There is a saying that practice makes perfect. The best way to know Monitoring and evaluation is by doing it. The more I get to put theory into practice the more I discover the strengths and applications of what I thought I knew. Having been trained in Development Evaluation for a month at Carleton University in Canada – IPDET 2005, in participatory M&E and Impact Assessment of investment in agricultural research for development at IFPRI/ISNAR for 2 weeks, and in managing for impact– MfI for 2 weeks supported by IFAD under SMIP (strengthening managing for impact project) in Nairobi from which I became an MfI Associate and other personal reading about the evaluation, I thought I knew the very well the application of the “Theory of Change” in developing and M&E system. As an Associate of MS-TCDC in Arusha, I have been and continue to conduct course in M&E. I talk a lot about theory of change. 

 

When an opportunity to involve MfI Associates in SMIP activities in Eastern Africa intended to build their capacities came and an advert posted on the ERIL website www.managing4impact.com, I hesitated to apply wondering what new things will I learn. Dear friends, learning only stops when one goes to meet his/her ancestors. I applied to be considered for developing an M&E system for a project supported by IFAD called Agricultural Services Support Program and Agricultural sector Development program for Livestock in Zanzibar (April 21st -27th 2008). The selection team favourably considered my application and I was recruited to work with the team of other 3 professionals in the field of evaluation notably, Ms. Mine Pabari, Dr. Elias Zerfu and Ms. Sindu Workneh. The three people mentioned handled the scoping exercise and I joined them for a 1-week workshop to work with all the major stakeholders to develop the system in a participatory manner. On the first day of the workshop, the major activity on the day’s program was reviewing the theory of change for the project. Ms Mine handled it in a very simple way since we had people with different backgrounds especially farmers. They understood what it was and how useful. My greatest learning was when each group handled its task – I facilitated the Researchers Group; this is when I established for real the practical application of doing the theory of change exercise first. For the training session that I handle, I never used to give an exercise on the theory of change. I would mention it and highlight how it is done and its importance but I had never given an exercise on it. I lesson I learnt is that it is the best way to start even before you go to the purpose and scope of M&E. In my next assignment – July 2008 at MS-TCDC I plan to have an exercise on the Theory of change during the sessions of developing an M&E system. It reveals the changes that stakeholders expect to be brought about by the products and services from the project and this empowers them to work hard expecting change and if it does not happen then they can easily find out whom to hold responsible for failing to deliver the intended change at different levels.

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