Viet Nam Country Programme Review and Evaluation (2001)

September 2001

Principal CPRE recommendations

Strategic

The CPRE broadly confirmed the validity of IFAD strategy in Vietnam with its clear emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor through the development of participatory processes and enabling institutions. Decentralisation and empowerment, rural financing, commercialisation and marketing, gender mainstreaming, and protection of the environment have emerged during the CPRE as key policy issues that require joint consideration by IFAD and the Government. Within the Policy Dialogue, the Government will be requested to

Consider:

  • Transferring to communities the responsibility for a number of services including community development projects and primary health and sanitary care i.e. schools, heath centres, wells and domestic water, etc. to ensure more efficient use of resources, reduce government budgets (apart from operation and maintenance costs communities can contribute with labour and local materials to investment costs) and promote ownership, empowerment, transparency, accountability and sustainability.
  • Giving greater delegation of financial powers to Commune Development Boards (CDBs) (like issue of contracts) with respect to village level micro-schemes and handing over all implementation responsibility for project components to the activity managers of the technical departments mainly at the commune level.
  • Promoting the development of fee-based and self-financing extension (plant and livestock) nurseries, animal breeding, clinical and other field veterinary and ancillary services (government maintains its regulatory, control and supervisory animal and public health functions), at the commune level. Part of the investment could be made as loans to the Commune Workers as it is the case in Tuyen Quang where Commune Veterinary Workers own refrigerators, motorcycles and have stocks of medicine.
  • Abandoning below-market interest rates, which prevail in much of the formal credit operations. Very poor households would still need a transparent programme for a targeted safety net support for meeting their consumption and production needs as part of a social fund type package.
  • Improving access of small poor farmers and small entrepreneurs to the financial market through the development of rural finance institutions on the model of village-based Savings and Credit Associations (SCAs) promoted by IFAD in several other countries for servicing the financial inter-mediation needs of the poorer income groups through the mobilisation of savings. Strengthening of these institutions would involve appropriate incentives, accompanying measures in the field of training, institution building and development of the appropriate legislative and regulatory framework.
  • Reorienting public investments to address effectively those factors that limit the opportunities for the poor to participate in the benefits of market reforms, including lack of physical and institutional infrastructure (roads, credit, land and water), isolation from trade and market network, and information on price and market potentials.
  • Issuing land and housing titles to the names of women or in the joint names of men and women; (ii) encouraging increased representation and greater influence of women in public institutions; and (iii) ensuring that ethnic women have equal and adequate access to education and health services.
  • Modernising its environmental legislation, formulating environmental standards and controls and developing a national environmental action plan to arrest deforestation, further soil erosion and degradation, and preserve land productivity. (ii) Enhancing efforts to develop participatory forest protection models including formation of participatory soil conservation associations and issue forest protection contracts to farmers.

Project design

Future projects should include in their design provisions for:

  • Empowerment and participatory features such as the creation of community-based organisations, resource management and co-management committees, forest protection models and soil conservation associations, user groups around specific project activities, etc. to promote ownership, transparency, accountability and bottom-up approach to development. Enhanced community mobilisation may be facilitated through the coalition with experienced mass organisations and international NGOs.
  • Community-programmes to be carried out on the basis of flexible Community Development Funds to allow for the community expressed needs, as identified by Participatory Rural Appraisals, to be met.
  • Strengthening the demand-driven participatory research and extension system through adequate investments in training of staff and essential infrastructure particularly roads, development of market initiatives including information on prices and market potentials and requirements, improved access to micro-credit at market interest rates, and clear land-use rights to stimulate investment and uptake of improved technology.
  • Development of a comprehensive livestock strategy to cater for both feed resources and number and type of livestock used. Due emphasis to small stock, particularly smallholder poultry production.
  • Development of veterinary infrastructure to ensure adequate outreach and preventive vaccinations and secure investments in livestock.
  • Gender-focused components, including micro-credit, drudgery reduction, and access to fuel, and (ii) mainstreaming of gender concerns into all components.
  • Assistance to farmer groups, associations or members of groups for establishment via credit of (i) packaging plants and co-operative marketing of agricultural produce or units for the co-operative purchase of agricultural inputs, and (ii) assembly points for raw milk for purchase cooling tanks and quality testing equipment so that milk could be delivered to processing plants.
  • Assistance to entrepreneurs via credit for establishing and initial operation of private small and medium scale processing plants for agricultural produce or milk processing plants.
  • Exit plan to cater for the consolidation and maintenance of achievements during the post-project period.

Operational

Ongoing and future projects should ensure that:

  • Community-based organisations and activity user groups receive significant amount of support and training including dialogue and communication amongst extension staff, credit delivery institutions (Banks), target beneficiaries and other involved institutions.
  • PRAs are conducted separately for women and men and pay greater attention to the participation of the poorest in separate groups, the analysis of causes of poverty, and to the development of village plans including food security plans for poor households.
  • Communes are involved in periodic participatory monitoring and impact assessment.
  • The rules of the activity user groups regarding membership fees, user charges and contributions are designed in such a way that they are pro-poor.
  • The research and extension service is strengthened through training of staff and adequate investments in essential infrastructure. Farmer groups or members of groups receive training in simple bookkeeping, home economics, nutrition, processing and marketing skills, etc.
  • VBARD and VBP improve the lending programmes to smallholders to support technical diversification and alleviate poverty. Link the implementation of extension messages for improved agricultural and livestock practices directly to a credit package tailor-made to suit the needs and capacity of smallholders. Veterinary Health Workers could work closely with the micro-credit programmes.
  • Apart from the purchase of buffaloes and pigs, credit is used for other cash and income generating activities in production and services or where the poor have a comparative advantage and for which a market exists such as cash crops and small agricultural equipment, petty trade, tailoring and knitting, etc. particularly in the uplands where there is widespread unemployment and very low income.
  • Gender concerns be included in all stakeholder training and capacity building programmes, including integration of women's groups into regular extension programmes, adult literacy and education, Village Health Workers, nutrition and other vocational training programmes, etc.

Introduction

Background. To date, IFAD has funded four area-development projects in Viet Nam: the Participatory Resource Management Project (PRMP) in Tuyen Quang Province; Agricultural Resources Conservation and Development Project (ARCDP) in Quang Binh Province; Ha Giang Development Project for Ethnic Minorities (HGDPEM); and Ha Tinh Rural Development Project (HTRDP). Total IFAD lending in Viet Nam amounts to USD 60.7 million. The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is the cooperating institution for all four projects.

IFAD strategy in Viet Nam. The Fund's strategy in Viet Nam is to support the Government's poverty alleviation drive and programmes for improving the living conditions and welfare of rural people. Its assistance is particularly directed to the Northern Uplands, North Central Highlands and Central Highlands Regions (identified as the poorest areas) and ethnic minorities, upland farmers and women-headed households (identified as the most vulnerable target groups). IFAD's strategy focuses on: (i) building local institutional and managerial capacities; (ii) enhancing the participation of local stakeholders in project design and implementation; (iii) giving priority to rural employment and income-generating activities; (iv) investing in the construction and rehabilitation of rural infrastructure; (v) providing support to ethnic minorities while protecting their cultural identity; (vi) supporting the rehabilitation and diversification of agriculture in areas hitherto neglected or prone to natural disasters; (vii) directing the Fund's resources to the poorest provinces; and (viii) helping the country to develop sustainable financial mechanisms for lending to the poor.

Project design and objectives. The primary objectives of all the IFAD-supported projects are to improve the incomes and living standards of poor rural households and to increase their participation in the development process. Project activities have focused on agricultural production; rehabilitation of essential infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and irrigation schemes; environmental conservation and management; agricultural extension; animal health services; aquaculture development; the provision of microfinance; and support for income diversification. Health and education activities are also being undertaken under HGDPEM.

Implementation. Projects have been implemented under the overall responsibility of provincial people's committees (PPCs). The implementation arrangement envisaged for PRMP differed somewhat from that of the other three IFAD-financed projects in that a project management unit (PMU) was established for this purpose. The PMU was to be supported by a working group at the provincial level, comprising representatives of various provincial technical departments. In the other three projects, project coordination units (PCUs) were created to coordinate implementation at the provincial level. Actual implementation is the responsibility of provincial technical departments, which operate through district-level structures. However, during implementation, IFAD altered the management structure of the PRMP by transferring implementation responsibility from the PMU to provincial implementation agencies.

Country programme review and evaluation (CPRE). In close consultation with the Government, the Asia and the Pacific Division (PI) and the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE) of IFAD undertook a joint CPRE in Viet Nam in 2000. The aim was to: (i) develop a series of lessons learned and recommendations for improving IFAD's present and future programmes in the country; (ii) identify policy issues to be raised with the Government for its consideration; and (iii) provide inputs for reviewing, as appropriate, IFAD's country strategic opportunities paper (COSOP) for Viet Nam.

The CPRE was conducted in a highly participatory manner, in line with the Fund's new approach to evaluation, and was the first PI/OE exercise of this nature. The rationale for the joint approach was based on the consideration that since all four projects financed by IFAD in the country were still ongoing, the undertaking of a CPRE by OE alone would not appropriately address some of the implementation-oriented issues requiring immediate follow-up to ensure better execution, impact and sustainability of activities. In short, a joint CPRE was deemed more suitable as it would not only draw lessons from experience to provide inputs for updating the COSOP and improve the design and performance of future activities, but also support the streamlining and amelioration of current operations.

The exercise was planned and implemented to promote maximum local participation and ownership. To start off the process, a brief reconnaissance mission was undertaken to Viet Nam in May 2000 to assess the expectations and priorities of the counterparts vis-à-vis the CPRE. That was followed by the commissioning (in June 2000) of internal self-evaluation implementation assessment studies by each project, offering project staff the opportunity to express their perceptions about the opportunities and constraints of the Fund's intervention. The results of these studies were discussed with the CPRE mission during a stakeholders' workshop organized at the outset of the mission's fieldwork (July 2000). The World Bank's recently established Global Distance Learning Network was utilized to organize a video conference (Rome-Hanoi) in mid-September 2000 to provide interim feedback to stakeholders and discuss the first draft CPRE report and lessons learned. The video conference brought together in Hanoi some 25 persons from the four provinces, including representatives of mass organizations (Viet Nam Women's Union (VWU) and farmers' associations), government staff, provincial district authorities, other donors, cofinanciers and project staff. It also provided a unique opportunity for IFAD to listen to the comments and suggestions of a range of stakeholders prior to finalizing the CPRE report.

The Fund's New Approach to Evaluation demands that an in-country workshop be held at the end of each Country Programme Evaluation in order to finalise an ‘agreement at completion point' (ACP)1. The formulation of an ACP would therefore mark the completion of the Vietnam CPRE exercise. Therefore, a CPRE workshop was held in Hanoi on 13 March 2001. The principal objective of the workshop was to engage in a discussion with a broad range of IFAD partners in Vietnam so as to derive an understanding on the key lessons learned and recommendations from the CPRE. The Workshop was also a forum for exchange of recent experiences among the four IFAD-supported projects in Vietnam, the Government of Vietnam, as well as various other partner organisations. The workshop was held at the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and approximately forty people participated in the session, including representatives of the four IFAD-supported projects, several ministries from the Government of Vietnam, Provincial Peoples Committee, Vietnam Bank for the Poor, Farmers' Association, Vietnam Women's Union and others.

The methodological structure of the workshop took the form of plenary presentations and discussions, as well as deliberations in two working groups. IFAD had requested the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT)2 to facilitate the workshop discussions, and to prepare a summary of the day's main observations and suggestions. Full interpretation (English – Vietnamese – English) was necessary throughout the plenary session as well as in the working groups. The background documentation had been translated into Vietnamese by the Government, and distributed before the session together with the English version. In this regard, the workshop revealed the importance of cross-checking the quality of documents, as a number of misunderstandings on concepts and content arose during the discussions due to inaccurate translation.

There was a general consensus on the five lessons learned and recommendations proposed in the draft ACP. However, the ACP was revised to include the productive set of comments generated during the workshop. The five lessons learned and related recommendations concern the following topics:

  • Rural Financial Services
  • Gender Mainstreaming
  • Decentralisation and Bottom-up Development
  • Forestry and Environment Protection
  • Participatory Adaptive Research and Extension

Each lesson learned also includes a short personal case story captured by the CPRE mission. These provide the reader with an opportunity to benefit from the perceptions and opinions of the beneficiaries about the interventions supported by the Fund.

The CPRE's ACP contains three main recommendations that have a wider policy implication and need to be addressed to ensure more efficient and effective poverty reduction and rural development efforts. The first policy recommendation concerns the elimination of the subsidisation of the rural financial sector. The CPRE concluded that below-market interest rates and related subsidies are not financially sustainable, nor do they provide for an operationally effective means of reaching ethnic minorities, women and other most underprivileged people. Concurrently, the CPRE recommends that the government extend operations of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development and of the Vietnam Bank for the Poor in support of the poorest people in rural areas. The second policy recommendation concerns the need to issue land titles in the names of both husband and wife. This will contribute to the empowerment of women and give them an incentive to make greater investments on their land and engage more actively in development initiatives, such as those related to micro-enterprise development or other income generating activities. The CPRE also recommends that the government promote increased representation of women at all levels in key decision-making positions in rural development public institutions. The third policy issue relates to the need for the government to delegate greater financial authority to provincial, district and commune levels for rural development programme planning, implementation and disbursements. This will not only enhance efficiency, but also increase ownership, transparency and accountability at the lowest levels. There are also other policy recommendations, but these are considered the most pressing ones.

Implementation performance

Financial matters. In all four projects, delays in disbursement have been common, resulting occasionally in a shortage of funds to meet payments for goods and services and thereby delaying implementation. The main cause of the delays are the complex and lengthy disbursement procedures.

Infrastructure. Progress in the construction of roads and small-scale irrigation schemes has been good, despite constraints attributed to the remote location of construction sites and cumbersome administrative and procurement processes. In PRMP, supervision and review of construction are contracted out. District implementation units and commune technical workers are responsible for the supervision and assessment of construction in Quang Binh and Ha Giang provinces. In general, there have been problems with cumbersome bidding procedures and with the overloading of technical units.

Crops and extension. The PRMP was the first province-wide project to use the participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tool to determine the appropriate contents of extension activities in each commune. The same approach was later extended to the projects in Quang Binh, Ha Giang and Ha Tinh. Previously, however, top-down ‘technology transfer' programmes dominated most extension activities and there was little funding for adaptive research.

Livestock. In PRMP, the Mong Cai pig breeding programme has been particularly successful, with 1 264 households provided with breeding animals; and the training and equipping of commune animal health auxiliaries has meant much wider coverage of preventive veterinary vaccinations. A poultry model for poor households has been successfully promoted by the provincial extension service, but more needs to be done in maintaining the on-farm, pro-poor and participatory perspectives of the model. In Ha Giang, the increasing number of cattle and pigs has put extra pressure on fragile environments. None of the reports on implementation in Ha Giang demonstrate any clear understanding of the integrated nature of the problem or address the related question of fuel supply. The main achievement in the Quang Binh livestock sector has been the establishment of two artificial insemination stations and one pig breeding station. A team from Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry has assessed the status of livestock at the household level and made a number of recommendations with regard to on-farm trials and demonstrations.

Aquaculture. In Quang Binh, five hatcheries for shrimp and fish have been rehabilitated for local production of juveniles and fingerlings, with 1999 production meeting 70% of demand in the province. Ten tiger prawn model demonstrations and ten for fish cage-rearing have been implemented, with training programmes for key staff and beneficiaries in 75 communes.

Forestry. The forestry component of HGDPEM aims to support existing forest programmes in critical watershed areas, principally by developing participatory protection models and the issuance of forest protection contracts for a planned 20 000 ha of critical forests. Main activities to date have been the procurement of vehicles and equipment, staff training and the preparation of an environmental impact assessment study. Protection contracts for 11 000 ha of forest have been issued, and 200 ha of new forest have been planted, the latter activity having been added in 1999. Under the sand-dune fixation component of ARCDP, 2 700 ha of casuarina have been planted in 12 southern communes in the dune area, where all planting and maintenance were carried out by farmers. About 70% of local farmers, most of them women, benefited from employment opportunities. Seedlings are being produced by the farmers themselves, and a self-management board for maintenance and protection has been set up in each commune.

Credit. All credit programmes are implemented with the close support of the VWU, although the actual flow of credit is through the Viet Nam Bank for Agriculture (VBA) or the Viet Nam Bank for the Poor (VBP). The credit programme aims to respond to the credit needs of rural people and to build up the capacities of different institutions involved in the programme. However, microcredit activities have not been sufficiently successful, with the exception of the PRMP in Tuyen Quang, where the credit component started before the operation of the Government's preferential credits through VBP and VBA. The VBP (VBA branch) that implements the government-sponsored credit programmes has not been very successful in reaching the poor or in developing economically viable programmes with a significant and sustainable impact on the poor. Some of the main reasons are: frequently the targeting procedures have been poorly applied through mass organizations, particularly the VWU; poor planning and lack of technical support for activities financed through loan funds; and inadequate institutional capacity to sustain microfinance operations for the poorest.

In Quang Binh, the VBA is reluctant to channel credit to the poor, in particular to those without land titles. In Ha Giang, administrative problems initially delayed the flow of credit, but the VBA has now agreed to channel credit from its own resources. Even in Tuyen Quang, where the flow of credit to the poor from VBA has been good, group capital is not enough to meet short-term consumption needs or the medium-term production and consumption credit needs of members on a sustained basis. Very few group members have obtained repeat loans either from the groups or from the banks. Finally, institutional capacity strengthening with regard to credit has been achieved only partially in all four projects, mainly due to delays in technical assistance.

Decentralization. Provincial and district authorities have budgetary and administrative responsibilities, but communes are not directly included in the consolidated budget and almost all public services are delivered through the formal government administrative system. The Central Government negotiates with each province annually to determine levels of expenditure and subsequent revenue transfers for poor provinces. District and commune revenues are also based on approved expenditure, but there is no standard system for assigning revenues to districts and communes. For delivery of public services at the commune level, revenue allocations reaching the communes are barely adequate to meet their administrative costs. Local contributions, with the help of national programmes, must finance virtually all non-salary recurrent costs of public services, such as agricultural extension, animal health services, education and health. Project provinces are practising certain innovative approaches to decentralization, with mass organizations forming an important link between the local people and implementing agencies through the formation of user groups and self-help groups (e.g. for irrigation management, drinking water management, forestry protection, health and education, etc.). However, participatory decision-making does not sufficiently involve key stakeholders, such as poor farmers and women.

Impact and sustainability

Poverty. As all four projects are still operational, any assessment of impact would be premature. However, the CPRE was able to obtain some indication of expected impact. For instance, the second round of PRA in Tuyen Quang indicates that in 51 selected communes the number of better-off households has increased by 10.5% and poor and very poor households have decreased by 12%. However, microlevel analysis suggests that the very poor derived less benefit from the project than the poor, particularly with regard to the irrigation and infrastructure components. A participatory evaluation in Le Thuy district of Quang Binh revealed a 10% decline in poverty as a result of the rice-regeneration interventions over a period of two years, but the impact was higher among those with larger landholdings and has excluded the handful of very poor landless people. In the sand dune area, employment in project activities has helped the poor to increase their livestock base, meet agricultural credit requirements and repair their houses. Monetary gains to the poor have also been noted in the case of forest protection activities. Incremental income has largely been invested in livestock, particularly in pigs. Better access to natural resources with the help of rural infrastructure built by the project is contributing to diversification of rural production and narrowing the gap between the poor and the well-off in some localities. However, the sustainability of the favourable poverty impact of the projects depends both on the sustained flow of credit to the poor and on social security measures being put in place to help the poor cope with contingencies like ill health, death of a family member and disaster. These mechanisms need to be strengthened in all projects. Finally, poverty alleviation will be sustainable only when the poor are represented in institutions at the national level that they can use to assert their interests and to organise access to resources.

Targeting. The targeting of the provinces has been good. More than 12% of the poorest communes, as identified by the Government's Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction (HEPR) programme, fall within the four project provinces. Within provinces, the targeting of poor districts has been fairly good in Tuyen Quang and Ha Giang, but needs better focus in the poorest districts of Quang Binh. In Ha Giang, the targeting of poorest communes has been most effective, not just because there is a greater number of poor communes but also because of the conscious effort made to reach them. In Tuyen Quang, targeting of poorest communes is strong with the exception of animal husbandry and irrigation. In Quang Binh, such targeting needs to be strengthened in all programmes, in particular micro-credit, irrigation and animal husbandry. In Tuyen Quang, only members of poor and very poor households can derive benefits from the credit programme; in Quang Binh, considerable leakage to non-poor was noted.

Beneficiary participation. While different groups living in poverty are consulted during project desigh, there is still little active participation of the poor in identifying needs and shaping project design. This is particularly true for the irrigation and road components, which are often pre-targeted. IFAD's main contribution has been the promotion of PRA as a tool for operational planning, for which the multi-component PRA conducted in Tuyen Quang proved more effective than the sectoral PRA used in other projects. Primarily, PRA methodology was used to determine the content of research and extension priorities in instituting a problem-solving and demand-driven approach to agricultural extension. PRA methodology was also employed for wealth ranking in the project area as a targeting instrument, whereby poorest households are identified by the villagers themselves through classifying households into four or five categories based on their own criteria. Integrated participatory evaluation exercises have been institutionalised in Tuyen Quang, with monitoring of poverty status and village work plans. A variety of self-help groups have been formed which are involved in planning and managing micro-irrigation and drinking water schemes, access to credit, road programmes, sand dune fixation, forest protection and agricultural extension activities. Water user groups function successfully and the sense of ownership by beneficiaries is real. There must be self-reliant and well-trained labour crews, or in their absence device an alternative arrangement, to operate and maintain project schemes to ensure post-project continuation of benefits. Participatory processes can be sustained beyond the project period only if they are institutionalised within existing structures.

Gender mainstreaming. An explicit commitment to address gender-specific causes of women's poverty and to mainstream gender concerns is absent from project objectives. However, the key role of women in agriculture, livestock and rural marketing is recognized, and gender concerns are mainstreamed to some extent in the credit/income diversification components, especially in the case of Ha Tinh. The degree of access of poor women to project resources has been higher for credit and income diversification, followed by agricultural extension and sand-dune fixation, and lower for other programmes. A broader implementation issue is the gender and ethnic composition of staff and workers. Women's representation in the PPC/PCU ranges from 18% in Ha Giang to 26% in Quang Binh, with more representation in administration and accounting than in project management. In all projects, representation is lower at the district level than it is at provincial level. The Tuyen Quang project has been the most successful in terms of expanding the independent asset base of poor women, increasing their status within the family and strengthening their ability to cope with poverty through the credit and savings programme. Joint titles to land and houses are particularly important for the sustainability of gender impact, and this needs to be pursued at the central government level.

Financial Services. The credit programme faced serious structural and procedural problems that restricted its impact on project beneficiaries significantly. The cumbersome processing procedures, the high cost of making small loans, the collateral requirements and the perceived high risks of small loans inhibited the involvement of commercial or state banks in lending to poor farmers at a large scale. Even in Tuyen Quang, where the flow of credit to the poor from VBARD has been good, the group capital was not enough to meet the short term or medium term consumption/production credit needs of their members on a sustained basis. Attempts to satisfy more households have resulted in a thin spread of credit and only very few beneficiaries have been able to obtain a second loan. Despite high repayment rates, there was very little mobilisation of savings and very little in the diversification of investments, most credit being used to purchase pigs and/or buffaloes. Over 70 percent of rural households depend on informal sources for credit, paying interest rates that are two to three times higher than those charged by formal financial institutions. Apart from limited presence of formal banking institutions in rural areas, inability to offer collateral explains limited access to formal finance by the rural poor. There is a widely acknowledged need to build up a basic structure of rural financial services responsive to needs of local communities.

Participatory adaptive research and extension. Based on the use of participatory rural appraisal (PRA) and training of extension staff, the IFAD supported project in the Tuyen Quang province developed the most comprehensive extension system in the country that provided a model for other provinces. The other projects are pursuing the PRA methodology to give concrete research and extension agenda to extension services that are still in the process of being organised. Extension activities have contributed to increased agricultural production and forest cover with more forest areas remaining intact. In Tuyen Quang, average yields of maize and paddy increased from 2.15 to 3.01 t/ha and from 3.12 to 4.2 t/ha, respectively. The total area under cultivation has also increased, notably for sugar cane (1 185 to 7 219 ha) and fruit trees (965 to 3 266 ha). Improved veterinary outreach has reduced mortality in pigs and poultry and led to improved growth rates. The 62 000 loans sanctioned by VBP in Tuyen Quang are also likely to have supported an increase in animal numbers, especially pigs. Under ARCDP,close attention is being given to appropriate and efficient feeding of shrimps, thus limiting the build-up of unwanted nutrients in the ecosystem. However, only better-off households have the necessary capital and labour for shrimp culture. Fish culture, in contrast, offers opportunities and benefits for all farming households and complements traditional agricultural activities. Strengthening of the demand-driven research and extension system requires: additional investments in training of staff and essential infrastructure, improved access to micro-credit at market related interest rates, and provide clear land-use rights to stimulate investment and uptake of improved technology.

Environment. There is no forestry component as such in the Tuyen Quang project, but its work complemented and aided the process of re-greening by contributing to food security and thus reducing pressure on the forests. In Ha Giang, conditions in the mountainous regions of the east and northwest require urgent attention on the part of both the Government and international donors. However, the ambitious afforestation targets, to which part of project activity has been attached, mean that it is more important to be seen to be expanding the area of forest (in whatever district) than to address the crux of the matter i.e. the acute shortage of combustible material. In Quang Binh, the destruction of the young casuarina plantations in the sand dune areas was caused mainly by de-branching for fuelwood. Such is the shortage of combustible material in the coastal region that unless alternative sources of cheap fuel are made available, the depredations will certainly continue in all areas except where existing trees are understood by local villagers to be performing a vital role as a physical barrier against sand. Thus, for the new plantations to survive, it is imperative to address, as a matter of urgency, the fuel situation. The anticipated impact of project road components has generally been achieved, with focus on inter-commune roads where improvements have a high economic return.

Capacity building. The capacity, expertise and awareness of project staff have discernibly improved in Tuyen Quang and Quang Binh during project implementation. In Ha Giang, there is now a better understanding thanks to intensive training in participatory approaches, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and management of rural development projects, and also to the presence of international and national advisers. The quality of planning, implementation, coordination, supervision and reporting has improved considerably and there is a better appreciation of the need for transparent procurement procedures and record-keeping for foreign assistance projects. The selection of village health workers and commune veterinary workers for HGDPEM during 1999/2000 followed a much more rigorous selection procedure and the new staff proved to be excellent.

Project design. The IFAD-supported projects are generally cost-effective, the technical designs are appropriate and additional unsustainable institutional layers have not been created. There is need for the implementing agencies to elaborate detailed project exit plans incorporating expected financial and human resource allocations for operations and maintenance for the post-project period. In future, specific provisions for exit plans should be included in the project design.

Lessons learned

Targeting. Unless there is a clear focus and provisions in project design to working towards household-level food and nutritional security, the poorest may derive less benefit from the projects than the poor in general. For poverty alleviation, rural development projects should aim to improve the livelihood prospects and living standards of targeted groups of poor people through social mobilisation, improving access to productive resources, services, and markets needs. The ultimate objective should be sustainable livelihoods rather than optimising land-based production in a short-term time horizon. Targeting instrumentalities need to be conceived as being part of an "inclusive" approach to fostering of local institutions. The poor clientele can not be reached through narrowly targeted interventions which view such households as "enclaves" rather than as an integral part of rural communities. In the context of Vietnam, poverty eradication strategies can best succeed with the full involvement of the Peoples' Committees and Peoples' Councils. Within each province, the focus should be on the HEPR districts and communes, and the poorest villages and households should be identified through a combination of Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) and PRA criteria. Due attention should be given to women headed households and young farming families.

Social Mobilisation and Capacity Building. The IFAD supported projects have been particularly successful in involving the poor communities though PRA methodology to determine the content of research and extension priorities and in classifying households into wealth categories that provided the main targeting instrument in the project areas. The Projects have also been successful in forming a variety of self-help groups, which apart from promoting efficient and sustainable management of resources have created opportunities for the poor to participate in decision making processes. The establishment of Community Development Funds to meet the communities' expressed needs gives flexibility in the area of poverty reduction and nutritional security, empowers local communities and provides an effective instrument for decentralised allocation and participatory control mechanism. A very important lesson learned is that unless mechanisms for the participation of the poor are in place at the project appraisal and design stage, participation will be merely token in nature. Similarly, PRA can be an important tool for strengthening the participation of the poor in the planning, monitoring and evaluation of poverty alleviation projects only when capacities, will and resources are made available and Government institutionalises PRA methods within the overall provincial, district and commune level planning. Given that the most vulnerable groups do not as yet occupy decision making positions in existing organisations, it is important to continue the present strategy of empowerment through the creation of self-help groups around specific sectors. However, it is important that both the traditional and new forms of popular organisation come together through the VDBs and CDBs for participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation.

Participatory research and extension. The successful integration of agro-forestry and livestock into cropping systems in the uplands by the participatory extension service has validated the relevance of both the PRA methodology and multi-disciplinary and farming systems approach to developing sustainable livelihoods, rather than optimising land-based production in the short-term. Experience shows that the extension system, backed by a system of applied and adaptive research, has been effective in generating appropriate technical packages and messages and in interacting closely with farm households that provide to both researchers and extension workers local knowledge and feedback on the effectiveness of the innovations and technologies being tested. This is highly important in orienting research and extension to development activities that are relevant and acceptable to people living at the grass-roots level. It is recommended that Projects press for the strengthening of the demand-driven participatory research and extension system through additional investments in training of staff and essential infrastructure, improved access to micro-credit at market related interest rates, and clear land-use rights to stimulate investment and uptake of improved technology. The improvement of traditional feeding systems is an area that deserves more attention, with greater focus on local feed resources and collaboration over extended periods with research institutions. There is need for the development of a comprehensive livestock strategy to cater for both feed resources and number and type of livestock used.

Gender mainstreaming. Gender mainstreaming is essential if poor women's food and nutritional security is to be addressed by IFAD in a sustainable manner. Gender concerns should be explicitly woven into all aspects of IFAD's strategy, and the gender-specific causes of women's poverty be identified. A two-stage strategy may be considered for mainstreaming gender in the Viet Nam context: (i) the formulation of gender-focused activities; and (ii) mainstreaming of gender concerns into all components including the need that all land and housing titles to be issued in the joint names of men and women. Experience shows that in households where land and house titles are held jointly, the role, decision-making capacity and overall well-being and status of women is much better.

Financial Services. Rural poor communities in Vietnam have accepted widely the savings and credit concept and have overcome the barriers of working jointly in-groups of trust for mutual financial benefit. The social pressure as a guarantee for small loans is proven to be so strong that it has not only made it possible for poor households to access credit but also provided collateral and, practically, a hundred percent loan recovery. However, there seems to be a certain lack of clarity in Vietnam's approach to micro-credit. Credit to the poor is conceived as a kind of social safety net and is provided at subsidised rates of interest. Experience has shown that cheaper micro-credit runs the risk of being rationed and availed of largely by clients with easy access to VBARD and VBP branch network that does not always extend into remote areas. The solution for such remote areas lies in credit retailing by financial intermediaries, but below market interest rates do not provide the necessary spread margin to such intermediaries to cover even their operating costs, much less the costs of social intermediation, such as group formation and training of beneficiaries. Thus, subsidised credit effectively reduces, rather than enhancing the access of the poor to micro-credit. It implies also low deposit rates that discourage savings mobilisation and promotion of sustainable rural financial services. The financial autonomy of micro-finance organisations and financial intermediaries, i.e. their independence from external subsidies, constitutes a key ingredient for broad-based poverty reduction. It is recommended that Government improves access of small poor farmers and small entrepreneurs to the financial market. Emphasis should be given to the promotion of rural finance institutions on the model of village-based Savings and Credit Associations (SCAs) for servicing the financial inter-mediation needs of the poorer income groups through the mobilisation of savings. Strengthening of these institutions should involve appropriate incentives, accompanying measures in the field of training, institution building and development of the appropriate legislative and regulatory framework. It is also recommended that apart from the purchase of buffaloes and pigs, projects promote the use of credit for other cash and income generating activities in production and services or where the poor have a comparative advantage and for which a market exists such as cash crops and small agricultural equipment, petty trade, tailoring, knitting, etc. particularly in the uplands where there is widespread unemployment and very low income.

Infrastructure. The rehabilitation/construction of roads and irrigation schemes had a positive impact on the development of both poor households and rural communities. Lack of inter-commune and district roads would affect provision of health services linked to medical centres, inaccessibility of communities to centres of education and an overall reduction of the exchange economy's performance due to reduce access to traded commodities. However, improvement of intra-commune or intra-village roads without prior improvement of inter-commune or district roads is uneconomic. Main roads should be constructed/rehabilitated by Government and their maintenance be institutionally guaranteed and be carried out by the central or provincial authorities Targets and site selection for infrastructure development activities should be based on the findings of PRAs conducted periodically during implementation rather than pre-targeted as defined during the project design process. Greater resources and efforts need to be expended in social mobilisation and user group formation to support infrastructure construction, supervision and maintenance.

Forestry and environment protection. Efforts in recent decades to use tree planting to counter the intrusion of sand dunes into areas of cultivated land in Quang Binh have met with little success because young trees have been destroyed primarily by de-branching for fuel wood. A lesson learned is that for as long as there is such an acute shortage of fuel, the depredations will continue in all areas except where existing trees are understood by the local villagers to be performing a vital role as a physical barrier against the sand or in the creation of micro-climatic enclaves. Guided by experience, Casuarina saplings under the IFAD supported project have been planted in a partnership arrangement with the communities on the basis of a plan aiming to enable the emergence of micro-climates that would allow both cultivation and settlement In Ha Giang, urgent measures are required to reverse the deforestation of the upper slopes in the highland areas, where the pernicious cycle of deforestation, flash floods and drought is already far advanced. It is recommended that the Government enhances its efforts to develop participatory forest protection models including formation of participatory soil conservation associations and issue forest protection contracts to farmers. Specific provisions for such participatory forest protection models and soil conservation associations should be included in the design of all future development interventions. Incentives may be necessary for reforestation activities, against the direct cost of the accelerating cycle of flooding and drought in the region. It is also recommended that the Government develops a new or modernises (with the support of IFAD) its environmental legislation, formulates environmental standards and controls and develops a national environmental action plan to arrest deforestation, further soil erosion and degradation, and preserve land productivity for the benefit of both present and future generations.

Project management. For reasons of efficient use of limited trained manpower and financial resources, and for the sustainability of project services in the post project era, the use of in-line Government institutions for project implementation has proved valid and sound. The capacity, expertise and awareness of project staff have discernibly improved with time in all projects. For most technical training, local institutions, such as Hue University for ARCD and HTRDP and Hanoi University for HGDPEM and PRMP, can provide a team of experts in various disciplines. Also, the staff of on-going projects can be used for the training of trainers in PRA, social mobilisation, management, and monitoring and evaluation for other projects. It is recommended that the Government (i) promotes effective co-ordination among the donors involved to ensure streamlined planning and operations, and (ii) develops a common framework for national staff and consultant salaries, incentives and related allowances. It is also recommended that projects develop more focused M&E indicators for impact assessment and introduce further improvements in the feedback mechanism from communes and villages to the district, provincial and central levels. A pressing challenge for IFAD is the need to assist the Government to prepare project exit plans to cater for the consolidation and maintenance of achievements during the post-project period. In future, specific provisions for exit plans should be included in the project design.

Decentralisation and project implementation. IFAD's programme in Viet Nam has contributed to changing attitudes and approaches to development planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring. Decentralisation has been a key feature introduced in all four IFAD-funded projects. Experience accumulated to date illustrates that better results are achieved when implementation responsibility is handed over to the operational level using activity managers of the technical departments, mainly at the commune level. This results in ownership, commitment and accountability at the lowest levels. As a general rule, greater autonomy in terms of planning and financial management is desirable at the district and commune levels to facilitate and improve the development process.

From area-based rural development projects to funding institutions. A participatory approach was adopted during project formulation that culminated into designing integrated, area-based, rural development projects with a strategic focus towards institutional development. By creating institutional structures and targeting concurrently social and technical components, the IFAD supported projects have validated the modern view that in poverty alleviation the major problem is not the scarcity of resources but access to resources. In addition to asset formation, supply of inputs, provision of credit, development of infrastructure, extension of forests and protection of the environment, tangible benefits included formation and strengthening the capacity of community-based organisations as a medium for self-mobilisation for development purposes, and emphasis on decentralisation and bottom-up approach that provided development models to other poverty alleviation programmes. A lesson learnt is that the bottom line is the development of participatory processes and enabling institutions that empower the poor to take part in defining the rules that determine their lives. Not organised poor are powerless and remain excluded from the political and economic system.

Key policy issues

The CPRE broadly confirms the validity of IFAD strategy in Vietnam with its clear emphasis on targeting the poorest of the poor through the development of participatory processes and enabling institutions. Given the profile and the nature of rural poverty in Vietnam, there is need for an enhanced focus in development co-operation towards institutional development. A number of key policy issues that have emerged during the CPRE require joint consideration by IFAD and the Government. These include:

Decentralisation, participation and empowerment. Under the IFAD supported projects, decentralisation and participation have emerged as crucial issues in developing local ownership and capacity. IFAD experiences and insights have led to completely new approaches. IFAD is already providing support to strengthen the capacity and authority of sub-provincial level i.e. commune and village based institutions and their relations with the rural private sector, and it will continue to do so, both within the context of the ongoing projects and under any new intervention. Participation and empowerment are of importance both to communities, to enable them to identify, plan and manage their development works and activities; and to small-scale producers, to assist them to more effectively manage their resources, interact with markets and influence policy towards the sector. The bottom line must be the local institutions that empower the poor to take part in defining the rules that determine their lives. Yet, local empowerment and the development of institutions of the poor alone will not be sufficient. Only when the poor and their interests are represented in institutions at the national level will there be a policy for the poor.

Financial services. It has been widely recognised that the main problem for rural development is not the lack of credit funds or the level of interest rates. It is rather one of organising access to financial resources, and establishing conditions of production that allow savings and make investments profitable. The conventional approach usually implied the design of credit-line projects, executed by state banks that generally dictated to the borrower the conditions and purposes and the use of funds, often incorporating obligatory input packages into the terms. The new way paved by the institutional development approach aims at helping the poor mobilise their own resources and establish local savings and credit systems. It empowers the poor to take their own decisions concerning the terms and designated use of credits, and it facilitates their link with commercial financial institutions. Issues for policy dialogue include: (i) support and consolidation of the existing SCG network and its further development into village-based finance institutions for servicing the financial inter-mediation needs of the poorer income groups; (ii) strengthening of these institutions through accompanying measures in the field of training, institution building and development of the appropriate legislative and regulatory framework; (iii) vision for the development and consolidation of a long term sustainable micro-finance system, capable of extending financial services to the poorest target groups in the country; and (iv) below-market interest rates which prevail in much of the formal credit operations.

Gender mainstreaming. There still exists in Vietnam significant inequality in the distribution of power within the household in terms of decision-making, work load, representation in institutions, access to productive assets, such as land and credit and education for some ethnic women. Gender mainstreaming is not an issue of policy bias but rather a function of traditional cultural values and constraints. Gender mainstreaming is essential if poor women's food and nutritional security is to be addressed by the project on a sustainable basis. Gender concerns should be explicitly woven into all aspects of project design and the gender-specific causes of women's poverty be identified. Issues for policy dialogue include: land titles to women farmers as otherwise women may be getting disenfranchised of their land use rights; increased presence of women and greater influence in public institutions; ethnic women have unequal and inadequate access to education and health services.

Marketing and commercialisation. An area of great strategic importance is commercialisation of production systems and the development of enhanced commercial linkages between small-scale producers and private markets for inputs, produce and production support services. Starting point is the recognition that continued exclusive emphasis on food crop and livestock production will not have a major impact in reducing rural poverty. Rather, increased rural incomes and broad-based economic growth depend upon the ability of smallholder producers to participate better in the rapidly expanding market complex. They are constrained from doing so by a number of factors, including their lack of relevant skills; weak infrastructure, particularly roads; low production levels; the lack of an intermediary level rural trade network; and inadequate services and information on price and market potentials and requirements. All these elements are essential constituents of an enabling economic environment for rural producers and can be created and influenced mostly by the work of institutions. Appropriate policies need to be developed and implemented to allow both the smallholders and the private sector to develop together in a manner that is efficient and equitable. In the age of economic globalisation, the vision and primary task of public investment in poverty alleviation, including development aid, is to create conditions that guarantee the poor access to the formal private sector. This intermediary and linking function should enable not only the access to the national and international markets, but mainly the creation of an institutional and environmental framework allowing the poor to exploit the development potentials of the private sector. This strategic approach should remain central and provide the basis for any new IFAD intervention in Vietnam.

Role of mass organisations and NGOs. Mass organisations, such as the Vietnam Women's Union (VWU) and the Farmers' Association (FA), have developed strong implementation capacity and have been closely associated with IFAD projects providing assistance in training and group formation of rural women and men. Essentially, the relationship has been one of perceiving the Women's Union or the Farmers Association as "service providers". Mass organisations, which originated in the centrally planned era as front organisations, have the infrastructure and outreach to transform themselves into genuine NGOs. An important area of policy dialogue is the promotion of a greater role for civil society in the development process through formation of community-based groups/organisations that would operate in remote upland areas in close association with mass organisations and with capacity building support from local or international NGOs. The coalition with mass organisations and suitable NGO's, with hands-on experience in mobilising and empowering rural communities and women specifically, could generate added value in a cost-effective manner, for the benefit of rural poor. Experienced NGOs could supply technical support and provide a link between the private sector and the rural communities in terms of inputs and marketing opportunities and facilitate the use of modern technologies with the view to optimising costs and promoting sustainability of services.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Syrian Arab Republic Country Programme Evaluation (2001)

January 2001

Background and Rationale

The IFAD Near East and North Africa Division (PN) is planning to prepare a new country strategic opportunities  paper  (COSOP)  for  Syria  in  2001  to  launch  a  new  programming  cycle.  The  division requested the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE) to undertake a country portfolio evaluation (CPE) as a prelude  to the  strategy  formulation  process.  The  purpose  of this  CPE  is to assess  the  Syria/IFAD cooperation experience and derive strategic and operational directions for the future and present portfolio of projects.

Cooperation between Syria and IFAD started in 1982. Since then, the Fund has financed five projects in  Syria,  with  a  total  cost  of  USD  360  million,  of  which  IFAD  loans  amount  to  USD 80  million. Cofinanciers  have  been  the  Arab  Fund  for  Economic  and  Social  Development  (AFESD)  (USD 145 million),  the  World  Bank  (USD  10  million),  the  United  Nations  Development  Programme  (UNDP) (USD 3 million) and the Government of Syria (USD 101 million) and the Cooperative Agriculture Bank (USD 11 million). AFESD is the cofinancier and cooperating institution (CI) for the four ongoing projects, and the World Bank was the CI for the first, and the only closed, project.

Closely following the new approach to evaluation, the CPE consisted of an assessment with partners of the progress and impact of the portfolio. In the preparatory stage, a background paper was completed on available project design, implementation, evaluation and policy documents. This served as a starting point for the CPE. Next, a brief field reconnaissance mission visited Syria to discuss with partners their expectations, priorities, desired focus and modus operandi of the CPE. The results of this were compiled in  an  approach  paper  that  included  specification  of  the  main  CPE  issues,  methodology,  mission composition and the core learning partnership (CLP).

Fielded during May/June 2000, the CPE mission traveled extensively in all five project areas and used participatory methodology to assess portfolio achievements. The mission concluded its fieldwork with a national-level evaluation workshop designed to allow participants to discuss the preliminary findings with a wide range of partners, including IFAD staff from OE and PN, CI staff, government and project staff, community-based   organizations,   non-governmental   organizations   (NGOs)  and  donors/partners.   The results of the workshop  directed the main emphasis  of the CPE report. The completion  agreement  is expected to be finalized at the CPE round-table workshop, to be held in Damascus during the first half of

2001 with the participation of evaluation committee members.

LANGUAGES: English

Pakistan Country Portfolio Evaluation (1998)

May 1998

Evaluation purpose and scope

This is the fourth evaluation1 in a series of Country Portfolio Evaluations (CPEs), which the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has requested the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE) to undertake in those countries where a significant number of IFAD-financed projects have been carried out.

The purpose of the CPE is twofold:

(i) to assess overall portfolio performance, since the beginning of IFAD's operations in Pakistan, and its relevance to IFAD's main area of concern, targeting the rural poor; and

(ii) to make practical recommendations for improving project programming, design and implementation, drawing on lessons from IFAD's experience in the country to date.

The main report consists of ten chapters grouped under three general sections:

(i) Section one: "programme features and delivery": the Introduction is followed by a review of the evolving national context (Chapter II). The development of IFAD strategy, its salient features and portfolio of projects is discussed in Chapter III. Chapter IV is devoted to an analysis of delivery mechanisms in the light of the general implementation performance of IFAD-financed projects;

(ii) Section two: "main results by field of intervention" examines the extent to which IFAD projects have progressively increased target groups' access to irrigation water (Chapter V), rural infrastructure (Chapter VI), agricultural technology (Chapter VII), and agricultural credit (Chapter VIII); and

(iii) Section Three: "Socio-economic aspects" evaluates projects' benefits and their distribution, with particular reference to the targeting mechanisms used to reach the poor (Chapter IX); the section subsequently explores the potential for replication of the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) model of participatory development in the light of IFAD's own experience in the country (Chapter X).

 The national context and IFAD's country strategy

The context in which IFAD's interventions have taken place has been marked by the sustained growth of Pakistan's agricultural sector. This satisfactory performance is a reflection of both a huge natural potential and government development policies, which consistently aimed at accelerating the modernization of agriculture.

Although they have been mentioned in the various Five Year Development Plans, social development and environmental protection objectives have had, de facto, a low priority in the Government of Pakistan's (GOP) strategies. A high incidence of poverty still exists in the country. Women's status, in particular, is very low. Cultural factors, unequal land ownership distribution, and budgetary allocations favouring urban groups, contribute to this state of affairs. There is also environmental degradation.

IFAD's commitments in Pakistan amount to USD 235 million. Cumulative loan amounts increased regularly from 1979 to 1984, remaining stable from 1984 to 1989, before increasing again at a sustained pace between 1990 and 1994.

Project funding commenced only after a broad strategy was drawn up and project identification undertaken. IFAD's intervention has been in two phases. The first generation projects, financed between 1979 and 1984, had a very wide geographic coverage, were concerned primarily with irrigated agriculture and provided credit for the acquisition of tractors and tubewells. The second generation projects were launched after three years, during which two special programming missions (SPM), in 1984 and 1987, contributed to IFAD's subsequent focus on specificity. These projects were more area-specific, targeted the rural poor especially women, and increasingly adopted a participatory approach.

In Pakistan, concern with targeting the poor has sharpened with time. Until the early 1980s, alleviating poverty meant contributing to the national food self-sufficiency objective, improving nutrition and creating employment. By the late 1980s, targeting strategy had become far more specific, focusing on the landless, rural women, and smallholders in difficult agro-ecological conditions. This progress has been made possible by the lead role the Fund has taken in project identification and formulation.

As line agencies have found it difficult to direct their interventions at the rural poor. GOP and IFAD further encouraged a participatory approach in implementation. Serious shortcomings remained, however, regarding programmes and instrumentalities for reaching the landless and those without assets. For example, the potential of non-farm income-generating activities to augment the incomes of the rural population was not considered until very late in the programme.

Project designers made a steady effort to identify the target group within the social strata in terms of resource ownership and earnings. This effort has been hampered, during implementation, by the inadequacy and/or untimeliness of critically needed baseline/benchmark surveys. Without adequate data on the social profile of the population in a project area, activities were difficult to target precisely as well as to evaluate.


1/ After Yemen (1991), The Sudan (1992) and Bangladesh (1993).

LANGUAGES: English

Ghana Country Portfolio Evaluation (1996)

January 1996

List of acronyms and abbreviations

ADB Agricultural Development Bank
CI Cooperating Institution
CLW Community Livestock Worker
CPE Country Portfolio Evaluation
DAES Department of Agricultural Extension Services
DAP Draught Animal Power Pilot Project
DFR Department of Feeder Roads
EPS Extended Poverty Study
ERP Economic Recovery Programme
FLS Front Line Staff
GOG Government of Ghana
IA Implementing Agency
IITA International Institute for Tropical Agriculture
LACOSREP Upper-East Region Land Conservation and Smallholder Rehabilitation Project
M&E Monitoring and Evaluation
MEO Monitoring and Evaluation Officer
MOFA Ministry of Food and Agriculture
NGO Non-governmental Organization
NRTCIP National Root and Tuber Crop Improvement Programme
PB Participating Bank
PC Project Coordinator
PCU Project Coordination Unit
PPMED Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division
RB Rural Bank
RDA Regional Director of Agriculture
REP Rural Enterprises Project
SAR Staff Appraisal Report
SCIMP Smallholder Credit, Input Supply and Marketing Project
SPM Special Programming Mission
SRDP Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme
SRS Special Resources for Sub-Saharan Africa
UAE Unified Extension Approach
UWADEP Upper West Agricultural Development Project
VBR Valley Bottom Rice Pilot Project
VORADEP Volta Region Agricultural Development Project
WFP World Food Programme
WUA Water Users' Association

Objectives and scope

Since 1990 a series of Country Portfolio Evaluations (CPEs) has been undertaken by the Office of Evaluation and Studies at the request of the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Ghana CPE is the sixth in this series and the first in Sub-Saharan Africa. IFAD's projects portfolio in Ghana is among the largest in the subregion. The first of six projects financed by the Fund, the Volta Region Agricultural Development Project (VORADEP), was approved in March 1980 and the last, the Upper West Agricultural Development Project (UWADEP), was approved in September 1995. IFAD has therefore more than 15 years of experience in programming, designing and implementing agriculture and rural development projects in Ghana specifically targeted to alleviate rural poverty.

The major objective of the Ghana CPE is to assess overall portfolio performance and to draw lessons from experience to improve the future programming of the Fund's intervention, the design and implementation of its poverty-alleviation projects and to the extent possible the performance of the Fund's current operations in Ghana. The main areas investigated by the CPE are: (i) the extent to which IFAD's strategy of intervention in Ghana and the projects designed thereafter responded to the changing socio-economic conditions and to the Government of Ghana's (GOG) policies and priorities; (ii) the performance of projects with respect to their specific objectives by main fields of intervention and major constraints encountered; and (iii) areas of successes in project design and implementation as well as shortcomings of the portfolio. On the basis of the analysis, a set of recommendations and lessons learned to strengthen the strategic and operational orientation of future IFAD involvement in Ghana, as well as project design and implementation, is given.

The main report (Volume I) starts with the presentation of the socio-economic and strategic context of project implementation (Chapters II and III) and the main features of IFAD operations in the country (Chapter IV). The remaining Chapters V to XI are organized by critical themes identified by the CPE which provide most effective lessons from experience to shape future Fund interventions. At the end of every chapter a specific set of conclusions and recommendations and to the extent possible project impacts are presented. Chapter XII synthesizes the overall recommendations of the CPE mission. This Executive Summary contains, in addition to highlights of the overall findings, a synthesis of the lessons learned. Volume II contains the various annexes of the CPE report.

Of the six IFAD-financed projects in Ghana, two are completed: VORADEP (1988) and the Smallholder Rehabilitation and Development Programme (SRDP) (December 1995). Five projects have been initiated by IFAD and only one (VORADEP) was initiated by the World Bank and cofinanced by the Fund on a joint basis. Of these five, only one the Upper-East Region Land Conservation and Smallholder Rehabilitation Project (LACOSREP) is cofinanced by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the remaining four are financed exclusively by the Fund. Total cost for the six projects amounts to USD 124 million of which IFAD's loan amounts to USD 71.6 million.

LANGUAGES: English

Bangladesh Country Portfolio Evaluation (1994)

July 1994

Evaluation purpose and scope

At the request of the Executive Board of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) a series of Country Portfolio Evaluations (CPEs) were undertaken in countries where IFAD had significantly wide development experience. After Yemen and The Sudan, Bangladesh was selected as the country where IFAD has supported the greatest number of projects (12) to date.1

The purpose of the Bangladesh CPE is to draw lessons of experience to improve future project design and implementation. To this effect, the CPE focused on the following issues:

  • To what extent have the programming, design and execution of IFAD-financed projects taken into account the needs of target beneficiaries, ensured their participation, and improved their access to technology, inputs (including water), and finance?
  • In the light of experience, what are the most effective organisational structures and managerial arrangements for project implementation?
  • What has been the impact of those projects on food production and employment? Is the impact sustainable? Are the projects replicable?
  • In view of the country's changing political and socio-economic context, what are the implications of lessons learned for future IFAD strategy?

The main report consists in ten chapters grouped under three general sections. Section one: Programme features and delivery reviews the evolving national context (Chapter II) in which the projects have been programmed (Chapter III) and implemented (Chapter IV); a particular attention is paid to the relationships between the projects and the institutional set-up (Chapter V);

Section Two: Main results by field of intervention evaluates the extent to which IFAD projects have progressively increased the target groups' access to technology (Chapter VI), water (Chapter VII) and rural credit (Chapter VIII), and thus contributed to increased agricultural production and rural employment; and

Section Three: Project Impact and Implications for IFAD discusses the effectiveness of IFAD approaches to poverty alleviation (Chapter IX); it subsequently presents the evaluation's findings, conclusions and recommendations (Chapter X).

Programme development and main achievements

The programme

During 15 years of activities in Bangladesh, IFAD has supported government policies and programmes with a progressive emphasis on equity issues. Broadly speaking, the IFAD programme can be divided into two phases. During the first phase (1978-1983) six large projects were approved, for a total lending of USD 118 million which mostly supported the Government's food grain production strategy. They comprised two flood control and drainage projects, one fertiliser programme loan, one agricultural credit project, and two rural development projects.

During the second phase (1984-1992), six other projects were approved (for a total IFAD contribution of USD 75 million); these were smaller and more oriented towards poverty alleviation. They included two income-generation activities projects for landless men and women (Grameen Bank II and III), one crop intensification/diversification project for marginal and small farmers, two "protein production" (fish and poultry) projects for two of the most vulnerable rural population groups, fishermen and women, and one project to help poor rural producers affected by cyclones to cope with the crisis.

On average, IFAD has financed 43% of the projects' total cost (of which 64% represent local costs), supporting in particular credit components (60%), civil works and equipment (25%), agricultural development (11%) and institutional support (10%). The share of IFAD in total project cost financing varied extensively from one project to another regardless of the type of projects.

The average loan size has decreased from USD 18.5 million, during the period 1979-1983, to USD 9 million from 1984 onwards.2 The average project cost remained fairly stable (in current terms) at about USD 37 million.

Government of Bangladesh (GOB) officials (as well as some bilateral donors) acknowledge IFAD's specific contribution: early emphasis in IFAD projects on targeting beneficiaries (in the Small Farmer Agricultural Credit Project (SFACP), Loan No. 041-BA), and later on, the development of instrumentalities such as group formation, new credit models, people's participation and decentralisation helped GOB to "operationalise" and experiment with some of the equity objectives of the successive five-year plans; at the same time these initiatives stimulated Government's interest in cooperating with NGOs.

Technical aspects

The projects have been based on the general assumption that the basic technology being used was adequate and known to small and marginal farmers, but insufficiently accessible to them. The technical package which has contributed to the overall increase in agricultural production consists of the combination of increased irrigation, high yielding variety seed and fertilizer application.

There is evidence that small-farmers who had access to this package through IFAD-financed projects have performed well, and even slightly better than large farmers. Thus the technical rationale of these projects proved generally correct. However, earlier projects have had a heavy bias towards infrastructural development which subsequently proved to have been of much less direct benefit to the landless and smallholders compared with advantages derived by better-off farmers.

Another issue raised by project experience, is that with more specific targeting being considered, the requirement is for technology which is specifically relevant to IFAD's target groups. The latter are likely to be concentrated in low to very lowlands, where flooding is more frequent, cropping seasons are short, alternative crops are few, cropping intensities are low and land holdings are small.

In spite of some significant efforts by IFAD to promote technology which is specific to target group needs (e.g., the technical assistance grant to undertake on-farm research on rainfed rice), a lot remains to be done in order to bridge the gap.

Flood Control, Drainage and Irrigation (FCDI). IFAD has financed two FCDI projects - Pabna Irrigation and Rural Development Project (PIRDP) and Small-Scale Flood Control, Drainage and Irrigation Project (SSFCDIP) - in order to reduce heavy crop losses due to flooding in large flood-prone areaeas on some 250 000 ha in the regions of Pabna and Faridpur. With respect to flood control, neither IFAD nor the cofinanciers (and/or cooperating institution) had identified degn errors in the Pabna project (too large an area and costly pumped drainage) in time for a reformulation of the project to take place. However, lessons learnt in the Pabna project were taken into account in the design of the SSFCDIP (involving smaller polders in Faridpur area).

16. As far as the irrigation component is concerned, the IFAD cofinanced large gravavity irrigation scheme (20 000 ha) in Pabna is still not operative 14 years after project approval, while its conceptual and design errors are even more serious than those inherent in the Flood Control and Drainage component. However, since 1980, IFAD, recognising that minor irrigation n was the leading determinant in the "green revolution", financed three projects: SSFCDIP, Southwest Rural Development Project (SRDP) and North-West Rural Development Project (NRDP) for the provision of tubewells, pumps and command area development (CAD) to irrigate 125 000 ha.

Overall impact

IFAD projects contributed their share to national self-sufficiency in food grains which has been recently achieved; however, this contribution has been only nominal at macro-level due to the modest size of IFAD's lending. More profound, although difficult to measure, has been IFAD's influence on pty alleviation, as well as on government policies and programmes.

Income-generating Activities (IGA) are often promoted by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). IFAD was very perceptive in recognizing as early as 1980 the importance of such activities for the poor and, accordingly, in pursuing its association with the Grameen Bank (GB). IGAs were also introduced into several other rural and agricultural development projects. Although IGAs were not generally identified as separate project components, they constituted the largest single allocation of loans altogether giving employment opportunities to about one million of the country's poor (and thus, through their families, indirectly or directly affected a total of five or six million persons). While IFAD and concerned institutions may be proud of the results achieved so far, the latter remain modest when compared with the overall extent of poverty in Bangladesh.

 Sustainability - replicability

Groundwater Irrigation Models associated with seasonal credit for inputs are certainly sustainable and replicable in view of the large groundwater potential. Generally, shallow tube wells (STWs) and treadle pumps are more adapted to small and marginal farmers' needs than larger irrigation equipment, viz., deep tube wells s (DTWs).

To make Credit Models sustainable, subsidies are necessary to cover some of the expenses which are not transaction costs (in particular the cost of group formation and training). Many features of credit projects for IGA based on the Grameen bank model are certainly replicable.

The mission considers that the FCDI projects are not sustainable as they imply a continuous drain on government resources for their operation and maintenance. Their replicability is also doubtful, unless the "Flood Action Plan" demonstrates the contrary. Research for deep water rice varieties is probably a more effective means to boost aman production than FCDI. For the protection of human lives, houses and livestock, alternative solutions such as shelters and pile foundation houses should be investigated.

Effects on Government policies and programmes

IFAD's most important contribution to development in Bangladesh has been to help the Government implement/experiment with new development methods in favour of the poor. It seems fair to say that without IFAD volvement, it would have been more difficult for Government to mobilize adequate resources, both internal and external, for that purpose. The early support provided by IFAD to the GB is the most prominent example of the role played by IFAD.

Recommendations for future IFAD strategy

 

Overall, programming-cum-targeting appears as a real area of success of IFAD intervention; this owes a lot to three factors: firstly, the programming of IFAD resources has been based on an open dialogue with GOB concerning the implications of the two-pronged IFAD mandate of food production and poverty alleviation. Secondly, the gradual "independence" which IFAD gained from larger International Financing Institutions (IFIs) contributed to the definition of an autonomous IFAD strategy. Thirdly, open-mindedness on what NGOs were doing allowed a better understanding of the dynamics of poverty in Bangladesh and inspired new approaches to support those government objectives which were of greater concern to IFAD.

Therefore, the rationale of CPE recommendations is essentially one of consolidation, increased effectiveness and possibly expansion of the present programme, with new openings envisaged, particularly in technology generation, to fill the gaps and to respond better to the needs of small farmers and the rural landless. It must be noted, however, that most of the ongoing innovative projects have not yet proven their sustainability. Nevertheless, results to date appear promising and thus these projects could be tentatively replicated, provided the improvements suggested by field experience are taken into account.

Quick-disbursing projects should also be programmed, in orderer to balance innovation with rapid assistance to the poor. This could be achieved through the replication of successful project approaches stemming from IFAD's own experience and/or that of potential cofinanciers.

For area-based projects, IFAD should ensure that other employment activities (labour intensive construction of infrastructure, housing improvement and construction) or social programmes (education and health) are supported in parallel by other institutions: the World Food Programme (WFP), the GB, and NGOs.

Crop diversification has become a priority objective to cope with the problems stemming from rice monoculture. This opens up new avenues for future IFAD activities, e.g., specific research activities, upgrading of extension capabilities to meet changing conditions , promotion of livestock (small ruminants, poultry) and cash crops Research efforts should be made more intensive. Synergetic effects between on-going projects in the same areas or fields should be sought. The evaluation specifically recommends that IFAD should:

  • promote an intensive, targeted research programme. This programme should be completed by Farming Systems Research.
  • encourage low-cost minor irrigation investments and consider expanding tubewell ownership by the poor where possible. IFAD should not finance FCDI programmes until careful examination of the results of the Further Action Plan (FAP) has been carried out, and should concentrate on water management inside existing polders.
  • put more emphasis than in the past on animal production and fisheries as well as on activities which are upstream and downstream of crop production (rural micro-enterprises).

Benchmark surveys to assess farmers' needs are important to determine farmers' resources (e.g., land area, soil type, irrigation) and needs; and should be incorporated in project design and given priority during implementation.

Research-extension links should be improved. The main constraint to the use of the formal extension service in relation to adaptive research is the lack of incentives and motivation. Any amount of reorganization or links to research will pay little dividends as long as extensionists remain poorly paid.

Given the ineffectiveness of the link through contact farmers, linkages between extension and NGOs working in the rural areas should be developed. IFAD should encourage contractual arrangements between its projects and NGOs to deliver extension messages to the farmers.



1/ In this report all statements refer to the situation prevailing at the time of mission's field visit, that is, March 1993, unless otherwise specified.

2/ In current US Dollar terms.

LANGUAGES: English

The Sudan Country Portfolio Evaluation (1994)

January 1994

Main findings and conclusions

Evaluation purpose and scope

This is the second Country Portfolio Evaluation (CPE) undertaken by the Fund. Its purpose is to contribute to better project design and implementation building on the substantial amount of experience accumulated by the Fund in The Sudan.

To this effect, the CPE endeavoured to provide solid comparative information on the most essential aspects of project performance and their relevance to IFAD's concerns. Since the CPE is oriented towards drawing general lessons of experience, it does not attempt to pinpoint problems in any specific project, nor does it pretend to substitute proper evaluations of single projects.

In spite of the vast areas involved, the evaluation mission visited six of the eight projects supported by the Fund./ The Southern Region Agriculture Project (SRAP) was not visited for security reasons, nor was the Southern Roseires Agricultural Development Project (SRADP) since it had become effective only two months earlier and thus its field activities had not yet commenced.

The evaluation report consists of ten chapters grouped under three general sections, viz., programme features and delivery, main results by major field of intervention and policy implications for IFAD. The first section provides an overview of the IFAD country programme since its inception, putting it into perspective with the evolution of the national context (Chapters II and III). Chapter IV concludes this section by analysing project implementation performance in relation to organizational structures and the institutional framework.

The second part of the report (Chapters V to VIII) presents the results of detailed field investigations of irrigation and rural water supply rehabilitation and development, research and extension and agricultural credit, the major fields of IFAD's intervention in the country.

On the basis of the above, the last section of the report discusses the specific issue of the impact of beneficiaries' participation patterns on project performance (Chapter IX). Conclusions are drawn on the determinants of beneficiaries' participation and on how projects can promote it in practical terms. This discussion forms the cornerstone of the evaluation's recommendations covering the various fields of activities (Chapter X).

The portfolio

IFAD has supported eight projects in The Sudan, seven of which are cofinanced. The total cost of the projects is equivalent to USD 330 million, IFAD's share amounting to USD 85 million or 26%. IFAD's contribution to interventions in rainfed agriculture and livestock amounted to 60%, compared to 40% for irrigated agriculture (not taking into account the White Nile Agricultural Services project, approved after this evaluation took place).

To a large extent, the programme has been shaped by successive shifts in the Government of The Sudan's policies and priorities. As the programme gained some degree of autonomy and specificity it also gave more importance to rainfed agriculture as from the second half of the 1980s. At the same time, the average project size decreased markedly.

Implementation effectiveness

The projects have been designed and implemented against a general country background of continuing economic decline which has been further exacerbated by the recurrence of droughts, food shortages, famines and civil war. This has resulted in widespread poverty compounded by a general collapse in the public services which were expected to host the projects. Not surprisingly, project implementation faced considerable delays and projects were thus frequently extended. Project duration varied between 5.4 and 8.6 years. Loan disbursement profiles show that the pace of implementation has slowed over time.

A summary of project performance by major field of activity is presented in the following sections and includes: irrigagation rehabilitation, drinking water supply, technology development and dissemination, and rural credit.

 i) Irrigation Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation works as well as the supply of spare parts, fuel, and equipment have kept public schemes operational, albeit at a low level of efficiency. Without rehabilitation, a number of farmers who would not have been in a position to shift to individual systems of irrigation would have been compelled to give up farming for lack of irrigation water.

Although private farmers will continue to face problems related to shortages of spare parts, private irrigated farms are more sustainable than the public schemes, particularly farms pumping water directly from rivers. However, in some areas, particularly in the upper terraces of the Nile, because of increasing salinity and a drop in the level of the water table, the farmers are in a less sustainable situation.

In public schemes, cost recovery has not been achieved in spite of the recent hefty increases in water rates. Water charges have been underestimated and collection rates are low. As a result neither Northern Agricultural Production Corporation nor New Halfa Agricultural Production Corporation (the parastatals in charge of irrigation water supply that have been supported under IFAD loans) is financially self-sustaining.

Inadequate maintenance contributes to the poor performance of public schemes. The deterioration of the existing distribution systems and pumping equipment results in water shortages and thus in low yields and outputs. As a result, the rehabilitation effect has generally been short-lived.

 ii) Drinking Water Supply

In South Darfur, the implementation of the drinking water infrastructure rehabilitation programme has been satisisfactory (85% of target wateryards rehabilitated and 71% of water tanks replaced). However, the overall wateryard system efficiency, including rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated wateryards, remains fairly low.

Although the population's participation was sought, it was poorly organized and the involvement of village committees in the management of wateryards has been inadequate. While it is not likely that drinking water supply can be turned into an entirely self-sustained business, this indeed makes it all the more important to improve the cost-effectiveness of drinking water supplies.

 iii) Technology Development and Dissemination

There is no conclusive evidence that IFAD's attempts at promoting adaptive research have yielded any specific dividends, due to the following factors:

- the lack of a comprehensive analysis of farrs' needs and constraints led to the formulation of research and extension programmes that were too ambitious;

- the project designs did not adequately match programmes to the resources available and did not take fully into account the difficult living and operating conditions in the areas;

- inability to supply effective, long-term leadership ; and

- component design was sometimes loose in that it left the design of the programme to implementing agencies.

 iv) Rural Credit

Credit has been almost exclusively concerned with on-farm activities. There has been a marked improvement in the design of credit components from Southern Region Agricultural Project through Northern Region Agricultural Rehabilitation Project to En Nahud Cooperative Credit Project and Southern Roseires Agricultural Development Project. Rural and cooperative credit institutions could be developed to an operational level.

The most recent projects have made serious efforts to reach the target groups and provide workable alternatives to collateral security. Increased access to credit for small farmers was achieved through both expansion of the geographical coverage of the Agricultural Bank of Sudan's activities (new branches), and a relaxation of lending conditions and collateral requirements (introduction of joint liability as an alternative to individual collateral security). Credit for women who are heads of households and women in general has also been pioneered by second generation projects, but women received a limited share of the total credit disbursed to date. While social constraints are often cited by outsiders as a major explanatory factor, it is the mission's opinion that the constraints that actually hamper a greater participation of women in credit programmes remain to be identified through specific field investigations.

Given the high inflation rate prevailing in the country, the high cost of administering loans to small farmers (particularly in rainfed areas), the frequent crop failures and the subsequent low recovery rates, sustainability emerges as a very pressing issue.

 Contribution to poverty alleviation and food security

It is not possible to provide a global estimate of the total number of direct beneficiaries reached by IFAD-supported projects, as only four projects have been closed, of which one project, located in war affected areas, could not be examined. Nevertheless, on a sample of three projects which lend themselves to such analysis/, it was found that about 130 000 families or close to one million/ persons, have directly benefited, of which 80 000 (about 600 000 people) live in the rainfed areas.

The situation shows a contrast between the rainfed and irrigated project areas. In irrigated areas, the projects reached a large share of the target population but a relatively small number of households at an estimated average cost of USD 430/ per direct beneficiary (or USD 3 000 per family). In rainfed areas, only a marginal proportion of the target population was directly exposed to the project, but the projects actually reached a larger number of households and at a very modest unit cost of about USD 80 (or USD 560 per family). Across the whole portfolio, total project expenditures by actual direct beneficiary averaged about USD 200.

Thanks to their focus on productive activities, most projects have had a positive impact on the direct beneficiaries. Despite their inability to trigger a sustainable path of development, the projects which have been completed or nearly completed were useful in providing critical rehabilitation-cum-medium-term assistance to needy populations, mainly through lifting the foreign exchange constraint on the import of agricultural inputs and equipment. This had a positive impact on production and incomes of the direct beneficiaries and, as has been acknowledged, slowed down the concerned regions' economic decline.

The projects' logistical infrastructure was also instrumental in supporting emergency assistance provided by other sources and in maintaining a link between the population and the central authorities. Notwithstanding the challenge represented by their implementation, raininfed agriculture investment projects may well represent a viable option and possiy a competitive one when compared to the lesser-performing schemes of the irrigated sub-sector.

Beneficiaries' participation

Except for the En Nahud Cooperative Credit Project, project designers did not generally expect much from beneficiaries' participation apart from a financial contribution to service costs, and consequently gave the matter little importance in the formulation of project strategies. The impoverishment of the population and the near collapse of essential public services represented severe constraints to the type of participation considered by the projects.

Nevertheless, the population appears to have participated beyond expectation, taking into account the prevailing conditions. For the most participatory activities, beneficiaries' involvement contributed to a quicker adaptation of the concerned projects to changing circumstances, improved project management and staff knowledge of the issues, and enhanced their responsiveness to farmers' expressed needs and preferences.

In this respect, Non-governmental Organizations' (NGOs) performance has been satisfactory in the few instances where they have been entrusted with implementation responsibilities in addition to their financial contribution. Good management, reasonably attractive conditions for staff, adequate supply of inputs (including spare parts) and active technical assistance to farmers from both national and expatriate experts explain the good progress of these components.

Hence the review of IFAD's experience in the Sudan reinforces the widely held view that beneficiaries' participation contributes to better project results, while improving benefit distribution among the target population. Insufficient participatioion has been identified as one reason for the lack of sustainability of several interventions. There is also positive evidence that people's participation tends to strengthen communities' cohesion and independence. While participation cannot alone ensure the sustainability of development efforts, it does reduce the risks involved and create conditions which are favourable to it. These benefits could have been more evident had project designers and managers been more open to people's participation.

LANGUAGES: English

Yemen Country Portfolio Evaluation (1992)

January 1992

Evaluation purpose and scope

Responding to an Executive Board request, it was decided that Country Portfolio Evaluations (CPEs) be carried out in countries where a substantial amount of experience has been accumulated. The purpose of CPEs is to contribute to better project design and implementation in the light of IFAD's actual experience in a specific national context. While this CPE could not be a substitute for individual projects evaluations, it aimed, however, at rapidly providing solid comparative information on the most essential aspects of project performance as well as of their relevance to IFAD's concerns.

The selected methodological approach gave priority to understanding how the projects interacted with their environment taken in a broad sense (natural, institutional, socio-political, etc.). This approach helped to put IFAD's intervention into perspective.

The assessment of project experience in Yemen started during the last quarter of 1991 with a desk review, the result of which provided relevant focus as well as background information for the field work. The latter took place in December 1991 during which the 11 project areas were visited. Time-wise, the CPE came at an opportune moment as the country was reviewing its development policy in the light of the new situation created by the unification of the country.

The evaluation report consists of ten chapters grouped into three sections. The first section provides an overview of the IFAD country programme since its inception, putting it into perspective with the evolution of the national context (Chapters II and III). Project performance is subsequently described from an operational and financial point of view (Chapter IV). Chapter[V concludes this Section by analysing in depth the project's contribution to institution-building. Particular attention is paid to the various forms of project organisation and their effects on project performance.

The second part of the report (Chapters VI to VIII) assesses project experience in the major fields of IFAD intervention in Yemen: irrigation and rural infrastructure, generation and dissemination of improved technology and agricultural credit. Essential facts on project achievements are presented together with the relevant issues involved.

On the basis of the above, an attempt is made, in the last section of the report, to look at past experience from the specific standpoint of IFAD (Chapter IX). Beyond providing some indications on the contribution of the projects towards poverty alleviation, this Chapter discusses the specific issue of targetting approaches and instrumentalities in Yemen, as revealed by actual experience.

 The national context and the IFAD programme

Whereas the former South Yemen inherited educational and administrative structures which helped in the management of rural development projects, North Yemen, which was by far the most populated, had to build these capacities from scratch. Yemen, particularly the North, has nevertheless experienced rapid growth during the last 15 years, which in turn, deeply transformed a country and a society which only recently opened to the modern world (1962). Growth soon created new problems or exacerbated existing ones, particularly with the ever-increasing pressure on the narrow natural resources base. Hence, the lack of sustained achievements witnessed by many projects regardless of their source of financing. As in many countries which followed a similar pattern of growth, there are clear indications that equity issues were given insufficient attention.

In this context, marked by the high priority given to institution-building, the Government and its major development assistance partners used rural development projects to create the nucleus of future development authorities at a regional level. This strategy involved, by its very nature, less attention being given to both community level and national level development programmes. As a result of the weakness of internal resources mobilisation, institution-building has been greatly dependent on external financing. Hence the succession of project phases in the same area which is one of the salient characteristics of the Government's portfolio of rural development projects.

IFAD has financed a total of 11 projects in Yemen starting in 1979 in the North and 1980 in the South for a total project cost of US$[371[million. The share of IFAD amounted to about 25% of the total cost of the projects (US$[91.1[million), with a lower percentage contribution in the North. Eight of these projects were initiated by other donors and cofinanced by IFAD. IFAD-financed projects dealt with a wide range of projects and agro-ecological zones, whose objectives included: the establishment and rehabilitation of rural infrastructure; the development and dissemination of technical packages; and institution-building.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Mozambique Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation (2017)

November 2017

During the period under evaluation, IFAD provided six loans to Mozambique, for a total value of US$ 239 million. The evaluation found a positive impact which included significant capacity development at the institutional, community and individual levels, improvements in access to micro-credit for household assets and petty-trade through savings and credit associations, and empowerment of women thanks to literacy initiatives.

Notwithstanding these achievements, projects' focus on small farmers with marketable surplus meant that less attention was paid to potentially food insecure farmers. This is a major challenge for the Government and IFAD to consider in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the Sustainable Development Goal

(SDG) 2 in particular. Additionally, targeting strategies should consider more vulnerable groups, including women, youth, and people living with HIV. Against the backdrop of the SDGs, the challenge is no longer to reduce poverty but to eradicate it by 2030.

The evaluation recommends that IFAD should continue to focus on rural poor and on more vulnerable groups, including women, youth and people living with HIV. A bottom-up approach to reducing food insecurity, malnutrition, poverty and vulnerability is compatible with value chain development and integration into markets, and is likely to be more effective and efficient in the medium-term compared to trickle-down strategies.

LANGUAGES: English

Arab Republic of Egypt Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation (2017)

October 2017

This evaluation covers the IFAD-supported country programme and strategy in Egypt for the period 2005 to 2016. Egypt is the largest borrower among the 22 countries in the Near East and North Africa region in which IFAD operates (15.8 per cent).

The country programme has achieved some notable impacts, especially in improving farming systems in the old lands, and improving water and land management practices in the new lands, which are certainly key to enabling poor rural farmers to increase their production and their productivity. The focus on similar rural development issues has held steady over a long period, but opportunities to learn from this long-term engagement have been missed.

During this period, the Government became more demanding in what it expects from increasingly expensive loans. Moreover, the scale of the challenges it needs to address will require more diverse and innovative solutions. For IFAD, this means that replicating well-tested approaches will not be sufficient. The Fund will need to sharpen its strategic focus, push for greater innovation, join forces with a wider range of partnerships, and ensure broad-based government ownership throughout its interventions.

LANGUAGES: English

Nicaragua Country Strategy and Programme Evaluation (2017)

June 2017

The IFAD-supported country programme has made significant contributions to rural development in Nicaragua. To address the rapidly changing institutional framework, IFAD has introduced flexibility into its programme and continues to provide support for the country’s decisions and development plans.

The programme has contributed to the development of national strategies on access to markets, assets and value chains; strengthening of rural organizations; promotion of non-agricultural rural activities; and adaptation to climate change. One clearly positive aspect of the programme has been its focus on family farming. In this regard, the programme has established an area of thematic specialization that has created a distinct comparative advantage for IFAD-supported activities in the country.

There are opportunities to boost the contribution of non-lending activities under the programme. In particular, significant progress has been observed on policy dialogue in rural development, but has not translated into concrete contributions to policies and strategies. The strides made in knowledge management are still limited, due in great part to the lack of easy access to technical information or to the knowledge base accumulated by IFAD and other cooperation agencies. And partnerships with nongovernmental actors, including the private sector, are limited.

LANGUAGES: English