Rural Micro-Enterprise Finance Project

Philippines  
June 2003

Interim Evaluation

Over 160 microfinance institutions have adopted the Grameen-style approach to banking in the Philippines. They lend at commercial rates that cover all costs and allow for profit. They have provided up to

436 000 clients – 98 per cent of them women – with access to financial services. Over 92 000 small groups, 15 000 centres and 450 branches act as intermediaries in supplying credit totalling US$ 34.1 million. Loan repayment rates

average 96.2 per cent. The impact on income, assets, the empowerment of women and the development of small businesses amongst the rural poor is notable. Findings from an Asian Development Bank impact survey suggest that,

thanks to the project, clients’ incomes have increased by over 28 per cent, food expenses by over 23 per cent and schooling expenses for children by over 19 percent. In addition, 95 percent of beneficiaries report having more

confidence in themselves to conduct business. In spite of the success of the project, MFIs need however, to increase coverage of the very poor without compromising the economic viability and sustainability of themselves and the project.

LANGUAGES: English

Small-scale Irrigation Schemes Rehabilitation Project

Haiti  
April 2003

Project Interim Evaluation

The project involved 26 small-scale irrigation schemes, covering nearly 5,000 hectares in four different areas of Haiti: Port-de-Paix (6), Saint Marc (11), Petit-Goâve (5) and Côteaux (4).

Water Users’ Associations (WUAs) were established in each scheme and have the potential to assume self-management, although a support mechanism for WUAs will initially be needed in the second phase of the project. By mid-2002, approximately 2,000 hectares had been rehabilitated and new cropping techniques likely to bring about a sustainable increase in yields broadly disseminated.

Over 2,000 farmers had attended training seminars on how to manage the irrigation schemes and ways to improve crop techniques. Stores selling inputs (such as seeds, fertilisers, harnesses for draught animals and mechanised ploughing equipment) managed by farmers were set up in two regions, providing autonomous structures for the supply and distribution of inputs.

The project made a significant contribution towards defining sector policy and up-dating approaches to hydro-agricultural development. Physical infrastructure, however, was often prioritised over development activities and development initiatives suffered further from delays in putting infrastructure into place and from a lack of consultation with the producers.

LANGUAGES: English, French

Tihama Environment Protection Project (2003)

Yemen  
April 2003

Interim Evaluation

Introduction

The objectives of the interim evaluation were to assess: (i) the achievements of the project so far and its impact on the target groups in relation to the original design; (ii) the extent to which the project has achieved its objective of developing a sustainable framework for natural resource management that can be replicated in other areas of the Tihama; (iii) the future options for IFAD and Government cooperation in the Tihama; and (iv) to derive lessons from this experience for the benefit of similar interventions elsewhere.

The evaluation involved a review and analysis of project documents and discussions with government officials and extensive interactions with project beneficiaries. Fieldwork was participatory with Yemeni counterparts involved throughout. Fielded in the first semester of 20021 the evaluation mission covered 25 of the 47 project villages and held extensive discussions with over 360 beneficiaries, both men and women on the basis of pre-tested open-ended questionnaire. The mission met senior staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) and the Ministry of Planning and Development, and had wide covering discussions with the staff from the following agencies engaged in project activities: (i) the Tihama Development Authority (TDA), a semi-autonomous body under MAI; (ii) the Cooperative and Agricultural Credit Bank; and (iii) the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority.

At the end of the fieldwork the mission discussed its initial findings with the Chairman and staff of TDA and briefed the Governor of Hodeidah. The mission prepared an Aide Memoire which presented the mission's preliminary findings and conclusions in a wrap-up meeting held in Sana'a, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation and attended by members of the Core Learning Partnership (and other representatives of the implementation agencies). The draft evaluation report was shared with the CLP members and their comments taken into consideration to the extent possible. A number of lessons in key areas of project design and implementation were identified by the evaluation and these form the basic content of this agreement. The lessons relate to: (i) project design and supervision; (ii) beneficiary participation and sustainability; (iii) monitoring, evaluation and impact assessment; and (iv) provision of credit.

Evaluation approach

The objectives of the interim evaluation were to assess: (i) the achievements of the project so far and its impact on the target groups in relation to the original design; (ii) the extent to which the project has achieved its objective of developing a sustainable framework for natural resource management that can be replicated in other areas of the Tihama; (iii) the future options for IFAD and Government cooperation in the Tihama; and (iv) to derive lessons from this experience for the benefit of similar interventions elsewhere.

This was the first evaluation to use IFAD's new common framework of evaluation, which has a greater emphasis than previously on impact assessment. The evaluation criteria used are: (i) Rural Poverty Impact covering six domains of impact and one criterion each for sustainability and replicability; (ii) Performance of the Project consisting of relevance of objectives, effectiveness and efficiency; and (iii) Performance of the Partners including IFAD, the Cooperating Institution, Government and its agencies, NGOs/CBOs and cofinanciers (if any).

The evaluation involved a review and analysis of project documents and discussions with government officials and extensive interactions with project beneficiaries. Fieldwork was participatory with Yemeni counterparts involved throughout. The evaluation mission visited Yemen in February/ March 2002. The fieldwork covered 25 of the 47 project villages and held extensive discussions with over 360 beneficiaries, both men and women on the basis of pre-tested open-ended questionnaire. The mission met senior staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI) and the Ministry of Planning and Development, and had wide covering discussions with the staff from the following agencies engaged in project activities: (i) the Tihama Development Authority (TDA), a semi-autonomous body under MAI; (ii) the Cooperative and Agricultural Credit Bank; and (iii) the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority.

At the end of the fieldwork the mission discussed its initial findings with the Chairman and staff of TDA and briefed the Governor of Hodeidah. The mission prepared an Aide Memoire which presented the mission's preliminary findings and conclusions in a wrap-up meeting held in Sana'a, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation and attended by members of the Core Learning Partnership (and other representatives of the implementation agencies).

Poverty and IFAD strategy

Yemen, which covers 537 000 km2 in the Southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula, has a population of about 18.3 million and suffers from severe poverty2 because of (inter alia) a poor resource base and a high rate of population growth (3.5%). Poverty affects 30-40% of the population but over 80% of the poor live in rural areas. IFAD has supported 15 projects in Yemen with loans totalling over USD 136 million. Four of these projects are under implementation, while a sixteenth has recently been appraised. IFAD's strategy in Yemen focuses on the mobilization of resources in support of agricultural and rural development activities designed to assist the poorest farmers, entrepreneurs and rural women. A consistent theme has been institutional strengthening as weak institutional capacity has been recognized as limiting project implementation.

Tihama

The arid Tihama plain is the country's most important agricultural area, consisting of sand plains and dunes interrupted by wadi3 flood plains. The Tihama covers an area of about 22 000 km2 with slopping land about 30-60 km in width and extending along the Red Sea to the west and up to the foot of the mountains in the east. Eight wadis intersect the plain and collect run-off from the highlands to the east. The run-off makes its way through incised valleys to emerge on the coastal plain, where the water is used for spate irrigation and recharges the alluvial aquifer (the largest in the country) for urban and domestic water supply and irrigated agriculture. Rarely, small amounts of runoff reach the Red Sea.

Main design features

Project design rationale. Wind erosion, sand dune encroachment and over abstraction of groundwater were jeopardising previous agricultural investments in the Tihama. The region offered opportunities for sustainable agricultural development and an improved standard of living for the rural population if: (i) the threat of sand dune encroachment could be minimized so that the land and water resources could be managed in a sustainable way with the full and active participation of the beneficiaries, including women; and (ii) the management capacities and monitoring and evaluation procedures of the institutions could be strengthened to ensure effective implementation of the project activities and develop replicable models for sustainable environmental protection.

Project area and target group. The project area was specified as the 47 villages and their farmland that lie within 2 km of the contact zone where the inter-wadi sand plains and the wadi flood plains meet in Wadi Siham and in Wadi Zabid. The contact zone is about 70 km long, with around 35 km in each wadi. In this zone large areas were under an immediate threat from sand dune encroachment, groundwater resources were being over-exploited in many places and large numbers of households were amongst the poorest in the Tihama. There were 7 100 households in the 47 villages with a high concentration of sharecroppers and farm labourers. Beyond the end of the life of the project, a total of 20 600 families was expected to benefit from the stabilization of the sand dunes. Cereals, forage and cotton followed by fruit and vegetables are important crops, while livestock provide about 20% of the agricultural output.

Objectives. The project has the overall goal of contributing to the Government's programme for improving the standards of living of rural people. The primary objective is to identify and demonstrate, by implementation on a limited scale, appropriate and replicable methods for the management of natural resources to support sustained and increased agricultural production. The project's specific objectives are to: (i) prevent further encroachment of sand dunes on to farming land; (ii) increase water use efficiency for cropping and livestock in the areas most threatened by encroachment of sand dunes; (iii) increase livestock productivity; (iv) improve women's literacy, family health and nutrition standards; and (v) improve the capacity of the Tihama Development Authority to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate the project and other donor and Government financed projects.

Project components. To achieve these objectives the project has four components. The Land Conservation component (47% of project costs) would stabilize sand dunes using mechanical and biological methods, so providing an environment that would enable villagers to plant on-farm shelterbelts and would monitor the speed of sand sheet and sand dune migration. The Water Conservation component (11% of project costs) would improve existing irrigation systems through the provision of credit to farmers for the purchase of improved technology and evaluate and develop appropriate irrigation technologies and monitor water levels. The Support for Rural Women component (17% of project costs) would provide assistance for livestock production (extension, veterinary services and credit), literacy teaching, health education and services and extension services for household food production and processing. The Management Support component (25% of project costs) would enhance the technical and managerial capabilities of the Tihama Development Authority, including monitoring and evaluation procedures, the provision of a national level liaison officer and support the formation of farmer cooperatives.

Over a seven-year implementation period, the estimated project costs was USD 11.7 million and the IFAD loan USD 9.8 million with the Government contributing USD 1.8 million and UNDP 86 000 (this did not in practice materialize). The long project design period, which started in 1990, culminated in Executive Board approval in April 1993 and the loan became effective at the end of 1995. The loan closing date is 30 June 2003.

The Tihama Development Authority is responsible for implementing project activities (except for the credit and research activities) through its existing structures, with a full-time Project Manager responsible for coordination and follow-up. The M&E unit is to undertake: (i) input/output monitoring; (ii) ongoing evaluation; and (iii) impact evaluation. The Cooperative and Agricultural Credit Bank is the channel for providing project-financed loans under a Subsidiary Loan Agreement with the Ministry of Finance. The eligibility and security criteria for the provision of project loans are the same as those the Bank was using under the IFAD Agricultural Credit Project in the Tihama. For research the Tihama Development Authority and the Agriculture Research and Extension Authority were to operate according to a Subsidiary Agreement, which was to include a planned programme of collaborative research.

Beneficiary participation was identified as essential for the sustainability of project activities and in the absence of grassroots organizations the project was to support the establishment of cooperatives within the project area with the assistance of the Hodeidah branch of the National Cooperative Union under a Subsidiary Agreement with the Tihama Development Authority. The cooperatives were to eventually manage the project investments in land conservation.

Project implementation

Changes in design. Implementation of the project has been characterized by flexibility in respect of the original design with some significant changes, which can be summarized as follows: (i) the size and scope of the credit subcomponents were increased; (ii) there were changes to the 47 project area villages, some of which were logical as the villages excluded did not have a sand problem; (iii) the UNV technical assistance was replaced by five experienced long-term specialists from Sudan reportedly at a comparable cost per person month; (iv) the proposed construction of the fore-dunes was dropped following the recommendations of the technical assistance and a consultancy study; (v) a major programme of short-term overseas training for staff was introduced at a cost of over USD 800 000; (vi) Mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) was replaced by a range of other species for planting in the sand dune stabilization belts; (vii) the arrangements for introducing beneficiary participation through the establishment of cooperatives were not pursued; (viii) at the request of the Governor of Hodeidah the project introduced a sand dune stabilization belt to protect the town of Hodeidah from sand encroachment, part of which is irrigated by sewage water; (ix) the proposed appointment of a liaison officer at national level was deemed unnecessary and dropped; (x) project allowances for Tihama Development Authority staff working on project-financed activities were introduced to improve staff motivation with the cost reimbursed from the IFAD loan. Finally, Schedule 2 of the Loan Agreement was revised in September 2000 to take account of the expected changes in expenditure under the various loan categories and the inclusion of an expenditure of USD 300 000 for the disposal of toxic waste in Wadi Surdud (i.e. outside the project area).

Progress. Despite the two-year delay in effectiveness and slow start to project activities 99% of the loan had been disbursed by March 2002, more than a year before the loan closing date. In addition, to the remaining balance in the Loan Account, the Government has allocated the equivalent of about USD 294 000 for project activities, excluding staff salaries in 2002. Project records do not enable a comparison of project expenditure by component with the appraisal estimates, an important monitoring tool, as the need for such records was not specified in the project design. However, data on physical progress, including comparisons with the project targets, is available.

Summary of achievements and rural poverty impact

Physical achievements. The physical achievements of the project in comparison to appraisal targets are impressive and much experience has been gained during implementation and should be recorded. This can be seen in the length of sand dune stabilization belts established, the associated infrastructure provided (wells, irrigation infrastructure and access roads) and the area protected by on-farm shelterbelts and others. Progress in physical achievements and comparison with appraisal targets were produced on a regular basis by the project and documented by the supervision reports. The IE report (Appendix 2, Table 2) regrouped these data to provide a summary whenever possible on achievements by component. In general, the project must be commended for achieving physical appraisal targets and sometimes surpassing them.

Sand dune stabilization. Despite these favourable achievements, many of the sand dune stabilization belts are perceived by farmers as being too far away to offer effective protection to the village and/or the trees are still too small for their effect to be felt, as many of the stabilization belts have only recently been planted. In villages immediately threatened by the sand dunes, the benefits of protection are more perceptible, but some of these belts suffer from localized gaps reducing their effectiveness.

In addition, there is a serious concern over the sustainability of the investments in sand dune stabilization and hence their replicability because of the current lack of ownership and commitment by the surrounding communities to manage the physical assets built by the project. A main reason for this is that local communities have not appropriately participated in site selection and were not adequately mobilized from the beginning of the process. Sustainability is also unlikely due to the continuing need to irrigate the trees after the end of the project and concerns about the future availability in many places of suitable groundwater for this purpose.

On the other hand, project achievements in establishing the on-farm shelterbelts are highly valued by farmers as they reduce the damaging effects of wind on growing crops while the water used to irrigate the fields they protect sustains their growth.

The monitoring of winds and sand movements was delayed and the subsequent management of the operation was inadequate. Similarly, the lack of monitoring of water levels in the wells is contrary to what was expected at appraisal. As a result the planned monitoring activities have yet to contribute to the design of the sand dune stabilization measures and to their management.

Water conservation. The project has made little contribution to water conservation and has not developed any replicable model for this purpose. The Bank disbursed only 22 loans in the project area for PVC pipes. The project did not test alternative irrigation technologies and project financed research activities were hampered because the cooperation between the Project and the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority did not materialize as planned, despite the agreement signed in 1999. As a result the involvement of the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority was minimal. Many of the research results are only indicative and subject to interpretation due to a lack of equipment and statistical analysis. Of interest is the use of sewage water to irrigate trees in part of the Hodeidah Greenbelt, although a build up of salinity, an accumulation of heavy metals, nitrates and phosphates and ground water contamination may create problems in the future.

Support for rural women. The Tihama Development Authority is to be commended for establishing a team of female extension workers, for recruiting and training 22 midwives and for the provision of domestic water supplies for project villages. The project has addressed the needs of poor rural women through its interventions in the area of drinking water, health services, literacy classes, animal production and health extension. In particular, the provision of domestic water supplies and the literacy classes have had an appreciable impact on women's workload and self-confidence. However, the project has had only a modest impact on women socio-economic status, due, among others, to the very limited outreach of project credit activities to the rural women, and there is a large element of double counting in the outreach figure reported by project staff. Only the few women who received livestock loans in kind from the project, most of which were given to the most vulnerable households, appear to have realised a substantial increase in household income and productivity.

The above-mentioned achievements are under threat because the project did not invest adequately in evolving sustainable or replicable models for the adult literacy activities or the provision of health services. In addition, the work of the female staff is hampered by inadequate provision of planned inputs (e.g. transport, materials, training etc.), limited leadership in the area of support for rural women, and the payment of lower staff incentives to female staff than to the male staff. Project activities in land and water conservation and support for rural women have yet to have a significant impact on food production and security in the areas adjacent to the sand dune stabilization belts through increased agricultural production or sustained employment generated by project activities.

Rural credit. CACB has provided 743 loans for a total amount of YER 116.1 million (USD 0.69 million) in the project area4. Of these 22 were for water conservation and 100 were for women, much less than anticipated at appraisal. The poorer households are reluctant to apply for CACB credit due to their inability to meet the collateral requirements, the high transaction costs, the lengthy approval procedures and the high interest rates. Women have had little access to CACB credit due to the low ceiling for collateral free loans and the requirement of land collateral for larger loans. Women do not generally own land and as such a woman cannot fulfil this requirement without the support of her husband or another male household member. The same is true of sharecroppers who can qualify for a loan only if the landowner is willing to offer his land as collateral. Only 6% of the households in the project area have obtained loans from CACB under the project (see also paragraphs 45 and 46).

Management support. Staff of the Tihama Development Authority have benefited from the presence of the technical assistance between 1998 and 2001 and should now be able to handle the technical aspects of sand dune stabilization without significant outside assistance. The introduction of staff incentive payments has helped motivate staff and contributed to the good implementation of physical works. However, project implementation has not been without managerial problems5 and the Tihama Development Authority did not recruit the planned management and finance technical assistance. The M&E unit lacks resources and has not received the inputs envisaged at appraisal. It produces regular reports on physical achievement but no assessments have been made of the social and economic impact of the project on the beneficiaries. The M&E function is not yet an integral part of management nor has it functioned as an appropriate management support. The project has financed the construction of a large training hall but it is not yet in use due to a dispute with the contractor, while the large investment in overseas training seems to have had little effect on the subsequent performance of the trainees.

Community participation. Participation, as envisaged at appraisal, has not occurred and there was never any agreement between the National Cooperative Union, or any similar agency, and the Tihama Development Authority. The villagers do not know why the sand dune stabilization belts were located on their present sites and were not consulted on the selection of tree species. Stabilization sites, determined by the project on the basis of technical considerations, do not seem to reflect village level perception on desired sites for effective protection from sand encroachment. There were little local level discussions regarding the subsequent management of the physical assets or ownership of the trees. The project has involved communities to the extent that farmers on whose land the trees are planted have to agree prior to the start of planting.

Employment created by the project has been highly valued in the project area and contributed to household income in the short run. While landowners are likely to have benefited more than the others in securing project employment, the landless, tenants, sharecroppers and daily labourers have not been excluded. When employment is provided on a rotational basis, as has occurred in several places, there is an element of equity in the distribution of project benefits from employment. However, the project has had a very limited impact on social capital formation or grass roots institutional strengthening partly because the project did not implement, consistently and timely, the beneficiary participation aspects included in the project design. As a result, the communities have passively received most of the project benefits.

Sustainability. The project management, on the basis of supervision recommendations, has only recently promoted the establishment of Environmental Protection and Development Associations (EPDA) at the village level to manage and finance the sand dune stabilization belts when project assistance finishes. Eight such associations were established by March 2002. While no doubt a commendable effort, the establishment of these associations seems to be too little, too late. These associations do not appear well grounded at the village level and seem to be an initiative of the project rather than a genuine grass-roots level initiative. They do not enjoy any autonomy and the supervisor hired by the project to oversee the work on the sand dune stabilization belts is still seen as the key person responsible for all decisions regarding the management of the trees. The seven-member committee do not appear empowered regarding management decisions is not playing a proactive role in making those decisions. While some contributions are made by members on a limited scale, there is little indication that the associations will be able or willing to finance and manage the tree plantations after the end of the project. They have yet to establish any formal system for Operation and Management of the wells and water use and have yet to demonstrate that they have the requisite management capacity. The evaluation found little evidence that these associations would effectively contribute to building village level institutions capable of managing the sand dune stabilization infrastructure. This casts serious doubt as to whether the trees will survive without continuing financial and management support from TDA. The project has limited expertise in participatory approaches but has not sought the support of available expertise in this respect (e.g. local NGOs).

The Tihama Development Authority has not so far provided a comprehensive model for sand dune stabilization that is socially and economically sustainable and hence potentially replicable. The project should determine the actual costs of operating each of the wells so that a realistic estimate can be made of their financial viability. Households in some villages are reportedly paying YER 100 to 300 per month and a preliminary estimate by the evaluation indicated that the annual capital and running costs of a well and associated infrastructure may be over YER 500 per household per month, and so may not be affordable. The Hodeidah Greenbelt can only be sustained by involvement of the Tihama Development Authority or local government, as there are no associated villages to participate in the continued operation and management of the associated irrigation facilities or to protect the trees.

The project has not, as yet, had any impact on the policy or regulatory framework in the Tihama or more broadly at national level. The methods of land and water conservation that the project has implemented have not led to the development of policies that might be followed elsewhere in the Tihama or in other parts of the country, which might benefit from similar investments.

Overall Poverty Impact. With the change to the original list of villages, the population in the project's 47 villages exceeds 12 000 households (a 69% increase), of which 30% resides in the small town of Al Marawah. The mission's analysis indicates that a majority of the households in the project area fall within the IFAD target group. While some project activities clearly benefit the poor, as mentioned above, the poverty impact of the sand dune stabilization efforts is still uncertain. The project could have targeted its sand dune stabilization activities better to poorer villages without sacrificing the technical aspects of stabilization. For example, Bait-ul Hadi could have been included instead of Al Marawah. In addition, lack of real community level participatory approaches from the beginning of the stabilization processes is likely to limit the potential impact of sand dune stabilization on rural poverty and its likely sustainability.

Performance of the project

Relevance of project objectives. The project objectives (paragraph 9) are still relevant to the needs of the target group in Tihama and the country as a whole. First, sand dune encroachment is still a threat to rural livelihoods, while a failure to arrest the decline in ground water levels and increasing salinity will also increase poverty. Secondly, livestock provide a significant proportion of household subsistence requirements and women, as the livestock managers, are concerned with improving livestock productivity as well as with improving literacy, family health and nutrition standards. Improvements are needed and possible. Finally, since the Tihama Development Authority is almost the only agency that is providing any support to the rural communities in the project area an improvement in its performance is one prerequisite for achieving the other objectives.

Project objectives are consistent with IFAD strategy in Yemen (as embodied in its COSOP), IFAD's mandate, the Government's objective of improving the standards of living of the rural population and the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper with its focus on expanding economic opportunities for the poor in the agricultural sector. While preventing further environment degradation in the Tihama area will benefit the whole population, most of whom can be regarded as members of the IFAD target group.

Effectiveness. The effectiveness of the project in terms of achievement of its relevant objectives at the time of the evaluation is modest. While the project has developed a technical model for the management of natural resources (i.e. sand dune stabilization) there is no evidence at present that this model is sustainable and replicable. The project did not develop appropriate and replicable methods for the conservation of water resources. The well-known technology proposed is being widely promoted by the World Bank Land and Water Conservation Project in ways that are more advantageous for the farmers; hence few project loans have been made for investment in this technology. In addition, the water conservation research has been less effective than it should have been due to a number of shortcomings of the research programme (see above).

The project has gone some way to achieving the objectives relating to improving livestock productivity and improving female literacy and health but achievements were below expectations due to insufficient support provided by the Tihama Development Authority and low likelihood of sustainability. Discussions with the Ministries of Health and Education recently initiated by the project may lead to the continuing employment of the project-financed midwives and a continuation of the literacy classes to enhance the prospects for the sustainability of these investments.

There has been an improvement in the Tihama Development Authority's technical abilities in relation to the planning and implementation of sand dune stabilization measures, but not in respect of water conservation, overall project management, including M&E or its ability to support a programme for rural women and community level participation. Further improvement in management requires the introduction of modern management techniques and will require the provision of additional technical assistance and is beyond the scope of the project.

Efficiency. The absence of project data records showing the costs by component prevents any assessment of the cost effectiveness of the various project components. In addition, the recent vintage of much of the stabilised dunes (tree plantation) prevents a comprehensive ex-post analysis of benefits. A revised estimate of the potential return for the sand dune stabilization component with the mix of crops found currently in the Tihama and project cost data shows that the investment in sand dune stabilization belts should be economically worthwhile, provided: (i) the sand dune stabilization belt prevents sand moving onto productive land immediately; and (ii) the community manages the sand dune stabilization belts when project assistance stops. If the sand dune stabilization belts continue to be managed effectively the efficiency would be high. The analysis shows that about two thirds of the benefits go to the landowners/pump owners, with the sharecroppers and labourers as a group receiving 26-30% and the Government the remainder (5-6%). However, if the communities do not manage and protect the sand dune stabilization belts after the end of the project, which at present appears to be the likely scenario, the investment is not worthwhile (negative returns) and its efficiency is only modest.

Performance of partners

Performance of IFAD. While the project design was well targeted, innovative and identified key issues that were essential for sustainability, it did not provide sufficient guidance and options as to the participatory approaches and procedures that would help to ensure the sustainability of project interventions. In addition, insufficient attention was given to other key implementation issues e.g. procurement ceilings and auditing requirements.

IFAD's role during implementation consisted of following up and taking actions on the issues that required its attention and carrying out a Mid-term Review. There is no evidence from the supervision reports of IFAD taking action in respect of key failures to comply with the Loan Agreement (see below) nor with respect to the issues of sustainability and timely involvement of local communities. Finally, IFAD agreed to the Government's request to use USD 300 000 from the IFAD loan for the disposal of toxic waste in an area outside the project area (i.e. Wadi Surdud) and amended the loan agreement accordingly. This transfer of funds contributed to the lack of resources experienced currently by the project when belatedly it is endeavouring to develop locally based mechanisms for the sustainable management of the sand dune stabilization belts.

The Cooperating Institution (UNOPS). Since Loan Effectiveness, there has been an UNOPS start-up mission and seven UNOPS supervision missions, while IFAD carried out the MTR. Five points should be noted: (i) there was considerable continuity of UNOPS personnel throughout the supervision process which is highly desirable; (ii) the IFAD Project Controller/Country Portfolio Manager participated in the first three missions; (iii) supervision missions were reduced for budgetary reasons from two p.a. to one p.a. from 2000, which was unfortunate because of the continuing need for support (see later); (iv) there was some technical (agronomy) input into the supervision process before the MTR but not subsequently, which is equally unfortunate; (v) beneficiary participation was stressed only starting 2000, which led to the belated establishment of EPDAs; and (vi) mission composition did not include a social scientist/grassroots institutions specialist despite the need for support in this area.

The evaluation assessment is that the UNOPS' reporting was comprehensive, regular and adequate with respect to recording and analysing physical achievements. The supervision no doubt was an important element in ensuring timely implementation and many problems were identified during supervision missions and appropriate recommendations made. The CI and IFAD also have to be commended for the flexibility shown in adjusting project design during implementation. Supervision missions, however, gave overall an over optimistic assessment of the status of the project until 1999 particularly with respect to the performance of the management, institution building and beneficiary participation. Also the monitoring of compliance with the loan agreement was incomplete. According to the supervision missions from 1997 to 1999 the project had minor problems, but performance was always improving, although IFAD classified the project as a problem project in early 1998 due to the low rate of loan disbursement. Follow up on recommendations made to ensure their implementation did not lead to significant improvement in a number of key areas of project implementation as shown by the continuing inadequacies of the M&E, the lack of audit reports, lack of beneficiary participation and some non compliance of loan agreement (see below). UNOPS made no overall assessments of project performance in 2000 and 2001, but based on the low ratings for M&E, auditing, quality of accounts and beneficiary participation downgraded assessment of project performance in 2001 and to a lesser extent in 2000.

Government and government agencies. At the time of project design there were no specific Government policies related to poverty reduction6. Participation of the rural poor in project design was through a socio-economic survey and beneficiary participation survey using rapid rural appraisal techniques. This survey highlighted the need for participatory development and village level organizations.

Tihama development authority. After a slow start the rate of project implementation in achieving physical targets has markedly accelerated such that the loan is now almost 100% disbursed. However, a number of managerial problems were observed. These include: (i) difficulties in coordinating project field activities carried out by the relevant departments of the Tihama Development Authority, as their heads are senior to the Project Manager; (ii) the lack of terms of reference for most project staff, except the Project Manager, which led to staff being often unclear as to their project responsibilities; (iii) perceived interference by senior management of the Tihama Authority in project implementation; (iv) cumbersome procedures for submitting withdrawal applications both within and outside the Authority and delays in their processing7; (v) inadequate draft audit reports for 1998 and 1999; (vi) non-compliance with some key covenants of the loan agreement; and (vi) a lack of delegation by the project management of routine administrative tasks.

The technical assistance has had no apparent impact on the managerial performance of staff involved in project activities as the persistent problems reported in the supervision and Mid-term Review reports indicate. Much of the overseas training had limited beneficial impact, as it was inappropriate for many of the participants, covered too many subject areas in insufficient detail and was too theoretical and/or related to conditions that were unlike those in the Tihama8. At least USD 110 000 was expended on training staff not involved with project implementation. The M&E unit has not played its anticipated role.

Cooperative and agricultural Credit Bank. As per CACB records, credit disbursements under the project were at 1,073 loans for a total amount of YER 170.8 million (USD 1.02 million). However, these included 330 loans for YER 54.7 million (USD 0.33 million) given before 30 September 1999 to farmers of areas along Wadi Siham and Wadi Zabid but outside the project villages, for which use of the loan funds was allowed as a special case. All subsequent loans were made for the project area beneficiaries. The repayment rate for project loans was only 62% at 31 December 2001 and there is an urgent need to improve the timely repayment of the loans without which the sustainability of the project-supported lending activities is in doubt. Although required by the Subsidiary Loan Agreement, the Bank has not set up a single Revolving Fund to account for project loan recoveries and their subsequent use to make new loans in the project area.

The Cooperative and Agricultural Credit Bank collateral based lending prevents it providing loans to sharecroppers and women. The recent reduction in lending rates will have an adverse impact on the Bank's already difficult financial position. A restructuring programme has been formulated to enable the Bank to become an efficient rural financial institution and IFAD has offered to support the implementation of this restructuring programme.

Implementation of recommendations. One measure of the performance of the Government agencies is the extent to which the recommendations of the supervision missions and the Mid-term Review had been implemented by the date of the following supervision mission. While nearly 60% of all the recommendations were either implemented or partially implemented, the proportion decreased with time and was especially low in respect of the Mid-term Review. This last point may reflect the fact that the Mid-term Review tried to address key implementation issues e.g. participation and sustainability with which the project has had difficulty.

Compliance with loan covenants and agreements. While the monitoring of the compliance with loan covenants was not complete, the Government was not in compliance with a significant proportion of those covenants that the supervision missions did monitor. The assessment of the current compliance by the evaluation mission was that the Government was not complying with 30% of the covenants, including key ones relating to M&E and auditing.

Recommendations

Land conservation. In respect of sand dune stabilization the Tihama Development Authority should consider the implementation of the following technical and financial recommendations: (i) produce the planned sand dune stabilization manual; (ii) repair localised gaps in the sand dune stabilization belts; (iii) discontinue financing the development of the Hodeidah Greenbelt with project funds; (iv) use the checkerboard system of mechanical stabilization as fences facing in four directions will provide protection for the trees from the changing wind directions in the Tihama; (v) regard sand dune stabilization as a long-term investment, almost in perpetuity, given the scale of the problem in the Tihama hence allocate sufficient resources to develop sustainable models for this purpose and to support the schemes in the short run (see paragraph 51); (vi) develop an approach suitable for the coastal areas, which are the major source of the sand problem and allocate appropriate resources accordingly; (vii) investigate a number of fast growing and productive exotics that have been successful in shelterbelts in Wadi Tuban and elsewhere in the region; (viii) undertake a more detailed biological and chemical analysis of the sewage waters, and determine the most suitable course of action for future use of the waters, including assessing their impact on fisheries and mangroves; and (ix) contract a suitable agency to maintain the climate stations.

The hydrology section of the Tihama Development Authority, which has the necessary experience, should (i) gradually assume responsibility for the climate stations and downloading the data; (ii) establish a series of monitoring points to chart the movement of sand dunes at sites to include those where the mission has made a record and there are climate stations recording wind speeds and directions; (iii) monitor wells throughout the Tihama, including the 45 project wells as a priority to obtain an accurate picture of any changes to aquifer quality, water table levels and discharge; and (iv) TDA or the Government should commission a new inventory of wells and a hydrogeological survey of groundwater conditions in the Tihama in order to update the older studies (last done for the whole Tihama in 1986-88) and quantify the status of present groundwater use and likely future consumption.

Sustainability of current sand dune stabilization belts. With respect to this major issue the evaluation recommends the following: (i) remaining project funds should be devoted to developing, supporting and testing the management capacity of the existing Environmental Protection and Development Associations and establishing them where they do not yet exist; (ii) the project should initiate dialogues with and seek support of the Governor of Hodeidah, the Agricultural Co-operative Union, the newly elected Local Councils to assess the extent to which these organizations can help to support community mobilization at the village level for the maintenance and financing of the sand dune stabilization belts; (iii) the project should seek the services of an experienced and recognized local NGO to help in strengthening the existing associations and in supporting the formation of new ones, whenever possible, while examining the most effective modalities to ensure their managerial and financial autonomy; (iv) the project should establish the actual costs of operating each of the wells and maintaining the sand dune stabilization belts so that a realistic estimate can be made of their financial viability; (v) support to any future sand dune stabilization activities should be conditioned by the success of the project in developing a viable model of community participation that shows that the sand dune stabilization belts will be sustainable after the end of the project.

Water conservation. The donors should consider a unified approach to providing farmers with on-farm water saving technology, since the project's approach is much less attractive to farmers than that used by the World Bank. To avoid reducing groundwater levels, seawater intrusion and a continuing rise in salinity of the water used for agriculture, the water supply for Hodeidah may have to be augmented by desalinised water. There is still a need to undertake a comparison of different conveyance systems and the use of bubblers and drip under farm conditions. All future research activities sponsored by the Tihama Development Authority should be undertaken with full participation of the Agricultural Research and Extension Authority.

Support for rural women. The Tihama Development Authority should demonstrate how its activities in support of rural women can be made effective and sustainable by implementing the following recommendations: (i) provide the female extension staff with two additional vehicles on a full time basis; (ii) introduce gender equity in respect of the staff incentive allowances paid; (iii) provide the refresher training for female extension staff envisaged at appraisal; (iv) discontinue the construction of the livestock demonstration pens; (v) provide a full inventory to the female extension staff of all inputs provided as these staff are unaware of the location of many items reportedly delivered to the villages; and (vi) recruit qualified women staff to provide the leadership required.

The commendable dialogue initiated with the Ministries of Education and Health should be followed-up to ensure the effective use of the extension staff trained in adult literacy, nutrition, family health, and develop a long-term arrangement for the effective deployment of the project-trained midwives. These arrangements should also consider the provision of basic equipment and supplies required by the midwives at the village level and introduce an element of cost-recovery that will ensure sustainable service provision by them at the village level. The project should identify teachers at the village level and help them develop a sustainable model for the delivery of adult literacy and primary education for girls in the villages through the introduction of affordable school fees, etc.

Credit. To ensure that the Cooperative and Agricultural Credit Bank does not face any funding constraint to meet future credit demand during the rest of the project period, the project and the bank should jointly assess, as a matter of priority, what action should be taken to provide any additional funds, if project lending cannot be met from the repayments of existing project loans. To improve disbursements of loans for water conservation and for rural women, the Bank should urgently review its loan eligibility and increase the ceiling for collateral free loans, use informal intermediaries such as savings and credit associations and self-help groups9, and employ female credit officers. To improve the low repayment rates for project loans Bank branches should introduce concerted efforts through follow-up visits and loan recovery campaigns. The Bank should withdraw the instructions to the project area branches (including Bajil, Beit-el-Faki and Hays) to maintain a branch level separate Revolving Fund and instead take steps to set up one consolidated Revolving Fund and to maintain an up-to-date record of recoveries of project loans and their deployment for re-lending. This will also ensure that recoveries of past loans to farmers outside the project area are re-lent to project area villages. Early implementation of the entire restructuring initiative, which IFAD plans to support under the proposed Dhamar Highland Areas Participatory Development Programme, would help the Bank become a sustainable financial institution.

Management support for Tihama development authorityFuture short-term technical and managerial training should be based on a training needs assessment and not exclusively overseas, with outside trainers brought in where necessary and use made of the Authority's considerable facilities. Future project activities need a strong Project Management and Finance Adviser and an M&E Specialist to help introduce and institutionalize modern management methods. The project manager should also have greater seniority to facilitate the coordination of project activities implemented by the departments and sub-regions.

The project should immediately identify key indicators so the Project Completion Report can include an assessment of the impact of the project. In addition, the incomplete training report should be finalized. The M&E unit should be provided with the resources envisaged at appraisal so it can complete these tasks. The Cooperative and Agriculture Credit Bank should provide a socio-economic profile of the borrowers to assess project impact. The Tihama Development Authority should undertake an economic analysis based on site-specific data to establish the economic viability of the sand dune stabilization belts. In future, monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of the department responsible for project implementation and should function as an effective support for project management and not seen as a donor requirement.

Project design. As the project is of a relatively old design vintage many of the recommendations concerning design are already incorporated in other ongoing projects in Yemen. Project design documents should include the details of the participatory process to be followed, including the arrangements at village level, who will undertake this work; and a sufficiently detailed analysis to demonstrate that the organization(s) to be involved have the capacity and experience to carryout the work involved. Adequate and experienced Non-Government and community-based organizations should be identified from the start and the participatory processes initiated from the very beginning of project implementation.

Project design documents should specify: (i) a requirement for the project to record project costs by component as well as by category of expenditure so management can compare project costs by component with the design estimates; (ii) greater specificity concerning the audit requirements; (iii) a review of the Government procurement procedures to ensure compatibility with the IFAD procurement guidelines; and (iv) cost recovery/sharing arrangements for project-financed services should be included as part of the design.

Project implementation. IFAD needs to review the adequacy of resources to the Cooperating Institution to give the support required during implementation. Two full supervision missions a year are necessary with the presence of technical specialists (including social scientists) when required. Supervision must include a focus on: (i) the implementation of the subsidiary agreements and monitoring compliance with loan covenants; (ii) addressing the issue of beneficiary participation and targeting from the start of the project; (iii) ensuring that the resources proposed at appraisal and needed for implementation are provided10; and (iv) the resolution of issues relating to procurement, delays in submission of withdrawal applications, M&E, auditing etc. In addition, IFAD needs to take prompt action in respect of non-compliance with the loan agreement if the problems identified are not to continue to hamper project implementation as has happened with this project.

Options for future IFAD assistance to the Tihama. One option for IFAD would be to continue to assist the Tihama Development Authority with sand dune stabilization. The evaluation cannot support this option unless the project provides clear evidence in the remaining implementation period of sustainability and economic viability of the completed sand dune stabilization belts (see recommendations made in this respect, paragraph 51). As discussed with project staff, TDA and other partners at the time of the field evaluation and during the wrap up meeting, evidence at that time for such a sustainability were not favourable (the various reasons are stated in this summary and the main report). One of the main reason is that the EPDAs were not formed from the very beginning of sand dune stabilization process and the communities had little real involvement and say throughout the various stages. No clear evidence was found to indicate commitment on the part of local communities to sustain the existing schemes.

Other options for IFAD support based on the analysis of current experience could include: (i) support for rural women in one or more wadis with similar components to those included under the present project's Support to Rural Women with a focus of livestock, including forage production, water supplies, rural financial services, literacy and primary health care; and (ii) support for agricultural services to strengthen extension, adaptive research, rural financial services and animal health and plant protection services targeted at the smaller land and pump owners and their sharecroppers. However, any new initiative for IFAD in the Tihama must involve the potential beneficiaries during the design phase and throughout thereafter and should be consistent with the strategic thrusts outlined in the 2000 Country Strategic Opportunities Paper and other considerations relating to the IFAD lending programme.


1. The mission was organized and supervised by Ms Mona Bishay (Senior Evaluator from IFAD's Office of Evaluation) with the following membership: Messrs Michael Rayner (Team Leader/Economist), Hamdi Eisa (Farming Systems), Andreas Gerrits (IFAD Associate Professional Officer/Monitoring and Evaluation), Bal Godbole (Rural Financial Services/Institutions), Neil Munro (Land Conservation/Sand Dunes) and Ms Maliha Hussein (Rural Sociologist/Gender).

 

2. According to the 2001 UNDP Human Development Report Yemen has a HDI ranking of 133rd and Gender Development ranking of 131st out of 162 countries.

3. A run-off valley is called a wadi.

4. As per CACB records, credit disbursements under the project were at 1,073 loans for a total amount of YER 170.8 million (USD 1.02 million). However, these included 330 loans for YER 54.7 million (USD 0.33 million) given before 30 September 1999 to farmers of areas along Wadi Siham and Wadi Zabid but outside the project villages, for which use of the loan funds was allowed as a special case.

5. Highlighted in the supervision reports and the Mid-Term Review report and also see Section V.

6. The Government prepared an Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in December 2000.

7. The national level officer envisaged at appraisal, but never appointed, could have played a crucial role in speeding up the processing of withdrawal applications in Sana'a.

8. An assessment of this training was under preparation by the project but was discontinued due to a reported shortage of funds.

9. A start is being made under the IFAD-assisted Al-Mahara Rural Development Project and similar arrangements have been agreed for the proposed Dhamar Highland Areas Participatory Development Programme.

10. The increased allocation for credit during the parliamentary review may explain why some of the resources originally intended for the support for rural women and M&E were not provided to the detriment of their performance.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Support Project for Small Producers in the Semi-Arid Zones of Falcom and Lara States (2003)

Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)  
April 2003

Project interim Evaluation1

Background to the evaluation

The PROSALAFA project was approved by the IFAD Executive Board in April 1991. The date of effectiveness of the loan was May 1993 and the actual implementation began shortly thereafter. The programme was originally planned to last until 1999, but in that year, and subsequently in 2001, two extensions were granted which is why the project is still in progress and the current end date is June 2003. PROSALAFA was designed with a total cost of approximately USD 26.7 million of which IFAD was to finance a loan up to approximately USD 16.2 million, while the rest would be provided by the counterpart, the Government of Venezuela. The Andean Development Corporation (CAF) was designated as cooperating institution. The project executing agency is presently the Foundation for Training and Applied Research in Agrarian Reform (CIARA) which replaced the Institute of Agriculture and Livestock Credit (ICAP) in 1999, prior to the closure of the latter. Loan disbursements at the end of September 2002 stood at 76 per cent.

In March 2002, the Venezuelan Ministry of Agriculture and Land formally requested the President of IFAD on behalf of the Government to carry out an interim evaluation of PROSALAFA including in its terms of reference an analysis of the feasibility of a new operation in the region. In response to that request, IFAD decided to send an Interim Evaluation Mission, in the framework of the new IFAD evaluation process, followed by the formation of the Core Learning Partnership. The interim evaluation focuses on an analysis of the sustainability of the rural development process initiated by PROSALAFA. In particular, it was thought that cohesion and organization among the beneficiaries was essential in maintaining both the administration and operation of the water supply works constructed and the scope and coverage of technical assistance, development and consolidation of financial services. The roles of public institutions as well as private organizations should be studied in depth together with the aspects mentioned above. The possible execution of a second phase of PROSALAFA would be analysed in the light of these criteria. Indeed, it would be a matter of consolidating previous actions without impeding or curtailing the development of the self-management processes already begun in the area. The trade-off between these two aspects, i.e. additional assistance versus self-managed processes, will be crucial in defining whether a new stage in the project is appropriate and what form it should take.

Project area, concept and strategy2

PROSALAFA was prepared for the semi-arid region of Lara and Falcón States, covering a vast area of some 12 300 km² in all. Some 83 000 people, or about 15 000 families, lived in these areas, half of them below the poverty line. The extremely hard climatic, agricultural and ecological conditions have always influenced the pattern of human settlement. The limitations on agriculture and livestock are thus many and severe in most of the area. However, the use of scarce water resources, involving various methods of storage and capture, and large areas of open grazing for goats have supported a relatively stable rural population throughout the ages. Their level of association and organization was found to be virtually non-existent. The land tenure of the majority of the rural population was precarious from a legal point of view.

The main constraint identified in improving these people's living conditions and production was the availability of water. In the light of this finding, the project proposed a series of solutions to supply water for human consumption, watering places for the herds of goats and irrigation of small areas of intensive cultivation of cash crops. Together with these works, a strong technical training component was proposed to increase agricultural and livestock productivity, as well as the introduction of credit and financial services to allow adoption of the proposed investments and technologies. Organization of the beneficiaries was made a priority as a key activity in ensuring the viability and effectiveness of the project actions. In addition, albeit taking an approach based on the "women in development" ideas current at the time, the gender dimension was also included in the project activities. Experimental activities for the conservation of natural resources and studies on marketing of products were also included. The project's target group was based on the poverty line estimated at the time [Ex-ante Evaluation Report (IEA), 1990] at the equivalent of USD2 900 per family per annum. It was found that 7 500 families would fall into the eligible target group. With a set of additional criteria, 5 365 rural families (including 180 artisanal fishermen) resulted as beneficiaries. In particular, a target of 2 252 women beneficiaries was fixed.

Objectives, goals and components3

The overall project objective was stated as to "raise incomes and improve living conditions of the small producers and fishermen in the project area while promoting rational management of natural resources".

Project components: to achieve the planned objectives, the project was designed with three main components, which would include various sub-components, namely: (1) soil and water management, (2) production support activities, and (3) credit. In addition, significant resources would be allocated to a project executing unit and technical assistance (see Appendix 2 of this Report for further details on components).

(1) Soil and water management: this component was conceived to provide infrastructure for the capture and storage of water for livestock (ponds and wells) and human consumption (cisterns) in the project area. With the exception of pumping and irrigation equipment, which would be financed by credits to the beneficiaries, all the works were financed from project funds by transfers to organized groups of beneficiaries. Resources were allocated for hydrological surveys, experimental watershed management and incentives for the protection of farm ponds. (2) production support activities: this component comprised five sub-components, namely: (a) training – staff: all the project staff would receive technical training, workshops and seminars at national and international level; (b) training – farmers and fishermen: a broad programme of training in organizational and technical subjects was included covering all the project beneficiaries. Special efforts were made to assign training lines to women; (c) on-farm technology validation and transfer: to reach some 5 200 producers, 100 validation trials were programmed and over 3 000 workshops on the main crops and livestock in the area; (d) cadastral surveys and titling: it was planned to obtain title to all the land included in the irrigation and watershed management component; (e) marketing support: it was planned to involve a marketing adviser provided by FUDECO and to establish two teams, one in each State, to study marketing channels, disseminate market and pricing information and work with producers to improve the way they marketed their produce. (3) Credit: a credit programme would be implemented by establishing a trust fund in ICAP using IFAD resources. ICAP would apply its normal procedures and would receive a commission. The rate of interest would be set at the legal limit imposed under the Agrarian Reform Act. Technical assistance resources were included to promote rural cooperatives and financial services. It was expected that 2 454 producers would be beneficiaries of the component.

Organization: it was considered that participation of organized producers' groups in the project was necessary for the implementation of productive, technological and social change and to achieve the objectives of the producers and the project. To that end, two levels of organized participation of producers were envisaged: (i) at the level of management and decision-making in consultative committees, supervisory committees and the monitoring component; and (ii) as beneficiaries through groups and organizations formed around actions planned and coordinated by the project.

Gender: the appraisal report showed that 28 per cent of households were headed by women, and if it is considered that in a further 18 per cent there is temporary migration of men for four or five months a year, it means that 46 per cent of households had a woman in charge of production. There were no specific organizations for women in the zone. In order to integrate women in the project on terms comparable to men, various actions were defined which were novel to the region and the country.

Expected benefits: the execution of the project would, in the fullness of time (ten years from the start), yield a series of quantifiable economic benefits. The project design estimated an overall return of about 26.4 per cent when fully operational and income levels above the poverty line for the producers involved in the production models.

Organization of execution and arrangements with co-executors. The project executing agency, designated in the IEA and the Loan Agreement was the ICAP. ICAP was to form a project executing unit with staff dedicated exclusively to the executing of the project. The Executing Agency included: (a) an executive committee, and (b) the participation of other institutions and, of course, state and local governments. The Project Executing Unit (PEU) was planned with a very small staff. Two coordinators (one per state) would report to the PEU and ICAP would provide a credit coordinator. The PEU would sign a series of agreements with other state and/or private institutions [e.g. CIARA, the National Agriculture Institute (IAN), the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (MARN), etc.] for the co-execution of the various components and activities planned.

Execution of PROSALAFA

Context of implementation: the project was formulated in a political, institutional and economic context with markedly different characteristics from those which actually pertained during the extended implementation period. In fact, the project was executed under five presidencies, even more ministries concerned and two executing agencies (due to the demise of the originally designated ICAP). To these factors were added long periods of budgetary constraints which forced the project to operate with resources far short of those programmed. The political and institutional changes begun in the last three years have created a climate whose characteristics are ambivalent for the project. On the one hand, the constitutional reform which explicitly includes the State's responsibility for rural development offers highly favourable factors to rural development policy, objectives and activities consistent with those of PROSALAFA. On the other hand, the political instability during the period has affected the normal functioning of the State, and this has had an adverse effect on the project.

Results4

Financial execution of PROSALAFA: at the end of September 2002, total actual expenditure was some 70 per cent of the total programmed cost (including physical contingencies and inflation). The credit component accounts for the bulk of financial under-performance. The political and institutional instability and various public spending adjustment programmes during the years of execution go a long way to explaining this under-funding of project activities. The PEU was always able to spend the budgetary credits allocated, both in cutback years and later years when allocations were higher, which shows that the financial under-performance did not reflect management weaknesses in implementation.

The project coverage was greater than programmed. In fact, 6 471 beneficiaries were listed in all, 21 per cent more than programmed. This is a good outcome, although it means that coverage was less than planned in some components.

Execution of PROSALAFA components

Soil and water management component, water conservation and management sub-component: activity (a) capture and collection of rainwater for human consumption shows that the project exceeded the original goals by 35 per cent in quantity and volume of water collected. The number of families benefiting was increased (more than six times that originally envisaged), thus reaching 2 700 families and 16 200 people. As regards (b), rehabilitation and construction of ponds, 130 mixed ponds were constructed against the targeted 218. It is emphasized that the area irrigable from ponds was increased by 26 per cent and the number of goats provided with drinking places by 197 per cent. To these figures should be added the repair of 42 existing but abandoned ponds. For drinking ponds, the target was exceeded (169 against 150) as was the quantify of water collected (by 19 per cent), this because the ponds were made larger than originally planned (9 591m³ instead of 6 500m³). For activities (c), water extraction, the shallow and deep wells envisaged in the IEA were not constructed. This meant a 35 per cent reduction in the envisaged irrigation works and some 490 beneficiaries. Finally, in relation to (d) community works, although these works had not been envisaged in the IEA, 360 rural latrines were built. Experimental watershed management and environmental protection sub-component. This sub-component consisted of various actions, namely: (a) at micro-watershed level: work is only in progress on two micro-watersheds with an area of 15 per cent of that envisaged; (b) micro-watersheds to feed ponds: it was originally decided that protection and micro-watershed management activities should be provided for all ponds, setting a target of 280 ponds thus protected. To date, a large part of these actions have been implemented; (c) works protection associations: it was decided that there should be 100 associations responsible for protection of their works and 98 are doing so; (d) experimental management tests: the project extension had as a goal to undertake 28 tests of this kind all of which have been completed; (e) experimental management trials: 13 of the 15 trials are being carried out; (f) market gardens: the 44 planned market gardens have been created; (g) technical assistance events: 2 906 of the 3 000 events envisaged have taken place.

With respect to the production support activities component, the results for the staff training and training for farmers and fishermen sub-components are as follows: training of technicians and professionals has strengthened the capacity of the technical staff through 73 training events covering 1 336 participants. Training for producers and other beneficiaries achieved significant results. There were 466 events aimed at producers, involving 3 489 men and 3 411 women. These results were better than programmed. As to generation, validation and transfer of technology to farms, 100 validation trials and 300 workshops on the main crops and livestock in the region were programmed to reach 5 200 producers. The results far exceeded these targets. Over 6 000 producers were reached through 329 validation trials and over 6 700 technology transfer activities. During the implementation of PROSALAFA, new methods of technology validation and transfer were developed with the technology demonstration units (UDRT), local rural research committees (CIAL) and the introduction of rural facilitators (180). Concerning support to artisanal fishermen, the results fell far short of those envisaged in the IEA. The main activity programmed, the construction and provision of 30 boats to some 180 associated families did not happen. Actually, only two boats were provided and in each case the associates were brothers and thus only four families benefited. The results for cadastral surveys and titling were also meagre. It was planned to obtain title to all the land involved, but only 160 properties out of a total of 1 100 could be regularized. As to marketing support and promotion of micro-enterprises, the results were satisfactory although they differed from those set out in the IEA. The project amply exceeded the targets for studies, training and technology transfer on market and product related topics, as well as the creation of rural micro-enterprises. In all, 1 785 events took place on these topics, attended by 9 178 participants.

On the credit component, PROSALAFA executed the component through three parallel and simultaneous lines of action. These lines were substantially different from those envisaged in the IEA which, in the view of the interim evaluation, is an appropriate adjustment, although not necessarily complete, to changes in the environment and the beneficiaries actual needs. In financial terms, implementation achieved only 18 per cent of the amount originally programmed. In reality, no credits were ever granted through ICAP (which granted high subsidies through negative real interest rates). A revolving fund for rural activities (FRAC) was funded by the project and agreements were signed with state funds with similar characteristics to ICAP (FONDAEL and FONECRA). The most novel and effective was the establishment of rural banks (similar to the Economic Development of Poor Rural Communities Project (PRODECOP) model). In all, some 1 400 producers in the two states were assisted, less than the number of 2 454 identified in the appraisal report, meaning that only 57 per cent of the envisaged population could be covered. Credits of USD 963 000 were placed in all, only 60 per cent of which came from project funds, the remainder being financed from producers' savings in the rural banks.

Organization: the establishment of grass-roots organizations, virtually non-existent at the start of the project, has been extremely successful. There are now over 900 organized groups based around water sources and some 270 organized settlements around other services. Consolidation of the more highly developed organizations (e.g. formation of a second level of organizations at municipal or regional level) is so far at an embryonic stage. Certainly, the sustainability of the actions and achievements to date will depend on establishing organizations at this level.

Gender: the results are satisfactory: (a) women's involvement is most significant in micro-enterprises and crafts, at 54 per cent, followed in descending order by rural banks and neighbourhood associations (42 per cent), cisterns (22 per cent) and finally producers' associations (17 per cent); (b) out of the total participants in training events for producers during the project life, 49.4 per cent were women; (c) PROSALAFA supported the formation through training, technical assistance and credit of 58 micro-enterprises to the benefit of 357 associates, 193 of whom (54 per cent) were women; (d) PROSALAFA provided financial support and time-saving technology such as cisterns to store rainwater and water supplied by the municipality, latrines and improved stoves for the benefit of the family as a whole and women in particular; (e) in the rural banks, women make up 42 per cent of the membership and participate actively as shareholders and applicants for credit, and hold the majority of management posts; (f) monitoring and evaluation: the PEU has developed a satisfactory model for annual operating reports, which give a breakdown of activities for men and women, allocating financial and technical resources and clearly defining the scope of each component in quantitative terms.

The performance of organizations involved shows differences. On the one hand, IFAD demonstrated a highly satisfactory continuity and monitoring capacity. On the other, the Government demonstrated several failures in fulfilling its financing obligations, which led to considerable delays; but despite the changes in institutions, it respected the management and technical autonomy of the PEU. The PEU's performance, as well as being highly efficient, despite the financial constraints, must be highly praised for its operational discipline. The cooperating institution's performance, finally, was mediocre, with few and brief supervisory visits, apart from a few exceptions where excellent results were achieved with the advice of conscientious consultants.

Impact on Rural Poverty and sustainability5

With the standardization of observations under the new IFAD evaluation framework, it is possible to analyse in greater detail the impact on the beneficiary population in its various aspects. In this respect, PROSALAFA has contributed significantly to: (i) increases in the physical and financial assets of the families especially in productive aspects of ponds and increased irrigated areas and access to water for human consumption through cisterns. Savings have increased due to the increased income generated by the project and other sources but, above all, they have been channelled into self-management through rural banks established by the project; (ii) increases in human assets with special emphasis on knowledge and skills and local successes in introducing fair gender approaches; (iii) increases in social capital through the establishment of organizations which did not exist when the project started; (iv) increases in agricultural and livestock productivity and production through the successful adoption of technologies proposed by the project with an undeniable impact on local food security; (v) positive if limited impact on the environment bearing in mind the complexity of the problem in this semi-arid zone and the need to extend the scope of actions; and (vi) increase in the population's capacity to relate to the rest of society and public authorities, albeit still at a preliminary stage. PROSALAFA has generated a raft of changes and impacts in the region with undeniable positive effects on the economic and social well-being of its people.

Project evaluation: conclusions, insights and recommendations

A synthetic judgement or evaluation of the project's performance is always necessary even if it does not always strictly reflect all the aspects involved. In this regard, PROSALAFA can be qualified as a project whose performance is more than satisfactory, given the contextual obstacles, but it is still unfinished in terms of consolidating its achievements and fully achieving its original objectives.

The project managed to overcome the main obstacle identified during its formulation, which was the shortage of water for human consumption, irrigation and animal drinking places. This result was largely due to the great success in motivating and establishing grass-roots organizations which had not previously existed in the area. These significantly facilitated the tasks of generating, validating and transferring technology. Despite the lack of institutional credit (which did not seriously hinder investment in farms) the project instituted a valid alternative for mobilizing resources and access to financial services through the rural banks. All these outcomes made very considerable contributions to the objective of improving beneficiaries' real incomes and led to various positive impacts on their social well-being. These are the main strengths of PROSALAFA's performance.

As against the foregoing, the project did not cover all the demand for productive water supply (especially extraction) nor did it cover all the irrigable areas programmed which meant lower individual and overall economic returns. Neither was it able to consolidate a sustainable system of rural financing. The adoption of technology and the appropriate introduction of irrigation methods is still incomplete and there are considerable shortcomings in the efficient management of natural resources, including integrated programming agencies. The considerable achievements in grass-roots organization are limited by the absence of higher level organizations which, as well as serving producers, increase their bargaining powers vis-à-vis the rest of society and the State. A combination of operational and/or conceptual weaknesses were identified in several activities, e.g. marketing, support for artisanal fishing, regularization of land tenure, gender. These weaknesses can be remedied.

The main conclusions on the implementation of PROSALAFA are set out as a series of strengths and weaknesses. However, it is important to note that in the opinion of the Interim Evaluation Mission, the overall strengths outweigh the weaknesses in terms of the project's objectives.

Conclusions

The conclusions set out here should be regarded as general. There are a considerable number of "specific conclusions" related to project components and activities which are set out in Appendix 3 to this Report.

(a) PROSALAFA's performance shows that even in the difficult circumstances in the country, the project was able to implement its main activities and components and achieve a significant number of positive results or outcomes, either in terms of the positive impact on the beneficiaries' well-being or in laying the foundations of such impacts in the future. The proper selection of PEU technical staff and respect for their experience and responsibilities seems to be the key to this result.

Despite the institutional and policy changes and the considerable delays in budgetary financing which characterized the project's execution, the PEU managed to execute the main components and set a sound basis for a dynamic process of rural development.

(b) PROSALAFA has reached almost 6 500 families in the area with various services, albeit primarily with activities to promote organization and training. These results are a remarkable achievement compared with the initial situation. It was found that PROSALAFA has been implemented with great energy and increasing efficiency and effectiveness. Over and above the observations focused on the project components and approaches, it should be noted that PROSALAFA is now well established in the region, with products and effects well disseminated and significant success in establishing the bases for achieving the initial objectives.

The beneficiary population sees the project as reason for the improvements in their well-being, incomes and, above all, their integration in society. There are clear signs that the process of emigration in several areas has been halted and even considerably reduced as a result of the activities stimulated by the project. A social fabric has been woven, albeit as yet embryonic, but with sound grass-roots organizations already able to formulate proposals and co-execute infrastructure and productive activities.

(c) After almost ten years operating in a difficult institutional and economic environment, PROSALAFA succeeded in overcoming the main obstacle identified during its formulation, namely the scarcity of water for human consumption, irrigation and animal drinking places. This outcome was achieved through efficient and effective management and great success in motivation and grass-roots organization hitherto non-existent in the zone. However, the achievements are not yet sufficient to satisfy either the initial demand or the demand generated during the years of implementation.

The experience gained in the programming and implementation of surface water sources (including cisterns for water for human consumption) is a remarkable achievement which can and must be replicated in the future in the light of the huge demand present. The adoption of efficient irrigation technologies (e.g. "artisanal" and/or modern trickle, ferti-irrigation and integrated pest control) is another major success.

Nevertheless, efforts to collect water are rendered inefficient if irrigation technologies at farm level are primitive. Irrigation by flooding in semi-arid conditions is an enormous waste of the most vital and most scarce resource. In PROSALAFA, trickle irrigation is a technological leap which must be exploited based on the use of black plastic hoses to pipe the water from source to the place of application using natural gravity or pumps.

The dearth of experience in obtaining underground water for productive purposes precludes the drawing of lessons on its future feasibility, despite the elapse of years of implementation. At pilot level, at least, the project should have undertaken some such works in selected locations.

In the case of deep wells, where considerable investment is needed in drilling, the installation of pumping equipment, and its subsequent operation and maintenance, these characteristics were considered to render this solution non viable for the project's target producers. Moreover, it should be noted that the availability of sustainable underground water is a very complex subject in the Venezuelan semi-arid areas given the great competition for extraction and the current lack of a properly applied legal regulatory framework. However, any other action to exploit underground water at lesser depths was also abandoned. The project should have undertaken a series of tests to exploit the underground water beneath the beds of streams and rivers through shallow wells and filtration chambers. Such works are very cheap and can be carried out by the producers themselves.

The possibility of developing additional irrigated areas through wells, preferably, however, also using available resources to continue with cooperatively managed surface sources using pipelines, could help to improve the distribution which up to now has almost exclusively benefited beneficiaries owning land adjoining the existing ponds.

(d) PROSALAFA demonstrates the need to introduce integrated approaches to environment management in projects to combat rural poverty in the fragile ecological conditions of tropical semi-arid areas. The objective of achieving "rational management of natural resources" was only marginally achieved by the project because of weaknesses in implementation and the approach set out in the project design.

A series of actions must be taken, before the project is concluded, to ensure that activities are undertaken with a more integrated approach to soil, water and biomass management in semi-arid areas. Calculating the production of biomass is the only way of determining the necessary adjustment of the current burden of animal grazing in the project areas and, as far as possible, by watersheds and micro-watersheds. This would allow an initial estimated zoning of the project area taking account of the fragility of the environment in terms of resource constraints, water and vegetation, in order to set priorities and focus watershed management efforts on future animal grazing. At the same time, a study needs to be done in the near future on the resilience of feed biomass, both grasslands and natural and introduced woodlands, in order to measure the potential support for livestock based on feed balances and consistent with the climatic data collected at the same place.

It is important for the project to open up a range of assistance to goat-farmers who have not adopted the currently offered intensive or semi-intensive technological package, which by its nature concerns a minority of producers. As well as a vision centred on technical-production aspects, an alternative way of managing the natural grazing of the semi-arid areas should also be provided. By no means should what has been achieved be abandoned, but at the same time, the approach to technology transfer should be redirected to this kind of livestock farming.
The successful experiments in conservation of micro-watersheds (especially in Falcón) are an achievement whose extension and replication in other project areas would make the interventions more sustainable. It is of the utmost importance to involve more social and institutional actors with the necessary awareness and capacity for action to halt and reverse the process of soil degradation.

(e) PROSALAFA has reached almost 6 500 families in the area with various services, albeit primarily with activities to promote organization and training. These targets are a remarkable achievement compared with the initial situation. The training of producers is considered to be one of the most significant achievements of the project and a key factor in the increase, not only in the population's technical capacity, but also fundamentally in its self-confidence and organization.

In particular, in addition to the excellent agreements with co-executors, the establishment of the "rural facilitators" group should also be highlighted as an additional system for training and transfer of technology in the communities.

However, PROSALAFA, like other projects, started with a very broad range of subjects generally linked to project promotion actions. This process later results in "stagnation" in institutional provision and the possibility of satisfying the beneficiaries' more structured demands at lower cost is lost.

(f) Given the competitive advantages of the region in the production of fruit and vegetables under irrigation, both irrigation and the adoption of appropriate technologies to ensure viable productivity are an essential requirement if production is to be increased. PROSALAFA has contributed successfully to providing irrigable areas and the necessary technologies to the project beneficiaries even though the coverage is so far limited.

Indeed, fruit and vegetable production under irrigation in Lara State supplies almost the entire national demand for onions, tomatoes and peppers, and large percentages of melons and watermelons. The region's production of pineapples and other crops (e.g. zabila) is also the highest in the country. Large agricultural enterprises with major investments in irrigation systems are the main producers. Of course, they are also one of the main sources of non-farm employment for the rural poor in the region. This structural situation provides and will provide a permanent "market niche" for small producers to the extent that they can overcome technological constraints and improve marketing channels.

Over 6 000 producers were reached through 329 validation trials and over 6 700 technology transfer activities. During the implementation of PROSALAFA, new methods of technology validation and transfer were developed with the technology demonstration units (UDRT), local rural research committees (CIAL) and the establishment of rural facilitators (180). The validation of intensive or semi-intensive goat-farming models is a positive achievement even though there has so far been only limited take-up by producers.

However, the percentages of adoption of agricultural technologies are adequate but not optimal. As well as the water constraints, the adoption of technologies by more producers seems to have been hampered by the shortage of time to mature transfer activities, because it is only since 1998 that more efficient and innovative instruments, e.g. rural facilitators, UDRT and CIAL, have been included.

(g) The marketing of agricultural inputs and products is still an obstacle to achieving higher agricultural incomes among the beneficiaries. While there are stable and expanding markets for most of the market garden products, the marketing channels are still imperfect and allow intermediaries to make extraordinary profits. "Non-traditional" agricultural and animal products and artisanal products still require support to develop markets and more effective marketing channels.

The wide geographical spread of the small farms, the remoteness from "market centres" and the lack of organization of small farmers generate conditions in which intermediaries who approach the farms have a disproportionate bargaining power. The project has so far done little up to now to remedy this situation. For example, a daily information service on agricultural market prices and seasonal analysis of some agricultural products and live animals was started.

The project's efforts centred on the local context and training. Through participation in local fairs and exhibitions, the work of identifying markets was begun, and at the same time it was possible to launch forms of artisanal organization and strengthen the organization of productive activities. The marketing and micro-enterprises sub-component now needs more specific attention.

(h) The results obtained in relation to artisanal fishing fell far short of those envisaged in the IEA. The main activity programmed, the construction and provision of 30 boats to some 180 associated families, did not happen. This particular group of project beneficiaries continues to display situations of extreme poverty and marginalization.

Constraints of a cultural nature and network of power relationships involving intermediaries and shipowners appear to create strong barriers to association of artisanal fishermen, especially the poorest who are piece-workers.

(i) The results for cadastral surveys and titling were meagre. The programme envisaged obtaining title to all the land covered by the irrigation and watershed management component, but less than 160 cases could be regularized out of an estimated demand of over 1 100 farms. It remains important to continue to regularize the precarious land tenure of the small farmers.
The legal uncertainty as to land property rights persists in the project area. This situation could, in other circumstances, have been a major obstacle to the construction of water infrastructure works and other permanent improvements but, in reality, this does not seem to have been the case. The "de facto" possession of the improved land is respected by the communities and no cases of disputes were recorded. The PEU, rightly, decided to proceed with works even on farms without perfect title but with duly accredited evidence of possession. Nevertheless, the absence of titles of ownership is a considerable obstacle to guaranteeing formal credit transactions.

(j) The credit and financial services component was executed in a substantially different way from the original design which contained serious weaknesses both in estimates of demand for financing and the supply and channelling of credit resources. In financial terms, implementation achieved only 18 per cent of the amount originally programmed. PROSALAFA continued to reformulate the component throughout its execution so that there are now three co-existing modalities of credit (e.g. rural banks, FRAC and agreements with state funds). Analysis of experience and careful formulation of a sustainable rural financing strategy are critical aspects for the future.

PROSALAFA executes the component through three parallel and simultaneous lines of action. These lines were substantially different from those envisaged in the IEA which, in the view of the interim evaluation, is an appropriate, although not necessarily complete, adjustment to changes in the environment and the beneficiaries actual needs. In reality, no credit was ever made through ICAP (which granted high subsidies through negative real interest rates). A revolving fund for rural activities (FRAC) was funded by the project and agreements were signed with state funds with similar characteristics to ICAP (FONDAEL and FONECRA). The most novel and effective was the establishment of rural banks (similar to the PRODECOP model).

The rural banks, in fact, have proved to be a most successful experiment in rural micro-finance in the region as a powerful instrument of association among the target population. The vulnerability of these mechanisms is a challenge to be overcome in ensuring greater benefits of these financial services to the population involved.

Nevertheless, the financial services need to be reformulated to focus on sustainable rural micro-finance with the potential for growth. Mechanisms involving "hidden subsidies" masquerading as forms of credit should be avoided. When necessary, explicit subsidies should be adopted (as in the case of existing and approved works) and never through apparent credits that conceal subsidies in the financial conditions.

(k) The establishment of grass-roots organizations, virtually non-existent at the start of the project, has been extremely successful. The consolidation of the more highly developed organizations (e.g. formation of a second level of organizations at municipal or regional level) is as yet at an embryonic stage. Certainly, the sustainability of the actions and achievements to date will depend on establishing organizations at this level.

However, there has been no progress in higher level organizational models which unite producers and grass-roots organizations in the management of specialized services, such as marketing of inputs and products and financial services. Indeed, there is a fragmentation of small producers' organizations, often under the same heading, united on the basis of individual works, mainly ponds, which limits their involvement in economic activities on a more dynamic scale.

One of the causes, probably, is that there has been no proper monitoring of the execution of activities under agreements with state institutions and the impossibility of giving effect to the ideas generated by training. Thus producers are not much involved and have little impact in official decision-making bodies at local, municipal and state level. The vulnerability of the present grass-roots organization (including the rural banks) raises doubts as to the sustainability of the rural development actions initiated by PROSALAFA. This weakness must be corrected through a process clearly geared to achieving greater institutional strength and self-management capacity.

(l) The gender approach was successfully adopted by PROSALAFA despite the persistence of some conceptual and operational shortcomings. Although the project design addressed the gender theme through the "women in development" approach current at the time when it was formulated, the project itself aligned itself with the new gender in development approach, which indicates PROSALAFA's ability to adjust to progress in this subject.

The work on the gender approach was successful from the project perspective of providing women and men with access to services and achieving greater family integration in productive activities, crafts, micro-enterprises, credit and more equitable forms of family and social relationships.

However, the project did not develop a concerted strategy with the actors clearly and specifically setting out a gender strategy, with a conceptual framework, performance indicators, methodology and other forms of operation for the application of the gender approach and a monitoring system to measure progress and make adjustments. Nor were sufficient training sessions held for technical staff and there were no such events for basic producers.

(m) The PEU's management performance was more than satisfactory. The project maintained continuity of management and the majority of professional and technical staff for almost eight years. This continuity, truly praiseworthy given the institutional instability of the period allowed lines of activity to be maintained, consistent approaches and constant actions for the benefit of the target group albeit with material resources significantly below those budgeted. The monitoring and evaluation functions were adequately performed although with some operational weaknesses.

The decentralized execution of PROSALAFA was an advantage in preserving the project from the many changes in institutional authorities and office-holders. This would not have been sufficient if the PEU technical team had not maintained a high level of professionalism and the maximum possible independence from external pressures. In this respect, the importance of the mechanisms for competitive selection and contracting of the majority of its members should be emphasized. Certainly, the change in executing agency (from ICAP to CIARA) did not have a negative impact on the performance of the project activities.

The training, selection and assignment of "rural facilitators" as assistants to project services and agents of community change is also considered to be a highly positive management policy which enhanced the positive effects of the project. Certainly, the preliminary review of the available information also shows adequate capacity in contracting of civil works at costs apparently lower than the benchmark. In addition, the project rightly developed a policy of inter-institutional agreements with various public institutions at national or state level. Unfortunately, the lack of budgetary resources curtailed most of these activities. Inter-institutional relations with municipal or state bodies were never neglected by the project, but the results reflected varying degrees of success from one area to another and, in general, a balance of still unfinished work.

The interruption of the inter-institutional agreements with the Agricultural Research National Institute (INIA), the Environment and Natural Resources Ministry (MARN) and selected municipal authorities threatens the sustainability of several of the achievements. These agreements should be quickly restored and, in the case of the municipal authorities, efforts made to strengthen the permanent support services which they could provide.

The M&E system performed adequately, including the base study and the establishment of appropriate indicators to monitor the components as well as an excellent systematic analysis of the results. However, there are some operational weaknesses in collecting gender information and carrying out full impact studies.

The reasons behind the formulation and execution of the project persist. The extended execution of PROSALAFA (until the existing resources of the IFAD loan are exhausted) is fully justified in this situation, as is consideration of a second phase of the project. Without prejudice to the foregoing, the finalization of these proposals should necessarily include proposed solutions to some of the weaknesses identified.

Insights

The implementation of PROSALAFA provides the basis for drawing a set of insights to be considered in future projects both in the country and in other places with similar characteristics and problems. Clearly, preventing rural poverty in tropical semi-arid conditions is one of the most common problems in many countries in the region and the world. The main insights can be summarized as follows:

(a) Need to introduce integrated approaches for projects to prevent rural poverty in fragile environmental conditions in tropical semi-arid areas: the existence of semi-arid ecosystems in the tropics is generally associated with the presence of populations of rural poor. The interplay between the fragility of the ecosystem and the related low agricultural productivity lies at the root of the poverty found there. It is commonly perceived that the productive practices of small producers are associated with the destruction of natural resources and desertification. Faced with such a diagnostic, typical proposals concentrate on recommendations of an agronomic nature aimed at intensifying the agricultural activities of small producers and disseminating knowledge and practice on soil and water conservation. It should be added that these proposals do not necessarily include all the elements necessary to achieve an effective balance between the ecosystem and production. PROSALAFA offers an example where this type of proposal is frankly inadequate. Firstly, it ignores the presence of other economic and social actors (e.g. medium and large-scale livestock breeders and agriculture using irrigation; woodcutters; mining, etc.) whose activities (often on a much larger scale) also threaten the stability of the ecosystem. Secondly, reversing processes of desertification which have already started requires interventions in watersheds in which, because of their size, it is beyond the capacity of small producers to undertake works on the scale required. Finally, the necessary coordination of actions between the public sector (legislation, implementation and enforcement, large-scale public works, etc.), the private enterprise sector and small producers must be conducted in smooth collaboration. Otherwise the efforts of each of the parties may prove fruitless and vain. Consequently, in designing projects of this kind, all these aspects should be taken into account, both at the diagnostic stage and in the formulation of the proposals which conform the projects and the components within them.

(b) Appropriate use of underground water: the collection of water is vital to the subsistence and production of the inhabitants of semi-arid areas. A solution put forward in many cases (including PROSALAFA) is the construction of small dams to collect rainwater. These dams are less efficient in conserving the water collected than natural underground reservoirs. PROSALAFA recommended their use but the component was not implemented. In the case of deep wells, where major investment is needed for drilling and installation of pumping equipment and its subsequent operation and maintenance, it was considered that these characteristics made the solution non viable for the project's target producers. Moreover, it should be noted that the availability of sustainable underground water is a very complex subject in the Venezuelan semi-arid areas given the great competition for its extraction and the current lack of a properly applied legal regulatory framework. However, any other action to exploit underground water at lesser depths was also abandoned. The project should have undertaken a series of tests to exploit the underground water beneath the beds of streams and rivers through shallow wells and filtration chambers. Such works are very cheap and can be carried out by the producers themselves. The lesson is to analyse all the aspects involved so as to recommend the exploitation of underground water and introduce elements and techniques suited to the small scale operations of the poor producers.

(c) Introduction of high performance irrigation technologies: efforts to collect water are rendered inefficient if the irrigation technologies at farm level are primitive. Irrigation by flooding in semi-arid conditions is an enormous waste of an extremely vital and scarce resource. In PROSALAFA, trickle irrigation is a technological leap which must be exploited, based on the use of black plastic hoses to pipe the water from source to the place of application using natural gravity or pumps. Future designs must consider including the technically and economically most efficient technologies.

(d) Training as a process of modular training by strategic subject areas: this approach will be much more effective and efficient than a series of totally unconnected events highly reliant on what is on offer from institutions. PROSALAFA and other projects start with a very broad range of subjects generally linked to project promotion actions. The problem is that this is followed by "stagnation" in institutional provision and the possibility of satisfying the beneficiaries' more structured demands at lower cost is lost.

(e) Rural facilitators: strengthening local capacities and the sustainability of many project actions involve the training of rural facilitators who must be associated with producers' organizations and public and private institutional provision. The design of future projects should seriously consider their inclusion in training, organization and technology transfer activities.

(f) Credit and financial services: the design of these components very often appears to be inconsistent with the rest of the components. In PROSALAFA, the original design proved, in the light of the realities of implementation, excessive and lacked adequate operating mechanisms. Certainly, most of the investment and capital assigned by the beneficiaries was self-financed or financed from credits for much lower amounts than originally formulated. The rural banks model which meets the needs for operating credit and is based on self-management of community savings and capital does appear to have satisfied existing demand. On the other hand, this innovation does not appear to have been accompanied by an "exit strategy". The evolution and consolidation of these mechanisms raises questions which must be answered if this excellent initiative is not to fail. The lesson learned is to design this component in more flexible terms and to identify "comprehensive models" for the development and consolidation of sustainable mechanisms of rural micro-finance.

(g) Conditions for the stability and efficiency of the PEU: PROSALAFA is an example of how despite the extreme political and institutional instability, the PEU maintained a single management with little staff turnover and performed with great efficiency. An analysis of this situation shows that two lessons can be learned: (a) that the appointment of PEU managers and professionals should be through open and fair competition; and (b) that management decisions should enjoy a wide degree of autonomy from the authorities and institutions involved.

Recommendations

The Recommendations have a dual purpose: to contribute to a better conclusion of the project (up to June or December 2003) and to assist in the design of any second phase. The Recommendations are set out under the following headings:

(a) On the soil and water management component: the following are recommended: (1) to continue works for the exploitation surface water resources in line with demands identified by producers' organizations, setting priorities for scarce financial resources; (2) tapping water, if only at pilot level, with shallow wells for small groups of producers. The possibility of irrigating additional areas managed cooperatively (with wells or ponds) and the use of hoses, could help to improve the distribution which so far has been almost exclusively confined to beneficiaries who possess land adjoining existing ponds; (3) implementing a series of actions, before the end of the project, to ensure that the activities undertaken take a more integrated approach to soil, water and biomass management in semi-arid areas; (4) commission a survey of the productive capacity of the existing natural grazing using satellite techniques which are low cost in relation to the benefits. Calculating the production of biomass is the only way of determining the necessary adjustment of the current burden on animal grazing in the project areas and, as far as possible, by watersheds and micro-watersheds; (5) undertake an initial estimated zoning of the project area taking account of the fragility of the environment in terms of resource constraints, water and vegetation, in order to set priorities and focus watershed management efforts on animal grazing in the future; (6) commission in the near future a study is needed on the resilience of feed biomass, both grasslands and natural and introduced woodlands, in order to measure the potential support for livestock based on feed balances and consistent with the climatic data collected at the same place; (7) extend the pilot surface areas by constructing larger water collection zones using rainwater harvesting techniques; (8) in the case of ponds for animal watering and mixed use, it is important to consider an effective perimeter fence, as originally planned, to restrict access by animals to drinking ponds, prolong their useful life and create an anti-parasite barrier; (9) it is suggested that the PEU and producers should undergo training in basic techniques on management of natural resources for grazing in the semi-arid areas of Falcón and Lara States. Becoming familiar with these aspects is a necessary step in being able to have a significant impact in the project area in the next few years.

(b) On the support to production component: (1) introduce the practice of "rainwater harvesting" to maximize the critical forage balance which encourages the process of desertification from which the region suffers; (2) increase the transfer of trickle irrigation technology and other water-saving practices; (3) the project should extend the range of provision to goat farmers who do not adopt the intensive or semi-intensive technological package offered up to now, which by its nature applies to only a minority of producers. From a vision centred on technical-production aspects, an alternative should be provided in the form of management of the natural semi-arid grazing. Under no circumstances should the achievements to date be abandoned, but at the same time the focus of this sub-component should be re-aligned; (4) establishment of an agreement with the normal education system with a student population of over 8 000 to introduce the environment and its protection as a core subject; (5) the identification of training provision should include demand from the regional environment and not confine itself strictly to the project areas so as to increase the competitiveness of the local labour force which, inevitably, will migrate temporarily to those destinations. It is recommended that a start be made on designing mechanisms to include these training requirements; (6) strengthen the facilitators' initiative in Falcón State in publishing the journal "El Semiárido" with logistical and training support in coordination with FUNDALECTURA, and try to create the basis of a similar experiment in Lara State, as well as selecting new case studies of experiences of producers involving rural facilitators in organizing them; (7) form a central unit concerned with marketing and micro-enterprises for the two states. Marketing will require more attention devoted to "non-traditional" products of local micro-enterprises; (9) for artisanal fishermen, a specific study is recommended on the functioning of this productive and social subsector in order to design more appropriate interventions to combat poverty and promote their economic and social development before the conclusion of the project. The results of this study should be used as inputs for the formulation of a specific component in any second phase of PROSALAFA; (10) continue the actions in progress on titling and for new ones adjust to the forms of presentation sponsored by the National Land Institute (INTI).

(c) On the credit component: (1) A moderate amount of the project credit resources should be channelled to the rural banks. These are the soundest base for proper allocation and collection of loans. This does not mean that the FRAC's operations should be curtailed but that they should be exclusively linked to the rural banks or their associates; (2) reservations are expressed concerning the channelling of credit resources through the regional funds. Until the costs and income structure of these funds have been thoroughly analysed, it would be sensible to reduce the level of these operations; (3) it is recommended that only positive real interest rates should be used; (4) to consolidate the system of rural banks, it is recommended to open a dialogue with representatives of the banks in both states, with a view to forming a second level entity (union, federation or association) which can take responsibility for aspects crucial to their development.

(d) On gender: (1) in collaboration with CIARA, consolidate the experience of work in the field on gender and focus actions on families or rural facilitators selected to apply these approaches; (2) establish regulatory measures to provide greater opportunities for new community leaderships, with emphasis on those with least experience of decision-making – women, young people – with training support; (3) the project should engage a specialist to further develop methodological mechanisms for reaching the family and an information system showing the participation of men and women separately.

(e) On organizations: (1) definition of an exit strategy and sustainability strategy involving links with municipal and state governments and institutions; (2) establish the bases for the creation and strengthening of larger organizations; (3) stimulate legalization of civil associations; (4) develop dialogue with and advice to state governments to generate mechanisms for institutional collaboration between public and private entities; (5) equip facilitators with better knowledge, qualifications and skills, promote networking between them and present them as service-providers to institutional authorities, private organizations, municipalities and state governments.

(f) On actions at governmental level: (1) the Government will have to provide budgetary credits to allow the use of still unutilized resources from the IFAD loan and the counterpart local resources to complete a series of outstanding activities, many of them listed above, within a period of not more than 12 to 14 months; (2) national institutions and those of Lara and Falcón States should form a minimum organic structure, using their own financial and human resources, to follow up on specific actions and consolidate organizational and economic processes among the population assisted by PROSALAFA; (3) it is of the utmost importance to maintain the PEU teams fully operational until the completion of the project. Strictly speaking, if a second phase of PROSALAFA materializes, the PEU teams must play an active role in the formulation work as the counterparts of the international expert teams. It is recommended that the position of the PEU technical teams should be confirmed until completion of the project and beyond, in the event of a transition to a second phase; (4) in particular, for the purposes of "closing off the project" properly or formulating a second phase, it is extremely important to have the M&E unit fully operational and carrying out several activities which are still unfinished. It is especially recommended that the M&E unit be kept fully functioning to complete the project monitoring and impact evaluation reports, and to complete the studies which will serve as inputs for the formulation of a second phase, as well as conceptual inputs for the formulation of future projects in the country.


1. Environment Expert); Mr Hans Nusselder (Credit Expert); and Mr Héctor Ortega (Gender and Organizations Expert). Prof. Saulo Olavarrieta (National Expert in Semi-arid Hydrology) also participated in the Mission, financed with local resources. Mr Paolo Silveri, Evaluation Officer/IFAD, joined the Mission during the last week in the field.
2. For details, see the Ex ante Evaluation Report (IEA), IFAD 1991.
3. For further details, see Appendix 2 to the Main Report.
4. For details, see Appendix 3 and the Main Report.
5. See Appendix 6 to the Main Report for details of Evaluation Criteria: Orientation Framework.

 

LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Kagera Agricultural and Environmental Management Project

Tanzania  
March 2003

The evaluation was mounted by OE at the request of the Belgian Survival Fund with a two-fold objective: to assess and document Project impact and sustainability; and to develop insights and recommendations that will serve to improve Project activities during the remaining implementation period, the design of future projects and programmes in Tanzania. It is one of a series of evaluations based on the new IFAD Impact Evaluation Methodology. This framework: primarily stresses rural poverty impact, as a main measure of project success; includes assessment of performance of the Project, encompassing key criteria of relevance of objectives, effectiveness of achievement of objectives, and efficiency in implementation; and assesses performance of partners, that is, of IFAD, its cooperating institution, government, co-financiers, project management and other participants. Preparatory work by OE in a desk review of documents culminated in an Approach Paper that identified the main issues and elements of the evaluation. Subsequent briefings stressed that evaluation was to be independent and objective, emphasising actual operations and real outcomes on farms and in households and communities - and not just on a stereotyped analysis of records, reports and performance figures.

The evaluation took place in November/December 2002 and involved wide ranging and detailed discussions with key informants across the spectrum of participating parties; interviews with more than 200 farm families; over 30 in-depth group discussions; and completion of the new impact evaluation matrix forms in all five districts and, in brief format, in a village. Preliminary Mission findings, issues and recommendations were discussed at a Regional Wrap-up Meeting and Stakeholder Workshop in Bukoba; and, as amended, at a National Wrap-up Meeting. The findings presented here reflect the interactions with: 60 district, farmer, and Project delegates; and various senior ministry and partner agency officers in Tanzania.

Development and project perspective

The political system and economy of Tanzania have been transformed since the late 1980s and the country is acknowledged among the leaders in sub-Saharan Africa in economic reform and social equity. Since 1996, growth in real GDP has averaged over 4%, but GDP per head remains at around USD 250 and basic needs poverty still affects some 36% of the population. The predominantly subsistence-based agriculture sector has grown at 3% per year, employs 80% of the workforce and accounts for around 50% of both GDP and all exports. The planning of KAEMP coincided with decentralisation under the Local Government Reform Programme. In 2001/2002, the development policy framework was further enhanced by adoption of a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP); the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS); the Rural Development Strategy (RDS); and the new Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP).

All of these emphasise devolution, good governance, district self-reliance, private sector/NGO participation and gender equity in poverty alleviation. The clear PRSP priorities for development investment are: education; health; water; agriculture; roads; and the legal system. It is implicit that agriculture, as the main productive and income generating rural activity, must play the pivotal role in poverty reduction. Districts formulate their development plans on the basis of these reforms and priorities. Tanzania as a country and Kagera as a region are unusual in Third World development in enjoying a plentiful supply of land of reasonable quality, generally favourable climate and a varied, but benign natural resource base. This includes strong customary rights of use and effective security of tenure for farmers, although land is nominally state owned.

Main design features and changes

Project rationale and strategy. The major determinant of the rationale was the need to combat the adverse effects of the refugee influx of about 600 000 people, representing a nearly 40% increase of the local population. Their presence was exacerbating: the already declining soil fertility and agricultural productivity; depletion of vegetative cover; scarcity of safe, clean drinking water; the pressure on local health services; and the deteriorating condition of rural and village access roads. The severity of refugee impact was such that a strategy of direct action was needed to assure food security, household incomes, reversal of degradation and district ability to provide services.

This implied: in agriculture, supply of improved seeds, planting materials and inputs; and introduction of simple new husbandry techniques, such as integrated pest management (IPM) and integrated plant nutrition (IPN); in environment, strengthening of forestry staff, seedling production and tree planting; and in infrastructure and services interventions, tackling the constraints to productivity, marketing and well-being of: lack of equipment, supplies and training for health facilities; the time and effort involved in safe water collection; and the poor condition of rural roads. Implementation was lodged in the devolved local government system, as a means of district capacity building and orienting staff to participatory processes.

Project area and target group. Kagera is the remote north western region bordering Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Road access is difficult and services scarce in the rural areas. The Project area was defined as all five districts for the agricultural, environmental and project facilitation activities; but only four districts for health and three for roads works and water supply. The region has a favourable climate and land for crop production. The important agro-ecological zones are the Highland, High/Medium Rainfall Perennial Banana/Coffee Production zone; and the Lowland, Medium/Low Rainfall Annual Crop Production zone. At appraisal, the indigenous population was 1.6 million people in 290 000 households, dispersed in 550 villages with densities varying from 25 to 100 people per km2. Smallholder subsistence farming dominated the economy.

Poverty and welfare data indicated that the region was among the poorest in Tanzania. Over 40% of households were frequently deficient in staple food supply and over 80% were classified as poor. The target group universe was defined as between 170 000 and 195 000 households that comprised: the 30 to 40% of food-deficient families, with less than 1.2 acres of perennial crop or 5 acres of annual crop land - the primary target group; and the 40 to 50% of families that had some food security but no marketable surplus, with a perennial crop area of up to 2.5 acres or annual cropping of 5 to 7.5 acres - the secondary target group. Major causes of poverty were: distance from the road; lack of farm inputs, credit and extension; low prices, especially for coffee; inadequate access to safe water; scarcity of fuel wood; and lack of transport. The poorest families had: mud and thatch houses; limited cash crop production; no livestock; and pronounced child malnourishment.

Goal, Objectives and Components. The goal of the Project was to rehabilitate the region following the refugee encroachment and reverse the long term decline of agricultural production. The supporting objectives were to: improve household food production and incomes in a sustainable manner; support the process of improving environmental management through tree planting and water hyacinth control; improve access to safe drinking water supplies, health facilities and road access to villages; and strengthen the implementation and service delivery capacity of the relevant District Departments and assist development of a participatory approach to resource management.

The six year Project had four components and a number of key activities, as follows:

  • Agricultural Development: (Base cost USD 7.8 million, 40% of total)
  • Multiplication and Distribution of Seeds and Planting Material;
  • Production Inputs and Equipment Supply; and
  • Improved Crop Management - diffusion of IPM/IPN techniques.
  • Environmental Management: (Base cost USD 1.6m, 8% of total)
  • Communal and Individual Afforestation;
  • Control of Water Pollution; and
  • Institutional Strengthening
  • Rural Infrastructure - Health, Water Supply, Roads: (Base cost USD 8.1m, 42% of total; plus USD 4.1m loan from OPEC for more major roads)
  • Project Facilitation, Monitoring and Evaluation: (Base cost USD 1.8m, 9% of total)
  • PFMU - equipment, salarial and operating costs of co-ordination and administration; and
  • Districts - salaries, allowances, equipment, vehicles and training for district staff.

Total Project costs, including contingencies, were USD 20m, with the breakdown of financing as follows: IFAD loan - USD 14.8m; BSF grant - USD 2.5m; government - USD 2.1m; and beneficiaries - USD 0.6m. The OPEC loan of USD 4.1m for roads improvements was additional.

Implementation arrangements. The principal national level responsibility falls under the Presidents Office Regional Administration and Local Government Department, (PO-RALG), which, through the Prime Ministers Office, handles policy guidance and liaison with Ministries. At the region, accountability lies with the Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), who is backed up in practice by: the Project Steering Committee (PSC); and the Project Facilitation and Monitoring Unit (PFMU). In fact, the latter exercises the major tasks of guidance, arrangement of technical support to participating districts and downstream agencies; and dialogue with donors. At district level, Councils and Administrations are prime movers in planning and implementation of activities, backed up by the small District Project Facilitation Units (DPFUs). Key players are the District Executive Director (DED), the Chairperson of the District Council and the District Administrative Secretary (DAS). The ward is the link between villages and districts, particularly for planning, but in some cases has not been fully involved in Project operations. There is a wide range of competence and understanding among district staff and within Ward Executive Offices and Development Committees and in Village Assemblies and Governments. Village Finance, Economic Affairs and Planning Committees are, in theory, the source of Project proposals, but have considerable problems of capacity and capability.

Policy, Institutional and Design Changes. The ongoing evolution of agricultural and rural development policy has not conflicted with the established philosophy and operating modalities of KAEMP. The main institutional changes have been the relocation of the Regional Administration and Local Government Department; and devolution of agricultural, water and other technical functions to districts; these have also worked in favour of Project progress. Support of decentralisation and participatory village and district planning are key elements of the RDS that have received strong Project backing, but as yet with only limited results. Project facilitation and management has been flexible and responsive, leading to a number of design changes; the major of these are: the appraisal logical framework has been replaced by a more useful version and the logframe approach has begun to be introduced in village and district development planning; the increase in traditional staffing proposed at appraisal has been replaced by the use of consultants and appointment of unpaid, but well trained and assisted Farmer Cadre extensionists (FCs); the original contract arrangements with substantial incentives and subsidies to local groups and individuals have been switched to a system of advisory support for SGAs, other groups and informal farmer/seed growers; and the original rapid multiplication programme for cmd resistant cassava cultivars has had to be suspended and a new mother garden and farmer multiplier method employed.

Further changes have been: establishment of a new input supply and credit scheme in response to the failure of the original sub-component due to default/non-repayment; amended pattern of uptake for water supply interventions; promotion of diversification of crops and enterprises in response to adverse market conditions for coffee and in some areas, banana; the recent start to address the issues of marketing, which were not fully appreciated at appraisal; and the assimilation of IFAD-sponsored initiatives in gender mainstreaming training and HIV/AIDS mitigation.

Main implementation results

Financial aspects of performance. Of the total funds available of USD 24.12 million, expenditures to date are estimated at USD 18.71m, about 78%. Expenditures by financier are in all cases over 75% of original budget amounts. Main divergences by category of expenditure have been: input suppliers credit of only 7% of planned; and excessive salarial and operating costs, at 122% of budget. By component, significant divergences are: lower costs for agricultural development, at only 43% of planned, due to the demise of input credit; water supply expenditure of only 49% of planned; and excessive Project facilitation and monitoring costs, which are already 104% of those budgeted.

The aggregate status of outstanding loan and grant funds available for disbursement from the main sources is estimated as: IFAD loan - USD 1.66m, principally allocated to civil works (USD 0.50m) and supplier credit (USD 0.60m); BSF grant - USD 173 000; government USD 340 000; beneficiaries USD 50 000; and OPEC loan - USD 600 000, making an overall total of USD 2.82m.

Summary physical achievements. In overall coverage, the Project is estimated to have had a significant presence in 300 of the original 540 villages of the region, that is 159% of the initial target; and to have impacted 190 000 households, or 1 million people, representing 111% of target.

Agricultural development. In Agricultural Development, uptake of improved seeds and planting materials has exceeded target except for clonal coffee and cassava. The targeted 24 Seed Growers Associations (SGAs) have been formed - and 18 of them so far registered. In improved crop management, the Project has fulfilled its targets in establishing 200 IPM/IPN farmer groups, of which 190 are still active, including several womens groups and IFAD/FAO-assisted farmer field schools, with total membership in excess of 5 000 at present, over 30% of them women. IPM/IPN techniques have been adopted by an estimated 6 000 farmers in addition to group members. The production inputs and equipment supply activity has proved unviable - only 160 farmer loans from 5 stockists were made, default was rife, and legal action is in train to recover outstanding loans and costs. Agricultural training and capacity building included provision of seed laboratory and soil testing equipment and facilities and refurbishment of the Farmers Training Centre at ARDI-Maruku. Two hundred and nineteen Village Extension Officers (VEOs) and other district staff and 9 000 farmers and one hundred and forty four SGA leaders have received training in Project activities and management skills. Of singular importance has been the appointment and training of Farmer Cadre extensionists; over 80 are posted, each typically with 30 to 40 farmer clients who add strongly to the extension impetus inculcated by the KAEMP group structure.

Environmental management. In Environmental Management, there has been marked success in communal and individual afforestation, with a total of 3 280 acres and 2.1 million trees planted, an over 120% achievement. The claimed survival rate is 78%; Mission estimates put early growth rates at 50% to 80%. Eight hundred and forty tree nurseries have been established, about half operated by individual growers and half by groups, schools and other institutions; at least 50 nurseries are now operating commercially. Uptake of wood saving stoves is estimated at 1 800 households or 52% of target; and water hyacinth control has entailed release of more than 30 million weevils following 14 pre and post-release surveys as against 18 planned. The on-target technical training of 26 forest department and extension staff; nearly 3 000 farmers in nursery practice; and over 2 500 village leaders on land management and soil conservation has been completed. The main shortfalls in the targeted objectives have been in district institutional strengthening, where staff numbers have not increased; and in communal resource management initiatives, where few have yet been attempted.

Rural infrastructure. Under Rural Infrastructure, interventions in health appear to have directly covered about 900 000 people, with a bias to women and children. In equipment supply, a near-target 87 dispensary kits and 7 health centre kits were provided, but with some duplication and unsuitability. In malaria control, 62% of the targeted number of bed nets were procured of which 60% has either been sold or issued free; all planned training was carried out in year one, 1998, with 100% coverage as planned of District Health Management Team members who were trained as trainers, but only 27 to 32% of the planned lower echelon staff - and none of the important traditional birth attendants - trained. The prescribed cost sharing for health services has not been widely accepted or applied.

Water supply. The water supply sub-component changed with the trend of demand, but discrepancies remain between achievements recorded and those able to be validated by the Mission. Technical design of works was to be done by district staff and construction by contractor/NGO. The competence of some technical design was questioned by the Mission; and much construction work seems to have been undertaken by district staff rather than by contractor, the reasons, costs and related conditions for which are unclear. The planned training of 18 technicians and 2 hydrologists became, in practice, for 46 technicians and one hydrologist, an achievement of over 230% - but a questionable one in relation to actual numbers of district water department staff employed. The numbers and types of schemes identified by the Mission as completed are: rehabilitated gravity schemes - 3, or 23% of target; new gravity schemes - 1, or 14%; deep wells - 17, or 95%; shallow wells - 51, or 230%; rainwater tanks - 67, or 223%; and protected springs - 72, or 205%. In addition, 3 pump schemes and 2 charcos dams were constructed, although such works were excluded at appraisal; and the Project is to provide equipment and supplies for three district water analysis laboratories not included at appraisal - and justification for which is questionable. The training and orientation of Village Water Users Group (VWUG) members covered 1 050 people. However, findings show that cost contributions prior to construction and cost sharing for operation and maintenance were - and are - limited; and administrative and management capability of groups and committees is rudimentary.

Implementation of the rural roads sub-component involved: participatory selection of sites; survey, design and supervision by consultants; and construction by contract. However, regional roads agencies played a major role after site identification with strong adherence to design parameters and commercial tendering/contracting processes. The OPEC loan funded rehabilitation of regional roads; the target total of 124 km was completed satisfactorily in 2001 by 4 contractors under 5 contracts. Village access roads works included minor items such as culverts and bridges and were accomplished by a mixture of mechanised and labour based technologies. Works cover 346 km and are about 95% achieved, pending remedial/completion inputs on one 13 km section. Standard of work has been satisfactory and the overall achievement of roads works has been commendable, although there are some reservations about drainage and gravel surfacing and out-sourcing of minor works. The sub-component included training in roads maintenance and repair of 4 roads engineers; 456 Village Roads Committee (VRC) members; and 760 village youths. All training has been done, but further training of roads technicians is required; and effectiveness of training/orientation of VRCs and groups responsible for repair and maintenance is yet to be proven.

Project facilitation, monitoring and evaluation. Principally comprises overall co-ordination, accounting and reporting of activities as well as provision of vehicles, equipment, salarial and operating costs for regional and selected district staff. Related procurement, contract tendering and funds provision exercises were fulfilled to target; staff appointment was completed in 1997 and the majority of procurement was done in 1998. Progress on district capacity building, beyond the sectoral training and project experience discussed above, has been less than expected. The M&E system has been changing continuously, with only rudiments of physical recording and management information provision maintained. District Monitoring and Evaluation Officers (DMEOs) were appointed only in 2001; training took place only in 2002; quarterly reporting against AWPB is currently not in use; and surveys, studies and workshops have not been executed as planned or been unsatisfactory in coverage and content. Refinement of M&E goes on, but the quandary persists of: an over-ambitious and complex system; limited competence and resources at districts; and absence of real participatory input. Training in participatory rural appraisal (PRA) for 65 staff took place earlier and PRA studies have been completed in 44 villages. Training in use of the logical framework for 20 staff was done in 2001. Since then its concept and practical use for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation have been demonstrated and applied within the districts and in 7 villages. The approach is promising, but community understanding and capability to apply it requires more assistance and long term support. Gender issues were given limited attention in Project design, but KAEMP has made some progress in enhancing womens participation. Further gender mainstreaming has been instigated by an IFAD grant in February 2002, under the Gender Strengthening Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa. Progress has been: training in gender awareness and approaches of 70 Project staff, including 19 women; appointment of 3 gender focal points per district; training of 200 village leaders and 22 women's group, SGA and roads committee members; and start-up of a dissemination programme for gender related messages to communities.

Rural poverty impact

Overview. In the absence of comprehensive M&E records of Project impact, the draft Household Budget Survey of 2001 provides socio-economic data for Kagera that show that from 1991/92 to 2000/01, the share of population below the food poverty line declined from 23% to 18%; and that below the overall basic needs poverty line, from 42% to 29%; the latter figure compares with a national level of 36%. The median annual rural household income is put at TZS 801 000 (USD 809) and the mean annual consumption expenditure at TZS 756 000 (USD 763), indicating the precarious balance between family resources and needs. Data also indicate that: income inequalities are worsening; only 13% of houses have modern walls, 2% mains electricity and 31% improved water sources; life expectancy remains at 45 years; maternal mortality at 228 per hundred thousand; and infant mortality at 127 per thousand, 33% higher than the national average.

Impact on physical and financial assets. The impact has been positive, mainly because of : increased farm productivity leading to food self-sufficiency, availability of surplus crops for sale and higher household incomes and ability to invest; establishment of tree nurseries as a source of income and tree planting as an income generating and asset accumulation venture, related also to occupation of additional village land; and roads improvement that has greatly facilitated market access and increased farmer/trader contacts and petty trading. These gains are based on: introduction of sound, farmer friendly, no-cost or low cost technologies; innovative extension methods; widespread sensitization and training of farmers and communities on the conservation and economic potential of tree planting; and support of productive processes by improved road access.

The evaluation recognises two categories of outcome: first hand, direct beneficiaries and benefits; and secondary, indirect beneficiaries and benefits, part of the trickle-down effect. From agricultural activities the former are estimated at 6 500 households; the latter at an additional 15 000 households. The first hand and secondary beneficiaries from environmental actions are estimated at 2 400 and 20 000 households. Roads beneficiaries, whose benefits are more tenuous, are estimated at 35 000 and 100 000 respectively. The quantum of physical and financial asset benefits and wider farm and household impact have been estimated from models set up to illustrate the effects of the principal farming and environmental interventions. The results are tabulated below.

 

 

2.20

Model
Category

Without Project USD

With Project USD

Incremental %

Net Margin

Return to Family Labour Day

Net Margin

Return to Family Labour Day

Net Margin

Return toFamily Labour

Upland Perennial Crops System/Farm

334

0.76

592

1.05

77

37

Lowland Annual Crops System/Farm

420

0.70

609

0.88

45

25

Tree Nursery

na

220

 

Na

Tree Plantation         

 

na

Peak Investment

Break-even Year

Financial

IRR %

Na

731

12

18

The positive impact on physical and financial assets is shown in: ownership or rights of use of additional land, tree nurseries and tree plantations; livestock, especially cattle, purchase; better housing, ranging from steel sheet roofs to brick built houses; reduced indebtedness; ability to pay school fees and buy better clothes; and ownership of furniture, utensils, tools, bicycles, and radios. Project contribution to increased physical and financial assets is substantial, 3 on a scale of 1 to 4.

Impact on human assets. There have been some positive effects on human assets: agricultural and environmental activities have contributed to both food supply and family income, two key determinants of nutrition and affordability of health and education; but for health and water supply, the performance has been inadequate. Activities in health were expected to result in reduced incidence and severity of malaria, peri-natal complications and mortality, other common diseases and improved child nutrition; in the event, the evidence of significant impact is not yet conclusive. Nor is there evidence of decline in water-borne diseases, despite the intervention in water supply, which should have reduced the collection burden for women and children and assured safe and clean supplies. The Mission estimates that only 61 000 people, or 10 000 households -- as compared to the 98 000 beneficiaries estimated by the PFMU -- are covered by improved schemes and since many of these did not change accessibility, and most have been found to be contaminated, work burden alleviation and clean water availability have been limited. The Project has provided financial means that add to the rise in primary education brought about by government policy; and engendered probably the major change in human assets in the uplift in knowledge, skills and confidence of participants. The evidence is seen in: the competence and discipline of take-up of interventions; the level of participation and interest in new developments and social change; the success of the Farmer Cadre system; the ability of men and women farmers to present themselves and their views; and the coherence and resilience of the group structure. A similar, but as yet small change in understanding and attitudes is being wrought among local councils, development committees and staff of formal district, ward and village institutions. The contribution to increase in human assets for health benefits is modest, 2; and that for water supply effects is limited, 1; for the imparting of skills, knowledge and self-confidence the contribution is substantial, 3.

Impact on social capital and empowerment. The Project has had a meaningful impact, emanating from the demand driven, participatory and group approach adopted in later years and from uplift of financial and human assets. All components have contributed, the main thrusts coming from: the IPM/IPN groups and SGAs; to a lesser extent, the environmental interventions with village groups and schools; and the health, water supply and roads O&M committees. The main weakness in social capital development and empowerment aspects is the limited degree of impact, so far, in the advancement of gender equity. There was also much more scope for Project activity on produce marketing problems, for which KAEMP was not equipped, or alerted to the need, to find solutions. Impact on social capital and people empowerment is assessed, in the round, as substantial, 3.

Impact on food security. Application of Project techniques has lifted crop yields and outputs significantly and typically moved poor, small farm beneficiary families from a position of seasonal food insecurity, to one of food self-sufficiency in most years. Estimated yield increases are over 100% for banana, 50% to 60% for beans; 30 to 70% for maize; and 40% to 60% for cassava. The farm models indicate that these yield increments lead, for the Upland, Perennial Crops system, to a substantial surplus of banana and grains/pulses available for sale; and for the Lowland, Annual Crops system, change a serious food deficit, to a marginal surplus in aggregate, with some grains/pulses available for sale. Impact on food security is substantial, 3.

Other impacts. The impact on the environment and common resource base where the Project has been active has on balance been positive. However, the severity of the original state of degradation and continuing profligate cultivation of erosion-prone lands and periodic burning of the bush leave much still to be done. The Project has had limited impact in community-based natural resource management, or in wider application of soil conservation measures and agro-forestry. The effort in water hyacinth control has reportedly been effective, diminution of infestation having been assessed at over 70% in the lake. Environmental impact overall is modest, 2. The impact on institutions, policies and regulatory framework has come from working through the organs of district governance, as well as with NGOs and the private sector. The Project has instilled much orientation, training and experience, as seen in increased effectiveness of extension and the start of use of the PRA and logical framework in local planning. There has been little change in rural financial institutions, but the formation of groups and SGAs has been a positive development. KAEMP has not played a major part in the evolution of new policies and regulations but has utilised approaches and techniques that could influence policy and regulation formulation in future. Impact on institutions and services is classified as modest, 2; impact on policy/regulations was not assessed.

Key innovative aspects were: in farming, use of low cost, farmer/environment-friendly techniques - such as botanical extracts as pesticides and farmer grown seeds; in extension, strong reliance on groups, encouragement of farm record keeping and business management, and instigation of the Farmer Cadre system; in environment, use of schools and commercial nursery and planting practices; in implementation, incorporation of Project activities in district development plans and promotion of participation and the logical framework approach for planning. All of these promise to be successful and highly replicable approaches. The positive signs of likely sustainability are: best practice applied with simple but high impact IPM/IPN technologies, conservation approaches and extension systems; development of sound group structures; the orientation and training given to staff, farmers, groups and local agencies; and the initiation of better systems of planning and management of district affairs. Potentially negative factors are: the questionable capability of water users and roads committees to perform operation, maintenance and repair; lack of acceptance of cost sharing; possible inability of districts to provide the funds to maintain development impetus; and the imponderables of adverse climatic and marketing conditions. On balance, sustainability is assessed as modest, 2. The ratings for innovation and replicability are substantial, 3, for agriculture, environment and project facilitation; but at best, modest or 2, for infrastructure; actual replication is modest, 2. The overall impact assessment is that the Project has met - or come close to - most of its targets and while it has not been notably successful in health, water supply and the resilience of roads improvements, it has laid a technical foundation and demonstrated practicability for future rural and district development in Tanzania. The overall impact is assessed as between 2 and 3.

Performance of the project

Relevance of objectives. The relevance of the goal at appraisal - of rehabilitation of the region and reversal of the long-term decline in agricultural production - was - and is - high, 4. The specific objective of agricultural development - to improve household food production and incomes in a sustainable manner - was apposite because it implies cost-limited but technically proven answers to problems of declining productivity; it continues to be germaine, with a high relevance, 4. The environmental management objectives of supporting afforestation, control of water hyacinth and promotion of wood saving stoves are considered valid, the proposed backing for the appointment of many more district forestry staff, less so; their relevance is put as substantial, 3. Rural infrastructure did not have a credible objective at appraisal but only a vague statement of intent to support the investments in agriculture and environment. The main aims of the health sub-component can be interpreted as to reduce: malaria incidence and severity; maternal and infant mortality and morbidity; and child malnutrition. These are highly relevant targets, but the relevance of the stated objectives, in the context of the severity of the problem, is modest, 2. The stated desired output for water supply was: farmers access to safe drinking water improved; relevance of this aim then, as now, is high, 4. The implied objectives for rural roads were: to facilitate transport of farm inputs and outputs and access to social infrastructures; and to increase skills and sensitisation of communities for road maintenance; the Project facilitation, monitoring and evaluation component had the main objectives of: strengthening implementation and service delivery capacity of district departments and assisting development of a participatory approach to resource management; relevance is high, 4.

Effectiveness. The goal achievement for the whole Project can be estimated from progress in arresting natural resource degradation, reversing farming productivity decline and measurably improving living standards of beneficiaries. Despite variation in impact of different components, aggregate effectiveness is assessed as reasonable, 2. The agricultural development component has largely achieved its objectives, transforming the predicament of participating farmers - and given the opening scenario of social disruption and resource degradation, effectiveness is high, 4. In environment, the component has had problems of staffing, the less immediate and tangible nature of benefits and higher risks; but operations have been quite successful and effectiveness substantial, 3. The health sub-component has been affected by over-emphasis on equipment supply, some of which proved not readily usable or serviceable; deficiencies in training programme design and coverage; inadequate sensitisation and community mobilisation; and inconsistency in supervision; these factors have reduced the effectiveness to modest,2. Water supply has been subject to change and difficulties in implementation; Project objectives of improved access, low operating cost and viable VWUGs have not been met and effectiveness is assessed as minimal, 1. The rural roads sub-component is close to accomplishing its target for works ; effectiveness of meeting the first part of the roads objective is high, 4; that for mobilisation of local maintenance capability is considered modest, 2. Operations under the Project facilitation component have varied from well managed to still only tentative in application, as in the case of M&E, support of PRAs and logical frameworks and gender equity; effectiveness is assessed as reasonable, 2.

Efficiency. The Project in total has entailed deployment of substantial resources and funds, particularly at start-up. The crux of efficiency is the quantum and likely continuity of benefits from the high level of costs incurred. An outline financial re-calculation of the internal rate of return, based on highly conservative estimates of uptake and benefit, show a calculated IRR of 15%, compared to the 19% at appraisal. The resilience of the IRR is also in line with that found at appraisal; that is, a reduction of benefits of 10% still gives a rate of return of 13%; thus the efficiency of the whole Project is put at substantial, 3. For agriculture, present and prospective expenditure is considerably below budget, partly due to cost containment strategies, and efficiency is substantial, 3. In environment incurred costs are lower than planned, despite physical achievements above predicted levels; efficiency is again substantial, 3. The health sub-component has been characterised by supply of unsuitable equipment and deficiencies in cost-sharing; efficiency is assessed as low, 1. Costs of water supply schemes are on average double appraisal estimates and unit water provision costs are over 50% higher than standards; levels of salary/fee payments for skilled labour inputs appear excessive; and sustainability of water source improvements is not well assured; for these reasons, efficiency is low, 1. Records for roads reveal: wide cost discrepancies between districts for similar works; disproportionate design and supervision costs; limited local labour employment benefit; and doubts about arrangements for repair and maintenance; efficiency is modest, 2. The Project facilitation and monitoring component has incurred excessive costs and still has weaknesses in M&E, in district capacity building activities and in gender; efficiency is put as modest, 2. Overall Project performance as assessed by UNOPS supervision missions reveals only minor problems, ranked 2 on the UNOPS scale, except for initial delays in staffing: in the first year for a range of indicators; in years 2 and 3 for loan covenant compliance, the M&E system and time over-runs; but with a continuing problem, up to 2002, of counterpart funding.

Performance of the partners

The handling by IFAD of the process of formulation and design could have been faster and less tortuous and Project concept and content less top-down, ambitious and complex. During implementation, the experience of the PFMU, government and other partners has been that back-up has been timely and effective; overall, performance is ranked 3. As the co-operating institution, UNOPS has made four annual supervision visits, two with IFAD and two with BSF participation. Supervision has been consistent and generally thorough, but limited in terms of medical and water engineering expertise, lax in oversight of district financial recording and control and optimistic with regard to M&E proficiency and target achievement; UNOPS performance is assessed as adequate, 2/3. Central Government has provided good continuity in Project oversight, policy guidance and donor and ministerial liaison, but co-operation of other ministries has been less conscientious and there has been persistent delay and shortfall in counterpart funding. Regional and District Commissioners Offices and Administrations have played a crucial role in enablement and support of project activities. Major district weaknesses have been stringency of finance and resource availability; at ward and village level there have been rather more problems of competence of staff and lack of resources; overall, government performance is satisfactory, 3. Project management, comprising the PFMU, technical cadre and DPFs, has shouldered the major responsibility for driving forward local interest and participation with dedication and competence. Work planning, budgeting and progress chasing have been reasonable; and recording and reporting timely, albeit accuracy and relevance of data presented have been less than sound. Specific shortfalls in management performance concern: use of local organisations and prior beneficiary contribution to schemes; failure of the input supply credit scheme and delay in finding an alternative approach; lax oversight of district expenditures and individual scheme inputs and costs; delay and drift in M&E; and poor technical/management supervision of water supply. In aggregate, Project management performance is assessed as competent between 2 and 3. The Project has engaged available NGO expertise, particularly in innovations in agriculture and group support, with active co-operation and few problems of overlap. The Project itself has been a major player in the development of CBOs in Kagera, in the form of IPM/IPN groups, SGAs and local committees. The NGO/CBO contribution to support of KAEMP is ranked as substantive, 3. The pre-existence of the Belgian funded Kagera Community Development Project, KCDP was a useful precedent for design of KAEMP. The continuing input by Belgian Embassy staff to KCDP and frequent contact with the BSF regional co-ordinator have had practical advantages: no problems have been reported in management of grant funds and BSF/JP has dealt promptly and positively with requested variations in programmes and budgets. The OPEC Fund has maintained an active dialogue with the PFMU and responded in a timely and efficient manner to technical or administrative communication and withdrawal requests. Performance of cofinanciers is put at 3. The performances of the Project and development partners are summarised in the tables below.

Component/Activity Relevance Effectiveness Efficiency
Agricultural Development 4 4 3
Environmental Management 3 3 3
Rural Infrastructure:      
- Health 2 2 1
- Water Supply 4 1 1
- Roads 4 4 and 2 2
Project Facilitation/Monitoring 4 2 2
Whole Project 4 2 3
Partner IFAD UNOPS Govt Project Managment NGO/CBOs Cofinanciers
Rating 3 2/3 3 2/3 3 3

Insights and recommendations

Individual insights of key significance for design and conduct of future projects are:

  • the zero year concept: the need for a period of preparation for sensitisation, planning, mobilisation, participant liaison, staffing, training and some procurement pre-Project;
  • the gender dimension: desirability of clear identification of gender equity issues and explicit description of interventions/mechanisms to ensure fair sharing and improvement in status of women;
  • linkage of components: lack of sufficient, ongoing inter-component linkage, e.g. between agriculture and health/child nutrition, can preclude attainment of the full potential for synergy;
  • sustainability concerns: questions of sustainability of Project benefits and of definition of the means and methods of phasing out of projects need to be more comprehensively addressed;
  • the terms and conditions for district staff involvement: terms of commitment, accountability, job description, incentives, penalties, and opportunities for training/ promotion, need to be spelt out;
  • the importance of communications and flexibility: adequate resourcing of communications and provision of flexibility for project management are necessary pre-requisites of impact;
  • the quandary of record keeping and reporting: a new approach needs to be devised to make M&E effective in providing management, process assessment and impact evaluation information;
  • in contrast, farm business recording has been a notable and replicable success: many IPM/IPN, FFS and SGA members are assiduous users of farm and household budget planning data; and
  • the group and minimal cost approach: for information dissemination/technology transfer, the KAEMP/Farmer Cadre approach can be a guide for transformation of extension provision.

The full set of Mission recommendations by component is presented in the Main Report; those selected as being of particular urgency or concern are set out below. It is recommended that:

  • direct farmer/group action to improve marketing of produce be instigated/facilitated as a first step to an increasingly commercialised and profitable farming sector;
  • group, SGA, roads, water and health committee and CBO viability be consolidated with further and advanced training and continuing advisory support for a period of at least one year;
  • the groups, Farmer Cadres and tree growers that KAEMP has supported be promoted as preferred agencies and (paid) consultants/resource persons for other donor and NGO projects;
  • responsibility and resources for water hyacinth control be handed over as soon as practicable to LVEMP and/or to the appropriate regional or district agencies;
    an agro-forestry, soil conservation and land management project be devised, for communal natural resource management, involving village governments and the private sector;
  • a selected number of Village Health Committees be trained and coached to implement cost sharing as pilot schemes to give feed back to VDCs for health planning and budgeting purposes;
  • VHWs and Traditional Birth Attendants be included in additional training in disease prevention and community mobilisation;
  • no planned or additional water supply schemes be constructed until their feasibility has been properly assessed and their design approved by a competent professional adviser;
  • as the highest priority for water quality and safety for existing Project schemes, protection, hygiene and sanitation measures to prevent or treat for contamination be introduced;
  • the decision to install water quality laboratories in all districts be re-visited, with a feasibility study to include a thorough comparative costing of alternative means to meet district obligations;
  • a detailed comparative costing be made of a small sample of Project-assisted schemes to determine accurate unit costs and the efficiency of different modes of implementation;
  • a small revolving stock of the normal wearing parts of hand pumps be facilitated at district level, preferably through private sector stockists - or private/public sector co-operation;
  • replacement of some of the borehole hand pumps that are unsuitable for the present depth/work of pumping be arranged;
  • for roads rehabilitation/construction a combined use of labour-based and machinery technology be made; and division of sub-projects into minor and small contracts be avoided;
  • the whole M&E approach, systems, data formats and procedures be simplified and streamlined in line with real local capability and resources;
  • district staff and village governments and officers be given continued support in participatory planning and M&E - and in the utilization of the logical framework; and
  • knowledge and skills in gender analysis and mainstreaming be further consolidated to ensure institutionalisation and integration in regional, district and community plans, including use of gender sensitive indicators and analysis of gender disaggregated data.

The recommendations indicate the strong need for further consolidation of training and knowledge endowment and capacity building of groups and committees that will stretch beyond the proposed Project completion date. The Mission recommends that the possibility be explored of utilising part of the year 6 funding - and a measure of additional funding by IFAD and BSF/JP if proven necessary by a more detailed costing of the inputs required - for a consolidation phase of at least one further year of limited and targeted assistance to optimise impact and obviate what could otherwise be a certain loss of development impetus. This extended input would concentrate on the further training, guidance and management support of groups, SGAs and committees on whose competence the sustainability of Project benefits will largely depend. It would also encompass additional support for districts, wards and villages in planning and development implementation processes. IFAD and BSF/JP should consult with PO-RALG and the Regional and District Administrations, probably in the context of the Agreement at Completion Point, to formulate an appropriate follow-up programme.


The Interim Evaluation Mission comprised: Dr Fatima Mohamedali, Public Health Specialist; Michel Van der Stricht, Rural Infrastructure Consultant; Ms Joyce Nyoni, Sociologist; Clifford Tandari, Economist and Local Resource Person; Ms Sarah Mader, IFAD Associate Evaluation Officer and Jim Semple, Team Leader and Agriculture/Environment Specialist. Mr Ashwani Muthoo was the lead OE Evaluator.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Northern regions livestock development project

October 2002

Interim Evaluation

Rural households have become more involved in identifying priority areas for investment and have begun to contribute towards the costs involved and to manage capital assets supplied by the project.

The Community Development Fund has helped rural Namibians, especially women, to start small income-generating activities such as making bricks, milling grain and baking bread. So too, the Small Stock Seed Capital Fund has enabled households without animals – 70 percent of which are headed by women – to obtain goats, chickens and donkeys leading to improved food security, stronger social status and self-esteem for women and a potential for economic empowerment previously unavailable. Eleven new Veterinary Rural Extension Centres with drug supplies, equipment and trained staff, now reach over a thousand farmers.

The key to success is to place people and the sustainable use of resources at the centre of the development process, rather than the delivery of specific, pre-determined investment options.

Moreover, the rural poor need to secure access to natural resources (land, vegetation and water in particular) as a fundamental pre-requisite to the introduction of sustainable resource management systems.

LANGUAGES: English

Management of Natural Resources in the Southern Highlands Project

Peru  
September 2002

Interim Evaluation

In 1993, a General Identification Mission for Peru recommended that two projects be carried out: one whose objective would be management of productive natural resources in the Southern Highlands and another which would strengthen rural-urban linkages in the Puno-Cusco Corridor. That recommendation resulted in the formulation and implementation of both projects: (i) the Management of Natural Resources in the Southern Highlands Project (MARENASS) (loan 386-PE); and (ii) the Puno-Cusco Corridor Development Project (loan 467 PE).

The Interim Evaluation (IE) Mission visited the country from 3 to 27 April 2002. The Mission held meetings with an IFAD External Evaluation Mission that was visiting the country at the time and exchanged information, ideas and opinions. Meetings were also held, in Lima and Cusco, with an IFAD mission that was in Peru to formulate a new project in the Southern Highlands. In Lima, project-closing meetings were held with representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) and with the IFAD operations manager for Peru. The IE Mission focused on matters relating to: (i) analysis of the project's impact on the living conditions of beneficiary families; (ii) level of participation, ownership and empowerment; (iii) impact on social capital; (iv) impact on physical and financial assets; (v) environmental impact; (vi) sustainability of the results achieved by the project and possibilities for institutionalization after the project ends; (vii) innovative content of the project and replicability in other contexts; and (viii) cost-benefit ratio of the principal activities carried out. At the start of the Mission, a workshop was organized with the entire staff of the Project Executing Unit (PEU) in order to undertake a process of self-evaluation, four mini-workshops with the Area Coordination Offices, a conclusions workshop with the PEU and, finally, in Cusco, a project-closing workshop, attended by the principal public and private institutions associated with the project.

The IE consisted of the following phases: (a) revision of documents by each consultant prior to arrival in Peru; (b) field work in Peru; (c) analysis of the information and final drafting of the reports.

In keeping with the new IFAD evaluation process, a central learning consortium was formed, with the following members: (i) the IFAD operations manager in Peru; (ii) a representative of the Peruvian government; (iii) the MARENASS project director; (iv) the head of the cooperating institution, the Andean Development Corporation (CAF); (v) IFAD operations evaluator in Latin America and the Caribbean; and (vi) the head of the IE Mission. An Expanded Learning Consortium was also established.

MARENASS is a Special Project of MINAG, with technical, administrative, financial and managerial autonomy. The project headquarters is located in Abancay, in the department of Apurímac. The cooperating institution is the Office for Rural Development Operations of the CAF. The project was launched in February 1998 with an initial transfer of funds to 99 rural communities, chargeable to their technical assistance funds. In March of the same year, the first "talking map" competition was held.

MARENASS was initially proposed because it was recognized that in rural areas, and especially in the area targeted by the project, the natural resources situation had deteriorated to a critical point, particularly in the areas occupied by the beneficiary communities. This region is home to a significant portion of the country's rural poor population, and one of the causes of the high rates of poverty is directly related to the deterioration of productive natural resources. In these areas, management of productive natural resources should be seen as a crucial weapon in the battle against rural poverty, while also recognizing the human factor on which all efforts to analyse, reverse or curb the process of deterioration hinge.

The project area is between the south-eastern and south-central regions of the Republic of Peru. It encompasses all the provinces in the departments of Apurímac and some provinces in the departments of Ayacucho and Cusco. The total surface area covered by the project is 55 869 km². The project area, when MARENASS began, was the poorest in the country. The poverty index was 2.6%—considerably above the national average of 2.0%. Chronic malnutrition affected 83.7% of the population and the unemployment rate was 12.9%. Only 24.3% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 29.2% to electricity. The area had been severely affected by violence during the 1980s and 1990s (in 1992, there were 800 victims of violence in the department of Ayacucho alone). The target group for the project consists of the farm families living in the communities in the area.

The general objective of the project to increase the amount of arable land and enhance the commercial value of the productive natural resources of farmers in the Southern Highlands of Peru. The specific objectives were: (i) assessment of the extent and nature of natural resource degradation in the rural communities of the target area; (ii) ongoing identification of efficient ways (traditional and modern) of recovering, conserving and producing natural resources; (iii) implementation of participatory methods to facilitate transfer of the technologies identified; (iv) strengthening of community and functional structures needed to ensure expansion of the agricultural frontier and sustainability of natural resource management; (v) support for the process of clarifying land rights; and (vi) dissemination of the experience acquired at the local, regional and national levels.

The project has two fundamental components: (i) training and technological change, which constitutes the productive strategy and is aimed at training and social assimilation of traditional and modern technical knowledge as solution alternatives, as well as horizontal dissemination of this knowledge, with rural participation; the competitions occur under this component; and (ii) production support services, a component that is part of the overall support strategy for the project and complements the first component.

The appraisal report on MARENASS proposed a methodology for training, production support and natural resource management based on: (i) farmer-to-farmer training in the use of technological alternatives for natural resource conservation and recovery; (ii) transfer of resources to communities to enable them to contract for technical assistance services and thus develop a market for such services; (iii) the Pachamama Raymi (celebration or worship of Mother Earth) methodology, which entailed the organization of competitions for the dissemination-extension of technological alternatives; (iv) "seed" funds for marketing and funds (awarded through competitions) funds for developing new farmland (expanding the agricultural frontier). Through the Pachamama Raymi methodology, resources and responsibilities were transferred directly to the communities.

The appraisal report estimated the project cost at USD 19.1 millions. The expected contribution from the OPEC Fund did not materialize, however, and total financing for the project has therefore been USD 15 142 800, of which 79% was contributed by IFAD, 19% by the Government of Peru and the remainder by the beneficiaries themselves. The direct beneficiaries of the project are 360 communities formed by 52 800 families. The project goals included reconstruction of approximately 2 000 hectares of terraces, the extension of irrigation to another 3 000 or 4 000 ha, doubling of the carrying capacity of pasturelands and planting of 500 trees and/or shrubs per family.

Initially, project operations were managed by a project coordinating unit (PCU) under the International Contracts Administration Unit (UGECI) of MINAG. In September 2000, the Project Executing Unit (PEU) was created. This unit, though also affiliated with MINAG, operates with technical and administrative autonomy. During the year 2000, the situation in the country was particularly unstable owing to the fall of the third Fujimori government, the institution of a provisional government, political and institutional uncertainty, and the occurrence of a new electoral process that concluded in mid-2001 with the establishment of the present government.

The PCU detected a certain lack of consistency between the objectives set out in the appraisal report and the methodology proposed under the project. It therefore reformulated the general development objective more precisely as follows: to increase the capacity of communities and families to carry out their own development activities in a sustained manner, exercising their civic rights and duties, in a framework of gender equity. This "redefinition" made it possible to focus the project activities on improving the living conditions and overcoming the poverty of community members by developing their capacity for natural resource management.

During 2002, MARENASS has begun withdrawing, as planned, from the first 99 communities that were incorporated in 1998; 261 agreements with the communities that entered the project after that date remain in effect. In the communities that continue to have a contractual relationship with the project, a greater effort will be made to incorporate issues in the competitions that were not envisaged in the original project design, such as improvement of housing and rural businesses or microcredit activities, using the production and marketing funds entrusted to the organized groups of women (OGW). Specifically, this work will focus on the following areas:

  • Training and Technological Change Component. Training of technology suppliers (yachaqs) and community leaders (yachachiqs) will be strengthened as a means of optimizing private technical assistance services through them, and technical assistance fund transfers will continue.
  • Pachamana Raymi Competitions. The five basic thematic focuses of MARENASS will be maintained: (i) livestock management; (ii) crop and water management; (iii) soil management and conservation and forestation; (iv) management of range- and pasturelands; and (v) improvement of housing, gardens, community beautification, refuse collection and other activities that will help improve quality of life. The experience and comments of the communities suggest that it would be best to hold competitions involving entire families or communities.
  • Production and Marketing Funds. Support for the organized groups of women will be stepped up in order to boost their participation.

The policy of establishing partnerships with municipal governments will be continued because, of the communities included in the project since 1998, most of those that were awarded funds for the development of new farmland have received significant support from municipal institutions. Municipal participation has been especially important in less-urban municipalities. The Environmental Education Program in schools will be carried out through an institution specializing in this area and will seek to encourage greater participation in training for community leaders.

Principal outcomes of project implementation

As of December 2001, 20 015 families in 360 communities (an average of 55 families per community) located in 69 different districts had participated directly in project activities. Hence, the total goal of 360 communities had been reached. One of the basic project activities has been the "talking maps," an activity which was also the subject and content of the first competition. The project and the community use the talking maps to establish goals and a plan of action that begins with training and dissemination activities within the community. The talking maps portray the community graphically at three levels: the past (30 years before the project), the current situation (as of the project start-up date) and the future (in 20 or 30 years). Based on these talking maps, each year communities develop a community plan of action. This is an instrument that enjoys wide social acceptance (bolstered by the competitions between communities) and that forms the true basis for "real and participatory " planning in the community.

The main tool of the project is mass dissemination and application of known and proven technological alternatives for improving natural resource management. The project has achieved the full introduction of at least ten technologies (organic fertilizer, terracing, irrigation by means of a system of channels, gardens, pasture management, slow-formation terraces, biological insecticides, gathering of native seeds, management of bovine, ovine and camelid livestock, etc.), which have led to substantial progress in natural resource management and recovery and have boosted production substantially. The family greenhouse gardens have been particularly successful and have enhanced diets and food security.

Notable progress has been made in the physical execution of the project, except for construction of terraces. This is because families have preferred to focus on plots of land located closer to their homes and devote their efforts to building terraces of smaller size but better quality. As for irrigation, in most cases improvements have been made to existing plot irrigation (and the corresponding infrastructure), rather than constructing new infrastructure to irrigate other areas. Several irrigation projects of differing scopes are still under way.

Although complete and appropriate management of community land is not yet a reality, the process has begun. The training and dissemination methodology used under MARENASS, Pachamama Raymi, uses the modality of competitions in which rural families participate voluntarily, competing among themselves, first within individual communities and then between communities. Families' participation is motivated by the project-financed monetary awards given to the winning families in each community and the winning communities organized at the supra-community or microbasin level. The three keys to the methodology's success are the innate "competitiveness" of the farmers, the possibility of wining cash prizes, and the fact that Pachamama Raymi is basically managed by the beneficiaries themselves, reducing the project's presence to a minimum.

Work in regard to resource management and conservation is organized and executed by the communities themselves, using their own means: families or communities make investments beforehand (mainly in labour, but also in materials) and although they may later win an award, it will never equal the value of the investment.

The competitions between communities are the instrument that has made it possible to achieve two objectives: first, community cohesion and, second, mass dissemination of resource management techniques and their subsequent application. Although the level of participation in the competitions between families is quite variable (averaging 40% of the families in each community), by decision of the assembly, the competitions between communities necessarily involve all the families in each community. The competition and the award provide thea strong initial impetus. Later, concrete results become the incentive to continue with the practices introduced: production improvements that translate into higher earnings for the farmers, thanks to more effective use of their productive natural resources and the consequent appreciation in the value those resources, which constitute their main asset.

The farmers believe that natural resources begin with their own dwelling and extend from there to encompass the garden, animal corrals, farmland, irrigation, organic production and pastures. They are reluctant to upgrade their corrals or farmland before "putting in order" or improving their own houses. They have a logical conception of an undivided whole that is the space within which their lives and their productive and reproductive activities take place. In this context, improvement of housing, with the introduction of stoves, terracing, painting, pens for guinea pigs, latrines (even showers!), shelves, tables, construction of room dividers and refuse collection have all had a very strong impact on the living conditions of community members. The methodology of comprehensive interfamily competitions involves the entire family in a reappraisal of the roles of heads of household, women and young people.

The system of transferring resources directly to the communities necessitates the opening of bank accounts by each community that participates in the project. This methodology, which was tested and validated under the Promotion of Technology Transfer Project to Peasant Communities in the Highlands (FEAS), is a powerful instrument for involving communities in civil society and in the formal economy. In addition, it helps empower communities by making them directly responsible for managing resources and by strengthening community organization.

The funds for organized groups of women(OGW) have helped finance microbusinesses managed by the women's groups. In several communities mixed groups of men, women and young people have been formed. Most of the groups organized have their own bank accounts, and those that do not use the community account. The MARENASS funds are transferred into these accounts, as are the revenues of the microbusinesses. The businesses managed by the women run the gamut from agricultural production and livestock breeding and fattening to micromarketing and microcredit operations, which extend loans directly to users under agreements established by the group itself, stipulating the form of repayment. Some groups are also working to preserve biodiversity through the recovery of seeds of native species and the development of small nurseries. This fund has achieved remarkable success: the average of the capitalization process for the project as a whole (all 360 communities have one or more women's groups) is around 50%.

A computerized monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system was established only in July 2001 (three years after project start-up). However, there is a sizeable information base deriving from participatory assessments used to develop the talking maps (past, present and future) that form the basis for the community plans (the participants' objectives for the project). For all 360 communities, there is also graphic documentation of the situation prior to the project, as well as a pre-project statistical sample of 25 of the 101 communities served since 2001.

Impact of MARENASS

The project has had the following impacts on physical and financial assets: (i) family assets: physical assets, including the improvement of housing, corrals and facilities for animals, terraces, plot irrigation infrastructure, etc.; financial assets have been generated by reducing families' expenditures on external inputs (fertilizers and agrochemicals) and boosting their incomes through increased production and sale of surpluses; the monetary awards have also become, first, financial assets and, then, in almost all cases, physical assets; and (ii) community assets: meeting halls for community use, community lands, pastures, collection and distribution of water for irrigation, etc. In addition, some communities have won awards, increasing their financial assets, which in general have rapidly been converted to physical assets. Communities have also accumulated financial resources through transfers from MARENASS, fees paid by community members, and financing negotiated with other institutions, including municipal government institutions.

The increase in the area under cultivation, which was one of the objectives of MARENASS, has been relatively small, but it has occurred, thanks to the construction of terraces, especially in community areas, and to the rehabilitation or construction of irrigation infrastructure. Much more important than the increase in cultivated area are the improvements on family lands already under cultivation: terracing, sprinkle or channel irrigation, fertilizing with compost and humus, crop diversification and intercropping. These improvements have led to large and stable increases in production on family farms. The higher yields have not been due to the increase in cultivated area but to the improvements on areas already being farmed (in 260 of the 360 communities, 440 hectares of new terraces and 1 740 kilometres of irrigation channels were constructed and irrigation was improved on 2 475 hectares).

For the families, the impact has been significant in terms of the benefits obtained: production has doubled or tripled on a large part of the land farmed by each family participating in the competitions between families (20 000 families, approximately 46% of the 43 000 registered families in the area). Nearly 69 000 hectares of pastureland were fenced to facilitate rotational grazing; 262 kilometres of infiltration trenches and dugouts or pits were excavated to store close to 20 000 m3 of water, in addition to channels for temporary irrigation or drainage of wetlands (bofedales), etc. Construction and improvement of corrals and stables (more than 10 000), together with production of forage crops on irrigated terraces, have increased both milk production and the number of live offspring.

It is rather difficult to quantify the project's impact on the financial resources of families and communities. The most direct and visible impact is the increase in the amount of currency in circulation. Higher output, coupled with the sale of surpluses on the market after family needs are met, has translated into higher incomes, both in the short term (weekly, monthly earnings) and in the long term (income from the sale of animals). Fund transfers for awards have also had an impact. Close to USD 3 000 is being distributed annually through competitions within communities (between families, yachachiqs, and schoolchildren), and these amounts may be supplemented by awards received in competitions between communities (around USD 3 000 for an average of 5 communities).

The project has been remarkably successful in fostering widespread use of technologies that form part of the shared cultural heritage of the farmers but had been abandoned because, as the farmers put it, they had been "forgotten" or, more probably, they have been supplanted by technological paradigms that are suitable only for capital-intensive farming and lands with high potential. The most positive results are seen in the practices employed in the environment nearest to and worked most intensively by families, which have yielded improvements in the quantity and quality of the production for self-consumption.

MARENASS has achieved one important success: It has enabled at least 20 000 families of community members to move from a situation of subsistence and food insecurity to one in which they are rural producers with greater financial and physical assets, increased food security and production surpluses.

MARENASS's real impact of on physical and financial assets has been limited by its initial focus, which overemphasized productive and agricultural aspects and lacked a clear vision of the economic realities and characteristics of the beneficiary families and communities and of their own strategies for dealing with their economic situation and the contexts in which they operate. MARENASS continues to lack an approach and clear-cut proposals for addressing economic issues. Up to now it has supported the organization of local fairs and other one-time initiatives, but there is no ongoing strategy for this key area. The economic dimension has become the main obstacle to further progress. The most significant weakness of MARENASS is, without a doubt, the absence of a strategy and activities to promote linkage with the market for the families and communities (and the women's groups) that are beginning consistently to generate production surpluses.

Most of the families that work with MARENASS have placed less priority on expanding the arable area than on boosting the economic profitability of nearby lands already under cultivation, improving those lands in order to obtain higher yields. Their vision of space and land is based on overall living conditions, not simply on productive potential. Accordingly, they have quickly begun to channel a good part of their investments into improving their houses and immediate environment. In short, rather than simply pushing back the agricultural frontier, what the families and communities want is to expand their economic frontier.

The continued availability of a corps of technical support personnel within the communities (yachachiqs and, in some cases, yachaqs) has led to more effective training for families and technical support better suited to the conditions and systems of production in the community. The training system for farmers, which relies on yachachiqs and community leaders (men, women and young people) is making it possible to create a broad and growing human capital base. The formation of human and social capital is not complete, however; frequent changes of yachachiqs and community authorities necessitate an ongoing training effort which is far from finished.

The impact of MARENASS on human capital is directly related to the improvement in living conditions as a result of: (i) lightening of the burden of everyday tasks for the family, especially women; (ii) greater, more varied and more stable production throughout year (with a consequent reduction in vulnerability); (iii) refurbishment of physical assets and improvement of homes; and (iv) acquisition of new goods (increased family economic activity). These improvements are behind the optimism expressed by all those interviewed. Security about their potential for growth utilizing the resources at their disposal forms the basis for their claims.

The ideas about social and family equity disseminated through the gender and citizenship training, combined with the empowerment of participants and groups under MARENASS, have led to increased attention to and better—i.e., more equitable, effective and representative—distribution of benefits among the poorest sectors of the community. The improvement in women's status within the family and community has been due to better training for women, their capacity to manage funds and affirmative action. The greater visibility and prestige of women, and of their productive and reproductive role and contribution to the family, have led to a more equitable distribution of benefits and responsibilities within the family and have enhanced their status and position and the amount of respect they receive.

The most immediate impact of the improved practices has been a reduction of women's workload, since it is women who have traditionally been responsible for feeding and herding animals and for small-scale sales of small species and agricultural products. Improvements in the quantity, quality and diversity of family production are making it possible for women not only to cover the basic needs of their families, but also to contribute financially (sometimes for the first time) to family income through retail sales of small surpluses. Feeling more secure about their families' well-being has given the women interviewed by the IE Mission a new sense of self-assuredness.

The impact of the strategy of improving land and productive areas promoted by MARENASS has been felt first inside the home. In all the families visited, the house has become an edifice with several rooms devoted to different uses (parents' room, children's room, kitchen and, sometimes, a parlour or living room). Animals have been put outside the house in corrals and stables, thanks to the practices promoted by MARENASS. Guinea pigs no longer live in the kitchen but in pens. Manure is now picked up daily and placed in compost/humus piles.

Most of the communities in the project area have been battered by the economic crises and social conflicts that have occurred in the country in recent years and by macroeconomic policies that marginalized them. Thanks to their work with MARENASS, community councils have been re-established or strengthened through the official designation and recognition of the communities, training of community leaders, selection and planning of joint activities (community plans) for the capitalization of social goods or community assets or the regulation of their use. Community leadership has been strengthened as a result of greater recognition and appreciation of the functions of the community councils.

In addition, the members of the community councils are now more motivated, thanks to the availability of (i) financial resources; (ii) knowledge; (iii) larger supplies of inputs and tools of better quality for carrying out community works; and (iv) the presence of support personal (yachaqs and yachachiqs). The communities' capacity to negotiate with local entities and other programs has been strengthened enormously. Community organizations have become stronger as a result of the development and transfer of responsibilities under the project, including planning for the community's future, managing funds and overseeing family and community natural resource management processes; regulating livestock grazing in communal areas; and participating in competitions between communities. Community organizations have thus been legitimated and strengthened in a period in which, owing to the erroneous association of the idea of community with "collective," they tended to be dismissed as development agents because it was assumed that they would hinder the "private" initiatives of families.

The most prominent impact is the spectacular dynamics of planning and action ("ordenamiento") that characterize families and communities, encompassing everything from family homes to family parcels of land to communal areas. There has been a true mobilization that is involving a growing number of families in the three or four annual cycles of competitions between families.

MARENASS project activities have emphasized "capacity-building," recognizing that local stakeholders are pivotal to its facilitating interventions. The project has thus had a very great impact on the proficiency of these stakeholders in regard to all three dimensions of the concept of "capacity": knowledge, know-how and ability to take action.

The impact that managing funds has had on the capacity of members of women's groups to engage in commerce (bartering and sale of small surpluses) has enhanced the prestige and empowerment of those who have done the managing (the women). In most cases, the women's groups have mastered the concept and practice of teamwork (pooling and joint marketing of goods; mutual support among participating families) and avoided letting the individualistic attitudes that result from the break-up of communities prevail.

A true empowerment of local stakeholders has occurred, and this empowerment continues to grow. MARENASS has demonstrated that social capital is the key to improving the local ecosystem. Now it is necessary to cultivate (capitalize on) the lessons derived from experience, to share them among the people already involved and also with other, external actors who might become involved in the dynamic processes triggered by the project or become commercial, institutional or academic partners in the processes under way. The aim is to facilitate opportunities for coming together, negotiating, and encouraging mutual respect and understanding beyond the community environment—i.e., in the microbasin, the province, etc.

The families and communities participating in MARENASS have taken ownership of the project and, with it, of something that they feel was theirs already: the terraces, the houses, the water, the pastures, a technology with a high labour content that produces high returns with little or no external input. But, above all, they have taken ownership of a "friendly" project that has offered technologies that are within their reach and rooted in their culture and ancestral practices. The project's sustainability depends largely on this concept of "regaining ownership" and on acceptance of the idea, oft-repeated by the community members: "We are MARENASS."

Use of the various agricultural production technologies and strategies proposed under the project immediately boosted the productivity of the land and doubled family production. Moreover, the use of organic inputs (made from ingredients available in the community) has improved the quality of the products and helped spread knowledge and practices for the control and prevention of pests and blights, thereby reducing losses.

Improvements in the care of stables and corrals and in feeding of animals have led to a increases in meat, milk and cheese production and gradual improvement in the quality and breeds of animals (in addition to the savings or availability of funds that they bring to the family). Although the diversification and intensification of livestock production has emphasized animals that develop rapidly (smaller species), an increase and improvement of the cattle available in the communities is also discernible.

Through training, families and communities have (re)assumed responsibility for the management of local ecosystems. This is evident in the community plans for the future, in the intense dynamics of working with natural resources and in the development of capacity (greater knowledge, use of techniques and skills, negotiating agreement on and authority to implement common measures) for managing the process. Other activities have also been undertaken to reduce pollution, both by adopting organic farming practices that utilize fewer agrochemicals in general and by applying various environmental sanitation techniques, such as sanitary landfills, latrines, etc.

"Ordenamiento" (putting in order, upgrading, improving) is the term used to describe the set of actions undertaken by local stakeholders, beginning with the house—the family base and main element within the ecosystem—and encompassing all of the land and the entire community. The idea of "ordenamiento of the home, the farm, the community" has become an important organizing principle for mobilizing action. Local stakeholders have progressively taken over the management of their natural resources, starting with those belonging to family groups and then encompassing communal resources.

At the national level, MINAG and the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), particular since 2001, have shown a keen interest in the achievements and advances of MARENASS. The results attained have suggested to both ministries that they should conduct a careful analysis of the project methodology with a view to replicating it in similar areas of the Highlands and other areas in which rural poverty is prevalent. The National Compensation and Social Development Fund (FONCODES), which is the institution responsible for implementing the Puno-Cusco Corridor Development Project financed by the IFAD, is also very interested in the experience of MARENASS.

At the local level, especially in its interaction with municipal institutions, MARENASS has had a significant impact. In 1998, municipal governments served as the entry point for establishing the initial contacts with rural communities. Now, they are evolving from communication and procedural channels to true cofinancers and stakeholders in the project strategies. MARENASS has made great strides in collaboration with local governments; at present, some 20 districts located in the provinces of Chumbivilcas, Espinar, Grau, Aimaraes and Puquio have signed on to the project.

Two fundamental approaches applied by the project stand out as most important: (i) MARENASS does not ask farmers what their problems are but what they want to do and how, without attempting to "lead" them or impose anything on them and working within the framework of the MARENASS proposal; and (ii) flexibility of proposals and in the transfer of responsibilities and financial resources to communities.

With regard to the technologies proposed by MARENASS, in view of the results seen by the farmers and their expectations for the future, some beneficiaries have declared: "They have returned our history to us and they have returned us to history."

Fully 80% of the funds have been transferred (in monetary form) to the beneficiary communities and families. The total cost (operating costs plus transfers) per family participating in the activities of MARENASS is around USD 350 (calculated on the basis of the 260 communities participating in the project at the end of the year 2000). That cost would be even lower if all 360 communities, consisting of some 50 000 registered families at the end of 2001, were taken into account. In that case, the cost per family would be no more than USD 150. At this time, it is impossible to estimate the added value attributable to the investments, capitalization or increased present and future incomes that families might earn. However, it is possible to conjecture based on case studies, specialist consultancies and the sampling work of the IE Mission. As a very cautious estimate, for every United States dollar spent under MARENASS, families and communities have probably made investments in physical assets worth between three and five dollars.

MARENASS has one truly innovative aspect: it has succeeded in synthesizing the lessons learned from prior isolated, fragmentary and incomplete experiences and putting them into practice. The project has also awakened the creativity of local actors, families and communities, which first experimented with and then adopted and replicated the techniques proposed by the project, all of which were based on local resources.

MARENASS has also been highly innovative in its working methodology. Working from a design based on previous innovative experiences, such as the Pachamama Raymi training system or the lessons from the FEAS project regarding transfer of funds and responsibilities for technical assistance, and applying a approach of dialogue and interaction with communities, the project has refined and integrated those experiences. MARENASS has viewed its mission as "working with people" more than "working with natural resources" through the application of techniques specifically for that purpose. This orientation has been manifested in the objective of "capacity-building."

With regard to the MARENASS methodology, it would be foolhardy to reduce it to a certain instrument or group of instruments. The approach and criteria are essential. Unquestionably, the talking maps, the system of competitions, the fund transfers, etc. had many merits. But without an approach oriented towards "facilitation" and without the commitment to "work with people," those mechanisms would have been sterile, becoming mere means to achieve the end of reaching goals or clients. The MARENASS methodology is the outgrowth of a series of methods and instruments (proposed during the project appraisal) and effective approaches (some prompted by the Pachamama Raymi methods and others arising out of the interaction between the project and the communities). Its key elements are: (i) building trust in communities; (ii) cultivating relationships; (iii) financing/rewarding results; (iv) developing talking maps; (v) farmer-to-farmer training; and (vi) transferring funds to the communities.

Conclusions

After four years of work under MARENASS, it can be concluded that to achieve success in the fight against poverty under the conditions that prevail in the highland region, especially the Southern Highlands, it is essential to reclaim and increase the productive value of natural resources—the most important asset available to families and communities. It can also be concluded, however, that a mere proposal for improving land through the management of natural resources will not suffice if it is not recognized that the people who live on these lands have their own ideas and skills and that those directly concerned—families and communities—should be at the heart of any proposal put forward.

The MARENASS methodology, because it emphasizes capacity-building and development of relationships, and does not focus only on "objects" (technology transfer as such), has made it possible to take full advantage of the virtues of the Pachamama Raymi method and the funds provided by the project, whose most visible result is that communities are managing their own program of experimentation and learning and are helping to multiply existing potential at the local and regional levels.

MARENASS shows that the demands, vision and expectations of the poor families and communities in the Highlands are not oriented solely towards solving problems related to the degradation of their natural resources. Rather, their efforts are aimed at other objectives, such as starting rural businesses, improving their homes and maintaining local roads. In short, they are seeking to improve their quality of life as "part and parcel" of managing their natural resources.

It can be stated that the levels of food security attained are sustainable, given the full incorporation of the technology and productive methodologies proposed under MARENASS. The technologies introduced, which require very few external inputs and involve no recurring costs, also seem sustainable. Likewise, the achievements with regard to level of organization, institutional empowerment of communities and management of funds seem solid and probably sustainable (at least in part).

MARENASS has yielded a long list of lessons learned: (i) the natural resource management practices proposed under the project have great potential for rapidly improving household economy and achieving food security, the top priority of local actors; (ii) there is a potential for investment by families and communities themselves in the Southern Highlands; (iii) a project such as MARENASS cannot be limited simply to a "productive" or "agricultural" approach; (iv) organic farming holds tremendous economic promise; (v) the system of yachachiqs demonstrates the potential of community organizations to oversee an "internal educational system"; (vi) the social impact of MARENASS has been greater than expected because no attempt has been made to impose organizational models; (vii) as an instrument of planning and monitoring, the talking maps are extremely useful in facilitating the development and execution of projects by the beneficiaries themselves; (viii) the transfer of funds to communities fosters empowerment; and (ix) capacity-building and development of relationships are two key aspects of MARENASS's intervention.

The IE Mission has tried to pinpoint the main reasons for the project's success. In the Mission's view, the following four key elements, among a considerable number of other factors, explain why MARENASS has proved so successful:

  • Project design. The design combines creativity, scientific rigor and knowledge of the area and of the local reality. The extensive discussion and input from different sources and experiences that went into the design of the proposal have been crucial in developing a clear and sufficiently flexible strategic basis for effective implementation: (i) the incorporation of previous positive experiences in the direct transfer of resources to organizations; (ii) the understanding that productive natural resources are the most important form of capital available to community members and that capital has, for the community members, cultural and social significance, not just economic and conservation value; (iii) outsourcing of service delivery and the farmer-to-farmer system; (iv) the role and effectiveness of social organization in the Andean community and the approach to empowerment; (v) proven technologies requiring few external inputs; (vi) "friendly rivalry" as an instrument of motivation, (vii) a participatory methodology and genuine transfer of responsibility for decision-making to families and communities, and (viii) a very modest PCU/PEU headquartered in the project area.
  • The project's form of implementation and the system of management. Marenass adopted project start-up procedures already tested under other projects, which yielded positive results. The methodology included direct support from the Corporation for Regional Rural Development Training (PROCASUR) and IFAD in the selection of personnel through open competitions, based on strict criteria. Particular care was taken in selecting the project manager. The human resources were trained prior to assuming their responsibilities, and for the most part the team has remained the same throughout the project. The project's management has been a crucial factor in its success, and the management methodology should be analysed and studied with a view to applying it in other projects. The management of human resources has been very innovative for a project of this type, as have the communications and decision-making systems. MARENASS has worked essentially to establish and develop "relationships" and to foster trust with regard to the agreements and commitments made with families and communities. This meant building TRUST and SOLID RELATIONSHIPS.
  • The capacity of the PCU/PEU to learn, listen to and understand the views and culture of the communities and families. MARENASS offers a system of participation and true empowerment. The project transfers resources and, most important, responsibility for the management of those resources, based on precise agreements/contracts, to which MARENASS always adheres. The resources are awarded through competitions, and results, not intentions, are rewarded. One of the keys to MARENASS's success is having understood the role, the environments and the functions of the families and communities—roles and interests that are different but interdependent. MARENASS works at both levels.
  • Support and oversight; reflection, transfer of experience, impetus. The IE Mission considers this another of the essential elements. MARENASS was open to and sought out—with support from the IFAD office in Lima—conceptual and methodological, and even tactical, support and contributions from a considerable number of specialists who have spent long periods working in the field. Doing so required a positive attitude on the part of both the project and the consultants and, above all, a capacity for conceptual and methodological supervision and oversight, a function which in this case was performed successfully by the IFAD office in Lima.

Conclusions

The success of MARENASS is prompting various public and private institutions to try to incorporate the strategy and methodology applied under the project into their operations. It is recommended that, in these desirable replication processes, it be borne in mind that the MARENASS methodology comprises a group of mechanisms, tools and approaches and cannot be reduced to a single instrument or method. The essential element is the focus and approaches that have enabled the Pachamama Raymi strategy to go beyond simple technology transfer and generate an intense and promising dynamic in the hands of the beneficiary families and communities.

The major weakness in the project, and the main obstacle to the sustainability of effective natural resource management, is its lack of an economic approach to the management of productive natural resources. This deficiency has two main facets: failure to calculate the cost of the recommended practices and the ambiguity of the proposals for achieving greater linkage with the market.

It is necessary to develop, with the communities, an economic approach to the sustainability of natural resource management that reflects the economic strategy and viewpoint of the families and communities. The word "economy" should be understood to mean the possibility of expanding options and selecting those that are most desirable in keeping with the vision and expectations of community members.

Thus far, MARENASS has not been able to adequately support families and communities in meeting these new challenges, but it would not be advisable for the project's efforts to be dissipated on this new task. It is essential and urgent to address this issue, but it will be necessary to look for complementary funds and resources outside of MARENASS in order to do so effectively. MARENASS might "drive" and guide this process, which could be entrusted to external service providers under contract. After having achieved good results with regard to natural resource management and "agricultural" and "productive" matters, it is imperative to devise approaches and activities for dealing with economic issues and increasing access to and ties with the market.

Specific recommendations:

  • Production and Marketing Fund - Funds for Organized Groups of Women (OGW): It is recommended, in order to consolidate the women's groups, that activities be planned to: (i) train their members (men and women) to manage rural businesses; (ii) support the shift, within the women's groups, from a farmer mentality to a business mentality; (iii) identify business modalities that are not limited by legal constraints; (iv) seek similar experiences in microcredit and microenterprise to capitalize on experiences; (v) provide training in all the foregoing areas in the Quechua language; (vi) integrate the need to monitor businesses into the thinking of the community and, especially, into negotiations with women.
  • Fund for contracting community facilitators: While the role of the facilitators has been basically positive, there are some risks and weaknesses at the moment. It is recommended that the MARENASS strategy be revised, with greater emphasis on training for community facilitators, clarifying their relationship with the community and the role they are to play in it.
  • Award fund: It is recommended that the possibility of strengthening interinstitutional relationships be explored, in particular with the municipal governments, in order to maintain, at least partially, the availability of funds for awards in the communities from which MARENASS has already withdrawn or will soon withdraw.
  • Fund for expansion of the agricultural frontier: It is recommended that the use of these funds be extended to competitions between communities that have been participating in the project for all four years.
  • Withdrawal process: In 2002, the first 99 communities that were incorporated in 1998 concluded their participation in the project. A lower level of activity has been perceived in these communities relative to those that began participating in 1999. It is recommended that the strategy and proposal of the PEU for this withdrawal process be defined taking into account the fact that the 1998 communities probably deserve some "compensation" for their contribution to the learning curve of the MARENASS personnel.
  • Agreements in force: It is necessary to ponder, with the communities, the future of the "agents" that have emerged as a result of MARENASS (yachachiqs and community facilitators).
  • Institutional relations: This is one of the weak points of MARENASS. It is recommended that a greater effort be made to establish alliances with municipal institutions and with other programs and projects.
  • Environmental education in schools: It is recommended that the performance of the Environmental Education Program be reviewed, involving the communities.
  • Gender: It is recommended that gender training be continued and strengthened, based on the current strategy of focusing on the family and the issue of the rights of persons and organizations.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: It would be advisable to strengthen and integrate the current systems so that they can perform the function for which (intentionally or not) they were created, establishing clear objectives within the systems; linking each one to a computerized information base containing not just numbers but also narrative text; equipping the personnel responsible for collecting information in the community with digital cameras and secretarial support to transcribe the information collected; training project technical personnel to read maps and interpret photographs; and corroborating graphic and verbal information with numeric data on concrete results of proven validity and reliability.
  • Dissemination of information: This should be a shared responsibility of the entire PEU, but it should be coordinated and systematized based on activities undertaken by the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Unit.

Recommendation for IFAD and the Borrower

The success of MARENASS is prompting several public and private institutions to try to incorporate the strategy and methodology applied under the project into their operations. It is recommended that, in these desirable processes of replicating the methodology, the following considerations be borne in mind.

The MARENASS methodology entails a process of analysing and systemtizing experience and an effort to delineate (perhaps even in the form of manuals) the processes and steps, duly analysed and discussed, so that this experience can be applied in similar areas. This systematization should describe all the main elements that have led to the achievement of positive results: (i) project design, (ii) staff selection and profile, (iii) staff training, (iv) implementation and presentation-dissemination, (v) ways and methods of relating with the beneficiaries, (vi) administration of a project such as MARENASS, in particular capacity for management; (vii) detailed processes and steps for applying the methodology; (viii) modalities and negotiations for establishing local and institutional relations.

It is recommended that national authorities, the institutions concerned, MARENASS and IFAD initiate a policy dialogue and an analysis/debate in order to begin "translating" the MARENASS experience into policy lines and methodologies for rural development, especially in the following areas: (i) transfer and management of funds by organizations; (ii) outsourcing and market for services; (iii) natural resource management and organic farming; (iv) technology transfer and farmer-to-farmer training; and (v) the role and relationships of communities and families.

It is suggested that additional resources—both financial and professional—be provided to support MARENASS in formulating viable proposals for developing and ensuring the sustainability of organized groups of women (microcredit, microbusiness). MARENASS should be supported through proposals and studies aimed at consolidating the process and identifying specific activities to "even up" the development of the communities that began participating in 1998.

It is recommended that resources be allocated for the development of proposals that will facilitate the application, in the short term, of the experience of MARENASS in projects already under way, such as the Puno-Cusco Corridor project and projects of other institutions.

MARENASS includes a series of innovative features and elements that create opportunities and point up the need to undertake studies that go beyond functional analyses for the purpose of implementing other projects or designing rural development policies. It is recommended that opportunities be sought to carry out studies of an academic nature that will yield a better understanding of anthropological and cultural mechanisms and aspects and propose scientific interpretations and explanations of the cultural and social factors behind what was observed empirically under MARENASS.

It is not considered advisable to proceed with a second phase of MARENASS, but an expansion/replication initiative is considered appropriate, given the high demand among communities wishing to participate that cannot currently be served by the project. At present, MARENASS is serving around 7% of the registered Andean communities. If the project's success is recognized, it might be desirable to carry out a dissemination and replication initiative. One fact that illustrates this success: the overall cost of MARENASS is around USD 40 000 per community, or an average of USD 350 per family, and it has been demonstrated that capital formation in the communities very quickly surpasses that amount.

Reallocation: An agreement should be reached among the PEU, MINAG, the Borrower, IFAD and the cooperating institution to review the amounts allocated in the budget to each category of expenditure. The total lack of financing for the Fund for Expansion of the Agricultural Frontier (because funding from the expected source did not materialize) should be remedied, since this is a strategic fund, especially for the consolidation stage in communities that are completing their cycle of participation in the project.

Some of the funds in the "unallocated funds" category could be shifted into "monitoring and evaluation," and the categories of operating costs, salaries and wages could be adjusted. A proposal to that effect should be prepared by the PEU, bearing in mind the operational plans for the next few years and the incorporation of the IE Mission's recommendations.

Expansion/replication: MARENASS is currently serving around 7% of registered Andean communities. If the success of the project is recognized, it might be desirable to carry out a dissemination and replication initiative. One fact that illustrates this success: the overall cost of MARENASS is around USD 40 000 per community, or an average of USD 350 per family, and it has been demonstrated that capital formation in the communities very quickly surpasses that amount.

 

 

 

LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Northern Regions Livestock Development Project (2002)

  
September 2002

Interim Evaluation

Introduction

The Northern Regions Livestock Development Project (NOLIDEP) is one of the first to be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development (MAWRD) with external donor support; others have since followed and are planned. The financing plan for NOLIDEP includes host government and beneficiary contributions together with joint and parallel financing from external donors. The joint financing comprises an IFAD loan (USD 6.02 million), a Belgian Survival Fund grant (BEF 64.1 million, equivalent to USD 2.0 million at the time of financing agreement) and a Luxembourg Government grant (USD 0.75 million) administered via the IFAD Loan Agreement. Parallel grant financing (now completed) was provided by the French Government (USD 2.0 million) and the Luxembourg Government (USD 2.0 million). The project began in May 1995 and, following a one-year extension is now due to close in December 2003.

 

The Minister of Finance in Namibia has informed IFAD of Government's interest in developing a follow-up project to NOLIDEP. Using its own resources, the MAWRD has initiated preparation of a project proposal based on a series of internal evaluations by the regions that are involved in implementing NOLIDEP. The Interim Evaluation Mission fielded in Namibia by IFAD represents a further contribution to the evaluation process.

Project design and objectives

The project had a protracted history of development and design. As originally conceived in the early-mid 1990s, it aimed to promote a semi-commercial approach to range management in some 200 communities. This was to involve: (i) training farmers to adopt environmentally sound range management practices and to control stocking rates; (ii) promoting community-based organisations which would develop the framework for providing essential services, notably extension and credit; and (iii) strengthening the institutional and policy framework for the sustainable development of the Northern Communal Areas (NCA). Subsequently, some two years after inception, the project underwent a major reformulation. The main changes were to introduce more participatory methodologies, increase the emphasis on farmer and staff training and to respond to the development challenge in the NCA through two distinct phases of implementation. The First (Pilot) Phase aimed to: (i) develop and test participatory methodologies in about 20 communities that had already become associated with the project; and (ii) fully integrate the project within the line administration of MAWRD.

The strategy for supporting sustainable rangeland development in the communal areas, which was expected to be developed during the pilot phase, would focus on achieving a better balance between livestock numbers and the availability of grazing through an extension of access to grazing into under-utilised areas based on water point development and the encouragement of community-based grazing management. If successful, the strategy would provide the basis for continuation of the project into the Second (Implementation) Phase and the replication of successful community-based initiatives in a further 40 communities. Proceeding to the Second Phase would be subject to positive conclusions from the project Mid-Term Review.

The stated objective of NOLIDEP has remained unchanged throughout these adjustments and is "…. to improve the economic and social well-being of the rural population of the NCA through the promotion of increased livestock production, greater productivity and off-take, while ensuring the development of a more sustainable range management system with more equitable distribution of assets and resources in the project area." In tackling these objectives, project resources are organised around five components, namely: (i) Sustainable Range Management; (ii) Livestock Support Services; (iii) Animal Health and Veterinary Services; (iv) Training; and (v) Institutional Support.

Implementation overview and results by components

Implementation responsibility lies with the MAWRD acting through Regional and Divisional Management Units established specifically for the purpose. That is, the project is a sub-set of the overall activities of MAWRD and its implementation necessarily reflects the evolution of MAWRD and Government policy. Most project activities are carried out directly by MAWRD personnel, with relatively limited scope for and access to implementing partners in the private sector or civil society, especially in the earlier years. The project is coordinated by the Directorate of Extension and Engineering Services (DEES) in Windhoek via a Project Coordination Committee under the chairmanship of the Permanent Secretary. Operational details are discussed in and guided by a Project Operational Committee at national level, which inter alia includes senior representatives from the management units in each of the participating regions.

During the course of implementation, successive and incremental design adjustments have been made in an effort to make the project more consistent with the socio-economic context, more inclusive of different wealth categories among the rural population and more participatory in approach. The shifts in focus were justifiable in terms of seeking also to benefit the resource poor (who tend not to be livestock owners) while continuing to support poor rural communities as a whole and enabling those who are slightly better-off and more readily able to contribute in the short-term to overall economic growth.

Although the desire has been to move towards a more all-encompassing, ‘community development' type of project, commensurate changes have not been made in either the stated objectives and anticipated outputs, or the allocation of funds to reflect the different requirements that may be expected from a programme oriented towards community development. The majority of funds have continued to be directed towards institution building in MAWRD and investments within and on behalf of communities that are geared to identifying and tackling constraints in the livestock sub-sector and improving access to water supplies for livestock and humans. This is symptomatic of a number of inherent conflicts within the project design and purpose reflecting broader national policy issues, e.g. the tension between sectoral vs. livelihood approach, and the tension between production and poverty reduction goals. MAWRD and its divisional and regional management units have faced implementation difficulties and considerable frustrations in attempting to satisfy partially incompatible expectations and differing interpretations among the several co-financiers of what is to be expected of the project.

On the recommendation of the Mid Term Review (conducted in April 1999), the project has moved into its second (implementation) phase. However, the project has struggled and lagged behind in ‘developing and testing' participatory methodologies for introducing a sustainable range management system and replicating it more widely across the NCA – a key aim of the design. The objectives of the project and the (limited) formal documentation guiding its implementation imply that the activities to be supported would need to work together in a synergistic manner if expected outputs are to be sustainable and achieved effectively and efficiently. This potential does not appear to have received due emphasis in directing support to participating communities, nor does it feature as a major concern in the Mid Term Review.

Activities included in annual work programmes have generally represented an aggregation of interventions, separately conceived by the respective technical directorates of MAWRD in the regions, as opposed to a jointly planned response to unified action programmes for communities' socio-economic advancement and the efficient, equitable and sustainable management of their resources. This is partly due to the prevailing overall institutional legacy and local environment vis-a-vis the novelty of the concept that is sought to be introduced for the first time. There certainly has been evolution and the project has played a catalytic role, but the project has been able to develop only at the pace of the institutions in which it is embedded. The installation of water supplies illustrates the point. Under traditional range management practices, the facilities act as a focus for livestock. Hence their installation can have a markedly adverse effect locally on grazing availability and range condition by increasing grazing intensity in the vicinity. There is as yet little evidence of technicians linking the siting and design of water installations to an analysis with communities of range status and the discussion of the implications for range management and herd management practices of developing additional water sources.

Sustainable Range Management. Under the water development sub-component, considerable success has been achieved in increasing the number and expanding the distribution of water points for both human and livestock consumption and in encouraging community-based management of water facilities. Under NOLIDEP, water infrastructure development required cost contributions from the recipient community (10%). Following some initial scepticism, there appears to be a growing recognition among rural communities of the importance of cost sharing, a willingness to raise the necessary funds and/or contribute labour for infrastructure installation and to pay for operation and maintenance. The experiences under this sub-component illustrate several key points: (i) the importance of carefully matching technology selection; (ii) the need to ensure adequate preparation of communities; (iii) the importance of avoiding undue pressures to disburse funds and meet physical targets at the expense of adequate preparatory work with communities and technical consultation; and (vi) the need for rigorous and effective contract supervision and management.

Under NOLIDEP, there has been a substantial accumulation of knowledge of the current status of rangeland vegetation and the patterns of range use in the NCA. The international technical assistance personnel in the early stage of the implementation prepared several potentially useful documents that could contribute to the development of sustainable range management strategies. However, with some exceptions, there is little discernible evidence of the potentially useful knowledge derived from the studies being applied in structured programmes to help livestock herders/farmers manage available vegetation resources in a more efficient and sustainable way. Good progress has been made in the development of a Geographic Information System (GIS) capability under the project. The aim is to create a comprehensive database of indigenous knowledge, natural and physical resources to generate information in a form that can be used as a spatial decision-making tool, when dealing with communities. However, the pace of skill development and application of the skills at regional level is proving slow, mainly because of small number of GIS-trained personnel, the difficulties created by staff turnover in the regions and competing calls on the time of agricultural field staff. The use of GIS-base information as a field tool during interactions with communities and for wider planning purposes has not yet been established as a regular or required feature in regional work programming.

Livestock Support Services. The adaptive trial programme was initiated by the former Range Management Specialist and covered a wide range of topics in the areas of: testing improved forage species; range reinforcement; and supplementary feeding. A high rate of staff turnover, the short periods allocated for research investigations and the lack of consistent investigation of a problem over a period of years have contributed to the lack of information output in support of extension programmes with farmers. Few communities are aware of the activities under this sub-component. However, there are indications that, in the forage deficit areas of Caprivi, a number of farmers are beginning to show interest in the outcome of tests of species with potential for supplementary feeding of livestock.

Potential areas of project involvement in livestock extension activities lie in aspects of livestock-environment interaction, herd management and livestock marketing. Fodder balance aspects related to the interaction between livestock and the environment were to have been based on the outcome of the adaptive research programme. As noted above, there is little output from the programme that could be used in livestock extension programmes. Another difficulty for the project in involving itself in livestock extension is the fact the technical staff operating at field level are principally crops oriented, relatively few in number, and involved in a wide range of activities. Technical staff with experience in livestock subjects are either researchers or staff of DVS, the latter having responsibility primarily for disease surveillance and scheduled disease control and not for the provision of advisory services on animal husbandry.

Only limited progress has been made so far in livestock marketing, although the construction of auction pens represents a potentially positive contribution to boosting livestock marketing. However, this has not been linked with basic awareness creation and training on livestock marketing. Infrastructure and training are only likely to pay off in terms of marketed production if the involved stakeholders succeed in introducing a marketing information system that would increase livestock owners incentive to produce for the market. A detailed marketing study has been completed under NOLIDEP (April 2000) that provides a number of useful pointers for future marketing-related investment. However, its recommendations have not yet been reflected in adjustments to work programmes.

The Small Stock Seed Capital Fund (SSSCF) was specifically introduced as one means for the project to secure direct benefits for women and poorer households. An internal evaluation of this programme in NCD showed 65% of beneficiaries to be women. There is a high degree of satisfaction with the SSSCF programme among the recipients of stock. However, the response gives an incomplete picture of overall scheme effectiveness. Given the high level of subsidy involved in the scheme (90%), the recipient continues to enjoy a net benefit provided her/his losses through stock mortality do not exceed 90%. With seemingly few exceptions, the total number of goats kept is currently lower than the number of goats received; hence there is no overall economic gain from the intervention. While the communities selected the scheme participants, decisions often appear to have been made by local headmen, perhaps contributing to the tendency for older people to benefit at the expense of younger members of the community. Nevertheless, the scheme has had the benefit of enabling some individuals to become livestock owners for the first time. Moreover, the initiative has shown that positive benefits can derive from attention to small stock and provides a number of useful pointers on how procedural improvements could be made in future.

Animal Health and Veterinary Services. NOLIDEP implementers have made considerable progress in installing facilities, within communities, geared to improving animal health. Facilities include crush pens and, in some localities, dip tanks for small stock. In some instances, farmers have expressed concern about the standardised design of crush pens (too small), the materials used in construction (brought from outside) and the current state of repair of the facilities. Their comments highlight the inadequacies of discussion/analysis with farmers of local circumstances before proceeding with installation and indicate shortcomings in relation to farmers' perceptions of ownership of the structures. Access to veterinary services has been substantially improved. Farmers have seen immediate benefit from the project's double strategy of (i) establishing VRECs, each with a resident Animal Health Inspector and (ii) training a para-professional cadre of Community Animal Health Assistants (CAHA) in order to bring basic animal health services even closer to the point of need. The process of privatising the sale of veterinary drugs among licensed agents is ongoing and is likely to contribute further to improving animal health status, at least in less remote areas where human population densities are higher and retailers may have a greater expectation of profitable sales.

Training. Staff training has included in-service training of counterpart staff by contracted technical assistance personnel; provisions for overseas training and participation in study tours; and formalised, technically oriented courses. Courses have also been given in the use of selected participatory techniques and training to enhance gender awareness, with a view to improving extension staff skills in interacting with communities during the identification and planning of community-based investments. However, due to the frequent turnover of staff, the regions have faced difficulty in maintaining consistency in terms of implementation skills and operating capacity.

Farmer training is the responsibility of extension staff. Training opportunities provided under NOLIDEP have principally been linked with the planning and introduction of physical infrastructure and activities financed under the SSSCF and CDF sub-components. Training recipients have included traditional leaders, committee members taking the lead in organising community members as a basis for the introduction of infrastructure-related and income generating enterprises. Community members have also been identified as suitable candidates to become CAHAs. Training has mainly been provided ‘in-house' by the MAWRD. There is a clear argument for increasing the use of contracted training services (both for staff and farmer training) from local institutions, civil society or the private sector according to their comparative advantage.

Institutional Support. Institutional support during the early stages of the project was characterised by a major provision of technical assistance personnel who were charged with responsibility for implementation and the in-service training of counterpart staff. In practice, the development of local capacity was not effectively done at the outset and the project became over-dependent on the technical assistants, partly due to Government's inability to provide counterparts and partly due to attitudes among some of the technical assistance staff. Overall costs associated with technical assistance, which were supported principally through grant funding, have been judged to be extremely high in comparison with the output. Nonetheless, it must be recognised that prior to Independence, relatively little attention had been given to building administrative capacity in and for the communal areas. In this context, the benefits derived from technical assistants' involvement in terms of contributing to building an institutional framework for development, introducing and/or strengthening management procedures and establishing a much-increased knowledge of livelihood systems in the NCA must be viewed as an important contribution and a foundation for making further gains.

Project performance and impact

The project has been instrumental in building a foundation for public services to continue to support rural development in the NCA through the strengthened operations of the regional structures. MAWRD facilities have been improved and expanded, organisational and administrative skills substantially improved and field operatives' capabilities enhanced through training in interactive skills for dealing with rural communities as well as in specialised technical skills. Ministry personnel have been both responsive and responsible in dealing with project organisation and administration and implementers have shown commendable enthusiasm and willingness to undertake their roles, often in difficult operating circumstances. These represent major achievements given the weaknesses that characterised public services in the communal areas in the period immediately following Independence and Government's continuing difficulty in maintaining staffing levels. NOLIDEP has been instrumental in encouraging the adoption of a more integrated approach to agricultural development planning at regional and national levels, to the benefit not only of the project but also to other rural development-based projects and programmes of MAWRD. Substantial efforts continue to be made to improve the project's poverty reduction focus, not least through further adjustment of policies and legislation affecting rural development in the communal areas. A number of these adjustments have been initiated as the result of actions taken under the project or have been influenced by project experience and performance.

The project has established a high profile in participating communities throughout the NCA. The most visible and widespread benefit has derived from investments in water supply installation under the Sustainable Range Management component. In most cases, the community at large has benefited, although livestock owners may have gained particular advantage. Households benefiting from the more specifically targeted Small Stock Seed Capital Fund (SSSCF) and micro-enterprise investments (mainly poorer households and women) have established potential sources of economic empowerment previously unavailable to poorer communities. Under the animal health component, veterinary services and veterinary drugs have become more widely available and more readily accessible to livestock owners in rural areas. Of particular note are: the establishment of the Veterinary Rural Extension Centres; the operation of a revolving fund for the supply of veterinary drugs, the initiation of private sector involvement in veterinary drug supply and the training of Community Health Assistants as an additional, voluntry cadre of para-professionals identified from within the community to provide a primary tier of veterinary service in their locality.

Rural households in communities engaged under the project have been assisted to take a more pro-active role in the identification of priority areas for investment and have begun to contribute towards the costs of such investment. Some gains have been made in terms of communities being empowered to organise themselves, through various committee structures, to manage capital assets supplied under the project. In many cases, communities have shown that it is possible for them to take an active role as partners in the development process, organise themselves to access support, develop a sense of ‘ownership' of facilities, contribute to the cost of investment in capital assets and begin to assume responsibility for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the facility. Again, this represents a substantial change from the earlier situation where, to the extent that goods and services were made available at all in rural areas, the communities' role remained an entirely passive one.

Despite the above gains, there can be doubts about the replicability of activities in a larger number of communities across a wider geographic area through operational procedures that place heavy reliance on MAWRD implementation capacity and budgetary resources. Likewise, the benefits secured over the short-term through several of the project's interventions call for complementary strengthening in order to ensure sustainability. For example, there are dangers of negative environmental effects in the vicinity of water points in the absence of parallel attention being given to systems of livestock management. Similarly, short-term gains from the expanded ownership of animals under the SSSCF may be in jeopardy as a result of inadequate attention to aspects of animal husbandry and health care, both prior to and after the introduction of animals, while a number of small businesses supported via the Community Development Fund have involved heavy risk-taking, having been established without prior close assessment of their financial viability.

Monitoring, evaluation and impact reporting has remained a weak aspect despite the concerns repeatedly raised and suggestions made by supervision missions. Secondary data on NOLIDEP collated by MAWRD in the regions generally do not permit the nature of induced changes to be quantified, other than in terms of physical progress monitoring. This gives cause for concern, not least for the Government, which needs to be in a position to assess the economic value of its investment in the project and the effectiveness of the procedures and principles it represents in accelerating a reduction in poverty. Notwithstanding the considerable efforts during the course of implementation, the regions have not yet been able to establish a consistent management information system for the project. A major contributory cause for inadequacies is linked to the inability to introduce implementation, monitoring and evaluation guidelines from the outset of the project and shortfalls in the level of technical and administrative guidance to the regions from MAWRD directorates. Closer attention to these aspects could have helped also to retain the focus of implementing agents on the underlying technical and development principles and objectives of the project as well as the inter-relationships and potential synergies between activities.

Suitable impact indicators would reflect and be measured in terms of the project's stated objectives and expected component/activity outputs. In the case of water supplies, valid questions to be asked in assessing impact would include: what effect has access to water in areas of previously under-utilised rangeland had on patterns of livestock herding, the time taken to water stock or the frequency with which stock can be watered in comparison to the pre-investment situation? In the case of staff training, how has training influenced the content and effectiveness of work programmes? Unfortunately, collated information does not permit this type of assessment to be made for any of the project interventions. It should also be possible to link such benefits to the costs of interventions, thereby helping management to assess cost-effectiveness and adjust operations accordingly. Again, this type of assessment is difficult to derive from project information as presently recorded in the regions.

Conclusions

Opportunities exist to build upon the experiences of NOLIDEP implementation and consolidate gains already made. However, the question remains of the extent to which the approach and interventions introduced to date can be replicated using existing operational procedures and through the continued heavy reliance on MAWRD implementation capacity, unless there are substantial increases in funding allocations and staff numbers. Neither of these is likely to occur so easily, suggesting that further adjustments to institutional arrangements and operational relationships between the public sector, private sector and civil society need to be made.

Regardless of the structure and content of any successor project, it will be essential for the future of livestock production in the NCA to place rural livelihood development in its environmental context if the fragile resource base is to generate sustainable economic growth and social well being. In this regard it will be important for staff at an implementation level to be fully aware of national and international principles on environmental management to which Government subscribes and of national policy directives - such as those embodied in the National Plan to Combat Desertification and forthcoming legislation under the Water Bill - and to conduct field programmes that are consistent with and supportive of those principles.

The design has proved over-ambitious with respect to: (i) the nature of changes in people's livestock production priorities and management patterns anticipated under the project; (ii) overcoming the challenges associated with development of a sustainable range management system in communally used lands; and (iii) the rate at which sustainable changes to production systems and livelihood patterns can be encouraged in rural communities with entrenched, traditional views given the realities of implementation capacity in the regions.

Key lessons to be drawn from the experience of NOLIDEP implementation include:

a. the need to give adequate emphasis, time and resources to the community mobilisation process, which should not be compromised by aspirations to meet pre-set physical targets and/or to speed up project fund disbursement rates. A longer-term, programme perspective would be beneficial for future investments operating in a similar context;

b. that poorer members of rural society can be reached through specifically designed and targeted measures and need not rely entirely on a ‘trickle down' effect or gaining benefit along with the rest of their community in initiatives directed towards the community as a whole;

c. that project objectives and anticipated outputs should be realistically set in relation to: the operational context; aspects that the project as designed (i.e. its components and activities) can be expected to influence; the resources available (human and financial); and the time allocated;

d. the constraints, in terms of project performance and effectiveness, that can arise for want of adequate implementation guidelines as an aid to maintaining focus on project aims and directives and measuring project impact in relation to stated outputs and objectives. In the case of NOLIDEP, the lack of formal guidelines caused insufficient attention to be given to achieving the intended complementarity and potential synergy between components;

e. the benefits to be derived from operational collaboration between MAWRD and other development partners and the scope which exists to build on and expand such initiatives in the future; and
f. the importance of fostering a common understanding and interpretation of underlying development themes and principles at policy and implementation levels among project/programme stakeholders if frustrations and false expectations during implementation are to be avoided.

Recommendations

Given the short time remaining before project completion, the mission does not recommend attempting to make structural changes in operational procedures at this juncture. The recommended focus is to (a) consolidate efforts through follow-up support to those staff, communities, committees within communities, para-professionals and farmers already associated with NOLIDEP and (b) to the extent possible within the framework of the agreed Annual Work Programme and Budget for 2002/03, initiate selected actions that would facilitate the design and implementation of any successor project(s) in line with agreed approaches to stimulating more broadly based economic growth in the NCA. More specifically:

a. the MAWRD could continue to provide leadership -but firmer than ever- as managers and to guide the regions in technical and administrative matters in the interests of maintaining the integrity of the project and ensuring the adoption of ‘best practice' in implementing project-financed activities;

b. directorate officers at national level to provide project implementers in the RMUs/DMU with further guidance on fitting their increasingly inter-disciplinary planning at the local level into an annual planning and budgeting framework that remains structurally linked at a ministry level to the programmes and priorities of the respective directorates and is considered to be distinct from the separately funded programmes of NOLIDEP;

c. establish systems for local level monitoring and impact assessment;

d. conduct a series of quantitative assessments of the utilisation and impact of physical and financial assets provided to date in relation to indicators that reflect the project's expected outputs and objectives;

e. the Project Coordination Committee to provide guidelines to the regions on general principles and procedures to be followed, training standards and curricula requirements for specialist staff and para-professionals and the application of management information systems to be used in designing/implementing field activities;

f. the MAWRD to become represented in the Namibia Association of Community Based Natural Resources Management Support Organisation (the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is already a member) as one means of broadening exposure to other ongoing initiatives in fields relevant to its operations in the NCA and other communal areas; and

g. the Project Coordination Committee to encourage RMUs/DMU to become more pro-active in facilitating linkages between organisations/interest groups in communities and available sources of information, advice and marketing opportunity in the private sector and civil society.

In looking to the post-project period and the design of a possible successor investment(s), it is recommended that debate should focus attention on:

a. placing people and the sustainable use of resources at the centre of the development approach rather than the delivery of specific, pre-determined investment options;

b. helping to secure access by the rural poor to natural resources, principally land, vegetation and water, as a fundamental pre-requisite to the introduction of sustainable resource management systems;

c. supporting local level, representative organisations that can play a vital role in creating an environment conducive to economic growth and promoting equitable asset distribution;

d. given the rate of human population increase prevalent in the NCA, aiming to reduce the proportion of the population reliant on primary agricultural production through stimulating an appropriate diversification in economic opportunity; an essential requirement to lowering the number of people living in poverty;

e. contributing to mainstreaming recognition of gender concerns in all activities. A special focus on women would be justifiable given the high proportion of de facto or de jure rural female-headed households amongst whom poverty is often more prevalent;

f. introducing specific actions and investments that will enable rural communities and households to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS; and

g. considering the adoption of a longer-term, programmatic approach to planning and financing in order to cater to the needs of fully participatory approaches to poverty reduction and equitable economic development and for ensuring sustainable management of common property resources in an extremely fragile environment.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Livestock and Pasture Development Project in the Eastern Region

Morocco  
May 2002

Interim Evaluation

The project’s main objectives were to improve incomes and living conditions for subsistence farmers and to halt environmental degradation. It targeted farmers using traditional livestock systems on collective rangeland, in an arid region with limited resources and rudimentary infrastructure.

Specific measures and activities were planned to ensure that the poorest farmers, particularly women, who bear the burden of livestock-related tasks, would benefit from investments.

Aims of the project were to:

  • increase the productivity of intensive pasture systems
  • support rangeland management
  • improve the water supply
  • promote environmental protection
  • promote income-generating activities for women

The project, which was followed by a second phase in 2004, showed a number of results. Despite five years of drought between 1997 and 2001, more than 460,000 ha of pasturelands were rehabilitated. The average time needed to reach waterholes was reduced by 48 per cent between 1989 and 1999, and more than 60 waterholes were repaired or installed.

Because of improved veterinary services, sheep mortality was reduced from six to two per cent. Livestock breeders organized 44 cooperatives. Local livestock practices, such as rangeland control and respect for rangeland usage rights, have improved.

The project raised awareness among livestock breeders and farmers about the need for sustainable use of pasture resources and for adoption of conservation measures.

Although progress was made, small livestock breeders remain more vulnerable to drought than others. The project’s second phase focuses more specifically on diversifying their resource base, especially for women.

The summary and conclusions are available in Arabic, English and French.

LANGUAGES: English, French