Niger Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation - Virtual National Workshop
The Government of Niger and the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), in collaboration with IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division, are co-organizing a virtual event for the Niger Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation (CSPE), as a final step in the evaluation process.
The virtual event will be held on 15 April 2021 and will entail the participation of representatives from the Government of Niger (the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Planning, the initiative “Les Nigériens nourrissent les Nigériens”; and the Ministry of Infrastructure), representatives of public sector institutions and national stakeholders, IFAD Management and staff (including IOE), multilateral and bilateral partners, and selected private sector organizations.
The objectives of this event are to:
- discuss the main issues emerging from the Niger CSPE;
- discuss the opportunities and challenges of the IFAD-Government partnership in the future.
EvalGender+/EvalForward webinar on Good practices in Gender-Responsive Evaluation for feeding the world: Agriculture, food security, rural development
On Thursday, 15 April 2021, Ms Johanna Pennarz, Lead Evaluation Officer, and Mr Eoghan Molloy, Evaluation Officer, will deliver a presentation at the EvalGender+/EvalForward webinar on Good practices in Gender-Responsive Evaluation for feeding the world: Agriculture, food security, rural development. The webinar will take place from 16.00-17.00 CET.
Ms Pennarz and Mr Molloy will discuss the elaboration of the gender-transformative framework, derived from the 2017 IOE evaluation titled What works for gender equality and women’s empowerment – a review of practices and results, and its subsequent use in IOE evaluations. Ms Mónica Lomeña-Gelis, Senior Evaluation Officer, has also participated in framing IOE’s contribution to the webinar.
Innovative territorial approach bolsters living conditions in Niger
Rome, 15 April 2021 – IFAD co-financed projects have contributed to increasing rural incomes, and improving household assets and living conditions in Niger through an innovative territorial approach. These and other issues were presented earlier today, as senior policy makers from Niger, representatives of IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division (WCA), and the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) met to discuss the findings of the country strategy and programme evaluation (CSPE), carried out in 2020.
“Our evaluation found that the country programme funded by IFAD has helped to improve the resilience of rural households and communities”, stated Dr Indran A. Naidoo, IOE Director, in his opening remarks.
Key to IFAD’s achievements in Niger has been the economic development poles approach. First adopted in 2012, this methodological innovation combines civil engineering with social mobilisation in all investments in production, road building and construction of commercial infrastructure. Results achieved include the setting-up of five new agricultural markets – most of which are being well used –, and the construction and rehabilitation of feeder roads that facilitate better access of smallholder producers.
Co-organized by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Planning and the Ministry of Infrastructure of the government of Niger, and IFAD’s IOE, in collaboration with IFAD’s WCA Division, the on-line virtual workshop brought together a wealth of participants. These included representatives of public sector institutions, national stakeholders, research institutes, selected private sector organizations, and multilateral and bilateral partners, including international cooperation agencies, development banks, and UN programmes and funds.
During the event, participants focused on the main findings, recommendations and issues emerging from the CSPE. In addition to discussing the economic development poles approach, stakeholders also commended the development of irrigated areas and the provision of seeds and fertilizers, in addition to water and soil conservation activities, including degraded land reclamation. These interventions have made it possible to recover nearly 30,000 hectares of previously uncultivated land, and have contributed to improving agricultural production and productivity, with the yields of different vegetable crops recoding increases of up to 36 per cent. In this context, the combination of environmental restoration activities with ‘food-for-work’ initiatives has created incentives for communities to engage in labour intensive activities and provided collective benefits in the long term.
“A key area of success has been the regeneration of local vegetation, and the rehabilitation of land through simple techniques that local communities are now able to master and maintain”, Dr Naidoo underscored in this regard.
Since 1980, IFAD has financed 14 projects in Niger, totalling US$ 739 million in loans and grants. To date, eighty-three per cent of the population in Niger lives in rural areas. In 2018, agriculture represented 39 per cent of GNP, and was the backbone of the economy. Niger is exposed to several sources of fragility, such climate-related risks and drought, and security threats, including along its borders with Mali and Nigeria. The country also suffers from a high prevalence of child malnutrition, with a stunting rate of 47.8 per cent.
Looking forward, workshop participants noted the importance of striking a balance between the emphasis on large infrastructure investments for economic development poles, and the provision of basic services and activities that cater to the immediate needs of rural communities, such as access to drinking water, sanitization, and functional literacy. These interventions would also need to take carefully into account latent tensions between different natural resource users.
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Community-based and last-mile infrastructure among most successful IFAD investments
Rome, 26 March 2021 – The construction of irrigation and drinking water infrastructure, roads, bridges and other forms of transport to and from markets are key ingredients of agricultural development programmes – and among IFAD’s most appreciated investments. These and other issues were presented earlier today, as IFAD country directors, technical experts and senior representatives of the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) met to discuss the findings of the 2020 evaluation synthesis report entitled ‘Infrastructure at IFAD (2001-2019)’.
With 30 per cent of all approved IFAD funding having gone towards infrastructure projects during the past twenty years, these investments constitute a very significant share of IFAD’s portfolio. IOE’s latest report confirms the important contribution of these investments towards poverty reduction, as well as their continued relevance and effectiveness.
The on-line webinar, which was open to the public, offered an important opportunity to share lessons and experiences on infrastructure based on the evidence collected from 35 IFAD-funded projects. During the event, IFAD country directors and technical advisors provided first-hand insights into issues related to the design, procurement and implementation of infrastructure investments on the ground. These perspectives were complemented by those shared by a panel of distinguished experts, who paved the way for a thought-provoking discussion on IFAD’s future projects by presenting options for green and pro-poor infrastructure investments.
Discussions centred on the positive track record and added value of IFAD-financed infrastructure projects. Specific issues included the importance of co-financing partnerships to provide infrastructure at scale, IFAD’s comparative advantage in the provision of small-scale, climate-smart and pro-poor infrastructure, and the increasing demand for infrastructure investments in partner countries, particularly in middle-income countries where the decreasing availability of concessional loans and grants drives the demand for productive investments.
In light of the above, experts recognized the urgency to reconcile IFAD’s strategic infrastructure approach with its infrastructure support capacity. Other areas that would require future attention include the decrease of investments in drinking water, the need for sustainable arrangements for infrastructure ownership and maintenance, and the limited availability of specialized technical staff and capacity to track the performance of infrastructure investments from design through to implementation and completion.
Looking ahead, the meeting concluded that increased future borrowing for infrastructure would need to remain closely linked to IFAD’s mandate to facilitate better access and sustainability for IFAD’s target groups, to enhance livelihoods resilience, to minimize elite capture and to safeguard the interests of poor and vulnerable groups. In this regard, the ongoing transition from government-owned and maintained infrastructure to more inclusive and stakeholder-owned models remains a top priority.
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Learning event: Infrastructure at IFAD
On 26 March 2021, from 10.00 to 12.00 CET (Rome time), the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) held a learning event on IFAD’s support to infrastructure, which presented and discussed the 2020 evaluation synthesis report entitled ‘Infrastructure at IFAD (2001-2019)’.
The learning event, which was open to the public, offered an important opportunity to share lessons and experiences on infrastructure based on the evidence collected from 35 IFAD-funded projects.
The event was opened by Mr Indran A. Naidoo, Director, Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE). Ms Johanna Pennarz, Lead Evaluator, IOE, then presented the main findings, lessons and conclusions of the evaluation synthesis. A panel with Ms Paxina Chileshe, Mr Ivan Cossio, Mr Tarek Kotb, Mr Roshan Cooke and Mr Shankar Achuthan discussed the topic of “Managing infrastructure investments: perspectives from country programmes”, sharing their wealth of experience with IFAD projects in this respect.
Ms Meike Van Ginneken, Associate Vice President, Strategy and Knowledge Department, delivered an address representing IFAD Management
A second panel then delved into the subject of “Recovery, Rebuilding, Resilience: Infrastructure in IFAD 12”, presenting options for green and pro-poor infrastructure investments in IFAD’s future work. The discussants were Ms Ndaya Beltchika, Mr Mawira Chitima, Mr Rudolph Clevering, Ms Kisa Mfalila and Mr Karan Sehgal.
Mr Fabrizio Felloni, Deputy Director, IOE, provided closing remarks.
IFAD co-financed project in Bangladesh is a climate resilience pioneer
Rome, 17 March 2021 – The Coastal Climate-Resilient Infrastructure Project (CCRIP) co-funded by IFAD, the Asian Development Bank and KfW Development Bank, and implemented in Bangladesh by the Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) has proven a pioneer in climate resilience efforts. This, according to the latest report of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), released yesterday.
The CCRIP was one of the first LGED projects to integrate climate resilience features in infrastructure and to develop a network of small, medium and large roads and markets as the basis for rural economic development in Bangladesh. Other innovations included research on environmentally friendly technologies and the testing of new approaches to women’s empowerment.
The newly released IOE report notes the value of this pioneering approach, and discusses its impacts on the livelihoods of the 3.7 million people who reside in the CCRIP market catchment areas. Benefits include an 11% increase in incomes in market catchment areas, a reduction in food insecurity, better management of local markets, and more connected and vibrant rural communities and markets.
These results were driven by increased sales of agricultural outputs, and were made possible by virtue of improved road and market infrastructure – able to withstand monsoon flooding and extreme weather events. More resilient roads and markets led to a significant increase in the activity of traders, producers and transport providers, and enabled year-round access to services for households in remote rural communities.
The IOE project performance evaluation began in February 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. In light of the travel bans and social distancing requirements introduced to fight the pandemic, IOE decided to change its approach in conducting the PPE to perform its first fully remote evaluation. Various adaptations were made to address the associated methodological, practical and ethical concerns. These included the leveraging of national consultants and of modern technologies, especially Geographic Information Systems and satellite imagery.
Looking ahead, the IOE report highlights the importance of accompanying investments in infrastructure with broader support for climate-resilient livelihoods, tailored to project area contexts. Other recommendations include the need to undertake activities to enable value chain development, enhance women’s participation in labour markets, and engage with central and local governments to enable the development of policy responses and strategies to deal with systemic issues related to market leasing and maintenance.
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EvalForward Blogpost: Behind the glossy cover - six reflections on communicating evaluations
Alexander Voccia, Evaluation Knowledge Management and Communication Specialist at IOE, has published a blog post on EvalForward entitled ‘Behind the glossy cover: six reflections on communicating evaluations’
In the post, Alexander discusses the distinctive set of opportunities and pitfalls associated with the communication approaches necessary to enhance visibility, reach and consumption of evaluation findings. In this context, the author presents six reflections that underscore the need for a strategic approach to communicating evaluations in order to broker honest conversations for change.
The piece is based on a recent assessment of IOE’s communication endeavours, and draws from the best practices of the world’s leading multilateral development financial institutions, United Nations programmes and funds, and academia.
EvalForward Blogpost: Making voices count - Gathering community feedback in times of remote evaluation
Johanna Pennarz, Lead Evaluation Officer at IOE, and Prashanth Kotturi, Evaluation Officer at IOE, have published a blogpost on EvalForward entitled ‘Making voices count - Gathering community feedback in times of remote evaluation’.
In the post, Pennarz and Kotturi present the pandemic-induced remote data collection methodology adopted to evaluate the National Programme Community Empowerment project in Indonesia. The evaluation used a bottom-up approach by examining the experiences and perceived benefits of community groups, first through interviews and then by triangulating these with the perspectives and views of project staff such as village facilitators, district facilitators and regency facilitators.
In discussing the findings, strengths and challenges of the evaluation, the authors highlight that although the evaluation was able to provide valuable insights into the ability of Community Driven Development to give control of decisions and resources to communities, it was not able to attain its original purpose of contributing to mutual learning and community empowerment. This notwithstanding, the authors conclude that, in a pandemic-constrained context, a remote evaluation is better than no evaluation.
Earth-Eval Blogpost: Averting a ‘train wreck’ – Taking stock of environmental consequences of development interventions
Nanthikesan Suppiramaniam, Lead Evaluation Officer at IOE, has published a blogpost on Earth-Eval entitled ‘Averting a ‘train wreck’ – Taking stock of environmental consequences of development interventions’.
In the post, Suppiramaniam discusses IFAD’s pioneering role – within in the UN system – in recognizing the need to evaluate the intended and unintended environmental consequences of development interventions. The piece analyses the key elements of the system developed in IFAD to sustain this effort, and to keep it going strong for the past decade. Among these, the piece highlights that the evaluation of environmental consequences of development interventions is relevant and useful to the extent that organizations are committed to mainstreaming such analysis in their programmes.
The author presents the five interlocking elements of IFAD’s system that ensures integration of environmental consequences into the evaluation process, in the hope that IFAD's experience may serve as a compass to point to possible pathways for others who are embarking on this important endeavour.
IFAD-funded projects contribute to higher household incomes in Uganda
Rome, 5 February 2021 – Rural development projects co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have helped to increase household incomes in Uganda over the past seven years. This and other issues were presented earlier today, as Ugandan senior policy makers and representatives of IFAD’s Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) met to discuss the findings of a country strategy and programme evaluation (CSPE), carried out in Uganda in 2020.
Key to the achievements of IFAD’s co-financed projects in Uganda has been the building of infrastructure and market support services, which have reduced transport costs and increased market prices due to improved road access. Equally important have been IFAD’s investments in rural finance, which have supported regulatory reforms and linkages between local savings and credit groups and service providers.
Organized by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development of the government of Uganda and IFAD’s IOE, in collaboration with IFAD’s East and Southern Africa Division, the on-line virtual workshop brought together policy makers from the Ministries of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and Local Government, and development counterparts, civil society organizations and private partners.
During the event, meeting participants discussed the main findings, recommendations and issues emerging from the CSPE, reflected on opportunities and challenges in the IFAD-Government partnership, addressed strategic priorities for IFAD's continued financing in Uganda, and agreed to finalize and sign the evaluation’s Agreement at Completion Point (ACP)*.
Uganda’s economy has grown strongly in the past 20 years, during which time agriculture has provided a quarter of the country’s GDP whilst employing 72% of its labour force. However, multiple structural challenges have constrained agricultural growth, including climate change and unsustainable natural resource consumption patterns.
To offset these challenges, government policy frameworks have sought to transform agriculture into a commercially viable sector around a set of key value chains. However, notable challenges remain. Moreover, while overall funding for agriculture has fallen below the government’s international commitment, the rising impacts of climate change could setback IFAD’s achievements if not addressed promptly.
Looking forward, the meeting called for exploring ways to expand IFAD’s effective value chain approach to other commodities with greater beneficiary outreach potential, for mainstreaming climate change more extensively in IFAD’s future in-country investments, and for delivering more transformative approaches and interventions tailored to the specific needs of women and youths.
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*NOTE: The ACP summarizes the main CSPE findings and recommendations, which the Government of Uganda (represented by the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development) and IFAD (represented by the Associate Vice-President of the Programme Management Department) agree to adopt and implement within a specific timeframe. The role of IOE is to facilitate the preparation and finalization of the ACP, which will be included in the Uganda CSPE final report, to be presented to IFAD’s Evaluation Committee in March 2021.