IFAD’s Country-level Policy Dialogue
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD has just released the evaluation synthesis “IFAD’s Country-level Policy Dialogue”. The synthesis examines IFAD's engagement with partner governments and other country-level stakeholders.
The evaluation synthesis confirms that policy dialogue is an essential dimension of IFAD's mission as it serves two critical purposes: (i) helping to create an enabling environment for project implementation and for achieving project impact; and (ii) contributing to creating the conditions for large numbers of rural people to move out of poverty. From a global perspective, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for the empowerment of vulnerable people by removing the barriers and obstacles they face. This means rooting poverty eradication in the principle of inclusion and the recognition of poor and other excluded groups as agents of their own development.
Looking ahead, the growing number of IFAD country offices offers new opportunities for IFAD to be more involved in country-level policy dialogue processes. This will require that more incentives, resources and information be provided to country-level staff with more explicit links to monitoring policy dialogue activities.
IFAD’s Support to Scaling Up of Results
IFAD defines scaling up as "expanding, adapting and supporting successful policies, programmes and knowledge, so that they can leverage resources and partners to deliver larger results for a greater number of rural poor in a sustainable way”. This synthesis reviews how IFAD’s business model and project cycle match scaling-up aspirations. It provides a review of past evaluations and other IFAD documents, drawing lessons and identifying factors of success and risk in IFAD’s support to scaling up of results.
In the IFAD project cycle, scaling up requires attention at design (the need to keep the project scope focused) and during implementation (the need for better analysis of progress, results, and scalability prospects and constraints). Continued engagement beyond project completion is needed as well, to fine-tune promising interventions and to preserve the quality of their design and implementation from risks associated with pressures for high disbursement and outreach.
As recommended by this synthesis, in order to enhance scaling-up opportunities, it will be important for IFAD to sharpen country strategies as well as the project development and implementation cycle, build stronger consensus among operational staff, and refine the definition of its corporate scaling-up targets and methods for verification.
What works for gender equality and women’s empowerment – a review of practices and results
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has just released the evaluation synthesis report “What works for gender equality and women’s empowerment – a review of practices and results”. The report intends to support learning on what practices work for gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) and under what conditions in the context of rural development and the agricultural sector. The report identifies transformative GEWE practices that should be further promoted and scaled up under the Agenda 2030.
The evaluation synthesis provides a conceptual framework for gender-transformative practices and changes in IFAD. It presents a systematic review of gender practices and results documented in IOE evaluations since 2010, drawing from a sample of 57 IOE reports. The review identified 121 GEWE practices, classified into four main areas: access to resources and opportunities, reducing time poverty, creating an enabling environment, and enhancing women’s and men’s awareness, consciousness and confidence.
The review identifies practices that have made an effective contribution to transformative change. They addressed root causes of gender inequality and women’s powerlessness, in particular illiteracy, exclusion from access to resources and limited social capital. Participatory approaches and capacity-building had a clear impact on women’s self-esteem, status and recognition, and in a number of cases challenged gender roles and power relations. But the report also highlights that policy engagement on gender is a critical element to support transformative change but has not yet received sufficient attention.
Smallholder Access to Markets: Evaluation Synthesis
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) undertook an evaluation synthesis on smallholder farmers' access to markets. The exercise was based on a desk review, mainly IOE evaluations conducted between 2005 and 2015, complemented by interviews and a review of external literature.
The evaluation synthesis confirms that IFAD's approach and interventions in this area have diversified and improved. IFAD has indeed accumulated experience and institutional knowledge to continue and further enhance its support. Among other factors for effective interventions, the report pointed out the importance of sound and timely market analysis and a market-oriented approach, as well as capacity development of smallholders to interact with markets on better terms. Interventions should be sufficiently flexible to respond to local contexts and specific needs, with attention to risks smallholder farmers might face by altering their economic strategies. Future support deserves more careful reflection on impact pathways from better market access to a common objective of “improved household food security”, and effective and timely monitoring of project performance that takes into consideration changing market contexts.
Environment and Natural Resource Management: Evaluation Synthesis
The Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD has reviewed the Fund's support of Environment and Natural Resource Management (ENRM) through an examination of 72 evaluations conducted between 2010 and 2015. IFAD has taken a number of steps to strengthen its integration of ENRM issues into its operations - relating to both avoiding harm and doing good: the Environment and Climate Division has been established, the environmental and social safeguards have been upgraded and the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme has been launched. From the analysis of the evaluation reports, it is clear that these measures are responding to evidence from the projects in the Evaluation Synthesis sample. However, the analysis shows that alignment with ENRM policies in IFAD country strategies is mixed during the period covered. A small number of country strategic opportunities programmes show a clear progression to a stronger focus on ENRM; others reveal a shift in the direction to other priority strategic areas, such as value chain investments, without necessarily paying attention to ENRM. Moreover, spending on ENRM, measured by conventional sub-component categories excluding ASAP, has not increased greatly as a proportion of IFAD's overall budget during the period 2005-2015. Although data on ENRM content in loans are incomplete and probably understate the actual amount, they suggest some challenges in integrating environmental stewardship effectively into country programmes.
FAO's and IFAD's Engagement in Pastoral Development
FAO's and IFAD's Engagement in Pastoral Development Joint Evaluation Synthesis The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have a history of engagement in pastoral development which is likely to continue. In the face of growing challenges posed by climate change, as well as new economic and political realities, pastoralism offers a production system that prospers in landscapes where other livelihood systems are either at their limit or require large investments. In the 2003-2013 decade - the period reviewed by the joint evaluation synthesis - a total of 194 projects related to pastoral development were formulated and US$1.2 billion were allocated. Areas of intervention included animal health and veterinary services, capacity-building, emergency response, rangeland management and policy dialogue. The evaluation finds that FAO's and IFAD's engagement in pastoral development has been significant, but lacks a coherent conceptual framework and systematic direction. There have been positive results in projects seeking to reduce poverty and hunger by introducing innovative solutions in community-based animal health and natural resource management. However, the evaluation finds that there is still considerable confusion between pastoral development and livestock development, and no clear understanding of pastoral systems, including the specificity of pastoral poverty. This has led to a focus on sedentary activities, and a considerable degree of hit-and miss in the results. The recommendations focus on the need for FAO and IFAD to create policies of engagement in pastoral development and build capacity for systemic engagement in pastoral systems through, for example, developing a better understanding of pastoral systems and their relation to dryland economies. Furthermore, risk-management and resilience strategies should be prepared. They need to be highly context-specific and include a distinction between risk management and risk reduction. The evaluation also highlights the need for the two agencies to strengthen advocacy by pastoralists and on behalf of pastoralists.
IFAD’s Engagement in Middle-income Countries: Evaluation Synthesis
The evaluation synthesis concludes that there is a solid cause for IFAD’s continued engagement in middle-income countries (MICs). In fact, IFAD remains a relevant and highly valued partner for MICs, where there is an extensive demand for the Fund’s assistance, given its specialization and comparative advantage in working in remote rural areas and inclusive growth. However, taking into account the heterogeneity of these countries, there are opportunities for IFAD to further sharpen some of its existing products and instruments, devoting greater attention to non-lending activities, technical assistance and South-South and triangular cooperation. In addition, IFAD should intensify its ongoing efforts to mobilize additional funding and to strengthen strategic partnerships with other bilateral and multilateral development organizations.
IFAD's Engagement with Indigenous Peoples: Evaluation Synthesis
IFAD has been financing projects in support of indigenous peoples since 1979, in particular in Latin America and Asia. According to United Nations estimates, there are more than 370 million indigenous people worldwide spread across some 70 countries. They continue to be overrepresented among the poor: while they constitute just 5 per cent of the world's population, they account for 15 per cent of the world’s poor people.
This evaluation synthesis report confirms that IFAD is in a unique position among development agencies to support indigenous peoples' social and economic empowerment. Given its mandate and focus – rural poverty reduction with attention to the vulnerable and marginalized, participatory approaches, community development, empowerment and social inclusion, IFAD has naturally followed a proactive approach to supporting indigenous peoples.
In light of its unique position and comparative advantage, and building on its experiences so far, there is still room to strengthen the consistent implementation of IFAD's policy on engagement with indigenous peoples, in particular at the level of investment projects.
The report highlighted the importance of paying greater attention to key project design elements, such as devising tailored and differentiated approaches to build on the culture, identity and knowledge of the indigenous peoples' communities.
The report also highlighted the importance of enhancing staff understanding on indigenous peoples' issues. IFAD could further strengthen knowledge management in this area, taking advantage of substantial experience, lessons and knowledge of engagement with indigenous peoples.
Rural Youth Evaluation synthesis report
Evaluation Synthesis. IFAD started enhancing its focus on rural youth in the last decade and particularly in 2010, when the Strategic Framework for the period 2011–2015 reflected the Fund's attention and commitment in promoting rural youth development. Overall, among the projects selected for this evaluation, about 83 per cent of past pro-youth projects targeted rural youth explicitly and 42 per cent included youth-specific activities. The evaluation also highlights that IFAD is equipped with ad-hoc strategies, policies and guidelines to work with rural youth. Looking forward, the evaluation offers a number of reflections for IFAD, to ensure that rural youth plays a catalyst role in rural transformation and agricultural sustainability: mainstreaming youth across country programmes in all regions; investing in the update of the knowledge base on youth and adequate socio-economic profiling; resolving the issue of efficiency versus equity upfront at design stage in terms of target group identification; adopting systematically age-disaggregated monitoring indicators, to foster IFAD's learning and replication processes; and enhancing strategic partnerships to support the scaling up of successful and innovative models.
Water Conservation and Management Evaluation synthesis report
Evaluation synthesis. Overall, IFAD’s engagement in the water sector has improved also as a result of better performance in related sectors such as financial services, value addition and market development. Despite not having a specific policy on water, as the other multilateral development banks, IFAD compares well in regard to agricultural water management, in which it has a distinct comparative advantage. The scenario emerging on the water front presents a set of challenges and opportunities such as: water is both a constraint to development and an opportunity for innovation; water productivity is critical to enhancing development effectiveness; and rainfed farming is now key to increasing food production and agricultural productivity. This is where IFAD, in partnership with local governments and other development agencies, can take the lead in developing a strategy that can bring about a “brown revolution” in rainfed agriculture akin to the “green revolution” of irrigated agriculture.