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Technical Adviser for Monitoring, Evaluation, Research, and Learning (MERL) and Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion (GEDSI), Abt Australia

Ulla Keech-Marx is Technical Advisor for MERL and GEDSI in Abt’s International Technical Practice. She has more than 15 years of experience in international development, specializing in monitoring, evaluation and learning, gender, governance, and adaptive management in complex contexts, including in fragile and conflict-affected regions. She currently works with local teams to develop and implement inclusive strategic learning and adaptive management systems – supporting local change makers to bring about positive change in their communities and societies. Her countries of expertise include Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Timor Leste.

Ulla provides technical advice to a range of Australian aid programs in the Asia-Pacific region. For the Fiji-Australia Institutional Partnerships Program, she works with the Australian High Commission in Fiji to develop and implement a fit-for-purpose MERL system for this complex governance program. For the Papua New Guinea-Australia Transition to Health Program, a ‘flagship’ adaptive management program, she provides technical support to help the Performance and Adaptive Systems team develop, implement, and refine cutting-edge adaptive management approaches. She also works as a MERL advisor on the Investing in Women program.

Before joining Abt, Ulla worked as design, MEL, and gender specialist for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Social Protection team at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, as DFAT’s Performance and Gender Advisor for Afghanistan and Pakistan, she developed and implemented an innovative approach to remote monitoring, which has been recognized both internally and externally. She also provided technical oversight and strategic review of Australia’s gender-based violence programs in the region. At Coffey International Development, Ulla led the strategic evaluation of New Zealand’s aid programme in the Solomon Islands and supported the Negotiated Partnerships NGO Programme.


  • Monitoring, evaluation and learning in complex contexts
  • Gender equality, women’s empowerment, and gender-based violence
  • Adaptive management, partnership, and systems change approaches
  • Governance, fragility and conflict, and women, peace, and security
  • Mixed methods evaluation and qualitative research and analysis

Key Projects:

  • Fiji-Australia Institutional Partnerships Program (Fiji-IPP)
  • Papua New Guinea-Australia Transition to Health Program (PATH)
  • Investing in Women Program (Australian aid)
  • Afghanistan M&E Lab (Australian aid)
  • Negotiated Partnerships Programme (New Zealand Aid)


  • MERL in a time of COVID-19: A resource tool, Tetra Tech online article (with Catriona Flavel), 2020.
  • M&E in an Insurgency: Remote Monitoring of the Australian Aid Program in Afghanistan, Conference Paper (with Sarah Ransom), 2019 Australasian Aid Conference, Australian National University, Canberra.
  • MEL in Conflict-Affected Settings, Conference Paper (with Sarah Ransom), 2019 Australian Evaluation Society Conference, Sydney.
Ulla Keech-Marx