Ram Chandra Khanal

Ram Chandra Khanal

Chairman
Community of Evaluator
Nepal

More about me

I have been working as an expert in programme evaluation and management. I have carried out many projects and programme evaluation related to livelihoods enhancement, economic development, natural resources management, climate change, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development in Nepal and other South Asian countries. Currently, I am serving as a president of community of evaluators in Nepal and am also engaged in evaluation field building while working with the government of Nepal.

My contributions

    • Dear David,

      Thanks for bringing these important issues to this community of Practice. Based on my experience working in the developing countries, I have the following input for your reference.

      With best regards, 

      1. Striking a balance between depth and length of assessment: monitoring and assessment exercises based on interviews and farm surveys can put significant burden on respondents, for example diverting time that would be otherwise allocated to other activities. Respondent fatigue due to lengthy interviews/surveys can also result in lower quality of data collected, and therefore in lower reliability of results. On the other hand, a shorter assessment may result in a level of depth that is insufficient to design effective interventions.

      How can the burden on smallholder farmers be reduced during M&E assessments?

      I prefer to do/ am doing: 

      • Making objective oriented short questionnaires
      • Mostly close ended but also provision of sharing their views and perspectives
      • Interview in their own setting and preferred time
      • Making them feel they are also benefitted from this exercise
      • Create strong rapport (interpersonal skills) – (not mechanical but also speak on their personal issues)
      • Provide some present (this can be to their children)

      What are the best ways to incentivize farmers to take part in the survey (e.g. non-monetary incentives, participation in survey tailoring, in presentation of results)?

      I prefer to do / am doing: 

      • When I was programme/ project manager I used to provide farmers some financial compensation (I strongly feel we need to pay the information provider as we information collectors are making a good sum of money for similar kind of functions)
      • Compensate their time with good snacks / refreshment
      • Provide them a present as a ‘token of love’
      • Acknowledging their support

      2. Making findings from M&E assessments useful to farmers: considering the burden on farmers resulting from M&E exercises, it is key to ensure results are meaningful and accessible to them. This is in fact an explicit objective of the M&E tool we are developing. The assessment seeks to provide an indication of sustainability strengths and weaknesses that can be used by e.g. extension agents to help farmers identify targeted practices that can increase overall sustainability of production.

      Based on your experience, what could be the most effective ways to communicate results from the sustainability assessment to farmers (e.g. field visits and peer learning, technical information workshop)? What kind of communication materials (e.g. briefs, leaflets, others) are most appropriate to support knowledge sharing events?

      • Clarify the objectives – how sustainability assessment are important to farmers and their groups/
      • Organize sharing meeting and get their feedback on the result
      • Take full use of local resources persons/ local groups or trusted partners while sharing the results
      • Use illustration/visual aids/local language  
      • Less of use of technical words and complex terms

      Do you have experience in comparing results among farmers in a participatory way? What method have you used to do this? Was it effective?

      When possible:

      • Making sharing group according to the interest groups (such as women farmers, youth farmers, farmers groups based on their production or participation in different value chain)
      • Use illustration / examples / visual aids/ simple demonstration (such as big maize cub vs small cub) relevant to local context  (for example if you say 50%, in many cases – they do not understand, if you give example such as 100 unit and 150 unit (50% additional)- may be will be in position to understand

      How can the results be used for non-formal education of farmers (e.g. to raise awareness and/or build capacity on ways to increase farm sustainability)?

      • Develop participatory based farmer centred training module considering the need of the farmers
      • Provide sharing opportunity by farmers (farmer to farmer approach)
      • Use of Use illustration / examples / visual aids/ simple demonstration

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      Ram Chandra Khanal (PhD)

      Evaluator and programme manager: Climate change/NRM/Agriculture

    • Dear Emma,

      Thanks for posing this important question. Most times, M & E is considered as an accountability function of the donors and implementing agencies also follow the same approach. In this case, participation of farmers is not considered as prerequisite but sometime viewed that farmers are not ‘knowledge’ on these technical matters and only technical persons can provide this service on behalf of beneficiaries (as the technical persons also understand the local/farmers context and needs).

      Participatory M & E has emerged to rectify this challenge where farmers would be involved in all stages of M & E – from planning to final evaluation. There is however mix experience in real world situations. I have noticed three types of P M&E process while working for various development organizations. In first group, project P M & E process duly respect its basic premise of participatory principle and involved farmers in all or most of the project cycle (deep engagement). In the second project use more opportunistic approach. Farmers are invited just before or after the initiation of project (most times during the project inception phase) and share the M & E strategy/plan and claimed farmers’ involvement in M & E process. In my experience this is the most common approach applied in agriculture project in managing M & E (medium level engagement). The third category, where technocrats prepared the M & E and share with farmers to provide their feedback on their already prepared M & E strategy / plan (low engagement).  

      There are many participatory P M & E tools/methods that are dependent on the context and the technical matters. For example, for planning the project, ‘social and resource mapping’ would be very useful whereas for ‘agriculture market’ project ‘Venn diagram’ might provide some good understanding. Similarly, for food security project analysis, ‘seasonal calendar’ would provide very useful information. I have also used community score card to assess the performance (efficiency and effectiveness) of the project. There are many tools available, but it is vital to understand the basic principle of the participatory process and one should have a strong rapport with farmers and patients to use the tools.

      Best regards,

      Ram Chandra Khanal

    • Hi Dorothy,

      I do not have an opportunity to have a systematic study on the issue your raised but based on my work experience, I have the following points to make.

      Subsistence farming with low productivity (both labour and land) is common in agriculture in most of the developing countries. Hence, most of the young population are leaving agriculture farming and are joining international labour force in Nepal. It is considered that agriculture farming is the profession of uneducated people who cannot make livelihoods from other sources. Agriculture universities are preparing ‘good graduates’ for international universities abroad and most of them remain do not come back. The policy-practice gap is huge and support provided by the government in the name of agriculture are also captured by elites and political influencers. This has created a perverse incentive to the young who want to start their own agri enterprises. But there are also some silver lines as well. Some young people who went abroad for employment come back with skills to use new technologies and management ability to run agri enterprises, especially in the urban and peri-urban areas. It may require a big shift in thinking and support from the government side and involve young entrepreneurs who can bring new innovation that helps to transform from subsistence farming to a profitable enterprise that can ensure their livelihoods. 

      Best regards,

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      Ram Chandra Khanal, PhD

      Ex-President - Community of Evaluators - Nepal, BoDs - Nepal Krishi (agri) and board member SEF

      Kathmandu, Nepal

       

    • Hi all,

      Thanks for initiating a dialogue.

      From my experience, one important aspect is to know whether the project is really relevant to beneficiaries both in short and longer term and how the intervention is going to contribute the specific development objectives. Readiness of the beneficiaries to collaborate is another critical factor.
      It is also important to have a comprehensive theory change as the intervention is influenced by other internal/external factors that are responsible for creating enabling or disabling environment. Sometime – we generate our logic and reasons (we basically create an island in most of the time) but that may not held true and our interventions do not yield results. So, in many cases, relevancy and weak design have been the main reason for a success and failure of an intervention. I am sure there also other issues while implementing the project.

      Best regards,
      ---------------------------------------

      Ram Chandra Khanal, *PhD*

      *President - Community of Evaluators - Nepal and BoDs - Nepal Krishi (agri)*

      Kathmandu, Nepal