Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Programme
The evaluation reveals that the programme activities brought about improvements in the production and productivity of crops and livestock in the targeted area, through training of farmers and on-farm demonstrations, along with the distribution of inputs and farm implements. The programme also promoted conservation agriculture and contributed positively towards improving the environmental quality in the three districts covered by the programme, leading to a more efficient use of the existing natural resources. At the same time, a weak monitoring and evaluation system led to a number of difficulties in assessing the programme's impact on rural poverty. In addition, the programme activities were not fully integrated in the Government operations due to limited ownership and coordination among the central and district-level institutions.
Rural Development Project in the Mountain Zones of Al-Haouz
The Rural Development Project in the Mountain Zones of Al-Haouz aimed to pilot various approaches that could then be scaled up and replicated in other mountain areas in the country, to encourage beneficiary participation through decentralization, and to support the creation of productive socio-economic infrastructure accessible to beneficiaries. In addition to evidence being found of increased local economic emancipation through the establishment and strengthening of numerous grass-roots associations, important results were also achieved in terms of socio-economic infrastructure, rehabilitation of small-scale irrigation schemes and soil and water conservation.
On the less positive side, the Project Performance Assessment noted that insufficient budgets needed to cover long term plans led to a focus on separate individual activities, in turn resulting in weaker sustainability of projects. Likewise the project faced challenges with respect to the gender activities and a large and disperse set of activities. On the whole, however, the project achievement is rated as satisfactory, with high relevancy of and several positive contributions to core objectives. The evaluation recommends continued support to communal planning processes, establishing more partnerships between involved institutional players and special attention paid to agricultural extension.
Management of Natural Resources in the Chaco and High Valley Regions Project
The project is evaluated positively in terms of attention to natural resources management, participatory methods in the training of vulnerable populations and the delivery of technical assistance. It promoted new productive activities and the dissemination of soil-conservation and water-management techniques as well as new farming and animal husbandry practices. At the same time, the overall impact could have been higher, as there was only a slight improvement in the living conditions of the beneficiaries, and such improvement did not occur among the more vulnerable populations. Moreover, there was low demand for the business development and market access component, which failed to create the anticipated market for non-financial rural services.
Agriculture, Marketing and Enterprise Promotion Programme
The overall project performance assessment of the Agriculture, Marketing and Enterprise Promotion Programme is satisfactory, with one of the key achievements being the prolonged presence and support of IFAD within the targeted area. The programme activities were largely effective in contributing to improved connectivity and access to services, higher income and assets for many households, and greater farm and enterprise productivity. On the other hand, the likelihood of sustainability is being affected by the difficulties in infrastructure maintenance, and by social and economic processes beyond the influence of the project, including rural-urban population drift, increasing areas of fallow land, shortage of labour, crop damage by wild life and climate change.
Rural Development Programme for Mountainous and Highland Areas
The project performance assessment of the Rural Development Programme for Mountainous and Highland Areas focused on agricultural production, small infrastructure and project management. After facing great challenges in the implementation process between 2001-2007, IFAD suspended its loan and redesigned the project around a single component (small infrastructure). This was key in ensuring a successful implementation during the subsequent phase (2008-2011), fostering the renovation and construction of 63 kilometres of community road and 14 bridges in mountainous areas, which improved general accessibility and quality of life for local beneficiaries. At the same time, this project performance assessment highlighted the presence of serious sustainability issues, together with little evidence as regards to the project’s impact on farm productivity and household incomes.
Microfinance for Marginal and Small Farmers Project
The project was successful in introducing microcredit services targeted at small and marginal farmers, combined with technical support. During implementation (2005-2011), the project made a significant contribution to mainstreaming microlending for agricultural activities, with an option of lump-sum repayment. Moreover, good progress was made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment through microfinance interventions, social development, technical trainings and women’s mobilization. For these reasons, the project’s overall achievement is satisfactory. While the inclusion of marketing and business development support in the project was appropriate, there could have been better integration and synergy of this aspects with microfinance services and technical capacity-building.
Rural Development Project
The project performance assessment of the Rural Development Project supported rural finance, value chain and enterprise development, as well as institutional capacity-building. Although implemented in a critical transition period in Georgia (2006-2012), it effectively addressed selected bottlenecks in rural development, such as lack of financing for agricultural production, insufficient food safety services, weak agribusiness facilities and feeble land registration systems. The investment in providing microcredits to farmers was deemed as a highly relevant and effective tool in reviving agricultural and livestock production, and ensuring food security. On the other hand, this assessment revealed that the agricultural supply chain activity component was under designed, underinvested, and suffered approval delays and cancellation of some activities.
North-East Development Project
This project performance assessment is the first undertaken by the Independent Office of Evaluation in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The North-East Development Project was the third IFAD-funded initiative in the country and was implemented during the period 2006-2011, in a transitional context. The project’s successful introduction of participatory irrigation management to the benefit of 15,000 households was an impressive achievement. It successfully established water user associations and rehabilitated nearly 31,000 ha of farmland. This led to a significant rise in water supplies and improved water-use efficiency, providing a sound basis for introducing higher-value crops, increasing crop yields and expanding livestock activities. At the same time, the project’s investments in agriculture, livestock and marketing were not commensurate with the critical importance of these activities to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The project performance assessment of the Uruguay Rural Project supported the setting up of local credit committees, fostered the creation of rural development platforms for public-private coordination and promoted the establishment of the Directorate General for Rural Development within the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries. This was possible thanks to a combination of three key factors: the strong commitment of the Government, a sound project design and IFAD’s active participation in project supervision. However, this assessment identified some weaknesses in project monitoring and evaluation, a disjunction between the project cycle and the political cycle, and a limited success in taking advantage of IFAD’s worldwide experience in rural finance and technical assistance for rural poor clients.
Rural Poverty-Reduction Programme
The project was successful in providing key services to remote herders such as hospitals, school dormitories, kindergartens and literacy training. It supported income diversification, and was especially successful with vegetable and crop growing. However, overly optimistic estimates were made of the impact of the new range management monitoring committees and of what these could achieve in terms of increasing livestock productivity. So while herder incomes grew rapidly during the project life, it is dangerous to attribute this to project activities since it was a period of rapid general economic growth in Mongolia.