ALBERT GRELA

Agriculture M&E Relief operations Assignments' map Videos

The Monitoring and Evaluation part in each of us

The concept

Although you will read on my visiting card : M&E Specialist, I have still some reservation to consider that the Monitoring and Evaluation techniques are worth to be named a discipline or a specialty.

My background of natural science roots firmly any knowledge in consistent observations and any action into an evaluation process.

Agriculture being probably one of the oldest and broadest body of experimental and empirical knowledge, it is quite naturally that Monitoring and Evaluation are quite familiar for the agriculturist although often named slightly differently.

The agricultural research

Agriculture experimentation was for me the very fundamental school for defining a protocol, organizing data collection, processing data, analyzing the results and taking decision based on the results.

I had to confront myself quite often to the antagonism between what is actually possible to experiment and what is actually required to make a sound decision.

One cannot help thinking that there are most likely a lot of poorly documented decisions and a lot of useless data and reports.

Nevertheless, agriculture research teaches a lot of humility and illustrates well the difficult road to knowledge and wisdom.

The excellent books of Pierre Dagnelie on agriculture experimentation and multi-variable statistics have been an never ending source of reassurance. Edgar Morin with the Method also contributed largely to my capacity to formulate assumptions and experimental objectives as well as making the best of the unpredictable failures which have to be turned into additional observations. 

Input - output of large scale plantation

When I worked with SOCFINCO, the identification and follow up of the costs and production was simply called reporting. Although it had quite a bit of importance to fine tune the allocation of resources, the subject was poorly developed. Large forms were proposed to intercept in a rather fragmentary way the flow of resources. The target for the information was confuse, a lot was aimed at comparing different form of management in order to include the most successful into the design of new schemes. The information required for the actual and daily management was not well reflected and the interface between the primary observation and the compiled form was completely ignored. The system was therefore poorly implemented and did not succeed well in supporting the decision process. I gained a lot in this half failure in understanding that the quest for information has to afford an information methodology taking due consideration to the interfaces, processes and validations. The dynamic aspects of the information generation and processing have been particularly revealed during this period of my career.

The electoral monitoring

Assigned as a District Electoral Supervisor in Cambodia and as an Observation Support Officer in South Africa, I had plenty of chance to reflect about how the political construction relies on the transparency and visibility of the electoral process. Monitoring in that sense acquires a very powerful meaning as it intends to confer legitimacy to the political setup. The fundamentals of objective and impartial observation were crucial and warmly debated during these two missions. The credibility of the social organization looks to me a direct function of its transparency. I fully subscribe to the empowering property of the Monitoring and Evaluation process although I do not want to abandon the more trivial paradigm : observing to make things working better.

The evaluation of food insecurity

The emergency operations brought me to the complex and dramatic problematic to target population with relief packages. The time is always to short, the data rare and the political sensitivity high.

I have enjoyed the period spent with MSF, WFP, SCF during which I had to formulate and analyze livelihood conditions which justify the distribution of relief packages. The methods had to be creative and the first R of RRA was meaning really Rapid although a broad consensus had to be generated across a large spectrum of stakeholders.

I probably experienced the deepest joy of my existence in blending and merging geography, ecology, sociology, statistics and agriculture into an evaluation process which had to deliver an acceptable statement for local politicians, donors and humanitarian organizations. The triangulation of the information and the gradual reduction of incertitude became deeply embedded in all my practices whether in the choice of investigation methods, in the data processing or in the reports write up.

During 2004, I joined AQUADEV for a food security reinforcement project in Niger. I got the chance to establish a very detailed baseline study and to record the development priorities of all the social strata in all the villages in the area of intervention (1946 development activities identified and prioritized). From that point, it was possible to tailor perfectly the project to match the local needs. A very detailed survey of the food economy was also launched in collaboration with AEDES. An interactive map was prepared to locate and describe every element of basic infrastructures (pump, school, shops, warehouses....).

Irrigation benefits

I got amazed in Nepal about how the irrigation development was leading to a very stratified and ramified problematic. The number of disciplines contributing to the management of the water resources is particularly large and the watershed originating in the Himalayas affect more than a billion people. For the newcomer, a scale of that magnitude was calling for a large and embracing mobilization of the best and most acute intellectual resources. As all the seasoned Himalayan water experts, irrigation specialists, hydrologists know it is hardly the case. The scale of the problems, the vested interests, the polarization of water policies between India and Nepal have dramatically dwarfed the quest for genuine knowledge. The risks to irritate the dominant paradigm is present in any effort to bring forward the actual concerns of the final users. Reliable hydrological and climatic data are extremely rare, at best fragmentary, at worse completely misleading. Water efficiency is complex even consider at its trivial level. If water has to be allocated based on its efficiency, the concept becomes a real power struggle leaving very little room for objective and impartial evaluation.

Within that context, the source of information which has the final legitimacy are the farmers themselves. In an attempt to reduce the complexity of irrigation and water distribution benefits, I have proposed two indices aiming to respect the contrasts existing between tail and head reaches users as well between riches and poor, males and females, adults and children regarding the access and the benefits derived from the water distribution. These methods are presently field tested and maybe the subject of later publications.

Read about the Irrigation Satisfaction Index and the Water Distribution Satisfaction Index

Read the short CV

Read the long CV

The assignments' map

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