CCAFS' Innovative Tool Measure the Value of Climate Services for Farmers

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 2:30 PM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Alexa Jay, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, Palisades, NY; and A. Tall

Climate information can be a powerful tool in helping rural communities adapt to climate risk. But not all information is created equal, nor is access to information equal. To better understand the value of climate information in farmer communities, CCAFS researchers started out by asking: does climate information matter to women farmers? CCAFS, working with CGIAR Centers and other partners, has been engaging in projects to deliver climate services to smallholder farmers across Africa and South Asia. This CCAFS paper proposes a new contextual and gender-responsive monitoring and evaluation framework (M&E) to assess the added value of climate information and advisory services for smallholder farming communities across the developing world. The proposed M&E fulfills three primary goals for conducting an evaluation of climate services for farmers: 1) to inform design of a new climate service project; 2) to identify gaps in climate service delivery, and improve project effectiveness and service delivery quality; and 3) to assess impact of provided services for farmers, hypothesized to benefit from the climate service. A multi-step process is developed for climate service impact evaluation, including a pre-assessment (PA) toolkit of ethnographic and evaluative tools, followed by guidelines for baseline data collection, monitoring, and evaluation of climate service projects. The drive to develop a tool to assess the concrete value of climate services for farmers grew out of an expert meeting jointly hosted by CCAFS, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, the United States Agency for International Development, the Climate Services Partnership and Senegal's Meteorological Agency (ANACIM) back in May 2013. The PA builds understanding of contextual issues that constrain or enable the usefulness of climate information services in the communities, such as information about farmer's decision- making, socio-economic and cultural constraints behind behavioral changes, and gender roles and norms within a given community. Once such understanding of farmers' decision-making context is determined, evaluators are better equipped to define a contextualized impact pathway of climate information for rural farmers specific to the target project area or country. Most importantly, the PA survey enables researchers and project designers to come up with a suite of indicators of project performance developed by the community themselves and informed by a deeper knowledge of farmers' local context. Based on the results of the PA, researchers proceed to design context-adapted M&E surveys to measure how information is used currently (at the ‘baseline'), how this changes over time with the provision of climate advisories through a climate services project (‘monitoring'), and how all this adds up to impact farmer decision making and ultimately, how well they make a living from farming (‘evaluation'). The toolkit also includes a strong gender component so evaluators can determine if, how, and why women are or are not receiving and using climate services. CCAFS' proposed framework aims to support evaluators and project designers determine if, how, when and under which conditions climate services are impacting farmers' key livelihood decisions before, during and after their cropping season. The framework will also highlight how climate services are impacting farming practices under uncertain climate conditions so that farmers can improve local management of climate-related risks at the farm-level. Photo caption: CCAFS tests new survey tools to uncover how climate information impacts farmers' livelihoods. Photo: V. Reddy.