As the project will soon begin its second phase, Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and partner staff are continuously learning and sharing information. In addition to staff from each of the three countries regularly collaborating with each other, each country team gathers at least once per quarter to exchange ideas and learn from one another. There is also an annual gathering of project team members to share and reflect. The first evaluation of the project, conducted in December 2014, shows some of the initial lessons learned in this project.
Some further examples of lessons learned include:
Encouraging beneficiary participation during the project’s implementation helps to refine technical approaches.
- LWR’s animal fattening and habbanayé approach to livestock asset building was developed and implemented with input from beneficiaries, who are critical to the planning process. The input provided by beneficiaries ensures both the ownership and the appropriateness of activities including the types of animals chosen, the purchase and care of the animals, distribution of their offspring and resolving problems when they arise.
- The animal fattening strategy in Mali and the Habbanayé strategy in Burkina Faso have evolved in response to lessons learned during program evaluation. For example, in Burkina Faso, the habbanayé strategy was paired with animal fattening, especially for bucks, creating an innovative solution for women. Pairing these activities resulted in increased profits and investments in livestock or purchased grains. The women are now able to sell the old buck after three months. Women are now using that income to purchase younger bucks and also cover other basic household needs.
- In Mali, the initial strategy for animal fattening consisted of purchasing small ruminants in various markets which were then distributed to beneficiaries through a marketing committee. This strategy generated losses, mortality rates reached 22.75 percent and due to disease some animals had to be slaughtered early. These losses amounted to 3,195,961 F CFA, compromising potential project revenues. However, Union Tamani, the partner organization, quickly recovered this loss through dairy cow fattening and sales, which were very profitable. As a result of this success, the new strategy was implemented, which enabled women to access credit directly from the USCET, thereby giving them more responsibility to carry out their own purchases, and increasing their ownership and accountability in animal care. Livestock Technical Services worked in partnership with the local government to integrate capacity building trainings around dairy cow fattening activities into the new project design. Both for men and women who have experience in animal husbandry were able to participate. This new strategy allows beneficiaries to increase their revenues, and also provides an opportunity for value added for agricultural production residue.
Accompaniment with local partners for monitoring and evaluation has exponential benefits.
- While developing good development projects is a challenge, conducting projects according to plan is also challenging. This is true not only for the organization implementing the project but also for the communities participating in the project. An example of this was discovered in the course of collecting and analyzing data from the mid-term evaluation for CORE.
- A community decided to change which individuals should participate in the project after agreeing on participants with the implementing partner in Burkina Faso, FDTT. This change was not communicated to FDTT, so data collection for the mid-term evaluation was still focused on the original group of people selected for participation. This became apparent after the data was collected, because the people who participated in project activities were by and large not the people who were surveyed, and the people who were surveyed had not benefited from the trainings and resources provided by the project. The results were not on track with the team’s expectations, which prompted FDTT and LWR to go back to the community to see what had happened.
- While Monitoring and Evaluation processes are generally used to determine the progress of the project, they can also serve to uncover changes and unexpected outcomes. As FDTT’s capacity to carry out project activities and to monitor progress has increased over the course of this partnership, LWR relied on FDTT’s analysis of this data to understand what happened and make decisions about how to remedy the situation.