Agricultural Diversification and People's Irrigation Project in the North (1994)
Project design and objectives
Country context. During the past three decades, Thailand has enjoyed a consistently high rate of economic growth which has pushed it into the group of middle income developing countries, with a per capita GDP in 1991 of USD 1 650. However, the agricultural sector has been contributing a steadily decreasing proportion of the GDP, going from 32% in 1965 to 16% in 1986 to 13% in 1991, though it still accounts for around 30% of total exports by value. In terms of labour employment, agriculture accounted for 60% of the total labour force in 1992 compared with 75% in 1986. In spite of this relative trend, agriculture continues to be the basis of livelihood for the majority of the population and to play a very important role in the Thai economy.
Poverty incidence in Thailand has diminished steadily over the last decades, from 60% in the 1960s to 18% in 1990. While diminishing overall, however, it is increasingly localized in rural areas and especially in the agricultural sector. Farmers are the lowest income group, with 22% below the poverty line (reaching 29% in the North East). Income disparities are also significant within the rural population, with the lowest 40% of farmers in each region earning less as a group than the highest 5%.
The project is located in Thailand's Northern Region, and project activities were concentrated on the upper north, which was a priority area also for the government Poverty Alleviation Program. The SAR states that about 64% of the population in this area lived in absolute poverty, defined as a per capita annual income of less than USD 148.
The Agricultural Development and People's Irrigation Project in the North (ADPIP) is to establish a programme for technical and institutional strengthening of People's Irrigation Associations (PIA) systems and to promote inter-PIA cooperation for Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of subproject irrigation systems. It is to increase the income and improve the well-being of the poorest segments of the rural population through improved production efficiency and agricultural diversification. An important element is the beneficiary participation in the planning, financing, execution and O&M of the proposed irrigation improvement works. The government is expected to preserve the independence and autonomy of the PIAs due to their importance for strength and stability of rural production in the Northern Region.
The project, with a total investment of USD 18.3 million, is to finance the first phase of a long-term programme which would improve irrigation for about 6 000 ha through the construction of small dams, and the improvement of some existing PIA weirs and canal systems. The principal components are: (i) Irrigation subprojects (USD 11.3 m), comprising construction and improvement of small irrigation systems and establishment of additional Mobile Campaign Units (MCUs); (ii) Pioneer Watershed Component (USD 1.1 m) where the project is to develop an integrated whole basin approach; and (iii) Institutional development and technical support (USD 3.1 m).
Project financing came from an IFAD loan of USD 10.0 million, a loan from the OPEC Fund (USD 3 million), and from a government contribution of approximately USD 5.3 million (of which USD 2.3 million was the estimated in-kind beneficiary contribution).
The project was considered a first-phase pilot operation in an effort to establish long-term assistance to PIAs. Lessons learned from previous IFAD financing in Thailand had pointed out the need to link project activities to existing farmer groups. It was assumed that by focusing the project on PIAs, an indigenous form of efficient grassroots farmer organization would be strengthened. RID would be able to effectively collaborate with PIAs, and that PIAs would be able to preserve their autonomy and efficiency with project intervention. These were, however, cited as project risks in the SAR.
Decentralization of project management and close collaboration between several different Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) departments were key elements of project design, and it was assumed, in spite of a highly centralized system of government administration, that this system of project management could work. However, this was also cited as a project risk in the SAR.
The investments in dams, weirs and canal improvements would, as mentioned above, secure the water supply to irrigated areas. By increasing production and thereby raising income, it was assumed that there would be a decrease in cultivation of upland areas by irrigated farmers. This was considered an unquantified benefit of the project.
Reprogramming. At appraisal, it was agreed that the cost of construction would not exceed "about USD 2 000" per irrigated hectare. However, during the initial stage of implementation the feasibility studies carried out showed that this condition had to be modified due to significant cost increases. In 1989 it was thus agreed to consider an average figure of USD 2 850 per ha to be acceptable within the existing language of the Loan Agreement. It was decided to concentrate on the five least expensive subprojects and stop further exploratory work on the more expensive subprojects. The change from the 13 subproject areas of the original plan to only five which were actually implemented, substantially reduced the total area irrigated by the project.
This cost increase was also reflected in a reallocation of the IFAD loan proceeds among the financial categories in 1992, mainly in favour of dam construction costs. Project implementation was delayed by about two years due to shortage of counterpart funds, shortage of construction materials such as cement and steel and escalation of construction costs. As a result of this delay in implementation, the project received a one-year extension of the loan closing date to 31 December 1994.
Overall, ADPIP can be qualified as a successful project and there is no doubt of the project's popularity with the beneficiaries, technical (if not financial) soundness, and reasonable level of management. PIAs and farmers are clearly satisfied with these developments, as well as with the formalization of the PIA structures. Data on changes in yields of the most important crops are incomplete and sometimes contradictory, but there seems to be a modest increase in yields for most of the crops. It was estimated that total household income of irrigation beneficiaries would increase by 26%. However, the degree accorded to this overall project success depends on how one chooses to read and interpret the project's original objectives and goals.
The question that arises in ADPIP regards the existence of two alternative views of the basic nature of the project. Is it a people-centred, participatory project mainly intent on working with PIAs to improve their existing irrigation systems and supplying them with training and support as well as dry season water, or is it an infrastructure development project whose goal is to build high quality dams at a reasonable price? Is the main project objective concerned with the concept of grassroots human development, or rather with the successful completion of large engineering works? The answer to these questions apparently depends on who is being asked. According to IFAD, the emphasis is on the first, while according to the Royal Irrigation Department, the principal implementing agency, it would rather be on the second. As will be seen below, this has certain implications when assessing the degree of project success.
Irrigation. The major development objective of ADPIP was to establish a programme for technical and institutional strengthening of PIAs and their irrigation systems. In pursuing this goal, a contrast of methods and approaches emerged between IFAD on the one hand and the World Bank and RTG on the other. What began as a people-centred, institution-building, small-scale irrigation and crop production project gradually became a project which would spend nearly 80% of available funds on large engineering works in the form of medium-sized dams aimed at ensuring dry season water availability to PIAs.
The dam construction activity has been very successful, in spite of spiralling costs (from USD 2 000/ha to USD 3 620/ha), shrinking area of coverage (from 6 000 ha to 3 876) and number of beneficiaries (from 8 650 households to 4 174). At the time of the evaluation, three of the five subprojects included in the project, Mae Kham Pong, Mae Phrik and Huai Dua, were complete, and the first two had been operational since 1992. At Huai Dua, reservoir filling was awaiting clearance from Royal Forestry Department (RFD) for submergence. Of the remaining two dams, Mae Kon was 90% complete and Mae Laeng Luang nearly 60%. Weir replacement and weir and canal improvement have been completed as planned. Supervision missions have indicated satisfaction with the performance of the engineering companies contracted for execution of the irrigation investment works, especially in terms of quality of the work done.
Subprojects were to be implemented by RID and the concerned PIAs as a unit. Local PIA leaders and farmers were to be consulted and to agree jointly to undertake their subproject, to request it officially and to be directly involved in implementation, as well as contributing 20% of capital costs in kind (labour) or in cash. It was observed that RID has not followed this approach during implementation. Although PIAs were involved from the beginning, this involvement was limited mainly to the formation of registered groups and the establishment of agreements for the management of water after dam completion. Very little PIA involvement appears to have taken place during construction of the dams and concrete weirs. Almost no PIA contribution to capital costs in any form was found to have taken place, with limited labour contributions being the only exception.
The key stumbling block of many dam projects, the water distribution and management system, is already in place through the PIA system, and this is the key factor which makes ADPIP such a promising project. The capacity to divide and keep track of water, to prevent and punish theft or abuse, to carry out accurate accounting of water credit and debit, to share in a way that allows all users to maintain a reasonable agricultural calendar, etc., are all present and applicable to the new system in much the same form as to the old.
In the view of the interviewed farmers, the project is very positive, the expected benefits are clear, the costs to them are low and there are virtually no risks. Production (and incomes) will surely rise as dry season water becomes available, and crop diversification for the dry season cultivation is being encouraged by the Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE).
Thus by RID criteria the project is very successful. The availability of dry season water will improve irrigated farmers' living conditions and raise area agricultural production. From the point of view of the "people-centred" project, the project has been successful in terms of PIA strengthening and institutional development despite an approach quite different from that prescribed in the SAR. The very fact of formalizing the PIAs and organizing them into Inter-PIA Committees has apparently given significantly greater importance to the existing associations in the eyes of their members, strengthening cohesion and effectiveness.
However, the question of the PIA "sense of ownership" of project engineering works remains uncertain. This was to be given to PIAs through their involvement in preparation and in investment costs through labour contribution, and especially through the handover of complete responsibility for O&M of all irrigation works following completion, including dams. Instead, there was no PIA participation in subproject selection and design, very little PIA contribution to construction, and RID has stated its intention of keeping O&M of large project works under its own control.
ADPIP was intended apply participatory development through the use of PIAs. However, this focus on people shrank as the project progressed towards implementation, to the point of becoming only a minor aspect of an infrastructure project whose major objective was dam construction. While people's participation cannot be said to have been a major aspect of the dam construction activity, the institutional development component as applied to the PIAs appears to have been conducted with extensive interaction between the project implementation staff and the leaders and members of the PIAs. The very acceptance of the indigenous water management system as the basis for water management after dam construction is in itself a form of involvement of beneficiaries. Even this, however, is not evidence of genuine people's participation, which implies beneficiaries having a decisive role in project selection, design, implementation and evaluation. The relationship here still tends to be one of donor and passive recipient rather than facilitator and activist farmer groups. More time will be necessary before real participatory development has a chance to be tried with PIAs in the upper North.
Thus it would appear that when taking PIA support and institutional development as the first priority for ADPIP, success is tempered by the loss of opportunities for further strengthening of PIAs. While it was clear that RID worked hard at supporting PIAs, the overall non-interventionist intention of the project irrigation component was not being effectively applied by RID. Dam and concrete weir construction was an engineering activity isolated from the control or participation of PIAs, and there was never any clear intention on the part of RID to involve PIAs in the planning or execution of these interventions. O&M of weirs and canals will apparently be partly shared with PIAs, but dam O&M is to be exclusively the responsibility of RID, as it always has been in previous projects of this scale. In addition, a precedent was meant to be set by this project for the handover of irrigation works to water-users' associations on future projects, but this was not done. Thus the project set rather a negative precedent which seems to indicate that in spite of donor insistence, RID is not yet ready to transfer control of its irrigation works to private users.
Inter-PIA Committees have been set up in all the subproject basins under the guidance of the MCUs, and they are reportedly meeting regularly in anticipation of project dam operation. Reactions from both leaders and members of these new organizations were unanimously positive regarding their usefulness and their potential effectiveness.
Under the project, the system of MCUs would be strengthened. These multidisciplinary teams would link PIAs/farmers, RID and other agencies, and provide technical assistance and guidance to PIAs. However, although the SAR called for six new MCUs to be set up, as well as the inclusion of DOAE and RFD staff in all MCUs, not one new MCU was set up under the project, nor has it been possible to include other agencies in these RID units (although collaboration between MCU staff and local staff of the agencies has reportedly increased). The result is that project PIAs are receiving much less support and assistance than foreseen at appraisal.
Sustainability of irrigation interventions will depend mainly on the availability of RID funds to continue O&M of larger project works and continued interaction of PIAs in sharing reservoir water. The irrigation construction part of the project has a high degree of replicability in the context of existing PIA systems in northern Thailand. The degree of replicability of the PIA model of farmer-built and managed irrigation systems is more questionable, but some aspects of PIA organization could no doubt be applied irrigation schemes were they do not exist.
Crop diversification. This component fits in well with both existing DOAE activities and current farmer practice: when dry season water is available, farmers seek the most profitable crop to plant. In the wet season, the vast majority still plant exclusively rice in the lowlands, but on hillsides they are willing to grow anything which will increase their incomes, and are therefore quite open to diversification as it may be encouraged by the project. The confusion and unreliability of the figures available on crops and yields makes it difficult to judge the extent of diversification, but it was clear that farmers will respond more readily to market indications than to research results in their choices. Either way, dry season cropping will continue to move toward greater diversification according to comparative advantage, and DOAE seems ready to support farmers in their search for the most advantageous crops.
The Pioneer Watershed Component was to be designed following a "whole basin approach" which would integrate activities in watershed forest areas, under exclusive jurisdiction of RFD, with activities in the irrigated valleys which were being entirely managed by RID. RFD was given principal responsibility for implementing the Pioneer Watershed Component. Clear guidelines were set out in the SAR for the interagency coordination. It was assumed that RFD and RID had the ability to work together to carrying out a unified intervention in the whole river basin. RFD was to be the lead implementing agency, but the Department of Land Development (DLD) was to take the lead in planning the component because of its expertise in land use planning. It was also indicated that RFD staff were to help PIA leaders tackle watershed management issues. This participation never took place to any significant degree, and the positive link was never established.
RFD kept the watershed component very much in its own hands, operating it in near isolation, directly out of Bangkok under its own budget line from the loan. Planning of the component was given to the Project Consultant who presented a component that was far too costly. In the end, RFD implemented only the part of the project which fit in most easily with its previous experience: reforestation with teak along with the building of forest Field Stations within the watershed (1 000 ha). Some other soil and water conservation techniques and planting of fruit trees on sloping land was encouraged. There was no integration of valley-dwellers into the watershed management activities, and no coordination between them and the hill-dwellers, neither were PIAs involved. The participatory, people-oriented spirit of the design was lost during implementation. Unfortunately, the Mae Lai Watershed represents a situation that is almost unique in the Northern Region, wherefore few lessons from Mae Lai will be applicable to other ADPIP subproject watersheds.
Institutional Strengthening. Subproject preparation as well as financing related studies and pilot projects by the consultant engineers was part of the institutional development component. The work was reportedly carried out skilfully by the Project Consultant, but it remains unclear why this activity was considered to be part of the project's institutional development component. The only institution to derive a clear benefit from this part of the loan was the Project Consultant.
Training progressed well and both farmers and officials expressed their satisfaction with the training they received. To date, the training programme has never undergone an evaluation, and the MTE recommended that such an evaluation be carried out.
The project was intended to finance costs of studies, pilot projects and other related research. In close collaboration with the International Irrigation Management Institute (IIMI), studies were to establish an action-research programme to monitor the workings of the PIAs with reference to their enlarged role under the project. However, no contact was established with IIMI and an interesting opportunity for international collaboration in monitoring the workings of the PIAs was therefore lost. Only by 1993 were two studies finalized and judged satisfactory by the CI, one on cash crop development and one on women.
A critical aspect of the project, is the institutional support and development of the PIAs in the context of newly secure wet and dry season irrigation water supplies resulting from the project. The project has also been successful in strengthening the independent PIAs and in promoting inter-PIA cooperation. But the question of the PIA "sense of ownership" of project engineering works remains uncertain. Support will terminate just at the time when the project activity of support and assistance to the PIAs would become most important, i.e., when the dam construction is finished and water begins to arrive. Thus, ironically, the project ends at the moment when IFAD's catalytic role in encouraging RTG/PIA collaboration and strengthening PIA performance should become most important, and the further support to PIAs is left in the hands of a government department (RID) which has often been more interested in engineering than human aspects of water distribution.
The project has served to develop stronger links between RID and PIAs, this appears to be having a beneficial and invigorating effect on these organizations, in spite of SAR predictions to the contrary. PIAs have been quick to adapt to changing circumstances. The attention which they have received from the project, as focal points for all project intervention and information regarding new reservoir facilities and agricultural diversification, has given them a new authority in the eyes of their members and other villagers.
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). Although some attempts were made to formalize the M&E of the project, none of the proposals were finalized and no separate M&E unit was ever set up as foreseen in the SAR. This meant that the responsibility for project M&E remained with the Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) in RID, which already had responsibility for M&E of other projects. In spite of hard work on the part of the responsible staff, this situation has significantly handicapped project M&E activities.
Progress reports were furnished throughout the project implementation period, although with occasional delays. To improve this situation, the CI proposed some simplifications in the requirements and standardization in reporting tables. Although this proposal resulted in a more regular stream of progress reports, simplifying the requirements for reporting may have had an adverse effect on the quality of the information provided to the CI and IFAD.
The OAE prepared baseline studies for the subproject areas. The Supervision Mission (SM) judged these to be insufficient and requested OAE to provide information on the methodology used for the surveys. It was also concerned that pre-project irrigation areas may have been overestimated and with-project area underestimated. There is no evidence that these reports were resubmitted and some of the defects identified at the time are also found in the incremental benefit studies and the evaluations of subproject areas that were subsequently produced.
As a follow-up on the baseline studies, further studies were carried out by OAE on cash crop income and on farm income. Evaluation reports for each completed subproject are were produced by the OAE. The reports are not always mutually consistent and conclusions are based on a string of assumptions that are not always realistic. This points to a lack of fieldwork, and an overdependence on secondary and tertiary data.
No provision was made for beneficiary participation in project evaluation exercises. The household surveys are not geared to subjective assessments of project activities on the part of beneficiaries, nor has any systematic analysis of farmer perceptions of and attitudes toward ADPIP activities been undertaken. Furthermore, the evaluation reports do not provide an analysis of who benefitted or whether benefits reach the target group. However, it should be mentioned that none of this was requested in the SAR nor by the CI or IFAD.
RID should request OAE to continue monitoring of the subproject areas even after the loan is closed and the project ends because project benefits only begin to accrue after the termination of construction, and thus after project closing. In monitoring benefits from the project, more attention should be paid to off-farm income which is also important in understanding the opportunity cost of the extra labour needed for double or triple cropping made possible by project-supplied dry season water.
No targeting criteria were incorporated into project activities. Farmers in the project area were assumed to be generally poorer than the national average, and the criteria used to select subprojects to be financed were based almost entirely on technical issues. The particular watershed was selected because of technical criteria relating to degree of degradation and extent of illegal logging. Presently, there is very little apparent poverty in the subproject areas. For targeting of the poor IFAD should incorporate targeting mechanisms into its projects which are able to adjust with changing poverty distribution in the project area during the life of the project.
The issue of socio-economic differentiation was not touched upon during project preparation and appraisal. As the irrigation project was designed, direct benefits accrue only to members of the PIAs, and to a small extent to the families of labourers hired locally by the contractors for dam construction. The watershed component also produced direct benefits almost exclusively for the local labourers hired for reforestation. Some benefits to the general agricultural population can be expected from increased extension activities and encouragement of diversified agriculture.
The MTE mission's limited exploration of the issue in the field suggested that while there is an evident general situation of well-being and prosperity in all the project areas, a significant amount of differentiation exists. There is a sizable landless population in some of the subproject areas, which was reported as high as 20-30% by some village chiefs. These landless families generally either rent land (the most common case) or work as agricultural labourers on others' land or as wage labourers in town. This last group, apparently includes the poorest families in the village, and these are also the ones which are not involved in the PIA system and are therefore excluded from direct project benefits. The clearest indirect benefit should be an increase in dry season agricultural labour opportunities, which the SAR estimated at 18 600 man-months per year. However, in general, the improvements which the project irrigation and agricultural development will bring to landowning families will largely leave these families behind.
The families which rent paddy land apparently take part in the PIAs in which the land they rent is located. In cases encountered by the mission, these landless farmers were involved in most of their PIAs' activities, however, they do not participate in the election of PIA leaders nor the establishment of rules and regulations. This group would clearly be among the direct beneficiaries of the project. In one way, these farmers will increase their incomes even more from the dams than others: rent is based on rice production in most cases (usually equivalent to half the rice harvest), but does not change if the tenant manages to grow additional crops in the dry season. The new dry season irrigated production will be kept entirely by the tenant.
None of the project activities were specifically targeted at women, in spite of the equal sharing of roles and responsibilities in the house, and the active involvement of women in project activities. It is recommended that future IFAD projects should attempt to build in and monitor mechanisms for reaching women more directly and on a more equal footing with men. When project design specifies such things as people's participation and integration of women into project activities, specific modalities and monitoring mechanisms and indicators need to be included in the implementation guidelines in the appraisal report.
A Central Coordinating Committee (CCC) was set up under the Office of the Permanent Secretary and chaired by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, which was to be responsible for overall policy guidance for the project, coordination between the ten MOAC departments and agencies involved in implementation and supervision of project progress. The Office of Agricultural Economics (OAE) supplies secretariat support to the CCC. This committee has met regularly and meetings have been well-attended. The CCC has been instrumental in the coordination of project activities between the agencies. The main reason for its effectiveness has been the active involvement of the Deputy Permanent Secretary. Occasional problems persisted and the opinion is shared by many of those directly involved that the number of agencies may have been too high. Future projects may wish to concentrate on fewer departments to avoid this difficulty.
The SAR gave overall responsibility for project implementation to the MOAC through the CCC, while RID was to be the lead agency for construction of reservoirs and improvements to PIA systems. During design it had been agreed that it was preferable for RID not to assume coordinating responsibilities. In spite of this, the increasing specialization of the project as an irrigation construction project and the concentration of funds in this department led to a situation where RID did in fact take on the role of coordinating agency. This also included a supervisory role in the implementation of the Pioneer Watershed Component, although main responsibility for this activity was vested in RFD.
The Cooperating Institution (CI) for this project has been the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD - referred to in this report as the World Bank, or WB). The CI carried out both pre-appraisal and appraisal of the project and is supervising loan implementation. There have been thirteen supervision missions to the project since inception, including the one which coincided with the MTE. These have taken place at fairly regular intervals and have included an irrigation engineer on ten missions (the same one throughout), an environmentalist or watershed specialist on five, and an IFAD staff member on four (three different people).
In terms of continuity and regularity, the WB did an excellent job of project supervision, particularly concerning the technical aspects of physical implementation of the irrigation component. The frequent presence of environmental management specialists as of April 1991 added a positive input, though it came too late to have significant impact on implementation of the watershed component, which completed disbursement in 1992. The SMs showed flexibility in confronting problem situations, and took a number of decisions relating to implementation. Regarding the institutional side, however, some omissions occurred on the part of SMs.
The role played by the CI on this project also typifies some of the recurring problems which IFAD has encountered when collaborating with the WB or other large international financial institutions. The principal one is that these institutions tend to limit supervision to give insufficient attention to IFAD's specific mandate of poverty alleviation through participatory and sustainable development methodologies. The tendency, is to measure project progress and success only by checking physical completion against expenditure and specification adherence. This has the advantage of encouraging progress monitoring and the relation of expenditure to progress. However, very little consideration is given to such issues as targeting, beneficiary participation, women, organizations, and other human development issues. Even though the major declared aim of this project was to support and assist indigenous farmers' organizations, no social scientist or organizations specialist was included on any of the supervision missions.
To ensure greater IFAD specificity in project implementation, supervision must ensure that project design concepts, in addition to specific components, are implemented at the field level. Greater attention must be paid to monitoring and evaluation, which were unnecessarily weak in this project.
More attention needs to be paid to the qualitative aspects of WB supervision in future, possibly through specification of the specialists to be included on missions or other similar measures at the time of CI selection, and active involvement in defining the TOR for these missions. This would ensure that supervision is sufficiently in-depth to identify problems to be brought to the attention of project management or of IFAD.
In dealing with both the government and the CI, there is a need to keep a clear emphasis of IFAD's priorities (such as women, participation, poverty, etc.) throughout implementation, to avoid having them diluted or forgotten following appraisal.
More care must be taken in selecting the proper institution for project preparation. In this case, the preparation of the watershed component was done by a consulting company, who had neither experience nor expertise in this field.
In attempting to improve inter-agency collaboration and efficient project implementation, the importance of decentralization of control over project management to regional and local project staff is difficult to overemphasize.
The mission recommends that Mae Lai continue to be treated as pilot area and that efforts be made to develop mechanisms for combining valley and hillside activities such that a single agency or project entity can work in both areas simultaneously. This is essential if the migrating encroachers from the valley are to be actively involved in watershed protection, rehabilitation and conservation. Models for such a system should possibly be sought in the Northeast Region.
Existing supervision must ensure that project design concepts, in addition to specific components, are implemented at the field level. Greater attention must be paid to monitoring and evaluation, which were unnecessarily weak in this project.
RTG should request OAE to continue monitoring the subproject areas even after the loan is closed and the project ends. This is particularly important in the case of ADPIP because project benefits of this type of project only begin to accrue after the termination of construction, and thus after project closing.
In monitoring benefits from the project, more attention should be paid to off-farm income, which appears to be more and more important in farm economies as the general Thai economy expands and accelerates. This is also important in understanding the opportunity cost of the extra labour needed for double or triple cropping made possible by project-supplied dry season water.
To date, the extensive project training programme has never undergone an evaluation, and the MTE would recommend that such an evaluation be carried out in the near future to (i) ascertain the effectiveness of the training offered, and (ii) to identify further training needs.
The dramatic cost increases which took place point to the importance of taking the necessary time during project preparation and appraisal to minimize oversights and approximations. In this context, IFAD should avoid putting excessive pressure on the appraisal process for the artificial time limit imposed by the desire to "get the project to the Board" at the earliest possible date.
IFAD has a recurrent problem with the large international financial institutions, in their role as Cooperating Institution, of receiving insufficient consideration of its very particular mandate and development specificity. It is worthwhile and important to give thoughtful consideration to selecting the best possible CI, especially if the project is innovative.
It is important to avoid simplistic approaches to an issue as complicated as beneficiary contribution to capital costs of a capital-intensive construction project. Assuming that large amounts of unskilled, "voluntary" group labour can be easily integrated into this type of activity is risky, and even more so is the assumption that farmers can be convinced to contribute out-of-pocket cash to pay for something like dam construction.
Similarly, it is optimistic to assume that a government department like RID, which has always maintained control over its investments, will be willing to hand over control of dams which cost them several million dollars, to farmers' groups over which they have a very limited control. This kind of attempt, to hand over full responsibility and ownership of project works to the beneficiaries to promote sustainability, should be carried out with smaller-scale investments to start with.
Targeting of the poor should not be assumed to take place from general figures of poverty levels in an entire region. IFAD should incorporate targeting mechanisms into its projects which are able (within limits) to adjust with changing poverty distribution in the project area during the life of the project. In the present case, poverty has hardly been an issue in the beneficiary population, so that most of the project efforts have been directed at helping the better-off members of the community (those with irrigated land) rather than the poorest, and no effort was ever made to look for the poorer PIAs in the region.
When project design specifies such things as people's participation and integration of women into project activities, specific modalities and monitoring mechanisms and indicators need to be included in the implementation guidelines in the appraisal report, just as they are for dam construction. Otherwise the chances of genuine implementation are very slim.
Collaboration between RID and RFD is essential for effective watershed management in situations where it is the farmers from the valley who are encroaching in the watershed, as in the case of the Mae Lai watershed.
In order for teams made up of staff from different agencies to be able to work together well in the field, it is necessary for the concerned agencies to be willing to put this staff entirely at the disposal of the team, including resources and time. Simply adding the obligation to participate in the team to an official's regular duties will not be sufficient for real teamwork, as sought by this project, to take place.
Since ADPIP was drawing to a close, the MTE mission also considered a limited number of possible follow-on IFAD projects in Thailand, using the experience acquired in this project:
(i) IFAD could consider a project which takes up where this project stops, by working with PIAs downstream of recently built RID small to medium-sized storage dams in the poorer valleys of the North. This would mean continuing the work of agricultural diversification, support for institutional strengthening of PIAs and IPIACs, and in particular working with PIAs and RID to develop a mechanism for the transfer of ownership (with or without payment) of these government-built irrigation works to the farmers who use them. Involvement of PIAs in watershed protection and rehabilitation would also be a part of this project. An explicit effort should be made to target the poorest PIAs, as well as trying to involve non-PIA poor farmers in the project activities.
(ii) A second possibility is to undertake a participatory watershed rehabilitation project in the Northeast. Many watersheds there suffer from encroachment similar to that occurring in the Mae Lai area. In these conditions, as would be appropriate in those of Mae Lai, productivity and environmental soundness could both be raised by combining the efforts of populations residing in the same sub-basin, including both those in the watershed forest area and those downstream.
(iii) A third type of project would be participatory hill tribe development in ecologically fragile areas on the northern borders. The project would target poor hill tribes living in Conservation Forest areas and practising shifting cultivation, encouraging them through a long process of group meetings and awareness-building to change their cultivation techniques in favour of ecologically more stable and economically advantageous systems. The project would aim at improving relations between RTG (in particular RFD) and downhill Thai farming communities on the one hand and the hill tribes on the other, reduce opium cultivation and promote forest conservation.
(iv) A final possibility was proposed by the project management and regards the financing of a similar medium-sized dam building project, with one major difference: in the case of the Community Irrigation Development Project (as it would be called), the dams would be built in valleys with no existing distribution systems, and the project would therefore attempt to reproduce the organization and structure of PIAs in areas where they have never existed. In the view of this mission, this is a rather risky proposition, though it is a challenging and interesting one for IFAD to consider. The four proposed dams would irrigate an estimated 15 000 ha in the Northern Region. It would important to determine the level of poverty in the proposed project areas, since the North is no longer a very poor region in Thailand.
Tafilalet and Dades Rural Development Project (PDRT) (2006)
Following the closing of the Tafilalet and Dadès Rural Development Project (PDRT), a completion evaluation mission from the Office of Evaluation of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) visited Morocco from 11 September to 12 October 2005. The evaluation report elaborates upon the major findings of the mission. A final workshop was held in Morocco in February 2006 to discuss the recommendations and prepare the groundwork for the agreement at completion point.
Located in North Africa, Morocco is home to 30.6 million people, 43% of whom live in rural areas. The population growth rate has been declining for the past ten years and currently stands at 1.6% per annum. The infant mortality rate has fallen in the past decade but remains very high at 47.9/1 000 (2004), reaching 56.7/1 000 in rural areas. More than 12 million people, or 42% of the population, are illiterate. During the period 1998-2002, average growth rates for GNP and inflation were 1.67% and 1.75% respectively, compared to averages of 4.06% and 5.14% during the years 1990-1997. Average income per capita is USD 1 310, placing Morocco among the world's low to middle-income countries. According to estimates of the High Commission for Planning of the Government of Morocco, the poverty rate declined from 16.5% in 1994 to 14.2% in 2004 (national average). However, the poverty rate in rural areas increased from 23% to 25%. This relatively high rate of poverty is reflected in a 23.6% stunting rate among children in rural areas.
The PDRT was approved by IFAD's Executive Board on 20 April 1994 and entered into effect on 27 March 1995 as a single project financed by two separate loans (IFAD MA 356 and 357). The loans, provided directly to the implementing agencies, the Regional Authorities for Agricultural Development (ORMVAs) of Tafilalet and of Ouarzazate with a sovereign guarantee, closed in 2004 and 2005 respectively. 2Total project cost was USD 52.5 million, financed by IFAD (USD 22.3 million), the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) (USD 7 million), the OPEC Fund for International Development (USD 5.6 million), the Government of Morocco (contribution of USD 15.8 million) and the beneficiaries (contribution of USD 1.5 million in the form of labour). The Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) was the cooperating institution and responsible for project supervision. The project was implemented by the Tafilalet and Ouarzazate ORMVAs, represented in the field by the agricultural development centres (CMVs). The Ouarzazate ORMVA received funding from Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) for support to irrigation water users' association (AUEAs), but KfW was not a direct partner of IFAD, IsDB nor OPEC.
The approach followed in this evaluation is in line with the methodology defined by IFAD, which employs three main criteria and a rating system. The criteria are as follows: i) the project's impact on poverty reduction; ii) project performance as measured by relevance of objectives, effectiveness of implementation and efficiency of achievements; and iii) performance of project partners. The mission consulted numerous technical and socioeconomic documents as well as general documentation and scientific publications relating to the project's areas of intervention. During the mission, interviews were conducted with many institutional actors at the central, regional and local levels involved in project oversight and/or implementation, as well as with a sample of beneficiaries in both project regions. The evaluation mission also benefited from the results of a rural survey conducted by OE in August 2005 in both project regions. This survey covered 17 grassroots organisations purposively selected to represent the different types of cooperatives and associations formed or supported by the project and 274 households sampled randomly, including households in and outside the project to better guide the evaluation on impact attribution.
The Tafilalet and Dades Rural Development Project (PDRT) is aligned with the new policy introduced by the Moroccan Government following the structural adjustment programme of 1984, and with IFAD's strategy for Morocco, both of which set a number of priorities. The PDRT was formulated in this context of a shared vision of priorities for agricultural and rural development in May and June 1993, and a preliminary evaluation took place in December 1993. From the outset, the project programme included several complementary components intended to: i) improve agricultural production by means of small and medium-sized waterworks in valleys and oases; ii) improve livestock systems, both intensive (in irrigated zones) and extensive (in pastoral zones); iii) protect natural resources and check degradation; iv) reinforce basic infrastructure and social facilities in rural areas; and v) develop institutions and local organizations.
Covering the contiguous Tafilalet and Dadès regions, the project area is located in southeast Morocco along the southern slopes of the Atlas Mountains and is part of the pre-Saharan region. The project area measures 90 300 km2 (12.7% of the national territory), of which 80 500 km2 is in Tafilalet and 9 800 km2 is in Dadès. In the Tafilalet ORMVA region the PDRT covers the Province of Errachidia and the Bni Tadjit Cercle (an administrative division within the Province of Figuig) and, in the Ouarzazate ORMVA region, the Dadès Valley to the northeast of the Province of Ouarzazate, which is part of the Upper Draa watershed. The climate is continental and arid. Precipitation ranges from 70 mm in the extreme south, at Erfoud, to 290 mm in the extreme north, at Imichil. These climatic conditions preclude the practice of rainfed agriculture and necessitate the use of irrigation.
The rural population in the project area was estimated at 732 000 in 1993, or some 92 420 families. At the time of project formulation, more than half of the farmer and herder families in the project area were estimated to be living below the poverty line (according to World Bank studies), then set at USD 225. The project was to benefit: i) 42 500 small farmers in poor areas in the irrigated sector, with high population density (through improved water and land management); ii) 30 000 inhabitants of isolated mountainous areas (through road works); iii) 14 000 inhabitants of disadvantaged villages (through improved access to drinking water); iv) 7 720 small herders and 120 D'man sheep herders and breeders; v) 1 260 women farmers and 9 600 women and young people (by means of raising of goats and sheep, including D'man sheep, and literacy and other training through the development of outreach centres).
The project implementation period was marked by a difficult economic juncture, particularly in 1998 when GNP grew very slowly (1.67%) compared to the prior period (annual growth of 4.06% in 1990-1997), and by a long succession of dry years that placed important constraints on certain project actions (fallow periods, fodder crops). The adverse effects of drought on the agricultural sector made themselves felt in particular during the period 1998-2000. This, combined with the cumulative effect of emigration by young people, has deprived the area of manpower for maintaining traditional irrigation infrastructure. In addition, the project's start-up coincided with a new phase in the country's political life, characterized by an accelerated political liberalization beginning in the second half of the 1990s. In parallel, the participatory approach emerged as an incontrovertible instrument to ensure locally managed sustainable development. In terms of economic context, new prospects for development are opening up in Tafilalet and Dades, mainly thanks to the promotion of tourism and filmmaking.
No major changes were made to the project design, the general orientation nor to the components. Minor changes were introduced during project implementation in response to practical field issues, donor requirements and recommendations by support missions.
Following a delay in the loan closing date of more than two years, the project's achievement rates are generally good, and in some cases exceed the component targets set. In Tafilalet, seven floodwater perimeters were rehabilitated (9 170 ha), 72 pumping stations were created or rehabilitated, and approximately 55 km of khettaras 3were treated. This corresponds to virtually 100% of the target. In Dades, the achievement rate was 34% for rehabilitation of séguias [irrigation canals]; completion is planned for end-2006. The delay is attributable to the requirement that beneficiaries make good on their financial contribution (2.5%) prior to commencing work. The project created 24 irrigation water users' associations (AUEAs) and 06 federations of AUEAs in Tafilalet and 86 AUEAs in Dades (100% of target); the AUEAs were set up before the work began. In Dades, work to develop infrastructure is close to complete, and has resulted in 16 water supply systems of the 17 projected (the remaining one is now under way), construction of close to 12 km of dikes to protect waterways and rehabilitation of a 15 km stretch of the Toundoute-Iminoulaoune roadway. Since projections overestimated this roadway by 4 km, a balance of close to DH 3.3 million remains under the OPEC loan.
The project created 16 pastoral cooperatives (100% of target), placed 110 200 ha of rangeland in fallow (67% of adjusted target) and planted 4 600 ha of fodder crops (71% of target). Seven herder cooperatives were organized to improve D'man sheep stock in Dades, bringing together 166 herders with 8 140 head of sheep; 98 breeders joined the National Association for Sheep and Goat Raising (ANOC) and 9 169 head were selected (141% of target). In Tafilalet, five new cooperatives for D'man were created and six were strengthened, bringing together 611 herders with 15 095 head of sheep; 66 breeders joined ANOC and 8 296 animals were selected (415% of target). The achievement rate for work to stabilize sand dunes using cross-ruling by palm branches is 444% of the original programme target and 99% of the adjusted target; for the installation of fibre-cement sheeting it is 85%.
In Tafilalet, 29 women's cooperatives were set up (242% of target) for D'man sheep breeding, with 1 330 members having received 2 660 sheep on subsidized credit. In Dades, under the goat milk programme, extension and equipment provided to the Skoura station enabled it to double its production capacity, equipment provided for a cheese dairy enabled processing of 250 l/day and a women's cooperative with 68 members was set up. In Tafilalet, 113 women's centres (CAFs) were equipped compared to the target of 29, and 14 female monitors were trained. In Dades, a women's section was set up within the ORMVAO outreach division, and 13 CAFs were rehabilitated and equipped compared to the target of 4. Actions planned with respect to institution-building for both Offices are generally complete overall (equipping of CMVs, vehicles, computers and training). The number of awareness-raising and training sessions for farmers and women exceeded targets set for both Offices and covered all priority sub-sectors.
Relevance of objectives. The project is aligned with the National Irrigation Programme, the new agricultural policy guidelines favouring bour [rainfed cropping] areas introduced in 1988, the Five-Year Plan for 2000-2004 (assigning priority to mountains, oases and border areas) and the 2020 Rural Development Strategy, the National Date Palm Plan, and the National Rangeland Improvement Plan. The project was also consistent with the poverty reduction strategy adopted by IFAD following a programming mission to Morocco in 1983 4.The project objectives to improve living conditions (providing access to drinking water, building roads to open up isolated areas) are highly relevant in an area with basic infrastructure indicators among the lowest in the country, representing a major handicap for economic and social development and rural poverty reduction.
In view of IFAD's specific mandate, several weaknesses can be identified in terms of overall project formulation: i) the generic description of the target group; ii) the large number of actions to be carried out (equivalent to two or three typical IFAD projects) without any clear identification of synergies and linkages between components or any concrete means of realizing such synergies; iii) the virtually omnipresent role of public institutions, even in non-traditional areas typical of private enterprises); iv) the choice of the rangeland and extensive herding approach, drawn from another IFAD project in the eastern region without the benefit of sufficient experience with implementation; and v) rather optimistic assumptions about the ability of project personnel to adopt a participatory approach from the outset without supplementary donor support and interventions (e.g. budget funding for specialized training).
Effectiveness. Despite the difficulties encountered during implementation and at the ten-year point, the project achieved most of its objectives. Among the strengths identified are the following: i) an increase in yields for particular crops (olives, apples and cereals); ii) structures built to divert floodwater and revive palm plantations (4 000 ha), and in some cases an intensification of cropping and grazing; iii) the khettara treatment programme, which enabled drainwater volumes to be stabilized; iv) improved access to drinking water through household connections in certain communes; v) generally satisfactory results on sheep breed improvements.
Areas of weakness include: i) under the rangeland development component, achievements below target and a low percentage of areas where fallow periods were adhered to (24%); ii) under the goat milk programme, oversized or unused equipment and selected goat production well below target; iii) geographical targeting that was not always well planned and led to dispersion of actions over a large area with little complementarity or synergy. The project's definition of the target group can only be considered imprecise.
Efficiency. Efficiency was examined by comparing unit costs (per ha or per person) with benchmarks set by other similar programmes or interventions in Morocco and the Maghreb. In some cases, costs are compared to benefits. The project posted good performance in some areas and was weaker in others. Among the positive aspects are good performance with respect to irrigation and drinking water, training for women, rangeland improvement, sand dune stabilization and agricultural extension. These positive results were achieved mainly thanks to the technical expertise of personnel from the project and selected enterprises.
Among weaker areas are milk and cheese production under the goat milk programme, treatment of specific khettaras, new land development, certain D'man breed selection efforts and attention to certain technical and economic studies. There are shared elements in these experiences, as follows: i) actions with impaired technical/financial feasibility not fully covered during formulation, and ii) actions that extended beyond the Offices' mandate (selection, product processing, marketing) such that implementing agencies did not enjoy a comparative advantage.
Impact on rural poverty
Due to the lack of specific monitoring and evaluation for the project actions, the evaluation team derived its conclusions through triangulation among several sources such as documentation, the OE quantitative and qualitative rural survey, direct observations, and field discussions.
Through its various components, the project has led to an improvement in material and financial household resources. According to the survey results, project beneficiaries are more likely than the control group to report an improvement (and, conversely, less likely to report a reduction) in income-generating opportunities and the availability of animal feed and water for irrigation (with some exceptions in the case of Tafilalet), which are essential elements in household living conditions. Time not spent on repairing khettaras and carrying water can be applied towards income-generating activities, education and care of the household and its members.
The project has had an impact on human resources, in terms of technical skills, health, management and others. For instance, enrolment rates rose in the commune of Iminoulaoune after the road was built (30% for boys and 2% for girls before the road, compared to 73% and 35% respectively after the road), the school absenteeism rate dropped for girls with the introduction of drinking water supply, health and hygiene improved markedly with drinking water supply, more than 11 000 women acquired know-how in animal and craft production, marketing and microproject management, and more than 8 000 became literate. The project had a significant impact on extension (more in terms of change than in terms of the proportion of the population having benefited). Farmers are better informed, working in partnership with the administration and adopting techniques to improve production.
Social capital. The project's approach to implementation has made it possible to strengthen: i) the remarkable, if still incipient, development of associations and cooperatives, favouring participation and ownership of local development by beneficiaries and their representative institutions; ii) inter-organizational solidarity and exchanges; iii) the development of professional organizations partnering with the administration for local development (the decisive role of pastoral cooperatives in barley distribution during dry years); iv) the creation of a forum for dialogue and voicing of grievances, competition for farmers and herders, and emancipation for rural women.
The project's impact on household food security can be measured through estimated household spending. According to the survey, a comparison of the pre- and post-project situation shows that spending increased for 52% of households, remained unchanged for 34% and decreased for 13%. In addition, according to conversations with beneficiary women, the project led to a marked improvement in nutrition in their families as products for self-consumption (meat, eggs and vegetables) became more available.
Although no precise technical studies of environmental impact are available, certain project actions have had a perceptible impact. Examples include flood protection for farmland in areas with soil constraints, reductions in solid waste in waterways and in reservoir siltage, and technical and cultural heritage protection (valleys, oases, khettaras). The survey data suggest somewhat mitigated results for rangeland and a less pronounced reduction in soil fertility for project users, although most respondents report a continued decline in soil fertility.
Impact on institutions. Within the two Offices, the project has clearly had an impact on officers' operating capacity through improvements in mobility, skills and technical resources. Working methods and approaches were conceptualized, formalized and improved, particularly in the areas of agricultural extension, rangeland development and organizations of farmers and herders. By strengthening the Women's Division (SAF) of the ORMVA for Tafilalet and by creating the SAF in the ORMVA for Ouarzazate, the project unquestionably lent momentum to the existing strategy to develop extension activities to benefit women. In addition, actions to develop literacy and income-generating activities for women have improved economic and social conditions markedly for women in the project area.
The PDRT in Dades has set a precedent for change in one practice that is still widespread, whereby design and implementation rely exclusively on the engineer and beneficiary opinions are relegated to second place. The AUEAs are beginning to take part in validating the design of actions affecting them, and in monitoring the results. This kind of grass-roots participation has in some cases enabled changes to be made to projects to adapt them to beneficiaries' needs and priorities.
Gender. Awareness among rural women in the project area concerning their social and economic circumstances is just beginning to develop, and thus far is present only among the officers of livestock raising cooperatives and members of local associations (contacts with banks and the Professional Dissemination and Organization Division to request information directly, etc.). On the other hand, some cooperatives and associations set up to promote women continue to be directed almost exclusively by men (Ferkla Association to develop women's work); these men appear to cite, to justify the creation of women's organizations, the decline of activity by women in farming operations following several dry years, as well as unemployment among the few educated women in villages.
The sustainability of the impact mentioned above remains contingent on future developments in the socioeconomic and sociopolitical environment (economic growth, strengthening of the democratic process, development choices and strategies), on the capacity for action and adaptation on the part of local actors and on steps taken by the administration to build upon results. Among the indicators of sustainability are the partnership approach pursued by both offices with associations and cooperatives, which should improve the sustainability of project achievements and ownership by local actors directly concerned, as well as the sound financial position for all irrigation and drinking water users' associations visited (although expenditures only rarely include depreciation of equipment owned by the Office). Risk factors include: i) the fragility of pastoral cooperatives, which are still largely dependent upon technical, financial, material and human resources provided by the administration; ii) the limitations of cooperatives as associations initiated by the Offices under the PDRT; these are often small artisanal enterprises that are increasingly faced with competition and market realities and subject to a number of constraints; iii) the nature of the close outreach methods practised by the Offices under the PDRT, which require significant human and material resources that may be lacking at the project's end and/or upon the departure of experienced technicians under the new voluntary retirement programme offered to government officials.
Innovation and replicability. The concept of participatory development for irrigation infrastructure ought to have been a major innovation, procedurally speaking. It must be acknowledged, however, that in most cases participation has been confined to financing and maintenance (as established in the project design). Nevertheless, in Dades a new phenomenon has arisen. The AUEAs have begun to take part in validating the design of actions affecting them and monitoring outcomes. The encouraging results of Office/AUEA partnerships under the PDRT led the Hydro-Agricultural Division of MADRPM to choose Ouarzazate to organize a national seminar on the participatory approach to irrigation (2004). In implementing the drinking water component, the ORMVA of Ouarzazate opted for water supply through household connections, whereas the vision in the 1990s (and the original project design) called for supply by public hydrant. Thanks to the PDRT and its actions in 29 douars to extend access to all households, including the poorest, this option was ultimately selected at the provincial level. Household connections have changed the way homes operate and saved time for women by alleviating their workload.
Overall impact assessment. Despite a complicated project design, a rather large number of components and a vast intervention area, the project objectives have largely been achieved, particularly in terms of physical goals. Innovative approaches and methodologies were introduced by the Offices in both regions where the project was active. Beneficiaries made a direct contribution to the success of many actions under the various project components. Nevertheless, the project's achievements remain vulnerable for all components. A rapid exit by public agencies and the lack of a strategic vision for comprehensive sustainable development in these disadvantaged regions constitute serious risks to the sustainability of the actions and innovations introduced by the PDRT in Dades and Tafilalet.
Perormance of the partners
In the case of IFAD, the project was well aligned with development guidelines and concerns for the project area. However, some weaknesses and imprecision were found in the definition of the target group and the project seemed to lack spatial integration of the components, of which there were a large number. IFAD carried out a number of monitoring and support missions during implementation to offset the inadequate technical and methodological oversight provided by AFESD. These missions were of good quality from an analytical point of view, and they stepped up activities and improved project implementation overall.
The cooperating institution, AFESD, conducted a very limited number of supervision missions. In spite of this limited contribution, ORMVAs were reporting to the evaluation mission their satisfaction with AFESD responsiveness in terms of financial management. In selected cases, however, budget overruns were authorised that necessitated verifications and corrections within IFAD. Also, project supervision by AFESD was limited to physical and financial aspects, which is inadequate for a project of this scale. Given the insufficient input to approaches and methodology, physical programmes could not always be linked to objectives in an integrated way in time and space.
Due to their internal organisation and resource availability, the other co-financiers (OPEC, IsDB) were involved in the physical and financial monitoring mainly to the component that they were directly financing (separate progress reports and monitoring missions), relying on supervision by AFESD. There were contacts between these donors and implementing agencies but a more limited support to project implementation and strategy.
The Government. Performance by ORMVAs can be considered satisfactory overall, as evidenced by the physical goals achieved, disbursement rates and relevance of most components carried out. This demonstrates that both ORMVAs possess sound competencies for managing major projects (in particular, hydro-agricultural projects), including under direct contracts with an external donor. The survey indicates that the beneficiaries have an overall positive assessment of the degree of attention paid to them by project officials, with some points of dissension on the part of pastoral cooperatives in Tafilalet and AUEAs in Dades. Nevertheless, a number of weaknesses interfered with efforts made by the Offices, particularly with respect to spatial integration of actions, partnerships with other public institutions, and monitoring and evaluation.
The support provided by the ministries having responsibility for ORMVAs (Agriculture and Finance) contributed to the positive results. The procedures requiring submission to the Hydro-Agricultural Development Division (DAHA) before commencing studies and works ensured supplementary control, particularly in terms of technical specifications in contractual documents. In the case of other central divisions at the MADRPM (having responsibility for animals, plants and outreach), contacts and exchanges of information with PDRT were much less frequent, so that the project did not enjoy sufficient support, nor were the project results disseminated in other regions of the country.
Performance by the various partnerships forged under the PDRT was uneven. The agreements entered into by the Offices with the Provincial Office for Support Services (DPEN), and the Provincial Office for Youth and Sport (DJPS) did not generate a collaborative dynamic, and the provincial offices did not significantly improve the operation of centres renovated and equipped under the project. In short, the partnership among sectoral public agencies present in the region remains tenuous, which does not favour complementarity and harmonization among sectors (tourism and agriculture, for instance, or drinking water user associations and the National Water Office). Also, beyond the joint hosting of the start-up workshop and a few visits, there is little coordination between the two Offices although they are managing the same project with the same approach and encountering the same kinds of problems.
The importance of the partnership between the ORMVAs and grassroots associations is better understood by project staff, as it is nowadays in Morocco overall. This shift is still fragile, however, with an unequal partnership, with technical issues and resources on one side and on the other only goodwill. Partner associations must benefit from specific support over time, and partnership with populations must not mean an abrupt disengagement by the State and its agencies in the short term, but rather a different kind of engagement, involving adapted financing and learning mechanisms that will lead to a gradual transfer of responsibility.
The overall partnership among co-financiers was characterised by the little harmonization of the programmes financed by the various donors or of implementation and monitoring procedures. To all intents and purposes there are three separate projects in terms of financing, planning, implementation, procedures and monitoring. For instance, no benefit was drawn from the IsDB's presence in Morocco to coordinate monitoring and support activities: no joint mission or workshop took place to discuss implementation issues.
Overall assessment and conclusions
Over the past ten years, the PDRT has played a very important role in the economic and social development of Tafilalet and Dades, thanks to a varied programme of action that has enabled the project to make an effective contribution to poverty reduction. The priority assigned to developing basic infrastructure and equipment is justified both by the strategic importance of this component to consolidate economic and social development and by the deficient infrastructure in both project regions, which cover a vast expanse of land. In this sense, the waterworks component, in which two thirds of the investment was made, has led to the installation and rehabilitation of hydraulic infrastructure on a large scale which is crucial to support human activity in pre-Saharan areas under serious threat of cyclical drought.
The PDRT's actions to promote rural women have made a very positive and necessary contribution to strengthening the current evolution of the social fabric in these regions. Outreach by the Offices has undoubtedly helped raise the technical skills of farmers in both regions. Such outreach must however be seen in the context of Morocco's agricultural policy, which increasingly favours a reduced role for the State and corresponding increase in the role of the professions.
The project was implemented under a participatory approach. In some cases, however, the two ORMVAs appear to have interpreted this in a utilitarian and reductive way that identified beneficiary contributions to sharing costs with the State and maintaining equipment and infrastructure. Important exceptions emerge from the experience of the ORMVA of Ouarzazate and can represent the basis for further interventions.
The construction of rural infrastructure and the exploitation of agricultural land have long been priorities for the ORMVAs in view of the imperatives of increasing agricultural production and creating income sources for rural populations. New development needs are currently being felt in both regions. They have to do primarily with: i) protecting the sustainability of fragile ecosystems and a precious heritage of landscapes and technical structures (valleys under development, oases, khettaras) that bear witness to the rural populations' ingeniousness and ability to adapt to a difficult environment; ii) promoting rural populations and combating the poverty and exclusion that place economic and social development in these regions in jeopardy.
The challenges to be faced in meeting these emerging needs include the typical constraints of arid regions where natural resources do not support unlimited intensification and development of agricultural production. Hence the imperative of diversifying income sources, particularly for poor families, so that they may overcome the obstacles of depleted soil and drought, a structural reality in the project area. New prospects are opening up for economic and social development in Tafilalet and Dades, through promotion of the tourism and film industries. Tourism is being developed particularly in the province of Ouarzazate. The area possesses a number of assets for the cinema and has built a reputation as one of the world's premier film locations, with very competitive production costs (30% to 40% below those of the United States and Europe).
Based on the foregoing, some recommendations can be made to underpin actions by the Offices in the two project regions and strengthen IFAD's partnership with Morocco for effective poverty reduction and rural development. Given the nature of this review as a completion evaluation, three strategic rather than operational thrusts are in order:
Developing a strategic vision for integrated and sustainable regional development
- Poverty reduction needs to be embedded in a more comprehensive regional multisector development strategy. This would include greater coordination and consensus-building among the various development partners in these regions. Public authorities will still have to play a key role in the organization and support to the development process by mobilizing resources (above all, financing) and skills required. This recommendation is addressed to the ministerial, regional and provincial authorities and departments, with IFAD's support.
- The oasis landscape in the largest sense (including mountainous valleys) should be set again as a matter of primary concern for rural development projects in the area, not only as a pre-condition for subsistence but also as a precious collective cultural heritage with potential for economic diversification (including eco-tourism) that could be developed profitably and beneficially. This recommendation is addressed in particular to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- Elaborate a strategy to ensure the maintenance of infrastructural investments. To this end, the gradual transfer of irrigation system management to AUEAs should be accompanied by support for their activities (redeployment of ORMVA staff to strengthen units of AUEAs, training for AUEAs and upgrading for technicians in their new role as advisers to AUEAs). This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- Pastoral development in arid regions represents a difficult task which needs considerable human and material resources, as well as a strategy of intervention based on integrated approaches (geographical and sectoral), and in-depth and updated knowledge of dynamics in the pastoral zones. A rigorous assessment should be undertaken of the cooperatives created in the framework of PDRT and PDPEO, in order to draw lessons from the two important experiences. This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
- The ORMVAs need to update their operating approaches and modalities to perform a mission that is complex, yet stimulating and motivating. Finding motivated and skilled human resources (beyond agricultural techniques) is a challenge that must be met. It should also be noted that the implementation of a sustainable regional development strategy that integrates and adds value to the agricultural potential requires the involvement of institutions and competencies outside agriculture. This recommendation is addressed to provinces and the concerned ministerial departments.
- The two ORMVAs have been capable of starting up partnership dynamics for project implementation with the population, the public institutions, State and local associations. This creates opportunities for local development managed by local actors. Selected experiences should be analysed in-depth, through a research-development programme involving the ORMVAs and research institutions in order to draw relevant lessons. This is particularly the case of ORMVA/AUEA partnerships for maintaining, protecting and enhancing the infrastructure installed. This recommendation is addressed to DAHA and educational and research establishments.
- Better coordination is needed among donors, perhaps in the form of a shared agenda for support and supervision (for example common supervision/support missions, co-financed by the various donors). Any donor presence in the country offers an advantage that should be used for dialogue with local agencies and authorities. This recommendation is addressed to the donors and the implementation agencies.
Project formulation and targeting and means of verifying achievements
- Simplify project formulation through a more selective definition of components and better targeting of project activities, both geographically and based on the needs of the poor. Consolidate the dynamics of promoting poor populations by undertaking more integrated projects with better coordination of actions from the outset. Women's associations offer good opportunities for training and advancement of rural women and need to be strengthened. A study might be conducted to identify opportunities for income-generating activities by women (including upgrading the quality of their products to be competitive in selected niches) and ways of supporting them. This recommendation is addressed to both the ORMVAs and their specialized partners (the Ministry of Agriculture, ORMVAs, IFAD).
- Set up a results-based monitoring and evaluation system that can document impact (changes in household welfare) based on a simple logical framework. In addition, documentation, knowledge management and communication of field experiences and achievements should be reinforced. New information and communication technologies are an effective means of capitalizing upon and exchanging such experiences with other actors nationally and internationally, and should primarily be developed within the ORMVAs by the appropriate divisions, possibly with some external facilitation and support by donors. This recommendation is addressed to the ORMVAs and MADRPM.
1/ Composed of Messrs A. Abaab, agricultural economist and Mission Leader, A. Abdelguerfi, agricultural pastoralist, M. Daoudi, rural engineering specialist and Mrs K. Rivière, agronomist. A wrap-up meeting was held on 12 October 2005 at the Office of the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries (MADRPM). Mr F. Felloni, Evaluation Officer (IFAD's Office of Evaluation) participated at the beginning and the end of the mission. In addition to interviews with officials at MADRPM in Rabat, which took place from 12 to 14 September 2005, the mission visited the field from 15 September to 8 October 2005. Prior to the mission, an Approach Paper was prepared and submitted to stakeholders (May 2005), a reconnaissance mission (June 2005) was conducted by Mr Felloni, and a rural survey was carried out in both project regions (August 2005) under the direction of Mr M. Mahdi (ENA-Meknès). The evaluation team would like to thank the Moroccan technical offices at the central and regional levels for their support to the mission.
4/ The project area (belonging to the pre-Saharan region, where agriculture is entirely dependent on irrigation) is also indicated as a geographical priority for IFAD in the country strategy document (COSOP) of 1999.
Jahaly and Pacharr Smallholder Development Project
Completion evaluation report summary
The project area comprises two distinct swamp areas located 7 km apart on the southern banks of the river Gambia. The climate, soils and topography are favourable for intensified rice cultivation. At the time of project formulation, most of the Jahaly swamp covering some 1.230 ha was already cleared and levelled as a result of previous development interventions. The Pacharr swamps, covering about 1.050 ha was more or less in its natural state. Smallholder farmers in the JP area produce a variety of crops during the short rainy season, mainly groundnuts (the main cash crop) and cereals (millet, sorghum, maize) in the rainfed upland areas and rice in the lowland swamps. The upland cropping productions are based on traditional shifting slash and burn cultivation with fallow. Opportunities for production in the longer dry season are scarce and this made the cultivation of dry season irrigated rice attractive.
Project objectives and design
The target group comprised 1.000 compounds in some 40 villages with an estimated population of 15.000 "having user rights" in the two swamps. Women, regarded by the appraisal as principal beneficiaries under traditional systems of swamp rice production, were expected to "receive major benefits from the project".
Objectives and components
The JPSP set out to increase Gambian national self-sufficiency in rice production, improve food security and raise farm families incomes.
The components were:
- land development: 1.510 ha of swamplands were to be developped. Pump irrigation would comprise 560 ha and "improved rice" 950 ha. In an average year, 380 ha could be tidally irrigated in the wet season and 240 ha of these could be tidally irrigated in the dry season. Land would be reallocated on the basis of submissions by villages of their traditional land rights, existing use rights and existing areas cultivated by compounds.
- training and institutional support: the development of a local institutional capability was considered important far irrigation-based agriculture and related extension.
- credit input supply and crop marketing: the credit scheme was to be administered by the Gambia Cooperative Union (GCU). The cooperatives were also to handle actual input supply and crop marketing.
Then, the project was to fund the construction of five cereal banks and two day-care centres to take care of children of working mothers. A monitoring and evaluation unit was to provide the project management unit and the coordinating commitee with regular information concerning the performance of the project.
Expected effects and assumptions
Yields would increase up to 3,3 t/ha on improved swamp land (1,2 t/ha without project), to 4 t/ha on pump irrigated land for the wet season, 4,5 t/ha on pump irrigated land for the dry season. Production was expected to rise to 7.874 t (PY 6). Incomes were expected to rise from 247 USD without project to 1.079 USD with project.
The project was based on strong assumptions as to the permanence of the economic environment prevailing at the outset. Asumption was also made that other aspects of compound production and income would not affect rice production and income and that the main interest of farmers was in rice production even during the rainy season.
The 1985 structural adjustment programm led to significant policy changes in the Gambia's tariff and tax structure. Relative agricultural output and input prices turned against input intensive, high yield rice production. The reduction of price subsidies had doubled fertilizer cost in real term.
Natural conditions for rainfed upland agriculture improved which contributed to reduced food shortages and less demand for water-controlled rice production in the lowlands.
Land development: a total of 1.392 was developed, 545 ha for pump irrigation, 703 ha for tidal and 144 ha of improved rainfed land. The total area that may be double cropped under tidal irrigation is 364 ha.
Irrigation and drainage: they were both pump-based. The command areas were hermetically sealed off through raised ciment levees. A total of 13 pumpsets were procured, 11 installed and 2 spares. Water delivery and drainage inefficiency have been seriously compounded by little maintenance and sabotage of the pump-irrigated areas' infrastructure.
Input supply, credit, marketing and loan recovery: the GCU was responsable for input supply,credit and onward marketing. Initial performance was quite satisfactory. Between 1984 and 1987, loan recovery rates for seasonal credit averaged not less than 97% at Jahaly and 83% at Pacharr. In 1897, paddy production and loan recovery rates dropped (loan recovery rate: 30%). In 1988-89, the GCU withdrew from the rice sub sub-sector. The project became responsable for input supply, credit administration, loan recovery and marketing. There were a break down in input supply and credit delivery.
Revolving funds: the GCU deposited a proportion of recovered water and land charges and loans into two revolving funds. Lack of clarity about the accounts and the amounts involved have persisted since 1985. GCU retained control over funds accumulated in the revolving fund accounts, despite its withdrawal from the project.
Extension and agronomy: a modified T&V system of extension has been used. Meetings are held weekly between the extension staff and chosen "contact" farmers. One progressive farmer is chosen for each 10 ha block of the scheme. In addition, there is a demonstration plot at each swamp. Communications between farmers and extension staff were not easy because of the rigid water scheduling and became less than cordial when the staff in recent years had to undertake additional responsabilities over and above their primary extension activities (collecting loan repayments, organising water scheduling and sharing and maintenance of primary canals).
Cereal banks have not been built. JPSP day care centres never operated properly and are now defunct.
M&E: the technical and socio-economic M&E has been fragmentary. The data collected were of limited use in improving project performance, water scheduling and extension recommendations.
Effects assessment and sustainability
Beneficiaries: land developed under the project is presently available to 2.200 registered leaseholders from 1.253 compounds, dispersed over 67 villages. Current direct and indirect beneficiaries of the project are estimated at between 19.000 and 22.000 members of farm households. Poorer farmers were successfully targeted. In 1991, smaller households cultivated a larger per capita area in the project than larger ones. The number of participants in upland villages which used to be marginally involved, or not at all, in swamp or irrigated rice cultivation is considerably higher than expected because of the precarious food situation between 1983 and 1984.
In the early years 1984 to 1986, pump irrigated rice production performed very well. Average rice hields per hectare were significantly higher than anticipated at appraisal: 6.5 t/ha during the dry season and 5.4 t/ha during the wet season. But, between 1987 and 1992, average yields reached only 4.65 t/ha for the dry season and 2.28 t/ha for the wet season. The recent IFAD completion evaluation survey (CES) found even lower yields for 1990 and 1991: for the dry season, interviewed farmers reported yields between 3.3 (1991) and 3.7 tons per hectare (1990). Average wet season yields were between 1.7 and 1.8 tons/ha. In the end, low production caused low loan repayment rates of project charges by farmers. Eventually, this led to a cancellation of all ploughing, puddling and irrigation activities in pump-irrigated plots for wet season 1992. In wet season 1991, on average only 74 percent of all irrigated plots were cultivated. But for the dry season, a remarkably high cropping intensity was recorded of 95 percent.
On improved swamp rice plots (tidal-irrigated and improved rainfed swamp), yields of 2.5 to 3 tons/hectare can be achieved during the wet season. Yet, there are many plots in this production system where yields are significantly lower; many fields present yields hovering around 1 ton per hectare, particularly those which are purely rainfed, not transplanted, or where water-control through tidal irrigation is insufficient.
Effects on beneficiaries incomes: in 1985-86, the average household with a plot in the project area recorded a net increase in household income of 13%, compared to those without such land in the project area. But, in 1991, farm average gross margins per hectare and personns per day did not exceed those achieved in traditional swamp rice production.
One of the major accomplishments of the J.P. project is the beneficial impact of increased food security during the traditional lean or "hungry" season between June and September. By providing an additional dry season crop, the project increased level, and stability, of food consumption.
Specifics effects on women: the nutritional status of children and women improved, as measured by body weight and growth. The project diminished mothers' seasonal stress that is caused by increased workload, low food intake, and increased disease prevalence during the rainy season. A deliberate attempt to put women in charge of pump-irrigated plots by formally registering them as lease-holders was not successful. The net impact of the J.P. project on women's access to resources is difficult to assess. Overall, women certainly gained from the increased availability of food in the household and the significant reduction of back-breaking labour through mechanical land preparation.
Effects on the environment: the SAR referred to the threat to cultivation along the River Gambia because of an upstream movement of the salt water mixing zone associated with pump irrigation. But, when pumping was carried out on JPSP, the position of the salt water mixing zone was not monitored. This means, at least in theory, that the environmental impact over the project period could be negative.
Sustainability: the technical assistance had not transferred skills to national staff. Farmers' interest in rice cultivation decrease because of the declining profitability of paddy cultivation and lead to the break down of input and credit delivery. Farmers have limited interest in paying user charges and allocated their time on canal maintenance. The scheme's physical infrastructure and technical support system are deteriorating rapidly. There is no institutional structure for assuring stable and adequate credit, agro-input supplies and marketing facilities necessary for viable scheme operation. There is no beneficiary organisation in place for overall scheme management and field-level water management. This project does not seem to be more sustainable than the three previous interventions to develop rice production in the area.
The project design is not adapted to the situation.
Project design must tie in with farmers' strategies and respect their comparative advantage in production by season, crop and intensity of effort. Farmers long term comparative advantage in cultivation, by crop and season had not been understood, and, as well, the probability of an imminent reduction of rice production support subsidies had not been taken into account. Pump irrigation in the wet season was an essential feature of project design, in spite of the uncertain nature of farmers' demand for such cultivation.
The design of the irrigation component permitted little or no flexibility in response to varying preferences in production and water demand.
The design of th irrigation component was not a "least cost" alternative. Design engineers opted for a total water control approach. Irrigation and drainage were pump-based. The local land form was radically and irreversibly transformed. The possibility was blocked of a reversal to tidal irrigation or to swamp cultivation. Bay must be completely flat to prevent the creation of ponds; to secure even-wetting for cultivation and seeding; and to obtain optimal drainage. Farmers have difficulty in fitting levelling into a tight cultivation schedule at a point in time when soils are workable. The flat bay system heavily restricts the type of crops which can be grown, since it is suitable only for flood irrigation. For tidal irrigation, the effectiveness of the watering system rests on the degree of skills in controlling water supply, and timeliness of opening and closing flood gates. Although the technology is relatively simple and cheap, tidal dependence and the variation in water levels places a premium on rigid scheduling and farmer cooperation.
The high initial yields in pump irrigated rice were not sustained.
The project was not well prepared for the sequence of unfavourable agronomic and economic conditions that started around 1986-87. Despite water controlled conditions, production in the scheme became more risky. Early rains and crop pests cut rice yields in dry and wet season 1987 almost by half, starting a cycle of loan default and delayed planting. Economic conditions turned against rice production (see 8). Input supply became more erratic after the withdrawal of GCU from the project in 1988. Improved climatic conditions for alternative, rainfed crop production of groundnuts and upland cereals further eroded the attractiveness of water controlled rice production for many producers in the area.
Recommendations and lessons learned
Under present technical, market and socio-economic conditions, in the Gambian agricultural sector, the most realistic scenario for future project operations is to: (i) support continued dry season rice production; and (ii) to seek to improve the technology of low-cost tidal irrigation.
In the short-to medium-term, the project should focus on the preferred production technologies, which means less emphasis on pump irrigation in the wet season, a scaling down of such irrigation, or its elimination. The situation could change were a repeated and prolonged drought to reoccur, negatively affecting upland crops and food availability. Hence, the longer-term scenario would be to maintain at minimal level a pumping capacity also for wet season irrigation.
Dry season production should focus on enhancing household food security for a maximum number of farm households, in low and upland villages. Wet season production should be targeted for women in the tidal/rainfed command area, who have the lowest opportunity costs and the highest interest in rice production during this period.
The schemes require considerable investment to rehabilitate pumping, water conveyancing and plot water control systems to improve their performance. If these physical investments are not carried out, the scheme will deteriorate at an accelerated rate over the next few years. These investments are necessary before any of the functions or responsibilities are transferred to the farmers, i.e. the scheme should function to design specifications if farmers are expected to pay for services.
A reorganization of the institutions concerned with operation of the JPSP is necessary to meet the post-project situation. With the premise that: (i) beneficiary farmers themselves would be responsible for at least partial management of water services and preferably land preparation through draught animal traction; and (ii) support services would be taken over by line ministries, the future role of the PMU should be redefined. With the premise that management functions would be assumed by beneficiary farmers themselves, the setting for developing farmers' organisations needs to be explored.
When an investment project includes heavy infrastructure development like important irrigation schemes and expensive equipment (pumps and tractors), project design must be preceeded by a far more careful analysis including sensitivity test for major changes in economic and institutional environment. Stated project risks should be reviewed carefully against lessons learned. Risks considered major and which would impact negatively implementation should be clearly spelt out. Proposals for alternative design(s) need to be considered, before a final decision is taken. In this kind of project, remedial actions have limited or negligible effectiveness once the project has been already designed.
Farmers' decision criteria need to be derived through a farming systems analysis. Gains to production and productivity must reflect the behaviour of the economic agents to optimise returns on scarce assets. Yield maximization may fail as long as land as a productive asset is not yet scarce. Farmers' portfolio of activities must be fully ascertained, and their economic returns on the different assets indicates their opportunity costs. If empirical data have not been systematically collected, or cannot be referred to, for use of on-farm labour in alternative activities (including non agricultural activities), a targeted study for such a purpose should be undertaken as part of formulation.
The rules for appointing consultancy firms need to be far stricter, even if bilateral co-financing on a grant basis is involved. Because of vested interests and potentially conflicting interests, a single consulting firm should never be engaged by the project to carry out feasibility studies, engineering design, agricultural design, supervision of contractors during construction, as well as be in charge of agricultural management of the project. Expatriate technical assistance should never be permitted to assume managerial roles at the outset of a project. There is then little scope for the nationals to gain experience in decision-making, and hand-over is always delayed.
Mechanisms must be developed within IFAD, to ensure that resources are made available to follow-up at the field level recommendations from evaluation missions to modify project design. Otherwise, such exercises with recommendations become purely academic exercises.
Beneficiaries must be involved in the design and eventual re-design through a structured process for participation. Self-reliance and self-management of production systems can only come about by putting the proposed grass roots institutions firmly in place from the outset, as it takes a long time for them to reach maturity. Participation in managing project assets, or cultivating the land, is strongly linked to the economic environment. When the economic environment shifted from rice towards upland crops; the economic surplus in rice production fell, interest for rice cultivation in the wet season subsided. The interests of participants in sharing, or assuming the responsibility for service provision, let alone cost recovery, diminished.
Projects which seek to promote the socio-economic development of the relatively underprivileged and powerless will meet with conflicts. They have to be designed with particular care. There is little or no guarantee for that the target group can successfully compete with more influential members of the local community and assimilate and consolidate gains arising from project implementation. For this reason, a detailed design and full transparency is required with regard to the activities related to: (i) distributing the most sought after asset, the irrigated land; and (ii) collecting and using core indicators with which the management can monitor, or ensure, that those less privileged continue to draw lasting benefits in the use of their assets. Administrative regulation of land tenure at the level of a project can not easily dominate the practices of customary land tenure. This is definitely the case with regard to changes to support the rights of women as against customs or controls exercised by household heads, or men. The preferences by gender for type of crop, and land use, generally reflect relative labour inputs and associated cash returns coupled with preferences for food security. Clear commitment to promote equity is required from the Government and other involved agencies. If such commitment is not obtained, project management is bound to be caught in the role of mediating local vested interests without adequate political support.
Projet de réhabilitation agricole du Fouta Djallon
La zone du projet couvre le nord-est du massif du Fouta Djallon, constituée en grande partie de zones d'altitude ainsi que des versants nord et nord-est du massif. Elle englobe les préfectures de Mali, Koubia et Tougué ainsi que le nord des préfectures de Labé et Lelouma. La population y est d'environ 400.000 habitants répartis en 95.000 ménages d'environ 7-8 personnes. Une surexploitation du milieu (déforestation, feux de brousse et mise en culture, réduction de la durée des jachères, destruction des sols) a conduit à une dégradation du couvert arboré. Les précipitations et écoulements diminuent et se concentrent sur une période plus courte. Les conditions d'approvisionnement en eau en saison sèche sont localement très difficiles. Les activités d'élevage sont dominées par la vaine pature et la divagation quasi-permanente du cheptel. La faiblesse et le mauvais état des infrastructures routières est une contrainte importante au développement.
Les terres cultivées comprennent des champs permanents (sountourés) groupés autour des habitations, protégés des animaux par des clotures et fertilisés par des déchets ménagers et les déjections animales; des "champs extérieurs" (n'guessa) où alternent les périodes de cultures (riz, fonio, arachide, manioc) et de jachères; et des bas fonds, aménagés ou non, où sont pratiqués riziculture et maraichage de saison sèche. Dans la société fortement inégalitaire des peuls du Fouta, la complexité du droit foncier traditionnel et de son organisation usagère se répercute sur les orientations possibles d'un développement agricole portant améliorations foncières, aménagement hydro-agricole ou gestion du terroir. La recherche de solutions négociées entre l'investisseur publique, les propriétaires éminents et l'ensemble des usagers, semble être ainsi la seule voie possible susceptible de permettre l'aménagement sans perturber les équilibres sociaux.
Le groupe cible du Projet de réhabilitation agricole du Fouta Djallon (PRAFD est la population rurale de sa zone d'intervention dont on prévoyait que 31% bénéficieraient directement du projet. La population étant globalement considérée comme pauvre, le RE n'y définissait pas un sous-groupe cible prioritaire.
A l'origine, les objectifs principaux du projet étaient:
- l'augmentation des revenus des agriculteurs grâce à l'accroissement de la productivité et de la production des exploitations;
- la conservation des ressources avec l'amélioration de la fertilité, la conservation des sols et la protection de l'environnement.
L'amélioration de la solvabilité des villageois auprès du système bancaire et l'amorce d'un processus de développement et d'autogestion viable au niveau des villages constituaient deux objectifs complémentaires pour lesquels la démarche retenue comprenait la mise en place d'Associations Villageoises (AV) dotées de fonds propres autogérés (FVD), des actions de formation et d'alphabétisation des Comités villageois de crédit et d'Equipes techniques villageoises etc.
Le PRAFD comprend onze composantes: production agricole, production animale, vulgarisation et organisation villageoise, recherche-développement, crédit agricole, approvisionnement, pistes et ponts, hydraulique villageoise, bas-fonds, formation, appui au projet que l'on peut regrouper en trois grandes catégories d'action: organisation du monde rural (y compris du marché financier), développement agricole et gestion des ressources naturelles, développement des infrastructures.
Les résultats attendus étaient l'abandon des cultures sur les zones à fortes pentes et l'intensification des champs extérieurs sur faible pente. Au niveau de l'exploitation moyenne, cette perspective se traduisait par une réduction de 54% de la surface globalement exploitée et une baisse de la part des jachères dans les terres "extérieures" de 67% à 43%. De très fortes augmentations de rendements (+200%) étaient attendues d'apports de fumier (10 t/ha) et d'engrais minéraux. A la fin de la cinquième année, le surcroit de production annuelle devait atteindre 5.200 t de produits vivriers et 1 300 t de fruits et légumes; la production de viande, de lait et d'oeufs devait augmenter de 5%. En année de croisière, on attendait 27.000 t supplémentaires de production agricole soit plus d'une tonne et demi par exploitation bénéficiaire.
En 1992, après une crise financière et un blocage du projet, un Plan de relance est mis en oeuvre. Il remet en cause l'orientation productiviste du PRFAD et propose une approche plus limitée et centrée sur les zones et les produits à bon potentiel commercial. La priorité est à l'organisation de circuits économiques et de filières efficaces (promotion de GIE et d'opérateurs privés).
Organisation du monde rural. En mars 94, 169 AV ont été constituées avec un nombre total d'adhérents de 10 421. Dans les communautés concernées, le taux d'adhésion des exploitations varie de 50 à 518. Les cotisations d'adhésion aux AV et la cotisation équivalente fournie par le projet ont constitués les FVD. Les activités de l'AV ont permis de faire passer le montant total des avoirs financiers des AV de 100 millions FG (apport initiaux + contrepartie PRAFD) à environ 138 millions FG. En 1993, 48% du montant total des FVD avaient été décaissé par les AV pour financer, principalement, des "activités rémunératrices" de l'AV, des Banques de produits vivriers et du "crédit interne" (de l'AV à ses membres). La part des FDV conservée au village fonctionne comme un fonds de roulement dont l'usage semble s'orienter de plus en plus vers le crédit. Les crédits octroyés par les CVC à des membres de l'AV a tendance à se développer fortement depuis le milieu de l'année 93. Les bénéficiaires du crédit sont en grande majorité des individus, le plus souvent des commerçants membres des AV; les montants prêtés sont relativement importants; les taux d'intérêt sont élevés, souvent supérieurs à ceux du Crédit mutuel de Guinée.
Le projet a pris en charge et continue à assurer l'ensemble du circuit d'approvisionnement en intrants et matériels.
Les GIE, au nombre de 79, totalisent 1.400 adhérents dont environ 50% de femmes ont été officiellement identifiés et reconnus. La moitié des GIE enregistrés (et semble-t-il les plus actifs) seraient des groupements de maraîchers. On compte également 11 GIE de teinturiers, 7 d'apiculteurs, 8 de saponification (féminins).
Les sessions d'alphabétisation en pular caractères arabes ont bénéficié à 4.626 personnes dont 648 femmes. Au total, 1.780 auditeurs, dont 86 femmes, ont été diplômés.
Développement de l'agriculture et de l'élevage et conservation de l'environnement
Une série d'actions ponctuelles ont été entreprises:
- Fertilisation et conservation de la fertilité: introduction de compostières et d'abris fumiers: 276 unités ont été implantés. 28,3 tonnes d'engrais composés et 14,8 tonnes d'engrais simples ont été placés. Les engrais semblent essentiellement avoir été utilisés en bas-fonds pour des cultures maraîchères et localement sur du riz ou du maïs.
- Introduction de matériel végétal plus performant: ont été distribuées ou vendues, 1,6 tonne de maïs en 1993 (environ 50 ha emblavés) et 1,8 tonne de semences d'arachide en 1992 (environ 30 ha). La vente de semences de pomme de terre a atteint en 1993, le total de 3,8 tonnes (environ 2 ha de plantations). La diffusion de plants fruitiers améliorés s'est limitée à 600 plants d'orangers, 280 manguiers greffés, quelques avocatiers et caféiers.
- Equipement des exploitations: quelques lots de petit outillage (quelques dizaines) et de 165 charrues ont été vendus au comptant.
- Commercialisation: l'amélioration du réseau routier et à la constitution de banques de produits vivriers.
- Aménagements anti-érosif de champs cultivés et actions de conservation de l'environnement: 19 km de haies vives et 25 km de bandes anti-érosives correspondent dans les deux cas à environ 50 ha traités. Les autres actions ont consisté en: 371 ha de plantations; 5 pépinières-pilote villageoises; 1.105 ha de mise en défens (90 contrats); 750 foyers améliorés.
- Les actions dans le domaine de l'élevage: les chiffres de vaccination soient 38.375 bovins, 9.659 petits ruminants et 6.621 volailles concernent principalement les années 1991 et 1992. Apiculture: 320 ruches ont été placées à crédit dont 8 en démonstration et 136 en production. Mal placées et au mauvais moment, leur taux d'occupation est très faible.
Développement des infrastructures. La réhabilitation ou l'ouverture de 23 tronçons de piste (pour une longueur totale de 262 km) et la réalisation de 156 points d'eau (dont 117 forages) répondent aux besoins les plus urgents de la population du Fouta Djallon. Mais d'importantes insuffisances concernant la qualité technique et la maintenance des pistes réalisées.
Au stade actuel de la mise en oeuvre du PRAFD, deux grands acquis peuvent être identifiés. Le premier est celui de l'organisation du milieu rural, de l'apprentissage de la gestion et du développement des relations entre AV, système bancaire (Crédit mutuel) et services publics (essentiellement le PRAFD). L'apparition d'une forme de représentation villageoise reconnue et dotée d'une capacité financiè_e encore limitée mais réelle contribue au développement de relations plus équilibrées entre la société rurale foutanienne et les diverses représentation de l'Etat et de l'économie moderne (banques, projets de développement, etc.). Dans les villages, l'existence d'une capacité de financement facilement mobilisable (FDV) commence à stimuler l'activité commerciale et dans une moindre mesure l'activité productive. On pourra attendre à terme un effet positif important sur le marché financier rural à l'echelle de la région.
Le deuxième effet positif du PRAFD est l'amélioration des conditions de vie dans une centaine de villages à travers l'installation des forages. Il ne fait aucun doute que la difficulté d'approvisionnement en eau potable en saison sèche, quand les cours d'eau et de nombreuses sources sont taris, est un des problèmes prioritaires des populations rurales et des femmes en particulier. Les réalisations dans ce domaine, bien qu'encore largement insuffisantes par rapport aux besoins et aux demandes exprimées dans la zone du PRAFD, ont eu des effets très positifs dans les villages touchés. Bien qu'il soit trop tôt pour se prononcer définitivement, il semble bien que les chances de pérennité de ces effets soient élevées et en tout cas meilleures que dans bon nombre d'actions de ce type en Afrique de l'ouest. Les forages sont bien protégés, des comités de gestion sont en place, des cotisations commencent à être prélevées et la plupart des pannes ont pu être réparées dans des délais raisonnables. Des progrès restent cependant à faire dans la densité et la professionnalité du réseau d'artisans réparateurs.
En tenant à l'esprit les deux acquis importants p_écités, il importe de rappeler que l'objectif central du PRAFD était l'amélioration du revenu agricole des populations du Fouta Djallon, ainsi que la restauration et la préservation de l'environnement. Or, après 4 ans d'exécution, les effets du projet sur la production agricole sont mal connus mais certainement très faibles. Dans le domaine de la protection de l'environnement et de la restauration du milieu, les résultats restent trés décevants; le projet s'est contenté de proposer un catalogue d'interventions plus ou moins ponctuelles sur quelques parcelles cultivées ou certains points sensibles (forage).
Un scénario de développement agricole irréaliste contribue à faire passer en second plan les objectifs initiaux du projet. Le RE proposait une véritable révolution agricole en grandeur réelle et en quelques années, sans disposer ni de résultats diffusables au niveau de la recherche appliquée, ni d'aucune action pilote ou expérimentale ayant démontré la faisabilité (technique, économique et sociale) de ce projet dans le contexte très particulier du Fouta Djallon. Outre le caractère simpliste du diagnostic et du modèle de développement agricole proposé ne tenant pas compte de la grande diversité des situations agro-écologiques, ce scénario ignorait grossièrement les facteurs socio-fonciers (déterminants dans le contexte foutanien), la division du travail entre genres et l'insertion des cultures en champs extérieurs dans un système de gestion des ressources très contraignant ne laissant guère de marge de manoeuvre à l'individu.
En fait, une transformation du système de production n'est pas envisageable au seul niveau de l'exploitation individuelle: les feux de brousse, le déboisement en amont, la divagation du bétail sont autant de facteurs surdéterminant les comportements de chacun. Ainsi, le problème fondamental de l'antagonisme agriculture-élevage ne peut trouver sa solution qu'à travers une modification profonde de la conduite du troupeau bovin impliquant une gestion commune des pâturages, un contrôle de la divagation, une révision de la gestion des jachères. Ces mesures supposent une prise de décision à différents niveaux (village, chef d'exploitaiton, individu) et ne peuvent en aucun cas être du ressort de la simple transmission d'un message technique. De même en est-il du problème de la conservation ou de la restauration de la fertilité des sols qui ne peut être du seul ressort de l'introduction de quelques compostières ou de l'utilisation localisée d'engrais minéraux. C'est l'ensemble du système de production de l'exploitation qui est en jeu, faisant intervenir la conduite de l'élevage (parcage nocturne et production de fumier), la disponibilité en force de travail, l'équilibre entre les différentes unités spatiales composant l'exploitation (sountouré, champ extérieur, éventuellement bas-fonds), les usages fonciers (autorisation de plantations d'arbres, sécurité de l'attribution foncière).
Initialement, l'amélioration du revenu agricole des populations et la préservation de l'environnement étaient les objectifs principaux du projet. On a assisté au renversement progressif et non explicité de l'ordre d'importance de ses objectifs que le PRAFD a connu au cours de sa mise en oeuvre. La formation des AV et l'accumulation de FDV, initialement conçus comme des instruments d'une politique de développement agricole semblent être devenus la raison d'être principale d'un projet dont l'objectif serait la mise en place d'un système d'"auto-gouvernement" villageois. La transformation du système de culture (l'intensification des champs extérieurs à faible pente et des tapades) pour le développement de la production et des revenus et la protection de l'environnement, initialement axe central et objectif principal du PRAFD, n'apparaît plus que comme une composante parmi d'autre, et plus précisément comme celle que tout le monde s'accorde à reconnaître comme la plus faible en termes de résultat.
L'approche par AV ne facilite pas le ciblage des catégories les plus défavorisées
L'AV conforte la distribution actuelle des pouvoirs et ne facilite pas la prise en compte du groupe cible prioritaire du FIDA. Les intérêts de ce groupe hétérogène (anciens captifs dépourvus de propriété foncière, femmes, jeunes) sont encore très différents de ceux des dirigeants d'AV.
La pratique financière des CVC n'est pas favorable aux paysans pauvres bien qu'elle soit prometteuse du point de vue de la pérennité et du développement des FVD. Le FVD fonctionne souvent comme une banque dont l'accès est réservé aux individus reconnus solvables et s'adonnant à des opérations commerciales assurées de la rentabilité. Leur activité commerciale concerne davantage des produits importés que des productions locales.
En ce sens, la constitution des GIE est une réponse adaptée à la nécessité, justement évoquée par la LPDA et le plan de relance, d'assurer des bases plus concrètes à l'organisation économique du milieu. Elle est aussi une ouverture pertinente pour un meilleur accès du groupe cible à l'aide du projet.
Recommandations à court terme
Le PRAFD doit dès aujourd'hui appliquer la directive du plan de relance consistant à concentrer ses efforts de recherche, de vulgarisation et de formation sur le développement des cultures de rapport (maraîchage, fruiticulture, apiculture) et de leur filières d'approvisionement et commercialisation.
Le projet doit chercher à établir avec les AV et des GIE des relations de partenariat et non d'"encadrement", d'encourager dans toute la mesure du possible le développement de leurs relations avec les opérateurs privés, les services publics, les organisations professionnelles (URPO, URPPT) et les ONG. Les agents du PRAFD devraient retrouver le rôle de facilitateurs qu'ils auraient dû assurer. En pratique, l'approvisionnement en intrants agricoles, les vaccinations et traitements ne relevant pas de l'exclusivité de la DNE, la fourniture de ruches kényanes pourraient être déléguée aux AV, GIE ou groupements existants.
Un appui financier direct aux GIE, en particulier de femmes, de jeunes et d'anciens captifs, est probablement la meilleure manière de renforcer la position économique de ces catégories sociales dominées au sein des villages. Il s'agit de renforcer leur autonomie, mais aussi leur capacité de négociation par rapport aux CVC et au CM. Le projet ne devrait pas limiter son intervention en faveur des GIE aux seuls villages organisés en AV.
Pour les nouvelles AV à constituer (uniquement dans les sous-prefectures où le projet est déjà présent), on recommande de modifier les conditions d'attribution des contreparties PRAFD aux FDV pour inciter à une plus forte adhésion des familles à l'AV: la contrepartie PRAFD ne serait accordée qu'aux AV ayant un niveau de représentativité minimum que l'on pourrait fixer à 75% des ménages du village-centre et de ses hameaux périphériques. Dans la mesure où un plafonnement de la dotation du projet au FVD est souhaitable, on recommande de le fixer par ménage ou par individu adhérent et non par AV.
Dans le domaine du crédit, on recommande: i) de mieux suivre l'utilisation et la gestion des crédits internes à partir des FVD ; ii) de proscrire le crédit direct par le projet; iii) de renforcer les relations directes entre GIE et Crédit mutuel de manière à ce qu'une véritable concurrence puisse s'établir entre crédit interne des AV et Crédit mutuel.
L'aménagement et la mise en valeur des bas-fonds devraient se développer dans l'avenir immédiat sur quelques sites privilégiés caractérisés par: i) le consensus de la population pour l'aménagement (en particulier pour le règlement des problèmes d'attribution foncière; ii) la garantie de la ressource en eau et d'une topographie compatible avec l'irrigation gravitaire; iii) une localisation favorable à l'écoulement de la production: désenclavement, bassin de production permettant une concentration de l'offre, à l'intérieur des zones prioritaires. La décision d'intervention devrait dépendre d'une étude de faisabilité technique, économique et sociofoncière.Le plan d'exécution des travaux devra être élaboré en concertation avec les exploitants.
Les investissements en hydraulique villageoise (forages) doivent être poursuivis au cours de la deuxième phase tout en recherchant des solutions moins couteuses que les forages profonds.
Pistes rurales: le problème le plus urgent est celui de la valorisation des importants investissements réalisés jusqu'à maintenant par le projet (construction des ouvrages manquants, entretien des tronçons dégradés). Pour la future programmation des pistes, il est indispensable que le PRAFD élabore une stratégie commune avec le BTGR et la DNGR qui tienne compte du cadre général des travaux envisagés, des financements disponibles et des analyses économiques/commerciales supportant le choix des réseaux à réhabiliter.
En tant qu'institution, le PRAFD doit impérativement être redimensionné et simplifié.
Recommandations pour une seconde phase
L'identification de solutions pour la conservation de la fertilité des terres et du couvert arboré dans un contexte de diminution des temps de jachère et de l'antagonisme agriculture-elevage exige une phase de recherche-action participative qui pourra durer plusieurs années. La raison en est que les solutions à identifier ne sont pas essentiellement, ou du moins pas seulement, de nature technique, mais de nature sociale et socio-économique (négociation des droits fonciers, disponibilité et rémunération de la main-d'oeuvre nécessaire aux aménagements, financement des investissements lourds à faible rentabilité à court terme, contrôle de la divagation des animaux, réglementation des coupes de bois et des feux de brousse, etc). L'identification des principes de réaménagement des terroirs, l'émergence de nouveaux modes de gestion des ressources et de l'espace, le développement de nouvelles synergies entre élevage bovin et agriculture, l'identification et la mesure des niveaux de subvention ou d'"incitation" extérieure optimale, ne peuvent être le fait que d'une collaboration prolongée entre des communautés volontaires et une équipe d'animateurs/conseillers de haut niveau.
Tout en poursuivant et en intensifiant les actions de productivité et la mise en place de filières pour les cultures de rapport, dans le cadre de la seconde phase, on doit prévoir une composante spéciale consistant en une série de programmes pilotes d'aménagement et gestion de terroirs, élaborés et exécutés par des villages volontaires appuyés par une équipe ad hoc. Cette équipe pluridisciplinaire devra disposer de son propre budget (fonds souple d'appui à l'aménagement des terroirs) et d'une large autonomie vis à vis des CPP et des DPDRE. Elle sera formée et appuyée par une assistance technique (pas nécessairement permanente) spécifique et expérimentée en diagnostic des systèmes agraires et en recherche-action participative. Les villages ou groupe de villages volontaires pourront être au nombre d'une dizaine, l'important étant que leur ensemble soit suffisamment représentatif de la diversité agro-écologique et socio-économique de la zone du projet. La raison d'être de cette composante pilote ne sera pas l'atteinte de quelque objectif quantitatif, mais la mise au point de méthodes d'approche, de solutions organisationnelles et techniques, innovatives et réplicables, qui pourront ensuite être utilisées à plus grande échelle. Les communautés villageoises ayant participé au programme pilote seront elles-même des centres de diffusion de ces innovations, notamment sous forme de visite d'échange entre villages. La conception de la deuxième phase devra être suffisamment souple pour pouvoir s'adapter aux résultats de sa composante Recherche-Action, même s'il n'est pas certain que des solutions réplicables à grande échelle pourront être identifiée avant la fin de la seconde phase.
The Sudan Country Portfolio Evaluation
Main findings and conclusions
Evaluation purpose and scope
This is the second Country Portfolio Evaluation (CPE) undertaken by the Fund. Its purpose is to contribute to better project design and implementation building on the substantial amount of experience accumulated by the Fund in The Sudan.
To this effect, the CPE endeavoured to provide solid comparative information on the most essential aspects of project performance and their relevance to IFAD's concerns. Since the CPE is oriented towards drawing general lessons of experience, it does not attempt to pinpoint problems in any specific project, nor does it pretend to substitute proper evaluations of single projects.
In spite of the vast areas involved, the evaluation mission visited six of the eight projects supported by the Fund./ The Southern Region Agriculture Project (SRAP) was not visited for security reasons, nor was the Southern Roseires Agricultural Development Project (SRADP) since it had become effective only two months earlier and thus its field activities had not yet commenced.
The evaluation report consists of ten chapters grouped under three general sections, viz., programme features and delivery, main results by major field of intervention and policy implications for IFAD. The first section provides an overview of the IFAD country programme since its inception, putting it into perspective with the evolution of the national context (Chapters II and III). Chapter IV concludes this section by analysing project implementation performance in relation to organizational structures and the institutional framework.
The second part of the report (Chapters V to VIII) presents the results of detailed field investigations of irrigation and rural water supply rehabilitation and development, research and extension and agricultural credit, the major fields of IFAD's intervention in the country.
On the basis of the above, the last section of the report discusses the specific issue of the impact of beneficiaries' participation patterns on project performance (Chapter IX). Conclusions are drawn on the determinants of beneficiaries' participation and on how projects can promote it in practical terms. This discussion forms the cornerstone of the evaluation's recommendations covering the various fields of activities (Chapter X).
IFAD has supported eight projects in The Sudan, seven of which are cofinanced. The total cost of the projects is equivalent to USD 330 million, IFAD's share amounting to USD 85 million or 26%. IFAD's contribution to interventions in rainfed agriculture and livestock amounted to 60%, compared to 40% for irrigated agriculture (not taking into account the White Nile Agricultural Services project, approved after this evaluation took place).
To a large extent, the programme has been shaped by successive shifts in the Government of The Sudan's policies and priorities. As the programme gained some degree of autonomy and specificity it also gave more importance to rainfed agriculture as from the second half of the 1980s. At the same time, the average project size decreased markedly.
The projects have been designed and implemented against a general country background of continuing economic decline which has been further exacerbated by the recurrence of droughts, food shortages, famines and civil war. This has resulted in widespread poverty compounded by a general collapse in the public services which were expected to host the projects. Not surprisingly, project implementation faced considerable delays and projects were thus frequently extended. Project duration varied between 5.4 and 8.6 years. Loan disbursement profiles show that the pace of implementation has slowed over time.
A summary of project performance by major field of activity is presented in the following sections and includes: irrigagation rehabilitation, drinking water supply, technology development and dissemination, and rural credit.
i) Irrigation Rehabilitation
The rehabilitation works as well as the supply of spare parts, fuel, and equipment have kept public schemes operational, albeit at a low level of efficiency. Without rehabilitation, a number of farmers who would not have been in a position to shift to individual systems of irrigation would have been compelled to give up farming for lack of irrigation water.
Although private farmers will continue to face problems related to shortages of spare parts, private irrigated farms are more sustainable than the public schemes, particularly farms pumping water directly from rivers. However, in some areas, particularly in the upper terraces of the Nile, because of increasing salinity and a drop in the level of the water table, the farmers are in a less sustainable situation.
In public schemes, cost recovery has not been achieved in spite of the recent hefty increases in water rates. Water charges have been underestimated and collection rates are low. As a result neither Northern Agricultural Production Corporation nor New Halfa Agricultural Production Corporation (the parastatals in charge of irrigation water supply that have been supported under IFAD loans) is financially self-sustaining.
Inadequate maintenance contributes to the poor performance of public schemes. The deterioration of the existing distribution systems and pumping equipment results in water shortages and thus in low yields and outputs. As a result, the rehabilitation effect has generally been short-lived.
ii) Drinking Water Supply
In South Darfur, the implementation of the drinking water infrastructure rehabilitation programme has been satisisfactory (85% of target wateryards rehabilitated and 71% of water tanks replaced). However, the overall wateryard system efficiency, including rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated wateryards, remains fairly low.
Although the population's participation was sought, it was poorly organized and the involvement of village committees in the management of wateryards has been inadequate. While it is not likely that drinking water supply can be turned into an entirely self-sustained business, this indeed makes it all the more important to improve the cost-effectiveness of drinking water supplies.
iii) Technology Development and Dissemination
There is no conclusive evidence that IFAD's attempts at promoting adaptive research have yielded any specific dividends, due to the following factors:
- the lack of a comprehensive analysis of farrs' needs and constraints led to the formulation of research and extension programmes that were too ambitious;
- the project designs did not adequately match programmes to the resources available and did not take fully into account the difficult living and operating conditions in the areas;
- inability to supply effective, long-term leadership ; and
- component design was sometimes loose in that it left the design of the programme to implementing agencies.
iv) Rural Credit
Credit has been almost exclusively concerned with on-farm activities. There has been a marked improvement in the design of credit components from Southern Region Agricultural Project through Northern Region Agricultural Rehabilitation Project to En Nahud Cooperative Credit Project and Southern Roseires Agricultural Development Project. Rural and cooperative credit institutions could be developed to an operational level.
The most recent projects have made serious efforts to reach the target groups and provide workable alternatives to collateral security. Increased access to credit for small farmers was achieved through both expansion of the geographical coverage of the Agricultural Bank of Sudan's activities (new branches), and a relaxation of lending conditions and collateral requirements (introduction of joint liability as an alternative to individual collateral security). Credit for women who are heads of households and women in general has also been pioneered by second generation projects, but women received a limited share of the total credit disbursed to date. While social constraints are often cited by outsiders as a major explanatory factor, it is the mission's opinion that the constraints that actually hamper a greater participation of women in credit programmes remain to be identified through specific field investigations.
Given the high inflation rate prevailing in the country, the high cost of administering loans to small farmers (particularly in rainfed areas), the frequent crop failures and the subsequent low recovery rates, sustainability emerges as a very pressing issue.
Contribution to poverty alleviation and food security
It is not possible to provide a global estimate of the total number of direct beneficiaries reached by IFAD-supported projects, as only four projects have been closed, of which one project, located in war affected areas, could not be examined. Nevertheless, on a sample of three projects which lend themselves to such analysis/, it was found that about 130 000 families or close to one million/ persons, have directly benefited, of which 80 000 (about 600 000 people) live in the rainfed areas.
The situation shows a contrast between the rainfed and irrigated project areas. In irrigated areas, the projects reached a large share of the target population but a relatively small number of households at an estimated average cost of USD 430/ per direct beneficiary (or USD 3 000 per family). In rainfed areas, only a marginal proportion of the target population was directly exposed to the project, but the projects actually reached a larger number of households and at a very modest unit cost of about USD 80 (or USD 560 per family). Across the whole portfolio, total project expenditures by actual direct beneficiary averaged about USD 200.
Thanks to their focus on productive activities, most projects have had a positive impact on the direct beneficiaries. Despite their inability to trigger a sustainable path of development, the projects which have been completed or nearly completed were useful in providing critical rehabilitation-cum-medium-term assistance to needy populations, mainly through lifting the foreign exchange constraint on the import of agricultural inputs and equipment. This had a positive impact on production and incomes of the direct beneficiaries and, as has been acknowledged, slowed down the concerned regions' economic decline.
The projects' logistical infrastructure was also instrumental in supporting emergency assistance provided by other sources and in maintaining a link between the population and the central authorities. Notwithstanding the challenge represented by their implementation, raininfed agriculture investment projects may well represent a viable option and possiy a competitive one when compared to the lesser-performing schemes of the irrigated sub-sector.
Except for the En Nahud Cooperative Credit Project, project designers did not generally expect much from beneficiaries' participation apart from a financial contribution to service costs, and consequently gave the matter little importance in the formulation of project strategies. The impoverishment of the population and the near collapse of essential public services represented severe constraints to the type of participation considered by the projects.
Nevertheless, the population appears to have participated beyond expectation, taking into account the prevailing conditions. For the most participatory activities, beneficiaries' involvement contributed to a quicker adaptation of the concerned projects to changing circumstances, improved project management and staff knowledge of the issues, and enhanced their responsiveness to farmers' expressed needs and preferences.
In this respect, Non-governmental Organizations' (NGOs) performance has been satisfactory in the few instances where they have been entrusted with implementation responsibilities in addition to their financial contribution. Good management, reasonably attractive conditions for staff, adequate supply of inputs (including spare parts) and active technical assistance to farmers from both national and expatriate experts explain the good progress of these components.
Hence the review of IFAD's experience in the Sudan reinforces the widely held view that beneficiaries' participation contributes to better project results, while improving benefit distribution among the target population. Insufficient participatioion has been identified as one reason for the lack of sustainability of several interventions. There is also positive evidence that people's participation tends to strengthen communities' cohesion and independence. While participation cannot alone ensure the sustainability of development efforts, it does reduce the risks involved and create conditions which are favourable to it. These benefits could have been more evident had project designers and managers been more open to people's participation.
Proyecto de Desarrollo Agrícola de Chuquisaca Norte
Se esperaba que aproximadamente 6 000 familias de pequeños agricultores se beneficiarían directamente de los componentes relacionados con la producción agrícola y ganadera. Además, los otros componentes del proyecto beneficiarían a casi toda la población rural (24 000 familias), especialmente a los que trabajaban en las unidades de producción de menos de cinco hectáreas (aproximadamente 20 010 familias). Estos campesinos se dedicaban a cultivos de subsistencia, complementados con pequeñas cantidades de cultivos comerciales.
Su ingreso neto 'per cápita' era de unos USD 74 anuales, frente al promedio nacional de USD 550. Aparte del bajo nivel de ingresos, prevalecían en la zona factores tales como la desnutrición, falta de agua potable y altas tasas de mortalidad (especialmente de la población infantil). De no tomarse las medidas correctivas, las perspectivas de la zona eran de creciente emigración de la población rural, progresiva disminución de las tierras agrícolas y empeoramiento de las condiciones de pobreza de los campesinos.
Proyecto de Desarrollo Rural de Chuquisaca Sur
Se pueden identificar tres etapas en la ejecuc3ión del proyecto: 1ª) de enero a diciembre de 1989, caracterizada por un arranque lento y desordenado; 2ª) de inicios de 1990 a mediados de 1992, caracterizada por la desarticulación de componentes, una deficiente aplicación y paralización del crédito, limitada implantación de la extensión y promoción, retiro de los coejecutores (Banco Agrícola de Bolivia -BAB-, Servicio Nacional de Caminos -SNC-, Instituto Boliviano de Tecnología Agropecuaria -IBTA- y Acción Cultural Loyola -ACLO-) y alta rotación del personal que afectó también al director del proyecto (tres directivos y un alterno en cuatro años); y 3ª) desde mediados de 1992, cuando se inicia la reorientación operativa del proyecto y se fortalece su cuerpo técnico y profesional, mejorando significativamente su desempeño.
La reorientación del proyecto ha permitido incrementar el proceso de incorporación de beneficiarios a las acciones del proyecto, mediante el trabajo descentralizado de las sub-áreas. En el último ciclo agrícola se incorpora casi el doble de los beneficiarios atendidos hasta 1992, llegando a un total de 2 100 (50% del grupo meta del proyecto). Se amplió -además- la cobertura geográfica, incorporando nuevas comunidades.
Projet de développement agricole en zone lacustre (1993)
Local Initiatives Support Project
Lesotho is a small, mountainous country which is entirely surrounded by the Republic of South Africa (RSA). The economy is largely open to and dependent on that of South Africa, which provides virtually all of Lesotho's imports and which purchases 80% of its exports. In recent years, remittances from miners in RSA have provided about half of the national income. The project site Quthing District has an area of about 182 000 ha, with a population estimated to be 90 000 people, of which 90% are rural. Cropland in Quthing is limited. Rainfed production of the traditional food grains (maize, sorghum, wheat) accounts for virtually all the field crops. Livestock production in rangeland is more important in Quthing than it is nationally. Herd numbers are excessive, and the pressure of over-grazing is one of the main causes of the soil erosion.
Quthing is a disadvantaged area. The average household income was 27% below the national in 1987. The project would attempt to reach a target group of about 36 000 people (7 550 households) or about 45% of the rural population. The target group was defined in the SAR as consisting of: small farmers, de jure female headed households, landless, often without wage employment, labour-deficit landed households and unemployed youth, who lack the skills required to make them more productive.
Objectives. The primary objective of LISP was to raise rural incomes by increasing and diversifying agricultural production and by initiating a range of income-generating activities, both on and off farm. To achieve these objectives a participatory approach would be used. This would entail developing grass roots, service-orientated groups at the local level and developing linkages between the rural population and national organization, thereby reducing to a minimum future needs for government support.
Components: (a) Improvement of Crop Productivity, to be accomplished through a low-input crop package; an on-farm adaptive research programme; a soil conservation sub-component; and the expansion of irrigation through small, low-cost schemes; (b) Income Generating Rural Enterprises (IGRES), to include both farm and non-farm activities and (c) Community Support Activities consisted of the provision of village water supply (VWS) and establishing or rehabilitating Community Gardens.
Expected Benefits. The principal direct benefit from the project would be an increase in production. The total annual incremental production will reach 6 900 mt of sorghum, 1 500 mt of maize, 400 mt of vegetables and 160 mt of folder. At full development about 4 550 households would earn significantly higher incomes under the rainfed crop production, farm and non-farm enterprise, irrigation and community gardens components. Additional benefits would come from the installation of VWS in 63 villages in the project area which would benefit approximately 3 000 households. In addition to the quantified benefits, the project would attempt to improve the implementation capacity of government institutions. The project would also establish a clear linkage between research, extension and beneficiaries, and initiate the adaptive research necessary to intensify and diversify agricultural production. Through its small soil conservation component, the project would start community-initiated and implemented conservation activities on a mini-catchment basis.
Assumptions. Three main assumption were at the base of the expected benefits. First, yields of traditional crops are assumed to double by project maturity of about 13 years. This is clearly linked to the assumption that farmers will readily adopt the low-input package advocated by the project as opposed to low adoption of high input packages. Second, the incremental output will fetch remunerative prices in the local markets. Third, the involvement of beneficiaries would develop the interest in community based schemes such as soil conservation, small-scale irrigation and water supply schemes. Yet, for the success of such schemes the individual and the community stakes should be tangible.
The mid-term evaluation mission visited the field for about eleven days. After meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and other government agencies, the Mission met with project staff, visited affiliated agencies, and made numerous field visits to observe project activities and interview project beneficiaries. In addition to supervision mission reports, a draft Baseline Survey (January 1991) and numerous consultancies reports on irrigation, credit, marketing, improved crop technologies and women in development were consulted by the Mission.
The project is located in an inaccessible, drought-striken, poor province in the hinterland of a land locked country. It has an economy which is dominated by the Republic of South africa in two respects, a market for its labour and hence significantly dependent on remittances and a major source of Government revenue from the South African Custom Union (SACU). At the local community level there are two important factors affecting implementation: (a) the majority of households are headed by females, but their decision-making capacity is seriously constrained by the traditions and (b) communities are conservative hence new ideas are accepted gradually and only after they are thoroughly demonstrated. The project would, however, involve credible non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with wide experience in the area and hence would help dissipate such resistances.
Project Management. Under the former Project Manager (preceeding MTE), there was an established practice of having regular staff meetings and quarterly exchange visits among the field staff in the different areas covered by the project which helped in identifying and solving problems. It appears that these meetings have either been discontinued, or that they are not being held as frequently at the time of the MTE. The PCC which initially used to meet regularly has served mainly to review project progress but has not played an active role in guiding project management, setting deadlines, or in coordinating actions among the various components/agencies of the project. Expenditure on project activities has been far slower than planned. The actual total disbursement was only 55.6% compared to 85% as anticipated.
Construction of Civil Works. All civil works provided for in the SAR were completed on time. However, the MTE noted that the headquarters facility is not large enough to permit the staff to carry out their work properly.
Adoption of Technology and Packages. A study of the recommended package found only limited adoption. It indicates that farmers consider the package to be both capital and labour-intensive. The labour and output price levels are the main constraints to a widespread adoption of the proposed technologies. It is not surprising that the crop outcome of the last three years preceeding evaluation was poor. The package of technologies recommended by the project has not been appraised against the agro-ecological conditions in the project area. Under the circumstances, the project's technology for improving rainfed crop production will attain only very limited adoption and limited impact in the longer run.
Soil Conservation. At MTE soil conservation measures have not been implemented to any significant extent. Farmers were also not interested in soil conservation and refrained from implementing even very simple practices. This attitude was reinforced by the disinterest of the Subject matter specialist (SMS).
Small-scale Irrigation. Initial delays were experienced due to difficulties in locating sufficient number of sites appropriate for small-scale gravity irrigation proposed by SAR and disagreement among farmers about operations modalities. After a survey of the project area in 1990, a strong interest among individual farmers in simple low-cost gravity-fed sprinkler schemes, based on water flow from springs was identified. Up to MTE, requests from 118 farmers have been registered by the project; 85 small projects have been designed for which loans have been requested and approved by the project; and 22 schemes are already operational and cropped. The systems have simple and efficient design, are relatively cheap to install and easily managed by the individual farmers.
Credit. When the project was appraised, Lesotho Agricultural Development Bank (LADB) and Besotho Enterprises Development Cooperation (BEDCO) did not have offices or branches in the project area. Therefore, the responsibility for identifying credit beneficiaries was totally entrusted to LISP, and LADB and BEDCO were to be used as credit pipelines rather than real banks. However, no technical or financial assessment was made of LADB to identify its weaknesses and deficiencies since it was already experiencing serious structural problems. No loans were approved before 1989. By March 1991 LADB reported the disbursement of 49 loans, mainly to groups, totalling M 364 000, compared to the originally planned 193 loans totalling M 539 000 for this time period. Repayments were reported at 74%, with farm loan repayments at 87% and those for off-farm loans at 64%. As of September 1992, there had been total disbursement of 109 loans amounting to M 425 138. Whereas the overall recovery rate had declined to 56%, the on-farm loans actually improved slightly, while the recovery rate on off-farm loans had declined sharply from 64% to 52%. These recovery rates are not satisfactory, and the credit programme will not be sustainable if they continue.
Community Support Activities (e.g. Village Water Supply). This component, under the guidance of Plenty Canada has succeeded in establishing 31 water supply systems serving a total of 8 657 beneficiaries. This is 72% of the 12 000 target which was redefined at the time of the MTR. Given the component's current rate of progress, it appears that the final target may well be reached by 1994. Success was attributed to: (a) an accurate assessment of the community's felt needs; (b) a sense of membership developed through the promotion of village institutions and establishment of village development committees, (about 36 in 60 villages); (c) the continued commitment of a competent NGO (Plenty Canada) and its staff; and (d) concentration on a programme that is clear and not too broadly defined.
Income Generating Rural Enterprises (IGRES). By September 1992, the total number of IGRES groups was 45, and the number of beneficiaries went up to 396. There was substantial attrition in the number of non-farm enterprises during PY5 due to the severe drought of 1991/92. While there seems to be ample rationale for establishing IGREs, there is a question of whether economically and managerially viable entities can be established. Furthermore, LISP main staff are agricultural SMS and extension workers. The group promoters (GP) are trained in home economics and rural development and cannot be expected to provide for the diverse technical needs of the non-farm IGRE component envisaged in the SAR.
Participation and Group Formation. While the SAR stipulated that beneficiaries be given representation on the PCC, this was not done until June 1991. The Plenty Canada project component has never been represented on the PCC.
As per the design, the Group Promotion unit, headed by a Group Promoter (GP), has been central to the operation of the PMU. However, no clear framework for the project's group orientation was provided. There was no discussion of when group promotion could be expected to work as a means of project organization and when it would be more effective to deal with beneficiaries on an individual basis. The group organization process took longer than expected partly because of widespread reluctance of participants to join groups. One situation in which the project had a headstart in group formation was in the VWS component, which was the area selected for Plenty Canada to implement. No groups were actually formed until the second year of the project. By September 1992, LISP reported that a total of only 74 groups had been organized and that it was working with 700 beneficiaries. Beneficiary evaluation workshops organized by the project in 1989 and 1990 to stimulate participation have produced many good results. Participants voiced problems with respect to communication with extension agents and marketing problems, and suggested that LISP should work more closely with Village Chiefs. Criticism was directed to the "low attention beneficiaries received after credit has been issued and to the lack of communication between LADB, LISP and borrowers".
Monitoring and Evaluation. M&E performance was very uneven during the early years of the project. The first Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (MEO) was not assigned until November 1988, and his successor began working on the project in January 1992. While he appears to be highly motivated, he has no formal training and only limited experience in M&E. The draft Baseline Survey was not completed until February 1991, and a slightly revised version was submitted a year later. This survey proved to be poorly suited to the purposes of LISP. It concentrates on farming households although the LISP target groups depend primarily on other activities. The unit has conducted special studies of technology adoption and of the extent to which project activities are reaching the target group. However, at MTE, no clear plan has been established for measuring project impacts. The supplementary baseline survey which was being conducted at MTE might provide some valuable information on impacts if it is modified.
Impacts of the project were found difficult to determine at MTE, particularly due to the deficiencies of the original baseline survey and the scarcity of government statistical series that would permit measurement. However, the Mission field observations indicate that with the exception of the VWS component, the project had limited impacts on the beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries. The definition of the target group in the SAR is not very precise for reaching the poorest of the poor. Nevertheless, the general survey of beneficiaries conducted in 1990 concluded that 80% of project beneficiaries fell within the target group. The Mission could not estimate the project effects on the beneficiaries income, because of lack of comparative data.
Training has been one of the most active project support activities. This has included extensive beneficiary as well as staff training. While over 2 700 days of training have been conducted for beneficiaries so far, there is no way to determine just how well this has met trainee or staff needs, and there is no system in place for follow-up to see whether it has been effective or to measure impacts.
The Village Water Supply Component is well on the way towards reaching the revised target of 12 000 beneficiaries. Beneficiaries in one village estimated that having a water system generates about two hours per day in time savings per family. In some villages it has already been reported that typhoid has ceased to occur since their VWS was completed.
Nutrition and Food self-sufficiency. The project contribution would come from the more recently designed small-scale irrigation from springs. Such assured source of irrigation in drought-striken areas would enhance food security. Perennial irrigation increases vegetable production and diversifies household food and hence improves nutrition. In the small enterprise component, funding has been extended to poultry production with expected positive impacts on household nutrition and income.
Women. The Mission observed high levels of female involvement in most components of the project. Some 90% of the beneficiaries of the Fund Raising Fund (FRF, a small credit programme to cater for poorer people who could not qualify for bank credit) are women, and the CG component also has a very high female involvement. In contrast, the study of adoption of the low input crop technology packages showed that this package was not very suitable for the poor or for women.
Environmental Effects. The soil erosion component of the project has not been implemented. In fact, due to lack of soil conservation activities the situation in some fields has deteriorated. Fortunately, the community gardens and the irrigated crop and village water supply component had a positive impact on the environment. The excess water from the VWS is used for irrigation rather than allowed to flow down the stream causing soil erosion. The capping of the sources of the springs prevents the development of downhill gullies and thus helps reduce soil erosion.
Sustainability. Overall the sustainability of the project depends on the extent to which LISP is able to strengthen the capabilities of its beneficiaries in the area of decision making and to improve their ability to initiate action, and enhance self-reliance. The fact that a high percentage of beneficiaries participate in constructing the VWS ensures that the sense of community "ownership" and pride in the systems is high. Plenty Canada's procedure is to ensure that a fund is set aside for maintenance when the system is constructed, and community members are trained in maintenance procedures. Due to these measures, the VWS component is expected to be quite sustainable.
The small-scale gravity-fed irrigation systems are relatively simple, and after the initial construction phase the individual irrigator is normally able to do his own repairs. The fact that most of the systems are individually owned and operated means that group organizational problems are eliminated in most cases. However, problems with their sustainability are anticipated in case of market failures either for products and inputs (e.g. spare parts) or both. Sustainability would also by jeopardised if conflicts over water use arise with expansion of this activity.
Aside from irrigation, most of LISP's agricultural components have very doubtful sustainability. The soil conservation component has not even started mostly due to lack of interest on the part of beneficiaries. Similarly, the so-called Low Input Farm Technology package for rainfed agriculture is in trouble due to the fact that it is not viewed by poor farmers as being "low input" and because the package is of doubtful viability in Quthing's uncertain agro-climate. If the adaptive research component can be strengthened as recommended, the sustainability of the technology for rainfed agriculture can be improved.
Participation. The project has not succeeded in initiating a beneficiary empowerment process. Comments by beneficiaries at evaluation workshops held to date have sometimes been critical of staff attitudes and accessibility. The results experienced by the project in the implementation of project components are an indication that these activities did not correspond to a felt need of the communities, were designed from the top, and that the procedure followed in their implementation was different from that of Plenty Canada and its affiliates. It is clear that the project and Plenty Canada have followed different approaches to group formation and participation.
To improve project design and implementation.
a) Reactivate the PCC and strengthen through expansion of membership to include the representatives of project beneficiaries and the participating NGO.
b) The procedure for year to year budgeting of project funds is poorly organized. Managers of the various project units do not have complete access to information on how much their units will have to spend each year. Complete annual budget information be made available to all project leaders and SMS so that they can do a better job of planning and utilizing available resources.
c) Resume the practice of holding beneficiary evaluation workshops at regular intervals.
d) Identify specific training needs better and reorient training programme accordingly.
To promote appropriate technology packages.
a) Efforts to extend the low input crop package should be confined to those areas where it has the greatest possibility of success i.e. mainly the higher rainfall zones within the district, with low probability of crop failure.
b) Develop a stronger base of technical support for the small-scale vegetable and fruit production because of their potential profitability.
c) Review the entire research and extension programme in order to identify what portions of this programme can realistically be implemented during the project's remaining life.
d) The soil conservation programme has not been implemented, in part, because the project did not contemplate any remuneration of farmers for their participation in the programme; whereas programmes assisted by other donors do. For farmers to participate they should perceive benefits either in direct payment or in the satisfaction of an essential community felt need, such as village woodlots.
To develop surface irrigation.
a) Rely more on simple micro projects design of gravity irrigation from running water springs.
b) Revise the project's irrigation targets downward, to be commensurate with the programme that is in operation.
c) Investigate the water rights and associated customary law before any larger irrigation effort is funded or promoted in Lesotho.
To support beneficiaries participation.
a) Ensure the representation of beneficiaries, their organizations, the NGO in all levels of decision making and enhance the decision-making capacity of beneficiaries through involvement, and training.
b) Examine the projects' group promotion procedures applied by the participating NGO in the VWS component, with the objective of improving the GP process.
c) Motivate the project staff responsible for group formation and train them adequately.
To streamline credit operations.
a) The project and LADB should reconsider their relative roles and responsibilities; and should re-negotiate a new mechanism for the identification of the beneficiaries, the appraisal and the approval of the loans.
b) Undertake measures to improve the recovery rates and enhance the viability of the credit institution.
c) Review policy related to the extension of credit for starting up micro-enterprises in marginal, high risk areas and identify the necessary conditions that must be satisfied before credit is delivered for that purpose.
Technically complex rural development projects require technical assistance support.
The developmental components of LISP involve such a wide range of technical areas that it would have been virtually impossible to provide adequate technical support for each of them from the project staff while support from other agencies staff has been also inadequate. Management has repeatedly failed to obtain support in the areas of rainfed crop production, farm demonstrations, adaptive research, and irrigation farming. Numerous liaisons with technical departments produced no lasting relationship. Surprisingly, there was very little provision in the SAR for outside Technical Assistance (TA). Nevertheless, given the limited amount of technical support that was available to the project locally, there has been far greater reliance on TA than originally planned.
Community organization and group formation, a specialized job which requires expertise, motivation, dedication and time.
a) Project activities for which group formation and promotion of beneficiaries participation were under a specialized, experienced NGO, positive results were obtained (e.g. VWS). In contrast project activities of this nature entrusted to non-trained extension personnel or other hastely assembled units did not perform well.
b) Participatory approaches need longer periods for implementation, particularly in the design and execution of micro enterprises/projects. This is an added reason to increase the period for project implementation.
Technology adoption by risk-averse, smallfarmers is subject to certain pre-requisites.
Technology adoption by risk-averse, smallfarmers is constrained by a multiplicity of factors. It has not been enough to prescribe a low-input package. How much is low? To which crop or farming system? And to whom? In essence specificity has to be fine-tuned. Land tenure, hired and household labour, credit availability and access, prices and factor and product markets as well as social acceptability are factors to be carefully studied and integrated into the package.
Gikongoro Agricultural Development Project (1993)
Rwanda has one of the highest population densities in the world (280/km2 ) and a very high annual population growth rate (3.3%), the result is that land access is becoming increasingly more difficult, and farms are shrinking in size all the time. During 1965-1989 agricultural production kept pace with population growth, mainly by increasing cropped acreages, while yields stagnated, but this trend was reversed in 1990, when the country had a food deficit, aggravated by civil war. The project zone is in the Gikongoro Prefecture and comprises 7 of the 13 municipalities in that Prefecture; Gikongoro, in the southwestern part of Rwanda, has a population of approximately 500,000 and is located mostly at elevations above 1,800 m. The Prefecture has quite a favourable rainfall pattern (1,600 mm per year divided into two rainy seasons), but some of the soils are acidic and the steep topography can lead to problems of erosion. At the higher elevations there are areas of severely degraded pasture, which is virtually sterile, whilst in the valley bottoms there are about 2,000 ha of swamps which require extensive reclamation before they can be farmed and are also of very low fertility. Food crops grown are plantain, sweet potatoes, cassava, sorghum, and maize - coffee is an important cash crop. Livestock is widely dispersed but makes only a small contribution to farm incomes.
Project design and objectives
Since 1976, UNDP has financed a series of projects in the Prefecture, which were concerned with reforestation and soil conservation, farmer training, and agricultural intensification, particularly for wheat and potatoes. The Gikongoro Agricultural Development Project (GADP) builds on the last in this series of projects: the Project for the Intensification of Agriculture (PIA).
Gikongoro is the poorest Prefecture in Rwanda; per capita farm incomes in 1988 were estimated at USD 85, which is less than one third of the national average. The target group of 42,000 farm families were classified as (i) farmers cultivating less than 0.5 ha, which accounted for approximately one quarter of the target group, (ii) farmers cultivating between 0.5-1.0 ha, which accounted for over 40 % of the target group, and (iii) farmers cultivating between 1.0-1.5 ha. Because of the very small holdings it was important to consider diversified on and off-farm activities to try and improve the incomes of the poorest group, which was also to be given priority in the allocation of new land developed. It was estimated that in about 60% of the target group, women were either heads of the household or the main farm operators.
The objectives of GADP were to improve food security and raise small farmers' incomes on the one hand, and to strengthen the agricultural services in the Prefecture on the other. To achieve this, the project intended to introduce agricultural intensification, (food crops and above all cash crops such as wheat and potato), raise livestock production, develop soil conservation methods, and improve soil fertility. It also set out to strengthen the small farmers' groups and provide them with access to agricultural credit. Project components were (i) research and development, including monitoring and evaluation, (ii) vocational training, (iii) agricultural extension and support activities (seed production, agro-forestry plants and livestock production), (iv) agricultural credit, (v) upland development, (vi) valley bottom development, (vii) track rehabilitation and construction, (viii) construction of stores, and (ix) the promotion of micro-enterprises.
Total project base costs were estimated to be USD 24.2 mn, plus an additional amount of USD 7.0 for contingencies; these were allocated as follows:
|Extension/training||USD 5.2 (22%)|
|R and D, M&E||USD 1.7 (7%)|
|Institutional Strengthening/Project Management||USD 2.3 (9%)|
|Group Support/off-farm enterprises||USD 3.6 (15%)|
|Land Reclamation||USD 2.5 (10%)|
|Rural Infrastructure||USD 2.0 (9%)|
|Marketing and Credit||USD 6.9 (28%)|
The project was to be financed by IFAD (36%), UNDP (10%), UNCDF (12%), the beneficiaries (25%) and the Government of Rwanda (17%). The UNDP element was to finance the TA, cooperative development and training activities, whilst UNCDF funded part of the civil works, storage structures, land reclamation etc. IFAD funds were to be used for development of the extension services, some storage and land reclamation costs, research and development and M&E.
To promote the marketing of products and inputs by means of small farmer groupings, the project contracted CFRC-IWACU (Centre de Formation et de Recherche Cooperatives IWACU) to train groups to become autonomous farmer cooperatives. The project's credit component was to be implemented through the small scale Banques Populaires (BPs), subsidiaries of the national Cooperative bank; to do this required extension of their coverage in the project area and also strengthening of the services offered. In fact the project defrayed 50 % of the BPs costs of operations for the first three years, and also provided an emergency fund to cover bad debts in this period. The detailed design of the credit provision was undertaken during implementation, in order to obtain a specific focus on the needs of the poorest members of the local communities. The project provided funds for the adaptation of technologies for food processing, wood crafts and blacksmithing that could create employment opportunities, and also offered training to entrepreneurs and traders for local enterprises such as transportation, storage, goods supply etc. Small ruminants were given special emphasis, in terms of the introduction of upgraded stock, as a means of providing income earning activities.
An adaptive research programme was devised which was intended to fully involve the farmers in selecting the activities to be undertaken. The programme was to be carried out by the Agricultural Research Institute of Rwanda (ISAR), and would be monitored by a joint Adaptive Research and Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. This programme would pay particular attention to the problems of soil erosion, conservation and soil fertility. In addition the programme would extend to examining land use issues such as tenure patterns, reclamation and costs and returns from conservation activities. A trials and demonstration programme on farmers fields would also be established, linked to the extension services. To ensure that high quality seeds were available to farmers, the project would promote the establishment of privately run nurseries, especially for wheat and potatoes.
The project supported a new extension system at Prefecture level for the seven communes in the project area, based on a modified T & V system using groups. Women's concerns were given high priority in this system, and two-thirds of the extension agents were women. Under this heading the main financial outlays were for training, transport and field allowances. Land reclamation of the uplands or poorly drained lowland swamps was beyond the capacity of individuals or groups and required well designed and extensive schemes; the project proposed to finance a selection of such schemes in order to increase the available productive land. These developments would also involve large inputs of beneficiary labour in the construction of drains and other earthworks. The rural infrastructure programme would finance the construction of access roads to communes which had no vehicular access, plus rehabilitate other selected roads to aid access and marketing.
The project was expected to result in increases in smallholder incomes of more than 50%, and improvements in the family nutritional status. In addition surplus crops, meat and milk would be made available for consumption locally. The very poorest would also be eligible to receive parcels of reclaimed land as it became available; this was especially expected to be of benefit to women. Unquantified benefits included improved conservation (hence increased environmental protection) and employment generation, better extension and stronger farmers organisations. Assumptions made in the project design included (i) the comparative advantage of the Gikongoro region for wheat and potato production, (ii) the ability of the farmers to undertake their own marketing in a relatively short time, given basic guidance, (iii) the assumption that the adaptive research activities could rapidly provide extension messages for the new extension service, and (iv) that the Banques Populaires were prepared to become involved in the provision of a large number of small loans, and provide advisory services to their clients.
The MTE mission met with representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Forests (MINAGRI- the implementing agency), project staff, the local authorities, and other agencies implementing different aspects of the project, farmers and others helped by the project. Various visits were made to the project area and initial findings were discussed with the Minister of Agriculture in Kigali.
From the beginning the project benefited from the inheritance of the UNDP projects which had immediately preceded it, especially PIA, which was concerned with the intensification of agricultural production, and from which GADP inherited vehicles, equipment and a functioning organisation. The TA has been of a high standard and has made a positive contribution to project implementation. The most negative factor, from October 1990, has been the war in the northern part of the project area; this period was marked by difficulties in communication and travel. In addition promotion of the production systems have been affected by the three changes in MINAGRI which took place, which made long term planning impossible. In the Gikongoro region the introduction of seed potato infected with bacteriosis in 1991-92 resulted in a severe loss of confidence by the farmers.
Several positive results must be credited to the project, and in particular: (i) the strengthening of the agricultural services in the Gikongoro Prefecture; (ii) the sound incorporation of the project into the new administrative structures of MINAGRI at prefecture level; (iii) the assistance to set up effective training entities in the Prefecture, such as IWACU and INADES/; (iv) the sensitisation of the farmers through the group training schemes carried out by IWACU, which holds out great hopes for sustainable development; (v) the large number of farmers who have been trained to manage the cooperative groups and the numerous project agents trained; (vi) the improved familiarity with the project zone, through surveys and enquiries carried out by the M&E Unit team; (vii) the research on the impoverishment of the farmers in the project zone and the means of curbing or preventing it; (viii) the dissemination of the runner bean, which is more productive and resilient than the dwarf bean, and (ix) the establishment of an input distribution and storage facilities network, even though these functions were still dependent on the presence of the project.
The MTE found that the GADP was too complex a project to be implemented with facilities and resources planned for it, with multiple components and important parts to be sub-contracted that require guidance and direction (and for which the necessary skills -in the case of the roads component- either do not exist, or are of limited local interest -the case of the micro-enterprises component). One major problem has been the lack of coordination between the various services and with the sub-contractors. The failure to appoint the Deputy Project Manager and set up the Promotional Office (which was responsible in the project design for coordination) contributed to this state of affairs. The financial management of the project is less chaotic than it was during the first three years thanks to the new accountant who has made it possible to carry out an external audit, but the performance is still far from satisfactory.
Production of food crops has varied enormously, for example soya has achieved 95% of the target set at appraisal, whilst sorghum has achieved 526%. The acreages under sweet potatoes, a food security crop par excellence, have almost doubled since 1989 substantially improving nutrition and the cultivation of runner beans, which was not even mentioned as a possibility in the appraisal report, has given spectacular results.
The M&E unit has only partly played its role, spending too much energy monitoring the project's management indicators. In particular, it has failed to help the R&D team to identify the small farmers' main constraints, monitor the impact of the responses and draw up a plan of action. Little attention has been given to targeting the actions undertaken. The small farms and the women have remained unaffected.
The R&D Unit has not played the role assigned to it, which is to understand the way the farms operate, define the development strategy and to provide extension input on relevant themes. Techniques are rarely monitored and checked, and they have not been adequately translated into themes for extension. Field work has mainly consisted of tests and trials in a controlled environment and only secondarily in the rural environment. Few of the proposed innovations are rational alternatives for the farmers because of the constraints under which they labour. The intervention envisaged in the project design was based on a farming systems approach, but this has not been put in place. The constraints on the farms have not been analysed, or prioritised and no solutions have been proposed.
The GADP has used high calibre subcontractors and useful results have been forthcoming, particularly with regard to vocational training and supporting the small farmers' groups. Since mid-1992 the vocational training service has been linked to the R&D-training division, probably to facilitate the dissemination of technical themes. However, training has different objectives, which are hampered by this institutional framework. The project has not been given the facilities needed to guide or direct these sub-contractors, and to ensure that their strategy is best aligned to the project strategy.
The production and marketing of wheat, potato and runner bean seed by individual farmers and groups has declined overall because these activities are not profitable, potato seed has been contaminated by bacteriosis, and the markets were found to be too small. However, many small farmers said that the inadequacy of high quality seed was a major problem. GADP has also failed in its attempt to privatise the nurseries, apparently because the potential markets were far smaller than forecast, and the prices proposed by the project were not remunerative.
The mission noted that the Banques Populaires (BPs) have scant interest in socio-economic development in the rural areas, with the result that the volume of loans has been very small. As far as the IFAD loan is concerned, GADP has already paid the BPs about 20 times more under the guarantee scheme, than the losses recorded by BP due to delinquencies. In addition, the investments likely to benefit from loans are at risk (the difficulty of selling the wheat produced, and the bacteriosis of the potatoes), the conditions for invoking the guarantee funds are not always described and many individuals and groups are no longer eligible because they have failed to repay their debts contracted with the aid of previous projects. Very little effort has been made with regard to awareness- building and there has been little contact between the BPs and GADP. Loans only cover inputs, whereas the small farmers have other priority needs (particularly small livestock.
The plan to reclaim upper pasture land to develop 380 ha in 7 years was fully justified considering the shortage of land, but it has been a failure (wastage of inputs, embezzlement of subsidies, risks regarding soil conservation). The land was abandoned as soon as the project stopped providing the inputs, because the farmers could not afford lime and fertilisers, and without these inputs the land was non-productive. In 1992 the programme was halted and replaced by a root-terracing construction programme over 60 ha. The mission found that the techniques had not been fully mastered, the development had negative repercussions on soil conservation, and the scheme was targeted at the wealthy. The reclamation of areas at the bottom of the valleys for development have been reduced from 450 ha to 160 ha, because the project encountered a range of different problems, the most important being tenurial (redistributing the lands to the benefit of the poorest people) and organisational (the beneficiaries were reluctant to take part in maintaining the facilities).
The roads component has been considerably delayed mainly because of late deliveries of materials, and only 12% of the component has been completed. There have also been budgetary over-runs. It is expected that the roads would be completed by the end of 1995 (at the rate of 40 km/year). Maintenance is a major problem for the roads and tracks; a protocol with the municipalities that will gradually take over maintenance from GADP only comes into force once a first section has been delivered, meanwhile the tracks are rapidly deteriorating. The storage facilities construction programme (26 stores) was scheduled in expectation of increased production of cash-crops (potatoes and wheat), but as this has not happened the programme now seems to be over-sized. The problem is to find uses and users for these stores in order to ensure a return on the investment. The micro-enterprises component is working satisfactorily, in that the micro-enterprises being supported are profitable.
GADP has had a limited impact on agricultural development, and even less than its predecessor, PIA. Input consumption is still very low and few technical themes have been proposed that are within the reach of the small farmers. Production of the two cash crops supported by the project has not risen as forecast in the appraisal report: potato production has been seriously affected by bacteriosis, and failure to remedy it has led to a slump in yields, while wheat output is stagnating well below its potential levels and is likely to be affected by the withdrawal of subsidies by the project, which until now have covered the transport costs of inputs and products. Although beans and sweet potatoes should give an improvement in the nutritional value of the family diet, and production of both these items has increased, the extent to which this has reached the most vulnerable very small farmers was extremely limited, because of failings in the extension activities. It is probable therefore that neither food security nor nutritional levels have yet improved significantly, and this should be one of the major aims in the time remaining to the project.
Given the limited period of implementation, the MTE did not consider that there would have been any effects on income levels. The impact on women did not appear significant - other than the stablishment of a quota of 30% recruitment for extension workers. Overall, the project actions were estimated to have been neither positive nor negative for the environment, which was surprising given the fragile nature of the environment and the pressure to incorporate some conservation activities in the project.
The mission considers that the R&D Unit cannot achieve the set objectives before project termination, because it has only now begun to diagnose the constraints and suggest solutions for the production systems under the responsibility of the M&D unit.
So far from the micro-enterprises component have failed to offer any solutions to the problem of under-employment, because only a few cases are being financed (38) and few jobs are being created by each enterprise (2.5). In addition, the project has found that the identification and training costs are high and that success is dependent on high quality inputs at all stages (i.e. proposal, appraisal, monitoring, etc). One indispensable condition for success appears to be regular monitoring, support and training but the beneficiaries are generally people who are already more privileged than most people in the local area.
Extension work has had a very small impact measured in terms of the number of farmers involved and the rate at which the extended techniques are being adopted, and this has contributed to the stagnation or decline in cash crop production. The apparent causes of this weak impact are: (i) few new technical themes have been provided by the R&D Unit; (ii) the field agents disseminate these themes uniformly, without taking account of the farm features need specific responses; and (iii) the themes being disseminated do not match the small farmers' priorities and are outside their reach. Small farms and farms headed by women have practically been bypassed in terms of extension work. For the small farms, the R&D Unit has been unable to advance any proposals for maintaining fertility using methods which need costly inputs which the farmers cannot afford. The mission noted a reduction in the use of erosion control techniques, probably because the local supervisors have failed to motivate the small farmers to continue applying the techniques that were formerly mandatory (e.g. erosion prevention ditches).
The following major recommendation were made by the MTE mission:
- IFAD should do everything possible to ensure the financing of the technical assistance and vocational training components which the mission believes to be indispensable, until the end of the project.
- So far, coordination between the various services and between the sub-contractors has been very inadequate. It is essential for the project to be reoriented to guarantee maximum synergies between the services and the components.
- The project discovered the need for a participatory approach somewhat late in the day, and then through the intervention of an NGO (IWACU, to support the groups), or through technical assistance and the United Nations volunteers in the case of rural tracks and valley bottom reclamation. It is important for this form of cooperation to be given financial support until the end of the project to reinforce the message of participation.
- The following must be done rapidly for the administration and financial monitoring of the project: (i) the accounting system must be fully computerised; (ii) the accounting service personnel must be trained by the technical assistant acting as chief accountant; (iii) the accounts for salary advances and loans for the purchase of motorcycles must be audited; (iv) the stocks must be restored and management procedures revised; and (v) punishments must be meted out for embezzlement.
- Priority must be given to completing the survey of farm production systems. While awaiting this, R&D must be partly modified by redirecting efforts to focus on the major constraints encountered by the small farmers.
- The mission deems it necessary to review the R&D programme and recommends the following:
- the R&D unit should cooperate with the M&E Unit to programme activities;
- a participatory approach should be adopted to select priorities and to design extension messages;
- the target groups should be redefined and technical proposals made which meet the needs of small farms less than 0.50 ha in total size, and of the women;
- the most promising innovations must be selected for these very small farms by giving priority to increasing organic matter and combating erosion;
- the innovations proposed must enable the small farmers to gradually change their production systems;
- The project should give priority to enabling small livestock farmers, who have been left to one side so far, to keep or increase their herds. The small livestock farmers should be organised and grouped together in order to obtain mass preventive treatment, such as vaccinations, from the veterinary officers.
- The mission recommends that IFAD suspend all further activities and all commitments with the BPs, and send a mission to Rwanda as soon as possible to review and redefine the agricultural credit programme.
- The MTE mission agrees fully with the cooperating institution that the upland pasture component, which has proven a failure, should be terminated. A report should be filed so that an in-depth evaluation can be carried out at the end of the project and the results obtained should be exploited and the causes of failure identified.
- The valley bottom development programme should (i) keep the water management expert responsible for this component until the end of the project; (ii) pursue and broaden cooperation with INADES for the organisation and the training of the assignees of the marshlands and strengthen cooperation between the teams of women leaders and technicians; (iii) make provision for IWACU to support the marshlands committees and groups of farmers in order to consolidate their organisation and operations, and to maintain the water management facilities.
- The mission agrees with the cooperating institution and the mid-term review mission that the subsidies on wheat should stop in 1994. The subsidies were justified as a transitional measure while waiting for infrastructure scheduled for the short term. At the present time these subsidies can no longer be justified because the infrastructure has not been implemented.
GADP has turned out to be too complex a project, making it very difficult to implement and coordinate, due to the number of components, the number of sub-contractors involved, and the number of financiers. Several components have no direct relationship to agricultural development in the Prefecture and could have been designed separately (for example micro-enterprises). IFAD should avoid designing such complex projects and should not add any components that have no significant or direct impact on the project objectives.
The parties involved in GADP tend to consider sub-contracted work to be of no direct concern to them, and the project has failed to take any measures to closely monitor the sub-contractors. Sub-contracting is a sound way of limiting the activities directly being implemented by the project, but it also requires very close monitoring in order to ensure that the activities fit in with the project strategy.
From the project design phase onwards it is essential to make provisions for the maintenance of roads as soon as they are completed. New or rehabilitated tracks rapidly deteriorate if the maintenance is not carried out from the moment they come into service.
The main lessons from the micro-enterprise activities were: (i) it proved costly to identify, train and monitor the promoters, as this required a large team of well-trained personnel; (ii) the beneficiaries were generally people who are already more privileged than the IFAD target group, and (iii) the impact on employment was limited and possibly only significant in the long term.
The BPs are very sound institutions for collecting rural savings but they were not interested in contributing to (and playing an active part in) rural development. The BPs seemed appropriate vehicles for credit to the project designers, but weren't, and this hindered project benefits going to the poorest. In future such an assumption should be tested in a pilot phase.
The work being carried out by IWACU in vocational training is very important and is beginning to show results. Since the work is a long-term development process, it was unrealistic to expect quick results and to design an activity with such a limited timeframe. Little attention has been given to targeting the actions undertaken. The small farms and the women have remained unaffected. Vocational training must be planned as a long term activity.