IFAD-supported programme for the rural poor in Cameroon shows promising results with room for improvement

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IFAD-supported programme for the rural poor in Cameroon shows promising results with room for improvement

Cameroon - National Agricultural Research and Extension Programmes Support Project ©IFAD/Pascal Maitre

Rome, 1 February 2018 - The development projects supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Cameroon aim at increasing opportunities for the rural poor to engage in sustainable and remunerative activities both on the farm and off.

An independent evaluation –carried out by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD - assessed the results and performance of the IFAD-financed strategy and programme in the country and generated recommendations for the continued partnership between IFAD and the Republic of Cameroon, as they work together to reduce rural poverty.

The report shows how the projects helped the rural poor to strengthen their organizational capacity and negotiating power, and support young rural entrepreneurs, according to a new evaluation report presented today in Yaoundé by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE).

The evaluation, the first of its kind in Cameroon, covers the period from 2007 to 2017. During this time, IFAD provided funding for six rural development projects that were active in seven provinces, namely the Extreme North, North, North-West, West, Centre, South and Littoral. IFAD’s contribution of US$84.2 million made up more than half of the estimated total portfolio cost of $159.9 million over the period.

"IFAD has been working in Cameroon since 1980," said Ides de Willebois, Director of IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division. "In these years we have worked together with the Government, helping more than 578,000 households to rise out of poverty by increasing their opportunities to improve their livelihoods. In the past three years, we have significantly increased our investment, diversified our implementation partners, and focused our strategy on youth entrepreneurship in agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, and environment. The Youth Agro Pastoral Entrepreneurship Program, a US$ 72 million program, is our flagship operation which innovated by introducing in Cameroon the agro-incubation concept and approach. It will by 2021, educate 25 000 young people, support over 5 000 youth–led businesses, create over 20 000 jobs,  promote 12 incubation centers, and address the policy framework to enable the growth of agro pastoral businesses.”

Positive impacts in Cameroon outlined in the report include solid results in terms of increasing the agricultural productivity of crops that are important to the local populations, such as cassava, rice and onions. In addition, the support provided for income-generating activities, such as poultry and pig rearing, seed multiplication, gari and juice production, helped to increase the incomes and food security of many poor rural households. IFAD-supported projects often worked with producer organizations to improve their ability to offer services to their members, so that they can better coordinate  the delivery of inputs and maintain and repair shared machinery and infrastructures.

However, the report also indicates that the poorest and most vulnerable rural populations were not always reached, although the country strategies and project designs made specific mention of these populations. According to Oscar Garcia, IOE's Director, “This evaluation shows that projects achieved the objective of helping the economically active poor. But in the future, IFAD will need to sharpen its focus on the poorest and most vulnerable populations, particularly women and young people."

Other areas for improvement cited in the report include more attention to gender equality, and the sustainability and scaling-up of successful interventions. In order to strengthen project results and reduce management costs, the project teams need to be better trained and the Government needs to take a stronger role in project monitoring and fiduciary supervision.

Press release No.: IFAD/07/2018

IFAD has invested in rural people for 40 years, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$19.7 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 474 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome – the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

The Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) conducts evaluations of IFAD-financed policies, strategies and operations to promote accountability and learning. The main purpose is to contribute to improving IFAD's and its partners' performance in reducing rural poverty in recipient countries. IOE's independent evaluations assess the impact of IFAD-funded activities and give an analysis of successes and shortcomings – to tell it the way it is – as well as identify factors affecting performance. Based on the key insights and recommendations drawn from evaluation findings, IOE also communicates and shares IFAD’s knowledge and experience in agriculture and rural development with a wider audience.