Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

CSA programme and project monitoring and evaluation

Enabling Frameworks


Activities involved in monitoring and evaluation include setting project baselines, defining indicators, measuring progress, and evaluating successes and the problems encountered by climate-smart agriculture interventions at the end of the project and beyond.

Monitoring and evaluation are initiated at the preparation stage in the project cycle and are closely linked with the overall climate-smart agriculture planning. Monitoring tracks progress, checks intermediate results, and informs adjustments during project implementation. Evaluation deals primarily with the assessment of the results and impacts of climate-smart agriculture interventions. The learning process identifies issues and draws lessons for future interventions and policies and should be integrated into the monitoring and evaluation process. The monitoring and evaluation framework presented in this module highlights some important elements: situational analysis and forecasting; intervention planning and targeting; and defining detailed indicators and baseline assessments. It is important to recognize that monitoring and evaluation are closely related activities. For climate-smart agriculture programmes and projects adopting an adaptive management and learning approach is particularly valuable. The interventions should be designed within a results-based framework that emphasises the development of appropriate indicators.

Climate-smart agriculture practitioners are expected to use the guidance outlined in this module as a starting point for designing an approach that satisfies their specific requirements and circumstances.

Box 9.10 Case Study - Regional silvopastoral project in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua: monitoring carbon sequestration and biodiversity

The Regional silvopastoral project in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua was implemented between 2002-2008 with support from the Global Environment Fund, FAO’s Livestock, Environment and Development Initiative and the World Bank. Total project costs came to USD 8.7 million. The programme’s main goal was to restore degraded pastures by establishing silvopastoral systems that combine fodder plants, such as grasses and leguminous herbs, with trees and shrubs. A total of 12 260 hectares of land was covered by the project. The monitoring component, which cost about USD 1 million over a 5-year period, focused on land-use changes as a proxy for carbon sequestration and biodiversity enhancement. At the project start, a panel of experts estimated the carbon sequestration and biodiversity potential of the prevailing landscapes, and converted those into an index, on the basis of one point as the standard for carbon sequestration and biodiversity for primary forest. Carbon sequestration of secondary forest was estimated at ten tonnes of carbon per hectare. The index for each landscape was validated and later adjusted through field research that determined soil organic matter dynamics, and changes in bird, butterfly and mollusc populations.

Table C9.3. Environmental service indices of different landscapes in Colombia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua

Land use

 Carbon index

Biodiversity index


Degraded pasture




Live fences




Fodder banks




Natural pasture with low tree density




Improved pasture with high tree density




Secondary forest




Water quality (biological oxygen demand) was also measured to provide accurate information and understanding of the potential of intensified silvopastoral systems in providing local ecological services. Table C9.3 provides the indices of some of the main land-use types.

These indices were used to develop a system for the payment of environmental services. The year-to-year changes in the index of the different farm plots served as the basis for determining the amount to be paid for these services. For example, if farmers improved a plot with native pasture to improved pasture with a high density trees they would have a 1.1 increase in the index. This 1.1 increment is then  multiplied by 10 tonnes per index point. This amount (11 tonnes) is then multiplied by USD 7.5 per tonne of carbon per hectare generating a payment equivalent to USD 82.50.

The attraction of this system is that:

  • It uses a landscape approach to enhance climate mitigation and adaptation.
  • It is relatively easy to administer, as it is mainly GPS based. Costs per hectare for routine data collection to administer the payment of the environmental service system were about USD 1 per hectare.
  • Farmers clearly understand the system, as shown through their adoption of those strategies that were most profitable.

Overall the project was a striking example of a win-win-win situation:

  • Farmers’ income per hectare increased by 15 percent over the project period.
  • Carbon sequestration over the entire project area increased by 1.6 tonnes of carbon (or 3.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per hectare per year. In addition, a case study on a small number of farms indicates that silvopastoral technologies decreased emissions of methane by 21 percent and nitrous oxide by 36 percent
  • The number of bird, mollusc and butterfly species in the three pilot areas doubled.
  • Water quality improved significantly. In the one pilot area where it was measured, the biological oxygen demand declined from 11 to below 1.3.
  • The inclusion of fodder shrubs enhanced climate resilience by providing high-quality livestock feed in the dry season.

The project is now being scaled up in Colombia, and the silvopastoral systems approach is being integrated into national systems in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Source: World Bank, 2008