Monitoring & evaluation for learning in rural innovation systems

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KIT Dossier Monitoring & evaluation for learning in rural innovation systems

Last update: Monday 01 January 0001

"M&E to facilitate learning in agricultural innovation"

Over the course of the last decade it became increasingly clear that agricultural research alone may not increase the capacity of the agricultural sector in developing countries to innovate (Hall et al., 2006, p. vi; World Bank). Agricultural markets and value chain development have become essential drivers for sustainable innovation, and the so-called innovation systems approach is used to take them on board in the planning process (see the KIT dossier on Rural Innovation Systems).

As a result of the plurality of perspectives (smallholders, chain actors, researchers) and the multiplicity of objectives (poverty alleviation, profit, crop yields) the system of agricultural and rural development starts to develop the characteristics of a "complex problem", which requires a process of engagement of all stakeholders concerned for its resolution (Latesteijn and Andeweg, 2010, p. 10). This process typically takes the form of iterative, multi-stakeholder learning to take in the varied perspectives of the process participants and to make sure that the best possible solutions emerge from the discussions.

There are many methodologies, methods, and tools to guide this process. A number of these methodologies fall in the category of monitoring & evaluation (M&E) approaches that are specifically designed to support learning for innovation. They include Developmental Evaluation (Patton, 2011), and Reflexive Monitoring in Action (Van Mierlo et al, 2010).

Some of these "alternative" methodologies of monitoring & evaluation for learning (M&E4L) - mostly grounded in or linked to systems thinking - are highlighted in the In-Depth section of this dossier. Case studies and other  material are presented in the Resources section.


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Rural Innovation Systems


For questions or suggestions about this dossier, please contact Sjon van 't Hof at