ETHEL [user:field_middlename] SIBANDA


Independent consultant
United Kingdom

Ethel Sibanda is a Principal Consultant at Itad. She has over 15 years’ experience working in M&E in the fields of agriculture, vulnerability monitoring and food & nutrition security.
She has worked with clients such as IFAD, DFID, USAID, BMZ, Rockefeller and BMGF and spent over eight years working with FAO in close collaboration with UNICEF and WFP. Her experience ranges from research and strategy evaluations to national-level food security and vulnerability assessments, crop surveys, household quasi- experimental surveys to multi-country MEL in agriculture. Her MEL expertise includes Theory of Change development, process and impact evaluations, policy and advocacy evaluation, and capacity building in results-based management.

My contributions

  • All three underscored the importance of data quality in the sector, from calculating food security deficits, food production, and consumption, to more commercial uses and decisions such as trade, pricing and marketing. As the discussion progressed, what became clear is that countries with stronger management information systems (MIS) for agricultural data are coping better with the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on data quality than those with less established systems. Evidence for this can be drawn in two main areas: harmonisation of national data systems and presence of long- term systematic data.

    Harmonised, national data systems strengthen quality

    Rwanda has a state-owned

  • Three panellists, Angela Dannson, Elias Segla and Ian Goldman, shared real life examples based on their leadership experience in African agriculture. Three points stood out for me: the importance of champions at senior levels such as the presidency, leadership at institutional level and leveraging networks within and outside government.

    1. Importance of champions at senior levels such as the presidency

    The highest office in Benin has not left RBM to chance but is driving and embedding a culture of results in the agriculture sector. The presidency introduced a national level initiative to drive results and accountability which saw

    • Thanks a lot Tim. Very interesting exchanges. I do think there is a lot that can be done with existing data sets and secondary data, but much depends on their quality as well. A few thoughts come to mind

      1. I realize from experience that quite often evaluators collect a lot more data than is required, so the current Covid- 19 situation forces us to streamline approaches and collect only very necessary data. We need to be more aligned to utility. For instance, ask ourselves, what information is required by decision makers therefore what is the minimum data required to address that at the time it is required? What data can be collected remotely and what can be supplemented through existing data?
      2. Where good quality data exists, particularly with unique identifiers, efforts can be made to match data with light touch remote primary data collection, possibly using mobile technology, given travel restriction posed by Covid-19.
      3. I do think more that ever before, enhanced quality measures at all levels are increasingly important. While we lose all the benefits that come with  face to face interaction in data collection, there is still much that can be done to enhance quality of outcomes- For instance, more needs to be done to engage people with the right technical expertise to mine existing data and understand trends; use existing data for modelling what the future situation might look like in view of Covid-19; and use qualitative approaches such as direct observation of crop quality and food availability in markets, where applicable to mention a few examples.