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Millions of dollars are spent each year on research and development (R&D) initiatives in an attempt to improve rural livelihoods in the developing world, but rural poverty remains an intractable problem in many places. There are many reasons for this; one being the limited collective learning that occurs between researchers, development workers, donors, policymakers and private enterprise.
The Learning Alliances approach was used by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), an international research institute based in Cali, Colombia, as a way for generating knowledge and fostering innovation processes. The authors indicated that it can be used to "strengthen capacities, generate and document development outcomes, identify future research needs or areas for collaboration, and inform public and private sector policy decisions" (Lundy, Gottret and Ashby, 2005).
Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) in Asia faces the challenge of assess and document the role of capacity development in enhancing CBNRM outcomes. To address this challenge, nine CBNRM-oriented organizations from four countries in East and Southeast Asia established an informal regional platform to strengthen their ability to carry out such evaluation. The paper describes the lessons learned from the project and examples of how collaborative learning provides a platform for those seeking to evaluate capacity development.