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Welcome to Roots, the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) podcast for rural communities.

Personal stories of people who participate in IFAD-funded projects evaluated independently allow us to stop, reflect and see what is working well, what is not, why, and what needs to be corrected.

Beneficiaries' voices are references to improve projects intended to promote an inclusive and sustainable rural development.

IOE listens to these voices and disseminates them through Roots, a podcast produced for a broader audience to share knowledge and learning amongst rural communities around the world.

Roots travels with evaluators to IFAD-supported projects that help to change the lives of rural people and communities, bringing you a new voice from a different place on our planet once a month.

IOE invites radio broadcasters to use our podcasts in their schedules of programmes.

Roots in Tungurahua and Bolivar, Ecuador – Supporting the production and sale of cereal, fruits and vegetables

In rural Ecuador, agricultural communities work collectively to produce food for their families and to increase household income.  Good food production requires infrastructure and knowledge that families not always have.

In this episode, Roots spoke with Gladis Fabiola Alcedo, a woman farmer who started an organization for egg production in Tungurahua, and with Angelita Morejón Chaves, a housewife who received training and now runs a company in Bolivar.

Roots in Koinadugu, Sierra Leone – Improving the lives of rural people affected by climate change

Sierra Leone is one of the most vulnerable countries hit by the adverse effects of climate change. The change in weather patterns, reflected by fluctuating levels of rainfall, has a hugely negative impact on agriculture, which is the only source of income for thousands of farmers in Sierra Leone.

In this episode, Roots visited the Rehabilitation and Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project in Koinadugu District, which helped to rehabilitate the agriculture sector taking into account climate change.

Thanks to the provision of training and greenhouses, the project helped farmers like Mohamed Sheku Marah, a young farmer, and Haja Sundun Marah, a 61-year-old woman farmer and mother of eight, to increase their incomes and move from subsistence to commercial farming.

Roots expert series - Inclusive Financial Services

Access to financial services is an important component of the inclusive rural transformation agenda for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Since 1981, IFAD has financed over 1000 investment projects, worth US$ 3.4 billion.

Roots spoke with Johanna Pennarz, Lead Evaluator of the Independent Office of Evaluation and Michael Hamp, Lead Regional Technical Specialist Rural Finance, Markets and Enterprises, Asia and the Pacific Region, IFAD. They discussed the findings drawn from the synthesis on IFAD's performance in supporting Inclusive Financial Services. They highlighted the possible next steps, concluding that IFAD, in order to remain at the centre of inclusive financial services, should step up its efforts in building capacities and continue to work closely with its partners at global and local levels.


Roots expert series - Evaluating support to pro-poor value chain development

A value chain is the full range of activities – including design, production, and distribution – required to bring a product or service from conception to its final market destination. This topic is becoming increasingly important for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as traditional food systems are being replaced by organized value chains.

Roots spoke with Fabrizio Felloni, Deputy Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD, who conducted a corporate-level evaluation on IFAD's engagement in pro-poor value chain development. The evaluation covers projects supported by IFAD over the last 10 years and draws information from 77 projects conducted in 29 countries. Given the large variety and quantity of information in the evaluation, the findings are very heterogeneous.

Mr Felloni explains that it is possible for IFAD to achieve its goal of reaching the very poor through value chain approaches provided that certain conditions are met. For example, selecting commodities that require inputs of unskilled labour rather than high investment of capital or ownership of land.

Roots expert series – Impact evaluation of the Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region in Niger

Niger covers a landlocked tract of the Sahel north of Nigeria. With a poverty rate of 49 per cent, it is one of the poorest nations in the world.

This month, Roots spoke with Michael Carbon, Senior Evaluator of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD, who conducted an impact evaluation of the Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region, co-financed by IFAD in Niger between 2011 and 2018.

A story-based study was carried out to determine the extent to which women were involved in decision-making in their households. The study showed a strong relationship between women taking part in decision-making, their contribution to income and towards providing their household with several nutritious meals a day.

Roots in Cayo, Belize – Supporting rural people through financial services

"I started by saving a little money", said Amelia Catalan. Amelia grows potatoes for a living in the department of Cayo, in western Belize. After joining a credit union, her activity and living conditions have improved. Aida Coh, member of the same credit union, cultivates vegetables and grows peanuts in the same area. Thanks to her determination and the support of the credit union, she lives in a better house now.

In this episode of Roots, the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD visited the Belize Rural Financial Programme in El Progreso and San Antonio, Cayo, where Amelia and Aida shared their experiences. In their opinion, the credit union could improve its services by providing training on financial management and capacity building.

Roots in Kalawana and Ratnapura, Sri Lanka - Supporting business opportunities and partnerships in the agriculture and plantation sectors

Derived from the sap of the fishtail palm that grows widely all over Sri Lanka, kithul syrup is used as a sweetener in Sri Lankan cuisine. Pradeep lives in a small village of farmers in Kalawana District, and in 2016, he started tapping kithul trees for a living. He now sells kithul products to a company called Lanka Eco Products Ltd.

Not far from Pradeep, in Ratnapura District, Nadeeka cultivates flowers and sells them to a company that liaises with local producers buying their cultivation and then selling it in local and international markets.

In this episode, Roots visited the IFAD-supported Smallholder Agribusiness Partnerships Programme, which helps small farmers like Pradeep and Nadeeka, to expand their business opportunities in the agriculture sector.

Roots in Zacatecas, Mexico – Medicinal plants

Medicinal plants have been used for millennia across the world to heal all kinds of diseases. Today medical sciences have made great progress due to these plants. Fortunately, they have not replaced traditional medicine, which is still being practiced for the benefit of a great number of people.

In the state of Zacatecas, in Mexico, Sanjuana López and other women from the community of San Jerónimo expand their knowledge on herbal medicine thanks to a project financed by IFAD. The project keeps these traditions alive and provides scientific information.

Roots travelled with the Independent Office of Evaluation to Zacatecas to speak with Sanjuana and other participants of the "Living Pharmacy" workshop.

Roots' interview on country strategy and programme evaluation in Tunisia (In Arabic)

Over the last 15 years, Tunisia has made great progress in reducing rural poverty. IFAD has been working in partnership with the Government since 1980 to improve the living conditions of rural populations.

This month, Roots spoke with Philippe Remy, Country Programme Manager of IFAD in Tunisia, and with Ali Abaab and Diane Abi Khalil, two evaluators who worked on the second country strategy and programme evaluation in Tunisia, carried out by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD. The evaluation covers six projects financed by IFAD between 2003 and 2018, which contributed to an increase in agricultural and livestock productivity and diversification.

Despite the significant progress made so far, there are still some areas to be improved. The evaluation noted that there have been sustainability risks related to the environment and limited scaling up of the projects' results.

Roots in Kalikot and Rukum, Nepal – Credit-based cooperatives' support to rural populations

Nepal is a landlocked country with a rich diversity of ethnicities and cultures and home to Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world. In this episode Roots visited the Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project in the Mid-Western Region of Nepal and spoke with beneficiaries about the changes the project has brought in their lives.

Pankha Bahadur Hamal and Prem Kala Sahah live in Kalikot, an area characterized by harsh climatic conditions, geographic isolation and high food insecurity. They tell Roots how the IFAD-supported project helped them improve the irrigation system and obtain some loans to start their own businesses. Not far from them, in Rukum, Sita Pun started to conduct commercial agriculture, generating more income to support her family.

For more information about the evaluation objectives, methodology, process, timelines, and key questions, please read the approach paper.