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Spring, North Queensland, and M&E

September ushers Spring in the Southern Hemisphere – and time for a blog update!  In Toowoomba, after a relatively dry summer and then winter, we are hoping for some early spring rains – as is much of the farming lands across Queensland.

Winter and summer are good times to visit North Queensland, and August found us up in Townsville. This provided us with an opportunity to build on our on-going monitoring and evaluation support of reef and beef projects with DAFF (Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) – and see what we had all learned from the last three years with the M&E and what could be modified to even better meet future needs.  The challenge is to avoid duplication of many M&E demands and reporting, avoid collecting data that isn’t used in decision-making and ensure that critical data is captured well.  It is good to work with project teams who proactively work through such challenges and come up with solutions.

Townsville is also the home for the NQ Cowboys (a National Rugby League team) – who, at the time of writing, have made it into the final series.  Their first final clash is against another Queensland team – the Brisbane Broncos. We’ll soon know how they go in the finals – but whatever the outcome, they had a great finish to the season.  As well as getting to a Cowboys game, Ben had the opportunity to explore some of the environs as the picture of Wallaman Falls (north of Townsville) shows.

Meetings in Townsville, also provide an opportunity to visit my mother who lives in Ayr (80 kms to the south of Townsville).  It is a sugar town and home to my earliest memories of cane fires, sugar trains and chewing on sticks of sugar cane!  Having had opportunity to work in the industry through a monitoring and evaluation lense has been very rewarding – M&E provides a means of reflecting back and working towards continual improvement.

Another rewarding experience was an M&E workshop with the NZ Primary Innovation Program (Co-innovation project) in Christchurch.  It was more than a year into the project and we had an opportunity to go back over what we put in place for M&E at the start, how it had worked, what information it had provided for reporting, the gaps and where to go from here.  As you will see from the picture, we had the “log frame” (project and evaluation plan) mapped out on the wall in bright colours to guide our reflections and future planning. Hard for a PowerPoint to be used in the same way!

So come on Spring Rains, the Cowboys and proactive M&E!