IFAD’s Decentralization Experience

December 2016

Corporate-level Evaluation

The Independent Office of Evaluation conducted a corporate-level evaluation of IFAD’s decentralization experience in 2016, covering the period from 2003 through mid-2016.

The evaluation found that the objectives of the decentralization process were broadly relevant to improve the development effectiveness of IFAD-funded operations. In particular, by bringing IFAD closer to its operation and to the country development context and actors, country presence was expected to improve project and strategy design and implementation support, enhance engagement in non-lending activities, improve alignment with country systems and donor coordination, and contribute towards system-wide coherence of the United Nations. 

However, IFAD could have learned more from the experience of other organizations and could have been more realistic in its expectations. In particular, the range of activities that country offices were to perform was very broad compared to the resource envelope allocated to them.  Moreover, for many years IFAD concentrated on expanding its country presence but paid little attention to re-organizing headquarters.

The report also highlighted that by opening country offices, IFAD was in a better position to provide implementation support to its operations. It is through this support that country offices contributed to better project performance and results, especially in terms of impact and gender equality. But the contribution to non-lending activities (e.g. knowledge management, partnership-building and policy dialogue) was mixed. This was partly due to the limited human and financial resource available at the country-office level for non-lending activities. Moreover, engagement in policy dialogue largely depended on relevant interests and experience of individual staff members.

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD’s Performance-based Allocation System

April 2016

Overview

IFAD’s Performance-based Allocation System

Corporate-level Evaluation

Background

 

Since it was introduced by IFAD's Executive Board in 2003, the Performance-based Allocation System (PBAS) has enhanced the Fund's credibility, transparency and predictability of financial resource allocations to its developing Member States. The core feature of IFAD's PBAS is that country allocations are calculated using a specific formula to generate a country score, using several variables that, put together, determine country needs and country performance. Overall, the PBAS is found to be relevant. The formula should better factor in some key dimensions of IFAD's priorities, such as food security, nutrition and climate change. It also should improve the way it considers vulnerability issues as determinants of country needs. The evaluation finds the system's effectiveness to be on the whole moderately satisfactory. The rationale for including or excluding countries from the PBAS and the underlying mechanisms guiding the capping system should be made more explicit and institutionalized. Among the recommendations, the need to refine the PBAS design, by sharpening its objectives and strengthening the rural poverty focus; streamline the process for better effectiveness; and enhance management and governance, by taking a more corporate approach to the PBAS in general.

In-house learning event on the CLE-PBAS, 9 March 2016, IFAD headquarters. Photo by Maurizio Navarra.
In-house learning event on the CLE-PBAS, 9 March 2016, IFAD headquarters. Photo by Maurizio Navarra.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD’s Engagement in Fragile and Conflict-affected States and Situations

May 2015

 

This is the first corporate-level evaluation on IFAD's engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and situations (FCS) undertaken by the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE). It reflects IFAD's growing involvement in such contexts, and growing global interest in FCS. The evaluation focuses on IFAD's work with FCS over a 10 year period from 2004 to 2013.

The evaluation found that IFAD has a critical and distinct role to play in addressing the problems of fragile states which, in turn, are key to achieving a range of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including the elimination of poverty, the promotion of sustainable agriculture and productive employment and the building of peaceful and inclusive societies.

The evaluation shows that there have been significant improvements in overall project achievement, project effectiveness, IFADÃ's performance as a partner and rural poverty impact in fragile countries. At the same time, the evaluation underlined the importance for IFAD to develop a new policy/strategy for its work in fragile situations, which would ensure even more customized approaches for better development effectiveness

LANGUAGES: English

Corporate-level Evaluation on the IFAD Policy for Grant Financing

November 2014

 

Corporate-level evaluation. IFAD’s grants programme has a long history, dating back to the Agreement Establishing IFAD. The Executive Board approved a policy for grant financing for the first time in 2003 and a revised policy in 2009. The overall objectives of this evaluation were to: assess the performance of the IFAD Policy for Grant Financing, in terms of relevance, effectiveness and efficiency; and generate findings and recommendations that will inform IFAD’s strategic directions and priorities for future grant activities. This evaluation finds that grants can be an invaluable tool for IFAD to promote its agenda of rural poverty alleviation. Grants have allowed IFAD to collaborate with a wide range of organizations, such as farmers organizations, civil society and indigenous people’s organizations, and international agricultural research institutions. However, the relevance of the policy has been limited by lack of clarity and prioritization. Overall, the effectiveness of the policy has been moderately unsatisfactory, overall though have are signs of improvement since 2010.

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD Replenishments Evaluation

June 2014

The corporate-Level evaluation reveals that replenishment consultations are critical for IFAD's financial sustainability and also provide a unique platform to ensure accountability for results and collective reflection on IFAD policy and strategic priorities. In particular, the changes introduced in the Ninth Replenishment of IFAD Resources have further strengthened the effectiveness and efficiency of the Fund's replenishment processes. At the same time, the evaluation identifies some areas for further development. On the financing side, IFAD would need to intensify its ongoing efforts to mobilize additional resources beyond replenishment contributions to meet the increasing demand for its assistance in all recipient countries. Moreover, the current representation system of IFAD Member States in the replenishment consultations might require some adjustments to better reflect the existing geopolitical and economic landscape. Finally, the evaluation also highlights the value for IFAD to simplify the current results measurement framework, including by more explicitly defining a theory of change for achieving rural transformation.

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD's Institutional Efficiency and Efficiency of IFAD-funded Operations

February 2014

Background and objectives This report presents the findings and recommendations of the corporate-level evaluation on IFAD's efficiency (CLEE). The CLEE responds to the growing interest in the organization's efficiency in the wake of the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, and the ensuing budget constraints affecting many IFAD member states.

The main audience of this evaluation is IFAD Management and the Executive Board. However, the evaluation will also be of interest to IFAD Member States, multilateral and bilateral organizations, as well as the development evaluation community in general. CLEE covers not only the efficiency of IFAD operations, but also institutional efficiency in a number of critical areas: the management of human resources, results and budgets, ICT, oversight and support functions, leadership and decision-making, and governing bodies. Given its scope and coverage, it has been arguably the most complex and challenging evaluation done by the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE). The challenge has been exacerbated by the fact that this evaluation is the first of its kind among development agencies, requiring IOE to develop a dedicated methodology, and mobilize extraordinary expertise in evaluation and a range of technical areas. The unique features of this evaluation include the analysis of efficiency at multiple levels – output, outcome, impact and scaled-up outcome and impact, which is very relevant for IFAD. Credit goes to the Executive Board and IFAD Management for their support in this undertaking, as well as for their openness to engage with IOE throughout the evaluation process, and share with us the necessary data, information and documentation required for our analysis.

IOE has been ably supported by a highly credible team of consultants, with country case studies mostly done by national consultants (annex 14). IOE has benefitted from the insightful inputs of two senior independent advisers, Robert Picciotto and Richard Manning, who ensured that IOE and its consultants followed the most appropriate evaluation methodology and process to conduct this evaluation, and who also reviewed and commented on several deliverables, including the draft final report. Their joint analysis on the quality of the evaluation has been included (annex 10). The CLEE also included valuable contributions by several IOE staff at different stages, however, in line with the IFAD Evaluation Policy, as the manager of the CLEE, I take full responsibility and ownership of the contents in the final evaluation report and the overall evaluation process.

In terms of process, special effort was made by IOE throughout the evaluation to minimize surprises and maximize learning and dialogue. For example, emerging evaluation findings were discussed with IFAD Management in a timely manner, both informally and formally. Management was given the opportunity to review and comment on the emerging findings in an interim report, and their feedback was duly considered by IOE in the preparation of the draft final evaluation report, where they also had a chance to comment. The main findings were presented to the Evaluation Committee and the Executive Board for their feedback before the preparation of the final evaluation report.

The CLEE found that a number of initiatives to enhance efficiency and effectiveness have been undertaken in recent years, including in the course of the evaluation. They include the introduction of direct supervision and implementation support, expanded country presence, the Change and Reform Agenda, commitments related to efficiency undertaken in the context of IFAD9 consultations, a more transparent and strengthened budget process, and the even more recent Strategic Workforce Plan.

On the operational front, IFAD is engaged in a fundamental transition from a focus on financing individual projects to a programmatic approach that links knowledge work, policy dialogue and partnerships to projects in each country, with growing attention given to the scaling up agenda. It will take time for the full benefits of many management decisions and reforms to be realized fully. At the same time, there are a number of opportunities for increased efficiency at different levels, and they are enumerated in the report. In pursuing these opportunities, IFAD Management and the Executive Board must be mindful of the trade-offs between efficiency at these different levels.

With respect to the governing bodies, CLEE finds that their overall architecture is complex, but it works. The non-resident nature of the Board is a positive characteristic but it does contribute to an overloaded agenda. There are opportunities for the Governing Council to delegate to the Executive Board, and for the Board to delegate to Management. The report includes a dedicated chapter on the efficiency of IFAD governing bodies, with many interesting findings that deserve reflection.

Recommendations. The evaluation has a number of important findings and recommendations that merit close attention. The overarching recommendation is that IFAD "Raise the bar for IFAD's own performance as a partner to promote scaled-up impact of IFAD-supported operations". This recommendation is grounded in the rationale that for IFAD to make a significant impact, it must leverage its resources manyfold by attracting partner resources on a very large scale to replicate and scale up pioneering, innovative IFAD-funded operations and activities. This requires that IFAD become the center of excellence in its niche by raising the bar on its own performance. It compels IFAD to aspire to the threshold of ‘satisfactory or better' performance as against the current practice of ‘moderately satisfactory or better'. That is the first step toward excellence in all aspects of operations, and toward developing IFAD-supported projects and country programmes that can lead to the desired levels of scaled-up impact.

This recommendation is supported by seven sub-recommendations:

  • Scaling up of high impact, innovative approaches emerging from IFAD-supported projects and programmes should become the objective of IFAD's business model;
  • Articulate and implement a clear vision for country presence and how IFAD would operate in a decentralized environment;
  • Manage oversight and support units, including critical ICT functions, with a clear focus on increasing service quality and cost efficiency;
  • Better manage scarce budgetary resources towards high-quality results;
  • Manage strategically the skills composition, cost and performance of the workforce;
  • Focus oversight by the governing bodies on key strategic issues, with more attention to discussing results, lessons and evaluations;
  • Instill an institutional culture of accountability and performance, and strengthen the reporting for results.

With respect to the governing bodies, the evaluation also recommends the introduction of a code of conduct, a normal feature of international financial institutions, and the development of broad terms of reference for Executive Board members to assist Member States in designating their representatives. Discussions on the CLEE by the Evaluation Committee and the Executive Board have resulted in broad agreement on the recommendations, and highlighted the critical importance of effective and timely follow-up. Management and IOE agree that the best way forward is to combine the recommendations of the evaluation and the efficiency-related commitments undertaken in IFAD9 consultations into a single, consolidated action plan for further enhancing IFAD's efficiency.

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD’s Supervision and Implementation Support Policy

February 2014

 

This first evaluation synthesis report issued by IOE makes an initial assessment of the progress made so far in implementing IFAD’s Policy on Supervision and Implementation Support, identifying promising practices and emerging issues. IFAD’s decision to move to direct supervision and implementation support was one of the most far-reaching changes since the Fund was established. It has facilitated more direct follow-up with implementing agencies to resolve bottlenecks that have emerged during implementation and has allowed IFAD not only to achieve closer cooperation with other partners but also to establish and nurture partnerships with multiple stakeholders. Overall, IFAD should be commended for implementing such decision. However, the direct supervision and implementation support of IFAD operations has posed several challenges. The specific preparations needed for implementing this ambitious supervision policy were inadequate and implementation has progressed at different rates and with different modalities among the five regional divisions. In the longer term, IFAD should now consider drawing on the best practices from the different approaches to increase harmonization, efficiency and shared responsibilities across IFAD departments, and to reduce risk. There is also a need to optimize the division of labour in undertaking direct supervision and implementation support, within IFAD and between IFAD headquarters and its country offices

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD's Private-Sector Development and Partnership Strategy

January 2011

Background and objectives (see paragraphs 69-71).1 Upon approving IFAD's Private-Sector Development and Partnership Strategy in 2005 (hereafter referred to as the private-sector strategy), the Executive Board requested the Independent Office of Evaluation to undertake a subsequent evaluation. The evaluation objectives were to: (i) assess the relevance and evaluate the implementation of the strategy; (ii) evaluate the emerging results of IFAD-supported projects designed after its adoption; (iii) assess the evolving approaches, as well as good and less good practices, to IFAD's private-sector development efforts; (iv) examine the instruments and experiences of other development organizations in engaging the private sector in agriculture and rural development, with the aim of identifying lessons that could be pertinent for IFAD; and (v) generate a series of findings and recommendations that could serve as building blocks for IFAD's future engagement with the private sector.

The importance of the private sector (see paragraphs 4-14). Private-sector entities have a central role to play in smallholder agriculture and rural development, offering opportunities for the creation of employment and wealth in rural areas. Their contribution in promoting access to markets, undertaking innovations, providing essential services - including technical assistance, training and rural finance - and supplying inputs has proven to be complementary and critical to the services provided by government agencies, NGOs and civil society organizations. However, the private sector is not a homogenous group of actors. Smallholder farmers, farmers' associations, agribusinesses and other commercial firms, as well as large national and international conglomerates, all form part of the growing private sector in developing countries.

IFAD's role and comparative advantage (see paragraphs 15-23). Given its mandate and taking into account the private sector's key role in smallholder agriculture and rural development, IFAD can aspire to take a leadership role globally in developing innovative approaches to engage the private sector to the benefit of the rural poor. IFAD's commitment to make the private sector an integral partner has been tenuous and not universally well received among staff until recently. In the last two years, however, IFAD Management has forcefully articulated a vision that sees small agriculture as a profitable business and building block for a more prosperous and dynamic rural society.

The relevance of IFAD's private-sector strategy (see paragraphs 84-99). The goal "to engage the private sector to bring more benefits and resources to IFAD's target group" and the immediate objective "to increase pro-poor private-sector operations and investments in rural areas" of the strategy were and remain relevant. However, there were little or no roll-out actions to facilitate implementation of the strategy; and the strategy did not consider adequately the need for ensuring corporate social responsibility and promoting fair trade practices and sound environmental management, in a context of wider private-sector participation. Nor did the strategy sufficiently address the risks inherent in engaging with the private sector, such as the implications for poor people who are unable to take advantage of the resulting opportunities.

The 2005 strategy included the first IFAD-specific definition of the rural private sector. The evaluation concluded that this definition is too broad-based and does not adequately differentiate among private-sector operators working in agriculture and rural development, who often have very different needs, requirements, capabilities and opportunities. Rather, the definition lumps together operators at the smaller (rural) end of the private-sector continuum including agroprocessors and other rural microentrepreneurs, as well as national, regional and international operators. It also includes private-sector operators from both the formal and informal economy.

The three broad lines of action of the strategy were as follows: (i) policy dialogue for local private-sector development; (ii) investment operations to support local private-sector development; and (iii) partnerships with the private sector in order to leverage additional investments and knowledge for rural areas. They were well chosen to achieve its goal and objective. The strategy's results framework was however weak, well defined incentives and accountability were lacking, and no provision was made for systematic outreach and dissemination following its approval. Preparation of the strategy was not adequately organized, and did not entail any consultation with a cross section of IFAD staff or partners from developing countries and other organizations.

The implementation of the strategy (see paragraphs 105-150) was examined according to the strategy's three broad lines of action and implementation requirements. With regard to policy dialogue, about half the new generation country strategic opportunities programmes (COSOPs) - those considered by the Board between 2007 and 2010 - cover policy dialogue on the private sector and consultation with private-sector entities. There is however room for improvement in promoting a favourable policy and institutional environment for private-sector engagement at the country level, as well as scope for wider engagement in key policy arena that would create a more conducive international and regional trade environment.

Projects designed in 2009, as compared to those designed in 2004, made better provision for private-sector development through greater attention to rural micro and small enterprises, commodity value chains, market linkages and agricultural productivity. However, this was attributable to the gradual increase in IFAD's investment in marketing and rural enterprise development, rather than a result of implementing the strategy. Projects have not generally emphasized the role of the private sector in research and extension, analysed the potential risks associated with the value chain approach, made full use of information and communication technology to promote market access, or built gender and environmental concerns into projects with major private-sector components.

The targets set in the strategy's results framework for mobilizing resources from the private sector for IFAD-funded projects have been met and exceeded. However, the evaluation found only a few concrete examples, as with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), of partnerships to leverage investments from private foundations or philanthropic organizations. The Fund has some partnerships at the institutional level with other multilateral organizations (e.g. the OPEC Fund for International Development) specifically for private-sector development, but on the whole these are less developed than its partnerships in other areas.

Finally, the evaluation found that IFAD's governing bodies (especially the Executive Board, Evaluation Committee and replenishment consultations) have generally encouraged it to take a more favourable stance towards private-sector development. However, the Board did not exercise adequate oversight in the strategy's implementation including monitoring the fulfilment of "implementation requirements" (section VII of the strategy) such as reporting on achievements against specified key performance indicators.

Emerging results from the new portfolio (see paragraphs 152-159). The emerging results of projects with a significant private-sector component that started up after the strategy was approved in 2005 – as recorded by IFAD's self-evaluation system - reveal better overall performance than similar projects approved before 2005. In particular, projects approved in recent years are performing better on 12 of the 18 indicators included in the project status reports prepared by country programme managers (CPMs) annually for each operation, including in terms of their "likelihood of achieving their development objectives". This is important, as the ultimate aim of IFAD-supported projects is to promote private-sector engagement as a means of achieving better poverty reduction results on the ground, rather than supporting private-sector development and engagement as an objective per se. Finally, recent data from the Results and Impact Management System surveys show that the performance of most ongoing projects is moderately satisfactory in specific areas related to private-sector development, such as the "likelihood of sustainability of market, storage, processing facilities".

Among other issues, the seven country studies brought out three key insights that could contribute to further strengthening IFAD's work on the private sector (see paragraphs 181-192): (i) government commitment to and support for private-sector development is key to IFAD's ability to design effective investment operations in agriculture and rural development; (ii) IFAD needs to use all its instruments (and not just investment operations) more effectively for promoting private-sector development in borrowing countries; and (iii) very little use has been made of the grants programme to support private-sector development, for example in terms of promoting policy dialogue and knowledge management.

The importance of corporate business process for better results (see paragraphs 195-238). The strategy made provision for adjustments to some key corporate business processes such as training, learning, knowledge management, and monitoring and reporting. In particular, it specified a number of "implementation requirements" to ensure that the strategy could be appropriately implemented to achieve the desired results on the ground. Some of those requirements were not met at all (e.g. appointing a staff member to oversee implementation, developing guidelines or a toolkit to operationalize the strategy, training staff); and most others only in part. The evaluation concludes that this has impeded the achievement of results on the ground.

IFAD's existing organizational architecture and workforce (see paragraphs 207-211) are insufficient to promote partnerships and engage the private sector. In addition to the lack of a senior technical adviser on private sector issues, 2 a large number of front line staff (i.e. CPMs) have limited knowledge of and experience with the private sector including in terms of resource mobilization, which requires specialized skills, competencies and know-how. Efforts to conduct systematic training on the topic have also not been forthcoming. In spite of this, IFAD has done relatively well in adjusting the focus of recent operations to encompass value chains, market access and employment creation. But if IFAD is to develop a comparative advantage in linking smallholders to markets, it will need to build up the skills and global experience of its staff.

Instruments for private-sector development (see paragraphs 226-238). The evaluation concludes that IFAD has not yet fully leveraged its existing instruments (loans, grants, policy dialogue, partnership building and knowledge management) to promote partnerships with the private sector. At the same time, the evaluation underlines the limitations of the existing instruments and explains why using loan-funded investment projects (i.e. sovereign lending) – the main instrument currently at IFAD's disposal for rural poverty reduction - is not effective for private-sector promotion in support of the rural poor. For example, governments are often reluctant to use public money to support private-sector entities, and when they are prepared to do so they often cannot ensure efficient management of such funds. Nor is the private sector keen to work in direct partnership with government institutions. Hence the bulk of assistance from other multilateral development banks (MDBs) for private-sector development is provided on a non-sovereign direct lending basis.

The evaluation concludes that if IFAD were able to lend directly to the private sector, including small and medium enterprises, agroprocessors, microfinance institutions, cooperatives, farmers' associations, commercial banks and others who face challenges in mobilizing financial resources, this could provide significant advantages to the rural poor. Direct lending to the private sector, which can take a variety of forms (e.g. equity investments, loan guarantee funds, venture capital, investment finance.) would contribute to spurring market-led development among the rural poor, especially if used in a coherent and synergistic manner in country programmes with IFAD's traditional instruments for agriculture and rural development.

Recommendations. The evaluation suggests that consideration of a new corporate private-sector strategy would be timely, and offers the following recommendations as inputs.

Strengthen existing instruments to support private-sector development. IFAD provides loans to governments, has a grants programme and is involved in non-lending activities (policy dialogue, knowledge management and partnership building). However, all these instruments must be used to their full potential, in particular ensuring that they are mutually reinforcing and can in a holistic manner contribute towards IFAD's private-sector development objectives.

Strengthen the design, supervision and implementation support of loan-funded projects that include private-sector development. More thorough analysis of the requirements for generating pro-poor benefits and possible risks of collaboration with private-sector entities involved in commodity value chains should be undertaken, with due attention to gender and environmental considerations. The grants programme should be used to provide complementary support to private-sector entities involved in IFAD operations, including technical assistance and advisory services to strengthen the capacities of private-sector entities. This might eventually necessitate an expansion of IFAD's grant policy.

Ensure that COSOPs coherently articulate how synergies will be established between investment operations and non-lending activities to support private-sector development at the country level. Specific recommendations with regard to policy dialogue and partnerships are summarized below:

Policy dialogue. IFAD needs to: (i) use the COSOP formulation process to more systematically discuss opportunities and constraints for rural private-sector development and to promote a dialogue within the country on these issues; (ii) work more closely with other MDBs to ensure that issues affecting private-sector development related to agriculture are on the agenda for dialogue with governments; and (iii) use the grants programme more strategically to fill gaps in IFAD's and the governments' understanding of these issues and provide the analytical underpinnings for enhanced policy dialogue.

Partnerships. It would be important for the Fund to engage more widely with foundations and philanthropic organizations with a strong private-sector orientation, at the corporate and country levels, that can provide knowledge and financing for IFAD-funded activities. In addition, the Fund should strengthen its collaboration with MDBs at both the corporate and country levels, inter alia, focusing on policy dialogue, knowledge management, cofinancing of operations, and identifying opportunities for scaling up successfully piloted innovations on private-sector development through IFAD operations. In particular, opportunities for partnership should be explored with agencies such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which can lend directly to the private sector and whose funding is seen as additional by governments. Under such partnerships, IFAD could support smallholders with seed capital, technical know-how and business development services, to engage in higher productivity activities and move up the value chain.

Establish a private-sector development financing facility. The evaluation concludes that IFAD should leverage its existing instruments to their full potential, but this would provide only incremental improvements to IFAD's target groups – especially small farmers. Therefore, in addition to implementing the above recommendation, the evaluation further recommends that IFAD establish a private-sector development financing facility to directly channel resources for private-sector operations in rural areas, with non-sovereign guarantees.

The proposed facility would support selected elements in the value chain that would have a direct impact on enhancing the productivity of small farmers and provide them with better incomes. However, the new corporate private-sector strategy will have to determine what type of direct support (e.g. equity investments, loan guarantees, venture capital, investment finance, technical assistance and advisory services) it would consider a priority for the rural poor.

The facility could include initial financing of US$200 million for a five-year period. Voluntary contributions would be invited from Member States, foundations and philanthropic organizations, and others. The evaluation recognizes that direct lending would have significant implications for IFAD's legal, financial and supervision systems, as well as require IFAD to put in place standards of corporate social responsibility as a basis for due diligence in order to minimize the risks of lending directly to private entities. Additionally, it would necessitate developing staff capacities and expertise, as well as an adequate organizational structure. The evaluation recognizes that direct lending to private-sector entities (i.e. non-sovereign loans) will require the concurrence of the Board.

The facility would have a clear governance framework, and a systematic monitoring, evaluation and reporting system. In particular, ongoing monitoring and annual reporting to Senior Management and the Board throughout the five-year period will be essential to success. A thorough assessment of the facility and the projects funded at the end of the five years would serve as a basis for deciding together with IFAD governing bodies whether direct lending to the private sector ought to become a regular instrument at the disposal of IFAD for its rural poverty reduction efforts, as well as the size and administrative location of the facility.

Assess IFAD's human resources and organizational architecture. Management should undertake a thorough assessment of IFAD's organizational architecture and human resource capabilities and requirements for private-sector development, including management of the facility and promoting private-sector development in general. In this regard, the option of further reconfiguration by establishing a specific organizational unit (division3 or department) responsible for promoting IFAD's work on private-sector development and engagement should be explored. The reconfiguration could group together existing key staff currently working on private sector-related issues (senior technical advisers on private-sector development, rural finance and others). The assessment should also lead to the definition of an appropriate incentives and accountability framework for IFAD's work with the private sector. In addition, it is recommended that IFAD organize periodic peer reviews on its private-sector activities and architecture.

Definition of private sector. The new strategy should adopt a clearer and more focused IFAD-specific definition of the private sector, in light of the Fund's mandate to assist the rural poor. It should recognize that the private sector is a heterogeneous group of actors who have different capabilities and requirements. It should promote partnerships with private enterprises that can provide resources and services that improve the livelihoods and incomes of the rural poor.

Process for preparation of the new IFAD private-sector strategy. It is recommended that the strategy be developed based on consultation within IFAD to ensure that all key inputs are duly captured and as a means to building ownership for its implementation. Selective consultations with outside partners should also be conducted to obtain a wider view and feedback on the strategy. This could include farmers' organizations, NGOs, other international financial institutions and development organizations that are currently working with the private sector (International Finance Corporation, United States Agency for International Development, African Development Bank, etc.), as well as private-sector entities.


1/ The paragraph numbers in the executive summary refer the reader to the main report, where additional information can be found on the same topic. 

2/ Notwithstanding the lateral transfer in April 2011 of a staff member from the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division to work on private-sector development in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division.

3/ For example, along the lines of the recent establishment of a central Environment and Climate Division, including the assignment of dedicated staff in each PMD regional division working on the same topic.


 

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD’s performance with regard to gender equality and women’s empowerment

December 2010

Corporate-level evaluation

Background and objectives

The Consultation on the Eight Replenishment of IFAD's Resources decided in 2008 that the IFAD Office of Evaluation (IOE) would undertake this corporate-level evaluation on IFAD's performance with regard to gender equality and women's empowerment. The objectives of the evaluation are to: (i) assess the relevance of IFAD's strategy in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment; (ii) learn from the experiences and good practices of other development organizations; (iii) assess the results of activities funded by IFAD related to gender equality and women's empowerment in its country programmes and corporate processes; and (iv) generate a series of findings and recommendations that will assist IFAD's Executive Board and Management in guiding the Fund's future activities in this area.

Process

Four building blocks form the basis of the evaluation: (i) an analysis of the evolution of gender-related concepts and development approaches, and a comprehensive documentary review of the policy and evaluation documents prepared by other development organizations; (ii) an assessment of key IFAD corporate policy and strategy documents; (iii) a meta-evaluation of past operations based on existing evaluative evidence, a review of recent country strategic opportunity programmes (COSOPs) and ongoing projects, and five country visits to gain insight into the perspectives of partners in these countries and collect evidence from the field about the evolving approaches and results of IFAD-funded projects; and (iv) a review of selected corporate business processes that have implications for IFAD's performance in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment in partner countries. Section C in chapter I of the main report gives a more detailed account of the objectives and processes related to the evaluation's four building blocks.

Main findings

There has been an evolution globally in approaches to building gender equality and women's empowerment. Pre-1975 efforts were mainly addressed to men as producers and women as homemakers, which ignored the important role of women as farmers and food producers. Subsequently, there was a shift to women-focused approaches and approaches focusing on changing the relations between women and men. A recent and promising gender equality approach promotes the complementarity of women and men in family production and farmers' organizations (see paragraphs 11-19 of the main report).

The review of literature on the topic revealed that there are two major constraints to the effective application of lessons from previous operations: a reluctance to address gender as a major organizing principle of society and a failure to invest sufficiently. All development agencies with recent evaluations have revealed, at best, mixed success in implementing gender mainstreaming. There was a broad consensus among development partners that this was mainly due to the lack of: (i) results orientation; (ii) consistent leadership and follow-up by senior management and executive boards; (iii) staff incentives and accountability through performance management systems; (iv) a clear understanding of how best to address gender inequality; (v) adequate investment in gender equality expertise in operations; (vi) attention to gender balance in staffing; and (vii) an inclusive organizational culture. Some of the findings from these evaluations are also applicable to IFAD (see paragraphs 20-29).

Because it was established at a time of significant global attention to the need for development to include women, IFAD has always paid attention to gender equality and women's empowerment. Between its inception and 1992, it did so mainly through women-specific project components; since then, it has included women as beneficiaries and as actors more systematically in its projects (see sections A and B in chapter III).

The new millennium marked an increase in efforts to "mainstream" gender equality and women's empowerment in the design, implementation, supervision and evaluation of IFAD-funded operations. This was done mainly in connection with IFAD's Gender Plan of Action 2003-2006, and, subsequently, with the 2008 Framework for Gender Mainstreaming in IFAD Operations. These are two of the key documents that capture IFAD's corporate strategic approach to promoting gender equality and women's empowerment (see paragraphs 40-48).

IFAD's corporate strategic approach to gender is largely relevant and consistent, but fragmented across numerous documents, including the gender action plan and gender framework. Moreover, synergies with other thematic and corporate policies and strategies are not clearly articulated. Interpretations of the terminology and understandings of the topic also differ widely, which has led to alternative approaches in COSOPs and in project design and implementation (see paragraphs 63-76).

The evaluation found no evidence of systematic monitoring or reporting on progress related to gender equality and women's empowerment by either Senior Management or the Executive Board. Reporting is in fact largely confined to project-level activities. It is also fragmented across numerous documents, preventing a consolidated picture of the main results, opportunities and challenges associated with the topic. However, compared with comparator agencies, IFAD has done better in instilling a results orientation in its gender work (see paragraphs 73-74 and 78).

The evaluation reviewed older and recently designed IFAD-funded projects, five country programme evaluations, and five COSOPs developed last year. Overall, the performance of past IFAD-financed projects is moderately satisfactory, but this average rating masks significant variance among projects and countries in attention to gender-related dimensions of design and implementation. Performance in efficiency and promotion of innovations and scaling up is inadequate. The evaluation found a relationship between gender achievement and a project's overall achievements, a finding confirmed by evaluations in other organizations. However, the analysis does not reveal a causal relationship in either direction. Compared with earlier ones, newer COSOPs and project designs are paying increasingly more attention across the board to gender issues. On the whole, the evaluation considers that IFAD's performance is moderately satisfactory in achieving its first two corporate objectives related to gender, but moderately unsatisfactory in achieving the third objective1 (see sections B-E in chapter IV).

The review of corporate business processes found that factors that support IFAD's work on gender equality and women's empowerment include a recognition of the importance of the issue at the most senior levels (in Management and the Executive Board); operational systems and processes that have a reinforced quality enhancement and quality assurance system; direct supervision and implementation support; and wider country presence. IFAD has established an elaborate results measurement framework including gender indicators for design and implementation, but this framework consists of multiple layers and systems and requires streamlining. Independent evaluations assess gender as part of the various evaluation criteria applied (e.g. relevance, effectiveness, etc.), but do not have dedicated gender indicators and/or questions that are applied in each evaluation (see paragraphs 48 (i), 166 and 181-183).

In terms of knowledge management, few efforts have been made to aggregate results coherently at the regional or corporate levels, and lesson-learning and cross-fertilization of experiences on gender issues is limited and ad hoc. Like some of the comparator agencies, IFAD does not invest sufficiently in learning from its experience and building on its successes. Some initiatives to ensure learning and knowledge management are taking place, but they are not systematic or adequately resourced. Their analysis of what has contributed to or prevented progress on gender equality and women's empowerment needs to be strengthened. The role of communication in highlighting IFAD's work related to gender equality and women's empowerment is generally positive (see paragraphs 176, 184-185 and 189-190).

There are some good examples of policy dialogue by IFAD on gender issues in partner countries. However, in spite of this, on the whole policy dialogue performance at the country level is variable, but generally unsystematic, with little analytic underpinning and not backed by the required human and financial resources. On the other hand, IFAD has played a useful role in selected global policy and advocacy platforms (e.g. farmers' associations) by drawing attention to the plight of rural women and their central role in smallholder agriculture and rural development processes (see paragraphs 186-187).

Partnerships with civil society organizations and NGOs working on gender issues are generally positive. Some good examples of relations with borrowing-government agencies that deal with gender equality and women's empowerment were also found; this varies considerably from country to country. Partnerships with donor governments have been good in terms of the supplementary funds mobilized at the corporate level, but generally limited in terms of discussion of content issues with bilateral aid agencies involved in operations. However, IFAD representatives actively participate in the gender networks of the United Nations and those of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development/Development Assistance Committee. No significant partnerships devoted to gender were apparent with the private sector, apart from a handful of initiatives at the project level and with the Farmers' Forum (see paragraph 188).

In terms of gender architecture, the gender desk within the Policy and Technical Advisory Division has spearheaded the process of ensuring attention to gender in project design and implementation, and supports other corporate processes such as communications and fundraising. In the five geographic regions covered by IFAD operations, the gender desk has provided support to leaning and knowledge management, but resources for this function are variable and inadequate. The contributions of the thematic group on gender were influential in the early years of the gender action plan, but more recently, there are indications that the group needs revitalization through the development of clearer results-oriented objectives and workplans. The role of gender focal points is unclear, and their accountability and working relationships also need review (see paragraphs 168-170 and 177-178).

Arguably, the greatest challenge in IFAD's gender equality and women's empowerment work relates to its human resources management and corporate culture. Historical data reveal that the ratio of women to men in the organization is rather traditional, with many women in support staff positions and few in leadership functions, even though in 2010 IFAD hired its first woman Vice-President and first woman Director of the Office of President and Vice-President. There are an encouragingly high proportion of women in the more junior Professional category. Even though there is room for further improvement, IFAD nevertheless compares well in terms of its gender balance in staffing with selected United Nations organizations and international financial institutions. Although IFAD's Human Resources Policy explicitly makes reference to ensuring gender balance in IFAD's workforce, the guidelines for consultants' recruitment makes no such provision. In fact, the evaluation found that few women and gender experts were recruited as consultants in the teams responsible for COSOP development and key phases of the project life cycle (e.g. design and supervision missions, including evaluation) (see paragraphs 193-200).

IFAD's human resources policy includes anti-harassment provisions and a variety of work-life balance policies. The evaluation found poor uptake of the options provided in formal policies (e.g. special leave without pay). IFAD's informal culture has not traditionally encouraged the inclusion of perspectives and ways of working that are women-friendly or family-friendly, although these are important for building an organization capable of delivering on gender equality and women's empowerment (see paragraphs 202-204).

Similarly, there are no specific incentives for attention to gender equality in staff, consultant or divisional performance; and no accountability or negative consequences for lack of attention. Performance in this area does not figure in individual workplans, which tend to be largely activity-based. In other words, the type of results orientation that is strongly advocated in IFAD-funded operations is not applied to an equal degree in individual work planning and human resources management (see paragraphs 176 and 179).

Another shortcoming is that IFAD is unable to track in its loan investments the amounts allocated to advancing gender equality and women's empowerment, and there is no evidence that it has taken concrete steps to address this problem. Similarly, there is no indication of the funds allocated ex ante for this purpose in IFAD's annual results-based programme of work and budget. The evaluation also found that there has been a disproportionately high reliance on supplementary funds and grants for core gender activities. Access to such sources of funding is not secure – and, for supplementary funds, specific efforts are required for additional periodic reporting to the concerned donors. The Board, on its part, has not asked IFAD to provide information on the amount of resources the organization is investing in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment (see paragraphs 165, 172 and 191-192).

Conclusion

IFAD's strategic approach to gender is relevant, but guidance is fragmented in several corporate documents. The Fund's effectiveness in meeting one of its three strategic objectives (improve women's well-being and ease their workloads by facilitating access to basic rural services and infrastructure) is moderately unsatisfactory. Moreover, results of IFAD-financed operations are moderately satisfactory on the whole, even though there is significant variability across projects and countries. A number of key corporate business processes that are essential for supporting IFAD's gender work remain weak. In sum, as far as the promotion of gender equality and women's empowerment is concerned, there seems to be a gap between rhetoric and practice, which raises the question of whether IFAD is indeed "walking the talk".

Recommendations.

The evaluation makes the following recommendations:

  • Develop an evidence- and results-based corporate policy on gender equality and women's empowerment. IFAD should develop its first overarching corporate policy on gender equality and women's empowerment, for submission to the Executive Board in 2011. The policy would be IFAD's principal reference document on gender equality and women's empowerment, bringing under one umbrella the Fund's main strategic objectives and priorities in this area. The recommended policy should indicate how key corporate business processes will be adjusted for better results on the ground.
  • The gender policy should include a section on who within IFAD Management will be responsible for implementation, oversight and reporting. IFAD should produce a consolidated annual progress report, covering the results achieved in the implementation of the new policy, lessons learned and adjustments made to key corporate business processes that affect performance in gender-related activities. The policy should also include an overarching results measurement framework for IFAD's gender work, and specify how the Executive Board will fulfil its role in providing guidance and support, as well as oversight on results.
  • Knowledge management, learning and analytic work. IFAD needs to invest in building a common evidence-based understanding among staff of the theory of gender equality and women's empowerment, and its related terminology. Among other issues, this should include attention to the systematic documentation and cross-fertilization of lessons learned and good practices across projects, countries and regions, and at headquarters as well as in the field.
  • Innovation and scaling up as key principles of engagement. The corporate-level evaluation on innovation recommended that IFAD define an IFAD-wide innovation agenda at the corporate level that consisted of a few selected themes or domains. The themes or domains selected, "big bets", should be in areas of the agriculture and rural sector where there is a proven need for innovative solutions and where IFAD has developed (or can develop) a comparative advantage in successfully promoting pro-poor innovations that can be scaled up. In this regard, this evaluation recommends that gender equality and women's empowerment be included as one of the "big bets" in IFAD's corporate innovation agenda until 2015. IFAD should, however, remain open to promoting gender-related innovations at the country or project level that respond to context-specific challenges. COSOPs and project designs should outline the specific efforts needed to ensure that successful innovations can actually be scaled up for wider impact on gender equality and women's empowerment.
  • Policy dialogue. Policy dialogue and advocacy work should focus on the selected "big bets", but also on specific thematic areas that might require attention in a given country context. Furthermore, staff competencies and skills will need to be enhanced for effective engagement in policy processes, which also requires continued attention to partnerships with multiple stakeholders for advocacy at global and country levels.
  • IFAD's gender architecture. The evaluation recommends that Management conduct a dedicated, comprehensive review of IFAD's overall gender architecture to ensure that the organization has the required human resources and funds to achieve the desired results on the ground in borrowing countries. The review should include not just the Programme Management Department (PMD) but all other departments in the organization. The evaluation makes specific recommendations for the gender architecture, which may be seen in chapter VI of the report.
  • Tracking investments and budgets. It is recommended that Management undertake an analysis of spending on gender equality and women's empowerment in a regionally based sample of projects that have good gender equality results. This would allow it to determine the level of costs incurred in the past, which can serve as a guideline for future project designers. In addition, efforts should be made to indicate the amount of administrative budget being devoted annually to gender-related activities.
  • Training. While gender-specific training and awareness-raising is needed on key concepts, it is also recommended that a gender perspective be incorporated in training events organized by PMD on operational aspects and by the Human Resources Division on core competencies and in staff induction programmes. A gender training programme should be developed as soon as possible and implemented from the beginning of 2011.
  • Assessment of gender equality and women's empowerment in evaluations. It is recommended that IOE develop specific indicators and key questions for assessing gender equality and women's empowerment in country programme and project evaluations. 2 In addition, it should include a dedicated section in all evaluation reports in order to provide an overall account of performance on this indicator and to highlight the proximate causes of good or less good performance. The same recommendation is also applicable to the various components of IFAD's self-evaluation system.

1/ Box 5 in the main report contains the three corporate objectives for gender equality and women's empowerment.

2/ That is, in the context of project completion report validations and project performance assessments.

 

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD’s capacity to promote innovation and scaling up

June 2010

Background. At its Ninety-fifth Session in December 2008, the Executive Board requested the Office of Evaluation (IEO) to undertake a corporate-level evaluation of IFAD's capacity to promote pro-poor innovation. The main objectives of the evaluation were to: (i) assess the performance of the Fund in promoting innovations that can be scaled up; and (ii) generate findings and recommendations for enhancing future IFAD activities in this area. The evaluation and IFAD Management's response thereto were discussed by the Evaluation Committee and the Executive Board at their respective sessions in April 2010.

Main findings. The evaluation found that, since the mid-1990s, concerted efforts had been made to incorporate innovation into the Fund's key policy and strategy documents. This is demonstrated by the inclusion of innovation, learning and scaling up as one of the six principles of engagement in the IFAD Strategic Framework for 2007-2010, and by the fact that, of the five organizations covered by the evaluation's benchmarking study, IFAD was the only one to have a definition and stand-alone strategy for innovation. Nonetheless, the evaluation found that insufficient resources and attention had been allocated for the purpose of translating policy and strategy pronouncements into concrete action. For instance, some recommendations generated by the first corporate-level evaluation on innovation, undertaken in 2000/2001, were never implemented, others only partially.

As far as results on the ground are concerned, the performance of IFAD-funded projects in promoting innovation has improved over time. This should not, however, give rise to complacency as almost 50 per cent of all projects evaluated in 2008 revealed only moderately satisfactory results in terms of innovation; very few were satisfactory; and even fewer were highly satisfactory.Two qualifications should be borne in mind when interpreting positive results: (i) evaluations have paid more attention to assessing the innovations introduced and piloted during project/programme execution, and much less to verifying whether successful innovations had been scaled up – which would have been essential to ensure they had a greater impact on rural poverty; and (ii) IEO's selection of projects for evaluation in any one year is largely done on a non-random basis, which may lead to a bias towards evaluating better-performing IFAD-funded interventions.

The evaluation revealed that the Fund has paid relatively more attention to (and found more success in) innovative solutions in social engineering and institutional arrangements (e.g. promoting participatory approaches to planning and resource allocation) rather than in agriculture. Although IFAD has provided a fair amount of grant resources for agricultural research to develop innovative, low-cost agricultural technologies that can lead to better productivity and incomes, the results of such research have not easily found their way into its investment projects. The relatively higher proportion of social engineering and institutional innovations may be attributed to the fact that, in the 1990s and the first part of the new millennium, IFAD generally focused more on social capital formation and empowerment than on agricultural activities or identifying economic opportunities for poor rural people. This gives rise to concern, first of all because of the number of poor people who are also food-insecure, and because of the Fund's mandate to enhance agricultural productivity and incomes through on-farm activities.

Scaling up is particularly weak in IFAD-funded operations. With IFAD's relatively limited resources, scaling up is of paramount importance. While the evaluation found examples of successfully scaled up innovations, these were largely the result of individual initiatives and commitment rather than of a systematic approach. Indeed, it was found that far too much is left to the initiative and entrepreneurial skills of individual IFAD country programme managers, who frequently act without clear incentives and/or accountability.

There are two other reasons why IFAD's performance in scaling up has been inadequate. First, as a general rule, little attention has been given to knowledge management, partnership-building, policy dialogue, etc., partly because IFAD has concentrated on designing investment projects/programmes (and, more recently, on direct supervision and implementation support) instead of allocating time, space and resources to non-lending activities. Second, in the past, the Fund's operating model (which did not allow it to perform supervision directly or to provide implementation support) and lack of a country presence constrained its ability to promote, replicate and scale up innovations. In any event, it is fair to state that, having recognized the importance of scaling up, IFAD is now making due efforts in that regard, including a scaling-up initiative in collaboration with the Brookings Institution. Moreover, the strengthening of the Fund's country presence, better quality assurance and quality enhancement systems, direct supervision and implementation support, and greater focus on non-lending activities are expected to collectively contribute to better results, not only in scaling up but also in identifying and piloting innovations.

As mentioned above, lesson learning and knowledge management are essential for documenting and sharing successful innovations with a broader audience. While it is recognized that IFAD introduced a dedicated knowledge management strategy in 2007 and that some useful initiatives have been made to share experiences over the last two years, knowledge management may be further strengthened to support innovations within IFAD-supported country programmes/projects. The recent decision to integrate stand-alone knowledge management and innovation strategies is a step in the right direction, given that the two processes are mutually reinforcing and essential for innovation management.

In tandem with loans, grants can play a useful role in selected phases of the innovation journey. IFAD has invested a fair amount of grant resources in developing pro-poor innovative solutions in agriculture and related areas. Nevertheless, although IFAD's grant programme could play a strategic role in supporting the innovation agenda, evaluation experience confirms that the links between grants and investment projects have not been adequately defined in country strategic opportunities programmes (COSOPs) and thus have been mostly weak in operations. It is to be noted, however, that IFAD's revised Grant Policy, approved in December 2009, emphasizes the strategic role of grants in innovation and, for the first time, also provides an opportunity to involve the private sector in research and pilot innovations for replication and scaling up through investment projects.

Perhaps the evaluation's most important finding is that IFAD's past efforts to promote innovation have been too broad-based. That is, rather than pursuing innovation in a focused manner, building on its comparative advantage, track record and specialization, the Fund has followed a "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach. One reason is that the Fund's innovation strategy does not require it to channel resources to selected strategic areas, or to chart the way to become an innovative organization.

The evaluation found that while IFAD's organizational capacity and culture to promote innovation have both improved since 2000, results have been rather poor and in any event start from a very low base. Among other things, there is a need for further development of human resource skills and competencies, for strengthening knowledge management systems, promoting a more open environment to foster creativity and for setting clear, focused directions for promoting innovation and scaling up. In this regard, IFAD's recent appointment of a Chief Development Strategist as the focal point for knowledge and innovation is a move in the right direction.

In continuation to the above, the evaluation notes that a number of organizational capabilities are required to support the innovation journey: systematic learning, structure and processes, culture, competencies (including staff skills and incentives), decision-making, and leadership and direction – capabilities that the 2000/2001 evaluation considered to be weak. The present evaluation found that the third, and probably the most important objective of the Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation (IMI) – changing the organizational culture and practices to support innovation – has not, by and large, been met. The evaluation pointed out that, overall, IFAD's organizational capacity for innovation remains weak and has changed only marginally since the beginning of the decade. In other words, the Fund's strong strategic commitment to, and pronouncements on, innovation have not been adequately converted into action to become part of IFAD's corporate culture.

According to a staff survey conducted in 2009, despite having moved up five places IFAD still falls within the lowest quartile of the 43 organizations surveyed. More generally, the survey also showed that while staff considers IFAD to be relatively good at searching out or scouting for innovations, it is somewhat weak in prioritizing their promotion and scaling up. The survey also noted that while a number of key operational processes (e.g. quality enhancement and assurance) have been strengthened, the required human resource skills/incentives have not been put in place to promote innovation. Training opportunities are limited and it is not easy to obtain additional resources for advancing promising innovations. It was found that managers do not deal promptly with blockages that may hamper change (e.g. identifying additional resources for scaling up), and that IFAD's knowledge and information systems do not perform well with regard to deciding on innovations for scaling up. The Fund is also slow in taking new ideas through the system and, importantly, is not sufficiently open to ideas from a wide diversity of sources, including poor rural people. All these and other factors constrain the development of IFAD into a more effective, innovative organization.

Generally speaking, there is a disconnect between IFAD's strategic pronouncements and its (still) weak institutional capacity to promote pro-poor innovation on the ground. Undeniably, however, progress has been achieved and a number of initiatives have been taken (such as that on scaling up). But if IFAD is to become a more effective, agile and innovation-driven development organization in the twenty-first century and, even more importantly, if it aspires to becoming a leader in promoting pro-poor innovation, it will need to make a quantum leap, particularly in terms of organizational culture change and capabilities, and follow its "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach within a few strategic areas. However, the evaluation recognized that IFAD should also remain open to promoting country-/project-level innovations that respond to perceived challenges related to the agriculture and rural development of specific country circumstances. It should also focus more attention on the process of scaling up than it has in the past. Clearly, this will not be possible without sufficient allocations of resources.

Recommendations. The following recommendations aim to improve IFAD's capacity to move from its strong strategic commitments and pronouncements towards a more systematic approach, thereby enabling it to achieve better results on the ground in promoting pro-poor innovations for subsequent scaling up.

Define an innovation agenda for IFAD. As the Fund has followed a "let a thousand flowers bloom" approach to promoting innovation in the past, the evaluation recommended that an IFAD-wide innovation agenda, consisting of a few selected themes or domains, be developed at the corporate level. The themes or domains selected – "big bets" – should be in areas of the agriculture and rural sector where there is a proven need for innovative solutions and where the organization has (or can develop) a comparative advantage in promoting pro-poor innovations that can be scaled up. The selected "big bets" would be part of the Fund's innovation agenda, conceived as a corporate rolling programme over a period of, say, three years, and including specific objectives, activities, timelines, budgets, management and oversight arrangements, and monitoring and reporting requirements. The agenda would be approved by the President of the Fund, who would communicate it to IFAD staff and the Executive Board, with a commitment to provide annual reports on its implementation. However, the evaluation recognizes that the Fund also needs to remain open to promoting innovations at the country/project level that respond to perceived challenges related to the agriculture and rural development of specific country circumstances.

The evaluation recommended that more attention be paid to developing innovative solutions in agriculture technologies and related areas aimed at the economic empowerment of poor rural people. Examples of domains that IFAD might consider as "big bets" include health and weather insurance for poor rural people; rural finance products for dispersed populations; research on high-yielding crop varieties both in rainfed areas and for poor small-scale farmers; carbon projects; market access and value chain development (e.g. risk mitigation for the transition from subsistence to commercial farming); land titling (to include rural women); valorization of out-migration, and so on.

Treat scaling up as mission-critical. It is essential that concrete approaches and strategies for scaling up be articulated by the time of COSOP formulation and project design. The role and contribution in this regard of IFAD's direct supervision and implementation support, and of its country presence, should be clearly defined. IFAD should set corporate targets for scaling up and monitor and report on them annually. In this regard, it is also important to underline the accountability framework for scaling up, which would ensure that this critical phase in IFAD's innovation journey is given due attention and resources. Adequate resources and space need to be allocated to non-lending activities, which are essential for scaling up. Staff competencies should be further developed to ensure success in this area. Greater effort is needed in terms of exchanging experiences and lessons on innovation and scaling up within and across the five geographical regions in which IFAD works, both in the regions and among operational staff at headquarters.  IFAD's policy dialogue and partnership-building agenda at the country level should be also driven by the objective of scaling up, and thus should focus on a few topics that are part of the Fund's innovation agenda in the country concerned.

The evaluation found that the concepts of innovation and scaling up were lumped together as a unique block in IFAD and that the measurement and reporting systems, including IEO evaluations, do not always distinguish between them. It is recommended that, in future, innovation be assessed and reported on as a separate process from scaling up. However, given the intrinsic relationship and dynamic between the two concepts, assessing the achievements of IFAD's efforts in the entire innovation journey from scouting, to piloting, documenting and scaling up will be also essential.

Strengthen organizational capabilities and culture. The Fund will need to develop practical innovation management skills. Management of innovation is different from implementing proven approaches inasmuch as it requires entrepreneurship, a capacity to cope with greater uncertainties, adaptation, a range of skills and the ability to make difficult choices on emerging evidence. Thus IFAD should develop an innovation-specific competency model for individuals and teams, drawing on current best practice. Such a model would provide the basis for a comprehensive skills enhancement programme and development of relevant tools, processes and monitoring systems. Innovation management skills should be developed as personal, team and networked competencies and adopted both by the staff of IFAD and by its partners.

Staff recruitment should explicitly include innovation as a necessary characteristic. Incentive systems should be introduced that reward staff for promoting innovation and fostering the learning/sharing of good practices and experiences in innovation, i.e. the annual staff performance evaluation system should consider innovation in the assessment process. The evaluation found that there had been some improvement in operational processes in past years, but recommended that a study be undertaken to establish whether further adjustments were required in areas such as policy formulation, COSOP development, project design, supervision, evaluation systems (including monitoring and evaluation), non-lending activities, etc., to ensure that innovation is fully built into key phases of the country strategy and project life cycle.

All the recommendations generated by the present evaluation, including that of improving organizational capabilities and culture, will have a bearing on the Fund's administrative budget. If IFAD's overall innovation and scaling up efforts are to give the desired results in future, a detailed analysis will be first required to determine the financial implications involved and to ensure that adequate resources are allocated in a timely manner.

The Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation. The evaluation recommended that funds left unused from the IMI should be used for initiating implementation of the three main recommendations contained in the evaluation, in particular, for changing the organizational culture and practices to support innovation, i.e. the IMI objective that has not been satisfactorily achieved. The evaluation also recommended that the IMI be extended and a future work programme developed, which could be funded either through IFAD's administrative budget or from supplementary funds mobilized for that purpose.

LANGUAGES: English