Research capacity and general community impacts of five ACIAR-sponsored projects
This small study is a second stage of a program of assessments being undertaken of the research capacity and community impact of bilateral projects sponsored by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) that were completed some five years previously. For the first stage (Mauldon 1999), three projects were selected at random from a total of eighteen projects completed in or about 1994. For this second stage, a further five such projects have been selected from the remaining fifteen. This program of assessments follows an earlier summary of the external reviews of 111 ACIAR-sponsored bilateral projects completed between 1990 and 1997 (Mauldon 1998). That study provided an overview of the effectiveness of the projects in terms of three criteria: ? their success in meeting project objectives (technical success); ? their impact on research capacity; and ? their community impact generally (on farmers consumers, regulators, the environment etc.). All of the external reviews addressed project objectives directly, so technical success could be satisfactorily assessed. Assessing impact on research capacity was less straightforward, as the reviewers' terms of reference did not relate as directly to this outcome as they did to technical success. Assessing community impact generally was most problematic of all, since reviewers lacked focus on the implementation of outcomes, and it was usually far too early to evaluate uptake and any impact on the wider community. As in the first stage of the program, the assessments have been of a 'desktop' nature, drawing on documentation held by ACIAR and information gathered by telephone, fax and email from those involved in the projects in Australia and overseas, supplemented in some cases from other people with experience about project outcomes. No attempt has been made to assess the quality of the projects themselves?a task which ACIAR undertakes at the conclusion of each project through its external and internal reviews. Nor has any attempt been made to assess how effective the projects have been in achieving ACIAR's wider overall goals such as poverty reduction in collaborating countries. To undertake such an assessment would involve a longer-term and more in-depth analysis than has been attempted in this review.