In my previous blog posting yesterday, I wrote about a recent trip I made to visit the WorldFish-lead KSinR Pilot Project which has been tying out Outcome Mapping as a knowledge sharing approach to enhance a research project on fish culture activities in Vietnam.
But why Outcome Mapping? How does this serve as knowledge sharing? and what does it offer to improving the research process?
Outcome Mapping is relatively new approach, developed by IDRC to planning and M&E. The theory behind Outcome Mapping is that it focuses on one specific type of result: Outcomes as behavioural change. “Outcomes are defined as changes in the behaviour, relationships, activities, or actions of the people, groups and organizations with whom a program works directly.”
For more information on the Outcome Mapping approach- see:
So Outcome Mapping offers a new way of thinking about achievements within a project–a different type of knowledge–which is valuable for a project such as the WorldFish-run CPWF 35 project.
This project found that monitoring technical aspects alone such as fish numbers and types, snail population, etc was not enough to understand what was going on in the fish culture activities to provide support to the next season or to other groups. What was missing was a method which would also allow the project to understand what various groups were doing during the season, how did activities and behaviours change, what relationships formed and how did they work–all important knowledge to use in strengthening fish culture activities for those doing it and providing lessons for the project on the management of this collective activity.
Outcome Mapping apart from looking at a different type of knowledge also offers a different way of generating and sharing knowledge. Outcome Mapping is designed to be a participatory form of planning and M&E, taking into account the perspectives of various stakeholders both in the (intentional) design stage of Outcome Mapping for a project as well as in the monitoring and evaluation activities too.
Outcome Mapping is meant to be interactive and based on the sharing of knowledge between a project and many of its stakeholders. The knowledge generated from this M&E approach is done in such a way that both two-way communication as well as learning are promoted. This is different from more traditional styles of M&E which consist of surveys or formal observation visits by project personnel (or consultants) who extract information from stakeholders, project sites and activities and then it resides in reports and databases. This offers little chance for others to learn from the process of M&E.
Since the WorldFish- run CPWF 35 project has been designed as an adaptive management approach, it is vital that lessons and experiences from one season of fish culture activities be fed back into the process for the groups of people who are carrying out and supporting such activities to learn from past seasons and readjust activities for the next season. A previous survey method used by the project was very complex, time-consuming, and data heavy. The results of the survey took a long time to collect, a long time to enter into a special database- leaving little time for analysis and with little prospect or mechanism for getting ‘results’ back to the people undertaking fish culture.
It was necessary to find a better way to carry out M&E within the project, in a way that could both better capture what was going on through including perspectives of those involved, as well as allowing an opportunity for learning by those involved in the fish culture activities themselves.