A theory of change for better monitoring of the Philippine Enhanced National Greening Program
A theory of change is guiding the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for the second phase of one of the world’s largest reforestation programs.
The Philippine Enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP), one of the world’s largest reforestation initiatives, is the second phase of a program that initially aimed to plant 1.5 billion trees on 1.5 million hectares from 2011 to 2016. The eNGP, set to run until 2028, aims to reforest a remaining 7.1 million hectares of unproductive, denuded and degraded forest land.
Such a large program attracts a correspondingly large budget — PHP 7.1 billion in 2018 alone, almost 26% of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) total budget – which in the first phase was dogged by misuse and corruption. To reduce the risk of this happening with the eNGP and to accurately monitor progress, a monitoring and evaluation framework is being developed, beginning with a theory of change, also known as an impact pathway or outcome map. The theory is a step-by-step process that shows how a program can meet its objectives to change people’s lives, even after the program ends.
“It should effectively describe and explain the impact of the program from a beneficiary’s point of view”, explained Faisal Noor, monitoring and evaluation consultant to the eNGP from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Philippines.
A theory of change is developed backwards, that is, the desired change is defined first, setting the scene for the strategy, activities and outputs that will lead to it.
To craft the framework, a Theory of Change Development Workshop for the Enhanced National Greening Program was organized by ICRAF, Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Forest Management Bureau and the United Nations Development Programme, held 3-4 May in Manila.
Daniel Darius M. Nicer, assistant secretary for anti-corruption at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, underscored the importance of strong monitoring and evaluation, urging the workshop participants, particularly those implementing the eNGP, to pick up the pace to “avoid mistakes of the past”, that is, the failure of the first phase to specify targets for each of its objectives. The first phase seemed to have taken a “shotgun approach” to implementation, he said. Nicer urged reference to sound baseline data, such as maps of NGP areas, protected areas and land classification, which could be accessed in EnvironMentor, a mobile application developed by the Department.
“Everything is improving,” he said. “We just have to accelerate the way we improve our processes and our work.”
The purpose of the workshop was to assist with that acceleration, first introducing the concept of a theory of change and its importance in developing a framework for monitoring and evaluating, establishing precise indicators and appropriate methodologies, identifying existing datasets to support the methodologies, and helping to define a common vision.
The participants agreed that the results the eNGP should aim for were 1) local communities having self-sustaining enterprises; 2) climate stability through attainment of Nationally Determined Contributions; 3) increased species’ diversity; and 4) improved ecosystem services and provision of forest-based goods, and increased support for forest protection.
The activities to achieve these goals were already predetermined under the Forest Management Bureau’s mandate from the eNGP: 1) delineation of production and protection forests; 2) mapping survey and planning; 3) forging of partnerships; 4) production of seedlings; 5) establishment of plantations; 6) maintenance and protection; 7) hiring of forest extension officers; 8) monitoring, evaluation and control; and 9) establishment of market links.
“We will not depart totally from the usual strategies that we’ve been doing in the past, that is, engagement with communities,” explained Nonito M. Tamayo, director of the Forest Management Bureau, “and if it is applicable and appropriate, we will even engage households.”
With the activities set, outputs were next discussed, which, as explained by Joan U. Ureta of ICRAF Philippines, are measurable products necessary to achieve the outcomes of the program. To measure the outputs, indicators were listed alongside methodologies, which showed the measurability and feasibility relative to limitations in resources.
“We will consolidate the outputs of this workshop and then come up with revised or improved outputs of our activities,” said Cristino Tiburan, an ICRAF consultant, in closing. He also reminded the participants of the importance of sound indicators. “If you look at the different indicators that you have listed, all of them must be measured.”
The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future. We thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.