Towards monitoring that makes sense : action research design of a planning, learning and accountability system for a sustainable agriculture programme in Eastern Indonesia

Deprez, Stefan Gert Marie (2008) Towards monitoring that makes sense : action research design of a planning, learning and accountability system for a sustainable agriculture programme in Eastern Indonesia. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




This study is an account of an action research process to develop a planning, learning and accountability (PLA) system for the sustainable agriculture chain development programme of VECO (Vredeseilanden Country Office) Indonesia. Many monitoring and evaluation (M&E) processes in development programmes are largely carried out to provide information for funding agencies, to meet external accountability requirements and for symbolic protection. This study generates insights into an integrated, learning-oriented monitoring practice which fosters reflective practice, provides feedback to programme stakeholders about performance, progress and results achieved, facilitates improved accountability, and generates information and knowledge useful for the programme stakeholders to take decisions for improved action. It is argued that M&E systems have the potential, if developed well, to serve as a framework or ‘carrier’ for organisational and institutional learning – an essential requirement to respond to the complex nature of development processes. Outcome mapping is presented as a possible approach to be used as the basis for such a M&E system. This study was underpinned by a socially critical orientation to development (programmes) and by an action research method to guide the PLA system design process. The design process was organized around seven steps - which in themselves were a result of the action research process – including specific steps to ensure a learning-oriented M&E system. Based on the agreed purposes and intended uses of the monitoring and learning process, the resulting PLA system is focused around the organizational spaces and rhythms of VECO Indonesia which are central to sharing, debate, learning and decision-making. In this way, the PLA system becomes integral to the thinking and doing of the organization. It is built on the premise that monitoring does not end with gathering data; it also needs to include a process of understanding and deciding how data can best be used and analysed to strengthen concerted action and facilitate decision-making. It highlights the importance of sense-making – interpreting information to make it usable for action. Furthermore, it incorporates an approach to assess and consciously plan for the creation of the necessary organisational conditions to implement and maintain a learning-oriented M&E system. The study is completed by critical reflection on the relevance of VECO’s new PLA system for planning, learning and accountability, combined with the use of a future scenario technique to generate recommendations and identify critical future directions. Further exploration of ‘intelligent’ information-seeking methods and processes is called for; and a practice which moves beyond intra-organisational monitoring – focusing on VECO’s own monitoring needs – towards a monitoring process that facilitates change based on the viewpoints of, and in collaboration with local actors, i.e., institutional monitoring and learning, is recommended. VECO is encouraged to continue developing a mindset and practice whereby the programme team and partners have the ability to leave the safe zone of pre-determined outcomes and actions, and to make sense of the world as they engage in action.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Agricultural development projects, Indonesia, Agricultural administration, Action research in education
Subjects:L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2219
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:23 Nov 2011 08:15
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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