Smallholder Livestock Rehabilitation Project (2004)

Completion evaluation 1

Project design. The Smallholder Livestock Rehabilitation Project (SLRP) was the first assistance provided by IFAD to Lebanon . The project, designed as a post-conflict intervention, started at a time when the country was emerging from 17 years of civil war and closed at the end of June 2002. The Completion Evaluation of the project had as objectives assessing project achievements and impact and draw lessons from its experience for future similar IFAD interventions in the Near East Region. In undertaking the evaluation the field mission fully implemented the Methodological Framework for Project Evaluation developed by the IFAD Office of Evaluation (OE) in 2002 and followed its rating system.2

At the time of project design, basic services and infrastructure in the project area needed rehabilitation, and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), which was gradually being re-organized, had limited experience in the implementation of internationally funded projects. The project was designed with the ultimate aim of addressing the needs of the poor and disadvantaged in the post-conflict reconstruction of the project area. The following main objectives were conceived: (i) provide the stimulus to re-establish smallholders livestock production in the Bekaa Valley ; (ii) replenish some of smallholders lost stock in the project area; (iii) provide the basis for sustainable development in the livestock sector and increase the income of the poor farm families and women who derive most of their income from livestock; and (iv) develop agricultural support services. The last objective was to be achieved initially by providing institutional strengthening for the MOA, both to enable the Ministry to implement SLRP, and also to enhance its overall capacity as an agent for agricultural rehabilitation and development. At the time, IFAD thinking on post-conflict support had not been articulated, hence there were no clear policies or guidelines for the designers to follow to achieve these goals.

These objectives were translated into four components in the design: (i) Strengthening Support Services (26% of base costs); (ii) Agricultural Credit (49%); (iii) Off-farm Income Generating Activities (IGAs) and studies – including a programme for Rural Women (RW) (12%); and (iv) support for the Project Management Unit (PMU) (13%). The target groups proposed were those with small landholdings, less than 4 ha, and with household earnings of no more than about 40% of the average per capita income (about 8500 households). The total project cost, including contingencies, was estimated at USD 21.9 million, of which IFAD provided a loan of about USD 10 million on intermediate terms, and OPEC cofinanced with a loan of nearly USD 5 million. The Cooperating Institution for the project was the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD).

During the period of project implementation the economy made great strides, so that by 1998 the national average GNP per capita had returned to USD 3 500, and inflation, which had been 100% in 1992, had dropped to just 5% by 1999. However, the proportion of the government budget allocated to agriculture had consistently fallen, so that by 2002 the MOA's budget accounted for just 0.6% of all government spending. GRL policies for agriculture over this period have generally emphasised the role of the private sector for investment, and sought to reduce the production costs of smallholder agriculture; the high cost structure was considered to be the result of the very large number of small "traditional" holdings. The open nature of the economy has meant that local producers have consistently had to compete with cheaper imports and small-scale producers of milk and meat have faced difficult times, characterised by falling prices. Presently, about 75% of red meat is imported, whilst Lebanon produces about half of its consumption of dairy products.

Design changes . Whilst the implementing agency for the project has been the MOA, a PMU was established in the Bekaa: this required an act of Parliament and gave the PMU considerable autonomy. A number of changes were introduced to project design by the PMU, with approval from IFAD and the CI, based on studies undertaken during implementation.

A milk marketing study (recommended by the design) was conducted in 1995. Its main conclusion was to propose the establishment of milk collection centres (MCCs), in order to test and consolidate the outputs from small producers and to increase their market leverage. Four MCCs had been constructed in the Bekaa at the time of the evaluation, and a further eight in total have either been constructed or commissioned elsewhere. Capital required for these MCCs was mostly obtained by re-allocations from the small ruminant programme that has been reduced in size. This design change had implications for the direction of the project, and re-oriented it much more towards dairying as its main activity, with an emphasis on milk marketing. The lack of development of the small ruminants' programme, significantly affected the achievement of one of the main project objectives regarding the increase in income of poor farm families.

As an extension of the fodder development programme, in 2003 the project established a sophisticated feed testing laboratory, also financing this from reallocations from the sheep and goat credit programme. This facility was thought necessary because of farmer uncertainty over the quality of locally produced feed. In addition, cooperatives for rural women were identified as the preferred means of group formation, and project funds were re-directed to provide loans for these cooperatives as well.

None of the above activities were included in the original design and both IFAD and the CI demonstrated flexibility in accommodating the requested changes. Although the changes in total were significant, their overall impact on the coherence between project objectives and implemented activities has never been addressed. This was partly because an effective monitoring and information system, a participatory M&E mechanism, and regular beneficiary feedback were not established, and partly because the Mid-term Review (MTR) recommended by the project design was not undertaken.

Summary implementation results 3

Restocking. The project has made available a total of 1 430 high quality imported pregnant heifers for distribution. The first consignment of haifers arrived three years after project effectiveness. By the end of the first year under beneficiary ownership, a 26% had died (compared with 3% assumed at appraisal), leaving just 1 012 surviving animals (50% of net target4). Livestock insurance was a required feature of the loan arrangements for farmers, and was used to compensate them for these cattle losses. The final importation of 600 animals, to reach the project target of 2 000, was cancelled because of disease problems in the supplying country and price escalation.

Project data do not indicate the actual number of households that received heifers, and the evaluation found it difficult to confirm the status of the beneficiaries, either from the data or from field visits. The design called for two heifers to be allocated per household, but this was abandoned at an early stage, and heifers were distributed individually. Many heifers were apparently quickly on-passed, so "end-user" households mostly received three or more animals. The livestock activities included also a small ruminant fattening programme: this was operational for two years and achieved 80% of appraisal estimates.

Support services. The project introduced a range of support services for livestock. Artificial Insemination (AI) was introduced to the Bekaa and this gave the possibility of much higher performance for dairy farms throughout the valley compared to local bulls, enhancing milk production capability from about 3 500 litres to 6 000 litres plus. The programme also increased farmer awareness of this greater potential. All (dairy) cattle were vaccinated against Foot and Mouth Disease in most years, and to a lesser extent, against some other diseases: considerable numbers of productive sheep and goats were vaccinated against key diseases. This was most useful, laid the foundation for a better animal health status, and made farmers appreciate the value of vaccinations. The project's Extension Officers (EOs) have introduced more modern animal husbandry and milk production technology to more than 600 producers, resulting in their ability to produce milk of much higher quality than before.

The livestock activities included a small fodder promotion programme which introduced crop/legume mixtures, conducted field days and produced and distributed a significant quantity of improved fodder seeds. The feed analysis laboratory was constructed as part of this programme, but its impact has been limited, as has been the effect of interventions to improve rangeland stability and conservation. A Research programme into the upgrading of sheep and goats was begun during the project and led to the progressive build-up of flocks at the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI). However, most of the animals were disposed of in 2002 when SLRP stopped funding the activities at LARI and passed over the control and management of project-sponsored activities and resources.

Milk marketing. The first Milk Collection Centre (MCC) was constructed at Bar Elias in 1998, and the project contracted an existing milk collection cooperative to arrange supplies. Three more MCCs were commissioned in 2001 and six more cooperatives were contracted to supply them with milk, although none of these cooperatives had ever collected milk before. Technically the MCCs have performed well, producing milk of improved quality. However, it was assumed that the processors would pay a higher price based on quality and that the Government of the Republic of Lebanon (GRL) would introduce and enforce a recommended support price – this has not happened. Analysis from Bar Elias indicates that MCC operations add about 28% to the farm gate milk price. The premium processors' willingness to pay for higher quality supplies has resulted in an increase in the farm gate price of milk compared to the price paid by traditional collectors: this has been of benefit to small producers, but is steadily reducing. During the period April 2002 – May 2003, all but the first milk collection cooperative withdrew their services, so that only one MCC was operational during the evaluation. The evaluation found that the cooperatives had often not paid their producers on time, in spite of borrowing start-up and operating capital. This does not augur well for the future of these activities and their sustainability.

Credit. Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the region's most important financial centres. Private banks in Lebanon have enjoyed government support and attracted deposits from both national and regional sources. Today Lebanon 's financial sector boasts 72 banks with a wide network of over 700 branches, of which 194 are located in the Bekaa. However, by and large, Lebanon 's financial institutions are essentially urban.

Following a credit study undertaken in early implementation the project opted to take direct responsibility for managing the credit line and two credit units were established in the PMU, one for agricultural credit and the other for rural women, covering the loans for IGAs. The credit units developed the criteria and procedures for the selection of borrowers and the terms of the loans following the base line survey and specified the socio-economic characteristics of the credit target group. A commercial bank has served as the financial intermediary for the project, but did not risk any of its own funds. The bank has also been the depository for the credit funds. The project calculated standard loan amounts for the different (livestock) activities to be financed; generally the beneficiaries were required to provide a 25% deposit and offer collateral and two guarantors. Livestock loan sizes varied from USD 4 600 for a dairy unit, to USD 2 270 for lamb fattening. Importantly, loans provided to women were not linked to a specific type of economic activity.

In just under 10 years of operations the project has managed to distribute about 55% of its credit funds: this is estimated following the cancellation of credit for the small ruminant programme and the introduction of new loan categories for cooperatives. Just over USD 3.5 million has been disbursed and 3 272 loans have been opened (but not all are continuing, the net figure is 2 683): this distribution performance is considered very creditable. However, there has been a marked contrast in the project's experience with loan repayments. In the case of livestock loans, repayments have been exceptionally low, whilst in the case of the women's programme, loan repayments have been exemplary. Summary repayment rates to date are:

  • Dairy Cows: (i) Dutch source- 18.3%; (ii) French source – 9.3%
  • Fattening lambs/sheep: 12.5%
  • Loans to milk collection cooperatives: 14%
  • Individual loans for Rural Women's: 84%
  • Loans to rural women's cooperatives: 67.7%

According to project staff, the most important factor in low repayments for livestock loans has been the common perception among loan recipients that loans are de-facto 'disguised grants'. Further complicating the issue is the fact that some of the farmers considered that the loans were compensation from the Government for destruction of their hashish (marijuana) crops. An underlying assumption of the credit design was that the target group, given their meagre resources, could not meet the credit criteria required by commercial banks. That is, most project borrowers had never had loans before. Managing a first time loan that could be, as in the case of dairying, quite large (sometimes higher than annual incomes) was not an easy undertaking for many borrowers.

Women's programme. All 500 of the loans for rural women were distributed between 1996 and 1998. Overall, the Rural Women's Unit in the PMU estimated that about 70% of the beneficiaries had been poor rural women: in some instances, it is possible that the loan conditions may have been prohibitive to poorer women and excluded them from participating in the project. The loans were used mostly for food processing. Several factors are thought to explain the high repayment rates: activities were of interest to the beneficiaries; adequate pre-training was provided; a supportive environment was built based on trust between the beneficiaries and the extension agents; and the continuous monitoring of beneficiaries' activities by the extension agents. Training organized by the Rural Women's Unit (RWU) on matters related to loan management has been extensive and, in essence, women who took loans were 'adopted' by the project's RWU. Three years after exposure to USD 500 loans, women were ready for larger credit opportunities, provided through the medium of cooperatives.

A further contributory reason was the healthy profits made from most activities. As a result of high repayment rates the Rural Women Unit (RWU) was able to establish a revolving fund, thereby disbursing an additional 459 loans. Overall, therefore, 959 women (180% of target) had benefited from the IGA credit activities at the time of the evaluation. The women's credit programme is considered by the evaluation to be very successful. The main problem reported to the evaluation was recent difficulties with marketing.

Project design called for a group formation mechanism to be introduced as part of the women's programme. Between 1999 and 2001, 20 rural women's food production cooperatives were registered: they were the first of their kind in the Bekaa and perhaps also in Lebanon . The cooperatives were also permitted to apply for loans from the project in their own right, this investment is in addition to the loans granted to individual women, which are usually "pooled" in the cooperative and invested jointly.

An important impact of the cooperatives has been that they provided employment for their members. Members can earn between USD 150 - 200 dollars per month, for five to eight months a year. In addition to direct employment, members also receive a share of the cooperatives' profits, but often opt to leave these dividends with the cooperative. In 2002, nine cooperatives joined together to form an Association, to improve their marketing possibilities, this is considered a promising development.

Project management. The decree granting the PMU autonomy allowed the PMU to employ its own staff, prepare independent budgets, set procurement conditions and devise lending arrangements. Staff numbers have changed over time: in the earlier years (to 1998) a lot of staff were seconded from MOA and LARI; subsequently these numbers have fallen (with the end of animal distribution activities and the hand over of the breeding programme etc to LARI), to be more than replaced by direct employment of staff for the MCCs. The present staff strength is 114, of which only nine are now seconded (c.f. 44 in 1999). The evaluation was impressed with the standards of staffing throughout the project; although it is difficult to relate present standards to the early 1990s, there appears to be now no lack of technical competence. Project budgets have been prepared annually and include counterpart funds, which have always been provided by MOA, although with some delays. The project now requires approximately LBP 4 billion for annual expenditures (USD 2.7 million), which is nearly three times the annual operational cost estimated by the Appraisal; this accounts for 11% of the MOA budget (in 2003).

Institutional strengthening . Interviews with staff confirmed that the Technical Assistance (TA) and training provided had been both meaningful for their project tasks and matched their needs. The evaluation found that the recipients of this training were either still working for the project or the Ministry, or were in a closely aligned occupation. It was concluded that the training and TA provided were both necessary for the start of the project and are having an ongoing impact in increasing the capacity of the Ministry, as many of the seconded staff have now returned to their original roles.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). Despite the emphasis in the design on institutional strengthening, the TA for M&E was never recruited – this is the only example of TA not being used as designed in the project. The baseline survey was undertaken in 1994 and provided useful benchmark data for the selection of project beneficiaries, however, no key indicators were ever derived from the survey. Possibly as a result, whilst the monitoring has been adequate the project has had no impact indicators to guide management decisions. For example, it is not possible to trace the location of animals supplied through SLRP or to collect performance data which might provide proxy indicators of impact.

Project performance5

Relevance. In terms of replenishing the livestock resources of the Bekaa the evaluation found the original project objectives to have been soundly based at design. However, the slow start to the project and the late arrival and distribution of animals reduced the relevance of the dairy intervention for the intended target group (see also paragraph 46). The project objective of restoring or establishing livestock support services was very valid at design and remains as valid at the time of evaluation, either through government services or through the development of private sector operators. The objective of establishing an institutionalised credit mechanism for small and poor rural households remains relevant. Institutional strengthening for the MOA was identified in the design as a vital requirement for implementation, on the basis that services had been badly disrupted and the civil war had stopped almost all programmes of Human Resource Development (HRD). Judged from staff assessments and performance the objective was relevant as designed, but is now no longer necessary.

The evaluation concluded that, while project objectives were relevant within the Government's development ambitions at the time of design, and many remained substantially relevant at the time of evaluation, the relevance of some of these objectives for rural poverty reduction in the Bekaa has now been reduced. This is due, in part, to the nature of interventions for institutional reconstruction in post conflict situations and in part due to del ays in implementing some activities.

Effectiveness . Effectiveness is defined as the extent to which the objectives have been achieved, and the extent to which achievements have impacted on the lives of the rural poor as intended at design. The evaluation concluded that for rural women beneficiaries the project had been particularly effective in enhancing their livelihoods, directly by increasing access to credit, improving incomes and upgrading skill and indirectly in terms of gender equity and empowerment. It has fostered the development of institutions for the rural poor through the formation of cooperatives for rural women, which were accessible to men as well. The project has also been very effective in improving access to information and knowledge for all project beneficiaries through its training programme, and the objective of institutional strengthening for the MOA has largely been achieved.

Although the project will have an increasing impact on the dairy industry in the Bekaa, through organic growth in the dairy herd and its followers, uncertainty remains as to actual project reach, the socio-economic status of the beneficiaries, and the extent to which project benefits have and will reach the IFAD target groups. This, and the cancellation of the small ruminant activities, originally targeted to smallholders, have meant that the restocking objectives, as formulated at design, have not been achieved to a significant extent. On balance, therefore, effectiveness of the project has been substantial but could have been higher with respect to poverty reduction objectives.

Efficiency. The evaluation was unable to prepare an overall ex-post Economic Rate of Return (ERR) for the project, because of the lack of recording of benefits and beneficiary numbers. Given these constraints, the evaluation prepared farm models for the dairy enterprises, which absorbed the bulk of the project resources. Overall, it was concluded that the incremental benefits for the dairy industry as a whole in the Bekaa from the introduction of the dairy herd were likely to be high, compared to the costs incurred by the project in providing these benefits. Despite this overall conclusion, the farm models suggest that the introduced technology was not appropriate for many of the small scale farmers who were the intended target group of the project, rather it was appropriate only for those farmers able to sell their milk at high local prices in niche markets, or to large scale, high productivity farmers. Project efficiency, was therefore not high compared to original design expectations. Overall, project performance has been substantial.

Impact on poverty

Impact on physical and financial assets. For successful dairy farmers physical and financial assets have increased, sometimes quite substantially. However, this does not apply to the smaller or poorer farmers, who generally considered that dairying was high risk and did not reduce vulnerability. The evaluation found that lamb fattening was no longer considered profitable and had not contributed to increasing household physical or financial assets. For most of the rural women who had taken loans, financial assets had increased. This conclusion arises from the high levels of profit achieved in many IGAs, but is also influenced by the possibility of employment in the cooperatives.

Impact on human assets. The project has provided a significant amount of training for all beneficiaries. The evaluation concluded that this training had a useful effect in terms of increasing levels of knowledge and skills and that these were being applied in improving living standards. However, the project has also resulted in increased workloads for many households. Women's workloads have increased through their employment in the cooperatives, although only in the processing season. Evidence also suggests that men's workloads, and probably children's workloads as well, have increased with caring for more livestock.

Impact on social capital and empowerment. There have been two diverse experiences in social capital in SLRP. Dairy farmers did not experience any empowerment, rather they realised their weakness in the face of milk collection cooperatives which they were unable to influence. In contrast, through the Rural Women Programme (RWP), over a thousand women have become members of women's cooperatives; cooperative working has allowed members to put aside their traditional affiliations, uniting them in facing common goals and challenges. The social cohesion established is considered sustainable and could have profound local impacts. The women component, however, absorbed only a small fraction of total project expenditure.

Impact on food security. The evaluation concluded that the project had moderately increased household food security in the project area. For dairy farmers some of the extra milk produced has been kept for home consumption, whilst women activities increased income (hence food security) directly through IGAs and indirectly through women's employment in cooperatives and access to products at wholesale prices. The reduced size of the small ruminants activities has probably resulted in forgone income and food security for poorer farm households. An unintended benefit for poor households, which are not dairy farmers, is that the drop in the price of milk may have made dairy products more affordable.

Impact on the environment and the communal resource base. The livestock activities have probably had a small positive impact on the environment, as most livestock are not grazed, but remain housed on the farms. The fodder produced to support them, if grown on-farm, is fertilised with farmyard manure, hence soil fertility and soil structure on these farms has probably improved as a result. The project introduced rangeland management and reseeding practices in the sheep grazing areas, with some positive effects.

Impact on institutions, policies and the regulatory framework. Whilst the project has improved access to credit for poor rural women, this was not associated with any changes to the existing institutional arrangements for the provision of financial services to the poor. The successful experience of the formation of the first women's cooperatives in the Bekaa has demonstrated the usefulness of cooperatives as self help organisations though it still remains of limited scale. The Institutional Strengthening provided for the MOA has enhanced the capabilities of some of the Ministry staff. The evaluation could find no impacts on the policy or regulatory frameworks.

Gender. Women's social status has effectively been enhanced as a result of the success of the RW cooperatives. More women are now able to work outside their homes, they became active members of cooperatives, have demonstrated their self-reliance, and as income earners, their decision-making role in the household has been strengthened.

Innovation. The project had some contextual innovative aspects. The model of women's self help cooperatives developed by the RWU was a very innovative approach for the Bekaa, and is probably replicable in other parts of Lebanon . There is some evidence that the YMCA may have already replicated this model elsewhere. The project introduced AI to the Bekaaa, which can also be regarded as a contextual innovation to improve genetic potential. Potential for replication and scaling up exists particularly if it is provided by competent and adequately motivated operators. This service can also be sustained through the private sector. The evaluation found, however, that AI could not substitute for bulls in the more remote rural areas, as intended.

Sustainability

Livestock. The circumstances of small farm dairy production have changed since appraisal and small-scale dairy enterprises may now be marginal or unprofitable at the current cost of concentrates and the level of milk prices. The livestock support services which can be offered through the private sector are likely to prove sustainable providing they are not undercut by competition with government and prices are affordable to small farmers. However, the sustainability of the services which are normally funded by government - extension and research – appear much less certain. In the case of animal health and livestock extension, useful capacity has been created in the MOA, but the extent to which it will be used will depend on the policies adopted for support for the livestock industry in general and the funding available. The MCCs and the milk collection cooperatives have had some positive impacts on milk prices, but it is questionable as to whether this can be sustained, in view of the withdrawal of most of the collection cooperatives and the continuing uncertainty over the operation of the MCCs themselves.

Credit. The project has made no provision for an autonomous self-reliant mechanism that can perpetuate the provision of credit (and other rural financial services) to the poor in the Bekaa. The way in which credit has been provided by SLRP has meant that at the end of project activities, credit would come to an end. In order to assess the sustainability of income generated, evidence is needed of the growth of the initial investment and/or reinvestment of profits. Evidence for this is scanty for livestock loans, but profits made by cooperatives often appear to be reinvested. Overall, women's loans for food processing, which are relatively flexible in that products can be adjusted to market requirements, are likely to be sustainable.

The Rural Women's Programme . The entrepreneurial and social development benefits which individual rural women have received through participating in the RWP have been considerable, and these are presently sustainable, without further inputs from the project. However, because the cooperatives are all relatively new, they are not in a position to "graduate" as fully independent entities, as yet. To ensure sustainability will require further support for the near future, especially with marketing. To date, the cooperative spirit and determination demonstrated has been remarkable, and augurs well for the future, if resources continue to be invested in this area in the near future. For the project as a whole, the likelihood of sustainability of its impact on rural poverty does not appear high.

Performance of the partners

IFAD and the Cooperating Institution (CI). Overall, the evaluation concluded that IFAD had performed reasonably well in facilitating a design that was appropriate to the circumstances at the time, but had performed modestly in providing guidance to the project in making strategic decisions during implementation. This is obviously shared with the CI. Project staff reported favourably on support received from the CI, whose reports have mostly indicated a very satisfactory implementation situation. However, the evaluation concluded that this was overly optimistic with respect to assessments of development impacts and sustainability, expected benefits and beneficiary participation. As a result, appropriate incentives were not created for the project to pursue systematically its original poverty reduction objectives. It is unclear how the CI assessed these development indicators, as no data were available. In addition, the evaluation would also question the very positive rating given to the M&E system given the limited beneficiaries and impact assessment during implementation.

Co-financiers . The OPEC fund co-financed the livestock credit activities; project sources reported that OPEC has been a full and active partner in the project, despite the problems with credit recovery.

Government and its Agencies (including project management). MOA facilitated the granting of autonomy to the PMU and has supported the project with seconded staff and counterpart funds. However, the slow start of the project and delays in procuring the animals reduced the relevance of the intervention for smallholders in the post-conflict situation. Although research programmes were started at LARI, and considerable investment in reconstruction took place, the programmes were only continued as long as SLRP provided the funding. As soon as they became the responsibility of LARI, they were stopped. For most of the project life the project management has effectively pursued the implementation in a dynamic and technically competent fashion, and has successfully implemented the training activities for staff and beneficiaries and the programme for rural women. However, the evaluation was concerned at some of the decisions reached during implementation, particularly those concerning aspects of project design, which have affected the direction of the project, its intended objectives, the extent of outreach to the target groups and the impacts achieved for poorer beneficiaries. Overall, partners' performance could have been higher in terms of influencing project implementation towards the achievement of its intended target group reach and poverty impact.

Main insights and recommendations

(i) - Creating Social Cohesion. An unexpected but very significant effect of the project has been the extent of social cohesion which has been fostered as a result of the formation of cooperatives for rural women. In Lebanon there are strong traditional allegiances that have been strengthened during the seventeen years of civil war. However, the cooperatives, formed as a means of bringing women together for their financial advantage, have led to the identification of common concerns and interests, thus diffusing barriers and building social capital to a large extent not aligned to established socio-economic and traditional structures. The impacts of this experience have been felt economically, and socially. Economically, the initial vulnerability and insecurity for rural women have largely been substituted by feelings of empowerment and equality, as incomes have increased and been shown to be sustainable. Socially, the collective work ethic, equal partnership among women and joint risk taking have drawn the group members together, facilitating the exchange of old allegiances with new. In addition, the formation of these cooperatives has given the Government a means of realising its policies for social and economic development in poor rural villages.

The opportunity exists to build on and extend this experience. The evaluation strongly recommends that a wide range of support for the present rural women's cooperatives be continued, as they are still new experiences and require assistance to ensure they can "graduate" to being fully independent. This experience should also be furth er studied and made use of in other IFAD supported interventions in the region.

(ii) - Restocking. The basic rationale for re-stocking is to restore lost production and provide the means for poor farmers to earn a living. In the case of SLRP, although the project was designed in 1991, the first consignment of heifers did not arrive until late in 1996 (three years after effectiveness and more than five years after project design). Five years was too long to wait. Inevitably, many livestock farmers would by then either have moved on, or found other means of replacing their lost stock. By 1996 restocking was possibly not what was required anyway, as it interfered with the commercial development then taking place in the dairy industry of the Bekaa. In addition, the heifers were only available as part of a credit package which, for the intended beneficiaries at project design, was far too large in comparison to their incomes, hence discouraging them to acquire it.

Whilst these arrangements may be appropriate in some development circumstances, they were hardly conducive to the prevailing post conflict situation in Lebanon . The requirement was for very speedy action to restore production, followed at a later date by considerations of re-couping some of the costs involved. For example the two-heifer units could have given to smaller and poorer farmers on the basis that the first two female calves were returned.

(iii) The Targeting of Dairy Interventions. In SLRP potential recipients of dairy cows were apparently selected on the basis of applications submitted by individuals who met the poverty criteria suggested in the Appraisal, augmented by findings from the baseline survey. Another consideration for the project was the need to ensure a reasonably balanced distribution throughout the project area. With hindsight , this approach created problems both with the support of the animals and also with marketing. These difficulties have reduced the poverty impacts of the intervention, and probably contributed to re-distribution of the animals to non-intended beneficiaries. For high producing dairy cattle to be the means of increasing incomes for poorer households, local markets for dairy products should have been readily available and, most importantly, ready access either to bulls or AI. Small dairy units (of two cows) located over a wide geographical area made meeting these needs exceptionally difficult. A preferred approach may have been first to develop local farmer organisations (such as cooperatives) based on a village or other defined areas, then to supply the animals. This would aim to increase the "density " of production so that, for example, collective milk marketing and the keeping of a bull might be justified as bringing benefits to all the producers.

(iv) Milk Collection Cooperatives. The project design suggested a possible role for cooperatives in milk collection, and nearly USD 1.5 million was allowed to develop this possibility. At the time of the evaluation most of the milk collection cooperatives had withdrawn their services, with the result that three of the four milk collection centres were shut. However, this should not be interpreted as meaning that cooperatives could never undertake this role. In fact the project experience suggests that milk collection cooperatives can be effective under the right circumstances. In a more general sense, it is important not to assume that all cooperatives are the same. The success of the RW cooperatives illustrates just how useful and beneficial properly constituted and run cooperatives can be in the development effort, whilst the modest experience with many of the milk collection cooperatives demonstrates some of the difficulties. This illustrates that where cooperatives are to be utilised in future IFAD-supported projects, great care needs to be exercised in their selection, effective management, and equity in the distribution of benefits to their members.

(v) Credit Mechanisms . The design of the credit interventions in SLRP was in accord with the credit approaches of the early 1990s, i.e. was concerned with 'opportunities provided', rather than as an 'approach to self-development' that needed to be gradually introduced and nurtured. The shortcomings of this approach in terms of development impacts and, particularly, sustainability have emerged from the implementation experience.

(vi) Size and Purpose of Loans. In addition, the credit experience also highlighted the importance of flexibility when it comes to how loans were to be utilised. Loans provided to women were not linked to a specific type of economic activity and three years after exposure to $500 loans, women were ready for larger credit opportunities, provided through the medium of cooperatives. By comparison, large livestock loans were provided for very specific purposes and were quite inflexible. For livestock, it was assumed that members of the target group, who may never have taken loans before, could successfully manage relatively larger credit linked to specific economic activities, whilst women, it was assumed, would be better served by smaller loans that could be used to finance various types of IGAs. The latter approach has proved more effective as well as being more consistent with reaching the intended target groups.

(vii) A Role for the Private Sector. With limited funding available through the MOA, an important element in the development of the livestock sector was the encouragement of the private operators to take an increasing role. This is an important plank of GRL policy. Although the delivery of AI services stopped when the project ended, it has been adopted since and is being continued by veterinarians and technicians working in the private sector. Vaccination and animal health services are similarly available, but in both cases have to compete with subsidised government services. If the government wishes toencourage private sector activities in the provision of AI, then it needs to limit its role to regulating the service and ensuring that technicians are properly trained and work to industry standards. For vaccinations, Government should regulate and control vaccine quality and type, and identify and confine its services to supplying the public-good vaccinations.


1/ The Completion Evaluation Mission was composed of Mr Frank Butcher , Mission Leader and Institutions Specialist; Dr Mouna Hashem, Sociologist and Gender Specialist; Mr Roderick Kennard, Livestock Expert; Mr Omar Imady, Credit Specialist; Ms Lea Joensen, Economist, IFAD Associate Professional Officer. Dr Mona Bishay , Deputy Director, IFAD’s Office of Evaluation, supervised the evaluation process throughout.

2/ Methodological Framework for Project Evaluation (IFAD’s document EC 2003/34//W.P.3, see also IFAD website and Appendix 3).

3/ The target was to establish 1000 dairy units of two heifers each.

4/ The evaluation methodology followed uses three composite evaluation criteria: project performance (composed of relevance, effectiveness and efficiency) rural poverty impact (composed of six impact domains, sustainability, innovations and gender equality) and performance of partners (including IFAD, implementing agencies, and the cooperating institution). The ratings used to assess performance using these criteria are high (4), substantial (3), modest (2) and negligible (1). For the sustainability criterion the rating used is highly likely (4), likely (3), unlikely (2) and highly unlikely (1).

Date

15 April 2004

Countries

Lebanon

Languages

English