NEW BOOK Editors: Jan de Graaff, John Cameron, Samran Sombatpanit, Christian Pieri & Jim Woodhill. Published by Science Publishers, Enfield, U.S.A. www.scipub.net, email@example.com, 2007. [excerpts from Review by Keith Virgo, March 2008, Tropical Agriculture Association]
The Editors have tried valiantly to bring a logical order to the 25 contributed papers, by separating them into four Parts: 1. Principles of M&E, 2. M&E in Practice, 3. Physical Parameters in M&E and 4. Social, Economic & Institutional Aspects. This book, one of several titles sponsored by WASWC, aims to encourage greater effectiveness of soil conservation and watershed management projects, through improved Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) that can inform decision-making. In Part 1, this led me from the rather top-down traditional approach described in Chapter 2, to the greater emphasis in Chapters 3 and 4 on openly involving the primary stakeholders, who will still be there when the project withdraws. In Part 3 some new methods for assessing actual soil losses are described. The socio-economic impacts of project interventions could have received more consideration, given the vast amounts of money that have been invested in watershed management over the last 15 to 20 years. The Editors ably summarise the papers in their Epilogue, which makes useful reading. Topics cover the various challenges, such as improving participation, allowing time and space for M&E, and attributing impacts. They conclude on an optimistic note, pointing to the global Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA) programme of GEF, which aims to combat degradation through developing tools and methods, carrying out global assessments and assessing and building monitoring capacities. Appendix II provides a comprehensive list of relevant publications dealing with M&E, several with internet addresses for easier access. For practitioners of watershed M&E, this Appendix alone justifies reading the book. Overall, the book is a useful first step in addressing an important topic.