Agricultural producers in the dryland systems of Central Asia deal with environmental and market risks. To handle those risks, they try to optimize the allocation of their natural, physical, financial, social, and human resources among diverse livelihood options. One major challenge they face is that they often make production and consumption decisions with incomplete information about current and possible future states of market and environmental factors. The adoption and adaptation capacities of the resource-poor women and men and their potential will help to improve their livelihoods and trade-offs in exploitation of natural and production resources, the enabling policy environment, access to services, infrastructure and markets.
Understanding and characterizing the multi-dimensional livelihoods of rural communities makes it possible to identify what options may be best suited to what livelihood system, and helps to guide research, and out-scaling strategies. This activity will be conducted at research site (farm and community) levels and will help capture the spatial variation in livelihoods within the research and action sites, and comparative analyses will be done across agro-ecosystems in Central Asia.
Eventually, the baseline study-based research in Central Asia Flagship Region aims at agricultural interventions at technical, institutional and policy levels to improve livelihoods and address the vulnerability in dryland production systems.
Ex-ante and Ex-post assessment
Adequate ex-ante and ex-post assessment of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of these interventions form a crucial part of the Flagship agenda. Ex-ante impact assessment, therefore, includes assessment of the potential economic, social and environmental impact of proposed interventions and the choice of those that best optimize anticipated impacts and the use of available resources. Ex-ante impact assessment is an assessment before the development and implementation of technologies and interventions. It has a dual purpose: to provide feedback to the design of proposed interventions and to assess whether it is worthwhile to pursue the outcomes of the proposed research. Ex-post impact assessment is done afterwards and makes it possible to assess and evaluate whether the research has been successful in achieving the impacts it was designed for. Ex-post impact assessment will also be used to assess the unintended side effects of technologies and interventions.
Monitoring and evaluation
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) will further support the fine-tuning of the implementation of activities and the description of baseline conditions for later ex-post assessment.
This research output will link with the overall M&E of the program by providing measured outcomes and impacts of program outputs. In addition, this output will map out the pathways to the observed impacts, and will provide lessons learnt across agricultural livelihood systems. It, therefore, aims to support the multidisciplinary research to design and implement technologies and interventions with the desired high and sustainable impact.
The baseline study helps to identify livelihood typologies that will be linked to research outputs in the Aral Sea and Fergana Valley action sites and thus, will enhance the assessment of the feasibility of options, taking into account the social, economic and environmental implications of the proposed technologies and interventions. The outputs of these continuous process will be built to aid (i) rigorous assessment of farmers‘ responses to changes, (ii) in-depth studies on the sustainability of different livelihood options for different farmers (male and female), and (iii) measurements of risks as well as of the vulnerability of households and their members to different shocks. The institutional arrangements (e.g. collective action, contract farming or land tenure) and their effects on the adoption of proposed technologies and practices will be also analyzed.