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Pages from a facilitator’s journal



  outcomes monitoring

What is the relevance of the CHARM2 Project to the Cordillera communities?  What has the Project given to the beneficiaries in the seven years of its existence?

this is a question that is already being asked by project stakeholders at this point of the Project’s life. It is a question best answered by the Project beneficiaries themselves.  Barangay Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Teams or BPMETS were formed by the Project out  of the beneficiary communities  to monitor the implementation of reforestation, agroforestry, agribusiness and infrastructure sub-projects; to make sure that these are implemented in a timely fashion and are up to standard.

The last IFAD Supervision Mission agreed that BPMETS can do much more than monitor outputs; they can in fact be the source of information on whether the CHARM2 Project is achieving its target outcomes and getting closer to achieving the goal of poverty reduction in the poor rural upland communities of the CAR. 

In response to the Mission’s recommendations, the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (PMEU) of the CHARM2 Project led the task of piloting a training workshop for BPMETs to do outcomes monitoring.

Aside from the meticulous task of conceptualizing, developing a framework, tools and methodologies and planning the logistics, a team of facilitators from the Project Support Office and the Provincial Coordination Office of  Benguet was formed and oriented  on the task to be accomplished. The facilitators went through the whole process of the outcomes monitoring training workshop as designed, to enable the team to fine-tune the process based on the assessment of the facilitators. Some PSO staff expressed concerns that the training might be above the heads of the intended participants. Kapangan, Benguet was the chosen pilot site and the BPMETs there were to be the main participants in the activity.

During an orientation workshop held at Suvani’s Avong in Kapangan, the team of facilitators from PSO introduced BPMETs from Beleng-belis, Cuba, Gaswiling and Pudong to the concept of community development and explained to them related concepts such as the cyclical process of development, the results hierarchy and the results web. Group activities were designed to help the farmer-beneficiaries reflect on their experience with the CHARM2 project. The preparation of the results chain and the results web were used as tools to help them articulate what they saw as the  outcomes of this experience. Each  barangay presented the results web of one actual project output in their barangay.

The next step was to engage the communities in the process of outcomes evaluation using the tools learned. In the following four weeks, the facilitators were deployed by teams to Beleng-belis, Cuba, Gaswiling and Pudong. They simultaneously conducted outcomes workshops in the four barangays. Each week’s workshop was devoted to a specific component output; starting with social mobilization in the first week, reforestation and agroforestry in the second, agriculture and agribusiness in the third week  and rural infrastructure development in the last week of August.

A look at the results webs that the BPMETs put together over the past weeks shows that in their assessment the Project has at the very least, contributed to the better resilience of the households. They have additional household income, less expenses and more savings and are better able to cope with daily household needs.

During the workshop discussions, the participants expressed appreciation for the opportunity afforded them by the Project for greater participation in decision making for their community and in guarding its best interests. They were delighted that even senior citizens now take active part in community activities because of the better road access. This has also allowed the entry of urgently needed services for the barangay such as health services and electricity. Likewise the participants were grateful for the added knowledge and skills provided by the Project which enable them now to profitably use their resources even as they consciously aim to be  good stewards of these.

More time and work is required before this pilot activity is concluded and its results are fully made known. A final workshop with the BPMETS was conducted where workshop outputs were consolidated, reviewed and evaluated to yield the evidence based outcomes of the Project. At this workshop the BPMETs were also asked to evaluate the process of outcomes monitoring. Finally a write-up of the whole process will be done as a practical guide for outcomes monitoring.

In retrospect, I look back at the whole experience with a valuable lesson learned: never underestimate the capability of the target beneficiaries to grasp a different approach or perspective to development since they, like everyone else, will always strive to learn and understand if this leads to their own good. The trick is to use the right language, so to speak, and to engage them in a dialogue of equals.

If the outcomes’ training is a success, it will be due to the fact that the right preparation and methodology was used. The process of preparing the Results Web afforded the participants a chance  to focus on a project  output and analyze the consequences that this brought to their families, organizations and to the community as a whole. Perceptions were elucidated and validated in the ensuing discussions until each outcome was defined.  If this process is internalized by the BPMETS, they will be more effective in evaluating development interventions in their community and contribute more in shaping the direction that this takes.

Once more the Project has helped the beneficiaries to develop a process whereby they can work more effectively together so that their concerted efforts will bring about the realization of their hopes. May the Project’s legacy continue to move them forward until they become what they envision!// PHOTOS: Charles A. Picpican

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