Evaluating Capacity Development: A Case from Agricultural Research

The paper presents a conceptual framework developed to evaluate capacity development efforts, combining qualitative and quantitative options. It was written in the context of agricultural research and addressed to research managers and PM&E specialists. it provides insights into capacity development processes, besides options for evaluating capacity development programs.

"Capacity development has moved to center stage on the agendas of development organizations. As technologies and institutions are changing fast and budgets for overseas development assistance are declining, strengthening the capabilities of individuals, organizations, and institutions is essential to ensure that development efforts are sustainable and poverty is eradicated. Substantial sums are being invested in the development of organizational and institutional capacities. Yet, the design and management of capacity development efforts leaves much to be desired. Few capacity development programs have been systematically and thoroughly evaluated to test their underlying theories and assumptions, document their results, and draw lessons for improving future programs. This report describes the concepts and options used to evaluate a regional capacity development project in Latin America. The project under study aims to strengthen planning, monitoring, and evaluation (PM&E) in agricultural research organizations in the region. The report outlines the procedures employed in five evaluation studies and summarizes the results of each study. It then presents consolidated findings in response to three evaluation questions: What were the main contributions of the project to agricultural research management? What lessons can be learned to improve the design of future capacity development programs? What lessons can be learned to improve future evaluations of capacity development?" (Horton et al, 2000)

The evaluation of the PM&E project sought to answer four broad questions:

  1. What were the main contributions of the PM&E project to agricultural research management?
  2. How were the project’s contributions brought about?
  3. What lessons can be learned to improve the design of future capacity development programs?
  4. What lessons can be learned to improve future evaluations of capacity development programs?

Content

  • Evaluation concepts and options
  • The PM&E project: design, activities, and outputs
  • Contributions to individual and organizational capacity

Source

Horton, D., Mackay, R., Andersen, A., & Dupleich, L. (2000). Evaluating Capacity Development in Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation: A Case from Agricultural Research, Research Report No 17. The Hague: International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR). http://preval.org/files/2104.pdf

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Author
Operations & MEAL Manager, Oxfam International.
Oxford, United Kingdom.

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