The Search for the Significant Story: A training workshop on the Most Significant Change Approach

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The trainor and trainees with the key officers of the LUNDAG Eskaya Multipurpose Cooperative.

As natural narrators, stories captivate people’s interest. These days, stories are used to present different facets of outcomes of a development project, especially to understand the significant changes that occurred after an intervention. Thus, FoodSTART+ organized a training workshop on the Most Significant Change (MSC) approach for nine (9) members of its team and partners from the Fisheries, Coastal Resources and Livelihood Project (FishCORAL) and the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) on 25-26 September 2018 in Tagbilaran, Bohol. MSC is a participatory monitoring and evaluation tool that allows community members to tell the story of what they value as a significant change in their personal lives that was brought about by a project.

The training aimed to equip the participants on using the approach to evaluate one of the key innovations promoted by FoodSTART+, the Farmer Business Schools (FBS), and become trainers themselves.

Mr. Willy Pradel discussing about the importance of Theory of Change in the MSC approach.

Mr. Willy Pradel, an agricultural economist from the CIP Headquarters in Lima, and an expert in the approach, served as resource person. He began the training with an introduction to the Theory of Change, which pertains to the sequence of activities, outputs and outcomes leading to the impact that a project or intervention aims to achieve. Domains of perceived change were then identified which will serve as guide during the story collection.

Participants identifying the expected skills, outputs, outcomes, and impacts from the FBS.

Following the theoretical part, the group had a first-hand experience on story collection with the involvement of Farmer Business School participants in Lundag Eskaya Tribe Multipurpose Cooperative (LETMULCO) in Pilar, Bohol, which is one of INREMP’s project sites. By conversing with the cooperative members, training participants identified the various changes that occurred upon the implementation of the FBS – mostly increased knowledge on food processing, product development, business and marketing skills.

Cooperative members fondly share their FBS experience.

The collected stories were processed by the group facilitated by the resource person. The participants conducted a simulation of the stakeholder selection, an important step of the MSC where the stories were presented and the group deliberated the ones that depict the most significant change, that is, the story or stories that can become the ambassador of the project. The stakeholder selection should convene representatives from various organizations involved in the project, e.g. farmer group leader, village leader, project manager, etc., who are well-informed of the project.

Representatives from FoodSTART+, FishCORAL, and INREMP complete the training and are set to become trainers themselves.

The MSC presented a different way of monitoring and evaluating a project as compared to the conventional tools. The participants had a positive experience during the training, and they hope to adapt the approach into their own projects and beyond. One participant shared, the she “(liked) the whole thing, but most especially the flexibility & adoptability of the MSC as a tool; how it captures change in an engaging way.” More so, “I like MSC as a tool of monitoring because we can help encourage the People’s Organization when we record their success story.”

FoodSTART+ will use the MSC approach to evaluate how far FBS has gone in contributing to the project’s objective of promoting the role of root and tuber crops in reducing food vulnerability, increasing incomes and enhancing resilience of poor male and female agricultural producers and consumers.

Written by: Camille Joy Enalbes

Photo credits to: Irish Viola Sta. Ana, Guada Babilonia and Camille Joy Enalbes