Sector Analysis Studies for the Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness Programme (CASA)

The primary objective of this value chain study is to enable the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to identify the value chains, sub-national regions and stakeholders to form the basis for the Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme country level interventions (Component 1) and to enable DFID to use this information to develop the Terms of Reference for the implementation of this component of the CASA programme.

MEL Unit for DFID Nepal’s Resilience Portfolios

DFID is scaling up its efforts to build resilience to natural disasters and climate change in Nepal. To support the work of the Government of Nepal and civil society DFID Nepal is taking forward two major new portfolios of programmes: The “Climate Smart Development for Nepal” programme; and The “Strengthening Disaster Resilience in Nepal” programme.

DFID Nepal has contracted an IOD-PARC led consortium to act as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) Unit for these programmes.  The contract for the MEL services is for 5.5 years, including a 6-months inception phase in year 1.

The Resilience MEL Unit supports DFID Nepal to manage the performance of its portfolio on climate smart development and disaster resilience.  It generates and communicates evidence on how to build resilience to climate change and disasters in Nepal, especially for the most vulnerable and excluded.

The Resilience MEL Unit is responsible for portfolio level monitoring, evaluation and learning.  It will not monitor individual programmes within the CSD/DR portfolios. Rather it will take a synthetic approach to look for opportunities to inform portfolio management including evaluation. This means that:

  • Monitoring will involve collating and analysing data from the component programmes.
  • Evaluation and research (relating to specific programmes and thematic issues) will focus on rigorous learning to support adaptive management of the portfolio.
  • Communications will support effective embedding of learning to make sure evidence really makes a difference.

LTS is part of the MEL Unit consortium led by IOD-PARC, and is responsible for delivering some key elements of the work required.  IOD-PARC has issued subcontracts to its consortium partners for the inception phase only at this stage, as further inputs will be determined through the inception period.

LTS is part of the MEL Unit consortium led by IOD-PARC, and is responsible for delivering some key elements of the work required.  IOD-PARC has issued subcontracts to its consortium partners for the inception phase only at this stage, as further inputs will be determined through the inception period. However, LTS is leading or playing a significant role in:

  • Communication workstream – leading the inputs to develop and implement a communication for learning strategy that supports the other workstreams (and potentially the portfolio service providers) to ensure learning from the MEL unit gets into use.
  • Evaluation and research workstreams – supporting the consortium on specific evaluation and research tasks, such as initial political economy analysis and component evaluability assessment.
  • Management – being part of the management team that sets the direction and scope of the MEL Unit

Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme

This assignment is to produce two short synthesis papers for DFID. The first summarising lessons learnt about the impacts of the Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP) on community forestry in Nepal, and the second to assess the effectiveness of the MSFP programme modality in delivering programme outputs and outcomes.

  • Community forestry in Nepal has lead the way at an international level, so lessons from Nepal are important.
  • LTS is applying a small team of Nepali and international expertise covering forest management, governance and communication expertise.
  • They are working closely with DFID Nepal and key Nepali/MSFP stakeholders.


Building on 20 years of support to the forest sector in Nepal, the MSFP (funded by DFID, the Swiss and Finland) set out as a ten-year programme but is closing early.  As the main funder of MSFP, DFID wants to learn about the achievements and constraints faced in the MSFP story, to inform future programming.


Through literature review, field research and stakeholder consultation, the LTS team will collate, analyse and synthesise findings on:

  • the impacts MSFP has achieved on reducing poverty and improving the sustainability of forest management in Nepal; and
  • the effectiveness of the MSFP programme modality in delivering programme outputs and outcomes.

The findings will be prepared into two ten-page papers, accompanied by super-summaries, with full graphic design.

Value and benefits

The papers will be used to inform DFID’s Project Completion Report of MSFP. It will also be used to share the experience of MSFP with DFID Advisers, DFID Senior Management and, where appropriate, with the international forestry community. The lessons presented in the papers will be of wider relevance to DFID programming in Nepal and beyond.

Kirsti Thornber

MSc Forestry, Oxford University (UK) 1997; B.Sc. Ecology (Hons Forestry), Edinburgh University, 1992

Kirsti’s key expertise lies in bringing people together to learn, share their experience and improve their performance – through facilitated process and appropriate actions and products. She has over 13 years of experience at field and policy level, and understands the realities of the rural poor, state authorities and market drivers. Using collaborative skills in both public and private sectors, her work supports policy change and social development, and she has linked policy and practice in the challenging areas of community enterprise, local resource management, and national forest programmes. Her approach focuses on getting people to think beyond their own day-to-day in order to consider the wider impacts and potentials of what they do and how they could do it better. Kirsti has a personal mission to see knowledge become increasingly accessible – she is our champion on delivering “dissemination” services.

Simon Mercer

PhD Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation (University of East Anglia, submitted); MPhil Environment, Society and Development, University of Cambridge (2007); MA (Hons.) Geography, University of Edinburgh (2005).

PhD Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation (University of East Anglia, 2015); MPhil Environment, Society and Development, University of Cambridge (2007); MA (Hons.) Geography, University of Edinburgh (2005).

Simon has extensive consultancy and applied research experience in the environment, climate change and development sectors. He has specific technical expertise in climate change adaptation, resilience, and natural resource management, with a geographical focus on Nepal. Simon also has extensive experience of monitoring and evaluation, including theory of change and logframe development, with a particular emphasis on research grant programmes.

At LTS, Simon’s main role is as technical lead and project manager of support to the Darwin Initiative and IWT Challenge Fund. He is responsible for the management of the M&E and applications programme, and overall portfolio management of this biodiversity and development grant facility. In addition to M&E activities, Simon develops technical content for and delivers UK-based ME&L workshops to promote best-practice, learning, and accountability amongst projects, and to strengthen Darwin and IWT networks. In his time at LTS he has undertaken a number of additional monitoring, evaluation, and lesson learning assignments in Malawi and Nepal.

Prior to joining LTS Simon completed a PhD at the University of East Anglia. His research presented an analysis of adaptation to climate change in the management authority of a national park in the Nepali Terai. As part of this research he undertook fieldwork in rural Nepal employing both quantitative and qualitative research methods, working at a range of scales from the national Government to the community level. Whilst at UEA Simon also led undergraduate and postgraduate seminars on conservation, environmental change, and research skills, and acted as an expert reviewer for a number of international journals.

Before undertaking his PhD, Simon worked closely with the UK’s Department for International Development as a key member of DFID’s Environment, Water, Sanitation and Climate Change. Resource Centre. In this role he was responsible for providing technical advice and project development, management and implementation services to DFID and their development partners. Prior to this Simon was engaged in several short term sustainability and forestry projects run through the Prince of Wales’ Office.

Darwin Initiative Evaluation of Closed Projects in India and Nepal

This assignment evaluated a cluster of five closed Darwin projects in India and Nepal. Three of the projects reviewed were set up in response to the catastrophic vulture declines in India and Nepal from the 1990s onwards. These well planned, effective and dedicated projects, which were timely and responsive to an immediate need, could provide a model for other Darwin projects. Their impact has been felt far and wide. A key strength that made the projects relevant was the responsiveness in their approach (and that of the Darwin Initiative) when the initial hypothesis of a viral epidemic being the primary cause of vulture decline was superseded by the probable cause of the ingestion of a veterinary analgesic drug in livestock. Diclofenac was found to cause renal failure and consequently death in vultures when they ate the carcasses, according to research conducted by another organisation in Pakistan.

Market Development of Bamboo and Rattan Products with Potential

The overall objective of the project administered by the International Network on Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) is to improve the quality, durability, market opportunities and resource base of bamboo and rattan commodities and their sustainable development in Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar. The project will achieve this by assisting bamboo and rattan producers, craftsman and traders for resources base development, design improvement, value addition and market promotion. The project will contribute to poverty alleviation by generating additional income to rural communities and providing employment in processing facilities. The project has three components to achieve the desired objective:

  1. To develop and introduce rehabilitation and certification systems of bamboo and rattan resources
  2. To provide design improvement of the bamboo and rattan commodities meeting medium and high quality standards of the developed western markets
  3. To ensure dissemination of the new technologies through the training and networking with particular stress on integrating women into the dissemination process

LTS is the Supervisory Body for this project. This involves:

  • Monitoring of project progress
  • Examination of project workplans, budgets and reports, financial statements and auditor’s reports
  • Guidance on best practice re project implementation, management and technical issues to ensure effective project impacts
  • Mid-term review and terminal evaluation

Picture Credits to Christopher Augapfel

Evaluation of the Department for International Development’s Ten Year Renewable Natural Resources Research Programme

LTS, in collaboration with the Oxford Policy Management Institute and the Norwegian Agricultural University, was selected to conduct an evaluation of DFID’s ten year Renewable Natural Resources Research Programme. This evaluation constituted an important opportunity to reassess and redirect DFID’s RNRR programme and strategy within the context of DFID’s agenda and priorities as stated in DFID’s Research Funding Framework for 2005 to 2007 (final draft/May 2004). Our methodology was process based and designed to identify the impact of the Renewable Natural Resources Strategy on all its stakeholders, across the different disciplines and at practice and policy levels. We identified key components of the research programmes that impact on poverty. Participatory methodologies were used to ensure attribution of impacts to different stakeholders and draw together the lessons learnt from all components and relate them to the different stakeholders’ interests. Image credit: ONE DROP

Review of the Royal Bardia National Park Buffer Zone Development Project – Phase II

LTS provided the Team Leader to review an integrated conservation and development project working directly with NGOs, CBOs and the park authorities to effectively manage the biodiversity of the Park and it’s buffer zone. LTS led project staff through an evaluation and reflection process that resulted in the Final Inception Report including an action plan to implement the reviews recommendations. The review considered all aspects of the project including the adoption of new technology that enables the sustainable intensification of agriculture, the promotion of income generation and household economic diversification to improve livelihood security.

Evaluation of Finnish Forestry Sector Development Cooperation

LTS fielded a team of 11 national and international consultants to evaluate Finnish forestry development assistance from 1990 to 2002. The aim was to focus on the programme as a whole using individual country programmes as sources of information. The target countries were Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and the SADC Colleges programme in Africa: Laos, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia and Mexico. Overall the findings were of high quality technical projects and good professional staff but a tendency to operate in isolation from wider issues. As a consequence, the wider impact was limited. There were several development policy changes applied by Finland during the period reviewed. The Team concluded that Finland has an important role to play in forestry development and a number of comparative advantages from its own history and its favourable political system. Nine recommendations were made to improve the focus and strategic delivery of forestry assistance within the current wider development framework.