Pathways for change: monitoring and evaluation

This Brief is an edited summary, prepared by Susanne Turrall, of a paper written by Kath Pasteur
and Susanne Turrall (2006): A synthesis of monitoring and evaluation experience in the Renewable
Natural Resources Research Strategy
.

“Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plays a central role in ensuring accountability, informing decision- making and, more broadly, facilitating learning. The programmes within the DFID-funded Renewable Natural Resources Research Strategy (RNRRS) have developed some innovative methods of M&E. The RNRRS also saw an evolution in thinking in M&E, moving from a focus on the M&E of research products to a recognition that the context and mechanisms for adoption of research products are equally important, as is the effect on poverty reduction.”

“Key messages

  • The degree of innovation of M&E methodologies varied among the different projects and programmes.
  • Most new knowledge was generated in the area of developmental outcomes.
  • There is increasing interest in moving beyond a focus on the elements of analysis of M&E derived from the logical framework (inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes) to one of understanding the processes or pathways affecting the uptake of research products.
  • Processes or pathways may facilitate or hinder the adoption of research technologies and outputs and their eventual impact on people’s livelihoods. Pathway analysis places research within broader social and political contexts.
  • Knowledge of the context for implementation and/or dissemination of a research product is also gaining impetus. The ‘national systems of innovation’ approach offers a conceptual framework for understanding the institutional context of agricultural technology and processes and the associated web of actors, relationships and activities.
  • While reporting for accountability purposes will continue to be important, there is a growing need to encourage learning processes within future research projects, coalitions and networks. Organisational learning provides a welcome addition to M&E thinking with a focus on individual and collective refection and learning.”

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