Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Duplex Monitoring for Aquaculture Market Systems Activity

Economic development programs are increasingly shifting to a system change approach instead of direct delivery service. In southwest Bangladesh (Map 1), USAID funded around US$25 million in aquaculture through the Aquaculture for Income and Nutrition (AIN) project from October 2011 - September 2016, implemented by WorldFish under Feed the Future. The project took a direct delivery approach for economic development.

Map of Southwest Bangladesh
Map 1: Southwest Bangladesh

Then the project was extended for another year. The project had many achievements, of which fish seed quality improvement, improved management practice for fish cultivation, and nutrition behavioral change, etc. were the most notable. For sustainably scaling the achievements, USAID again awarded WorldFish around US$25million for a five year project (2018-2023) under the title Bangladesh Aquaculture and Nutrition Activity. This Activity will take a market systems development approach. The monitoring system of this Activity will be different than the previous AIN project because markets are dynamic and pose new challenges to monitor. The AIN project used performance monitoring, performance evaluation, and impact evaluation which are all well-defined concepts within USAID (USAID, 2011), but in a market systems development approach, a new monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) scenario is developed:

Figure of MEL Scenario
Figure 1: MEL Scenario in Market Systems Development Approach

Aquaculture market systems in southwest Bangladesh are much more complex than other market systems in the country. Different types of market actors of different levels are in the system, who are asymmetric in connection of education, financial capacity, skills, understanding, incentives from the market, sustainability, etc. To measure Activity results, using only performance monitoring, performance evaluation, and performance impact is not good enough; learning for adaptive management is crucial. But unlike performance monitoring, performance evaluation, and performance impact, there are no standard tools, methods or techniques, although there is some consensus developing around the use of learning for adaptive management (USAID, IDS, and MSTAR, 2015), (Allana, Amir, and Timothy Sparkman, 2014). In such projects, results should be measured at two levels:

  • Actor level change
  • System level change 

Normally, actor level change is comparatively static and can be quantified easily, like the number of improved technologies, the number of people using adapted improved management practices, etc. A monitoring system in the direct delivery approach mainly deals with this level of change. While system-level change is more dynamic, changes occur frequently and are difficult to detect. Those changes are also difficult to quantify. The later change is more important for management decisions and evaluation in a market systems approach, unlike a direct delivery market systems approach, which plays a facilitative role so its result might be visible in the environment even after the project ended.

Figure of Project vs Private Sector
Figure 2: Project VS Private Sector Investment in a Market Systems Development Approach

Management are more interested to learn about systemic changes and detect the changes which are out of the scope of traditional monitoring systems. USAID is becoming interested in both types of results, although they have not proposed any standard indicators to measure system level changes yet. So to solve the tension of dual demand (actor level change and systemic change), the MEL unit of the Bangladesh Aquaculture and Nutrition Activity proposes a duplex monitoring system. This idea originated from Michael Field’s advocated twin track monitoring system. The following diagram illustrates the idea of duplex monitoring:

Figure Duplex Monitoring System
Figure 3: Duplex Monitoring System

In this monitoring system, dual monitoring will be conducted simultaneously. One is led by a MEL team (as shown in the left part of Figure 3), which will be supported by implementing staffs (e.g. program staffs, partner staffs, firms, and other market actors). This part will mainly deal with USAID’s standard indicators to measure the results, e.g. the number of people directly benefitted, land under improved management practice, sales, profit, etc. This will feed mainly into the project's result framework where incremental results contribute to achieving the USAID country mission’s target. It will help the project to submit data into the Feed the Future Monitoring System. Another team (as shown in the right part of Figure 3) will be led by implementing staffs and supported by a MEL unit. Here, the MEL unit will act as facilitators, methodological advisors, communicators, and discussion leaders. For this part, a different guiding tool will be developed for conducting monitoring which will consider USAID proposed 5R (Resource, Result, Roles, Rules, and Relationship), Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) standard of market monitoring, Leveraging Economic Opportunity (LEO) monitoring framework for market monitoring, and Small Enterprise Evaluation Project (SEEP) principles during the design. For every intervention, a result chain (advocated by DCED) will be developed and which will be monitored to detect systemic change. Different methods will be followed, e.g. most significant change, outcome harvesting, system mapping, case studies etc. This part will help adaptive management and explain standard results and systemic change. The result will be declared in an annual report and will also be used as evaluation notes.

Allana, Amir, and Timothy Sparkman. (2014). Navigating Complexity: Adaptive Management and Organizational Learning in a Development Project in Northern Uganda. Knowledge Management for Development Journal, 10(3), 101–12. Retrieved from http://journal.km4dev.org/index.php/km4dj/article/viewFile/204/312

USAID. (2011). USAID Evaluation Policy. Retrieved from https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2151/USAIDEvaluationPolicy.pdf

USAID, IDS, and MSTAR. (2015). Learning to Adapt: Exploring Knowledge, Information, and Data for Adaptive Programmes and Policies. Retrieved from https://usaidlearninglab.org/sites/default/files/resource/files/learningtoadapt_workshop_report_final_2015oct.pdf