Hunan Agricultural and Rural Infrastructure Improvement Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Hunan Agricultural and Rural Infrastructure Improvement Project (HARIIP) implemented in the People’s Republic of China from 2012 to 2017.
The evaluation found that the project contributed to rural development and poverty reduction for the 182,000 households in the remote areas targeted. This was achieved mainly through adoption of a strategy combining development of rural infrastructure, pursuit of diversified market-oriented agriculture and building villagers’ capacities in agriculture and infrastructure operations and maintenance.
However, the project’s results in terms of reaching the rural poor and the women among them were less successful, partly due to the absence of a tailored approach. Any benefit derived by lower-income families tended to be the form of low-paid, unskilled work; as this is less likely to foster economic and self-development capacities, questions arise as to the sustainability of the project’s impact on income generation for the poor.
Moving forward, the evaluation recommends continuing support to diversified agricultural production through the IFAD-supported follow-up project, developing tools to increase households’ access to project activities, redefining the approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment, and orienting innovations towards project implementation processes.
Tejaswini Women’s Empowerment Programme
The Independent Evaluation Office of IFAD (IOE) has prepared a project performance evaluation (PPE) report on the Tejaswini Rural Women’s Empowerment Programme. The project was implemented in India, in the states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, between 2007 and 2018.
The evaluation found that the project demonstrated a promising model for women’s empowerment. The development of successful self-financing SHG apex organizations provided valued economic and social services to the target populations, while the effective system to manage the performance of SHGs facilitated access to further sources of financial support.
The evaluation noted some areas for improvement. For example, value chain activities were incorporated at a late stage and were mostly supply-driven: this limited the improvement in household income that the project could bring about. In addition, sustainable and climate-resilient practices could have been integrated further into project activities.
Moving forward, the evaluation makes a number of recommendations, including continued application of the SHG models developed, adopting a market-aware approach to economic empowerment that is responsive to the needs of different groups of women and including an explicit focus on climate change resilience and sustainable natural resource management.
Agriculture Services Support Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Agriculture Services Support Project (ASSP) in Botswana.
The project was implemented between 2012 and 2018 to help the target groups adapt to potential cuts to government agricultural subsidies. Targeting about 20,000 smallholder farmers in rural areas throughout the country, ASSP sought to (1) promote conservation agriculture practices; (2) pilot a wastewater irrigation scheme; and (3) build agricultural service centres (ASCs) for promoting market-driven extension services.
Thanks to the wastewater irrigation scheme, horticultural production no longer depended on the country’s erratic rainfall; however, the operation was costly and was undertaken on a pilot scale. Conservation agriculture was not taken up among target groups due to a lack of adequate equipment for the timely preparation of farms. The evaluation found that only two of the ASCs had been completed, against a target of 15 at design, and only one of the ASCs demonstrated delivery of market-led extension services.
Going forward, the evaluation recommends that IFAD focus on engaging in a technical support role, in line with the policy priorities and capacities established by the Government of Botswana.
Small Irrigation Development Project – Phase II
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Small Irrigation Development Project - phase II in the Republic of Haiti, implemented from 2008 to 2016. The aim of the project was to increase the incomes and improve the living conditions of poor and vulnerable rural households by targeting landless smallholders and farmers (especially women and young people) working on small plots of irrigable land.
The evaluation found that the project contributed to better organization and empowerment of the target groups, and to building their capacity to maintain the irrigation infrastructure. The project also helped build the capacities of decentralized bodies providing technical support to producers, and introduced drip irrigation technology in the country.
However, the project’s achievements in terms of income generation and watershed management were limited. Due to Haiti’s exposure to natural disasters, key recommendations are related to implementation of an integrated watershed management approach, coupled with the protection of natural resources, as well to promotion of a value chain approach in interventions.
Sierra Leone Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation
This is the first country strategy and programme evaluation carried out in Sierra Leone by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE). The report reviews the joint work of IFAD and the Government of Sierra Leone from 2003 to 2019, covering five projects.
The period covered by the evaluation was highly dynamic, characterized by the efforts to reconstruct the economic and productive sectors and to promote sustainable growth in the aftermath of the lengthy civil war. The evaluation found that the IFAD adapted well to the rapidly evolving national priorities and strategies, shifting focus from basic agricultural inputs and infrastructure to fostering access to rural finance and strengthening commercial agriculture. In addition, the portfolio’s outreach was remarkable, achieving targets by 100 per cent or close; well over 80 per cent of the community banks, while financial services were successfully made available to over 200,000 households.
However, the report highlights some areas for improvement. Financial inclusion could be enhanced, to encompass a greater proportion of smallholders. The value chain for rice, a main staple crop in Sierra Leone, could be strengthened, with particular focus on the linkages between producers and processing and marketing actors. In addition, activities to attract more youth to agriculture could be implemented.
Moving forward, the report recommends, among other things, to bolster the development impact of agricultural growth by focusing on strengthening value chains, increase the level of engagement in rural finance by building on existing rural financial structures in the country and develop a country-specific youth strategy.
Rural Livelihoods Economic Enhancement Programme
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Rural Livelihoods and Economic Empowerment Programme (RLEEP) in the Republic of Malawi. The programme took place from 2009 until 2018, with a total project cost of US$26.1 million. Of this sum, IFAD contributed US$8.9 million as loan and US$6 million as grant.
The PPE concludes that the programme took an innovative approach, which was largely effective. The programme increased overall productivity and provided a good foundation for pro-poor value chain development by establishing useful partnerships and initiatives that facilitated farmers’ access to markets. The grant facility was an appropriate mechanism for collaboration with NGOs, which greatly enhanced outreach and group formation activities. Some farmer groups managed to grow into cooperatives and strengthen market linkages.
However, the targets of the programme proved to be overly ambitious and would have required stronger technical capacities to be achieved. The programme implemented a large number of activities in parallel and there was little time for adjustments when challenges arose. Participation of the private sector was still insufficient. Lastly, the programme did not have sufficient time to address the structural issues undermining value chain development.
IFAD is preparing for the second phase of the programme in Malawi, called Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE). The report offers several recommendations for this follow-up programme, including: greater participation by government partners, enhanced partnerships and complementarities among development partners, promotion of innovative approaches to service provision, and greater attention to farmers’ empowerment in the development of value chains.
Community-driven development in IFAD-supported projects
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has prepared an evaluation synthesis report on Community-Driven Development (CDD), based on an in-depth review of a representative sample of IFAD projects carried out since 1978.
CDD has played a pivotal role in IFAD’s operations for over 30 years. Indeed, CDD is an important pathway to empower the rural poor – an objective that lies at the heart of Agenda 2030 – and works particularly well within the contexts that IFAD engages in, such as marginal and fragile situations.
The synthesis found that IFAD operations that used a CDD approach performed better than non-CDD projects on several criteria, including effectiveness, gender and sustainability, especially when sufficient time and resources were available for meaningful engagement at local level. The commitment shown by IFAD’s regional divisions was crucial in promoting and enhancing learning on CDD.
CDD remains a relevant approach for IFAD. Moving forward, the Fund should build further on its comparative advantage in CDD, making it visible throughout its strategies and institutional functions and ensuring that appropriate resources and financial instruments are allocated to fully reap the benefits expected of the approach.
United Mexican States Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation
This is the second country strategy and programme evaluation carried out in the United Mexican States by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD. It covers the partnership between the Government and IFAD from 2007 to 2018. During this period, IFAD has invested in seven projects and programmes in the country with a total cost of US$250.56 million, of which US$132.95 million was financed by IFAD.
The programme focused on supporting groups of rural producers living in poverty who had not previously been reached by public programmes. In addition, Mexico is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and these projects showed that it is possible to achieve a balance between local economic needs and positive environmental impact.
However, the performance of the portfolio was weakened by changes in agricultural sector policies, to which ongoing projects were not adapted, as well as design weaknesses such as a lack of innovative approaches to training producers and their organizations in financial services and market access. The grants programme opened up opportunities for consultation on rural policy issues and options, by supporting rural dialogue groups and multinational studies on conditional cash transfer programmes and ways to combine them with inclusive production measures.
The evaluation sets forth the following main recommendations: (i) fine-tune the country programme’s geographical and agro-ecological targeting; (ii) improve the technical and innovative quality of project design; (iii) improve monitoring of and capitalization on lessons learned; (iv) strengthen IFAD’s capacity to provide operational and strategic support for the programme; and (v) promote greater government engagement in project design and implementation, as well as adequate budgetary allocation for implementation.
Burundi Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) is undertaking a country strategy and programme evaluation (CSPE) in Burundi.
The CSPE, which is the first to be conducted in the country, will assess the results and performance of the partnership between IFAD and the Government of Burundi.
The main objectives of the CSPE are to:
- assess the results and performance of the IFAD-financed strategy and programme in Burundi;
- generate findings and recommendations for strengthening and enhancing the overall effectiveness of the IFAD programme in Burundi within the framework of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030; and
- provide relevant information and knowledge to guide the preparation of the next country strategic opportunities programme.