Each week on this blog, we will meet with ILRI staff members, partners and projects in Asia to learn about their work, challenges and the opportunities they face to leverage livestock knowledge in Asia.
Recruited to ILRI in July of 2011, Korapin Tohtubtiang has built on her experience working in Northern Laos to provide Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and operational support to the ILRI-led EcoZD project in South East Asia. Currently based in Bangkok, but originally from the southern Thai province of Trang, Korapin is hoping to cultivate a different perspective to M&E in ILRI’s projects.
ILRI Asia: Since joining ILRI, what are the major projects that you’ve worked on and/or the major research highlights?
Korapin: My main area of focus with ILRI has been on the project aspect of monitoring and evaluation, and in particular how this aspect of project management can be further integrated into our research projects. Of course, I have a particular focus right now on the EcoZD project in South East Asia as that is my current attachment.
Being part of the EcoZD team has provided me with a great opportunity to introduce participatory planning, and a particular M&E tool called Outcome Mapping to our multiple partners which I’m really quite excited about. The main idea here is to recognize changes within our partners as they translate research findings in to actual practice. Essentially we are looking to go beyond simplistic outputs and really chart out the longer term outcomes.
This process will hopefully provide a substantial learning opportunity for not just our partners, but also the core ILRI team involved with the project. The way I see it – the tool will help us recognize the actual process of achieving outcomes, and not just the actual outputs at the end.
ILRI Asia: You were recently in Lebanon for an Outcome Mapping workshop – did that provide you with any new insights on how outcome mapping can be further integrated into research projects like EcoZD?
So yes, I recently attended the Outcome Mapping Lab for 2012, which was incredibly useful. Like most other workshops, the most beneficial part of the week was being able to learn from the many other outcome mapping practitioners who participated. It was incredibly helpful to hear first-hand accounts of how outcome mapping had been successfully adapted into their organizations.
A serious issue we face in the EcoZD project lies in the sheer scope of the project. We have six individual country teams who all bring differing levels of competencies to their work – which includes of course their familiarity with outcome mapping. Fortunately, this was a problem shared with other people at the meeting and I was able to gain some tips to help take us forward.
ILRI Asia: Based in Thailand, what are the some of the unique challenges and/or opportunities you’ve encountered working in Asia with ILRI so far?
Well, the biggest challenge we’ve encountered so far is simply put – effective communication. Our project teams in each country comprise several institutional partners, which when added to the ILRI team, ends up being quite a large number of moving parts. Getting all these parts communicating regularly, and effectively within the country, and even between countries is definitely a challenge for us.
However, this ‘problem’ also provides us with a great opportunity. Especially as ‘learning’ and capacity building is seen as such an important element for the EcoZD project. I think that in taking this approach to our project partners, we’ll be able to really forge and strengthen our relationships with our partners – whilst also providing a good opportunity for mutual learning from one another as we map out the project outcomes.