What does impact mean to A4NH and how do we measure it?
Intermediate Development Outcomes
One of the main reasons CGIAR Research Programs (like A4NH) were created, was to enhance the impact-orientation of agricultural research. CGIAR has defined major goals of agricultural research, one of which is a new area for the CGIAR: improving nutrition and health. A4NH has developed a results framework to show how our research contributes to this goal through four intermediate development outcomes (IDOs).
The first two IDOs capture agriculture’s contribution to nutrition and health:
- Improved diet quality, especially of women and young children
- Reduced exposure to the causes of agriculture-associated disease, including improving food safety along the value chain and improving human health through good agricultural practices in agro-ecosystems
The second two IDOs focus on aspects of the enabling environment that are crucial to achieving the nutrition and health goals:
- Empowerment of women and poor communities to make decisions related to agriculture, food, care, and health
- Better cross-sector policies, programs and investments that foster improved nutrition and health outcomes from agriculture and other sectors.
In addition to its own research, A4NH plays an important role in adding value to research on agriculture, nutrition, and health across CGIAR. Therefore, we will also be developing specific IDOs, indicators, and targets related to our capacity strengthening and convening roles.
A4NH Outcome Stories:
- Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition in Brazil, 2015 (PDF 353 KB)
How does A4NH research contribute to intermediate development outcomes?
Theories of change
The path from research to development outcomes is long and complex, involves many partners, and depends on many external factors that are largely beyond the control of researchers—though not beyond their influence. We have developed theories of change (ToCs) for our main program areas to help us plan, communicate, monitor, and learn from our work (Mayne and Johnson, 2015). ToCs identify the sequences of immediate outcomes between A4NH outputs and development outcomes and the key assumptions behind the causal linkages. Once we have articulated the ToCs, we rigorously examined the evidence base for the assumptions, documenting which assumptions are well supported by evidence and where more work is needed to make a convincing case that the research will contribute to impact. Often more research and new partnerships are needed to strengthen the ToC, however it is possible that in some cases the inability to make a plausible case for impact will require re-thinking the research agenda.
External evaluation of A4NH
A4NH is currently finalizing its CRP-level external evaluation. Some preliminary outputs are available on the evaluation page of the A4NH website.
In addition, we recently completed a CRP-commissioned external evaluation of our food safety research.
Resources related to impact:
- TANGO survey note, Dec 2015 (PDF 297KB)
- TANGO survey report, July 2015 (PDF 1MB)
- What will it take for biofortification to have impact on the ground? Theories of change for three crop-country combinations (IFPRI Discussion Paper)
- How will training traders contribute to improved food safety in informal markets for meat and milk?: A theory of change analysis (IFPRI Discussion Paper)
- The potential of farm-level technologies and practices to contribute to reducing consumer exposure to aflatoxins: A theory of change analysis (IFPRI Discussion Paper)
- A4NH Results Framework for Phase II (PDF 212 KB)
- ToC for Flagship on Supporting Country Outcomes through Research on Enabling Environments (PDF 187 KB)
- ToC for Flagship on Integrated Programs to Improve Nutrition (PDF 218 KB)
- Using Theories of Change to Manage and Monitor Progress towards Outcomes (PDF 1.69 MB)
- Contribution of A4NH to the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework and the Proposed Sustainable Development Goals (PDF 319 KB)