EcoAgriculture Partners, along with Cornell University, the Environmental Resources Management Center for Sustainable Development and TerrAfrica, has recently released a new curriculum for a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) course for sustainable land management practitioners. This curriculum, entitled A Landscape Perspective on Monitoring & Evaluation for Sustainable Land Management, is geared towards leadership groups that support a landscape approach and emphasizes team building. The goal is to encourage M&E to become a more integrated and successful aspect of sustainable land management (SLM).
SLM initiatives ideally have multiple outcomes, including agricultural productivity, ecological conservation, livelihood enhancement and institutional strengthening. This curriculum aims to accomplish these multiple and complementary goals, targeting those wishing to build M&E leadership in African SLM initiatives. Currently, primary users include those involved in TerrAfrica, a partnership headed by New Partnerships for Africa’s Development, which works in 24 countries in Africa to provide support for solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Much of the material contained in the manual was recently tested in a pilot course that took place in Ethiopia in April 2014. The TerrAfrica Regional Leadership Course on M&E for SLM, sponsored by TerrAfrica, was planned and facilitated by EcoAgriculture Partners, Cornell University and Environmental Resources Management Center for Sustainable Development in collaboration with TerrAfrica and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sustainable Land Management program in Tigray. The “examples” presented in the manual are drawn substantially from the experience of the pilot course.
The training manual is organized into units and modules that course leaders can use to develop their own, site-specific curriculums. Each module is preceded by a brief overview and estimate of time needed for completion to allow leaders to assess its relevance for their program. Guidelines for each lesson outline any preparation that may be needed to further assist leaders in the planning process, while training notes provide specific advice that leaders may find helpful. Handouts, as well as instructions for any relevant activities and exercises are also included.
The curriculum is heavily based upon student participation and encourages course leaders to ask participants to draw upon personal experiences in their own SLM initiatives to accompany and enhance the lessons. The aim is to facilitate productive conversation and reflection among participants.
Useful complements to the M&E course curriculum presented in the new trainers’ manual include a guide on Ground-Based Photo-Monitoring of Landscape Changes Arising from Sustainable Land Management Practices and a guide on Spatial Planning and Monitoring of Landscape Interventions. The two guides are designed to aid SLM leaders in planning, monitoring and evaluating ways that SLM practices can benefit communities of agriculturalists, agro-pastoralists and pastoralists, and to engage beneficiaries and other stakeholders in the process. This collection of knowledge resources should help to build the capacities, the confidence and the collaboration needed by leaders working in public, private and civic sectors of agriculture and natural resources management in Africa to bring about socio-ecologically resilient landscapes.