Article By: Boru Douthwaite
Senior Researcher - Innovation Systems, Social Learning and Theory of Change

Agricultural research and development organizations are under pressure to have and report more impact. Integrated monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) systems can help, however they do not evolve overnight.

MEL specialists belonging to the Association of International Research Centers in Agriculture (AIRCA) Community of Practice (COP) on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) have found that their respective MEL systems are following a common trajectory that progresses through four overlapping stages:

  • Basic accountability - meeting donor accountability requirements, usually at project level.
  • Outcome monitoring and impact evaluation - tracking project outcomes, both expected and unexpected, and showing their contributions to program- and center-wide targets and goals.
  • Learning and strategic planning - using learning across projects in adaptive programming and strategic planning.
  • Evaluation research - staff develop new MEL approaches and contribute to research on uptake and scaling processes.

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