NDIGD partners with Project Concern International on USAID Development Innovation Ventures evaluation

Author: Meg McDermott

The Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development is partnering with Project Concern International (PCI) to conduct an impact evaluation on a innovation developed by PCI and funded by USAID Development Innovation Ventures (DIV).

The innovation is called Satellite Assisted Pastoral Resource Management (SAPARM) and provides geo-satellite derived vegetation data directly to pastoralists in Ethiopia and Tanzania to inform their migration decision-making process and significantly improve their ability to find pasture. 


Pastoralists traditionally rely on sources of information such as sending scouts, oral communication with other pastoralists (called dagu in the Afar region of Ethiopia), and indigenous knowledge. These traditional methods have inherent limitations and decreasing reliability due to climate change.

SAPARM is a fusion of high technology with local structures, knowledge and practices. The resulting product is a customized community-grazing map digitized and overlaid with NDVI (Normalized Differential Vegetation Index), a measure of photosynthetic activity that depicts where grazing grounds exist. The digitized maps are auto-generated and delivered every ten days to designated recipients that are then disseminated to village level decision makers to incorporate into their migration decision-making process throughout the year.  The goal is to understand how this new source of information helps migration decision-making and ultimately determine if it reduces herd mortality. PCI conducted a pilot phase with support from DIV in 2013-2014 and was awarded scale-up phase II funding from DIV in 2015.

In order to quantify a change in the livestock mortality rate, PCI must first gain a better understanding of the mortality rates prior to the implementation of the satellite maps. NDIGD’s baseline study will provide PCI with the information necessary to determine migration frequency and distance, decision-making for migration, and mortality rates as a baseline. This information can be compared to findings once the project has been implemented.  

NDIGD recently supervised the data collection in the field for the project. To accomplish this, NDIGD monitoring and evaluation specialists oversaw the surveying of pastoralists across hundreds of villages in the Longido, Moduli and Ngorongoro districts of Tanzania and the Afar region of Ethiopia. Pastoralists were asked to provide information on the current number of animals they own, the births and deaths of each animal per year, and the most critical causes of death, including water and/or pasture shortages, predators and epidemics. Pastoralists were also asked about local prices of livestock and milk, in order to understand the value lost to the herder when these animals die prematurely.

The PCI project will continue through 2017. A final evaluation will be conducted at the conclusion of the project to provide end line data to determine the overall impact of the project.

An integral part of the University’s Keough School of Global Affairs, NDIGD works to promote human dignity through applied research, assessment, monitoring, evaluation, and training. The Keough School, scheduled to open in August 2017, will prepare students for effective and ethically grounded professional leadership in government, the private sector and global civil society, engaging them in the worldwide effort to address the greatest challenges of our century.

PCI is a non-profit based in San Diego, CA, and its mission is to empower people to enhance health, end hunger and overcome hardship. PCI works with some of the most vulnerable people in the world to help lift themselves out of poverty and to create vital, healthy lives for their families and communities now and for the future.

USAID Development Innovation Ventures is an open competition supporting breakthrough solutions to the world's most intractable development challenges—interventions that could change millions of lives at a fraction of the usual cost.


Notre Dame: Meagan McDermott, mmderm3@nd.edu Phone: 574-631-2940       

Project Concern International – Jason Rubin, JRubin@pciglobal.org