Participatory Impact Pathways

The Participatory Impact Pathway Approach (PIPA) is a people centered, practical approach to planning, monitoring and evaluating complex research for development projects.

Current agricultural research is guided by impact pathways – descriptions of how research will ultimately affect people and livelihoods.

CIP’s PIPA takes the impact pathway beyond a linear model, focusing not only on where we are going, but the complex human relationships that have a crucial bearing on how we get there.

Workshops include a broad group of stakeholders, and may include people project implementers along with partners from national agricultural research (NAR) institutes, NGOs, farmers and facilitating players such as local government or regulatory departments in the Ministry of Agriculture.

Participants discuss how project activities and outputs contribute to goals, and are then encouraged to map out the important relationships between people necessary to bring results, detailing the changes in attitudes, knowledge, skills and practice needed, explaining why they are important, and outlining who needs to do what to make them happen.

Predictions (including expected social, economic or environmental impact) are encouraged to be specific, measurable, attributable, realistic and time bound, making the model an ideal tool for subsequent monitoring and evaluation of projects.

Workshops have successfully supported various programs in Africa, including CIP’s project promoting orange-fleshed sweetpotato as a food based approach to Vitamin A deficiency in West Kenya, and in a regional climate change modeling project, helping to track and highlight how the technology translates to making a difference in the real world.

How PIPA Workshops Help Participants?

  • Reach mutual understanding, and communicate their project’s intervention logic and its potential for achieving impact
  • Understand other projects working in the same program, and identify areas for collaboration
  • Generate a feeling of common purpose
  • Produce a narrative describing the project’s intervention logic and possible future impacts
  • Produce a framework for subsequent monitoring and evaluation

More Information

  • Alvarez, S., B. Dowthwaite, G. Thiele, R. Mackay, D. Cordoba, and K. Tehelen. 2010. Participatory impact pathways analysis: a practical method for project planning and evaluation. Development in Practice. 20(8): 946-958. Read more

Assessing Impact

Positive project impacts reach beyond economic gains, encompassing human, social, physical, and natural livelihood assets.

To asses impacts, CIP researchers employ a range of methods and disciplines to evaluate what is working and where funding can best be put to use, providing essential feedback for donors and researchers.

Scientists use a number of techniques and tools to serve as a compass for projects. Research follows more than return on investment: it identifies a diverse set of impact indicators and develops the methodologies for effectively measuring and monitoring them.

Impact Indicators Include:

  • NPV (Net Present Value) research in US$
  • % of benefits which accrue to the poor directly
  • DALY (Disability Adjusted Life Years) measuring how many years of healthy life an intervention may bring (e.g., health impacts from biofortification)
  • Changes in social capital as a measure of the value added from participatory research

Doing a Better Job of Monitoring Impact

Effective monitoring leads to increased impact. CIP has developed improved methodologies for targeting impact and assessing needs and opportunities. These methods can be applied globally or to very specific technology.

A recent CIP study on release and adoption of CIP-related potato varieties across Asia, Africa, and Latin America was chosen by Independent Science and Partnership Council’s Standing Panel on Impact Assessment (SPIA) as an example of best practice in impact assessment research. The study was singled out as one of the few that addresses the relevant issue of what happens to rates of return over time.

For more information on CIP’s global reach, our impact briefs provide summaries of specific impact assessment studies presenting documented evidence of impacts for donors and researchers.

More Information