Category: SP 13, General HORTINLEA, PhD & Master theses
Discovering Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies for Food Security in Kenya
My master thesis on monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of food security strategies in Kenya, within the framework of the HORTINLEA Master's Thesis Programme, took me on a two months’ journey through Kenya. During this time, I had the opportunity to explore the vast landscapes of the country and got immersed into the invaluable knowledge and experiences of professionals working in food security and agricultural development in the country.
It all started in Nairobi, where the warmth of the Kenyan people was the first thing that caught my attention, but would not be the last. Along Manon and Izem - fellow HORTINLEA master students - we started our research journey with great expectations that were quickly fulfilled by the professors and supporting staff at our host institution, the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
The purpose of my field research was to collect data about existing methods being used in M&E of food security interventions, as well as perceptions about challenges and opportunities to implement and improve the existing methods. For this purpose, I conducted interviews with stakeholders in M&E, including academics, project managers and M&E experts in Nairobi, Kisumu, Siaya and Kakamega to analyse the interviews qualitatively.
The quest for relevant stakeholders
The first two weeks were a time of orientation and desk research where I got the opportunity to start contacting stakeholders at different organisations in Kenya and receive feedback from professors and students at JKUAT. Getting people to interview was not easy since reaching the different stakeholders and catching their attention for collaboration in the research was a challenge. Nevertheless, through intensive directory research and with the support of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Research for Development Network in Kenya (YPARD) and the academics at JKUAT, I was able to get in touch with 30 M&E stakeholders around the country.
Scheduling the interviews was more difficult than expected. The traffic jams of Nairobi, lack of familiarity with the transport system and the diversity of schedules of the interviewees made it difficult to conduct more than one interview per day. In Nairobi, I had the opportunity to visit international renowned NGOs, development agencies and research institutes such as Bioversity, ICRAF, ICIPE, GIZ, USAID and SIDA. I also had the opportunity to visit the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and got insight on how public institutions were implementing projects in partnerships with international organisations and private enterprises.
Since I wanted to include the perspectives of M&E field officers, I had to leave Nairobi and travel to Western Kenya to expand my data base. My trip started in Kisumu, where I was introduced to six different M&E technicians through the project KAVES. The officers gave me a completely different insight of challenges and opportunities from what I got in Nairobi. Likewise, I travelled to the Siaya and Busia counties, where a group of stakeholders, working in local NGOs and community development organisations provided new approaches for data analysis.
Creating a network
After a week in Western Kenya and an enjoyable Easter Break in the region, I came back to Nairobi to wrap-up pending interviews and start processing the data conducted. My field research in Kenya did not only provide the opportunity to collect information for my master thesis research, but also to increase my professional network and form some valuable friendships. During my trip to Western Kenya and my constant visits to Nairobi, the landscapes, flavours, sounds and people of Kenya charmed my heart and made my farewell more difficult than I expected.
Now while processing the collected information and writing my report, the hope that my results could serve as theoretical framework for further projects and research for such an amazing country has become my main inspiration.
Asante sana Kenya!
© Sergio Urioste Daza