On 9-12 February 2015, the Livestock and Fish CGIAR Research Program organized a Theory of Change (ToC) training workshop in Nairobi in order to increase the understanding of the Theory of Change and start implementation of a pilot ToC-based Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) approach. Tanzania smallholder dairy and Ethiopia small ruminants value chains were selected to implement the pilot approach and change pathways for projects in these value chains.
After the Nairobi training workshop, a follow-up workshop was held in Ethiopia on 3-4 March 2015 and was facilitated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) team . The follow-up workshop objectives were to:
- Arrive at a common understanding of the Theory of Change approach, especially for scientists and partners who were not at the Nairobi workshop
- Revisit and review the change pathway developed for the Ethiopia small ruminants value chains
- Validate and refine the change pathway developed for the Ethiopia small ruminants value chains
Workshop participants included both value chains scientists and other actors/partners.
On the first day of the workshop, I gave a recap of the Theory of Change concept and approach, highlighting clear distinctions between ToC and several other MEL methods. I specifically stressed that Theory of Change was an approach and not a tool for monitoring and evaluation.
Barbara Rischkowsky, the Ethiopia small ruminant country coordinator then gave a brief background review of all stakeholder engagements that have been aimed at developing a value chain change pathway and how these previous actions had contributed to the current change pathway. She then guided participants through the current program change story highlighting what the program does with other actors/partners, the key short term changes and intermediate term changes needed to achieve the vision.
Workshop participants were then divided into 2 groups to review the change pathway developed in Nairobi. The review process required focusing on the value chain vision, re-examining the contextual factors associated with the change story, re-assessing the program’s sphere of influence, identifying important missing actors/partners and assessing how these actors will change for the vision to be achieved. The validation process also involved critical examinations of expected changes and eliminating gaps (“leaps of faith”). A lot of new information was generated in the process. The first day ended with a discussion on how generated ideas would be integrated in the change pathway.
The second day started with combining changes from the two working groups to develop a final and agreed upon value chains change pathway, identifying key assumptions associated with the change pathway and developing key evaluation questions associated with the changes. Michael Kidoido, M&E scientist with the MEL team provided a brief review of how to formulate assumptions. With the assumptions for short term changes in place, the team then focused on developing a template for designing evaluation questions and planning data collection methods and tools. A generic format for doing this was agreed upon. By the end of the second day, the change pathway below was agreed upon.
It was agreed that Michael and I should continue working on the change pathway, further developing and refining the assumptions and suggesting key evaluation questions. A meeting with a smaller group of the participants to discuss data collection methodologies associated with implementing the baselines was also scheduled.
Keith Child, MEL team impact assessment and learning scientists