Uplands Food Security Project (2009)
Evaluation objectives, methodology and process. In the spring of 2008, the Office of Evaluation (OE) of IFAD undertook an Interim Evaluation of the Uplands Food Security Project (UFSP) in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK). The main objectives of this evaluation were to (i) assess the performance and impact of the project; and (ii) generate a series of findings and recommendations for future projects and programmes financed by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the country. The evaluation adopted the latest methodology for project evaluations developed by OE, focusing on four areas: (i) performance of the project measured in terms of relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness; (ii) rural poverty reduction impact according to five impact domains; (iii) other performance criteria such as sustainability and innovation, replication and scaling up, and (iv) performance of the partners, including IFAD, the Government of DPRK, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and other financial and implementation partners. The mission held talks in Pyongyang with Government partners such as the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), including the Project Management Unit (PMU), the Ministry of Finance (MoF), the Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection (MoLEP), the Central Bank (CB), and the National Academy of Agricultural Science (NAAS). Development agencies and donors, e.g. The World Food Programme (WFP), FAO, UNICEF, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the European aid coordination office, were also contacted by the mission. In Ryanggang and North Hwangae Provinces, the concerned county officials of cooperative farm management coordination committees (CCFMCs) and of the CB branches accompanied the mission. The mission visited 13 Cooperative Farms (CFs), six in Ryanggang Province and seven in North Hwangae Province. The mission independently chose the CFs and the households for the conduction of interviews. This provided a good opportunity for the triangulation of otherwise available information and the discovery of additional aspects.
Country and sector background. DPRK is a country of 122,762 square km, with a population estimated at 23 million people. DPRK has not published official statistics in the past 30 years. The few available data on its economy, health, nutrition and agricultural resources are almost always estimates made by research institutions abroad. According to the most recent estimates (2004), the country had a GDP per capita of US$546, with an annual growth of 4.15 per cent. Agriculture was estimated to account for 18.4 per cent of GDP.
The sector went through collectivisation in the mid 1950s, which brought about mechanisation, the systematic use of chemical inputs and a national irrigation network. Cooperative farms, approximately 3,000 today, and state farms were created at this time. This doubled agricultural yields up to the mid 1980s. Agricultural productivity has since fallen, due to a variety of factors, such as overuse of chemical fertilisers and concurrent soil acidification, and widespread mono-cropping of staple crops, particularly on marginal soils. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, DPRK ceased to have privileged markets and access to cheap energy and other key inputs, which also affected the high input agriculture practised until then.In 1995-97, a series of droughts and flooding exacerbated the situation leading to widespread famine. The country had to rely on WFP food supplies for about 10 years until 2005 when it declared that no further emergency aid was needed but development assistance would be accepted. With less than 20 per cent of its land areas being apt for agricultural use, pressure on sloping land and forests continue to be substantial. Since 1990, DPRK lost 20 per cent of its forest area, and 10 per cent of the national food supply is estimated to originate from deforested sloping areas, while the official agricultural production apparatus exclusively relies on state and CFs.
Evolving agricultural policy context. With reduced support from neighbouring socialist states and scarce availability of external inputs since the early 1990's, the national strategy and overriding philosophy of self-reliance (Juche) has been revived with regard to agricultural policies. Greater emphasis is now placed on matching crops to soil characteristics, season and climatic conditions across the country. Focus has moved to improved seeds, intensifying production with double cropping, use of organic and bio-fertilisers, as well as bio-pesticides, that can be produced in the country. Mechanisation is still seen as an important priority as is the expansion of irrigated areas and reduced reliance on power for irrigation1 . State-owned, centralised and provincial input supply schemes, as well as state agricultural marketing organizations that feed into the Public Distribution System or export channels are all part of DPRK's agricultural policy. In July 2002, the Government of DPRK operated an economic policy shift on many levels that affected project implementation and impact. CFs were granted more autonomy in production planning, which facilitated the introduction of new crop rotations recommended by the project. However, the national currency (KPW) was devaluated about 70 times against the US$ and administered prices and wages were adjusted by a factor ranging from thirty to eighty. CF household cash reserves or bank accounts were not adjusted, nearly cancelling household debts and savings
Project background. DPRK is neither a member of the World Bank nor of the Asian Development Bank. Therefore, IFAD is at the moment the only International Financial Institution lending to the country. Since the beginning of its operations in 1995, which coincides with the onset of the large food crisis, IFAD has financed three projects in DPRK for a total loan amount of US$69 million. The Sericulture Development Project ran from 1996 to 2002 and the Crop and Livestock Development Project from 1997 to 2003. A Country Strategic Opportunities Paper (COSOP) was produced in 2000. According to this document, IFAD operations were to concentrate on reviving production in the disadvantaged uplands with focus on specific geographic areas, CFs and eventually households within CFs.
The project area included 46 cooperative farms in four counties. Two of these counties, Samsu and Pungso, are in the far north of the country, in Ryanggang Province; while the other two, Singye and Goksan Counties, are located in the south-east of the capital in North Hwangae Province. Of the 46 cooperatives, 37 cooperatives were involved in all components and nine were included only within the environmental preservation and credit components.
Project performance Design features.
The Uplands Food Security Project (UFSP) was approved by the Executive Board of IFAD in December 2000. It became effective in April 2001 and will close in June 2008 after two extensions, with the original closing set for December 2006. The goal was to implement balanced, sustainable and replicable cropping systems and environment management, which improve soil fertility and enable higher and more secure production to lead to improved living standards for 18,000 low-income households on 46 cooperative farms in upland areas, directly benefiting 61,000 persons. The project has seven components which correspond to the project's seven specific objectives (see table below). The total estimated cost at appraisal was US$41.77 million of which US$24.44 million from IFAD loans, US$4.44 million from the DPRK Government, US$7.18 million from co-financiers (WFP, FAO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Cooperazione e Sviluppo Italiana (CESVI)) and US$5.71 million from beneficiaries. UNOPS was assigned the function of Cooperating Institution (CI) for loan administration and project supervision.
Project components and specific objectives
|Component||Specific objective||Intervention strategy||Per cent base cost|
|Sustainable crop production systems||Improved crop rotations, farming practices and soil fertility, generating increased yield, income and labour productivity.||Assist CFs in introducing sound crop combinations and sustainable farming systems, providing models for demonstration to other CFs||55|
|Potato seed supply development||Greater availability to cooperative farms of high quality and disease free potato seed.|| Assist the Potato Research Institute and the participating counties' tissue culture centres;
Provide support to multiply the expanded seed volumes
|Environment preservation||Improved micro-catchment planning, fuel wood plantations and erosion control measures preserving and enhancing the environment.||Support tree planting, bunding, rudimentary terracing and the construction of storm drains||31|
|Household and cooperative credit||Credit services encouraging and enabling livestock and other enterprises by cooperatives and their farmer members.||Provide additional institutional credit to finance investment in income-generating production activities, mainly livestock||4|
|Capacity of cooperative communities to select and undertake productive projects.||Establish a fund to stimulate the process of participatory planning and investment at the farm level||
|Farm output processing||Improved processing capacity adding value to crop production at cooperative farms.||Help the cooperatives to investigate and develop opportunities for processing farm products||1|
|Project implementation support||Technical and managerial capacity of national, provincial and county agencies and cooperatives to plan and implement projects.||Provide support to PMU, Provincial Rural Economy Committee (PREC)sa and CCFMCs in carrying out their roles.||4|
a Provincial Rural Economy Committees
Source: Appraisal report
Implementation results Sustainable crop production systems component (61.1 per cent of project cost at completion). The core element of the component was the introduction of sound crop rotations on 18,000 ha in the 37 CFs with full project support, supplemented by the supply of annual crop inputs, such as fertilizer and pesticides, and the provision of mechanisation packages. After an initial delay caused by a misunderstanding of the project approach, improved crop rotations are now mainstream in the supported CFs.
Farm input supply was halted in 2005, on the basis of an Mid-term Review (MTR) recommendation, as the fertiliser procured by the project was not systematically applied to the soil classes foreseen at appraisal and the project inputs mostly replaced inputs formerly obtained by CFs from other sources. Farm machinery was successfully supplied to the CFs, however without taking into account the extreme difficulties of the CFs to procure spare parts and tyres, for lack of adequate maintenance capacity and of access to hard currency. Farm management support was provided through training, coaching and study tours for CCFMCs and CFs.
Potato seed supply development component (2.6 per cent). This component addressed the lack of high quality and virus-free potato seed in the project area. The project provided inputs and equipment to the Potato Research Institute at Daehongdan in Ryaggang Province and supported renovation and equipment for four county level potato tissue culture factories, where potato foundation seed is multiplied in-vitro in greenhouse multiplication units. The project also supported field level propagation of potato seeds in 37 CFs. Specialists from NAAS were actively involved in implementation.
Environment preservation component (14.3 per cent). MoLEP was responsible for the coordination of this component. Five thousand five hundred ha of fuel wood plantations for 46 CFs have been planted and/or replanted against a target of 5,400 ha. This was possible, despite the very limited funding from WFP in the form of Food for Work 2. MoLEP also reports having undertaken bunding, terracing and construction of storm drains for the protection of 1,200 ha of sloping land, i.e. 50 per cent of the target at appraisal.
Household and cooperative credit component (15.6 per cent). CB was given the overall responsibility of implementing the credit scheme whereby 80 per cent of the earmarked funds were for households, and 20 per cent for CFs, which raised small livestock that was outsourced for further rearing and/or fattening to the households in a given CF. In total, more than 45,000 households benefited through repeated loans, with a balance of 17,000 outstanding loans by the end of 2007, i.e. according to the appraisal target. Based on this success, the project funds allocated to this component were doubled during project life, and the portion earmarked for CF credit was raised to 50 per cent. However, the revolving fund for household and CF loans was not adjusted when administered prices and wages were dramatically increased in 2002, thus losing most of its value. A reallocation of US$2.23 million of unspent loan funds to the household credit fund was agreed one month before project completion.
Community facilities and services component (3.6 per cent). This component was implemented from 2006 onwards only, on the basis of a training of PMU and CF staff in Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). The delay was caused by the absence of UNDP funding for hiring international technical assistance (TA) to train CF managers and members in participatory planning techniques. It was only when IFAD ultimately agreed to provide a grant that the training could take place and the component could successfully be implemented. CF management and members were enabled to prioritise community facilities and services and to submit respective projects to the PMU. The project funded building materials for 163 community facilities, ranging from cultural centres, kindergartens, clinics, bridges, and threshing sites.
Farm output processing component (1.2 per cent). The Appraisal Report required the project to carry out feasibility studies covering all processing opportunities to add value to farm outputs.
These feasibility studies were conducted with a long delay in 2006, again because UNDP funding originally committed for those studies was not forthcoming. The studies were ultimately carried out with an IFAD grant. Starting in 2006, rice mills, oil presses, feed crushers, noodle makers and potato starch plants were procured, totalling 102 sets of machinery.
Project implementation support component (1.6 per cent). The PMU managed the procurement of machinery, equipment and farming inputs and assured their distribution through the established channels of MoA. In addition, the PMU was responsible for project coordination, training and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities, and for convening the monthly Steering Committee meetings. Nine short-term TA missions were conducted over the life of the project, which was significantly less than planned due to FAO, UNDP and CESVI financing not being fully tapped for these inputs, and the reluctance of the Government to finance international TA out of loan proceeds. Trainings on M&E, procurement, environmental planning, whole farm planning and project reporting were financed by UNDP. WFP financed TA on Food for Work project assistance planning and IFAD financed TA on PRA and agro-processing. Only the very last TA mission, on Financial Management, was financed from the IFAD loan. In terms of M&E, the PMU was successful in conducting a household survey with repeats on the same household sample at regular intervals, and in establishing a CF performance database of the participating CFs. However, the PMU had considerable difficulty to obtain timely and comprehensive project information from the partner institutions, especially the CB. This made the task of the evaluation mission particularly challenging. As per 31 May 2008, US$35.45 million or 84.9 per cent of the original financial outlay had been used. At loan closing (31 December 2008) the IFAD loan was 100 per cent disbursed.
Relevance. It is fair to say that the project objectives were consistent with the agricultural and rural development policy of DPRK and with the IFAD COSOP. Project design included learning from previous IFAD projects in DPRK. The appraisal report integrated relevant inputs from the IFAD internal quality enhancement and quality assurance processes. However, because of the design missions' limited access to information, project design documents remain superficial in terms of analysis of causes of rural poverty, constrained agricultural productivity, environmental degradation on sloping lands and so on.
As a result, the technical orientations of the projects' main component, sustainable crop production systems, were partly inappropriate and did not address three main issues, i.e. the lack of farm machinery maintenance capacity, the need for alternative agronomic solutions to substitute imported inputs and widespread soil acidity. Other project component were considered relevant although the environment preservation component focussed mainly on reforestation of sloping lands and did not promote sustainable use of sloping lands, although the food security of an important part of the rural population living outside CFs depends on those lands. Overall, project partnerships were weakly developed during project design, both with national and international institutions. The involvement of co-financiers was well intentioned, but inadequately prepared and not secured by formal agreements between the borrower and those co-financiers as foreseen by the Loan Agreement. This lead to the nearly complete failure of honouring expected project participation as outlined in project design documents. Finally, project design did not take into account the serious communication issues between the PMU, IFAD and other international development partners, which still prevail today.
Effectiveness. After a four-year delay caused by misinterpreted appraisal recommendations and an inappropriate top-down approach, improved crop rotations were successfully introduced in the supported CFs (on 31,000 ha against a target of 18,000 ha) and had a positive effect on soil fertility. The insertion of fodder and green manure crops into the rotation is taking place on an experimental basis in North Hwangae Province only, and not systematically in all rotations as expected at appraisal, probably due to the national priority given to cereals and potato production for human consumption. The provision of chemical fertilizer did not have the desired effect on soil fertility because of prevailing soil acidity, which was probably exacerbated by an unbalanced fertilizer mix. The other project components were effective: 12 million disease-free potato mini tubers were produced during project life and provided to project farm cooperatives. The required number of high quality potato tubers has apparently achieved area coverage, as verified by the mission in Pungso County.
Environment preservation activities have been delayed by structural coordination problems between the project, MoA, MoLEP and WFP, and the practical absence of WFP funding. However, in the end, the target of 5,400 ha of wood lots has been overshot, with MoLEP and CF contributions for the major part. Survival rates were reported as quite high in North Hwangae (some 80-90 per cent), but can be significantly lower in Ryanggang, particularly in poor rainfall years (down to 50 per cent). Anti-erosion measures attained 50 per cent of the planned 2,400 ha.
The credit component was implemented effectively by CB and CFs, with zero default rates and for the anticipated number of beneficiaries by the end of 2007. Women were the main borrowers for household credit, receiving about 90 per cent of the loans. The participatory planning approach for community investments introduced by the project was successfully applied and all 37 CFs concerned have been able to select, plan and implement community facilities and services in a participatory manner, although with a substantial delay. Farm output processing facilities installed since late 2006 appear to be in regular use.
Efficiency. Evaluating project efficiency in economic or financial terms in DPRK is particularly challenging because of the scarcity of statistics and comparative data and the administered nature of costs and prices. Therefore, no cost benefit analysis was attempted by the mission, but efficiency was addressed in other terms. The procurement of farm inputs and machinery under the sustainable crop production systems component, the credit component and the potato seed supply component were implemented according to schedule. However, implementation was slow during the first half of the project for all other (sub-)components. The main reasons for delays incurred were: (i) the lack of clarity or inappropriateness of certain design features, in particular concerning the largest project component (sustainable crop production systems); (ii) the meagre contribution and early withdrawal of international project partners (WFP, FAO and UNDP) due to the lack of formal of agreements at project start-up and, subsequently, the poor communication and coordination between the PMU and project partners; and (iii) the late decisive involvement of national partners such as NAAS and provincial agriculture universities. Consequently, the MTR recommended a one-year extension of the project's closing date. The project suddenly shifted gears, by allowing CFs to prepare their own crop rotation plans and field trials with guidance from NAAS scientists and the CCFMCs, and by mobilizing IFAD grant funds for further TA to the project. As a result, the project succeeded in making up for most delays by mid-2007. A second extension to the project was agreed following the supervision mission of 2007, to allow the project to: (i) internationally procure farming supplies for US$1.5 million approximately, to be sold to CFs, the revenue of which would be allocated to the household credit revolving fund with CB; (ii) benefit from technical assistance in financial management; and (iii) bring its financial records up to standard. Procurement prices of farm inputs and machinery, purchased mostly from China, were lower than international standards.
However, in connection with these two major cost items of the project, the mission perceives a low end-user efficiency, due to the limited plant nutrient availability in acid soils and the down-times of agricultural machinery for lack of spare parts and poor machinery maintenance capacity. This was to the detriment of the participating CFs, who had to pay for all items procured either directly or via standard loans. On the other hand, they all obtained farm inputs and machinery at the administered prices substantially below economic prices. An estimated US$1.2 million of project financing for the credit component was lost following the administered price adjustment of 2002 without adjustment of the revolving fund. Moreover, US$2.23 million of unspent loan proceeds were reallocated to the household credit component following the Governments request at the very end of the project without proper measures to ensure that the full value would reach the beneficiaries. The value of the amount reaching the beneficiaries in local currency is far below the opportunity cost of the amount in hard currency transferred by IFAD to DPRK.
Performance of partners
While the mission commends IFAD, as the only International Financial Institution (IFI) in DPRK, for it's support to the rural poor in this particularly challenging institutional context, IFAD performance was rated moderately unsatisfactory because of: (i) the failure to foresee and address communication difficulties; (ii) the inability to finalize co-financing arrangements with other development partners; (iii) the inadequate provision of continuity in country programme management and of implementation support; and (iv) the inappropriate reallocation of a large amount of loan proceeds at the very end of the project. The performance of UNOPS was also rated moderately unsatisfactory. The quality of supervision reports was acceptable overall, considering the difficulties met by supervision teams to access information and project sites. However, until the Mid-term Review, recommendations were sometimes inconsistent on key issues such as crop rotations, and often lacked clarity. The main causes for this were the lack of continuity of supervision team members and the insufficient time for proper discussion of findings and recommendations with project partners at the end of each supervision mission. UNOPS also overlooked several cases of procurement mismanagement by the project. As for Government performance, the policy shift in 2002 allowed for more autonomy in production planning for the CFs, which facilitated the implementation of component 1 in particular. Strong policy support helped the project to achieve its reforestation targets under the environment preservation component with full commitment from MoLEP and CFs alike, without the large volumes of Food for Work originally to be provided by WFP. However, the devaluation of the KPW coupled to the adjustment of prices in 2002, strongly reduced the real value of the credit revolving funds. Also, efforts by MoA, as the responsible line ministry of the UFSP, to support the establishment of partnerships between the project and national and international institutions in DPRK were insufficient. All through the project life, information was managed in a very restricted manner and UNOPS and IFAD missions were not readily granted access to the field. Limited freedom of movement and scarce access to background data for project designs missions have handicapped the project design process, and thus affected project relevance. The project beneficiaries deserve a highly satisfactory performance rating. The success of the household credit component is the result of much extra work above and beyond the regular duties of beneficiaries in their CFs.
Rural poverty impact and other performance criteria
Rural poverty reduction impact. Household income and assets increased significantly over project life for about 20,000 households in the participating 46 CFs, with a concomitant increase in purchasing power, all directly induced by the household credit component. Savings also increased over time, but mostly under the form of household appliances because of the limited opportunities for households to reinvest income in productive assets, as current Government policy restricts individual economic activities in CFs, and the risks related to monetary saving. By strengthening economic activities at their own risk and responsibility, the households gained social capital and empowerment, especially women who were the clients of 90 per cent of the household loans extended. Food security was enhanced in two ways, first by increased agricultural productivity, which allowed higher farm dividends to be paid to the households, and second by meat and milk produced at household level, thanks to the credit component. Wood lots planted under the environmental preservation component now correspond, in average, to 0.3 ha per household, which is deemed sufficient for annual fuel wood requirements. However, these achievements are marginal the face of past and continuing encroachment of forest and cultivation of sloping land, which remain a matter of concern for the natural resources and the environment of DPRK. In terms of institutions and policies, some relaxation of the rigidly planned agricultural apparatus is now visible, to which the project has not directly contributed but rather was in position to take advantage of. Overall, rural poverty reduction impacts are rated as satisfactory.
Sustainability. Factors that enhance sustainability are the following: households, particularly women, have been enabled to assume risk and responsibilities. This is the essence of social capital and empowerment, which stands a fair change of being sustainable.
The development of a livestock breeding and fattening system, in tandem between CFs and households, has generated assets, income, savings and food security. The widespread adoption of improved crop rotations is technically sound and very likely to be continued after the project. The concomitant shift from rigid top-down central planning to a more participatory method, albeit still within relatively narrow boundaries, bears the potential of unleashing additional human talent at various levels. In addition, the mission notes the likelihood of (i) sustainability of the potato seeds supply and (ii) continuity of the environmental preservation efforts. On the other hand, the UFSP is marred by a number of factors that constrain sustainability. The dependency from imported machinery, spare parts, inputs and energy is pervasive for the agricultural sector as a whole, and the USFP granted only a temporary and marginal relief. Moreover, the visibly continuing process of cultivating sloped land originally under forest, outside the official array of CFs, is an important environmental sustainability concern. Despite the achievements, the resource base of the CFs and households remains fragile. A consecutive series of bad harvests or new administered price adjustments could compromise the respectable impacts achieved by UFSP.
Innovation, replication and scaling up. The project promoted the introduction of a few important technical innovations (crop rotations, potato seed multiplication scheme) which appear to have been replicated outside project CFs. Field trials to further improve agricultural practices, although not directly promoted by the project, are underway. A downside with regard to further scaling up those innovations, is that research and development findings are not of the public domain in DPRK. An important innovation was present in the credit component, which promoted household level animal breeding and fattening activities, taking advantage of individual zeal and initiative, in complement and not in competition with collective farming activities. Also, the efficient manner in which the credit component was handled (most transaction costs were outsourced to the CFs) was well adapted to the cooperative system in DPRK and may be considered innovative. The successful credit component is, however, apparently not yet being replicated outside the project CFs. Current Government policy also restricts opportunities for CF households to develop individual economic activities, which constrains the further increase of benefits from household credit.
In general terms, the UFSP has contributed in attaining IFAD's strategic objectives: (i) Poverty alleviation by targeting rural poor in marginal areas with food security constraints; and (ii) Empowering beneficiaries through interventions such as household credit, natural resources management, community facilities and services and farm output processing. The project was relevant in the sense that it addressed food security and rural poverty constraints at the time of appraisal and chose marginal upland areas in a farming systems approach, very much in line with the COSOP. On the other hand, the design of the project's main component, contained some important flaws which were mainly due to a lack of involvement of project stakeholders and other local expertise at the design stage. Project design also underestimated the serious communication problems and failed to secure the participation of co-financiers. Despite the flaws mentioned above, the project was implemented with satisfactory effectiveness, although with important delays in the first project half. Efficiency was also affected due to the Korea Won (KPW) devaluation in 2002 which lead to the loss of about one third of IFAD funds invested in the credit component, and limited end-user efficiencies of input and machinery imports. Overall poverty reduction impact was satisfactory, notably in terms of household income and assets, social capital and empowerment and agricultural productivity and food security. The mission concludes that these achievements were possible to a large extent due to the CF and household credit component, which unleashed enthusiasm and talent and eventually generated the above mentioned impacts. Small livestock reared and fattened by households, in conjunction with an organized supply of young stock and close-by marketing channels, appears to be a winning formula for making important leaps in rural poverty reduction.
Tapping the talents of household as units of economic activity has particularly paid off: with only 10 per cent of actual project cost, the returns were broad-based, significant and harbouring a high potential of sustainability. However, a number of factors limit sustainability of project impacts, such as the continuing dependency on imports of agricultural production in CFs, the increasing cultivation of sloped land originally under forest, outside the official array of CFs, and the enduring fragility of the resource base of the CFs and households. The table on the next page summarizes the evaluation ratings of the UFSP, with an overall rating of project achievement of 4 (moderately satisfactory).
Evaluation Ratings of the UFSP
|Overall project performance||4|
|Rural poverty impact|
|Household income and assets||5|
|Human and social capital and empowerment||6|
|Food security and agricultural productivity||5|
|Natural resources and the environment||4|
|Institutions and policies||4|
|Overall rural poverty impact||5|
|Other performance criteria|
|Innovation, replication and scaling up||4|
|Performance of partners|
|Overall project achievement||4|
As the UFSP was an interim evaluation, the recommendations aim at setting a preliminary stage for the design of a subsequent IFAD operation in DPRK. Agreement on those recommendations and principles should be formalized in the forthcoming results-based COSOP – a necessary step before initiating the design of a follow-up IFAD investment loan. With this in mind, the evaluation makes the following recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Project design To ensure that future IFAD intervention in DPRK respond to the needs of the rural poor and propose sound and sustainable technical and institutional solutions to rural development constraints, the design process for future IFAD interventions in DPRK would require: (a) Ample participation by the envisaged target population, and its existing forms of organization; (b) Strong collaboration with national and international rural development partners; (c) The Government to grant full access to relevant information required for a sound project design; and (d) IFAD to mobilize its own resources to enhance its knowledge and understanding of the country and the needs of the rural poor for instance in the framework of the preparation of the new COSOP.
Recommendation 2: Partnerships These stand out as the key to development cooperation with DPRK, and therefore: (a) IFAD should give particular attention to enhancing its partnerships and building new collaborations with national and international institutions concerned with agricultural and rural development in DPRK; (b) The Government should actively encourage partnerships among national and international institutions and take up a coordinating role; (c) The Government should also promote communication and information sharing between the PMU and project partners, all through the project cycle; and (d) Project partnerships, including co-financing arrangements, should be carefully chosen and formally established with a clear distribution of responsibilities among partners, as early as possible in the project design process.
Recommendation 3: Sustainability Environmental, technical and economical sustainability of rural development efforts and achievements should be given greater attention. In particular: (a) Environmental components in IFAD projects should focus not only on reforestation and protection, but also on sustainable and profitable use of sloping land, by the important part of the rural poor today that live outside the CFs; (b) The Government should consider the challenges of working the land and maintaining soil fertility in a context of very limited access to imports as an opportunity for developing alternative social production arrangements, such as centring the responsibility for agricultural production on autonomous but well supported sub-work teams within cooperative farm structures that would assume the function of service and credit providers; and (c) Innovative technical options to increase and maintain soil fertility on CF lands should be further explored by field trials and, if found adequate, divulged to CFs for generalisation. This recommendation could be initiated with the support of an IFAD grant complemented by technical assistance from national and international rural development partners.
Recommendation 4: Household credit Considering its important impact on income, food security and empowerment of rural households, the household credit scheme could be scaled up to all CFs in DPRK, possibly with the support of a new IFAD intervention.
However, it would be necessary that: (a) The reporting system of CB towards the PMU and project partners be improved, and the bookkeeping system at farm level be standardized; (b) Additional degrees of entrepreneurial freedom for potential borrowers be explored and agreed upon; (c) The concomitant lending for small livestock to CFs, either through work teams or sub-work teams, remain an option, which may bear a significant potential for synergy with household credit.
2/ WFP only provided 8.7 per cent of the US$6 million promised at design, apparently because the PMU did not file any additional requests following correct procedure and because of serious communication constraints between WFP and the PMU.
06 December 2009