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Background: The dynamic and complex natures of value chains added up with the multi-layered and open socio-technical systems that are affected by a range of factors and the continuous adaptation processes to changing conditions, makes measuring changes of value chain interventions a challenging task. Selection of M&E approach is dictated by the reality of multiple actors, relationships and perspectives in complex change processes. The traditional M&E approaches and tools specifically the log frame have been criticized for its failure in measuring changes in complex interventions. M&E approaches and tools that are learning focused, flexible, allow involvement of stakeholders, capture unintended results and focus on contribution of the interventions are more appropriate.
Purpose: This paper discussed the process and results of using OM as monitoring and evaluation tool for value chain interventions and reflect on the success, challenges and lessons.
Setting: imGoats project implemented in India and Mozambique with the aim of increasing income and food security in a sustainable manner by enhancing pro-poor small ruminant value chains.
Intervention: The project employed value chain (VC) and Innovations Systems (IS) approaches rather than traditional methods of technology transfer. IS approaches rely on innovation platforms (IPs), which are spaces facilitated by local innovation brokers where individuals and organizations can come together to address priority issues related to development of value chains. OM was one of the M&E tools used by the project.
Research design: Action research component was superimposed in the project implementation process where data were collected continuously on various aspects. Predominantly, the emic approach is used as most of the authors are directly involved in the action research process. The team had direct exposure in designing and implementing the tool, observing and improving (based on practical experiences and reflections) in the project implementation process. The OM process was continuously monitored and documented with a support from an external consultant.
Data collection and analysis: Data were gathered through a multi-method process including review of documents, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and participant observations. Three workshops were conducted at the beginning, midterm and end of the project to evaluate the progress and challenges of OM application. The reports and feedbacks provided by participants in these workshops are one of the data sources for this study. Furthermore, data was collected from project implementation partners on their reflections with regards to OM as M&E tool.
Findings: The findings of the study depict that Outcome Mapping has many demonstrated qualities that makes it suitable for value chain and innovation systems interventions. If properly applied, OM promotes strategic thinking and enhances organizational responsiveness due to its reflective and learning nature. Even if OM requires an environment which promotes participation, learning and flexibility, it could bring attitudinal change among those involved in its design and implementation. Due to its flexibility OM can capture unintended effects. Moreover, OM can have parallel positive effects on how partners are conducting project management and monitoring activities. In the action research it was evident that OM is adaptable to different methodologies, contexts and type of interventions. Project/intervention duration has implication to fully utilize OM. As behavioral change is a slow process and needs reasonable time, OM could not be fully utilized in terms of measuring some of the behavioral changes in short duration projects. OM is resource intensive especially when it is used for larger projects. It requires time, skilled manpower and other logistics for collecting and analyzing data. Hence, the investment needs to be carefully balanced against the use of it.
Keywords: Outcome Mapping, M&E Approaches, Value Chain, Log Frame, Complex Interventions
Copyright 2016 Journal of MultiDisciplinary Evaluation, Western Michigan University.