incorporating MERL throughout program cycles and promotes the use of Collaborative, Learning, and Adapting (CLA) approaches. We seek to design programming that reflects the complexity of the environment in which it is implemented, whether that is a refugee camp, conflict zone, under-served rural community, or developing capital city.


Our MERL team creates systems, methods, and tools that accommodate the frameworks of our partners (such as DFID, USAID, the EU, and UN agencies), while focusing on producing actionable evidence that will directly inform decision-making.


During the past ten years, Sayara has delivered over 80 MERL projects in a wide range of sectors. These projects have included collecting verification data with mobile technologies to measure the efficiency of humanitarian response in formal and informal settlements in Lebanon; building the architecture of an information management system to better respond to the migrant crisis in Eastern Africa; and evaluating various child protection, education, and public health programs in Afghanistan.

Social & Behavior Change

Sayara’s social and behavior change communications mission is to strengthen relationships between communities and government institutions with evidence-based communications strategies. Using community engagement and traditional and digital media to address social issues such as migration, public health, and elections, we foster long-term behavior change in communities in crisis.


We believe strongly in the power of earned media. By utilizing local and national broadcasters, as well as social media, we are able to respond rapidly and credibly to information environments that are increasingly influenced by ever-changing news cycles.


Sayara combines multiple levels of communications through targeted strategies. We work with key influencers and mediums such as call-in radio programs, social-media platforms, TV dramas, face-to-face engagement, and mobile theater. We specialize in helping local government and civil society actors understand and engage with their audience across the media spectrum.

Migration, Displacement, and Countering People-Smuggling and Trafficking

Sayara conducts research and delivers projects that aim to better protect migrants and displaced and trafficked persons. Our field studies focus on understanding why and how people decide to leave their communities. We talk to refugees, asylum seekers, smugglers, law-enforcement officers, and civil society representatives; we develop robust mixed-methods surveys that track migration flows at the local and regional level; and we conduct longitudinal research to measure the impact of displacement and migration on host communities. Our research is gender-sensitive and respects the special needs of children, people with disabilities, members of marginalized minorities, and other vulnerable groups.


Sayara also designs and implements evidence-based social and behavior change campaigns that aim to promote improved protection systems and the socio-economic inclusion of migrants in host communities.


Recently, we have designed and put into practice an array of services that facilitate the referral of trafficked persons, vulnerable migrants, and refugees in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland, and Sudan. In Afghanistan, we have developed information campaigns to educate potential migrants and conducted conflict-sensitive analyses of refugee return and settlements for internally displaced persons. In Colombia, we analyzed the response of local communities to the influx of Venezuelan migrants, advocated for a more robust humanitarian response, and sought opportunities to improve relations between refugees and host communities.

Preventing & Countering Violent
Extremism & Disinformation

Sayara’s approach to Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) and Disinformation is guided by a core understanding that extremism, violence, civil unrest, and the erosion of democratic institutions are symptoms of poor governance and a lack of social cohesion.


Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism

Rather than relying solely on counter-narrative, mass media, and digital engagement campaigns, Sayara’s comprehensive approach focuses on increasing sub-national government responsiveness and social cohesion. Our strategy combines real-time target audience analysis, rapid response communications activities, and support for civil society organizations and key influencers.


Sayara has implemented over a dozen P/CVE projects around the globe. These projects have supported sub-national governance communications, built capacity for civil society, created mobile theaters, used sports diplomacy, distributed comic books, and aired radio and television drama series. Sayara’s researchers regularly collaborate with our P/CVE experts to conduct ethnographic observations, nationwide surveys, and social media analyses.


Monitoring Disinformation

Sayara currently works in five countries across Eastern Europe and South Asia to monitor and analyze disinformation narratives.


Disinformation is designed to sow chaos, divide societies, and erode democratic institutions at the behest of foreign state actors. Sayara works to counter disinformation with a mixed-methods approach that blends traditional quantitative and qualitative techniques with narrative and sentiment analysis and monitoring. Data is tracked in real-time though an artificial intelligence portal.

Stabilization and
Sub-National Governance

Sayara perceives poor governance and a lack of social cohesion as the core drivers of instability, and ideological extremism and violence as its symptoms. Consequently, we avoid directing resources towards what the latest U.S. Stabilization Assistance Review (SAR) calls “disparate agendas.” With stabilization interventions designed to increase social cohesion and government responsiveness, we work to eliminate the government power vacuums in which ideological extremism, non-state armed groups, disinformation, and violence thrive.


Less is more. Sayara’s decade-long experience in stabilization has taught us that programs do not need to be highly complex or overly designed. In fact, we’ve found that multi-faceted stabilization programs relying on major funding streams and technocratic models often lose sight of their original objectives and create confusion among local beneficiaries. Such large-scale programming also carries the risk of perverse effects like undermining government legitimacy and increasing government corruption.


Collaborating directly with sub-national government actors, we use real-time data collection to inform rapid response stabilization activities and provide government and civil society counterparts with the tools they need to improve service delivery and realize sustainable change.

Youth and

How do children and teenagers best learn amidst conflict, displacement, and instability? Our research engages youth, parents, teachers, governments, and the donor community to understand the roles of informal schools and education systems that enable youth to continue their education even when formal school systems become inaccessible or cease to function. We recommend strategies for increasing community support for education and identify obstacles to school enrollment, retention, inclusiveness, and learning.


In Afghanistan, Sayara supports public health programming for mothers and children, including evaluating the success of nutrition and polio vaccination campaigns. In Lebanon, we have worked to encourage community buy-in for protecting mothers and children from communicable diseases.


We work with the most reputable organizations in the world. Some of our clients and partners include: