To further enhance the contribution RAS can make to rural livelihoods, it is essential to monitor and evaluate RAS achievements within complex rural settings, and to engage in a lesson learning process with a wide range of stakeholders and organisations. Therefore GFRAS is engaged in collecting and sharing knowledge and tools for monitoring and evaluation.
The main part of the evaluation initiative is the assessment the effects of reform efforts in agricultural extension and rural advisory services (RAS) over the past 15-20 years to understand and explain whether and how these efforts have succeeded in promoting the intended improvements. The findings will inform and advance extension practice worldwide and help to guide future investments. Outputs will include country-level reports and policy briefs.
The concept has been discussed since 2011. In 2012, a consulting team undertook an inception phase study to consult with key stakeholders on the methodology of the project; hold start-up meeting(s) and workshop; map on-going initiatives and interest; conduct preliminary evaluation design; conduct field visits; and recommend country case studies.
Following the inception phase report, an international reference group (IRG) was formed to make the initiative more demand-driven and link better to the regions. The report also recommended the formation of country reference groups to guide the study at the local level. Finally, the report recommended starting in two countries (Malawi and Brazil) rather than one for the first phase of implementation.
Due to availability of funding, only one country (Brazil) was selected by the international reference group. Terms of reference were sent out and a team was selected for the Brazil evaluation, which started in May 2013.
The GFRAS secretariat and IRG will continue to attempt to expand the study to other interested regions and countries and search for financial support. The evaluation initiative and the IRG will continue over a period of the next few years.
The evaluation initiative will be linked with the GFRAS “Global Good Practices Initiative,” which will identify and analyse good practices across five RAS dimensions (governance structures, policy, capacity and management, advisory methods, and cross-cutting issues). Using a typology based on RAS themes in different country contexts (socio-economic, political, organisational, and ecological), the initiative will systematically document cases of RAS provision to see what approaches worked where and why. It will provide decision support tools to RAS managers, RAS practitioners, educators and trainers, policy makers, and international development institutions.
See a review for this publication on betterevaluation.org