Marina Apgar, IDS, December 2017
The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) was commissioned to implement a Beneficiary Assessment of the Katalyst programme in Bangladesh, a market systems programme in operation since 2002. The goal of the research was to build a systemic understanding of large programmes using market system approaches. The project's stated aim is to contribute to increased income for poor men and women in rural areas of Bangladesh through increasing the competitiveness of farmers and small enterprises by facilitating changes in services, inputs and product markets. The project is jointly funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida) and implemented under the Ministry of Commerce of the Government of Bangladesh by Swisscontact. The inquiry focussed on the interventions related to the maize sector, which is one of several sectors in which the programme is working.
The research used a Participatory Systemic Inquiry methodology and included: a documentary analysis of Katalyst's maize interventions; the collection and collective analysis of 302 life stories (101 of maize farmers and 201 of general farmers), including: the generation of two large-scale causal systems maps (one for general farming and one for maize farming); a deliberative panel of farmers, agricultural experts and Katalyst staff; and interviews with key actors with relevant agricultural and contextual knowledge.
Using Katalyst's interventions in maize in Bangladesh as an example, the research assessed whether the underpinning assumptions and theory of change of the interventions are congruent with farmers' realities and consequently the extent to which people living in poverty benefit from these programmes. It also identified the unintended consequences which impact on human well-being, gender and the environment. Importantly this was not an evaluation of the Katalyst programme itself, as all Beneficiary Assessments, it was intended as a learning opportunity and about performance and upward accountability.
What was the added value of IDS?
The SDC uses and aims to further foster a Beneficiary Assessment methodology across its countries of operation. Under the collaboration with IDS a number of Beneficiary Assessments have been supported through the use of creative methodologies. As noted by the SDC, a Beneficiary Assessment can employ a wide variety of methodologies.
Specifically, the Katalyst programme is a large market systems development programme with 17 interventions related to the maize sector alone, creating a methodological challenge as many standard qualitative tools are unable to engage with the complexity of such programme, and might have failed to build a picture of perceptions of systemic change directly from working with farmers. In this case, then, IDS brought world recognised expertise in evaluation design using the Participatory Systemic Inquiry methodology. This methodology was developed Danny Burns at IDS, and has been adapted to multiple contexts in South Asia and different systemic challenges for evaluation and learning purposes.
Through forming an IDS team of experts for this collaboration, the methodology was able to use a participatory and systemic intervention to inquire in to the perceptions of farmers and relate these to the underlying theory of change of the Katalyst programme. Further, IDS brought to bare its long-standing partnership with the NGO Praxis in India. Their regional expertise enabled a complex methodology to be adapted to the context of Bangladesh. The capacity to implement such participatory methods in context requires partnerships built over time, and IDS could provide these expert methodological partnerships.
Access the full report here:
Katalyst Beneficiary Assessment Final.pdf (PDF, 1.5MB)