With a commitment to continuous learning, the Global Collaboration for Resilient Food Systems (CRFS) has created IMEP, which stands for Integrated Monitoring, Evaluation, and Planning. This developmental monitoring and evaluation framework helps project teams, regional teams, and program staff understand what has been achieved, what needs to be addressed, and how plans should be modified to accomplish new or revised objectives.
IMEP consists of tools that support systematized data collection and monitoring, ongoing evaluation, and incorporation of new findings into the planning process. This level of ongoing learning helps project teams and the CRFS respond in a more agile way to emerging challenges and opportunities.
Promoting as it does a systems focus, IMEP provides mechanisms to evaluate not just outputs but outcomes and how they are related. A better understanding of the relationship among outputs, outcomes, and longer-term impact helps set the conditions for innovation to occur. Project teams as well as CRFS leadership can plan more broadly, bringing the right stakeholders to the table from the beginning. Together, all stakeholders can identify opportunities that might otherwise stay hidden and can mobilize resources strategically.
One way we learn how project research results connect to participatory approaches and development outcomes is by synthesizing our findings through mini case studies. In addition, we have in-depth case studies as listed below. We use IMEP data to synthesize at a regional and program level through the annual regional analysis and strategic planning and program analysis and strategic planning documents. Processes are implemented as needs emerge in different aspects of the program, resulting in a variety of products to meet said needs. These multiple processes and products are used at different points to support planning and evaluation.
Our learning framework is shaped by program theory as conceptualized in our theory of change (ToC), which was developed through an iterative process with the CRFS leadership team. The ToC, along with thematic ToCs, regional ToCs, and project level ToCs, helps us identify funding strategies at the project, regional, and program levels; identify research priorities and appropriate partners; and determine the lens through which to evaluate our work. The ToC provides a unified framework to understand how the CRFS’s research outputs and our grantee support processes combine to create impact. We are systematically testing the hypothesis and approaches embedded in our ToC through strategic learning questions and longer-term evaluation questions.