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Issues in Assessing Multi-Sector Food and Nutrition Programmes

Sajjad Zohir, Nazme Sabina, Ruhul Amin

Submitted to: World Food Programme (WFP)

The term assessment carries wide range of meanings, which is reflected in the range of synonyms it has – appraisal, rating, valuation, estimation, and evaluation. In the literature dealing with development practices, appraisal, rating and evaluation are more frequently found; with evaluation of project/programme impacts dominating the rest by miles. An obvious limitation of the latter is its ex post nature that fails to provide feedbacks into current project. While lessons are learned for future, the focus on impacts limits their relevance in designing future projects; and its susceptibility to biases for sustaining inflows of funds cannot be ignored.

Initial search was for finding a suitable means to tag assessment with monitoring. The intention had been to make use of the monitoring data and regularly appraise on-going projects in robust manner. This however had to be abandoned at the inception stage. Reviews of several project documents revealed that the assessment/outcome variables may not be comparable across projects/programmes. It was also recognized that there had been abundance of literature on project-specific impacts, often driven by internal dynamics. In contrast, lessons learned from efficacy of project design drew little attention. Thus, instead of undertaking assessment of projects based on mapping data (see Footnote 1), it was decided to select two specific multi-sector programmes and undertake case studies. The purpose was to draw lessons on project/ programme design.

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