So, we are coming to the end of a very hot and dry year in this part of the world – with scorching temperatures expected this week leading up to Christmas and no serious rain predicted until early in 2020. It’s hard enough for towns on severe water restrictions – with some already having run out of water – but so much worse for many of the farming and grazing community who depend on rain for their livelihoods.
One of the projects which we provide monitoring and evaluation support for is the DCAP project (Drought and Climate Adaption Project) which is directed at developing strategies and tools to assist producers to best plan for these eventualities. Ironically, the massive floods in North Queensland earlier this year had a huge impact on the areas that had been impacted by drought (and are again) and it was impressive to see how the teams working in the project used their skills to support graziers going forward from this challenge as well.
It is the opportunity to sit alongside long term projects undertaking Monitoring and Evaluation that is perhaps the most satisfying in this role. We have the opportunity to work with project teams from the start in clarifying goals, performance measures and how they plan to achieve these – and then to build the M&E framework and process around these with the help of our M&E data management platform YourDATA. We have found that M&E done systematically and well provides the basis for effective adaptive management over the life of the project as well as enabling projects to report clearly against their contracts and objectives.
This year saw another visit to Chile where I continued to work with the Consorcio Lechero on the project funded by their Department of Agriculture (INDAP) to finalise a workbook and guide on working with smallholders (in Spanish). We included the experience of the veterinarians and agronomists who are engaged in this work to ensure it was relevant and built on their pre-existing knowledge. The other overseas visit was to PNG – a place where I have lots of history and interest. In this case it was as an invited speaker to a University of Technology sponsored seminar on rural development. The new Prime Minister of PNG also attended to give his vision. PNG has many challenges – and there is a real need to up the ante with M&E of the initiatives being taken.
Work in the reef regions of Queensland has also been on-going – and an area that we have a high level of interest and experience over the years. Having had the opportunity to review the Reef Alliance Project (Commonwealth Government funded Reef Trust 3) earlier in the year, and then work with the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership (WTSIP) as they look ahead to needs in their region provided a lot of insights and encouragement about the efforts being made to ensure that agriculture continues to address water quality needs.
A workshop for the iMapPESTS project found Robyn and I in the Barossa Valley recently. What a great place for a workshop – and fantastic to see the progress the project is making. We took the opportunity to also visit Kangaroo Island while down there – well worth the visit!
Now on to 2020 – to see what it brings! I hope the Christmas period provides the time to rest and reflect and make us all ready for what is ahead in 2020.