North Western Province Agricultural Development Project - Mid-term evaluation (1997)
The target group represents medium- and low-income groups categorised as semi-commercial and subsistence farmers. This target group, estimated at about 50 000 households, represents about 90% of the rural population, and 80% of the total population of the province. The province is one of the poorest in Zambia. The Project aims at reaching directly 14 800 farm families (78 000 persons) including 13 450 living at or below the subsistence level, and 5 500 female-headed households (37% of total).
The current eight-year Project would consolidate the achievements of Phase I, the first part of a programme designed to establish an appropriate technological base through research and effectively transfer this technology through an efficient extension service.
The Project sets out to raise the living standard of the rural poor, and generate self-sustaining economic growth in the project area. Components are:
Beneficiary Mobilisation, including:(i) group promotion; (ii) community development support; and (iii) the development fund;
Agricultural Development, including: (i) research; (ii) agricultural extension; (iii) nutrition extension; and (iv) on-farm and investment credit;
Small-scale rural enterprise development;
National biological control programme; and Project management.
The target population will be enabled to collaborate with the Project through their own efforts, acting in groups which the Project will help to form; a two way process of media and direct communications with these groups will heighten awareness and participation; the emphasis would be on quality of service and responsiveness to beneficiary demands. Productivity and farm output would be enhanced through improved technology. Improved roads would facilitate marketing access. Village infrastructure and on-farm and off-farm enterprises would be assisted, e.g. in milling and storage. Local value added would increase and risk in production would decrease.
Benefits would accrue to the government in realising its goals of efficient resource management and upgrading of skills in the civil service. Environmental damage was not foreseen. The continued funding constraints were not foreseen.
The evaluation sets out to understand to what extent MOA programme managers, and project staff: (i) review implementation progress against the physical targets set; (ii) seek the data that show impact at the village and farm level; (iii) are trained and encouraged to explore causes to variations in performance; and (iv) also seek to address these underlying causes.
In preparation for the MTE, because of the Project's justified emphasis on alleviating food insecurity and malnutrition, IFAD (OE) designed a diagnostic survey together with Zambian nutrition specialists (FHANIS/CSO). Interviewing 144 rural women with almost 200 children, this survey set out to gauge the impact of project supported activities on the nutrition of children aged one to five years.
The Project is being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) under the overall responsibility of its Permanent Secretary. The Project Co-ordinator reports to MAFF as well as to the Provincial Permanent Secretary. Implementation responsibility for the individual components rests with the provincial heads of the line ministries.
Three major problems have affected the Project, all external in nature. First, drought, second the slow response of the private sector in filling the vacuum left by the demise of the marketing organisations, and third, the scarce and erratic funding of the Project from the GOZ. A drought affected the southern regions of Zambia, but also the NWP, in the 1993/94 and the 1994/95 seasons. Food production in the NWP in the former year was estimated at 30% less than normal, and in 1994/95 at 20% less (FAO/WFP).
With the demise of the Co-operative Unions and subsidised marketing, input supply to farmers remained unstable and scarce. The Government requested CUSA - a credit organisation - to be responsible also for input delivery. Seasonal credit substantially increased: in 1995 it was given to about 9 000 members. But, without a proper organisation to manage inputs and with an accelerating credit expansion, loan recovery suffered. Political influence was also used to encourage farmers in the NWP, who had received adequate rainfall, not to fulfil their obligations. With non performing financial assets, CUSA had little choice in 1996 but to reduce seasonal credit disbursements, with adverse effects for maize production and food security. In the absence of a consistent and well thought out government policy to create stable and uniform incentives in marketing, trade and credit delivery, the private sector is not encouraged to furnish essential support functions.
Finally, the most damaging constraint for overall project operations has remained the inability of the GOZ and MAFF to honour their commitments towards funding the Project. The Project, from its outset, faced difficulties in obtaining its due share from the GOZ. In 1991, the last year of Phase I, the government completely failed to contribute. In 1992, the GRZ contributed a mere third of the Project's total financial requirement; this performance was repeated in 1993. The GRZ in 1994 did not release any of its expected counterpart funds to the Project. In order not to disrupt implementation completely, the PCU disbursed 100% of project expenditures from IFAD's Special Account. Subsequently, in April 1995, the Co-operating Institution stopped disbursements from IFAD's loan towards operating costs.
The Project has been largely integrated into the Agricultural Sector Investment Programme (ASIP) as of January 1996. The ASIP, supported by the World Bank, IFAD, SIDA and other major donors, aims to improve aid co-ordination and public sector resource use, but the integration process has been delayed and difficult. The Government's own funding to the three project districts was reduced and delayed also in 1996: the ASIP funding system did not operate in line with expectations. The DAOs, in each of the three districts, received far less than the approved recurrent developmental budget for the second and third quarters of 1996 (for the first three quarters in 1996, they received, on average, 30% of their programmed ASIP contributions).
Fortunately, the direct funding from IFAD has remained outside of the ASIP pool: the MTE mission recommended in its Aide Memoire that this existing arrangement should continue until the financial system capabilities would perform in line with expectations.
Four project components remain outside of ASIP: (i) roads; (ii) credit; (iii) the Development Fund; and (iv) the support to the Provincial Planning Units (PPU) and the six District Planning Units (DPUs). The Project Co-ordination Unit (PCU) will have to ensure sustainability of the non-ASIP activities until the point in time arrives when the respective line agencies have such a capability. With present uncertainty, a strong case can be made that the PCU should continue to support important project activities to: (i) restructure credit; (ii) provide minor rural infrastructure under the Development Fund; (iii) rehabilitate feeder roads and improve maintenance capabilities at district levels; and (iv) strengthen planning and implementation capabilities of DPUs.
The Project has been surprisingly well implemented in spite of its many external constraints and has rebounded since 1995. In spite of the setbacks, project staff have continued to perform well: this is a great tribute to the PC, the PAO, the Department of Agriculture in Solwezi, and to the project funded specialist staff.
Crop production: In spite of variable rainfall, long distances to markets from the dispersed areas of non acidic or fertile soils, and break down in credit and associated fertiliser delivery, farmers along the Solwezi-Chingola road and in parts of Kasempa (camps close to the Kasempa Boma) have continued to increase output of maize and sweet potatoes.
In research, the Mutanda Roots and Tubers research team has assisted in multiplying and disseminating improved planting materials for sweet potatoes (Chingowa) and cassava. The impact has been visible: diffusion especially of cassava varieties has picked up. Cassava is spreading eastwards from Mwinilunga and is a common crop in many areas in Solwezi district. Two important ARPT studies were undertaken in 1995/96. First, a dambo utilisation survey confirmed the importance of these areas for early maize (December-January), legumes (December-January) and dry season fodder for goats and cattle. Second, the study "Contribution and Potential of Local Farmer Organisations to Agricultural Research" found the participation of farmers' groups in adaptive research to be limited or ineffective: it set the stage for far more attention being directed into why groups fail or succeed.
In extension, the service is adjusting well to new market conditions by extending messages on the need for loan repayment, market information and gross margin calculations. The service is adapting older messages to the changing conditions of low external input supply. In the context of the T&V System of extension, the Project has registered a major break-through. The diagnostic team approach set out in the SAR has been made to bear fruit thanks to the efforts and leadership of the Zambian TA Extension Organisation Specialist. Diagnostic teams since 1994 are operational in the three districts (Kasempa, Mwinilunga and Solwezi), and they are back-stopped by farming systems researchers. Not less than six diagnostic surveys have been conducted in different camps: four reports have been published. In two of these camps, this methodology for interacting with the target group has generated revised priorities for extension support; these have begun to be implemented.
Despite disruptions in funding at the project and national level in 1995, the CDSU has organised Radio Farm Forum Groups. Messages have been disseminated in local languages.
The Development Fund has put in place relevant physical infrastructure; the Project has shifted from its initial focus on rehabilitating schools and health clinics to support construction of wells for drinking water. A system for sustained maintenance of rehabilitated drinking wells is emerging.
The feeder roads component has been quite successful in spite of funding constraints: it has concentrated on rehabilitating through force account the existing road network. It has completed 54% of the targeted 520 km. This rehabilitation has assisted and eased farmers' transportation and marketing constraints.
The National Biological Control Program (NBCP), supported since 1986 as a part of the Phase I NWP ADP, was very successful in controlling outbreaks of the Cassava Mealybug (CMB) during the 1980s. It has continued to make reasonable progress on release and recovery of the Cassava Green Mite (CGM) predator. The unit has also undertaken steps to monitor the Larger Grain Borer (LGB) spread and its non-biological control. During 1996, steps to introduce a biological predator of the LGB were taken in conjunction with IITA. The construction of the office and laboratory building for the NBCP is nearing completion and the screenhouse is operational.
The SAR was very well written: it reflected well the important recommendations in the IE undertaken in 1990 of the Phase I Project. Yet, revisiting the issues occurring during implementation, with the benefit of hindsight it is fair to state that the IE as well as the SAR should have put far more emphasis on defining in detail the necessary stepwise methodology of R&D, as well as the necessary facilitation processes.
The stepwise and iterative process needed to have been set out - of research, village level testing, and evaluation - and then development, with which to generate, through trial and error, improved production technology and institutional innovations to improve service delivery and marketing support. Second, the SAR could not ensure that during implementation the critical facilitation process would occur to properly translate the need of continued diagnosis - through interactions between researchers, farmers and extensionists - into processes, roles, responsibilities, and flexible annual programmes. The need for such processes to be defined, appropriated and ensured through facilitation and supervision is critical.
A series of workshops, continued training, and detailed assistance were not programmed, or followed through, in the area of R&D methodology, perhaps because it was not understood that this is such a critical area, that failures are common and that they become too costly in terms of missed opportunities. Within the Project, processes not clearly explained could not be understood, and what was not understood could not be well managed.
The same analysis and conclusion applies to the thwarted efforts in group mobilisation and credit. The support for village level extension groups lost its track. These groups became oriented towards credit rather than technology testing and diffusion; they became disassociated from the regular extension service. The prescribed pilot dimension in the SAR was not translated and understood. The base was never created at the block level with which to: (i) define common issues across extension groups; (ii) seek co-operative solutions to improve marketing access; and (iii) solicit technical support for organisation and training.
To wit, there is little evidence that the senior management in MAFF had a better understanding than the Project about what was at stake in this USD 20 million Project. Or, if they had such understanding, they were not in a position to act. The Project has suffered from inadequate support from the GOZ reflected in: (i) an agronomic farming system research capability at Mutanda Station operating at one third of its capacity; (ii) its requesting the credit NGO, CUSA, to become involved in input supply without a proper understanding of the implications, thus impairing its capability as a financial institution and leading to a collapse of its credit system; and (iii) not ensuring stable funding since 1992.
Effects assessment and sustainability
Significant changes have occurred to the farming and production systems in the project area since 1991. These changes reflect responses to great variations in input supply and output prices across the project area and across years. The price of maize is displaying a rising trend in central locations such as Solwezi and next to the border with Zaire (Table 6 in Annex 5), but variations across the project area expose farmers to high risk in production. This risk is accentuated by large inter year variation in supply of fertiliser and hybrid seed.
The Project is having an important positive effect in reducing overall marketing risk. Farmers often cultivate far from the main roads in areas next to rivers and wetlands, where soil fertility is better than the average. Road access to these areas is improving through rehabilitation of secondary roads. Market information is communicated to farmers by radio and the CDSU is assisted by the Project. Farmers seek to diversify enterprises to reduce their overall risk by cultivating off season crops on dambos, by wanting more livestock, and by venturing into beekeeping. The Project has had limited impact in supporting them in the former two areas. Finally, there is little evidence of successful project-led efforts to mobilise communities or groups to find solutions to reduce risk in marketing.
As expected, a marked shift has occurred from the subsistence (SS) to the semi-commercial (SC) farm household category because of the increasing area cultivated to maize. Maize is becoming the main crop in North-western province, occupying more land than any other in the three district. During the 1995/96 agricultural season 91% of the households grew maize. Most households in the sorghum and cassava farming systems have increased maize production. This increase has determined a higher income and calorie intake in the semi-commercial systems.
Nutrition extension: the nutritional impact survey designed by IFAD (OE) and CSO FHANIS in Lusaka, was carried out in June 1996. The frequency of moderately and severely stunted children remains far too high. In this context, troublesome are the findings that: (i) nutrition demonstrators and their supervisors do not possess the means with which to derive the stunting scores for observed children: what you do not observe, you will not monitor; and (ii) malnutrition is higher not lower in the locations where project funded demonstrators are active.
Chronic malnutrition - stunting - was lowest for households in maize based systems, (both in the subsistence and the semi-commercial maize farming systems), compared to the semi-commercial sorghum or semi commercial cassava farming systems. In general, the lowest levels of stunting are found in the semi-commercial systems. Indeed, the food balance in the subsistence systems remains low compared to the more advanced systems Stunting is the most serious nutritional problem. About 51% of the households had at least one child of short stature for age. Malnutrition was higher in areas where nutrition demonstrators were operating compared to areas where there were no nutrition demonstrators. An important explanation for this disconcerting finding is that stunting is difficult to recognise with the common eye and may not be understood by parents until it has become serious.
Generally, semi-commercial systems have adopted more sedentary settlement patterns reflecting adoption of more intensive farming methods (improved seeds and fertiliser) in the long run. Access to dambo land is associated with a shift to the SC systems.
The livestock sector has much potential, but efforts by the Project in promoting a much needed diversification have not been successful apart from the support for guinea fowl. Cattle are slowly being accepted into the cropping systems but credit constraints prevail and manure, draught power, and milk production are not strongly driving adoption. The incidence of tsetse flies only partly explains this slow uptake. Goat, sheep and pig populations reportedly are declining due to conflicts with crop enterprises Tethering is one option being considered to arrest the decline. Provision of veterinary services is inadequate: only 20% of the households have ever vaccinated their animals and only 10% deworm them routinely. Chicken populations have been much decimated by Newcastle disease.
The Project has supported diversification of farm enterprises through beekeeping and aquaculture since 1995. Success has been partial, take-off and sustained growth are not yet visible. Incorporation of forest products into livelihood strategies has increased and in accessible areas, income from them is quite substantial. Beekeeping for honey production represents an important off-farm activity, but the marketing niches are quite limited beyond production of local beer. Fish ponds can and should be encouraged but successful enterprises require intensive experimentation and testing efforts, combined with extension support and only then credit; neither of these three services are presently available. Fingerling nurseries remain scarce.
The roads component has had a certain impact on employment creation: by mid-1996, about 2 500 labourers have been active in road rehabilitation with an average tenure of about four months. A survey of the impact of the Feeder Road Programme conducted in 1995 found that roads have helped increase demand that has, in turn, increased farm gate prices and quantities sold.
Evidence of environmental damage is still hard to come by, but increased cutting of trees for shifting cultivation, fuel energy, pit sawing and construction might pose a danger in some semi-commercial systems. Soils might also be further depleted in settled communities if use of organic and chemical fertiliser is not increased.
Sustainability in rural development necessarily means that the suitability of technology components and service provision must be aligned with, and support priorities that derive from, the expressed preferences of the target group of farmers. It should also reflect management capabilities at village level. The farming systems research and extension methodology (FSRE) was developed in the 1980s precisely to generate crop and livestock husbandry practices in line with this orientation. Farmers' participation was found to be critical for obtaining correct responses as to their degree of motivation to engage themselves in possible interventions. But the original farming systems research methodology, an essentially empirical approach, was rarely brought to bear on economic enterprises outside of crop husbandry. Little or no support was provided, for obtaining within extension, structured feed back on farmers' adoption behaviour, and diagnosis of farming systems issues.
Sustainability also means setting up sound institutional structures, capable of ensuring technical and allocative efficiency of interventions. Once the primary systems are operational, feed back and signals ought to be received on the extent that interventions perform in line with expectations. In this framework, technical efficiency of the Project has become low, not in line with expectations. This has occurred because of the cuts in funding: they have reduced and delayed activities across components. As for equitable growth, given the number of messages actually available, services supported by the Project and delivered through the Districts are by and large provided equitably. But resource allocation under the Project still scores low in terms of contributing to an equitable growth, not least benefiting larger numbers of women. Improved varieties, credit and extension recommendations are not well tailored to the conditions of smaller farmers faced with high marketing risks.
Smaller farmers are highly efficient in their use of land and resources compared to larger farmers. Yet, food insecurity and stunting of children among resource poor farmers is not acceptable (Chapter 6). Among decision makers, the link has not been fully grasped between on the one hand, the need to create - and fund - well defined institutional capabilities with which to explore, set priorities and address farmers' - and parents' varying constraints - and, on the other hand, a broad based growth. As long as this link is not transparent, understood and internalised, the vast majority of the rural population in the NWP reaps only limited benefits of investments into rural development. At current sub-optimal capabilities and associated resource allocations, neither do the better endowed, nor do the resource poor farmers benefit in line with expectations and potential.
A cause to the problems faced by the Project may rest in the ambiguity created in the SAR as to the Project's proper nature. The Project should have been more clearly defined as a Research and Development Project to permit institutional, local or group based solutions to be developed , for instance, in input delivery and marketing, prior to extension activity proper. The goals to set up new village extension groups, and a Communications Development Support Unit (CDSU) reflected rather the notion that models or approaches for group creation - based on content relevant to farmers - had already been developed, tested and certified: therefore, implying that the constraints to growth were confined to extension, diffusion or communication. But by and large this was, and has not been, the case. This neglect of the research dimension also applies to: (i) animal feed and health: conditions of local poultry and goats were not known prior to introducing exotics species; (ii) fish farming: conditions were not known prior to declaring credit scarcity to be the main problem; and (iii) windmills: introduction without testing under local conditions.
It must be understood that research and experimentation at the farm, group and village levels and farm level is necessary prior to development and extension. Active participation by farmers, especially of the women is necessary. Similarly, such activity is necessary to generate sustainable institutional solutions to the current failures in input supply and marketing (seed, fertiliser, honey, credit).
Main issues and recommendations
The MTE has generated a large number of recommendations set out in Chapter VIII. Seven areas are of direct and immediate concern for the remainder of the project period:
In the field of research there is a need to strengthen personnel (agronomist) and to redefine and modify research at Mutanda Research Station. This means foremost adopting the on-farm research and development methodology for designing and implementing pilot activities, prior to scaling-up and introducing associated training of staff;
Define priorities for a set of village level pilot activities and adaptation;
Design a pilot component for rural financial services, and eventually redesign CUSA;
Define priorities for ASIP and non ASIP funded components and activities. In this field, four major issues that need to be resolved for the ADP and the Province are: (i) uncertainty as to procedures together with continued delays in MAFF disbursements to districts for ASIP components; (ii) inadequate staff capabilities in the district FMUs; (iii) uncertainty as to the sustainability of funding for activities not included under ASIP; and (iv) positions and tenure of ADP funded staff under the new system;
Improve the M&E function;
Strengthen the capacity of the National Biological Control Unit; and
Strengthen the capacity of provincial and district planning units.
A) Lessons Learned on Project Design
a) Research and development projects: four essential lessons
i) Importance of recognising "research and development needs"
It is fundamental, before designing any project, to identify those recommendations and institutional innovations that are available, i.e. already sufficiently tested, tried out and adapted to the point where they are suited for extension purposes, or have begun to be adopted. This means discerning also those that need further development and adaptation to the conditions of the target area and target group, and those that should be discarded.
Too often, projects are designed with limited data and knowledge as to the degree of variation in farmers' productivity, entitlements, constraints and risk. What is not observed, or analysed, is not explained. The economic justification and analysis of benefits versus costs is further constrained by the emphasis on obtaining a quantifiable, sufficiently high economic rate of return. This need accentuates the bias towards overestimating the extent of the actual knowledge and the usefulness of available or so called proven technology.
This means that projects too often are justified as extension projects, when they should have been designed, in full or in part, as research and development projects. The case for farming systems research and on-farm and village level testing that should drive the generation of improved production technology is then either not understood in-country, or it is underplayed.
A primary precondition for more appropriate project design is that more attention is placed on the diagnosis of research and development needs; it is essential that this process be conducted partly in representative locations together with the target group itself. By such diagnosis, farmers' actual preferences and community level constraints can be better revealed and understood. Design of extension activities can be avoided that will later prove ill-adapted and not effective.
ii) Knowledge generation and diffusion
A research and development project has to be developed in terms of the methods of approach and not in terms of detailed activities and outcomes. First, results should be seen in terms of gaining knowledge and know-how, and not of material achievements. Second, the necessary stepwise methodology of R&D as well as the necessary facilitation processes need to be set out and explained in great detail through iterative processes and applied training. The stepwise and iterative process - of research, village level testing, and evaluation - needs to be set out - followed by development, with which to generate, through trial and error, improved production technology and institutional innovations to improve service delivery and marketing support. Third, the design must ensure that during implementation the critical facilitation process will occur to translate the need of continued diagnosis - through interactions between researchers, farmers and extensionists - into processes, roles, responsibilities, and annual programmes. The need for such processes to be defined, appropriated and ensured through facilitation and supervision is critical. Fourth, against the overall project strategy, measurable objectives need to be specified to assist the local staff and the relevant institutions to acquire the necessary skills in this research and development. Fifth, a series of indicators need to be designed against which acquisition of skills can be monitored.. Sixth, a series of workshops, continued training, and detailed assistance need to be programmed and followed through in the area of R&D methodology. Otherwise, within the project, and at the Centre, what is not clearly explained, can not be understood, and then, of course, cannot be well managed.
In short: (i) methodology and processes that relate to R&D and pursuit of institutional innovations must be defined, explained, and understood at the outset; (ii) the required capabilities for these processes must be precisely defined; (iii) this activity must be undertaken through a series of workshops at the stage of design; and (iv) continued training must continue over the project life time. Finally, research and development takes time: this dimension needs to be taken into account in order to secure continuity in the approach beyond project end.
iii) An R&D approach for rural financial services
Extending provision of financial services into rural areas is vital to encourage intensification and diversification of farm enterprises. Alternative innovative models need to be tested so as to increase access to credit for the rural population. This is the case, especially when credit supply is not well adapted to demand, transaction costs of borrowers are prohibitively high, wilful defaulting occurs, and institutional solutions in the country are not found which are established, backed by sufficient experience, recognised and replicable.
iv) Innovative solutions are required for technical assistance
Innovative or alternative solutions need to be found for long-term technical assistance. A compromise is required between the need of reduced costs, as against securing continuing longer term benefits from the knowledge generation process. Long-term partnership arrangements with institutions specialising in research and development, with regular support missions, training courses and attendance at workshops, is one solution. Such "twinning" arrangements should be explored with both bilateral and multilateral donors.
b) Lessons Learnt for Project Design in General
Aside from the lessons learnt concerning the need for making precise distinctions as to the actual knowledge available, and about proven technology, and the need to adopt a research and development methodology and clear-cut procedures at the design stage, the Project has five lessons to impart for project design in general.
An understanding of initial socio-economic conditions
The Project's acquaintance with the socio-economic conditions of the target group at the start was limited. The greater is this initial insufficiency, the higher is the probability that changes to the project concept will be needed in the course of execution. Moreover, the harder it will be to modify and adapt a project during its implementation. This is why it is essential, at the design stage, to analyse the target group's socio-economic as well as physical environment, and to conduct highly specific surveys to test the feasibility of the menu of interventions in terms of its constraints, preferences to contribute labour, and approval..
Institution building and capabilities
The creation of capabilities should be part of an explicit sector strategy with which to raise productivity in the systems for the delivery of services to the rural population. But the creation of capabilities for generating better performance within and across projects is rarely sufficiently emphasised at time of design. At the stage of design, an explicit strategy for training, for creating capabilities, a management structure, and financial resources for training must be formulated. Training should focus on: (i) the processes required for generating knowledge from diagnosis, experiments, testing and monitoring; (ii) disseminating the knowledge generated from the R&D among local staff and institutional partners; and (iii) evaluation.
Conventional, ministry driven transfer of technology has failed to promote rural development in particular in those regions defined as agro-ecologically diverse, resource poor and risk prone. It is recognised that farmer-led approaches better integrate research and extension functions drawing upon knowledge and research capacities of local communities and combining them with those in formal research and development organisations. Local capacity for experimentation must be supported so as to permit technology to be adapted and further disseminated.
Present diffusion models need review. The possibility of using farmers as part time lower level extension workers (after necessary training) needs more emphasis. The use of village level extension workers offers promise in terms of a cheaper, more effective channel to encourage farmers' experimentation, relevant feedback, and dissemination of extension messages in the remote villages. Such farmer-extension agents would not be directly paid by Government, but could be assisted in kind through free inputs, training, etc., and villagers could compensate them for foregone earnings (labour lost).
A lesson learnt is that new or "improved" sector funding mechanisms such as the World Bank and donor assisted ASIPs should never be started up unless adequate preparation has taken place. First, system capabilities need to have been generated both at the Centre as well as in the field, not least monitoring mechanisms for rapid feedback and corrections. Otherwise, the launching of these efforts reduces motivation and morale of field staff and becomes counterproductive or worse, meaningless.
The concern for nutrition was written into the Agreement establishing IFAD: "the need to increase food production and to improve the nutritional level of the poorest populations.....". This nutrition dimension needs to be revisited: the weakest, most vulnerable segment of the population is the children under five, and especially those 24 months or less. Food security is imprecisely defined and monitored. Collection and analysis of anthropometric nutrition indicators is the exception rather than the rule. An exception is Zambia where IFAD should be praised for supporting such growth monitoring. But still in this Project, the frequency of moderately and severely stunted children remains unacceptably high; moreover, diagnosis and remedies are found to be ad hoc and of uncertain effectiveness. The 1996 survey engineered by IFAD (OE) and FHANIS/CSO in Zambia suggests that the average stunting score for the three project districts is 48%. Stunting is regarded as particularly debilitating for children aged less than 24 months: the survey suggests that 40% of this age group are stunted. In surveyed areas in Mwinilunga and Solwezi, one out of four children is severely stunted
Limited resource endowments in terms of area cultivated under maize seem associated with stunting. Yet, the problem of malnutrition is complex, some of the malnutrition is due to dietary factors, some to disease and others due to a combination of inadequate diet and health problems. That malnutrition has continued to be high in the province shows the failure not only of agriculture but of other sectors including health, education, community development and the private sectors to solve the problem.
IFAD needs to ensure that effective collaborative efforts are generated with other donors such as FAO, WHO, and UNICEF; monitoring is precise and adequate and that in-country efforts are undertaken to address this issue across the various ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF), Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS).
Lessons learnt for implementation
a) Five Lessons as to capabilities for supervision
i) The Co-operating institutions are not well equipped for reviewing and addressing issues concerning R&D processes: the latter are expected to generate new knowledge, the application of which cannot be easily foreseen and pre-programmed;
ii) The awareness, skills and knowledge in the area of R&D processes are scarce also within IFAD;
iii) For IFAD, it remains to identify a roster of consultant firms, NGOs or development research and training institutions with established track records, which may be contracted to provide continued TA cum supervision of the essential R&D processes in farming systems, in institutional innovations and social engineering, e.g. beneficiary mobilisation, credit delivery with joint liability against defined performance standards, etc.;
iv) IFAD should carefully review the qualifications of the consultants and staff used in each supervision mission, as well as the composition of missions; and
v) Regular supervision missions by the Co-operating Institution should best concentrate in the areas relating to procurement, local funding, disbursement and where the technology is already tested and known (e.g. the roads component).
b) TA Management
Ineffective or late TA recruitment has become a major issue. The present processes for TA recruitment are not performing in line with expectations. TA was recruited late during the first phase Project as well under the current one: and externally recruited TA for credit was inappropriate. A lesson doubly learnt is the need of far more and early attention to the management of the process and the interactions with the Government for selecting qualified candidates for TA posts. Different modalities need to be found for the TA recruitment to be agreed upon at the time of negotiation
The evaluation and support provided by IFAD and the Co-operating Institution are essential for developing the capacities of the monitoring and evaluation units. The competence of these units should be specified at the outset and be upgraded over time. The units should not be permitted to be overloaded with demands for its services. Otherwise, the unit's ability to gather and analyse information, and to develop its own capacity for reflection and adaptation will suffer.