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(Item 6 of the Agenda)

Tracking Results in Agriculture and Rural Development in Less-than-Ideal Conditions: A Sourcebook of Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluation

(Item 6a of the Agenda)

61. Document APCAS/08/9 "Tracking Results in Agriculture and Rural Development in Less-than-Ideal Conditions: A Sourcebook of Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluation" was presented to the Commission by Mr Mukesh Srivastava.

62. The Commission was informed that at the UN Conference on Financing for Development, Monterrey, Mexico held in 2002 both developing and developed countries made commitments to the shared responsibility of achieving development results, including those embodied in the MDGs. It was later recognized that establishing an effective results-based orientation of the development process would require the capacity to monitor indicators that reliably reflect results at all phases of the development activities, from strategic planning to implementation to completion. Thus, developing a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system that could efficiently track outcome of projects and programmes became a natural priority for both the international development community and the developing countries.

63. The Commission learned that FAO and World Bank (WB) worked together since 2006 under the umbrella of Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) to prepare a document which would serve as a reference book for M&E professionals, project planners as well as donors. It aimed at standardising approaches which could work even in less-than-ideal conditions. "Less-than-ideal conditions" in the context of M&E referred to a situation where: (a) appreciation of data collection and demand were weak; (b) evidence was not used for decision-making; and (c) the stock of information was unreliable and its flow was irregular.

64. The process of development of the Sourcebook was outlined before the Commission. The Commission was informed that the contents of the Sourcebook were validated in a diversity of situation across five pilot countries viz., Cambodia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania. The Sourcebook was revised based upon comments received through a series of peer reviews by the widest possible international participation. The Commission noted that a pre-print version of the Sourcebook had already been placed on the websites of FAO, WB and GDPRD.

65. The Commission appreciated that the Sourcebook had specifically targeted countries where conditions were less-than-ideal, particularly with respect to the availability of statistical information for building indicators or the capacity to use available information for M&E purposes.

66. The Sourcebook contained five chapters, 19 priority indicators recommended for all countries, an extended list (menu) of 87 indicators, findings of five country studies, and a tool (scorecard) to make an assessment of existing capacity for M&E activities. It covered the evolution of M&E, analytical framework for selection of indicators, data framework, institutional framework, and setting up national capacity for M&E. The extended list of indicators was divided into indicators for measuring sector-wide performance, indicators for sub-sectors like crop, livestock and indicators for thematic areas.

67. The Commission was pleased to note that the Sourcebook would provide guidance on how to build the capacity needed for effective M&E in developing countries. The Commission noted that the development of institutional capacity for M&E needed to take into account three recent developments: (a) impact of devolution and decentralization on M&E; (b) involvement of communities themselves in M&E; and (c) monitoring and evaluation of Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) programmes at the global or international level.

68. The Commission noted that the main message emerging from the Sourcebook was that no single statistical instrument could meet all needs and that any monitoring system would most likely require data support for indicators that come from several different sources - both formal and informal. The Commission further noted that a desirable M&E system should be a coordinated network of institutions performing M&E functions or engaged in collection of data which would be used by the M&E system. A close link between the M&E system and the national statistics system would be crucial to strengthening the M&E activities at country level.

Validation at Country Level during the FAO-WB Study on Indicators for Tracking Results of Agricultural and Rural Development: Cambodia Case

(Item 6b of the Agenda)

69. Document APCAS/08/10 "Validation at Country Level during the FAO-WB Study on Indicators for Tracking Results of Agricultural and Rural Development: Cambodia Case" was presented to the Commission by Mr Hiek Som. It was informed that the Cambodia case study was undertaken along with four other country studies to provide inputs for the finalization of the Sourcebook and the list of indicators presented in document APCAS/08/9. The Commission noted that Cambodia's experience in using an indicator system as a tool for monitoring and evaluating Agriculture and Rural Development Programme (ARDP) was still at its early stage. The institutional capacity and various underpinning infrastructures for an effective development indicator system were still weak. Nonetheless, its current National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) was providing clear policy guidelines for the integration and use of an M&E system as a tool for systematically tracking progress of the strategic programmes and actions towards achieving goals and objectives of the plan.

70. The Commission was pleased to know that in support of its NSDP, which had focused on alleviating poverty and the development of agriculture and rural sector, the country had identified 43 core indicators for monitoring the macro-development goals and the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals (CMDGs). Twenty-six of the 43 indicators were to be updated annually. The country had a two-tier indicator system: (a) the first tier comprising the 43 NSDP indicators monitored by the Ministry of Planning; and (b) the input and output indicators monitored by the line ministries.

71. The new Statistics Law, enacted in 2005, mandated that the central institution responsible for ensuring regular availability of data on NSDP indicators for M&E purposes was the National Institute of Statistics in the Ministry of Planning.

72. There was general agreement in the country on the usefulness of the proposed Sourcebook, particularly as a tool kit for selection of indicators. However, since Cambodia was just starting to build the foundation for a robust statistical system, most of the data that could be used to support the priority NSDP and ARDP indicators would continue to come from administrative records. The absence of guidelines for setting national standards was also cited as a major problem in much of the statistical work in Cambodia.

73. The Commission noted that suggestions were made in the country study for improving the proposed list of indicators to be included in the Sourcebook. While some indicators were suggested to be reclassified in appropriate sub-sectors, others were found to be neither appropriate nor feasible in Cambodia. Some additional indicators currently used in the country were proposed to be added to the list.

74. The Commission heard a combined discussion on the Agenda items 6a and 6b. The Commission was informed that the menu of indicators provided in the Sourcebook was prepared keeping in view the need to measure the outcome and the impact of projects and programmes. However, it was clarified that the countries would have liberty to add indicators of their choice for improving early warning systems or for measuring the terms of trade for agriculture. The Commission was informed that the productivity indicators were adequately covered in the Sourcebook. The Commission was advised that a scorecard was included in the Sourcebook which could be used to guide in the identification of possible areas for development and strengthening, including those in national statistical systems.

75. The Commission noted that although the follow-up actions after the publication of the Sourcebook were yet to be firmed up, FAO would shortly print 5 000 copies of the document for dissemination among countries by all the co-publishing partners. The Commission recommended that FAO organize a workshop for the countries to advocate and disseminate the Sourcebook.

76. The Commission also noted that the Sourcebook had included indicators on access, use and satisfaction with services in the menu of indicators, which could be particularly useful for measuring early results of projects. The Commission further recommended that FAO organize an Expert Consultation or Workshop to deliberate on steps that could be taken to promote the development and use of qualitative indicators, such as measures of access, use and satisfaction as a pro-active contribution for further enhancement of the usefulness of the Sourcebook.

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