HEART: using the EACDS framework to support FCDO decision makers

HEART is a consortium of leading organisations in health, nutrition, water & sanitation, education, social protection, and gender that has been supporting evidence use and expert advice in policymaking.

Project team members


We have been leading a consortium of specialist partners managing Lot D of FCDO’s Expert Advisory Call Down Service (EACDS) framework for Health, Nutrition, Water & Sanitation, Education, Social Protection and Gender. Twelve partners formed the HEART (High-Quality Technical Assistance for Results) consortium, providing call-down consultancy and rapid response to time-pressured FCDO advisers and other development actors.

Unrivalled access to an extensive network of trusted consultants, specialist academics and technical experts ensured that HEART could respond rapidly and efficiently to FCDO requests for support. Quality assurance mechanisms were built into the HEART operating model at all stages and a strong emphasis on knowledge-sharing and service integration helped to ensure that HEART added maximum value to enhance the impact to a portfolio of FCDO projects.


In order to deliver high-quality development policies and programmes, FCDO advisers required access to a range of external support services. These included access to rapid response, high-quality evidence services to address operational questions and support the completion of time-sensitive projects as well as more in-depth knowledge and information in a particular relevant field. FCDO country offices in particular also required additional technical and specialist workforce resources to inform policy recommendations and support project implementation.

Our approach

  • On-demand operational support to supplement existing capacity and provide additional technical expertise
  • Dedicated HEART website, hosting knowledge products and additional resources

HEART was organised to respond to the needs of advisors as quickly and efficiently as possible. The team had access to partner expertise in all 26 FCDO priority countries and could draw from a large database of trusted consultant contacts. A full-time administrative team dealt with all support requests from FCDO centrally to avoid delays and duplication and coordinated the shortlisting, contracting and management of consultants. Quality assurance mechanisms were embedded at all stages of the HEART operational model.

The HEART management team included technical leads who acted as points of contact for all requests for consultancy support, ensuring that advisers were directed to technical experts who could best support their needs. Similarly, the strategic location of staff within academic institutions meant that HEART’s services benefitted from access to peer-reviewed journals and subject specialists who could be called on to act in an advisory or review role. In addition, all outputs were subject to peer review to ensure the technical rigour, relevance and consistency of evidence, conclusions and recommendations.

Feedback played an important role throughout HEART operations, with procedures in place to capture client and consultant feedback across key services. By actively responding to feedback, the team was able to quickly implement recommendations from key learnings, improving the value and efficiency of its operations.


HEART established and institutionalised effective operational procedures for meeting the needs of clients quickly and efficiently. Project areas included strategic planning, support to business case development, value-for-money assessments, fiduciary risk assessments and specialist support including to government ministries. In addition, the greater integration of HEART services resulted in several cost and efficiency savings in line with the programmes’ overall aim of enhancing the impact of development projects.

Recent reports from HEART:

  1. Telehealth and Digital Inclusion in Indonesia
  2. Technical Support for the Development of a Remote Learning and Digital Skills Strategy for the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture
  3. Market Assessment of Local Production of Ready to Use Therapeutic and Supplementary Foods (RUTFs and RUSFs)
  4. Exploring the Intersection of Sanitation, Hygiene, Water, and Health in Pastoralist Communities in Northern Tanzania
  5. Accessible Sanitation in the Workplace – Important Considerations for Disability-Inclusive Employment in Nigeria and Bangladesh
  6. Comprehensive Social Protection Programming: What is the Potential for Improving Sanitation Outcomes?
  7. Social Protection & Gender Equality Outcomes Across the Lifecycle
  8. Burundi Cash Plus Render Review: Provisional Report
  9. A Gender Analysis of the Merankabandi Cash Transfer Project
  10. Review of the Evidence Landscape on the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Interventions Among the Rohingya Refugees to Enhance Healthcare Seeking Behaviours in Cox’s Bazar

Areas of expertise