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Esther Saville

Esther Saville joined Itad in October 2016 as Head of Knowledge Management. She leads Itad’s Knowledge Hub to promote learning, knowledge creation, and management across our portfolio to support technical excellence in our programmes. She has 20 years’ experience of designing and strengthening delivery of research, monitoring and evaluation (RM&E) both in the UK and internationally working in the government, NGO, and commercial sectors. In all of her roles, she has supported organisations and individuals to build expertise in RM&E through training, on-the-job support and mentoring, and through developing knowledge management systems, tools and processes.

Prior to joining Itad, Esther worked as a Technical Strategist at Options Consulting, responsible for ensuring that best practice and innovation from across the sector strengthened health and social development programme design and delivery.

Esther specialises in research, monitoring & evaluation with a sectoral focus of health and social development. Esther has broad and diverse mixed-methods M&E and research expertise, and has led teams to deliver actionable evidence for adaptive programming. Within the health sector Esther has led embedded and independent Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) support for health systems strengthening and service delivery programming working closely with governments, development partners, civil society organisations, and communities.  Esther also has significant expertise in the engagement of the private sector in the Social Marketing, Social Franchising and Total Market Approach arena.

Working previously at Population Services International and BBC Media Action, Esther has supported design and implementation of mainly DFID, Global Fund and USAID-funded programmes, including in conflict/post-conflict and humanitarian settings. She has worked across multiple sectors using participatory and rights based approaches; working through media and promoting accountability mechanisms; using behaviour change and social norms-based approaches; strengthening and delivering services and providing technical and strategic advice. Esther has provided evidence to support high-level policy review for the UK-Government including on drug policy and community policing. Esther has also designed and implemented RM&E across a range of sectors including policing of drug and sex markets; professional and organised crime; treatment services for drug users; promoting inclusion in labour markets and labour market analysis.

Esther is particularly interested in strengthening approaches to evaluate the effectiveness of behaviour change and evidence, advocacy and accountability programming; in using participatory qualitative operational research and evaluation approaches for adaptive programming and in process evaluation.

Find out more about Esther in her 60 Second Interview.

Nationality: British
Languages: English (mother tongue), French (basic), Russian (basic)
Country Experience:

Afghanistan, Burundi, Caribbean, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Papua New Guinea, Russia, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tajikistan, Yemen


MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice (Distinction)
London School of Economics and Political Science
BA Sociology and International Politics (First)
Durham University


2016 - Present
Head of Knowledge Management
Itad Ltd.
Support technical excellence and to promote learning, knowledge creation and management across Itad’s portfolio.
2015 - 2016
Technical Strategist
Options Consulting
Options delivers programmes to strengthen health systems, enable demand for services and to achieve social change to contribute to health and social development goals. As Technical Strategist, Esther ensured that knowledge and experience from programme implementation was fed-back into strategy and programme design.
2011 - 2015
Technical Specialist – Monitoring & Evaluation
Options Consulting
As a Technical Specialist, Esther was a lead/senior advisor responsible for ensuring effective delivery of health and social development programmes with a focus on RM&E systems.
2009 - 2011
Regional Research Manager (based in Asia)
Population Services International
As a Regional Researcher, Esther was responsible for providing strategic and technical guidance to country platforms in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, and Central Asia to deliver RM&E to support programme delivery.
2006 - 2009
Research Manager, Research and Learning
BBC Media Action
As Regional Research Manager, Esther was responsible for designing and implementing RM&E to generate insight into target audiences, inform programme development, monitor activities and measure performance and impact for programmes. Esther managed and built capacity of research teams to implement RM&E activities in Sudan, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Yemen. She worked in collaboration with Universities to ensure approaches and conceptual frameworks were based on the latest thinking.
Principal Researcher, Policy Team
Scottish Executive Justice Department
Provided expert analysis and subject-based technical advice to a Ministerial team appointed to review drug policy in Scotland.
2004 - 2006
Principal Researcher/Head of Research
Scottish Executive, Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department (ETLLD), Analytical Services Division
As Head of Research (Principal Researcher) in the Analytical Services Division for ETLLD, Esther managed a team of analysts and external contractors to deliver the Department’s RM&E programme (see below). The total departmental research and analysis budget was £2.5 million and covered around 50+ activities annually including several large-scale surveys e.g. labour force survey
Senior Researcher
Scottish Executive, Enterprise, Transport and Lifelong Learning Department (ETLLD), Analytical Services Division
As a Senior Researcher, Esther managed delivery of a portfolio of RM&E activities for this Government Department with the aim of ensuring a greater level of social and economic inclusion by addressing underlying structural causes of poverty and exclusion.
2001 - 2004
Research Fellow
Glasgow University, Centre for Drug Misuse Research
Delivered a mixed-methods evaluation of drug treatment services in Scotland (a longitudinal bio-behavioural cohort study of drug users over 5 years).
1998 - 2001
Research Officer
UK Home Office, Policing and Reducing Crime Unit
Developed and delivered a programme of research on the prevention and policing of illegal drug use, alcohol-related crime and sex work.
Counsellor/Protection Officer
United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Macedonia
Conducted in-depth interviews with Kosovan refugees to document evidence for war crimes tribunal.
Programme Officer
UK Humanitarian Evacuation Programme (Macedonia) (UK Home Office)
Selected to work as part of a small delegation to establish and implement a humanitarian evacuation program for Kosovan refugees to the UK.


2001 - 2014
Extensive training in advanced social research and analysis methodologies and relevant software
Managing remote teams (BBC)
Effective Manager programme (Scottish Executive)
Policy skills, general ledger, e-procurement and diversity training (Scottish Executive

Project Experience:

2014 - 2016
National Health Sector Support Programme, Nepal
(DFID/USAID) - Family Planning/M&E Specialist
Provided specialist family planning support in the design and development of three innovative family planning pilot interventions to reach rural populations. Provided M&E expertise to inform design of monitoring and evaluation for the pilots. Quality assurance of deliverables and budget.
2014 - 2016
Partnership Management, Evaluation and Learning (PMEL) for the Improving Maternal, Reproductive, New-born and Child Health programme, Sierra Leone
(DFID) - Lead Technical Advisor
Provided strategic and technical MERL support (resourcing, recruitment, Theory of Change, logframe development, monitoring work plans, ToRs, consolidated reporting, M&E and dissemination plan).Provided guidance to design and delivery of HMIS strengthening activities including data quality assessments. Supported design of operational research studies and Value for Money case studies to inform best practice and strengthen programme delivery. Provided quality assurance (QA) of deliverables. Provided support with strategic and performance reviews.
Nepal Health Sector Support Programme, Lessons Learned and Sustainability Review
(DFID) - Team Lead
Team Lead for programme performance, sustainability and lessons learned review of health sector support to the Nepal Health Sector Strategy (2010- 2015). See:
The Girl Generation, Africa
(DFID) - Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Provided advice on results frameworks and MERL plan for this social change programme that provides a global platform for galvanising, catalysing and amplifying the Africa-led movement to end Female Genital Mutilation/cutting.
Market assessment for the LNG-IUS (hormonal IUD) in India
(Non-profit Pharma) - Team Lead
Team Lead for market assessment and development of market sizing model to estimate the potential market for an effective and affordable hormonal IUD (LNG-IUS).
2014 - 2015
Participatory Ethnographic Evaluative Research (PEER) with female sex workers to inform programme design
(CARE Myanmar) - Team Lead
Team Lead for a study on the lives and working conditions of sex workers in Myanmar to inform CARE’s Socially Marginalised Populations (livelihoods) programme to empower the country’s poorest women and girls.
2011 - 2013
Sector Wide Approach to Strengthening Health (SWASTH) in Bihar (Bihar Health Sector Reform Strategy) – Management and Technical Support
(DFID) - Monitoring & Evaluation Technical Advisor
Lead Consultant for M&E for Bihar Technical Assistance Support Team (BTAST). Developed M&E and KM strategies and logframe for SWASTH. Provided technical support on key research and M&E activities including advising on study design for evaluations of Government interventions.
CARISMA social marketing programme for HIV prevention and promotion of reproductive health, Caribbean
(KfW) - Lead Technical Advisor
Provided technical advice to the Team Leader, and implementing partners (Social Marketing Organisations) on research, monitoring and evaluation of the programme. Managed implementation and completion of regional studies. Conducted best practice reviews of components of programme delivery. Provided quality assurance of programme deliverables. Managed research budget and reporting.
2011 - 2012
Partnership for Transforming Health Systems (PATHS2) Nigeria
(DFID) - Monitoring and Evaluation/Knowledge Management Technical Advisor
Developed and conducted Training of Trainers for implementation of (health) Facility Health Committee Monitoring System. Developed knowledge management strategy for Voice and Accountability output.
Strengthening Health for All Coalition’s (HFAC) (CSO) M&E System to provide national monitoring of Free Health Care Initiative
(DFID) - Team Lead – Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist
Provided technical support to HFAC to design and build capacity to implement a large-scale monitoring system including extensive training of 300+ monitors. Conducted assessment of first phase of implementation including recommendations and action plan for improvement.
Participatory Ethnographic Evaluative Research (PEER), Qualitative evaluation of the HIV prevention and control in rural development enclaves project for Population Services International, Papua New Guinea
(PSI) - Deputy Team Lead
Delivered a PEER evaluation of a programme designed to reduce HIV/AIDS through a course for married couples to reduce conflict in marital relationships.


  • Living on the edge: Sex Workers Lives in Myanmar (2015)
    Saville, E. & Brown, E.

  • Nepal Health Sector Support Programme Lessons Learned and Sustainability Review (2010-15) (2015)
    Aryal, A. & Saville, E.

  • A National Survey of Afghanistan (2008)
    BBC World Service Trust Dissemination Papers and Donor Report
    Saville, E.

  • Using content analysis to measure the influence of media development interventions: Elections training for journalists in Yemen (2008)
    BBC World Service Trust Dissemination Papers and Donor Report
    Saville, E. & Whitehead, S.

  • The challenges of delivering drug treatment in Scottish prisons (2006)
    Probation Journal: The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice, Vol. 53(3): 230-247
    McKintosh, J. and Saville, E.

  • Understanding the treatment needs of drug users in prison (2005)
    Probation Journal: The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice, Vol 52(3): 243-257
    Neale, J., Roberston, M., Saville, E.,

  • Comparing the Effectiveness of Community and Prison-based Drug Treatment (2003)
    Drugs: Education, Prevention and Policy, Vol 11, No 3
    Neale, J. and Saville, E.

  • Calculating the Risk: Recreational Drug Use amongst Clubbers in South East England (2003)
    Home Office Report, published online
    Deehan, A. and Saville E.

  • A Qualitative Case Study of a drug rehabilitation clinic (2003)
    Centre for Drug Misuse Research Report
    Saville, E.

  • Implementing change in a Community Based Treatment Agency (2003)
    Centre for Drug Misuse Research Report
    Saville, E.

  • Delivering Treatment in a Prison Setting: A Case Study (2003)
    Centre for Drug Misuse Research Report
    Saville, E.

  • Service overview: Drug Outcome Research in Scotland Study (DORIS) (2002)
    Centre for Drug Misuse Research Report
    Saville, E.

  • Drunks and Disorder: Processing Intoxicated Arrestees in Two City Centre Custody Suites (2002)
    Police Research Series, Paper 150
    Deehan, A., Marshall, E., Saville, E.

  • Crime and Disorder Partnerships: Alcohol-related Crime and Disorder in Audit and Strategy Documents (2002)
    Crime Reduction Series Briefing Note 9/00
    Deehan, A. and Saville E.

  • Alcohol-related Crime and Disorder: the First Audit and Strategy Documents from Crime and Disorder Partnerships (2002)
    Crime Prevention and Community Safety: An International Journal, Vol 4, No 2
    Deehan, A. and Saville, E.

  • 2001 (A qualitative evaluation of ‘New Beginnings’; a training and employment programme for recovering drug users)
    Centre for Drug Misuse Research Report
    Saville, E.

  • Neighbourhood Warden Schemes: An Overview (1999)
    Crime Reduction Research Series, Paper 2
    Jacobson, J. and Saville, E.

  • Neighbourhood Warden Schemes: A briefing note (1999)
    Crime Reduction Research Series
    Saville, E. and Jacobson, J.