RE: The farmer as a key participant of M&E: lessons and experiences from Participatory M&E systems | Eval Forward


I hope that I may be forgiven for presenting a few justifiable reasons to demonstrate that the much-maligned top-down approach does not mean dictating to a target group be they farmers or any other category of actual workers who really do the job.

For instance, take the case of a single farmer; if he is experienced, not necessarily loaded with impressive diplomas in agriculture, would not he first consider the type of soil in his property, access to water, climate, kind of crop or animals fro which he is certain to have a demand, etc., before he begins his work? If anyone should deny this, one is just assuming that farmer is just ignorant, which is very often unjustifiable. 

If one should agree that our farmer does  so, then, he is using top-down approach to see what is most suitable for him to grow and/or raise on his land, because that will enable him to achieve his goal of succeeding in procuring enough food for himself and selling the rest to meet his other needs.

The problem is not in the method, but in its fragmented application. What happens is it is incompetently applied at highest level i.e., policy formulation and even less competently at the strategic implementation level. At regional and local levels, what comes from the top is just passed over as it is. This is a common chain of incompetence very wide-spread throughout the globe. The term top-down' is bandied about often by those who do not understand what it is, or what it involves.

It is a staggered approach where at each level both the 'big picture goal' which is general becomes more and more area-specific on implementation. Finally, at our farmer's level where it matters most, it becomes a process of reconciliation between his goal through its integration into the national whole. It is as simple as that when shorn of jargon and the clichés of vested interests.

So, farmer's wishes and feed back is an integral part of a competently applied top-down solution.


Lal Manavado.