Drought has always been one of the biggest problems affecting the agricultural areas of Andhra Pradesh. Government of Andhra Pradesh (GoAP), in collaboration with the World Bank, had launched the Andhra Pradesh Drought Adaptation Initiative (APDAI), an action research project aimed at the mitigation of the impact of drought. The overall objective of APDAI was to enhance the drought-adaptation capacity of affected communities and reduce their vulnerability towards drought risks in the long run.

The APDAI pilot project was implemented in two phases. World Bank's (WB) Trust Fund financed Phase I of the pilot programme (June 2006-April 2007), which initiated activities in six villages spread over three mandals of Mahaboobnagar District (Kosgi, Daulatabad and Bommaraspet of Mahboobnagar). The Japan Policy and Human Resource Development (JPHRD), Climate Change Initiative Grant (CCIG) and the World Bank supported the implementation of Phase II. Phase II of the pilot implementation saw expansion of the project to an additional nine villages in Mahaboobnagar and 10 new villages in Anantapur District (Nallacheruvu, Gandlapet mandals in Ananthapur).

APDAI had developed a package of tested measures for drought adaptation in 2006. Based on this, 18 pilots were implemented covering agriculture production systems, livestock, natural resources, livelihood of vulnerable groups and economic support tools for different livelihood groups. The project emphasised on stimulating deeper integration of climate considerations with local action, by effectively packaging drought-adaptation measures in the existing institutional context. The responses to drought risks are planned on a small geographical scale taking into account both short-term as well as long-term effects of drought, but rooted in the current government programmes and initiatives.

The broad areas of interventions and pilots implemented under APDAI were:

S.No Area   Pilots
1 Agriculture production 1.1 Diversified farming systems (DFS)
1.2 Plough bullocks
1.3 Seed bank
1.4 Nurseries
1.5 System of rice intensification (SRI)
1.6 Leased land farming
2 Livestock production 2.1 Community-managed livestock services (vaccination)
2.2 Fodder bank
2.3 Backyard poultry
2.4 Chick rearing centre (CRC)
2.5 Breed improvement in sheep *
2.6 Common interest group (CIG) of goat rearers
2.7 Goat crèche (goat kids rearing centre)
2.8 Inland fishermen's cooperatives
3 Natural resource management 3.1 Groundwater management
3.2 Common property resource (CPR) management
4 Economic support tools 5.1 Livestock insurance
5.2 Millets in the government Public Distribution System (PDS)

The pilot activities were initiated by the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP). The project was implemented by the Department of Rural Development with technical support from Watershed Support Services and Activity Network (WASSAN).

Poverty Learning Foundation (PLF) acted as the Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (ME&L) agency for the APDAI. PLF designed, established and managed the ME&L system for APDAI. As part of ME&L activities, information was collected for three time points. Baseline, Midline and Endline. The baseline data (a generic baseline and pilot-specific baseline) were collected for all APDAI pilots and their support systems. To generate a statistically appropriate database for assessing the impact and progress of APDAI pilots, PLF had also collected data once in six months to track the impact of pilots. Data was collected depending on the pilot duration.

The designing and implementation of the ME&L system for the action research project was complex given the different duration of each of the pilots and also the parameters and indicators on the performance and process indicated varied from one to another. Each of the stakeholder groups were consulted in setting up and defining the pilot duration and deciding the two-time point. M&E besides focussing on the performance and potential for replicability of each of the pilots examined the outcome in terms of the process of institutional change, which is a key part of the delivery system for upscaling and integration of the pilot with the mainstream programmes.

In terms of the process, ME&L has constantly fed the lessons learnt from the pilots into fine tuning the process and practices involved in effective delivery of each of the tested measures. PLF also informed the government on the policy front in understanding the scalability and sustainability of future pilots. This helped the GoAP to come out with a programme for the integration of pilots in various ongoing projects of different departments. In formulating related policy, findings from the ME&L process were considered and incorporated.

APDAI has facilitated the process of institutional change to address the limitations of mainstream institutional delivery. The role of community-based organizations (CBOs) was felt central to improving institutional arrangements and delivery of services, including building community level demand on quality services. What is interesting is that the pilot was more successful wherever the village officer?? (VO) played a proactive role.

A quarter of the pilots which were implemented in (individual) business mode were highly successful. The opposite is true in the case of pilots that focused on collective action and institution building processes. There were six pilots that function in CIG mode; of these, only nursery and ground water have done reasonably well.

Another issue that needs to touched up on here is that the timeline was insufficient to test technology, prepare stakeholders, introduce an institutional change process, capacitate people adequately and disseminate information for some of the pilots.