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Impacts assessment seminar in Nairobi

February 8, 2008

On 28 January, Roberto La Rovere, CIMMYT Impact Specialist, launched two new tools recently developed by CIMMYT’s ITAU “Operational guidelines for assessing impacts of agricultural research on livelihooods”, and the “Manual to conduct socioeconomic surveys through Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)”, with participants from various CGIAR centers, during a session themed “Tools to capture impacts of our work on livelihoods,” organized by CIMMYT Kenya at the ICRAF campus in Nairobi.

1Impact assessment (IA) is changing, with the focus shifting from calculating rates of return to measuring impacts on the livelihoods of those targeted by agricultural R&D projects. The Operational Guidelines, coauthored by La Rovere and John Dixon, are aimed at practitioners in impact assessment, particularly at managers who want to write IA projects or projects with an IA component, and at our partners in the field. The Guidelines provide a step-by-step guide on how to plan for and conduct an IA, considering aspects such as cost, capacity, and team composition, and indicators of how to measure impact. Participants held engaging discussions on how to attribute the roles of different partners, how to build IA into program design, and how to discern the effects of confounding factors in determining impact on livelihoods.

The second tool, the PDA Manual, jointly developed by La Rovere and Federico Carrion, guides users on the applications of these devices for collecting quality socio-economic data more quickly. The manual shows how to download the program and how to enter and analyze data, and provides sample surveys. The tool can also be used for agronomic or other types of surveys. The potential for using PDAs in various circumstances and types of surveys raised the interest of participants. Useful for quantitative surveys, the PDA has already been used in IA studies in multi-country surveys in Africa. Its advantages and disadvantages and areas of application were discussed in the seminar.

A similar seminar will be given at El Batán to launch the tools internally. The manuals are available on the CIMMYT website under the “Impacts and impact evaluation” sub-heading of the ITAU page, and users are encouraged to provide feedback for improving them.