Programme for Sustainable Development in Rural Mountain Areas
The goal of the Programme for Sustainable Development in Rural Mountain Areas of Albania was to increase household incomes through three objectives: additional resource mobilization in and for the mountain areas; accelerated economic growth and poverty reduction; and strengthened abilities of local institutions to support private- and public-sector investment. The project was able to identify relevant value chains and key constraints to enhancing incomes. Experiences in community empowerment and institutional development were also promising at local level. Some farmers and entrepreneurs successfully used project grants or loans to expand their operations, resulting in higher incomes and the creation of jobs. However, the project did not meet expectations at the national level. In particular, an effective mountain area development agency has not emerged, nor has a sustainable rural lending institution serving small rural farmers or entrepreneurs. The project design did not adequately take into account critical issues and recommendations raised during a former evaluation by IOE and IFAD design reviews. A lack of an appropriate monitoring and evaluation system and the absence of a midterm review limited corrective measures that could have been introduced.
Support Project for the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture
In 2014, Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) carried out a project performance assessment of the Support Project for the Strategic Plan for the Transformation of Agriculture (Projet d'Appui au Plan Stratégique de la Transformation de l'Agriculture ) in Rwanda. A key recommendation from the assessment is a proposal to pilot a "programmatic financing" approach. Such an approach would provide flexibility to respond to unforeseen emergencies, allow for follow-up support to critical target groups (women and child-headed households) and in the long run reduce costs associated with design. This proposal would require having an "in-depth" country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP) along the lines of a single five-year-period design document and thus identifying clearly differentiated target groups, thematic focuses, geographical priorities, etc. in priority order - for which full criteria would need to be developed and agreed.
Gash Sustainable Livelihoods Regeneration Project
The project aimed to regenerate the livelihoods of poor rural people based on equitable, secure, transparent access to land and water in a society with a strong tribal hierarchy and power structure. The project made an important contribution in terms of setting a reform process in motion and supporting institution-strengthening, notably the introduction of irrigation management transfer to newly formed water users associations and land tenancy reform. The project helped improve access to safe water for rural households and it made contribution to empowering women in a highly conservative society.Despite important steps taken and contributions made, the overall achievements fell short of the set objectives. The design underestimated the complexities of the social, political and institutional contexts. Opportunities arising from irrigation infrastructure rehabilitation were not adequately exploited to generate expected results at farm level. The sustainability of the Gash spate irrigation scheme is a matter of concern.
Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Programme
The evaluation reveals that the programme activities brought about improvements in the production and productivity of crops and livestock in the targeted area, through training of farmers and on-farm demonstrations, along with the distribution of inputs and farm implements. The programme also promoted conservation agriculture and contributed positively towards improving the environmental quality in the three districts covered by the programme, leading to a more efficient use of the existing natural resources. At the same time, a weak monitoring and evaluation system led to a number of difficulties in assessing the programme's impact on rural poverty. In addition, the programme activities were not fully integrated in the Government operations due to limited ownership and coordination among the central and district-level institutions.
Rural Development Project in the Mountain Zones of Al-Haouz
The Rural Development Project in the Mountain Zones of Al-Haouz aimed to pilot various approaches that could then be scaled up and replicated in other mountain areas in the country, to encourage beneficiary participation through decentralization, and to support the creation of productive socio-economic infrastructure accessible to beneficiaries. In addition to evidence being found of increased local economic emancipation through the establishment and strengthening of numerous grass-roots associations, important results were also achieved in terms of socio-economic infrastructure, rehabilitation of small-scale irrigation schemes and soil and water conservation.
On the less positive side, the Project Performance Assessment noted that insufficient budgets needed to cover long term plans led to a focus on separate individual activities, in turn resulting in weaker sustainability of projects. Likewise the project faced challenges with respect to the gender activities and a large and disperse set of activities. On the whole, however, the project achievement is rated as satisfactory, with high relevancy of and several positive contributions to core objectives. The evaluation recommends continued support to communal planning processes, establishing more partnerships between involved institutional players and special attention paid to agricultural extension.
Management of Natural Resources in the Chaco and High Valley Regions Project
The project is evaluated positively in terms of attention to natural resources management, participatory methods in the training of vulnerable populations and the delivery of technical assistance. It promoted new productive activities and the dissemination of soil-conservation and water-management techniques as well as new farming and animal husbandry practices. At the same time, the overall impact could have been higher, as there was only a slight improvement in the living conditions of the beneficiaries, and such improvement did not occur among the more vulnerable populations. Moreover, there was low demand for the business development and market access component, which failed to create the anticipated market for non-financial rural services.
Agriculture, Marketing and Enterprise Promotion Programme
The overall project performance assessment of the Agriculture, Marketing and Enterprise Promotion Programme is satisfactory, with one of the key achievements being the prolonged presence and support of IFAD within the targeted area. The programme activities were largely effective in contributing to improved connectivity and access to services, higher income and assets for many households, and greater farm and enterprise productivity. On the other hand, the likelihood of sustainability is being affected by the difficulties in infrastructure maintenance, and by social and economic processes beyond the influence of the project, including rural-urban population drift, increasing areas of fallow land, shortage of labour, crop damage by wild life and climate change.
Rural Development Programme for Mountainous and Highland Areas
The project performance assessment of the Rural Development Programme for Mountainous and Highland Areas focused on agricultural production, small infrastructure and project management. After facing great challenges in the implementation process between 2001-2007, IFAD suspended its loan and redesigned the project around a single component (small infrastructure). This was key in ensuring a successful implementation during the subsequent phase (2008-2011), fostering the renovation and construction of 63 kilometres of community road and 14 bridges in mountainous areas, which improved general accessibility and quality of life for local beneficiaries. At the same time, this project performance assessment highlighted the presence of serious sustainability issues, together with little evidence as regards to the project’s impact on farm productivity and household incomes.
Microfinance for Marginal and Small Farmers Project
The project was successful in introducing microcredit services targeted at small and marginal farmers, combined with technical support. During implementation (2005-2011), the project made a significant contribution to mainstreaming microlending for agricultural activities, with an option of lump-sum repayment. Moreover, good progress was made towards gender equality and women’s empowerment through microfinance interventions, social development, technical trainings and women’s mobilization. For these reasons, the project’s overall achievement is satisfactory. While the inclusion of marketing and business development support in the project was appropriate, there could have been better integration and synergy of this aspects with microfinance services and technical capacity-building.
Rural Development Project
The project performance assessment of the Rural Development Project supported rural finance, value chain and enterprise development, as well as institutional capacity-building. Although implemented in a critical transition period in Georgia (2006-2012), it effectively addressed selected bottlenecks in rural development, such as lack of financing for agricultural production, insufficient food safety services, weak agribusiness facilities and feeble land registration systems. The investment in providing microcredits to farmers was deemed as a highly relevant and effective tool in reviving agricultural and livestock production, and ensuring food security. On the other hand, this assessment revealed that the agricultural supply chain activity component was under designed, underinvested, and suffered approval delays and cancellation of some activities.