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Democracy, Human Rights & Governance: Learning, Evaluation & Research Activity

2B26010 Voters check their name before voting at a polling station during the 2014 gubernatorial election in Osun State, Nigeria.
Generating and promoting the use of data, evidence, and learning to inform DRG programming worldwide
  • Client
    U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Dates
    2015 - Present


Protecting and promoting democracies worldwide in a dramatically changing global context marked by democratic decline requires constant learning through data and evidence. 

Establishing and consolidating inclusive and accountable democracies is vital for advancing freedom, dignity, and sustainable development. Countries with ineffective government institutions, rampant corruption, and weak rule of law have a higher risk of civil war and extreme criminal violence. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds democracy, human rights, and governance (DRG) programs around the globe to support government transparency and accountability; engagement of civil society and independent media; democratic resilience; democratic elections and political processes; justice; human rights; security; and counter trafficking in persons. To ensure these investments have the desired impacts and result in more effective DRG programming, USAID needs data, evidence, and learning to identify what does and does not work and why.


NORC conducts research and evaluation to generate high-quality data and evidence on programs in the DRG and cross-cutting sectors.

Under the DRG-LER activity, USAID’s Center for Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) relies on NORC for data, research, and expertise. For 10 years, NORC has served as the DRG Center’s trusted learning partner by supporting and evaluating a variety of DRG and cross-cutting programs. We design and manage the following evidence generation activities to inform DRG programs around the world:

  • Impact and performance evaluations
  • Assessments
  • Literature and evidence reviews
  • Quantitative and qualitative data collections
  • Research on time-sensitive and strategically important topics
  • Case studies

In addition, our team provides learning and dissemination support, develops toolkits, and conducts training for USAID Mission and Operating Unit staff.


NORC bolsters USAID Missions’ ability to positively impact peace and prosperity around the world by protecting and promoting democracies through more effective programming.

Evidence generated through NORC’s robust research helps USAID pinpoint problems and supply solutions for a wide range of programs targeting democratic principles, human rights, and governance. This impact is broad and multi-layered. We have produced more than 150 reports providing evaluations, analyses, and recommendations on strengthening governance efforts in over 65 countries in Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, and beyond.

Some examples of our work are:

  • Impact evaluations of a Bystander Training Program in Bangladesh that tested an innovative approach to help the Mission combat a new threat of violent extremism and impact evaluation of USAID PROJUSTICE program in Haiti to assist people held in prison on pre-trial detention, which USAID used to instigate policy change.
  • Performance evaluations of a civil society capacity advancement project in Georgia and a program strengthening local public authorities in Moldova
  • Countering trafficking-in-person (C-TIP) assessments in Timor Leste, Mali, and the DRC
  • An assessment framework for women’s political participation and leadership, piloted in Liberia, Nepal, Guatemala, and Guinea, and implemented in Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan, and Tanzania.
  • A literature review and 15 country case studies on democratic backsliding identifying effective interventions to reverse backsliding and comparing countries with open democratic spaces versus those without.

Project Leads

“We are helping the DRG Center’s process of learning about what works and what doesn’t. At NORC, we support the DRG Center with the expertise, skills, and research necessary to generate high quality learning for efficient and effective decision-making.”

NORC Principal Research Scientist & DRG-LER Project Director

“We are helping the DRG Center’s process of learning about what works and what doesn’t. At NORC, we support the DRG Center with the expertise, skills, and research necessary to generate high quality learning for efficient and effective decision-making.”

Explore NORC Global Projects

Gender-Based Violence Impunity in Latin America & Caribbean

Elevating survivor perspectives to promote meaningful accountability for gender-based violence


U.S. Agency for International Development

Tackling Exploitative Child Domestic Work in West Africa

A comprehensive assessment of child domestic work in Nigeria and Liberia to inform program design


U.S. Department of State