A recent survey looked at  Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) practices at CIAT and gauged that 76 percent of the 56 respondents are currently involved in M&E work or have been involved in a M&E activity in the past. In particular, staff members have been involved in the preparation of M&E sections for both CRP and non-CRP projects. Not surprisingly, 72 percent either wrote or participated in the design of theory of change and log-frame elements such as vision, research outputs, outcomes, next users and expected impact. Finally, 80 percent of the respondents are interested in getting support or training on various M&E topics. The information obtained from the survey allows us to collect relevant information to launch a M&E community of practice and to deliver workshop activities tailored to specific needs.

In general, CIAT staff is heavily involved in planning and reporting, yet a persistent gap remains in CIAT’s ability to understand and report progress against objectives set in its strategy. The current CRP and project-driven M&E effort encompasses a great diversity of objectives, approaches,  tools, complexity and durability.  Building on these experiences, CIAT will begin implementation of M&E in a systematic manner at the center level, where the strategy is to develop and test three pilot cases at the program or theme level. For each pilot we are revisiting and developing a theory of change and thereby creating a unified vision for the program/theme. Work has started with the Cassava Program. The second pilot will focus on Ecosystem Services, where the team has already developed a theory of change on which its operational strategy is based. The third pilot will be the ‘restoring degraded land’ theme of the Soils research area.  In parallel, we will also develop theories of change for all CIAT programs and themes.

The main goal of the M&E strategy is to develop and implement a theory of change that is coherent at the program level, and that is functional for both CRP and non-CRP projects. The overarching aim is to harvest and gather relevant M&E information in one place. To make this happen the team will collaborate with the data management team to develop a platform that provides information access to all CIAT staff.

By: Perla Castillo.

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