North-East Development Project
This project performance assessment is the first undertaken by the Independent Office of Evaluation in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The North-East Development Project was the third IFAD-funded initiative in the country and was implemented during the period 2006-2011, in a transitional context. The project’s successful introduction of participatory irrigation management to the benefit of 15,000 households was an impressive achievement. It successfully established water user associations and rehabilitated nearly 31,000 ha of farmland. This led to a significant rise in water supplies and improved water-use efficiency, providing a sound basis for introducing higher-value crops, increasing crop yields and expanding livestock activities. At the same time, the project’s investments in agriculture, livestock and marketing were not commensurate with the critical importance of these activities to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
The project performance assessment of the Uruguay Rural Project supported the setting up of local credit committees, fostered the creation of rural development platforms for public-private coordination and promoted the establishment of the Directorate General for Rural Development within the Ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries. This was possible thanks to a combination of three key factors: the strong commitment of the Government, a sound project design and IFAD’s active participation in project supervision. However, this assessment identified some weaknesses in project monitoring and evaluation, a disjunction between the project cycle and the political cycle, and a limited success in taking advantage of IFAD’s worldwide experience in rural finance and technical assistance for rural poor clients.
Rural Poverty-Reduction Programme
The project was successful in providing key services to remote herders such as hospitals, school dormitories, kindergartens and literacy training. It supported income diversification, and was especially successful with vegetable and crop growing. However, overly optimistic estimates were made of the impact of the new range management monitoring committees and of what these could achieve in terms of increasing livestock productivity. So while herder incomes grew rapidly during the project life, it is dangerous to attribute this to project activities since it was a period of rapid general economic growth in Mongolia.
Rural Poverty Reduction Project in Prey Veng and Svay Rieng
The project performance assessment project had positive impacts with regards to productivity increase, livelihoods and food security, and met its overarching objectives. The significant economic and social changes that were taking place in the country during the project period helped the Government of Cambodia to achieve these results. Positive processes were initiated and have been scaled up by the Government such as the participatory planning, management and budgeting of the Commune Infrastructure Development Fund. However, technical and institutional problems with the design of roads and irrigation systems prevented the infrastructure components from benefitting the anticipated number of beneficiaries and from being sustainable
National Microfinance Support Programme
The project performance assessment of the National Microfinance Support Programme was successful in achieving its objectives and meeting major targets with respect to supporting the sector’s ability to deliver financial services to poor women and men, particularly regarding client outreach and loan outstanding. By the end of the project in 2009, improvements were still needed with respect to investment in outreach to the underserved states, emphasis on skill development training for livelihoods promotion, women’s empowerment, a poverty focus and regulations for the sector. The achievements of the project were significantly altered by a crisis in the sector in 2010, which affected microfinance institutions’ portfolio quality and sustainability. This assessment looked at the post-crisis period and noted recent signs of recovery with increased fund flow in the sector and more focus on client protection.
Rural Finance Sector Programme
The project performance assessment of the Rural Finance Sector Programme in China contributed to increased access to finance by the poor, women and small producers. It also contributed to enhancing the livelihoods of rural households in the project counties by an increase in household assets and production, improvement in food security, and in the strengthening of human and social capital and socio-economic status of women. However, the project originally designed as a sector project to participate in systemic policy reforms could not do so due to a lack of proper institutional arrangements, rapid changing nature of the ongoing reform process and inadequate grasp of the reform issues and institutional complexity of the rural finance sector in China.
Forest Resource Management Project
The project facilitated the formation of village resource management committees and producer groups; communities acquired valuable knowledge and skills under the project’s various training programmes in areas such as forestry protection, bee-keeping, rattan and bamboo production, and opportunities were created for women members to manage money and gain greater control over resources and access to knowledge. However, the project benefitted only a fraction of the original target population and scored limited achievements towards increasing the incomes of poor people who depend upon forest resources for their livelihoods. In spite of the efforts at the output level, the project did not achieve most of its objectives, mainly constrained by a complicated legal and institutional context, insufficient focus on value chains and marketing of the products promoted, and weak project management. Key recommendations for future operations focus on ensuring realistic institutional foundations, proven technical and commercial potential of income generating activities and ownership of the project as well as improving monitoring and evaluation systems design and functionality.
Microfinance and Technical Support Project
The project was designed as a unique intervention bundling technical and financial services to support income generating activities for moderately and hard core poor households. In spite of a competitive microfinance market and external challenges outside of the project’s control, the project performed well under the credit component, attracting an impressive number of women participants and leading to good results in food security and agricultural productivity. The training component, judged to be too ambitious and insufficiently coordinated with financial services, performed less well, but some innovations and non-traditional methods in technical support have survived in the post-project period. Recommendations of this assessment focus on effectiveness of inputs. The quality of women’s participation would also improve with customized services and products. Other recommendations look at how to better integrate technical support and financial services, and improve the selection of financial institutions as partners to ensure sustainability.
Rural Business Development Programme
In the process of facilitating post-independence economic transition in Moldova, IFAD provided relevant and timely interventions in identified bottleneck areas of rural business development. The project performance assessment of the Rural Business Development Programme in Moldova increased the access of rural entrepreneurs to finance, facilitated business growth of enterprises along selected commodity chains and built small-scale infrastructure for rural businesses. The most important lesson learned from the programme is related to the challenges in ensuring the poverty reduction effect of rural enterprise development. The programme did not include poverty reduction goals, nor did it explicitly target poor households in economic activities or monitor the spill-over effect of rural enterprise development in benefitting or possibly affecting the rural poor. Income changes of households below the poverty line were not sufficiently monitored, which undermined the programme’s achievements.
Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project
The IFAD-supported Northern Mindanao Community Initiatives and Resource Management Project achieved positive results, having overcome a slow start-up and initial difficulties with the flow of funds. The project met and in some instances surpassed - its output targets towards establishing and strengthening community institutions and self-help groups, participatory planning, infrastructure improvements, support to indigenous populations, and policy and institutional development. At the same time, impact on agriculture has been moderate and mainly linked to improved irrigation. The number of people experiencing food shortages has declined and the income generated has enabled them to purchase food. However, household food security is still vulnerable to climatic shocks with communities lacking opportunities to move to larger-scale initiatives. Among the key recommendations of this assessment are the need to continue nurturing the strong links between communities and local government units, thus creating potential for further development initiatives that could reduce such vulnerability; and developing a new set of skills to support commercial (value chain) development activities.