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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 supporting evidence use and expert advice in policymaking


We are 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. Together, twelve partners form 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 ensures that HEART can respond rapidly and efficiently to FCDO requests for support. Quality assurance mechanisms are built into the HEART operating model at all stages and a strong emphasis on knowledge-sharing and service integration is helping to ensure that HEART is adding maximum value to enhance the impact to a portfolio of FCDO projects.

Covid-19 response

The COVID-19 pandemic has launched many countries and their governments into unchartered territory. Governments are grappling with a myriad of challenges, including immediate strategies for prevention and treatment, continued delivery of public services alongside the COVID-19 response, mitigating the social and economic effects, and ways to adapt systems for future preparedness and resilience.

The HEART partners recognise that responses to COVID-19 will affect all parts of a health system, which are often already overburdened. We are committed to supporting governments and their civil society partners in specific areas as well as developing package of solutions for different parts of a health system. While at its core a public health issue, COVID-19 - and measures to curb its spread - will have also multi-sectoral effects.


In order to deliver high quality development policy and programmes, FCDO advisers require access to a range of external support services. These may include 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 may also require additional technical and specialist workforce resources to inform policy recommendations and support project implementation. Framework agreements have been established across the major areas of FCDO’s work to meet these support needs in the most effective and cost-efficient way. Each agreement establishes a common level of professional evidence and applied knowledge services available to DFID staff and other development actors.

Our approach

Education, health, WASH, social protection and nutrition are all key priorities for FCDO, as highlighted in the department’s 2015 strategic plan. We are leading a consortium of specialist partners managing FCDO’s Expert advice call down service (EACDS) framework for health, nutrition, WASH, social protection and education. Together, the Twelve consortium partners form the high-quality technical assistance for results Team (HEART), providing the following consultancy to support time-pressured decision-makers:

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

HEART is organised to respond to the needs of advisors as quickly and efficiency as possible. The team has access to partner expertise in all 26 FCDO priority countries as well as a growing database of trusted consultant contacts to draw from. A full-time administrative team ensures that all support requests from FCDO are dealt with centrally to avoid delays and duplication and coordinates the shortlisting, contracting and management of consultants. Quality assurance mechanisms are embedded at all stages of the HEART operational model.

The HEART management team includes technical leads for health, nutrition, WASH, social protection and education who act as points of contact for all requests for consultancy support requests, ensuring that advisers are directed to technical experts who can best support their needs. Similarly, the strategic location of staff within academic institutions means that HEART’s services benefit from access to peer-reviewed journals and subject specialists who can be called on to act in an advisory or review role. In addition, all outputs from consultancy call-down projects are subject to peer review to ensure the technical rigour, relevance and consistency of evidence, conclusions and recommendations.

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


HEART has established and institutionalised effective operational procedures for meeting the needs of clients quickly and efficiently. Project areas include strategic planning, support to business case development, value-for-money assessments and super-specialist support. In addition, the greater integration of HEART services is resulting in a number of cost and efficiency savings in-line with the programmes’ overall aim of enhancing the impact of development projects.

Recent reports from HEART:

  1. Technical Support for the Development of a Remote Learning and Digital Skills Strategy for the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture
  2. Market Assessment of Local Production of Ready to Use Therapeutic and Supplementary Foods (RUTFs and RUSFs)
  3. Exploring the Intersection of Sanitation, Hygiene, Water, and Health in Pastoralist Communities in Northern Tanzania
  4. Accessible Sanitation in the Workplace – Important Considerations for Disability-Inclusive Employment in Nigeria and Bangladesh
  5. Comprehensive Social Protection Programming: What is the Potential for Improving Sanitation Outcomes?
  6. Telehealth and Digital Inclusion in Indonesia
  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

Visit the HEART website