The Role of Evaluation in Strengthening Agricultural R&D in Sub-Saharan Africa: Information, Instruments and Actors

ASTI/IFPRI-FARA Conference Working Paper 10

The preceding discussion has covered both a broad period of history and a wide range of themes. The target audience is the reader who wants the perspective of where we’ve come from and where this is leading (and where detail has been sacrificed, it is hoped that references to the literature will allow the reader to follow the tracks). Where policymakers have required evidence for decisionmaking—whether technical, policy, or institutional—researchers have responded with evaluation tools: from economic assessment and priority-setting tools to multi-criteria assessment of impact on social and sustainability goals. The tools of adaptive management have helped systems respond to new challenges, often expressed as a need for “reform.” Participatory methods for priority setting through evaluation have proven their value in addressing concerns of poor people and in enhancing efficiency.

The final section on the state of tools at the national, subregional, and continental level for Africa is a description of a set of imperfectly interconnected systems and subsystems in an emergent state. In spite of the efforts of donors and African leaders to construct legal institutions, planning frameworks, and structured responsibilities, the “system” is likely to emerge through self-organizing behavior among countries, networks, and local cross-boundary trade. The implications for research evaluation are as follows. First, with subregional research programs coexisting with the networks of CGIAR Centers and new CRPs, planning and evaluation approaches will likely have to become more flexible to deal with nonlinear outcomes and unplanned feedback loops. Second, with organizations and institutions creating new forms of partnership, performance management will have to identify the sources of individual and institutional productivity and study ways to strengthen those sources. Finally, it will become necessary to develop the tools of analysis appropriate to agricultural

Leonard Oruko and Howard Elliott
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