Rural Livelihoods Economic Enhancement Programme
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Rural Livelihoods and Economic Empowerment Programme (RLEEP) in the Republic of Malawi. The programme took place from 2009 until 2018, with a total project cost of US$26.1 million. Of this sum, IFAD contributed US$8.9 million as loan and US$6 million as grant.
The PPE concludes that the programme took an innovative approach, which was largely effective. The programme increased overall productivity and provided a good foundation for pro-poor value chain development by establishing useful partnerships and initiatives that facilitated farmers’ access to markets. The grant facility was an appropriate mechanism for collaboration with NGOs, which greatly enhanced outreach and group formation activities. Some farmer groups managed to grow into cooperatives and strengthen market linkages.
However, the targets of the programme proved to be overly ambitious and would have required stronger technical capacities to be achieved. The programme implemented a large number of activities in parallel and there was little time for adjustments when challenges arose. Participation of the private sector was still insufficient. Lastly, the programme did not have sufficient time to address the structural issues undermining value chain development.
IFAD is preparing for the second phase of the programme in Malawi, called Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship (TRADE). The report offers several recommendations for this follow-up programme, including: greater participation by government partners, enhanced partnerships and complementarities among development partners, promotion of innovative approaches to service provision, and greater attention to farmers’ empowerment in the development of value chains.
Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support project (STCRSP) in the Republic of Liberia, the first evaluation it has conducted in the country.
The project was implemented between 2011 and 2017 with the objective to reduce post-conflict poverty and food insecurity, and to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of rural communities. The target population of 15,000 smallholder cocoa/coffee farmers was extremely poor, with very low levels of literacy, and their contact with the wider economy and society was limited by lack of roads and services.
The project successfully rehabilitated 85 per cent of the targeted 15,000 hectares of cocoa and coffee farms, which enabled cocoa farmers to increase production and improve quality, and to obtain a higher price for their produce. The project has also been able to rehabilitate 133.1 km of roads and increase famers’ access to markets. STCRSP thus successfully contributed to improved livelihoods and enabled farmers to make the transition from survival mode to recovered livelihoods. In addition, the project was effective in reinforcing the extension services offered by public and private providers, and in strengthening farmers’ organizations.
However, the evaluation also concluded that the project design could have better supported food security, as there was no significant difference in food security indicators between STCRSP beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries.
The report recommends that future IFAD value chain development projects focus on addressing constraints upstream and pay increased attention to nodes downstream of the value chain, for instance, focusing on interventions that support farmers and their organizations to add value to their produce, and that promote an equitable share of benefits.
Rehabilitation and Community-based Poverty Reduction Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has prepared a project performance evaluation (PPE) of the Rehabilitation and Community-based Poverty Reduction Project (RCPRP) in the Republic of Sierra Leone, implemented in the country from 2006 to 2017.
The project was to be an integrated response to rehabilitating and sustaining essential services in the country, and restoring basic production capacity to pre-conflict levels by providing support to the short-term recovery of rural communities and their farming systems, while laying the basis for long-term rehabilitation and participatory development.
The report highlights that the project achieved its objectives related to increasing production of rice and cocoa – the main commodities at the basis of agriculture and rural development in Sierra Leone – and met its targets in terms of rehabilitating roads.
However, the project was less successful, for example, in creating effective links between primary producers and the market. Also, the effectiveness of the project’s climate- and environment-related interventions was mixed.
As a result, the evaluation noted, among its recommendations, the need to promote effective and efficient market participation by smallholder farmers, and to strengthen institutional expertise and the financial capacity of marketing organizations. In addition, where adaptation to climate change is specifically pursued, it should be treated as an intrinsic part of project design, not merely an accessory.
Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project (WUPAP), implemented in Nepal between 2003 and 2016.
The project was designed to strengthen the capacity of 115,000 households to mobilize their own resources, gain access to external resource and “live their lives in dignity”.
The report highlights that one of the main achievements of the project was the implementation of effective targeting approaches appropriate to various contexts. Through the community investment plan, virtually all IFAD investments reached the poorest beneficiaries and were spent according to their choice and needs.
The performance was, however, weakened by the fact that the original integrated rural development project design was too complex for the fragile political context and remote districts. Poor road networks and infrastructures further hampered WUPAP’s achievements.
As a result, the evaluation highlighted, among other recommendations, the need for Government stakeholders at all levels to provide strong and continued engagement in IFAD projects in the mid-and uplands.
Agricultural Rehabilitation and Poverty Reduction Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) of IFAD has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Agricultural Rehabilitation and Poverty Reduction Project (PRAREP), implemented in Côte d’Ivoire from 2009 to 2015.
The objective of PRAREP was to reduce poverty and food security in the wake of the conflict and improve living and working conditions for the most vulnerable rural communities. The project came at the right time, as it provided an immediate response to the situation of food insecurity, vulnerability and increased poverty.
The report highlights the encouraging results achieved by PRAREP in reviving agricultural production in the target areas, and its contribution to improving productivity, production and farmers’ incomes.
The performance of PRAREP was, however, weakened by the fact that close to half of the project financing was never mobilized, and thus, the agricultural infrastructure subcomponent was not implemented. Moreover, weaknesses in building organizational capacity of producers had an adverse effect on the sustainability of the input supply arrangements set up by the project.
As a result, the evaluation highlighted, among other recommendations, the need to systematically include capacity-building for farmers’ organizations, even in a post-crisis context.
Belize Rural Finance Programme
The Independent Office of Evaluation has prepared a performance evaluation report on the Belize Rural Finance Programme, co-financed by IFAD and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI). The evaluation was conducted in close collaboration with the Evaluation Office of CABEI.
The report highlights that the programme's support to the credit union movement in Belize was both timely and relevant. It focused on capacity building at micro level (through credit unions) and at meso level (through the Belize Credit Union League), providing appropriate technical assistance and introducing an innovative member share account incentive scheme to attract new rural members.
The rural poor who joined credit unions enjoyed modest improvements in incomes, assets, quality of life, economic activities, education and health, but it is unlikely that access to credit union financing significantly improved agricultural productivity or rural enterprise performance.
Although the business case for serving the rural poor remains to be made for most credit unions, the Government, IFAD and other partners, intend to continue supporting credit union activities in rural areas in Belize.
Rural Financial Services and Agribusiness Development Project
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD has prepared a performance evaluation report on the "Rural Financial Services and Agribusiness Development Project" in the Republic of Moldova. The project, implemented between 2011 and 2016, responded to important challenges in the country's rural sector. The main goal was to provide credit and develop value chains for small and medium-sized enterprises, thereby indirectly benefiting the poor through increased and decent employment opportunities.
The evaluation found improved access for both small and medium-sized enterprises and new target groups such as young entrepreneurs and microentrepreneurs thereby addressing an existing financing gap. The project was less successful in improving pro-poor value chains because of mistrust between buyers and producers and volatile market prices, which resulted in contracts not being adhered to.
The report highlights the need for explicit targeting strategies as well as careful ex ante examination of the assumed "trickle down" effects. It also notes that projects should monitor the linkages between investments in enterprises and the direct and indirect benefits, to ensure they help reach poor farmers. IFAD has successfully provided loans through lines of credit to small and medium-sized enterprises, however, there is a need to strengthen the savings culture, which is currently not very strong in Moldova.
Finally, this evaluation recommends that future IFAD projects focus on agribusiness and agro-processing development for smallholders. This would enable them to add value to their primary products, build their capacity to deal with different value chains, and shift swiftly from one value chain to another.
Read more: Approach paper
Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project
Project performance evaluation
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD has prepared a performance evaluation report on the "Kirehe Community-based Watershed Management Project" in Rwanda. The project was successful in achieving its objective of fostering increase of traditional crops such as rice, maize, vegetables and milk production. Women beneficiaries were not left behind economically, and innovations such as the flexi-biogas system freed the time they had spent in fetching firewood.
Yet, the lack of effective marketing linkages and competitive prices for producers meant that the attempt at integrating farmer beneficiaries into complete value chains remained incipient. The project also failed to link beneficiaries with rural financial institutions – linkages which would have been important for financing production and value addition.
The evaluation highlights the need to adopt a longer-term programmatic approach in the case of development projects that involve a simultaneous, coordinated and comprehensive approach to rural poverty alleviation in a particular area. It also recommends ensuring that value chain development is truly demand-oriented by involving market actors such as traders and private companies when integrating value chain components in principally supply-side projects.
Rural Finance and Enterprise Development Programme
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the "Rural Finance and Enterprise Development Programme (RFEDP)" in the Kingdom of Eswatini. The programme, implemented between 2010 and 2017, was designed to provide the rural poor with access to financial services on a sustainable basis, develop an enabling environment for business development and establish micro – and small-scale enterprises in rural areas.
As the national context is affected by institutional and structural limitations, lack of access to finance remains a major constraint for many rural enterprises. RFEDP worked at the macro, meso and micro levels to tackle multi-dimensional challenges. At the macro level, the programme supported the policy formulation and coordination between stakeholders, while at the meso level, it supported financial institutions in strengthening their capacity.
The report however reveals that programme activities at the meso and micro levels lacked a suitable strategy to engage poorer segments of the intended target groups.
The evaluation recommends that future rural finance projects in Eswatini focus on savings and credit groups so as to better target the poor and also to better operate in a challenging policy and institutional environment.
Smallholder Plantations Entrepreneurship Development Programme
Project performance evaluation
The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) has prepared a performance evaluation report on the "Smallholder Plantations Entrepreneurship Development Programme (SPEnDP)" in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. The programme, implemented between 2007 and 2016, was designed to improve the livelihoods of smallholder tea and rubber growers by establishing or upgrading plantations and supporting other income-generating activities, community infrastructure and other needs.
The core programme investments in tea and rubber production, coupled with intercropping, were successful in improving the incomes and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in a sustainable manner. The programme supported 250 ha of tea replanting in mid-country and rubber planting in 5,087 ha of land in Monaragala. These plantations, once established, can provide steady cash flows over years. Rubber planting was in areas that were utilized or under-utilized and had a generally positive environmental impact.
The report however, reveals that while the focus on production was appropriate, more attention could have been paid to post-harvest improvements, as well as environmental issues, especially for tea plantations. In this respect, greater care should be taken to avoid subsidizing tea (re)planting on unsuitable lands.
There is also little evidence of the impact on social capital and empowerment. The evaluation therefore recommends that IFAD and the government should engage and strengthen existing community-based organizations rather than create new ones.