Summary Report: Innovative Qualitative Approaches for CIS Monitoring and Evaluation
Climate information services (CIS) for agriculture and development are useful only when farmers have the ability to make changes in their activities and practices based on the information received. This ability is mediated by a wide range of factors and considerations, such as access to appropriate seeds or needed agricultural equipment, or the authority to make decisions about the cultivation of a particular farm plot. Different users of a CIS will have different abilities to act on weather and climate information. To effectively monitor and evaluate CIS therefore requires approaches to monitoring and evaluation (M&E) that identify and analyze these complex factors.
This report outlines lessons about CIS monitoring and evaluation drawn from two qualitative pilot assessments of CIS users and their needs in Senegal and Rwanda. These assessments were conducted by the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab (HURDL) as part of the Climate Information Services Research Initiative (CISRI) funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. The goal of these assessments was to test innovative evaluation methodologies on ongoing programs and develop general lessons that could contribute toward improving the design and evaluation of CIS interventions.
These pilot assessments identified the following lessons for effective CIS design, monitoring, and evaluation:
- Identity and social barriers influence CIS uptake. The social barriers to CIS uptake and use in a given livelihoods zone take shape around roles and responsibilities associated with particular identity categories, including gender, seniority, and ethnicity. These social barriers rarely take shape around a single identity or issue.
- Factors shaping the use of CIS scale to the livelihoods zone. Project design and M&E methodologies aimed at understanding the factors that shape the use of weather and climate information, and thus the underlying decision-making of different CIS users, produce evidence valid at the scale of the livelihoods zone. Popularized by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS-NET), livelihoods zones are geographic regions characterized by shared socioeconomic and agroecological situations, and broadly similar livelihoods activities.
- Potential impacts of CIS go beyond yields and incomes. Indirect impacts on food security and improved capabilities for coping with adverse climate conditions could be important. The activities that climate information might influence are closely linked to local understandings of identity (particularly gender), roles, and responsibilities. Thus, CIS impact should be identified not only in terms of material outcomes, but also in terms of changes in the ways in which people conduct livelihoods activities, and who conducts those activities. Qualitative tools, such as that piloted in these assessments, allow for the identification of these broader changes and impacts.