The ESPA programme aims to deliver high-quality, cutting-edge research that will improve understanding of the way ecosystems function, the services they provide and their relationship with the political economy and sustainable growth. ESPA is a 7-year, GBP 40 million interdisciplinary research programme funded by the DFID, the NERC and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), as part of the UK’s Living with Environmental Change partnership.
LTS was contracted to provide monitoring and evaluation (M&E) services within the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. This assignment was centred around the need for ESPA to operate an integrated and effective reporting and monitoring system, which satisfied the differential reporting needs of the three ESPA funders, while being parsimonious in the burden it placed on projects and the Directorate. There were a number of aspects to designing this system and there were four primary objectives for this assignment which may be summarised as follows:
Within DFID’s Research Uptake Team (RUT), there was a mandatory requirement for all projects to elaborate their Theory of Change. LTS team member Isobel Vogel, who was working in DFID RUT, brought this experience of developing Theories of Change. Developing a Theory of Change helped ensure a common base for the logframe and logchart, as well as making explicit the programming assumptions underlying ESPA. LTS outlined a Theory from our reading of programme documents, and then interrogated and revised this interactively with the prime ESPA stakeholders. From a Theory of Change, LTS reviewed and modified the vertical logic / objective hierarchy of the logframe. Likewise, LTS recognised that ESPA operates from two parallel results frameworks, the other being NERC’s LogChart, and worked on both frameworks in parallel.