It's All About M&E: Feed the Future Learning Agenda Development
"It's All About M&E" blog series gives you a peek into Feed the Future M&E. In a previous M&E post, I discussed the Feed the Future Learning Agenda and received questions about how this was developed. This post addresses these questions. We hope you bookmark us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Post your comments on what we can do to make this more useful for you!
In 2011, USAID launched an ambitious reform effort – USAID FORWARD – which includes vital reforms for strengthening monitoring and evaluation. USAID has subsequently developed an Evaluation Policy to ensure systematic monitoring and evaluation of impact in all program design, budgeting, and strategy work.
As written in the policy:
“Evaluation provides the information and analysis that prevents mistakes from being repeated, and that increases the chance that future investments will yield even more benefits than past investments. While it must be embedded within a context that permits evidence-based decision making, and rewards learning and candor more than superficial success stories, the practice of evaluation is fundamental to the Agency’s future strength.”
Accordingly, USAID plans to devote approximately 3 percent of total program dollars to independent external evaluation. We emphasize both qualitative and quantitative assessments to address both rigor and richness of data.
In June 2011, USAID’s Bureau of Food Security and IFPRI held a consultative meeting as part of a rigorous process to form the Learning Agenda with stakeholders from USG agencies, USAID missions, universities, research centers, NGOs, think-tanks, and the private sector. This meeting explored practices and methodologies in impact evaluation around the six themes of the Learning Agenda.
Feed the Future aims to use impact evaluations to examine, for example, the most cost-effective approaches for promoting technology adoption – one of the themes of the Learning Agenda.
The impact of the “Green Revolution” has been uneven; sub-Saharan Africa is notably behind, although other areas of the world continue to lag behind in technology adoption. Farmers may not adopt new technologies due to: a lack of reliable information about the technologies, missing credit or insurance markets, constraints on land or labor markets, or difficulties accessing markets. Our goal will be to evaluate potential projects that aim to improve technology adoption and diffusion of improved technologies.
Because certain topics do not lend themselves well to impact evaluation, potential evaluation projects in research and development will focus on those that will specifically promote: the adoption of improved seed varieties; fertilizer or other inputs; new methods of soil or water conservation; post-harvest technologies; or identification and development of markets for crops.
Learning Agenda sessions at the consultation meeting focused on each theme. I have attached the Feed the Future conceptualization notes that underlie each of the themes below. Feel free to click below to download each concept note:
- Overview Note on Agricultural Productivity
- Overview Note on Research and Development, Agricultural Extension, Technology Adoption, and Diffusion
- Overview Note on Expanding Markets, Value Chains & Increased Investment
- Overview Note on Nutrition and Dietary Quality
- Overview Note on Gender Integration & Women’s Empowerment
Feed the Future plans to conduct over 30 impact evaluations over the next five years to inform our strategic thinking on food security – and play a vital role in contributing practical, rigorous new knowledge to the global community.