Project to Support Development in the Menabe and Melaky Regions
According to UNDP’s Report on Human Development, in 2005, nearly 71.3 per cent of the population and 80.5 per cent of the rural population in Madagascar lived in poverty. With these data in mind, the following year, the Project to Support Development in the Menabe and Melaki Regions in the West of the country (AD2M) was designed. Its main objective was to improve rural people’s access to land and water resources, optimizing their agricultural production and boosting their incomes' sustainability to reduce the exodus towards urban centres.
AD2M targeted 19 rural communities in Menabe and Melaki with the goal of reaching 40 per cent of vulnerable rural households or 16,000 families. The project concluded in 2015, exceeded the original targets by 10,000 households (26,000). Crop production increased with the addition of a second rice-growing season and of a market garden season, water availability permitting.
Human and social capital formation was satisfactory thanks to water users’ associations and a simplified farmer field school model that reached thousands or men and women farmers, where 34 per cent of beneficiaries were women. While positive results were achieved, the sustainability of the benefits was moderately satisfactory and further institutional support to local governments and deconcentrated administration will be required.
The evaluation highlights the importance of designing projects that combine land tenure security and agricultural development to boost development. It also recommended to promote basic living conditions and sanitation programmes in villages, tackling one of the main causes of chronic malnutrition amongst children under five.
Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme
Implemented between 2005 and 2015, the Root and Tuber Improvement and Marketing Programme in the Republic of Ghana aimed to build up competitive, market-based and inclusive commodity chains for roots and tubers to enhance food security and incomes of poor rural households in the country, with a special emphasis on women and other vulnerable groups.
The programme design was relevant to the country context and government priorities. The elements of an inclusive value chain development approach were in place, and the design and initial arrangements displayed a relatively solid intervention logic. Nevertheless, the implementation focus was largely biased towards production with insufficient attention to the processing and marketing aspects, leading to unfulfilled potential and oversupply of produce and local market saturation.
Overall, the main achievement of the programme was a change of farming practices. As a result, there were increases in crop productivity and food security which contributed modestly to household incomes. The objectives related to the value chain development, and processing and marketing skills upgrading, were, however, underachieved.
The evaluation underlines the need to invest early in specialized skills on market development and to pay closer attention to demand fluctuations for future market-oriented projects. Exploring alternative rural financing mechanisms and a variety of marketing approaches such as contract farming was also recommended.
Market Strengthening and Livelihood Diversification in the Southern Highlands Project
Project performance evaluation
The "Market Strengthening and Livelihood Diversification in the Southern Highlands Project" is part of a virtuous circle of creativity and innovation by IFAD in Peru. The project had a good geographical focus on the districts considered to have the greatest incidence of poverty and had a satisfactory impact on rural poverty reduction.
According to the impact analysis carried out by IOE, based on the official data of the Government, the project reduced the poverty of the rural families it reached by 12 per cent. This reduction was closely linked to the average increase in income, which was achieved to a large extent by diversification of production and its sources and by innovations in technology and production patterns – in particular with the support to economic productive undertakings through the business plans.
On the other hand, the evaluation reveals the factors that would have made an even greater impact on rural poverty possible. These include a more effective strategy of targeting the poorest and a longer period of private and public technical assistance to the businesses undertaken in order to ensure their sustainability, as well as linking them with financial services that would give them access to working and investment capital.
Pro-Poor Partnerships for Agroforestry Development Project
The project was implemented in Bac Kan, an upland province in Northern Viet Nam, with a mostly indigenous population. The province, which has limited agricultural land, relatively undeveloped forestry resources and rugged mountainous terrain, has the highest incidence of poverty in the country.
The evaluation highlights that some of the project’s notable achievements were the participatory and accurate re-allocation of forestry land titles and its substantial contributions to ensure the sustainable management of sloped land, the improvement of forest cover and the reduction of the environmental vulnerability of communities. The easy to understand procedures of the Community Development Fund were appreciated, managed in a decentralized and participatory manner, and promoted funding for 241 small-scale infrastructure schemes (village roads, irrigation canals and some drinking water systems), small loans for women and capacity building through 459 farmer groups.
On the other hand, the project was also ambitious and initially difficult to implement. The various rounds of revisions to the design and logical framework, as well as the necessary focus on food security and technical development in its first phase, resulted in the delay (and modest scale) of market-based value chain development. Furthermore, the social-complexity of the target groups and the different needs between the poor and the near poor influenced the level of impact that could be reached. Despite the significant efforts, gender equality and women's empowerment remain a long-term challenge particularly with respect to the sharing of the workload and responsibilities.
Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project
The Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project had a well-rounded developmental focus to improve the living conditions of poor rural households by strengthening their human, social and financial assets. It achieved several of its stated objectives and outcomes. The trainings imparted and the grants provided to purchase farm equipment led to increases in productivity for some beneficiaries, and consequent increases in incomes between 10 to 50 per cent. There was a high degree of participatory involvement of beneficiaries and many felt empowered. Human capital through life skills training and social capital through small-scale social infrastructure were strengthened.
On the other hand, the attention of the project ended up more on the supply side and less on the market side. Creating marketing linkages was one of the aims of the project but this was not fully realized. New linkages were essentially created only for agro-processing groups that constituted 20 per cent of the total number of groups. Low uptake of loans by beneficiaries and small amounts, more than 50 per cent of the loans taken consisted of amounts of less than US$500, was a reflection of the general risk-averse nature of the farming community.
The evaluation calls for optimising the benefits of a value chain by prioritising the selection of a few value chains based on criteria such as the rate of return, the involvement of the poor in the production, processing and the market demand for the products. It also calls for linking financial credit and product-market credit together for sustainable value chains. Finally, the evaluation argues for making provision in project design for sufficient support to beneficiaries especially when introducing them to a new occupation.
Participatory Natural Resource Management Programme
The programme made substantial progress in achieving its land restoration targets in spite of frequent disruptions due to the challenging context. It restored over 10,700 dunums (1,070 hectares) of land, reaching 1,480 households. In addition, through the programme’s credit activities, more than 600 households were able to access financing for existing and new enterprises for on-farm and off-farm activities.
On the other hand, the land-centric approach had implications for the programme’s targeting efforts. Potential beneficiaries with little or no access to land (women, youth, marginal landholders and landless) were not sufficiently included in the programme’s activities.
The evaluation recommends that future projects in Palestine pay more attention to off-farm activities in order that poorer and more marginalized segments of the population can also be reached. This will also enhance the resilience of the target population to future shocks in the Palestinian context.
Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri
Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri in the Kingdom of Cambodia
The project - designed at a time when close to half of the country’s population suffered from poverty - reached close to 15,000 rural households. It contributed to the adoption of improved agricultural techniques by the targeted poor rural households and to improving agricultural productivity and production. The project had a strong poverty focus, and gender issues were effectively integrated based on good collaboration between partners at national and provincial levels. The group revolving funds helped ease the cash flow of beneficiary households and contributed to building social capital among members.
However, the benefits realized in terms of improved agricultural production were less than expected. This was due to, among other factors, weaknesses in the approach of extension services and training of farmers, although adjustments were made after the mid-term review for the training to be more effective and responsive to needs. The agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts varied widely between the provinces, and so did the performance. Promising achievements and good performance in Preah Vihear were due to a combination of good management at provincial level, fast growing market opportunities for organic rice and other support initiatives. Ratanakiri turned out to be the most challenging case, also due to the predominant presence of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in upland areas, different farming systems, different socio-economic situations, lower literacy rate, language issues and remoteness.
Rural Financial Intermediation Programme (2017)
One of the main achievements of the programme was transforming Lesotho Post Bank into a self-reliant financial intermediary with a full banking license, and expanding rural credit and savings outreach. With the support of the programme, Lesotho Post Bank launched its lending operations and attained profitability for the first time in 2014.
The programme also contributed to the establishment of member-based financial institutions, which successfully provided their members, mostly women, with facilities to deposit and accumulate their savings and eventually improved their living conditions and household incomes.
On the other hand, the programme had an ambitious objective of enhancing access by the rural poor to efficient financial services on a sustainable basis. While the programme managed to build financial intermediaries with rural outreach which mobilized their own resources as loanable funds, the intended objective was not achieved at completion, as the linkages between member-based financial institutions and commercial banks were not effectively created.
Rural Microfinance Development Support Project
Project performance evaluation
The overall approach of the Rural Microfinance Development Support Project was to support microfinance institutions in order to improve rural people’s access to financial services. This approach was consistent with the economic context and the strategic and policy orientations of both Cameroon and IFAD. The project has increased the outreach of the seven partner microfinance networks that work in rural areas, in terms of number of members and savers. However, the number and volume of loans increased only for three microfinance networks.
Credit union members received very limited non-financial support to ensure that they could make the best possible use of financial services. It is therefore unlikely that increased access to financial services has led to higher productivity or incomes for many credit union members.
The main innovation of the project was the creation of a refinancing fund for agricultural medium-term credit but its effectiveness was limited due to its inadequate operating modalities, its short period of operation, and the inexperience of the partner microfinance institutions.
The evaluation recommends that IFAD should continue to engage in agricultural medium-term credit with the Government of Cameroon as well as with interested donors and microfinance institutions. Additionally, IFAD should simplify the design of rural microfinance projects and ensure that these projects are better integrated with other IFAD interventions in the country.
Post-Tsunami Coastal Rehabilitation and Resource Management Programme (2017)
The goal of the programme was to restore the assets of women and men directly or indirectly affected by the tsunami and to re-establish the foundation of their previous economic activities, while helping them diversify into new, profitable income-generating activities.
Some of the notable contributions from the programme comprised activities in which IFAD has solid experience, i.e. building public-private partnerships (in the case of shrimp farming) and developing microcredit and microenterprises. For instance, the cluster shrimp farm at Vakarai has had a much clearer impact on incomes. The evidence indicates that the incomes of the farmers had increased by more than 50 per cent. On the other hand, IFAD engaged in activities which were not part of its core competence – for example, building houses for beneficiaries – and this meant that it could not leverage its expertise and experience to best effect.
The evaluation argues for re-examining IFAD's role in post-crisis situations, especially in regards to focusing mainly on its core activities with a simpler design and a more flexible operational process, and giving due consideration to the linkages between poverty, gender and crisis in designing the programme targeting strategy.