As long-term climate change adaptation is one of our four major research themes, it is vital that there's a method for monitoring and evaluating the activities that are being carried out.
A new study within our Working Paper series, “Monitoring adaptation to enhance food security: a survey of approaches and best practice”, has exactly this on its agenda. The paper was done in collaboration with partners at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). In one sentence, it explores current approaches to monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation projects and specifically investigates how food security outcomes are being addressed.
Monitoring and evaluation of adaptation projects is fairly new. Most current documents actually outline frameworks, rather than report on specific experiences. This was particularly true for food security, which was not an explicit focus of many of the adaptation projects that were being assessed.
Why is measuring and documenting adaptation projects important?
By not documenting experiences, it is difficult to summarize best practices. It also makes it hard to find and describe reliable indicators for assessing impacts of adaptation interventions on outcomes related to food security.
Consequently, in line with recent discussions within CCAFS on goals of using monitoring and evaluation to create adaptive management and social learning, the approach of evaluating adaptation projects shifted toward an outcome-oriented focus.
An outcome-oriented focus promotes active learning from monitoring and evaluation as the program activities are implemented.
The Working Paper puts forward six recommendations for CCAFS, and others, to use when overseeing and evaluating climate change adaptation projects:
- Agree on a common framework or outcome pathway with clear and agreed outcomes. A common framework keeps all stakeholders focused on the desired outcomes, as well as the best approach to evaluating successful adaptation.
- Use scenarios to handle the necessary planning under uncertainty, combined with ex-ante assessments of adaptation investments and interventions to identify robust strategies.
- Engage in on-going monitoring using a clear logic model to track progress of the robust strategies on the ground. Ensure that the logic model is explicit about what constitutes successful adaptation for the outcome pathway.
- Take a learning approach to monitoring and evaluation with stakeholders at multiple institutional levels.
- Encourage data sharing across projects doing monitoring and evaluation of adaptation – there is a growing consensus around priority interventions and we have evidence about the success and impact of agriculture and food security interventions on key outcomes.
- Develop and use a tool for managing or evaluating impact given inevitable tradeoffs among food system outcomes.
As CCAFS rolls out its Climate-Smart Villages across regions, researchers will need to be able to determine the effect the activities are having on the lives of the participants and the natural resource base.
The recommendations of this paper are in line with two key strategies currently in use by CCAFS and local partners: scenarios for planning under uncertainty and impact pathways to keep stakeholders focused on clear outcomes. The working paper paves the way for further discussions within CCAFS about how best to monitor adaptation and food security interventions within the Climate Smart Villages and other research activities.