Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Completion evaluation

Introduction

Country background1

The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelago of 7 107 islands. The country spans three main island groups: Luzon, Mindanao and the Visayas. The estimated population in 2004 was 86.4 million. The population growth rate for 2000-2005 is relatively high for South-East Asia, at an estimated 2.2 per cent per year. This high population growth, along with geographical and climatic challenges, contributes to the continuing high rate of poverty in the Philippines. Poverty is predominantly rural and, although it varies by region, it is pervasive throughout the southern Philippines, particularly in Mindanao and the mountainous areas of Luzon. The most recent official poverty statistics (2003) estimated the annual per capita poverty threshold nationwide to be US$676 Per capita GDP increased from US$1 031 in 2004 to US$1 157 in 2005. The national deficit has been a continuous constraint on economic growth. Two thirds of the population live in rural areas and are dependent on subsistence agriculture for their household income. Despite the more than one million jobs that were generated by this sector, over one million rural workers remain unemployed and over three million are underemployed.

The project

The Cordillera Highland Agricultural Resource Management (CHARM) Project targeted indigenous communities in three provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) in northern Luzon. The project was executed by the Government of the Philippines, through the Department of Agriculture (DA), and was jointly funded by the Asian Development Bank (AsDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Running from 1997 to 2004, the project was a follow-up to the Highland Agriculture Development Project (HADP), which was implemented between 1987 and 1994 and was also funded by IFAD and AsDB.

The primary aim of the CHARM project was to reduce poverty in three target provinces through agricultural productivity improvements and sustainable natural resource management. The project was implemented in 82 barangays2 (with a combined population of 850 000) located in 16 municipalities within Abra, Benguet and Mountain Provinces. Ninety-two per cent of the target population belong to indigenous communities.

More specifically, the project aimed to increase the average annual income of farm families from about US$820 to at least US$2 170 in real terms by 2006, and reduce the number of families living below the poverty line 3 in target municipalities from about 33 000 to about 12 000 households (or from 70 per cent to 25 per cent) by 2006. The project had four main components, namely:  (i) community mobilization and resource management; (ii) rural infrastructure development; (iii) agricultural support services; and (iv) project management and coordination.

The project’s total budget amounted to US$41.5 million: AsDB contributed US$19.1 million; IFAD US$9.2 million; the Government US$10.8 million; and local beneficiaries US$2.4 million. The IFAD loan was provided on highly concessional terms. At project closure, about 60 per cent of the IFAD loan had been disbursed.

Objectives and methodology of the evaluation

The evaluation was part of the 2006 work programme of the Office of Evaluation (OE) and the main fieldwork for the evaluation was carried out in July-August 2006.

Objective

The main objectives of the evaluation were to: (i) assess the performance and impact of the CHARM project; and (ii) generate a series of findings and recommendations that would serve IFAD and the Government of the Philippines in designing and implementing similar projects and programmes in the future. The evaluation also aimed to provide an opportunity for learning and exchanging views with multiple partners on issues related to the Cordillera region, and to indigenous people, land tenure and the contribution to broader rural poverty alleviation efforts in the Philippines.

Methodology

The evaluation followed OE’s guidelines for project evaluations.4 The evaluation team visited the three provinces of Abra, Benguet and Mountain, which cover nine municipalities and 15 barangays. The evaluation acknowledges the wide range of reports and other documents available through the project and partners. These documents provided an extensive source of secondary data for the evaluation. Project Completion Reports (PCRs) had been produced internally by the project, AsDB and IFAD. A Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation (BME) survey had been carried out in 2004 as an input to the PCR process, following on from an interim BME in 2002. The PCRs focused on the physical outputs of the project, while the BMEs explored project impact. As per standard OE practice, a core learning partnership 5 was constituted for the evaluation, which provided critical inputs and views at key stages of the evaluation process.

The approach used by the evaluation therefore included: discussions with AsDB staff and with Government officials in Manila and at the provincial level; field visits to the project area; intensive interaction with beneficiaries in focus group discussions and with individual households and project personnel; and a comprehensive review of secondary data and information.

Project performance

Design features

The design for the CHARM project followed on from the Highland HADP that was implemented from 1987-1994, and for which IFAD had provided US$4.6 million and AsDB US$18.8 million. The Highland project was found to be successful in achieving its goals in terms of poverty reduction.

The design of the CHARM project was highly relevant to the needs of the targeted communities. The substantial support for indigenous practices not only was appropriate to the community, but also contributed to national policies and practices related to indigenous land and cultural integrity. The combination of sustainable agricultural development and natural resource management reflected the specific conditions and needs of poor communities in the region. Component and subcomponent design was generally appropriate, apart from the weak rural financial services subcomponent, which combined a microenterprise savings concept based on Grameen Bank principles with an agrifinancing focus. A number of key design features that had appeared in the June 1994 project feasibility study, including post-harvest facilities and tramlines,6 were later dropped in the project appraisal document and the final logical framework. This led to major gaps in design.

Implementation and outputs

The extensive sources of data on the project provide a composite picture of a successfully implemented project. Initial project start-up was slow, mainly because of delays in the establishment of coordination mechanisms and in harmonization among implementing agencies of policies and procedures, and issues with contracting and planning. Supervision reports show consistent and satisfactory performance throughout the project period. Physical targets were largely achieved, and some were exceeded. However, results were mixed across specific project components. A summary of the key project results by component is provided below.

Community mobilization and resource management

This component had two distinct subcomponents: (i) community mobilization and participatory planning to identify and plan programme and investment priorities through a community participatory approach; and (ii) natural resource management – subdivided into (a) land tenure improvement, initially undertaken through the issuance of land certificates by the Department of Agrarian Reform, and then – as policies and processes changed – through the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), using ancestral domain titling processes; and (b) reforestation, including the planting of denuded areas and assisted natural regeneration/enrichment planting, where necessary.  

Community mobilization and participatory planning subcomponent. The physical achievement rate for this subcomponent was 99.5 per cent, with indicators covering the generation of planning documents – such as household and barangay profiles and barangay natural resource management plans – and the formation of people’s organizations. Planning activities were initially delayed because of contracting issues with the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) responsible for community mobilization. These delays affected the effective scheduling of other project activities.

Land tenure improvement subcomponent. The land tenure improvement targets were fully achieved, and, in fact, exceeded. The Department of Agrarian Reform ceased major involvement in project implementation once the NCIP took the lead in land transfer processes. This came about when the Certificates of Ancestral Domain Title (CADTs) – which are authorized by the NCIP – became the appropriate tenurial instrument for indigenous communities. Initiatives to support the formulation of Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plans (ADSDPPs), 7 as a precursor to CADT approval,8 were not initially identified as implementation targets, but became significant in achieving physical targets for the promotion of indigenous peoples’ concerns.

Reforestation subcomponent. Most natural resource management activities exceeded the expected targets. However, within the reforestation activities, weak implementation and design9 led to allegations by community members of irregularities and project mismanagement related to the survival rates of planted seedlings in three communities. In these cases, because of the lack of reporting, it was difficult to identify the reason (legitimate or not) for lower-than-expected reforestation survival rates. However, the evaluation found that in each case, appropriate action to investigate the claim had been taken by the project support office.

Rural infrastructure development

This component consisted of three subcomponents: (i) farm-to-market access, for the rehabilitation of roads, reinforcement of concrete bridges and building of spillway river crossings and footbridges; (ii) community irrigation, for the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation systems; and (iii) domestic water supply, to develop springs to provide water for domestic use.

The component exceeded its targets in terms of road rehabilitation (100.7 per cent of target), and the construction of spillways (215 per cent) and footbridges (125 per cent). Under the rural infrastructure subprojects, community irrigation generated substantial benefits for the community although maintenance is crucial for continued effectiveness.

Agriculture support services

This component had four subcomponents: (i) agribusiness services for capacity-building of the related units of the region’s DA and of farmers and their organizations; (ii) extension services, to improve agricultural support services at various levels and increase the awareness of farmers’ organizations with regard to available investment options and the implications of technology adoption on farm resource allocation; (iii) adaptive research services to strengthen agricultural research planning, implementation and review processes; and (iv) rural financial services to form and develop over 1 530 savings and credit groups,10 support them in becoming members of existing and new cooperatives and assist them in strengthening their linkages with financial and non-financial institutions.

Overall, the component met its targets. However, agricultural development activities were not sufficiently field-oriented, which reduced the potential impact. Notably, rural finance achievements did not reach expected targets,11 and this specific subcomponent is rated as unsatisfactory.

Attaining project objectives

Targeting

The IFAD PCR estimated that the project would reach between 34 and 51 per cent of the total population in the targeted barangays (47 683 households),12 which is in line with the appraisal estimates. In terms of coverage of population, particularly through the rural infrastructure activities, the evaluation found this estimation to be valid. However, internal targeting to reach the poorest inhabitants within the participating barangays was not well developed.

Community mobilization

Participation of barangay members in planning and implementation was passive rather than active, tending to take the form of representation by political leaders in Government processes, rather than broad-based community development processes. Cultural practices played a significant role in the extent of participation in some areas.

Land tenure

The gains in land tenure improvement were significant and contributed to attaining not only the project objectives in terms of improved resource management, but also IFAD’s broader objectives of strengthening local ownership and increasing access to land.

Reforestation

While the area planted with trees was substantial (6 580 hectares), certain hazards resulted in final survival rates falling short of expectations. There is a conflict between extending farmland to increase incomes, and replanting areas with trees. Encouraging agroforestry was an effective strategy to address both objectives, but the long maturation period for trees can act as a barrier to changes in farming systems. Contracts between the Government and people’s organizations were a legitimate, transparent finance-based arrangement for undertaking reforestation activities. Yet, these contracts were often seen by participants as a short-term employment opportunity rather than a long-term, community-based development initiative.

Rural infrastructure development

Better access to markets through improved roads and footbridges led to greater transportation of available products. Cropping intensity increased and idle areas were developed as a result of the construction and rehabilitation of community irrigation. Unfortunately, in some areas substantial typhoon damage has led to a reduction or even a complete loss of the economic gains made under the project.

Agriculture support services

In terms of the initiatives in agriculture, the project did not systematically support critical market elements such as providing price information, holding trade fairs or promoting the other market linkage activities needed for strengthening production and marketing. Moreover, the results relative to the provision of training services were low, as participation was largely confined to local elites. The highest level of adoption of technology training, information kits, agribusiness activities or technology transfer reached only 5 per cent at best, apart from integrated pest management, where adoption rates ranged between 15 and 25 per cent.

Tangible results from the agricultural research activities were not evident because the studies did not include mechanisms for applying the recommendations of the research. Consequently, the potentially useful new technology was not adopted by farmers. Similarly, the indigenous knowledge systems and practices of the traditional communities covered by the project were not clearly embedded in the design of the research activities, thus reducing relevance to indigenous communities.

Rural financial services

The disappointing results in rural financing are attributed to a weak and non-viable design, which combined a microenterprise savings concept based on Grameen Bank principles with an agrifinancing focus. Significantly, at the time of project implementation, IFAD and AsDB were also supporting a successful nationwide rural finance project,13 yet there is no record of coordination between the projects. There were also an increasing number of other small saving and credit schemes emerging in the project area that could have acted as a conduit for credit funds for the farmers.

Institutional strengthening

Improved coordination was a key focus in the design of the project. The coordination activities of the project support officer led to much better liaison between regional and provincial partners and to the formation of active partnerships with agencies working in the project areas. Harmonization of bureaucratic arrangements led to improved processes, particularly in support of land-titling activities. However, progress was limited with respect to the strengthening of community organizations.

Assessment of project performance

Relevance

The evaluation awarded a score of 5 to the project for relevance, noting that the design was relevant to the needs of the targeted communities. The substantial support for indigenous processes and practices not only was appropriate for the community, but contributed to national policies and practices related to indigenous land and cultural integrity. The project could have been highly relevant through a more participatory approach, which would have resulted in activities that were more closely aligned with community priorities in terms of the selection of infrastructure and identification of reforestation/ agroforestry species.

At the strategic level, the project was consistent with the IFAD regional strategy for Asia and the Pacific, and the Philippines Country Strategic Opportunities Paper (COSOP)14 in that it supported marginalized groups and vulnerable areas. The project was relevant within the national poverty reduction agenda, as it firmly supported the Government poverty reduction strategy and medium-term development plan 2004-2010.

Effectiveness

The evaluation’s overall assessment is that the project was moderately effective, with a rating of 4. That said, the land tenure improvement and rural infrastructure development objectives were particularly effective (see paragraphs 15 and 17). Also, in general, participation processes of partners with local leadership were effective, even though wider community participation would have led to greater effectiveness. However, the quality of design affected the effectiveness of implementation, especially the departure from the feasibility study recommendations (see paragraph 11). Delayed contracting of NGOs during the early stages of the project reduced the effectiveness of planning and participation (see paragraph ‎14). Consequently, the production of barangay natural resource management plans by the communities – which was facilitated by the NGOs – followed rather than preceded the development of detailed operational workplans, making the incorporation of community priorities impossible. Greater participation by the wider community would have increased the effectiveness of all components.

Efficiency

At the time of the evaluation, the project was considered to be moderately efficient. Thus, the rating for this evaluation criterion is 4. The evaluation team confirmed, based on assessing the rural infrastructure and agricultural support components, the IFAD 2004 PCR economic internal rate of return estimate of 20.06 per cent, which exceeded the project appraisal estimate of 18.4 per cent. However, overall efficiency was reduced because the actual cost of infrastructure rehabilitation exceeded appraisal estimates, and efficiency varied across components, which reduced overall efficiency.

Performance of project partners

Performance of IFAD

IFAD’s performance was moderately unsuccessful with a rating of 3. IFAD was engaged in the design phase of the project, but thereafter was largely absent15 until the latter years of the project, partly a result of the rapid turnover in IFAD country programme managers for the Philippines during the project period. IFAD did not participate in any supervision mission nor did it have a role in the mid-term review,16 despite regular invitations by AsDB. As a consequence, the project lost the opportunity for guidance in IFAD's areas of expertise such as participation, microcredit and empowerment. Recent initiatives have been more effective and the project greatly appreciated IFAD’s support in knowledge management and environmental service.

Performance of AsDB

AsDB’s performance was successful both as a cofinancier and as IFAD’s cooperating institution, which earned it a rating of 5 for performance. In particular, AsDB conducted six implementation review missions during the project period, each lasting one month. The reports emanating from these missions were thorough, providing clear analysis and follow-up recommendations that served to keep the project on track and meet its targets.

Performance of the Government and its Agencies

The Government’s performance was moderately successful with a rating of 4. It provided effective support to project operations through allocation of sufficient counterpart funding. The regular coordination activities of the project, particularly at higher levels, became important forums for integrated action by partners that extended beyond the scope of the project alone and contributed to other governance activities. Local partnerships have seen some improvement, with Government agencies working more effectively at the local level within their respective subcomponents. However, more productive partnerships could be established between the various local government units and people’s organizations.

Performance of NGOs/People’s Organizations

The performance of NGOs and people’s organizations was moderately successful with a rating of 4. The involvement of NGOs was a challenging process, in which NGOs were contracted to perform specific services. Delays in procurement meant that these services became available when implementation was already underway and participatory processes were retrofitted to subprojects that had already been identified. Consequently, while NGO performance was adequate, it did not lead to the realization of full potential which could have been achieved through a partnership approach.

Project impacts

Rural poverty reduction impact

The overall rating provided by the evaluation for rural poverty impact is 4, or moderately successful. In this regard, however, the evaluation noted that the measurement of income has not been consistently applied, and consequently, substantially different results are reported depending on the source of information.

The indicators reviewed and validated in the field by the evaluation showed that: (i) substantial increases in income had been achieved in areas with infrastructure installation, except where there had been maintenance issues; (ii) some increase in income as a result of agricultural support can be seen, but this was mainly experienced by higher income families; (iii) an estimated 5 504 person/year of employment was generated during infrastructure construction and a further 4 161 person/year during operation17 which substantially contributed to income gain for a large number of households, albeit for a limited period. The PCRs of both AsDB and IFAD recognized that the project targets in relation to income increases were overambitious, and that the results achieved had not reached the level targeted in project design.

Impact on social capital and empowerment was modest. Decision-making remained in the hands of the leaders and decisions were communicated to the barangay members for validation only. In barangays, where there were more frequent assemblies and the process was more traditional, consultative and consensus-based, a higher degree of empowerment could be seen. Similarly, the failure of the rural financial services subcomponent limited the impact of the project.

However, the extent of project impact should not be underestimated. For example, the progress made in land-titling contributed to improving the lives of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera. Moreover, the project was successful in promoting policy dialogue, partnership-building, and introducing innovative approaches to land tenure systems, none of which were explicit objectives of the CHARM project.

Sustainability

Unfortunately, processes to build capacity for sustaining project gains were not pursued until the end of the project. Assumptions throughout the project documentation that the communities, people’s organizations and local government units would be able to continue project activities without further support did not eventuate. At both the municipal and the barangay level, a continuing attitude of institutional dependency among all the people’s organizations was observed. The sustainability of the completed rural irrigation facilities was found to be uncertain, because of the weakness of the irrigators’ associations and the Barangay Waterworks and Sanitation Association (BAWASA) that were organized under the project. Similarly, reforestation groups were largely dormant as they were contractual in nature, thus, when the payments ceased, so did the groups. Roads are already showing serious signs of deterioration. The local government units had no specific programme for routine road maintenance, budgeting only for repairs as required.

The evaluation rated project sustainability with a score of 3, which implies that that project is probably not sustainable. This is partly due to the absence of a rigorous exit strategy.

Innovation, replicability and scaling-up

Innovation

Innovation was especially seen in the achievements in policy dialogue. Although not an explicit objective of the project, the impacts achieved in this area 18 have been impressive. Innovation therefore is rated as highly successful, although other aspects of the project have had minimal impact on innovation and are rated lower. The CHARM project assisted the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the process of recognizing the indigenous system lapat as a valid management system, and promoted the establishment of nurseries and watershed management programmes with the National Irrigation Authority and the CAR region. The impact of innovation on other activities in the barangays was difficult to assess. Although there was a substantial budget for research and development activities in agriculture and agribusiness, benefits were not borne out in the minimal impact achieved. All in all, the evaluation rates the project with a score of 5 (successful) in the area of promoting innovations.

Replicability and scaling up

The main project output being replicated is the ADSDPP process. Guidelines have not yet been developed and the process is still in its infancy, but the basic processes are already being followed in other areas. The full results of an IFAD regional grant, working in coordination with the CHARM project, for developing mechanisms to reward the upland poor of Asia for environmental services have yet to be assessed, but there appears to be considerable potential for replication. The agriculture support services component did not achieve the expected level of replication: there has been as yet virtually no application beyond individual cooperators for field research/demonstrations. The evaluation attributes a rating of 3 (moderately unsuccessful) for replication and scaling up.

Overall assessment

The overall performance of the project was moderately successful,19 and receives a rating of 4. Broadly speaking, project performance was on a par with the average scores presented in the 2005 Annual Report on Results and Impact of IFAD Operations (ARRI), with the exception of the categories of physical and financial assets; social capital and empowerment; and sustainability where the CHARM project underperformed slightly (as seen in the table below).

Project performance has been generally satisfactory in achieving physical targets and attaining goals. However, impact has been lower than expected as a result of the project’s overambitious targets. Several key weaknesses such as the failure of the rural financial services subcomponent and variability of participation adversely affected performance. Therefore, the overall rating was only moderately successful. The effective coordination by the project support office provided a platform for agencies to work together on broader governance and policy development issues. The substantial contribution of the project to the national agenda and that of indigenous peoples for promoting indigenous rights in accordance with the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act, and to the building of partnerships between the Government and communities towards practical implementation of major policy changes, deserves particular commendation.

The table below shows the project ratings for performance, impact and overarching factors as compared with the ratings given in the 2005 ARRI report.

Performance ratings of the CHARM Project compared with
average ratings in the 2005 ARRI report

 

Score for CHARM Evaluation

ARRI 2005a

Project performance

 

 

Relevance

5

5

Effectiveness

4

4

Efficiency

4

4

Impact (overall)b

4

4

Physical and financial assets

3.5

4

Food security

4

4

Environment and natural resources

4

4

Human assets

4

4

Social capital and empowerment

3

4

Institutions and policies

5

4

Overarching factors

 

 

Sustainability

3

4

Innovativeness, replication, and scaling up

4

4

Performance of partners
IFAD
Supervising Institution:  AsDB
Government and its Agencies
NGOs/Pos

 

3
5
4
4

 

--
--
--
--

Source: IFAD Evaluation Mission 2006

a ARRI scores have been rounded off to facilitate comparison.

b A new methodology was applied in the CHARM project evaluation, which included nine impact indicators compared with the six used in the ARRI report. 

Conclusions and recommendations

Conclusions

The CHARM project was implemented during a critical period for the indigenous people of the Philippines. The policy and sociocultural changes that took place during implementation provide an important backdrop to the project outcomes. During implementation, all communities in the CAR region were involved in the complex task of self-determination and legal delineation for communal and individual land-titling, establishing their own local administrative processes and balancing the conflicting demands of sustainable natural resource management and agricultural productivity. Policy dialogue, partnership-building and innovation in local administrative practices were not explicit objectives of the project. Nevertheless, implementers were proactive in the process leading to national recognition of indigenous land ownership and in working with different government agencies to harmonize policies, procedures and practices related to self-determination among indigenous peoples.

The successful coordination by the project support offices of the various CAR agencies involved in the project resulted in the effective implementation of project activities. It also provided a platform for agencies to work together on broader governance and development issues. The conducive environment enabled project partners to link processes and lessons learned from specific activities related to indigenous peoples with larger policy issues.

The project took on a role of facilitator with its partners to establish land tenure processes for indigenous communities. It supported the preparation of ADSDPPs as an important step in the issuance of land titles or CADTs. Through the national commission, indigenous communities in the region were able to produce the first ADSDPPs and CADTs in the country, thus providing the country with a model for practical implementation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act.

However, the project was not as successful as it could have been because of its weak performance – which was below the ARRI average rating – in terms of the IFAD key priority areas of community participation, rural finance and sustainability. For greater success in the next phase, IFAD will need to play a more active role in supporting implementation to ensure that these issues are adequately addressed throughout the project cycle.

The project could also have been more effective by responding to the issues raised in the 1994 project feasibility study, which was based on lessons from the HADP. Many of these issues – such as including post-harvest facilities in the project design – remain relevant, as do the solutions proposed. However, these were not adequately incorporated into the appraisal report for the CHARM project. It is interesting to note that the 2002 evaluation of the Rural Micro-enterprise Finance Project in the Philippines came to a similar conclusion.20

The conflict between sustainable natural resource management and agricultural productivity created rivalry between the income-generation and natural resource management objectives of the project. For example, initiatives in one component had the potential to impact adversely on the initiatives of another. Similarly, the thrust towards increasing income was not seen as fully compatible with the sociocultural objectives of the targeted communities.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1. Proceed with a second phase of the project, with the following recommendations 21.

Increase involvement from IFAD

IFAD needs to be more active in project implementation. If AsDB is a partner in the next phase, IFAD and AsDB need to coordinate their support more effectively to ensure IFAD’s participation in supervision missions and all aspects of implementation. If AsDB is not a partner, IFAD may consider direct supervision, given the large number of IFAD priorities being addressed by the project, such as indigenous peoples’ issues, participation, empowerment and policy dialogue.

Broader definition of poverty

A definition of poverty that incorporates the needs of the community regarding quality of life and their capacity to ensure sustainability should be used, rather than one based solely on income levels.

Improved integration of objectives and implementation

Clarity is required in formulating objectives to resolve any conflict that may arise in the simultaneous pursuit of social, economic and environmental goals. The focus must be on balanced sustainable development. There is a good opportunity to build on the valuable regional and provincial partnerships that have been formed, and to consolidate the advances made with respect to policies and procedures under the project.

Strengthen and extend existing approaches

Processes used under the project – particularly related to the strong agency coordination component, the attempts made to integrate components, the focus on policy dialogue and advocacy for indigenous peoples and the provision of critical infrastructure – are still required in the region. Support for the emerging policies and best practices for indigenous peoples should continue. An emphasis on outcome rather than on physical and financial targets is needed, with built-in flexibility through the annual workplan and budget to allow for adjustments during implementation. More explicit grievance procedures to address allegations of project mismanagement and a more analytical and participatory monitoring process should be introduced.

Learning approach

The opportunity that a second phase provides for building on the substantial knowledge that has been gathered on the region is unparalleled. Stronger analysis and links between subcomponents, e.g. agriculture and agroforestry at the local level, is likely to encourage local learning and innovations that would enhance knowledge related to poverty reduction.

Opportunity for innovation

The indigenous communities in the region have already shown that there are many local innovations that can advance the development agenda of communities. A wider menu of small production infrastructure, infrastructure and support for information and communication technology, and partnerships with the private sector will provide an opportunity for new partnerships and sharing of ideas and for combining local innovations with new technology.

Improved focus on sustainability and exit strategy from the design stage

If sustainability measures and processes are instituted from the outset, over time these processes are more likely to be sustained after project completion.

Recommendation 2. Balance project objectives towards greater sustainability.

Environmental best practice

Within the project, sustainable agricultural development should be balanced by the promotion of indigenous knowledge systems and practices, natural resource management and enrichment planning. A second phase of the CHARM project, and other planned projects in the CAR region, should include an initial environmental examination during preparation and an environmental management and monitoring plan for every proposed subproject to be financed.

Recognize the uniqueness of CAR

Higher cost parameters should be set on critical access infrastructure, given the topography of the agricultural areas in the CAR region and this would also provide the required flexibility for project design and specifications to fit local conditions. One particular area of innovation in need of attention is risk mapping for environmental hazards and risk management to assist in building risk scenarios and mitigation plans.

Recommendation 3. Improve participation and capacity-building processes.

Focus on local implementation

Existing local institutions should be strengthened as a foundation for field interventions. Rather than create new institutions (as with the rural financial services subcomponent), it would be preferable to involve existing institutions, at the municipal level such as rural banks, cooperatives, microfinance institutions and trading organizations to assist in local development. Relationships between partners should be emphasized rather than relying solely on contractual services, as was the case with the reforestation activities. This would serve to increase positive participation at the community level. Research should be targeted to local conditions, markets and technical issues. Municipal governments should have a greater role in implementation to support decentralization initiatives. Local ownership should be encouraged by broader participation and use of participatory methods to spread benefits more widely across communities.

Capacity-building

The reliance on consultants for much of the project implementation meant that a proportion of experience and knowledge gained through the project was lost at the expense of those who were left to implement development initiatives over a longer time-frame. Greater capacity-building for existing agency and local government unit staff would help build local resources for development.


1/ Official website of the Republic of the Philippines.

2/A barangay is the smallest administrative unit of government (i.e. village or neighbourhood within a municipality).

3/ National poverty lines are defined as follows: the rural poverty line corresponds to  US$130 (3 353 pesos) per household per month and the urban poverty line corresponds to US$170 (4 365 pesos) per household per month.

4/ This included assessing the project against internationally recognized evaluation criteria, namely: (i) project performance, including relevance, effectiveness and efficiency; (ii) impact on rural poverty; and (iii) performance of partners involved in the project, including IFAD, AsDB, government institutions, and others. As per OE’s project evaluation methodology, a six-point scale has been used to attribute ratings to each of the aforementioned evaluation criteria. On the six-point scale, 6 represents the best score. For example, in assessing project impact, the scale would read as follows: Ratings: highly successful (6), successful (5), moderately successful (4), moderately unsuccessful (3), unsuccessful (2), highly unsuccessful (1).

 5/ Members of the partnership included: Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, National Irrigation Administration, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, National Economic and Development Agency, the NGO consortium, Indigenous Peoples' International Centre for Policy Research and Education (TEBTEBBA), Upland Marketing Foundation Inc., South East Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture, Director of the CHARM project, and the IFAD country programme manager.

6/The project rightly decided not to introduce large funiculars for transporting people up and down the mountains. However, low-tech funiculars for moving rice sacks and other produce could have been useful.

7/These were prepared for Bucloc, Abra; Bakun and Kibungan, Benguet; and Sagada, Sabangan and Tadian in Mountain Province. Remaining work on the CADTs for Buguias and Masadiit revolves around boundary conflict resolution, which is being pursued by the NCIP. 

8/CADTs were issued to the Bago-Kankanaey Tribe of Bakun, Benguet – the first to be issued in the country, and to the Kankana-ey Tribes of Kibungan and Atok, Benguet. CADTs for the Buguias, Benguet and Bucloc-Boliney-Sallapadan in Abra have yet to be completed.

9/ The logical framework for the CHARM project stipulated 80 per cent as the acceptable (national standard) survival rate for reforestation and agroforestry. This figure was the basis for release of labour payments to the peoples’ organizations. In reality, extreme slopes in most project areas prevented attainment of such a standard. Where standards were not met, payments to participants for work completed were delayed. The evaluation mission could not verify the survival rates reported in project documents and there were clear indications that there had been disagreements between reforestation peoples’ organizations and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on the survival rates achieved.

10/The mid-term review (2000) reduced the target number of savings and credit groups to be formed from 1 530 to 164.

11/The original target of 1 530 savings and credit groups was not achieved. At project completion, 172 were reported to be in operation. At the time of this evaluation, only 92 active groups are recorded and very few of those visited were considered to be operational.

12/Using data from 1994, indications from municipal governments were that barangay population has increased by an average of approximately 5 per cent. The improved access roads were stated as a factor in stimulating migration to the barangays targeted by the project.

 13/  The Rural Micro-enterprise Finance Project.

14/The CHARM project was designed and implemented under the 1999 COSOP. The new COSOP, formulated during 2005/2006, also recognizes the importance of working with indigenous communities to promote sustainable agriculture.

15/ Similarly, the 2002 evaluation of the Rural Micro-enterprise Finance Project in the Philippines found that “After project approval the role of IFAD in the project weakened considerably.”

 16/ An IFAD representative was contacted regarding this mission, and an IFAD presence is recorded in the mid-term review report; however, the actual contract for the consultant did not materialize and the consultant did not participate in the mission.

17/Final Benefit Monitoring and Evaluation Survey, which was based on a sample of 300-500 direct project participants per province.

 18/ The project acted as facilitator with partners to address significant policy issues such as the issuance of ancestral domain titles and preparation of the Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan (ADSDPP), and has even advocated successfully that the ADSDPP be recognized as the formal Comprehensive Land Use Plan that is required by all local government units under the Local Government Code. The Cordillera Administrative Region is now considered the leader nationwide in practical implementation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act.

19/The overall project rating was not calculated numerically by averaging scores, but rather by using an overall team assessment based on OE’s standards for rating.

20/The evaluation found that useful conclusions from a 1993 study on microfinance in the Philippines had not been included in the President’s report for the project.

21/At the time of selecting the CHARM project for evaluation, the Asia and the Pacific Division had not decided to prepare a follow-up phase. As such, the evaluation was approved by the Executive Board as a completion evaluation, even though in reality it should be considered as a classic interim evaluation in light of its recommendations and the subsequent decision by the division to design a second phase.