From planning to evaluation: recommendations for project design and implementation

Twin Report

Image courtesy of Twin

We all want to share knowledge and lessons from projects, in order to improve them for the next time. But sometimes getting usable insights can be difficult. This new report from Twin focuses on four case studies implemented by UTZ, Solidaridad and Twin in Uganda, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Colombia. 

Based on the research and case studies, several key considerations for future project design and implementation emerge:

Implementers 

Project design:

  • Coffee and climate projects need to be framed within the concept of resilience. This goes beyond adoption of good agriculture practices at farm level and incorporates more socio-economic aspects. 
  • Community assessments should be carried out during the project design phase or at the early onset of the project implementation. This ensures the most relevant activities are identified and prioritised. 

Project implementation:

  • Building the adaptive capacity of extension staff and lead farmers is key to ensuring sustained behaviour change.  This could include new methodologies such as change management. 
  • When using ‘adaptation funds’, or supporting community managed credits and saving groups, there should be sufficient funds for meaningful farm-level investment. Also consider if resources are needed to build capacity for effective fund administration.
  • Farmer Field Schools (FFS) can be an effective model for delivering training and have the added benefits of promoting social cohesion. However, they require exposure to outside knowledge and innovation to create initial interest and momentum. 

Project Evaluation: 

  • Traditional results based M&E frameworks are not the most appropriate for climate change and coffee projects. Consider using more process based indicators.
  • Be realistic about the likely time frame for measuring impact, and design M&E framework accordingly. Some outcomes will usually only be measurable after 4-5 years. In this case, baseline and impact surveys are relevant.
  • Focus on measuring the increased adaptive capacity of staff. For example, through the use of self-evaluation to assess confidence, knowledge acquired and extension methods used. 

Businesses 

  • Resilience of a smallholder farming community is strongly influenced by the commercial relationships with its buyers. Long-term commitment on sourcing can support producers through economic and climatic uncertainties, as well as encourage development of product quality.
  • Foster relationships with industry-wide platforms in order to share knowledge and build momentum for change in a pre-competitive environment. 

Platforms and Industry Initiatives

  • A mapping of stakeholders involved in climate vulnerable coffee regions could facilitate the identification of synergies, avoid duplication of interventions and foster collaboration. 
  • As industry actors come together to forge new partnerships there is a need to document lessons learnt from initiatives already undertaken and develop guidelines on best practices in implementation of coffee and climate resilience projects.

These recommendations have the potential to make future projects more effective and have a great impact, so for more detailed insights, read the full report