East Africa Dairy Development Project: Some lessons learned


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Poster for the ILRI Annual Program Meeting (APM) 2010, held at ILRI campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, April 14-17, 2010.

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East Africa Dairy Development Project: Some lessons learned

  1. 1. East Africa Dairy Development Project: Some lessons learned ABOUT THE PROJECT The vision of the East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project is to double dairy income for 179,000 farmers in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda over a 10-year period. The project is led by Heifer International in partnership with American Breeders Service–Total Cattle Management (ABS-TCM), ILRI, TechnoServe and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). The four-year project started in 2008. ILRI’S ROLE ILRI is the “knowledge partner” and is in charge of the following activities: 1.  Conducting the baseline surveys 2.  Informing design of improved feeding strategies (in partnership with ICRAF) 3.  Conducting breeding assessment study 4.  Informing the design of the “traditional hubs” (hub without chilling plant) 5.  Leading the impact assessment modelling (direct and indirect effects) 6.  Drawing strategic lessons for future project up scaling 7.  Providing regular recommendations on project activities based on research outputs. LESSONS LEARNED About two years since the project started, what lessons have we learned regarding the process of setting up large development projects and how best can ILRI play her role of knowledge partner? We focus on two lessons on project implementation and two lessons on project activities. PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION SELECTED PROJECT ACTIVITIES CHALLENGE 1: IMPLEMENTING A PROJECT WITH A DIFFERENT SITE SELECTION APPROACH FROM PAST ONES; PARTNERS ARE TEMPTED TO DO Development projects fail for various reasons. One of the “BUSINESS AS USUAL” reasons relates to the inappropriate location of the project EADD follows a somewhat different approach from usual development projects as it activities; the intervention does not meet farmers or site facilitates the creation or strengthening of local business (business development conditions. This would mean setting up a chilling plant in services approach), from farmers’ training to setup of business like agro vet shops or an area where farm-gate milk prices are relatively high due chilling plants. No (or few) free goodies. to an existing market for milk. There are different geographic levels of site selection, starting at country and district levels Some facts to increasingly lower levels. Different tools and approaches • No rigorous site selection followed in the first year. were used for the various levels. • Initial activities adopted methods used in previous projects, with little attention to the proposal that detailed another approach. Lessons learned Lessons learned • Put in place a process to follow and stick to it. The first site selection exercise was • Invest first in people, not activities. People need to understand not structured and led to conflict within the consortium. We then set up a clear project approach before implementing it. Train people. process that proved to be useful and time saving, as well as an avenue for • Allow preparatory phase of six months. consensus building. It was suggested by partners that such a process should be • Provide guidelines, or steps, to simplify approach as laid out in adopted for other EADD activities, for instance, farmers’ mobilization. project document. • It is the single most important decision in the project, so include all partners and • If existing staff are used in this project, pay special attention to make it fact-based, using a checklist that is agreed by all partners. training and change of mindset. • Acknowledge political interferences and have a plan to deal with them. GUIDING PROJECT INTERVENTIONS USING BASELINE SURVEY CHALLENGE 2: ILRI OUT OF HER IVORY TOWER EADD is a pilot project aimed at generating lessons for up and out scaling. Is ILRI up RESULTS One of the objectives of conducting a baseline survey is to guide project interventions to the challenge of (1) providing relevant and timely inputs to adjust project activities by identifying bottlenecks that the project can remove (e.g. lack of market access) and and (2) working with partners to document and synthesise lessons learned? opportunities that the project can maximise on. Results need to be shared with the Some facts development partners in an appropriate format and timely manner. • Baseline survey results insufficiently used to adjust project activities, partly due to late delivery of baseline reports. It took 12 months to start and implement the survey and Lessons learned six to publish the report. Meanwhile, development partners are busy training farmers or • Despite past experiences in designing and implementing baseline surveys, it took setting up chilling plants. about 18 months from start of design to delivery of reports. How this process can be • Difficult to provide site-specific recommendations, yet we know that the “one-size-fits- shortened, without compromising on quality and rigour, needs more thinking. Attempt all-approach” does not work. to use personal digital assistants to save time on data entry and cleaning was not Lessons learned successful. • Streamline baseline data collection and analysis to save on time and improve quality • Reports, although useful, are rarely read by development partners and few of analysis (see below for more details) recommendations are taken on board using such dissemination method. Direct and • Keeping a research focus: how to balance development partners’ needs (e.g. continuous engagement with partners is needed. In EADD, we are able to guide feed assisting in monitoring and evaluation) and research focus (e.g. document lessons interventions effectively since a full time feed scientist is attached to the project. learned)? The good news is … And the not so good news is … April 2010 We  learned  how  the  “hub  concept”  is  used  in  dairy  in  East  Africa,  what  needs  to  be   The  EADD  project  does  not  monitor  possible  environmental  nega?ve  impact  of  dairy   changed  to  make  it  more  pro-­‐poor  and  effec?ve;  this  is  needed  for  upscaling   intensifica?on,  and  this  will  need  to  be  considered  during  the  mid  term  evalua?on.   elsewhere  and  for  other  systems.     EADD project baseline reports 1 to 7. ILRI Nairobi, 2009. Photos: EADD project