M&E is more than just a development buzzterm, it’s “a way of thinking” explains INTRAC workshop leader Max Peberdy, who was part of a the week-long training course for CABI staff in the UK. Plantwise programme leaders were among those learning how to embed montitoring and evaluation (M&E) as well as gender responsiveness into everyday project planning, and outcome tracking, for immediate and long term goals. Through discussion of theory of change, gendered analysis of case studies, and logical frameworks for actions, the Plantwise representatives learned muliple tools and applications of M&E to put to good use, even at the earliest stages of pre-project planning. This process, distilling the core goals of a programme and how one will systematically monitor progress towards these goals throughout the project lifetime, and well afterwards, can bring about many important results. “M&E allows an organisation to become more agile,” says Peberdy, “able to be sensitive and respond to a changing world.” The results of more comprehensive efforts in this area also include greater efficiency, accountability and transparency, three of the key focuses for donors today in the current funding climate.
In addition to M&E, Gender mainstreaming, or the practice of identifying gender roles in a community and making project decisions which take these roles into account, served as the focus for the second half of the training week. In the same vein as M&E, gender awareness has become an aspect of development planning, especially in the agricultural project sector where the role and motivations of women farmers can make or break a programme. Now comprising an estimated 65% of all agricultural labor, many espouse that women are the key to agricultural development, improved family nutrition and food security. Yet, as noted in the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) report released this month, women may be responsible for 65% of agricultural production, but are only receiving 5% of agricultural investment. For this reason, global development cooperation initatives like Plantwise need to consider how to make gender mainstreaming an intrical part of project impacts. This week-long training, encompassing gender analysis in an overal M&E strategy, aims to ensure that all individuals in the communities where Plantwise works- women, youth, eldery, cultural minorities- will have a say in planning, and receive equitable benefits of development interventions.
One tangible outcome of this training in practice will be more baseline reporting, or collecting indicators to paint a picture of a community before Plantwise gets involved. Most importantly, getting facts on paper about various segments of a community to paint a more detailed, gendered story, than is traditionally done in project planning.