Pro-Poor Partnerships for Agroforestry Development Project
The project was implemented in Bac Kan, an upland province in Northern Viet Nam, with a mostly indigenous population. The province, which has limited agricultural land, relatively undeveloped forestry resources and rugged mountainous terrain, has the highest incidence of poverty in the country.
The evaluation highlights that some of the project’s notable achievements were the participatory and accurate re-allocation of forestry land titles and its substantial contributions to ensure the sustainable management of sloped land, the improvement of forest cover and the reduction of the environmental vulnerability of communities. The easy to understand procedures of the Community Development Fund were appreciated, managed in a decentralized and participatory manner, and promoted funding for 241 small-scale infrastructure schemes (village roads, irrigation canals and some drinking water systems), small loans for women and capacity building through 459 farmer groups.
On the other hand, the project was also ambitious and initially difficult to implement. The various rounds of revisions to the design and logical framework, as well as the necessary focus on food security and technical development in its first phase, resulted in the delay (and modest scale) of market-based value chain development. Furthermore, the social-complexity of the target groups and the different needs between the poor and the near poor influenced the level of impact that could be reached. Despite the significant efforts, gender equality and women's empowerment remain a long-term challenge particularly with respect to the sharing of the workload and responsibilities.
Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project
The Rural Enterprise and Agricultural Development Project had a well-rounded developmental focus to improve the living conditions of poor rural households by strengthening their human, social and financial assets. It achieved several of its stated objectives and outcomes. The trainings imparted and the grants provided to purchase farm equipment led to increases in productivity for some beneficiaries, and consequent increases in incomes between 10 to 50 per cent. There was a high degree of participatory involvement of beneficiaries and many felt empowered. Human capital through life skills training and social capital through small-scale social infrastructure were strengthened.
On the other hand, the attention of the project ended up more on the supply side and less on the market side. Creating marketing linkages was one of the aims of the project but this was not fully realized. New linkages were essentially created only for agro-processing groups that constituted 20 per cent of the total number of groups. Low uptake of loans by beneficiaries and small amounts, more than 50 per cent of the loans taken consisted of amounts of less than US$500, was a reflection of the general risk-averse nature of the farming community.
The evaluation calls for optimising the benefits of a value chain by prioritising the selection of a few value chains based on criteria such as the rate of return, the involvement of the poor in the production, processing and the market demand for the products. It also calls for linking financial credit and product-market credit together for sustainable value chains. Finally, the evaluation argues for making provision in project design for sufficient support to beneficiaries especially when introducing them to a new occupation.
Participatory Natural Resource Management Programme
The programme made substantial progress in achieving its land restoration targets in spite of frequent disruptions due to the challenging context. It restored over 10,700 dunums (1,070 hectares) of land, reaching 1,480 households. In addition, through the programme’s credit activities, more than 600 households were able to access financing for existing and new enterprises for on-farm and off-farm activities.
On the other hand, the land-centric approach had implications for the programme’s targeting efforts. Potential beneficiaries with little or no access to land (women, youth, marginal landholders and landless) were not sufficiently included in the programme’s activities.
The evaluation recommends that future projects in Palestine pay more attention to off-farm activities in order that poorer and more marginalized segments of the population can also be reached. This will also enhance the resilience of the target population to future shocks in the Palestinian context.
Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri
Rural Livelihoods Improvement Project in Kratie, Preah Vihear and Ratanakiri in the Kingdom of Cambodia
The project - designed at a time when close to half of the country’s population suffered from poverty - reached close to 15,000 rural households. It contributed to the adoption of improved agricultural techniques by the targeted poor rural households and to improving agricultural productivity and production. The project had a strong poverty focus, and gender issues were effectively integrated based on good collaboration between partners at national and provincial levels. The group revolving funds helped ease the cash flow of beneficiary households and contributed to building social capital among members.
However, the benefits realized in terms of improved agricultural production were less than expected. This was due to, among other factors, weaknesses in the approach of extension services and training of farmers, although adjustments were made after the mid-term review for the training to be more effective and responsive to needs. The agro-ecological and socio-economic contexts varied widely between the provinces, and so did the performance. Promising achievements and good performance in Preah Vihear were due to a combination of good management at provincial level, fast growing market opportunities for organic rice and other support initiatives. Ratanakiri turned out to be the most challenging case, also due to the predominant presence of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities in upland areas, different farming systems, different socio-economic situations, lower literacy rate, language issues and remoteness.
Rural Financial Intermediation Programme (2017)
One of the main achievements of the programme was transforming Lesotho Post Bank into a self-reliant financial intermediary with a full banking license, and expanding rural credit and savings outreach. With the support of the programme, Lesotho Post Bank launched its lending operations and attained profitability for the first time in 2014.
The programme also contributed to the establishment of member-based financial institutions, which successfully provided their members, mostly women, with facilities to deposit and accumulate their savings and eventually improved their living conditions and household incomes.
On the other hand, the programme had an ambitious objective of enhancing access by the rural poor to efficient financial services on a sustainable basis. While the programme managed to build financial intermediaries with rural outreach which mobilized their own resources as loanable funds, the intended objective was not achieved at completion, as the linkages between member-based financial institutions and commercial banks were not effectively created.
Rural Microfinance Development Support Project
Évaluation de la performance du projet
L’approche globale du Projet d'appui au développement de la microfinance rurale était de soutenir les institutions de microfinance afin d’améliorer l’accès de la population rurale aux services financiers. Cette approche a été cohérente avec le contexte économique et les orientations stratégiques et politiques du Cameroun et du FIDA. Le projet a augmenté le rayonnement en zones rurales de sept établissements de microfinance partenaires, avec une augmentation du nombre de membres et d'épargnants. Cependant, le nombre et le volume de crédits octroyés a augmenté auprès de trois établissements de microfinance seulement.
Les membres de la Caisse populaire ont reçu un soutien non financier très limité pour assurer qu’ils pourraient faire le meilleur usage possible des services financiers. Il est donc peu probable que l’augmentation de l’accès aux services financiers ait conduit à une productivité plus élevée ou à des revenus pour de nombreux membres de la Caisse populaire.
L’innovation principale du projet devait être la création d'un fonds de refinancement du crédit agricole à moyen terme, mais l'efficacité du fonds a été affectée par ses modalités de fonctionnement peu adaptées, sa durée d'opération trop courte avant la fin du projet, et l'inexpérience des établissements de microfinance partenaires.
L'évaluation recommande que le FIDA devrait poursuivre ses efforts d'engagement au sujet du crédit agricole à moyen terme avec le Gouvernement du Cameroun ainsi qu’avec des donateurs intéressé et des institutions de microfinance. En outre, le FIDA devrait simplifier la conception de projets de microfinance rurale et assurer que ces projets soient mieux intégrés à d’autres interventions du FIDA dans le pays.
Post-Tsunami Coastal Rehabilitation and Resource Management Programme (2017)
The goal of the programme was to restore the assets of women and men directly or indirectly affected by the tsunami and to re-establish the foundation of their previous economic activities, while helping them diversify into new, profitable income-generating activities.
Some of the notable contributions from the programme comprised activities in which IFAD has solid experience, i.e. building public-private partnerships (in the case of shrimp farming) and developing microcredit and microenterprises. For instance, the cluster shrimp farm at Vakarai has had a much clearer impact on incomes. The evidence indicates that the incomes of the farmers had increased by more than 50 per cent. On the other hand, IFAD engaged in activities which were not part of its core competence – for example, building houses for beneficiaries – and this meant that it could not leverage its expertise and experience to best effect.
The evaluation argues for re-examining IFAD's role in post-crisis situations, especially in regards to focusing mainly on its core activities with a simpler design and a more flexible operational process, and giving due consideration to the linkages between poverty, gender and crisis in designing the programme targeting strategy.
National Rural Development Programme – Phase I: Western Region (2017)
The programme objectives were to significantly reduce poverty and prevent exclusion and discrimination among the poorest indigenous and non-indigenous populations of the Western Region of Guatemala through comprehensive, integrated and environmentally sustainable socio-economic development of rural areas.
The programme proposed activities to strengthen local development and decentralization, boost competitiveness and social investments, and strengthen the capacities of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Nutrition as the programme implementing agency. Despite the programme’s relevance to the needs of the country and the target population, it succeeded in carrying out only a limited number of isolated productive infrastructure activities and investments of limited scope, far from the integrated rural development approach envisioned in its design.
The evaluation recommends further analysis on social targeting strategy for beneficiary and intervention mechanism selection. The structural problems underlying rural poverty in Guatemala call for differentiated intervention mechanisms and particular attention to indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups such as women, young people and people with disabilities.
Post-Tsunami Agricultural and Fisheries Rehabilitation Programme
Project Performance Evaluation
The Post-Tsunami Agricultural and Fisheries Rehabilitation Programme in the Republic of Maldives was implemented between 2005 and 2013. The programme aimed to contribute to restoring agricultural gross domestic product to pre-tsunami levels, returning the economy to a stable, long-term growth trend and reducing the fishery sector’s vulnerability to natural disasters. The programme made little progress in the first three years, which meant that its original design was only partially relevant to the rapidly changing country context. After the Mid-term Review, the programme was revitalized to focus on the country's development needs, rather than on disaster relief restoration.
Additionally, the initial design focused more on physical inputs – e.g. new boats, new markets, new ice plants – and less on capacity-building or training. The revitalization shifted the focus of the programme from direct support to the fishery and agriculture sectors to policy support to the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture.
The programme could have been revitalized in a more systematic way with effective programme planning and clear intervention logic. Although there was a wholesale set of changes in the components of the programme, there was no systematic reconsideration of the programme's overall objectives. The programme was most effective at national policy level with regard to sustainable fishing, but it is rather difficult to measure any direct effect on the ground.
National Agricultural Technology and Training Programme: Technical Assistance Fund
The objective of the programme was to improve the production and marketing capacity of rural enterprises of small- and medium-scale producers through sustainable access to technical assistance services. The programme applied a demand-driven approach to technical assistance services in order to spur significant progress on developing a technology market by incorporating and training individual technicians, enterprises and universities. In addition, the programme was able to adapt a new element to its logical framework by implementing the Food Production Bond.
The evaluation found that women’s empowerment and participation was one of the greatest achievements under the programme, in addition to the positive changes in incomes, agricultural production, food security and human and social capital. A total of 7,000 women benefited, representing 48 per cent of all project beneficiaries. On the other hand, the evaluation identified opportunities for improvement in areas such as monitoring and evaluation, environment and natural resources management; and in methods to strengthen the sustainability of technical assistance markets.