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Herding cats: is impact assessment the ultimate exercise in futility

By: Kristjanson, P | Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo (CIMMYT), Mexico DF (Mexico) | International Conference on Impacts of Agricultural Research and Development San José (Costa Rica) 4-7 Feb 2002.
Contributor(s): Thornton, P.K | Watson, D.J [ed.].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookAnalytics: Show analyticsPublisher: Mexico, DF (Mexico) CIMMYT : 2003Description: p. 27.ISBN: 970-648-076-5.Subject(s): Agricultural development | Economic analysis | Economic resources | Economic resources | Livestock management | Technology | CIMMYT | Agricultural research AGROVOCDDC classification: 338.91 Summary: The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has invested a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources in a wide range of impact assessment activities in recent years. It is a good time to address the issue of how effective that effort has been. ILRI initiated the adoption of a systems approach around six years ago. However, it is only now that we have the array of tools and databases needed to facilitate deeper understanding of the various livestock production systems and examine impacts of interventions or changes within a particular system. Even So, each new assessment we undertake highlights the insufficient resolution of critical data. However, as we develop a better understanding of livestock systems, we are able to develop predictive models incorporating important driving and conditioning forces such as human population growth, climate change, and po1icy changes. Beyond endorsing a systems approach, we are also witnessing, and hopefully catalyzing, a shift towards a multi-centered, multidisciplinary, and participatory research approach based on strong teamwork and collaborative databases. We propose that it is the traditional top-down, uni-disciplinary approach to impact assessment research that underlies its historical lack of effectiveness. We believe that it is the ongoing sea change in research approaches now being undertaken within the CGIAR, coupled with recent advances in techno1ogy (making high resolution satellite data cheaper and more accessible, for example), that will in fact make impact assessment, including monitoring and evaluation activities, much more effective in the future. In this paper, we look at some of the costs and benefits of the systems approach we are advocating and the methods we have been using at ILRI for institutional and donor priority setting as well as ex ante and ex post assessments, in the hopes of shedding some light on the following issues. First, what benefits do we see arising from our impact assessment research? Second, why has it not had more impact? Third, how can we make it more effective without devoting an unserviceable level of capital expenditure in order to do so? It is hoped that our experiences at ILRI will benefit our partners and other institutions grappling with similar issues.Collection: CIMMYT Publications Collection
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Conference proceedings CIMMYT Knowledge Center: John Woolston Library

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CIMMYT Publications Collection 338.91 WAT (Browse shelf) 1 Available H632147
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Abstract only

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has invested a considerable amount of time, effort, and resources in a wide range of impact assessment activities in recent years. It is a good time to address the issue of how effective that effort has been. ILRI initiated the adoption of a systems approach around six years ago. However, it is only now that we have the array of tools and databases needed to facilitate deeper understanding of the various livestock production systems and examine impacts of interventions or changes within a particular system. Even So, each new assessment we undertake highlights the insufficient resolution of critical data. However, as we develop a better understanding of livestock systems, we are able to develop predictive models incorporating important driving and conditioning forces such as human population growth, climate change, and po1icy changes. Beyond endorsing a systems approach, we are also witnessing, and hopefully catalyzing, a shift towards a multi-centered, multidisciplinary, and participatory research approach based on strong teamwork and collaborative databases. We propose that it is the traditional top-down, uni-disciplinary approach to impact assessment research that underlies its historical lack of effectiveness. We believe that it is the ongoing sea change in research approaches now being undertaken within the CGIAR, coupled with recent advances in techno1ogy (making high resolution satellite data cheaper and more accessible, for example), that will in fact make impact assessment, including monitoring and evaluation activities, much more effective in the future. In this paper, we look at some of the costs and benefits of the systems approach we are advocating and the methods we have been using at ILRI for institutional and donor priority setting as well as ex ante and ex post assessments, in the hopes of shedding some light on the following issues. First, what benefits do we see arising from our impact assessment research? Second, why has it not had more impact? Third, how can we make it more effective without devoting an unserviceable level of capital expenditure in order to do so? It is hoped that our experiences at ILRI will benefit our partners and other institutions grappling with similar issues.

English

0309|R01CIMPU|AGRIS 0301|AL-Economics Program

Juan Carlos Mendieta

CIMMYT Publications Collection

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