Monitoring is a continuous observation, correction and reflection of activities. Evaluation is a similar exercise, where observations on change as a result of project intervention whether intended or unintended are compared over time and lessons are drawn to improve project design and management. Monitoring and Evaluation is thus important for any project as it works as management as well as a learning tool. Timely trend detection through M&E can minimize project failures and facilitate necessary adjustments to project activities and strategies. Incorporating the lessons learned from M & E processes facilitate improved implementation and enhance chances of achieving desired results.
To better understand the M & E needs of various projects and to come up with a work plan for M & E domains in the IFAD projects, a three day training workshop “Working Towards Priority Setting and Enhanced Monitoring and Evaluation” was organised by IFPRI in collaboration with International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in New Delhi, India. The workshop was attended by project directors of the on-going IFAD projects in the region and M&E leaders.
The training session was conducted by Devesh Roy, Research Fellow, IFPRI, Deepali Kamatkar (SEED Infotech) and Mamata Pradhan (IFPRI). In the three day training workshop, the Results and Impact Management Systems (RIMS) of IFAD was first revisited and was assessed with a forward looking perspective. Subsequently, as part of priority setting, first the common regional needs of the different IFAD projects were jointly determined. This was followed by needs assessment based on specific requisites of different projects. Generic issues that are faced by all projects such as sampling methods, survey design and questionnaire development, data collection methods and quality control were addressed in a holistic manner across different training sessions. The overarching emphasis of the training workshop on evaluation methods was on SMART data (see Gertler et al 2010). It was stressed that the good quality data which is specific, measurable, attributable, realistic and targeted is needed to assess the impact of project intervention.
Looking ahead the participants were also familiarized with enhancements in the RIMS framework of IFAD. The training highlighted the changes in RIMS framework over time including the most recent so called RIMS+ framework, in development of which IFPRI has been closely involved in Vietnam. Hence, a detailed session focusing on the features of augmented RIMS and RIMS+ and cost and implementation issues was conducted. Unlike RIMS, RIMS+ allows for expanded questionnaire (including both quantitative as well as qualitative questions), uses control group, provides additional training and supervision and uses GPS units while conducting surveys. It also allows for flexible questionnaire and analysis where it can be customized to address questions relevant for project design and implementation.
Discussing the problems of confounding factors and selection biases in Impact Evaluation, a dedicated session emphasized that that there is a need for both quantitative as well as qualitative data for both treatment and control group in the baseline and at the culmination of the project. Highlighting the logistic issues and the threats to data quality, a special session was conducted on digital data collection and data quality control by Deepali Kamatkar, Head, Seed Management Services.
Going forward, the workshop also discussed the progress and problems faced in different on-going projects in their execution of M&E processes. Towards this a roadmap was discussed and finalized regarding the possibilities of collaboration between IFPRI and different IFAD projects in India and Bhutan. In future several bilateral interactions between IFPRI and individual projects was scoped out.