Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) is an integrated and adaptable online platform for projects, activities and knowledge management, performance measurement, communication and dissemination of research findings. Its multifaceted and modular structure allows customization and remodelling to meet ever-changing demands. Given these qualities, MEL was adopted by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA), joining three CGIAR CRPs and four Centers in the MEL Team.
In 2019, the Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) platform has been chosen by the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) to be implemented as Monitoring & Evaluation tool, innervating the extent and complexity of its interventions’ framework. PRIMA is a joint programme undertaken by its 19 participating states aimed at creating a competitive environment for solutions development in Research & Innovation (R&I) across the Mediterranean area.
We have asked Dr. Mohamed Wageih – PRIMA Secretariat Project Officer – to highlight the work of the Foundation to the readers, and to explain the role of MEL in supporting its components and partners as a multi-stakeholder knowledge management platform.
How many projects are funded by PRIMA so far, and how many are expected in the near future?
Since 2018, PRIMA has funded a number of 129 Research & Innovation projects, which is expected to rise up to 300 by end of 2024. The main thematic areas covered by the call for proposals are Water Management, Farming Systems, Agro-food value chain and Nexus. The projects are supported through direct EU funds (220 million € through the Horizon 2020 program) and through 22 national funding agencies (274 million €).
How many partnering institutions, organizations and entities are involved in the PRIMA projects portfolio management?
We have received proposals from more than 14,000 different entities – academic institutions, private sector, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), research teams, organizations and more – across the Mediterranean, of which 1183 have become project beneficiaries. A primary objective of PRIMA is to foster synergy among all the implementing partners and the funding agencies, something made possible by the collaborative environment provided by the MEL platform, an essential tool for PRIMA needed to show practices and share knowledge.
How has PRIMA assessed the need for a Monitoring & Evaluation platform?
Monitoring & Evaluation is a mandatory component in all of our projects and we deem the MEL platform optimal to manage that. The need for a central and international coordination across countries, funding agencies, beneficiaries and related assets, for administration and knowledge management overall, is also certainly a factor.
What has made PRIMA lean towards the MEL platform and what are PRIMA expectations?
PRIMA was committed to adopt and sustain a platform capable of supporting its current assets but also increase its potential to foster innovations through learning and knowledge sharing and co-creation. MEL can promote the programme overall impact and attract audiences providing Open Access visibility to research results, while acknowledging donors, intellectual property and knowledge authorship.
Flexibility is another main reason. PRIMA uses MEL for projects’ data collection and storage, planning and reporting, overall management and knowledge sharing for impact outreach. Our work requires functions to be harmonized in a complex framework and the MEL platform is capable of providing that. MEL can be modelled to match the evolving needs of the Foundation.
A third reason is the positive communication with the MEL Team, always available for updating and upgrading to the satisfaction of PRIMA project managers, whom provide valuable feedback for the implementation. The MEL Team’s work always exceeds expectations and we foresee many more collaborative achievements in the future.
What is the future of PRIMA in the Research & Innovation landscape and how will MEL support it?
PRIMA principle in building capacity and partnerships is the co-creation and co-ownership of innovations and results in the Mediterranean region. The MEL platform will help us to uphold this best practice through Open Access knowledge management oriented to donors, policy makers, research teams and end users across our Mediterranean framework. MEL will make possible to “give back”, publishing evidence and visualizing impact, to generate market impulse and development opportunities. With the help of MEL, we plan on furthering the experience of PRIMA toward future implementation phases of the programme.
MEL adoption is the result of the synergic efforts by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and is supported by CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC), CGIAR Research Program on Roots, Tubers and Bananas (RTB), CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-food Systems (FISH), International Potato Center (CIP), WorldFish, World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), ICARDA GeoAgro. MEL is powered by CodeObia, SCiO Systems, iMMAP, DSpace and Amazon Web Services (AWS).