Emile Nounagnon HOUNGBO

Emile Nounagnon HOUNGBO

Agricultural Economist, Associate Professor, Director of the School of Agribusiness and Agricultural Policy
National University of Agriculture

I’m Emile N. HOUNGBO (PhD), a Benin citizen, Agricultural Economist Engineer (1996), with a PhD of the University of Abomey-Calavi (Benin) in socio-economics, environment and sustainable development (2008). I’m an Associate Professor at the National University of Agriculture in Benin, where I’m charged of the courses of Rural Economics, Methodology of Scientific Research, Macroeconomics and Project Management. My main research areas are sustainable agriculture, rural socioeconomics, food security, natural resources management, poverty analysis, and climate change. I’m an expert in strategic planning, the development and monitoring-evaluation of agricultural projects and poverty analysis. I has been charged of the monitoring and evaluation of several projects, such as the Fruit Flies West African Project (FF Project, 2014-2016) and the Blast Project (Pyriculariose Project, 2012-2016) both funded by the West and Central Council for Agricultural research and Development (WECARD) and the Project of Local Interventions for Food Security (PILSA, 1997, 2018) funded by the Government of Benin Republic.

My contributions

    • Hello everyone,

      Evaluating development projects/programmes is a sensitive activity. There is often a lot at stake. Often, commissioners are not ready to assume the results of evaluations. This reality means that only certain actors are committed to the accuracy of the evaluation results, while others see them as an exposure or sanction of their management inefficiency. When we are lucky enough that a part of the actors responsible for the implementation of the project/programme are willing to have the results communicated, we are in a happy situation. In these cases, the technical analyses and recommendations of the evaluator, previously given and clarified to a few key actors, must be precise and clear in order to allow relevant decisions to be taken. It must be admitted that evaluation plays an important role in improving the quality of project/programme implementation in order to increase its contribution to development. 

      To my knowledge, project implementers have often wanted the evaluator to be actively involved in communicating the results, in order to give them the highest possible level of credibility. Stakeholders, including project managers, have more trust in the evaluator's technical findings and statements.

      To improve the quality of communication, it would be desirable for the evaluator to be responsible for post-evaluation work, in which the results are put into a communicable form for decision-makers, partners and beneficiaries. For greater certainty, the cost of this communication could be included in the evaluator's remuneration and specified in the terms of reference of the call for applications which recruited him/her. This would ensure that the results are reported systematically and in good form. But the commissioners and those responsible for the implementation of the project must be in agreement. This is the real challenge.

      Thank you.

      Dr Emile N. HOUNGBO

      [Original contribution in French]



  • How to define and identify lessons learned?

    • Dear colleagues,

      I am very interested in the subject under discussion: "lessons learned". I would like to clarify that the notion of lessons learned has a much more scientific and didactic connotation. It is not about findings or recommendations. They are strong inferences that emerge as lessons that can be retained and applied in other contexts. The lessons are drawn for application beyond the current study context. Indeed, monitoring and evaluation is carried out in a given context. However, the in-depth analysis of the results obtained and the facts observed makes it possible to draw lessons that go beyond this context; lessons that are like formulas applicable in other circumstances. The lessons learned are therefore meant to shape our knowledge, know-how and behaviour in other professional situations. They are lessons that can be used in a decontextualized way, i.e. without necessarily referring to the circumstances in which they were generated. Recommendations should be formulated taking into account these lessons learned. The same applies to the method of conducting future similar studies. The strongest and most stable lessons learned are those that are methodologically rigorous and exist as accepted formulae. Examples are the Pythagorean theorem (a² + b² = c²), the law of diminishing returns (Turgot), demand is a decreasing function of price (Neoclassics), etc. The lessons learned are in line with the logic of knowledge accumulation as a continuous and cumulative process in social sciences. The lessons learned are thus miniature contributions to the improvement of scientific and technical knowledge in project monitoring and evaluation.

      Thank you.

      Dr Ir. Emile N. HOUNGBO, Senior Lecturer, Agroeconomist, Director of the School of Agribusiness and Agricultural Policy, National University of Agriculture of Porto-Novo. 

      [translated from French]


    • Good morning to all,

      The topic under discussion is of great interest, given the monitoring and evaluation aspect of development projects that has been raised: leaving no one behind and taking into consideration the concerns related to gender and the disadvantaged. It is very important to think about this. But to do this, the necessary preparations must be taken very early on, upstream of the monitoring-evaluation process. A methodological approach exists in this respect and is used in the field of natural resource management, but also in all other areas of socio-economic development. It is the 4Rs method. It is a method that allows all stakeholders to be identified in a participatory way, without the risk of forgetting any. The 4R method stands for Responsibilities, Rights, Relationships and Revenues. The 4Rs method is very effective because it identifies project stakeholders on the basis of duties, rights, relationships and revenues. The effectiveness of the method therefore comes from the fact that it is used from planning to monitoring and evaluation. When the method is used, monitoring and evaluation opens the way to focus sessions for rich and comprehensive information. I am willing to discuss this further, if necessary.

      Dr Émile N. HOUNGBO

      Agroéconomiste, Directeur de l'Ecole d'Agrobusiness et de Politiques Agricoles, Université Nationale d'Agriculture de Porto-Novo (Bénin)


    • Dear Anna Maria,

      The review of the theory of change (ToC) in the implementation of a development project is based on a participatory mid-term evaluation of the project. This evaluation should involve all project stakeholders. It is done on the basis of quality criteria according to which it is decided to review the intervention strategy. For example, the relevance of the project, its effectiveness and the participation of stakeholders should be assessed. The ToC review will be a readjustment of problematic elements of the logical framework, including the intervention logic and important assumptions. The major blockages to project success often come from these two categories of logframe elements.

      Thank you. 

      Dr Emile N. HOUNGBO

      Agroeconomist, Teacher-Researcher

      Expert in Elaboration and monitoring-evaluation of development projects

    • Dear All,

      The impartiality, neutrality and independence of the evaluator are all necessary qualities in evaluation. Ideally, therefore, they should all be observed in the evaluation process. Unfortunately, they do not require the same level of care or are not always easy to meet at all levels of the process. Impartiality is applicable at all levels of the evaluation process: scoping, planning of data and information collection, validation of collection tools, data and information collection, analysis of collected data and information, interpretation and feedback on the results, reporting, restitution of results and recommendations. Neutrality is necessary, but it should be intelligently observed during the interviews in order to avoid biased information as much as possible and to better understand the answers received. The data and information collection stage requires the evaluator to use his or her previous knowledge and expertise in the field to better understand the responses and collect information. It would therefore be a mistake to naively record all the responses provided without probing further if necessary. The most difficult aspect of the evaluation is the independence of the evaluator. This means administrative, political and, above all, financial independence. It is this aspect that seriously tests the consultant, especially if the person financing the evaluation mission was directly responsible for the implementation of the project and would therefore like to have a good result at all costs. Under these conditions, the tendency to put pressure on the consultant is considerable. Thus, depending on the degree of dependence and the will of the funder, in some unfortunate cases the evaluator may have to reduce his or her neutrality and impartiality in order to allow the mission to be carried out, if he or she does not want to abandon the mission altogether.

      Thank you.


      Dr Ir. Emile N. HOUNGBO

      Maître de Conférences des Universités (CAMES), Agroéconomiste

      Directeur, Ecole d'Agrobusiness et de Politiques Agricoles, Université Nationale d'Agriculture, Bénin

      Expert, Elaboration et suivi-évaluation des projets de développement

      Membre, Communauté de pratique sur l’évaluation pour la sécurité alimentaire, l’agriculture et le développement rural (EVAL-ForwARD), FAO/CGIAR/PAM/FIDA

      05 BP 774 Cotonou (Republic of Benin)

      Tel. (229) 67763722 / 95246102
      E-mail: enomh2@yahoo.fr



      « Le bonheur de ne pas tout avoir ».

    • The main strategy to make data collection meaningful and useful to farmers is to involve them in the process of investigation, from the beginning to the end. The best method for that is the IAR4D Approach (Integrated Agricultural Research for Development), developed by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in 1983. Then, the raison and the process of the data collection are explained to the farmers in a participatory way, and in their local language. Then, evaluation is considered as a system that is made of many sub-systems that must work together to foster development. All actors that are involved in the process, including farmers, interact and jointly foster their capacities. Thus, the IAR4D Approach simultaneously addresses research and development as a fused continuum for generation of innovation. Generally, in the process, the farmers’ analysis of the evaluation steps and their analysis of the findings are different from that of the researchers/evaluators, and then improve the quality of the evaluation. With this approach, the farmers constitute at the same time the channel for the process explanation and the results dissemination.

      For more information, see https://faraafrica.org/iar4d/

    • The multiplicity of development projects is a reality in Africa. At the level of each of the government departments, there are often a multitude of projects without real internal consistency. This situation is the source of ineffective action against the main socioeconomic and environmental problems in Africa: unemployment, hunger, poverty and climate change. This is the observation made by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and which has justified the creation of inter-agency Policy Task Forces in its actions in the process of the fight against climate change in Africa.

      The answers below to the questions under discussion provide some understanding of the situation.

      1) Isn't the proliferation of agricultural projects and often of micro-projects a negative factor for the achievement of development results in the agricultural sector?

      The multiplicity of interventions and actors with different logics, approaches, objectives, strategies and methods poses serious problems. Indeed, the multiplicity of development projects often generates conflicts; conflicts of intervention which the beneficiary populations watch helplessly as a scene. In reality, many of these projects are limited to intermediate results (outputs), so that changes that can be measured or described in the form of effects and impacts (development results) are not achieved, due to the fact that other important factors are not taken into account. It can also be the misidentification of the development problem itself on which the project is based from the beginning. When the identified problem is a false problem, the intended development result cannot be achieved, because despite the actions, the real problem and its causes remain. At the problem identification, strategies definition and the methods and actions choosing, care should be taken to ensure that there is no risk of antagonism between interventions on the ground at the implementation stage. The proliferation of agricultural projects has often suffered from the lack of a federative axis that could force their coherence.

      2) What are the best practices for setting up a unifying framework for interventions in the agricultural sector?

      As stated earlier, for overall effectiveness, the various programs, projects and micro-projects should converge towards a federative axis that would guarantee their consistency; either they stem from the same development plan or from the same strategic plan, etc. That’s not often the case. The development of a unifying development plan at the Commune or District level, periodically evaluated and updated, could guarantee better results. Another good practice is to require the establishment of a map of the other actors intervening in the zone and the formalization of a framework of synergy with them, in order to identify complementary actions and avoid that several projects repeat the actions in the same locality. This approach makes it possible to move the project to other localities if necessary in case the actions of other actors are similar to what is planned in the new project. In Benin for example, the national project to fight against climate change, called the “Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Project (PABE)”, that’s initiated with funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is in the way of this good practice approach. The PABE, launched on September 21st, 2020, integrates into its approach the analysis of the synergy of actions between other development actors in its area of ​​intervention.

      3) Have countries or international organizations such as FAO already carried out evaluations on the coherence of interventions in the agricultural sector? If so, what are the main findings? And what are the possible solutions?

      The inventory carried out this year 2020 on the projects that are already being implemented in the seven communes/districts of PABE revealed many other current projects on the ground. They are about twenty projects that already exist in the PABE communes/districts, which are only 7 out of the 77 communes in Benin. This is an initiative of UNEP and GCF. A phase of the solution proposed to the PABE is the holding of a workshop in order to establish a synergy map of actions with the actors who were already intervening on the ground as far as sustainable agriculture and forestry are concerned. This made it possible to have a database on the actors with a view to establish partnerships, and to identify complementary actions at the spatial and operational levels.


    • The additional constraint of the COVID-19 pandemic is the inability to meet physically the actors who need to provide the information. They cannot be encountered at the risk of contamination. It is therefore necessary to contact them remotely, and then collect the required information and data depending on the specified periods. To this end, the database of the institutions usually in charge of collecting information and data on food security could be used. This database would provide a list of previously surveyed households and resource persons and their contacts. Once this list is obtained, it would be enough to launch the information and data collection excercise and invite the households on the list. The data collection could be launched electronically (e-mail) or through the press (newspapers and television). Households interests to participate in the data collection should be invited to contact the institution in charge of the activity in order tto contribute. Households and interested individuals could provide regular information and data by email or social networks (whatsapp, facebook, twitter, etc.). Automatically, the data collected will be reliable. As the data collected is reliable, it is possible to infer relevant calculations and analyses that can be used to define effective food security policies.

      [post translated from French]

    • Indeed, the use of the theory of change has come to improve planning and evaluation techniques for development projects. It took us from the logical framework (as a tool) and from Results-based Management (RBM) to Management for Development Results (MfDR) and the importance now attached to accountability. MfDR now makes it possible to focus mainly on the effects and impacts on the well-being of populations, instead of focusing just on outputs within the framework of RBM. The interest is now to focus on changes in the well-being of populations and to establish accountability, which is the obligation to account for the exercise of responsibility or the right for the beneficiaries of actions to claim and demand. The improvement in the well-being of populations is better measured with the use of the theory of change, so that the impact of projects is greater and more tangible. The use of the theory of change compels and directs efforts to respond to the growing demand for public accountability to citizens, in both developed and developing countries, so that they are informed about how aid is used, the results achieved and the extent to which these results bring about the desired changes to sustainable human development, rather than just development.

    • Bonjour à tous,

      La question de la mobilisation des jeunes pour l'agriculture est une question cruciale. Les jeunes représentent la couche sociale sans laquelle on ne peut assurer une amélioration durable de la productivité agricole. Mais, qu'a-t-on constaté des diverses expériences vécues ?

      La situation n'est pas reluisante. La jeunesse attend des conditions favorables pour porter un intérêt significatif à l'agriculture. Elle attend notamment que les questions d'amélioration technologique et de financement de l'agriculture soient sérieusement résolues. Pour mobiliser les jeunes, on doit pouvoir effacer l'image "d'activité difficile et compliquée" que présente l'agriculture. C'est alors que la promotion en cours de l'agriculture numérique et de l'agriculture digitale est une solution importante qui laisse présager un avenir meilleur. Le financement en termes de crédit agricole, d'aménagement foncier et d'organisation de filières sont tout aussi importants. Le problème jusque là, surtout en Afrique noire, ce sont ces aspects importants mal pourvus qui répugnent toujours les jeunes. Mais, je trouve que ces aspects pourraient être mieux développés si l'on mettait à profit les diverses opportunités qu'offrent les accords et décisions internationaux relatifs aux changements climatiques, notamment la promotion de l'agriculture basée sur les écosystèmes (EbA) déjà adoptée par la Conférence des Ministres Africains de l'Environnement (AMCEN) à sa 6e session extraordinaire tenue au Caire en Egypte en 2016:

    • Bonjour Chère Collègue,

      Vous soulevez un problème intéressant et préoccupant qui touche le secteur agricole; le secteur que l'Afrique a tout intérêt à développer rapidement. En effet, le secteur agricole est le secteur qui utilise la majorité de la population active en Afrique. Elle y contribue pour en moyenne 35 % du Produit Intérieur Brut (PIB). En termes d’inclusion économique, l’agriculture est le secteur économique le plus accessible, employant la majorité de la population active en Afrique, soit 64% ; ce qui justifie que des actions porteuses à ce secteur soient susceptibles de toucher la majorité de la population. En plus, les études ont prouvé qu'une croissance de 10 % des rendements en agriculture se traduit par une réduction de la pauvreté de 7%. La croissance agricole a donc une capacité particulière à réduire la pauvreté dans tous les pays. Des estimations réalisées à partir d’un échantillon de pays montrent que la croissance du PIB due à l’agriculture est au moins deux fois plus efficace dans la réduction de la pauvreté que la croissance du PIB due à d’autres facteurs. En Chine, selon les estimations, la croissance globale émanant de l’agriculture a été 3,5 fois plus efficace en termes de réduction de la pauvreté que la croissance due aux autres secteurs – et 2,7 fois plus en Amérique latine. Ce n'est donc pas par hasard que le PDDAA (Programme détaillé de développement de l’agriculture africaine ou en anglais Comprehensive African Agriculture Development, CAADP), soit le programme agricole du Nouveau partenariat pour le développement de l’Afrique (NEPAD), a fixé pour objectifs aux Etats africains de relever la productivité agricole de 6 % par an et de porter leurs efforts budgétaires consacrés à l’agriculture à au moins 10 % de leur budget. Cette suggestion a été adoptée à Maputo en 2003 par l’Assemblée de l’Union Africaine. Par la suite, l’Accord de Malabo sur la croissance et la transformation accélérées de l’agriculture pour une prospérité partagée et de meilleures conditions de vie en Afrique de 2014 a consacré la confirmation de cet engagement de Maputo par les Etats africains.
      Au regard de tout ce qui précède, je dirais que "refuser d'accorder les 10% à l'agriculture dans un pays à vocation agricole comme c'est le cas de la plupart des pays africains, dont l'Ouganda, c'est refuser le développement".
      Mon souhait serait donc que tous les Etats africains en prennent conscience avant qu'il ne soit trop tard. A cet effet, je voudrais rappeler qu'en dehors du budget national, il y a nombre d'Accords et Décisions au niveau international auxquels l'Ouganda pourrait se conformer pour mobiliser davantage de financement pour son secteur agricole. Il s'agit notamment de:
      1) de l’Accord de Paris sur le climat ;
      2) des Objectifs de développement durable des Nations Unies (ODD), notamment les ODD 1, 2, 3, 8, 10, 15 et 17 ;
      3) de l’agenda 2063 de l’Union Africaine sur l’Afrique que nous voulons ;
      4) du Paquet de Nairobi sur l'agriculture, le coton et des questions relatives aux pays les moins avancés (PMA) ;
      5) du Plan d’action d’Addis Abéba sur le financement durable de l’Afrique.
      Telle est ma contribution à ce débat de si haute portée.



    • Il faut d’abord faire remarquer que les petits exploitants agricoles développent en général des systèmes de production agricole dans lesquels dominent les spéculations qui ne sont pas promues par l’Etat notamment ; des spéculations relevant de filières non organisées, donc peu connues. Il s’agit essentiellement des produits vivriers tels le maïs, le niébé, la patate douce, l’igname, la tomate et la mangue. Puisque ces filières ne sont pas organisées, les petits exploitants ne bénéficient pas d’un accompagnement en intrants. L’accès à l’encadrement est faible, de sorte que les activités développées sont peu compétitives. 

      Les rares interventions, notamment de l’Etat et les ONGs, sur les petits exploitants sont souvent inappropriées. La confusion est souvent faite de croire que l’on peut comparer in extenso l’activité agricole des petits exploitants africains à ceux des pays développés. La dimension duale de cette activité n’a souvent pas été bien saisie. En effet, l’agriculture a d’abord été un mode de vie pour les petits producteurs, avant d’être une activité de production. Or, c’est ce dernier aspect qui a souvent été perçu. Cette situation engendre des biais d’intervention qui ne sont pas suffisamment efficaces et dont résulte par ricochet la contre-performance de l’activité du petit producteur. Cette contre-performance est à la base du faible investissement dans l’activité agricole.

      En somme, les contraintes des petits exploitants à investir dans l’agriculture sont structurelles. Pour les lever, il faut repenser l’activité agricole pratiquée par ces derniers, en les associant au processus d’évaluation afin de bien prendre en considération les deux dimensions sus-indiquées. Concernant les petits producteurs, il faut prendre l’agriculture en tant que mode de vie et non simplement une activité économique. Une approche holistique est donc nécessaire, en prenant en compte à la fois toutes les fonctions de l’agriculture pour le petit producteur (fonction économique, fonction sociale et fonction culturelle). Autrement, le cercle vicieux dans lequel il se trouve ne peut être rompu.
      (Le fichier attaché pourrait fournir quelques compléments)


      It must first be pointed out that small-scale farmers generally develop agricultural production systems dominated by speculations that are not promoted by the State in particular; speculation in unorganized sectors, which are little known. These are mainly food crops such as maize, cowpeas, sweet potatoes, yams, tomatoes and mangoes. Since these channels are not organized, smallholders do not benefit from input support. Access to supervision is low, so that the activities developed are not very competitive.

      The few interventions, particularly from the state and NGOs, on smallholders are often inappropriate. The confusion is often made to believe that one can compare extensively the agricultural activity of African smallholders to those of developed countries. The dual dimension of this activity has often not been well captured. In fact, agriculture was first of all a way of life for small producers, before being a production activity. However, it is this last aspect which has often been perceived. This situation gives rise to intervention biases that are not sufficiently effective and the result of which is the poor performance of the small producer's activity. This poor performance is at the base of the low investment in agricultural activity.

      In short, the constraints of smallholders to invest in agriculture are structural. To advance them, it is necessary to rethink the agricultural activity practiced by smallholders, by including them in the evaluation process in order to take into consideration the two dimensions indicated above. Regarding small producers, we must take agriculture as a way of life and not just an economic activity. A holistic approach is therefore necessary, taking into account all the functions of agriculture for the small producer (economic function, social function and cultural function). Otherwise, the vicious circle in which he finds himself cannot be broken.

      (The attached file can provide further information)

    • Chers collègues,

      J'ai lu les nombreuses réponses pertinentes fournies à la question en débat. Les contributions sont riches. Ce que je voudrais ajouter, c'est l'importance de l'identification du problème. La qualité du projet de développement dépend beaucoup de la pertinence du problème identifié. Nous devons nous attarder à ce niveau pour ne pas identifier un faux problème, en prenant par exemple une manifestation (effet) pour le problème. A cet effet, l'approche participative est nécessaire. La participation active des communautés concernées est indispensable. On pourrait par exemple utiliser les techniques d'analyse du problème, la méthode cadre logique et/ou le cadre d’analyse des 4R (Responsabilities, Rights, Returns, Relationship).
      En tant qu'outil de diagnostic (puis de suivi-évaluation), le cadre d’analyse 4R permet de savoir à l’exécution si chaque acteur concerné a assumé les rôles et responsabilités qui lui sont dévolus, a bénéficié des droits et retombées qui lui sont prévus et que les relations qu'il devrait avoir avec les autres acteurs se sont déroulées favorablement.



      Dear colleagues,

      I have read the many relevant answers provided to the issue under discussion. The contributions are rich. What I would like to add is the importance of identifying the problem. The quality of the development project depends very much on the relevance of the problem identified. We must dwell at this level to avoid addressing a false problem, for example by taking a manifestation (effect) for the problem. For this purpose, the participatory approach is necessary. The active participation of the communities concerned is essential. For example, problem analysis techniques, the logical framework method and / or the 4R (Responsabilities, Rights, Returns, Relationship) framework could be used.
      As a tool for diagnosis (followed by monitoring and evaluation), the 4R analysis framework makes it possible to know at runtime whether each actor concerned has assumed the roles and responsibilities devolved to it, has benefited from the rights and benefits that are planned for him and that the relations he should have with the other actors have been favorable.

      Thank you.


    • Dear all,

      I will begin by answering your last question: "Have public policies and projects developed subsequent to the conducted evaluations taken into account previous errors and corrections?"

      To this question, I answer NO. If previous mistakes and corrections were regularly taken into account in Africa, and especially in French-speaking African countries, these countries would have developed a long time ago. Serious problems jeopardize the development and management of public policies in these countries. First, the development of these public policies and programs are often not assigned to true professionals in the field. But, this is not the most serious issue. Most importantly, monitoring and evaluation of public policies is not taken seriously, just as managers of these programs are often in disagreement with monitoring and evaluation officers. I really know something about this as I have been responsible for monitoring and evaluation for several development projects. However, the lack of emphasis on monitoring and evaluation prevents us from really following the established indicators and, in the end, it prevents a good database, information and relevant statistics to guide the improvement of the quality of future programs. The issue of monitoring and evaluation is very serious. In other cases, it is thought that it is a waste to spend money on monitoring and evaluation. Developing countries, however, are the ones who value monitoring and evaluation. Because, it allows them not to repeat the same mistakes and go faster in the implementation of future programs. Really, I do not know if one day we will begin in our countries to better consider the monitoring-evaluation to the point of following the recommendations it allows to identify. If that happened, it would be a big step towards development. It is my wish.

      Dr Ir. Emile N. HOUNGBO 
      Agroéconomiste, Enseignant-Chercheur 
      Directeur, Ecole d'Agrobusiness et de Politiques Agricoles
      Université Nationale d'Agriculture, Bénin 

  • For this purpose, I analysed the process of primary data collection and the food security indicators produced in my country, Benin. As we all know, the quality of statistics depends on the accuracy of primary data, as primary data ultimately condition all subsequent analyses and policies. My research clearly showed some weaknesses in the official statistics. Based on a literature review of the periodic statistics published by the INSAE, the public structure in charge of national statistics in Benin, and on interviews with some data collection agents used for surveys carried out from 2011 to 2018, I found two main

  • What can we do to improve food security data?

    • I sincerely thank the participants and the various contributions to the debate launched since June 4, 2019 on "What can we do to improve food security data? ". The harvest was good because a number of deplorable national situations were reported and, fortunately, an interesting solution was revealed.

      Indeed, from the Nema program in the Gambia, Paul Mendy informs that the ability of evaluation staff to collect and report on food and nutrition security is not up to the task. The same is true in India where Archana Sharma reports that most enumerators, surveyors and field workers not only work in poor conditions, but also live in adverse conditions, are not sufficiently problem-oriented and do not have access to any type of training in tools, techniques, methodologies, approaches and processes involved in data collection. These are poorly paid workers. The consequence is that investigators complete surveys based on their bias or expected investigation bias, as pointed out by Richard Tinsley. The result is that the data are biased and unreliable, but consistent with the country's financial situation. Tinsley suggested extrapolating from projects run by donor-assisted NGOs with a sufficient budget to manage a reliable survey, while Sharma found that the research or evaluation agency should invest proportionately in high-end surveyors and field staff for quality data collection.

      There is therefore a need for our agriculture and food distribution policies to be based on common sense and for nutrition standards to be founded on the food needs of local people in line with their food culture (Lal Manavado). In the same vein, Kebba Ngumbo Sima warns that it is high time that attention be given to the context of local communities or indigenous peoples and their perceptions and understandings related to food security issues. However, because of the volume of work that the 2030 Agenda imposes on countries, the outcome will really depend on (a) the willingness of governments to invest in data collection, (b) the financial assistance that national statistical offices will be able to obtain from regional and international organizations (Filippo Gheri). Many factors must be taken into account when choosing the indicator to use to monitor food insecurity, as well as the type of data to be collected to obtain the indicator. An indicator should be easy to use, provide timely information, and be informed by data that is easy to collect (cost effective). It should also provide valid and reliable information. These characteristics are very difficult to find in indicators aimed at "measuring" food insecurity. For this reason, the Food Security and Nutrition Statistics Team of FAO launched the Voices of the Hungry project in 2013 (http://www.fao.org/in-action/voices-of-the-hungry/en/), which led to the development of a new tool called “Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)", which has become indicator 2.1.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals. This new tool is according to Filippo Gheri direct, easy to use, low cost and statistically valid. It also helps to distinguish levels of severity, subdivide results and compare results across countries and over time. The FIES-based survey module has already been included in more than 50 nationally representative surveys around the world and another 60 countries have already planned to include it in their national surveys.

      In short, the problems of reliability of food security data are everywhere in underdeveloped countries. This is due to the low investment of the states in this activity; which results in the use of agents of low quality. But, the FIES tool is an interesting solution to correct the situation, because it allows to significantly reduce the collection bias. The FIES tool is applied to the month, quarter or last 12 months; this allows to correct biases raised about changes in the food situation of households and individuals between seasons of the year. It is therefore imperative and urgent that many food security and development assessment specialists are trained in the effective use of this important tool for improving indicator data collection practices and improving the quality of the data for the indicators, and for the achievement by 2030 of SDG 2 in particular.

      Dr Emile N. HOUNGBO


    • Hello Mrs. NIMAGA,

      Thank you for the question, and here is my answer.

      The implementation of development programs goes through successive stages until the desired / intended changes are achieved. For example, if we decide to reduce "malaria-related mortality" in an area, the desired change is the reduction of the mortality rate (outcome, result). To achieve this end, we thought that people should use insecticide-treated mosquito nets much more. It is therefore necessary to increase the rate of use of impregnated mosquito nets (output, products or achievements). For people to start using the impregnated mosquito nets much more, we distributed them. The distribution of impregnated mosquito nets is the activity. To be able to carry out this activity, we had to stock up mosquito nets, fuel, etc. (these are the inputs).

      Here is an explanatory example that could help you. I remain available to answer other questions.

      Thank you.

      Dear Mendy,

      I agree your text, except one point. We cannot say that "Monitoring and Evaluation is less concerned with activities and outputs." This assertion is true for evaluation, but not for monitoring. For, monitoring is mainly concerned with the activities and outputs.

    • Dear Colleagues,

      I would just like to confirm that outputs and outcomes are quite different. In the process of M&E planning and of Evaluation, we define outputs as the realisations nncessary before we can observe a change, say an outcome. Then, it's a question of level of appreciation. Inputs contribute to activities realization, activities contribute to outputs realization, outputs contribute to outcomes realization, and outcomes contribute to impacts realization.

      Best regards.  

      Emile N. HOUNGBO, PhD

      Agricultural Economist, Senior Lecturer Director, School of Agribusiness and Agricultural Policy National University of Agriculture, Benin 

    • Dear Colleague,

      The improvement of the different sectors does not depend only on monitoring and evaluation. It depends both on the quality of the actions developed, their management and then the monitoring and evaluation.

      When an action is poorly developed, either because the problems have been poorly identified / formulated or because the actions selected are inappropriate, there is a high risk that the results will be bad: low impact. Even if this step is still successful and the management of the implementation of the actions is not adequate, the risk of failure is still high, only that in this case, the monitoring-evaluation has more power to formulate remedies that, if taken into account, can lead to the right result. Given the persistence of the poor quality of the results that you highlight, it is certainly on the development of actions that we must make serious improvements. If your monitoring and evaluation units have nothing to be ashamed of, that is to say that they are made by people who are really knowledgeable about it, there is no question of bringing in other people who might even damage the work if they are incompetent or partial. Generally, the monitoring-evaluators are not liked and everything is done to prevent you from working well. I presume that these kinds of obstacles must exist in this unit where you work, since it is the presidency, a high place of politics. But, is this still the case in all other sectors? I do not think so. So, above all, review the methodology of developing actions in the country. There must be serious problems at this level.

      Thank you.

      Dr. Emile Houngbo

      Agricultural Economist

      Expert in project development and monitoring & evaluation

  • The issues facing global agriculture

  • Developmental evaluation

    • Hello Mr. KABORE,

      In my opinion, the developmental evaluation is an evaluation centered on the dimensions, indices and indicators of development, such as poverty, the indicator of the human development, the nutrition, the health, the education, the food security, the food self-sufficiency, food sovereignty, social equity, environmental sustainability, self-sufficiency. The developmental evaluation of a program would therefore focus on the effects and impacts of the programs on these parameters, sometimes on a global, macroeconomic level. As one might expect, developmental evaluation would be the final stage of evaluation in which the contribution of actions and programs to overall development is sought. This requires upstream a certain rigor in the editing of programs and in their implementation. The obligation of logical framework development and results-based management are certainly ways to ensure a positive developmental evaluation. Of course , the evaluation of the MDGs, SDGs, NEPAD, ... is a developmental evaluation.


  • Gender and evaluation of food security

    • Hello everyone,

      Here are the answers I propose to Georgette's three questions:

      1. How to properly take charge of the "gender" theme during evaluations of food security projects and programs or sustainable agriculture? Is it enough to simply associate women to different activities carried out in projects / programs as it is often practice to say that one is gender-sensitive? What are the general and specific evaluation criteria that can be put forward without creating controversy?

      No. It is not enough to simply involve women in project implementation activities. Is it to incorporate at all stages the specific aspects to be taken into account differently for men and for women so that the projects / programs in question are more effective and have more effects and impacts.

      2. How to capture the changes induced in gender by projects / programs when this issue has not been taken into account in baseline / baseline diagnosis during formulation projects / programs?

      In this case, a historical survey of the effects and impacts of projects / programs is needed.

      3. What quantitative and qualitative indicators (some examples) formulate to assess the gender aspect in the field of food security and other related areas such as nutrition? 

      Normally, there are no specific indicators to formulate to evaluate the gender aspect. Rather, it is about making indicators gender sensitive to guide their measurement. Ex: "The number of malnourished men and women" or "The rate of malnutrition among men and among women".

      Thank you.