الموقع الإلكتروني لدليل الزراعة الذكية مناخياً

Enhancing capacities for a country-owned transition towards CSA

الأطر التمكينية

Operational guidance on how to assess, design and monitor capacities for adopting climate-smart agriculture approaches at the country level

How do country stakeholders apply comprehensive capacity development approaches in a practical way to achieve the desired transition towards CSA? What operational steps are needed to make tangible and meaningful progress? Three steps are recommended (see also FAO, 2017g). First, jointly with stakeholders assess capacity development needs and identify concrete recommendations for improvement. Second, jointly with stakeholders design appropriate capacity development interventions. Third, jointly with stakeholders define and track capacity development results. This section explains these three steps to operationalize capacity development for adopting CSA approaches: assessing and analysing capacities; designing capacity development interventions; and monitoring capacities.

C1 - 4.1 Assessing and analysing capacities

To ensure quality at entry while maximizing country ownership from the outset, it is critical to conduct participatory capacity assessments jointly with stakeholders. A capacity assessment is a process that integrated practical tools to help determine what and whose capacities need to be developed, while providing a benchmark to measure progress and identify any adoption constraints, and to ensure that the envisioned capacity development interventions for the CSA project address some of the constraints. 

As illustrated below, the capacity assessment process includes several key elements. Above all, it underscores the need for all relevant stakeholders to be included in project planning and in determining priorities (Scherr et al., 2012). The process is furthermore in line with participatory rural appraisal methodologies (Chambers and Conway 1991; Chambers 1994 and 2014), empowerment (Sen, 1999), people-centred community and rural development (Korten, 1980) as well as instrumental and normative participatory typologies (Reed, 2008).

Figure C1.5. Capacity Self-Assessment Process with key elements for CSA transition

Source: Author

Figure C1.5 illustrates the capacity assessment process. Consisting of a series of workshops, the recommended process is participatory, inclusive and interactive by nature. It aims to enhance common understanding, dialogue, consensus and trust among all stakeholders in order to maximize joint-ownership and joint-commitment for joint-action. Covering all administrative levels (i.e. national and sub-national), the process needs to ensure inclusive stakeholder participation. Key elements within the process include:

  1. Awareness raising and common understanding: Aiming to explore the contextual relevance of CSA for a country, it starts the dialogue for the joint-diagnostics of opportunities, challenges and actionable recommendations for improvement to follow. 
  2. Identifying opportunities and challenges. Through the facilitated application of problem / solution tree methodologies (see note on tools below), context-specific opportunities and challenges for CSA transition can be identified.
  3. Mapping and Analysis of key stakeholders. This can be done through a facilitated stakeholder-analysis exercise using various tools such as netmap (see note on tools below).
  4. Assessing capacity needs. Stakeholders complete a questionnaire (see section below) in a facilitated, “self-assessment” workshop format that compares existing capacities with those are needed to achieve CSA. It helps establish a baseline and is guided by identifying the present state (Where are we now?), the desired/future state (Where do we want to go?) and concrete recommendations (What is the best way to get there?). The questionnaire also addresses the three capacity development dimensions: individuals, organizations and the enabling environment.
  5. Validation and action planning. This means jointly with stakeholders validating the capacity assessment findings and plan how to enhance the capacities identified. This includes clearly defining a realistic and resourced plan with clearly identified results. Again, participation and consensus are key to ensure that the plans are viable and acceptable to the stakeholders concerned. 

A note on tools: The specific facilitated tools proposed for the various steps of the capacity assessment process (problem/solution tree, stakeholder mapping, netmap, participatory action planning, etc.) are not discussed in detail.  For a list of tools and practical “how-to” guidance for capacity needs assessment, kindly consult FAO 2015a, TAP 2016b, and CDAIS 2017. In addition, the process and tools can be complemented with additional participatory self-assessment tools particularly applicable to climate change such as Self-Evaluation and Holistic Assessment of Climate Resilience of Famers and Pastoralists (FAO, 2016c). 

Case Study C1.7 illustrates the application of the FAO capacity assessment methodology when tailored to CSA projects in Kenya and Tanzania. 

One central tool of the capacity assessment process is the capacity assessment questionnaire (See Annex C1.1). It identifies qualitatively and quantitatively the existing capacities and identifies the concrete recommendations needed to reach the desired results. It also identifies a baseline to measure and monitor progress (FAO, 2017c).

Figure C1.6. Capacity Needs Assessment Questionnaire

To complement and deepen the Case Study C1.7, Annex C1.1 provides the capacity assessment questionnaire used at national level, and Annex C1.2 provides the field/site-level capacity assessment to complement the national-level findings. 

Such an approach can help develop initiatives that are tailored to farmers’ needs and adapted to local contexts. For example, in the context of the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA) pilot project in Tanzania (FAO, 2016d), field visits and interviews with farmers have enabled the trainers to realize that some farmers practicing conservation agriculture were intercropping maize with pumpkin, which is not a nitrogen-fixer legume. As intercropping with leguminous crop is central to improving soil fertility, this showed the need for interdependently strengthening individual capacities on conservation agriculture,  strengthening networks and institutional linkages between villages, increasing the number of villages with demonstration plots, expanding the number of demonstration plots in each village, and increasing the number of contact farmers supporting farmers in the implementation of conservation agriculture on their lands. See Annex C1.2. for an overview (in table form) of commonly identified problems, needs and opportunities, as well as suggestions for entry points to improve the situation while undertaking capacity assessment for CSA projects at the field level.

C1 - 4.2 How to design appropriate capacity development interventions across the enabling environment, organizational and individual levels

Following the comprehensive and systemic capacity assessment and analysis, appropriate capacity development modalities need to be defined, designed and appropriately resourced. These modalities may include awareness raising, dialogue, training, technical support, coaching, strengthening and facilitating multi-stakeholder consultations, processes or platforms and strengthening organizational performances, institutional frameworks and linkages. See Figure C1.2. for an overview of different capacity development modalities.

C1 - 4.3 Monitoring capacities - How to identify, monitor and evaluate capacity development interventions for climate-smart agriculture

Tracking capacity development means tracing changes in capacities across the three dimensions of capacity development (FAO, 2015a). For instance, and as a result of the capacity development activities:

  • Are individuals applying knowledge which they were trained in through a workshop?
  • Are state and non-state organizations performing better to deliver services, or are multi-stakeholder platforms, cross-sectoral coordination mechanisms inclusively and effectively functioning?
  • Are policies, regulatory and institutional frameworks aligned with national priorities and with country commitment in place to support the implementation of desired change processes?

C1 - 4.3.1 Defining the effects of capacity development

Capacity Development is fundamentally about facilitating change. Defining and monitoring the effects of capacity development interventions is a complex endeavour given the non-linear nature of the process and the difficulty of attributing impacts to particular activities. For instance, originally planned processes with linear activities (Figure C1.7a) turn out to be more complex (Figure C1.7b), requiring space for learning, flexibility and adjustment. This directly applies to CSA, which is similar in complexity and uncertainty.

Figure C1.7 Complexity of a non-linear development process   

Notwithstanding this complexity, the majority of development agencies attempt to track capacity development within Results-based Management principles and subsequent Logical Framework approaches (See Figure 1.8), which can be complemented with alternative approaches such as Outcome Mapping (FAO 2015a) and the Theory of Change (Vogel, 2012).

Figure C1.8. Recapping Results-based Management

Source: Author

Particular elements that are important to “stretch” the classical log-frame to monitor capacity development are:

  • Addressing all three capacity development dimensions interdependently
  • Complementing technical with functional capacities
  • Combining the accountability objective with learning to enable continuous adjustment
  • Seeking to understand the quality of processes as well as the products
  • Creating learning spaces to identify unexpected as well as expected results
  • Merging quantitative and qualitative methodologies 
  • Involving stakeholders through joint monitoring to ensure common understanding, ownership and commitment 

Moreover, clearly defining and formulating capacity development results is an important element.  This includes whether new practices are adopted, performance is improved, and commitment and political will are fostered.

Table C1.3. Illustration what Constitutes a “Good” Capacity Development Result 

What constitutes a good CB result?

Output levels

Outcome level

INDIVIDUALS

Did producers learn new knowledge/ skills/ behaviours?

Are trained producers actually applying new knowledge/ skills/ behaviours? --> ADOPTION

ORGANIZATIONS

Do organizations have improved mandates and systems in place

Are organizations delivering better services? --> PERFORMANCE

ENABLING ENVIRONMENT

Are new/ improved policies and frameworks in place?

Do policies and institutional frameworks allow implementation and sustainability of changes? --> COMMITMENT & POLITICAL WILL

Source: (FAO, 2015a)

Based on the aforementioned principles, questions for CSA may include:

  • Have producers aquired and are applying knowledge, skills and practices on CSA?
  • Are agriculture sector ministries involved in decision-making and coordination processes relating to climate change (e.g. NAP planning and implementation)?
  • Are local/sub-national weather stations better able to coordinate and collaborate  with each other for farmers’ groups to disseminate weather data and climate projections to local producers?
  • Are policies between the agriculture and climate change sectors harmonzied and budgeted?
  • Are incentive structures (e.g. financing to cover initial cost of adoption) with commitment (FAO 2014b) in place to faciliate the uptake of CSA approaches?

In addition to defining clear results across output and outcome levels, a simple monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system with sound capacity-related indicators and tangible means of verification is needed. This includes participatory evaluation techniques (Vernooy et al., 2016) to enable learning, help identify the knowledge gaps and demonstrate which CSA approaches work best so that CSA pilot actions can be scaled up effectively (see module C9 on climate-smart programme and project monitoring and evaluation).  

Additional operational guidance and examples on how to effectively track enhancement of capacities across the individual, organizational and enabling enviromment dimensions for CSA, including sample outputs, outcomes, indicators, M&E approaches, are available in:

  • Annex C1.3 - Example C.1.1 - Tracking capacity development results for integrated landscape management in East Africa
  • Annex C1.3 - Example C.1.2 - Tracking Individual and institutional capacities for Climate Change adaptation in Lao PDR
  • Module C9 on climate-smart programme and project monitoring and evaluation
  • “Measuring Capacity Development. What and How” (FAO 2015a) and “Organizational Analysis and Development” (FAO 2013a).

C1 - 4.3.2 Monitoring the “capacity to innovate”

As outlined in section C1-4.2, innovation to transition towards CSA relies on networks and collective action. Strengthening the capacity to innovate involves interventions that enable stakeholders to work, learn and manage complex situations together, and to collectively engage in strategic processes. This includes the need to balance which of the three CSA dimensions should be pursued in which specific context. Assessing the development of soft skills and the changes in networks they bring about is not always straightforward. However, it is important to determine progress in developing soft as well as hard capacities and to understand the factors that either enable or constrain innovation. Shifting to climate smart production patterns can be achieved more effectively through the aforementioned holistic capacity development approach.

The capacity to innovate can be hard to measure and thus monitor and evaluate. Building on work done to assess the capacities to innovate for more sustainable agricultural innovation systems (FAO, 2017a), key elements include the following:

  • Reflection, facilitation, partnership, engagement and other aspects of the capacity to innovate are qualitative in nature. Therefore qualitative tools, such as Most Significant Change or Outcome Harvesting (See FAO 2015a for overview), are mainly used to assess their development.
  • A scorecard, as a semi-quantitative tool, can provide a means to capture different elements of the capacity to innovate in a structured manner and complement purely qualitative information (FAO, 2017c). The tool can be organized along indicators, for each of which scores are calculated based on self-assessment questions, interview data or secondary information. Data collection and analysis need to be transparent and comprehensible. If a scorecard is constructed well, it can be a highly useful instrument for assessing changes in capacities. By quantifying existing capacities, a baseline is established against which performance can later be evaluated using the same set of indicators. In addition, monitoring data on intervention intensity and participation levels can be associated with performance measures to better understand the relationship between capacity development inputs and immediate outcomes. The scorecard can also be used to identify capacity gaps and needs, thus providing essential information for action planning.
  • Social network analysis is another approach that is gaining increasing recognition for evaluating capacity development outcomes, especially in the context of innovation processes. Depending on the available data, such analysis can, for example, provide evidence on information exchange, influence or joint planning. Based on the network structure, more and less central actors as well as strong, weak or missing linkages can be identified. Collecting data at different points in time allows the dynamics in a given network to be understood. Connections can move, increase or decrease, while actors might become more or less central. As capacity development interventions aim at strengthening knowledge exchange or collaboration, changes in the connectedness of actors targeted by the intervention are strong indicators of success or failure. If requested, the network data can be used when analysing the uptake of agricultural innovations. Exploring, for example, how exposure to knowledge determine the adoption of climate-smart farm management practices can provide important evidence on how to achieve impact.