In my view, the Theory of Change, or logical framework, or any other method used to guide the design of the development intervention (project) is critical. These methods should be based on comprehensive analysis of the development context and the critical issues to be addressed to meet the needs and desires of local communities.
Multilateral organizations have some examples of "community-driven development" projects. For example, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has recently published an evaluation synthesis of "Community-driven development in IFAD-supported projects" (IFAD, April 2020), which is based on the review of case studies of community-driven development projects. The theory of change used for this synthesis was based on the assumption that social capital and empowerment are at the center of the community-driven development approach. This theory of change assumes that participatory implementation process "...is expected to achieve a truly sustainable transformation of rural livelihoods by building poor peoples' capacities to make use of a wider range of livelihood options and by transforming community-government relations to better support people-centred development processes". This theory of change is illustrated in Figure 2 on page 5 of the synthesis paper accessible via the following link:
Food and Agriculture Organization
Dear Nabyouré Jean Stanislas OUEDRAOGO,
Thank you very much for raising this strategic question, which is at the heart of the discussions held today in the context of best practices and development pathways towards achieving the Agenda 2030. All countries, all developments stakeholders, communities and individuals should act in collaborative and productive partnerships to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The proliferation of development interventions could indeed become a negative factor, if their universe is composed of projects that do not exploit potential synergies and apparent complementarities, and are not based on partnerships based on solid analysis of mutual benefits generated from joining forces, capacities and resources toward common goals.
We live in communities and environments that are affected by a multitude of factors that are interconnected, broadly defined as social, economic, environmental, health-related and other development factors. Accordingly, the development interventions should be developed with due attention top and in full consideration of these inter-linkages, inter-connections and trade-offs. There are examples of good practices used by development organizations to coordinate and consolidate the universe of development interventions to take full account of development context and exploit potential complementarities in addressing the inherent interlinked development issues and challenged. Some of these examples are show below:
These are just a few examples from the recent past. The new generation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/UNSDG-SDG-Primer-Repor…), are being developed to move the development aid paradigm from assistance to cooperation, and from individual contributions by development agencies to a collective and coherent response to countries' opportunities, gaps and challenges.
The new Cooperation Frameworks will consider development priorities from multiple perspectives of the diverse groups of stakeholders, taking their views as the basis for developing coherent development support package. In doing so, the Cooperation Frameworks will aim at developing interventions that take full consideration of potential effects among different sectors. If done and implemented right, these Cooperation Frameworks will guide the transformation of development projects into a coherent and well-coordinated package of development assistance, aligned with the national plans towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.
Just a reflection.
Thank you for raising this important issue, frequently faced by development practitioners. While both functions, the M&E on one hand, and the knowledge management, on the other, contribute to organizational learning and effective programming towards generating intended benefits to the people and communities, these functions quite often are managed by different units and follow different organizational practices and cycles. To ensure that these functions complement each other, these have to be planned and synced, preferably at the design stage of the project. For example, the results from periodic monitoring conducted at quarterly intervals, may be used to produce knowledge products, such as newsletters and case study brochures to raise awareness on the results achieved. Annual monitoring exercises could be informing another type of knowledge products - such as the lessons learned. Utility of evaluations can be enhanced by wider dissemination and broadcasting (e.g. via social media, TV, radio), with support from knowledge management professionals.
In a effort to ensure that both M&E and KM teams work collaboratively together, the following initial steps could be considered and applied: 1) discussing with programme management and beneficiaries their needs in M&E and KM products; 2) Agreeing on a joint plan of M&E and KM activities, focusing on complementarities and sequencing; 3) Developing a plan for effective utilization and dissemination of M&E and KM products.
Senior Evaluation Officer (FAO)
You have raised a very important question, which affects the quality of evaluation work. Evaluations of development programmes in the broadly defined areas of rural development, agriculture and food security are inherently complex. The assessments of results in these areas are affected by a multiplicity of biophysical, economic, and social systems and factors. There are different types of constraints and challenges in evaluation work that depend mostly on the context of the programmes or policy work being evaluated. For example, accurate and timely assessments of potential impact and development change may be affected by the remote location of project sites, social stratification of rural communities, time required to produce productivity gains, adoption capacities of local communities, and many other factors.
Evaluators often encounter issues with availability of baseline data, or information on the prevailing conditions of the development situation at the start of the projects or programmes addressing food security and agriculture development. This issue could be addressed by reconstructing baselines, for example, using ‘recall’ technique, i.e. requesting key beneficiaries or stakeholders to recollect information about these conditions in the past.
Security situation in the country may also have a huge impact on the access to data and methods we chose for evaluation. The choice of evaluators could also be highly limited, as not all may have necessary clearance to visit high-risk areas, or experience in working in similar situations.
Accessibility of project sites may also be restricted or banned. To address these constraints, local consultants with access to restricted zones may provide support in data collection, and potential alternative evaluation methods could be also considered. In recent FAO’s evaluation of the large irrigation rehabilitation programme in Afghanistan, evaluation team faced a constraint of accessing some of the programme sites. The team opted for alternative method by using the open-source data from Google to assess the potential impact of the programme on the livelihoods in those specific sites. Google Earth maps were utilized to measure the expansion of the irrigated area and the vegetative cover along different sections of the rehabilitated canals. The methodology for measuring these areas was also using preliminary information from enumerators in the field who had access to the restricted zones, and were engaged in supporting collection of necessary data and information for the evaluation (e.g. the GPS coordinates of the irrigated areas in the vicinity of the irrigation canals). Then this information was analyzed based on historic data available from Google Earth on before- and after-project conditions and the changes based on vegetative cover at different periods during a year.
These are just a few highlights of the constraints and challenges that evaluators may encounter in their work and an example of possible ways to address those. The range of such constraints is quite broad, and we encourage all members of this community to share their experiences in addressing different types of constraints and limitations.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)