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Towards a theory-based assessment of the Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (EASAC) for the SICA Region

Collazos Acosta S., Howland F., Le Coq J.F.. 2021. Medellin : s.n., 3 p.. Latin American workshop on climate-smart agriculture, 2021-07-14/2021-07-14, Medellin (Colombie).

In 2017, the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), with the support of CCAFS, CIAT, IICA, FAO, ECLAC and CATIE, formulated and adopted the Climate Smart Agriculture Strategy (EASAC) for the Central American Integration System (SICA) region. This regional strategy aims at promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) at scale and is an original example of regional policy. This communication presents the first results of an assessment process of the EASAC outcomes three years after its launch. We carried out a methodology mobilizing the theory-based assessment (Delahais and Toulemonde 2012; Lemire, et al. 2012, Maine, 2008) applied to a policy innovation, in this case, the EASAC. Theory-based approaches have been designed to provide systematic, robust approaches to understand whether the intended outcomes of an intervention have been achieved (or not), and the importance of the intervention's contribution under consideration, relative to that of other alternative causes. This assessment process encompasses three steps: (i) the formulation of the EASAC Theory of Change (ToC), (ii) the identification of changes aligned with the ToC and (iii) the analysis of EASAC's contribution to some of these identified changes. In this communication, we present the results of the two first above mentioned steps. To establish the EASAC ToC, we first reformulated the EASAC into a ToC vocabulary/thinking starting from the policy document (CAC, 2017) and adjusting it through an iterative process of consultation and validation with 8 key actors (EASAC formulators). Once the ToC validated, we conducted 44 semi-directed interviews with actors involved in CSA related actions or interventions at regional and national level of the 8 countries of SICA. The objective of these interviews was to understand what expected changes identified in the EASAC ToC have occurred so far. Finally, the changes were analyzed and compared across and among countries. The EASAC ToC is structured along four routes: (1) policy route, (2) institutional, (3) financing and (4) communication. The four routes aim through the formulation and implementation of CSA policies (policy route); the creation and promotion of spaces for CSA dialogue and partnerships and the strengthening of CSA capacities of actors (institutional route); the development of a portfolio of CSA projects to apply to competitive international funds (financial route); the implementation of communication campaigns to foster the implementation of the EASAC (communication route) to a final outcome: the adoption of CSA practices, services and technologies by local farmers and thus achieve a great impact focused on a more productive, adapted and resilient agriculture in the face of climate change (CC). Results related to the identification of changes aligned with the ToC show that, although the EASAC was launched only 3 year ago, 252 changes related to the four EASAC ToC routes were identified in all countries of SICA and at the regional level to date, attesting of a great dynamic toward CSA scaling in the region. A total of 225 changes occurred in the eight countries in the SICA region. Costa Rica and Guatemala stand out with the highest number of changes identified. Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua show with an average progress, and finally Panamá, the Dominican Republic and Belize exhibit the lowest number of changes observed. The remaining 27 identified changes were exclusively at the regional level. The policy route is the strongest and most profuse as it concentrates the largest number of changes identified (182 changes) that mostly (98) correspond to the formulation and implementations of CSA conducive policies at regional, national and/or subnational levels concentrated in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. The remaining changes (84) are local implemented CSA conducive projects that respond to regional programs (sometimes 'jumping' the national level) such as EUROCLIMA+, FAO-EU FLEGT - La...

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