The Role of Evaluation in Strengthening Agricultural R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa: Information, Instruments and Actors

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By Leonard Oruko and Howard Elliott. …

By Leonard Oruko and Howard Elliott.
Presented at the ASTI-FARA conference Agricultural R&D: Investing in Africa's Future: Analyzing Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities - Accra, Ghana on December 5-7, 2011.

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  • 1. Strengthening Ag. R&D in Africa: What Role for M&E? Leonard Oruko and Howard Elliott Presentation at the IFPRI-ASTI/FARA Conference Accra, Ghana, 6 December 2011
  • 2. Has research evaluation supported the case for Ag. R&D?• Research evaluation has supported the case for R&D – The tools and information developed for evidence-based policy were linked to the economic context of the day• Research evaluation responded to questions being asked – Economic returns , welfare analysis, priority setting, funding of research issues – Concerns with poverty (well beyond producer and consumer surplus), NRM and sustainability (beyond production systems) , and later climate change at increasing scale• Impact assessment has had to balance the needs for accountability to funders versus learning and change by actors – Economic return, experiments and quasi experiments (quantitative) – Utilization-focused evaluation, qualitative
  • 3. Why the change in focus this presentation• Is the practice of M&E responding adequately to the changing imperatives?• From “crystal ball gazing” to “planning for results” Nin-Pratt? – Given the competing choices, where should we allocate our resources?• From “implementation” to “delivering results” – Operational management-timely availability of information , decision making, adjustment and adaptation• From “returns on investment” to “achievements and lessons” Fuglie; Nin-Pratt? – You gave us resources what have we delivered, what have we learnt, how can we do it better? The learning and accountability agenda – Are we showing objective evidence of achievement?-
  • 4. Some definitions• Evaluation vs assessment – Evaluation-systematic collection and analysis of information on characteristics and outcomes of a programs to inform decisions – Assessment is an informal review• Impact evaluations are based on models of cause and effect – measures change in outcome attributable to a defined intervention – require a credible and rigorously defined counterfactual• Performance evaluation – Descriptive and normative questions for operational decision making – Informed by performance monitoring to identify near term consequences of direct program activities – Ordinarily lacks rigorously defined counterfactual
  • 5. Could this be the inherent challenge? Operational M&E: In the very • What is the likely payoff to near term, Ex-ante the proposed investment demonstrate;Accountability • How does this inform impact operations to generate •Results and tangible near term results clear progress evaluation •Flexibility and adaptation to unforeseen • These are the actual returns challenges Ex post on investment • What were the conditioning •Address the Impact factors? “imperfect • Can we scale these out? Evaluation information problem ” Learning and performance improvement
  • 6. Data• What is the acceptable standard for good and credible data? – Objective scientific enquiry-the desire to prove or disprove widely held beliefs that are based on some detectable distribution of personal experiences – Reliability, validity, and timeliness to serve as a basis for objective evidence – “The plural of anecdote is data”-the careful compilation of “cases” that provide context for identifying causes of success and failure that can be widely generalized• Quality of analysis only as good as the data• But you also need good analytical capacity-innovative• Do we need additional investment to generate quality data?
  • 7. Data screams loudest!!“Data suggests thatbetween 1961-2007the observed growthin agric from SSA isprimarily fromexpanding areaunder cultivation” •Chris , Catherine and Tom will illustrate this Source: (De Janvry and Sadoulet, 2010)
  • 8. Evaluation metrics• Demand for information defines the analytical agenda – CG Science Council advanced the refinement of approaches and methods – The CAADP agenda supporting convergence on ex-ante investment analysis; next generation questions around moving from sector-wide to R&D specific interventions – Debate on approaches, “the pendulum syndrome”; scope for diverse theoretical constructs to inform analytical agenda• The call for rigor does not automatically prescribe quantification – Advances in tools for establishing the counterfactual – Choice of evaluation approaches informed by a variety of factors – Rigorous evaluation have “longevity and long legs”
  • 9. Metrics for near term incremental changes• On the highway to the big impacts are intermediate results – Compared to the big results, there is greater diversity of opinion on these – CG Science Council championed this through MTP – A challenge for network and coordinating entities (SROs and FARA)• Getting to a consensus on performance criteria – Need for appropriate proxy indicators to define improvements in operational performance – A variety of tools and approaches for tracking the indicators –look at rich concepts and application from management schools – Embedded in program implementation; is it really necessary to define indicators a priori?
  • 10. Improving M&E systems: Take home message• Generating objective evidence on performance – Beyond a well thought out RF, the above is about analytics – Adequate data required for rigorous analysis – Adequate analytical capacity required for rigor• Objective evidence informing review dialogue and learning – The next quantum leap for R&D systems learning for performance improvement – Make greater use of ex-ante analysis to inform operational management of research (baselines and targets)• How do we organize ourselves to do this? – Clear lessons from the CG Science Council on agricultural research – Academia and think tanks are addressing the challenges of rigor – Harnessing the existing capacity appears to be a coordination challenge
  • 11. …take home message• Practitioners – Apply “Triple A’’ principle on indicators – Help shape the analytical agenda around indicators• Category 1 users (managing for results)- information for decision making – Programme staff-cogeneration of performance and learning information – Convening the review, and learning processes• Category 3 Users (Stewardship, oversight, beneficiary stakeholders) – “Volatility in expectations”; what results in what temporal scale
  • 12. I Thank You