Agricultural Resources Management Project in the Governorates of Karak and Tafilat (2001)

June 2001

Lesson 1: credit for the poorest

Jordan's financial institutions, including ACC, are at present not geared to servicing small scale producers who, apart from the problem of easy access, often find it difficult to meet credit terms and conditions, particularly relating to collateral requirements. The MTE found that ACC had developed a sound system of delivery of credit under ARMP, with due attention to sustainability of its operations. By promoting self-employment and income generation in resource-poor areas of Karak and Tafila, the ARMP credit activities, albeit in limited way, are assisting Jordan to resolve the two major macroeconomic challenges of poverty and unemployment and are also contributing to gender equity. To date, credit disbursements under ARMP constitute 76% of the appraisal target. This impressive achievement is due to much greater demand than anticipated for IGA loans from rural women. By comparison, credit disbursements for land consolidation and supplementary SWCs are far below the appraisal estimate, mainly because the demand for such loans was grossly over-estimated at the design stage.

The main weakness is that assetless poor and destitute rural women within the target group have no access to credit because of ACC's stiff collateral conditions and the absence of any specific intervention or mechanism under ARMP to encourage and direct credit to these rural disadvantaged. Therefore although examples can be found where the effects of the credit have been to mitigate poverty, and these should not be under-estimated, these are specific to those cases where there is a guarantor acceptable to the bank.

Although mitigating poverty is a high priority for GOJ, ACC's loan terms and conditions are stringent and not appropriate to ARMP's poverty alleviation objectives. If IFAD's development assistance strategy in Jordan is to continue support for GOJ's efforts to improve the social and economic well-being of the rural poor, especially women, then either an alternative window needs to be opened through ACC, with appropriate support to mitigate the increased risks, or another credit channel needs to be tried or developed. In addition, the present loan repayment terms used for Income Generating Activities mean that the borrowers are penalised because they have to sustain the burden of debt service for unduly long periods. The result is that this undermines the poverty alleviation potential. The issue is for ACC to be concerned with the viability of the activity financed, rather than solely the ability of the borrower or the guarantor to repay the loan. This means relating the loan size and repayments to a typical activity model and cashflow prepared and updated for different packages. To address these concerns the MTE has formulated a detailed proposal for an appropriate credit window.

Recommendations:

  • Extending Credit Outreach.To provide women from the most disadvantaged households with access to credit, the project management and ACC should, in mutual consultation, initiate action to develop alternative mechanisms that broaden the credit outreach. The objective should be to demonstrate the effectiveness and sustainability of a micro-credit development model (this is further detailed in the report).
  • Determination of Loan Amounts and Repayment Periods. Loan amounts should be strictly limited to the outlay required for the IGA financed, as the burden of debt service for a higher loan than necessary results in a reduction of the financial impact in terms of increased income for the borrower. In addition, instead of the present standard period of 8 years, loan repayment periods should be adjusted to the net cashflow of the activity financed and include, where justified, appropriate grace periods. The implementation of these measures would permit ACC to service a larger number of borrowers with the available loan funds.
  • Increasing Funds Allocation for the Women's Programme. Since the demand for loans for land consolidation is very low, consideration should be given to the re-allocation of these credit funds to meet increased demand under the women's credit programme. In addition, further use of substantial funds allocated for institutional strengthening is unlikely, and these might also be used in the credit programme.

Lesson 2: the selection of income generating activities

The MTE found that that there were many positive impacts from the promotion of IGAs. The project lending has helped to generate rural employment, developed entrepreneurial skills among rural women and enhanced their economic clout and recognition. Goat and sheep breeding loans, and to a lesser extent loans for dairy/milk processing were found to be having positive impacts in terms of returns to family labour, addition to household income, and improvements in family nutrition. The impact is, however, marginal in the case of loans for food processing due mainly to marketing problems. It was estimated that for the 220 women borrowers who had actually undertaken enterprise development with loans from ACC at the time of the MTE, the average increase in incomes has been about JD 150 per activity. This represents an increase in annual family income of about 10% to 12%. Despite this, one of the findings from the socio-economic survey conducted by MOA was that out of the women who had taken loans from ACC under the project, only 37% had actually started enterprises. The principal reason given was the inability to sell the produce from the IGAs. This serves to undermine the poverty alleviation objectives of the project.

The MTE concluded that at the moment women do not have access to sufficient information or guidance to make informed choices about their investment decisions, and these choices are far too limited and, in many instances, insufficiently financially attractive. In addition there appeared to be considerable potential for assisting women to undertake these activities on a group basis.

In addition, the cohesiveness of the overall programme is lacking at the moment because of the need for a comprehensive approach which addresses the development process for women in its totality. The gaps are in information, appropriate levels of funding geared to the cashflows of the selected IGAs, marketing assistance and generalised support and encouragement. There is a need for the beneficiaries to become the centre of the development effort, and for the services provided to be focussed on responding to their needs.

Recommendations:

  • Improved Technical Support. The appraisal included TA intended to fill the knowledge gaps and refine the project design. This TA, which has not so far been activated, should be immediately initiated, covering:

a feasibility study to identify a wider range of suitable and profitable income generating activities;

NGO support under contract to assist in pre-credit activities for women, including group formation and training;

action-oriented market research to assist women market their products.

  • Production and Marketing centres. The project needs to address the twin problems faced in establishing and maintaining production standards, and in marketing. The approach recommended is to establish, on a trial basis, district-based production and marketing centres, using funds which would otherwise be unutilised from the women's programme. These centres should be established in districts where NGOs or CBOs are willing to take the responsibility for implementation, with the project supporting initial set-up costs. The centres could also be used for training. Technical assistance should be employed for developing proper brand names, the standardising of product specifications, proper packaging and sales. They could also act as consolidation and marketing outlets for village based production units, which would comprise groups formed to undertake production activities jointly. Group based activities should be encouraged, possibly by the provision of storage and processing equipment.
  • Staff Training. There is a need to provide institutional and technical support to WID staff through additional training in enterprise development, group formation, communication skills and monitoring and evaluation skills.

Lesson 3: participation in the project

Although the project design describes an overall participatory community-based approach for the implementation of ARMP, in practice there is no systematic approach to community participation and in most cases ARMP and ACC staff deal with individual beneficiaries. There is a strategic and urgent need both in the project and for the benefit of MOA in its approach to implementing development projects generally, for more participatory approaches to mainstreamed. Unless this opportunity is taken, the longer term benefits, especially in terms of sustainability and the transfer of responsibility for setting the development agenda to the local communities, will be lost. For IFAD, it is important that GOJ demonstrate a growing commitment to such approaches, so that project designs can be implemented in the way agreed.

Under the soil and water conservation, agricultural development and olive rehabilitation programmes, community participation would help to disseminate information more widely and would assist with proper identification of intended beneficiaries. Under the mini-dams, hafirs and spring rehabilitation components, community participation would ensure that scheme location and design reflects the needs of the beneficiaries, would help to mobilise community resources and would contribute to scheme sustainability. Community participation in the women's programmes would help to manage the enterprises on a more professional basis and create opportunities for economies of scale in production and marketing.

For MOA overall, a revised approach to include a greater degree of community participation in the second half of the project would provide the opportunity to assess the increased benefits from this approach and would expose staff to a learning process for the benefit of future projects.

The participation of an NGO to lead the social intermediation process would be highly desirable, especially in some of the collective projects such as spring rehabilitation, mini-dams and Hafir construction. However, the current experience and approach of NGOs with spring rehabilitation does not add much value to ARMP. There were no NGOs found in the project area dealing with community participation aspects of mini-dams and Hafirs. The only real scope for participation of NGOs under ARMP seems to be with NGOs operating marketing programmes for women. For other components, it is concluded that ARMP should itself develop an approach to community participation that would add value to its work and enhance the sustainability of its investments.

Recommendations:

It is strongly recommended that MOA utilise the remaining three years of project life to develop its own approach to participatory methods for use in its projects. This would involve a number integrated activities, as follows:

  • A clear policy statement on participation needs to be made and operational guidelines and instructions prepared for the implementation of the policy.
  • In the case of ARMP, the post of Community Development Officer in the PMU, which was scrapped at the beginning of the project, needs to be reinstated, and four more field officers appointed in the Field Units.
  • The participatory approach needs to be integrated into the work plans and work habits of all members of the ARMP team or it will be unlikely to succeed, hence an orientation, training and visits programme needs to be devised for ARMP and MOA headquarters staff in community participation approaches to agricultural development.
  • ARMP should make use of its technical assistance budget to employ short-term TA for community participation.
  • Once these steps have been undertaken, then community participation approaches appropriate to each activity (described in detail in the report) should be introduced in the remaining period of project life. The community participation approach suggested differs from one activity to the other, keeping in mind whether the activity is household based or community based, and is designed to improve the implementation methodology by empowering the community for local level decision-making for agriculture and resource management. Where activities are designed for individual households, the community role is to mediate and negotiate decisions based on consideration of equity and sustainability.  
  • There is need for careful monitoring of the value added and impact of adopting a community participation approach. The existing monitoring and data collection system should therefore be upgraded to include impact indicators for community participation.

Lesson 4: extending environmental benefits

A major aim of ARMP is to limit environmental degradation by enhancing soil and water conservation. The recent IFAD Country Strategy and Opportunities Paper emphasised the critical situation in Jordan with respect to water availability, pointing out that water resources are presently being exploited at 150% of sustainable yield levels. For water conservation, the project should easily exceed its appraisal target, resulting not only in more water for livestock, but also increased recharge of groundwater. In addition the achievements for stone walls are impressive – so far about 70% of appraisal targets have been met.

In early 1997, Yasin heard about the IFAD funded Agricultural Resources Management Project through staff members of the project on a field visit to his village. He applied for the development of his land under the soil and water conservation component, and received financial assistance worth JOD 1130 for the construction of a cistern, stone wall terracing and fencing to protect the land against free grazing animals. He contributed labour and materials worth JD 900 for enlarging the cistern from his own sources. With the help of the project, he planted his newly developed land with olives. He hopes to earn a yearly income of upto JOD 1000 once the olive trees start fruiting. He is grateful to the project for helping him undertake investments that were beyond his capacity.

The project staff from ARMP also consulted his village before building the Om-Ganeem mini-dam about 1-2 kilometres from his village. He hopes that once the rain comes, this dam will help to collect and store water and help him to reap greater benefits from the investment in his land. Women and children from the Rashaidi clan pose in front of their house to which they can now lay claim.

The impacts of soil and water conservation will not become immediately apparent as it take a number of years for the stone walls, in particular, to become effective in reducing soil erosion and water runoff. Nevertheless, as technical interventions, these conservation structures are virtually permanent (with minimum maintenance) and they will therefore directly help to realise government and project objectives. The combined effect of SWC improvements will result in the increased robustness of the farming systems, and greater water availability for both irrigation and municipal/domestic uses. On reclaimed upland areas the fruit tree planting programme is likely to provide useful increases in incomes for the beneficiaries: the MTE estimated about JOD 250 per dunum for new planting, which should be adequate to encourage planting and help realise the investment in conservation activities. Not surprisingly, there has been a continuing high demand by farmers for participation in the SWC programme as a whole. Experience at the mid-term has led the Project Management to suggest the adjustment of physical targets and to propose a re-allocation of funds, in order to expand the SWC programme.

Recommendations:

  • The project funds should be re-allocated along the lines put forward by the project management. However, before a re-allocation is submitted the project should examine the full consequences of the re-allocation on all project interventions, submitting justifications for the quantitative revisions. In addition the increased number of beneficiaries and the flow of benefits should be projected. ARMP should consider asking IFAD to assist with the preparation of this document, and should indicate the increased contributions expected from GOJ and the beneficiaries.

Lesson 5: water for irrigation

Springs. Springs are the major water resource for many villages and provide domestic water, drinking water for animals and supplementary irrigation for crops, particularly perennial tree crops (such as olives, grapes and figs) and vegetables. The Spring Rehabilitation programme seeks to protect springs against falling debris and contamination from livestock and other sources, while the main channels are lined to reduce water losses. A lower limit of 2 dunum was placed on involvement in this activity. The MTE assessed that the project had achieved 43% of its spring rehabilitation programme (and 141% of the canal rehabilitation target), with most spring rehabilitation works appearing to be well-constructed. Overall, the MTE considered that the project efforts in spring rehabilitation were sustainable and concluded that these activities would increase the amount of water available in the field by about 25-33%, which would ultimately lead to a sustained productivity increases.

However, the MTE concluded that limited staff numbers and shortage of transportation was affecting this programme. Each District Field Unit has only one project extension officer responsible for spring rehabilitation (along with their other duties in olive rehabilitation and cereal crop demonstrations), and there are no Field Engineers located in the districts. Increased beneficiary consultation and involvement, although desirable, would exacerbate this situation. In addition the lower area limit is excluding some of the poorest and most needy farmers from participating.

Cisterns. The MTE concluded that cistern construction and rehabilitation was an important mechanism for achieving project objectives: in addition they facilitate savings on the purchase of (domestic) water, which can range from JOD 0.4 to JOD 5 per m3. So far 1 170 cisterns have been completed, covering about 70% of the number of farms included in the SWC programme. This number represents about 37% of the targeted number of cisterns. There has been a continuing high demand by farmers for cisterns, however substantial under-costing at appraisal has resulted in expenditure of almost 64% of the budget. Management proposals for the second half of the project are to increase in the volume of water stored in cisterns by nearly 20% above present plans, and to rehabilitate old 100 cisterns.

Recommendations:

  • Additional resources, including a field engineer and vehicle, should be provided in each field unit to be responsible for spring rehabilitation and canal lining activities. This would allow for greater concentration of effort on spring rehabilitation, plus greater beneficiary involvement in all the activities.
  • The size restriction of 2 dunums should be lifted to allow staff to work with groups of farmers in spring areas, both for technical reasons (common spraying against pests such as scale insects and olive stem borer) and to increase benefits from spring rehabilitation works.
  • The proposed 30% increase in the number of cisterns (from 1 730 to 2 240) should be approved since there is a high demand from farmers and there are substantial potential benefits in providing supplementary irrigation, especially during the planting and establishment phase of fruit trees. The overall target should be reviewed again towards the end of the project to determine if it could be increased further.
  • Consideration should also be given to widening the cistern activity to include farmers that already have fruit trees and meet poverty criteria, who are not presently included in the soil conservation programme, including farmers who have participated in previous programmes.
  • There should be an expanded demonstration and field testing of other water harvesting methods (such as micro-catchments) by NCARTT/Extension system, with the project role including the identification of farmers and assisting in the organisation of field days and training.

Lesson 6: poverty vriteria for reaching the poor

There are several factors in the ARMP criteria that have the potential for excluding the poor. This exclusion could happen as a result of the minimum land criteria, the requirement to produce funds up-front for some of the project activities, the submission of original land papers for SWC activities (which the poor are reluctant to do), and the requirement for monthly salary deductions for loans. ARMP has no records of the socio-economic profiles of the beneficiaries. Using proxy indicators for determining the income status of the beneficiaries, such as educational level, family size and source of employment and comparing these with the results of the recent MOA survey it appears that the beneficiaries of ARMP can generally not be described as the poorest. ACC records some information on the income and land holdings of its borrowers; these figures indicate that in Karak and Tafila, households that have taken loans from ACC have incomes that are 100% and 81% above the GOJ poverty lines for the respective Governorates. The lesson is that the poor and vulnerable households have to be specifically targeted if they are the intended beneficiaries of a programme.

Estimates of how poverty and gender are related vary. The Living Conditions Survey of 1996 indicated that there was no significant difference in poverty by gender. However, a study of poverty in the Highlands showed that women headed households are poorer and with less economic assets compared to male headed households. These figures suggest that unless women are specifically targeted they will not have access to loans for land development. Women reportedly have difficulty obtaining loans from ACC for activities outside the specific women's programme, primarily due to the lack of land and the required collateral. However, no specific effort is made to target female-headed households under the SWC and agricultural development programmes.

Recommendations:

  • Poverty criteria are needed to identify the poor – not landholdings. The approach to targeting the poor, female headed households and households with a greater reliance on agriculture has to be carefully determined and included in the operating policy and procedures of the project. ARMP is in a strong position to reconcile the twin objectives of poverty alleviation and agriculture growth, but only if the selection criteria are relaxed. The recommendation is for ARMP management and staff to examine the operating procedures of the project to identify changes necessary to re-orient their approach, and so to make targeting of the poor more realistic.
  • There is a need specifically to reinforce a targeting criterion for female headed households, to ensure that such households are not being excluded from benefiting from project activities.

 

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Bokeo Food Security Project (1995)

April 2001

Interim evaluation

Background

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is a poor country, with a per caput GDP ranking at 16 out of 206 according to the World Bank Development Indicators, and 140 out of 176 in the UNDP Human Development Index. Ruled after 1975 by a socialist government, the government implemented more liberal policies from the mid-1980s onwards. It is now following development policies supported and agreed with the World Bank and the IMF.

In the 1990s, poverty in the country dropped from 58% of the population in 1992-93 to 52% in 1997-98. However, the same studies indicate that the distribution of income has become more skewed in this period. Poverty is concentrated in the mountainous regions and in the ethnic minority communities, which largely overlap each other. In Bokeo, poverty fell from 63% to 37% of the population in this period.

Target group, project objectives and components

With a total population in the Province estimated at 105 000 in 1993, the project target group is the 70% of rural households in the area without assured food security. No specific target was set for women, and Appraisal merely stated that 'project-supported development interventions in production and social services will pay particular attention to the promotion of women's interests and benefits.' Ethnic minorities and women became explicit target groups at Mid-Term Review (MTR) in 1999.

Appraisal defined project objectives as follows:

  • improved food security through more reliable and increased paddy production;
  • improved animal health leading to better household food security and increased savings;
  • more sustainable management and utilization of upland and highland areas;
  • improved economic and social infrastructure, as well as improved health and educational standards for children and adults;
  • establishment of appropriate beneficiary organizations for defining and executing village- and farm-level development that are as self-reliant and sustainable as possible; and
  • improved functioning of government services, particularly in the areas of coordinated development management and administration, and sector-specific technical support to rural people.

Excluding the OPEC-financed road, the project had seven components, which were to be cofinanced by IFAD and GTZ, with the following allocations:

  • irrigation rehabilitation and development (20%);
  • agriculture-related group promotion (3%);
  • technology development (7%);
  • pilot watershed management (2%);
  • livestock development (7%);
  • basic social services (3%); and
  • institutional support and community development (57%).

National and Provincial Steering Committees were included in the design. At village level, Village Development Committees (VDCs) were to be the entry point for the formation of specific interest groups, and selection of villages and schemes was to give priority to the poorest communities.

Comments on design

The strengths of project design reside in the details of the participatory approach, conformity with government decentralization policies, and the focus on components addressing poor people's main constraints, namely rural infrastructure, the availability of paddy land, and livestock development.

Design weaknesses were its neglect of the problems connected with co-management, the multiplicity of project interventions, particularly in the agricultural sector, and insufficient attention to targeting mechanisms, specifically concerning women.

Main achievements

The project has been working in about 76 villages for over 3 years, with a total population of about 26 000 people living in 4 500 households. Thus about 20% of the project area households have directly benefited from the project. In addition, some villages where the project had no other activities have benefited from the improved road network constructed with project funds, in particular the 29 km of asphalt road built between Houay Xai and Nam Keung in Thongpeung district.

IFAD funds have been used for the construction of 1 health centre, 4 agricultural promotion centres, offices and staff housing in the provincial capital and one district. To date, 15 primary schools have been built and a further 7 rehabilitated. A further 4 educational buildings are either designed or contracted. The impact of these buildings cannot be measured immediately but is clearly assisting an improvement in school attendance, among girls in particular.

In addition to the OPEC-funded 29 km of paved road, a further 38 km of rural roads have been built or upgraded with funds from the IFAD loan, and a further 16 km were under construction. Construction of rural infrastructure plays a significant role in poverty alleviation: road construction has led to more than 50% reduction in transport costs for freight and passengers. It has also increased the village-gate prices of crops (maize prices have risen on average by 27% in the areas reached by project-built roads) and of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) (palm nuts are sold at prices 20% higher in villages along the road, and sandalwood prices are 23% higher).

Irrigation development had been completed for a command area of 452 ha on 7 schemes at a reasonable cost; 20 ha of this area was newly irrigated land. A further 199 ha were under contract. To date, 253 families of the 900 intended at appraisal have benefited from this development, with an average holding per family of 1.8 ha. Yields have increased by about 1 ton/ha on upgraded areas. Benefits from irrigation on the land already developed were estimated to be an increase in rice production of 525 tons, valued at USD 66 622.

With respect to agriculture, the main success has been the introduction of new rice cultivars, which have been widely adopted. A number of fruit trees have been successfully distributed, but the issues of husbandry and marketing have not been addressed. New crops such as mushrooms and ginger have been tentatively introduced in a number of villages, with varying degrees of success.

Targeting has been both a strength and a weakness in this project. The targeting of minority populations and communities has been very successful: 79% of the villages where the project works are populated primarily by minority communities. This success is largely due to the convergence of government and IFAD policies and, insofar as poverty is concentrated in minority communities, has assisted the project in reaching the poor.

Community Development activities have been implemented by the Technical Assistance (TA) team and include adult literacy training, village-level hygiene improvements - including the supply of latrines and the impregnation of mosquito nets - as well as the formulation of Village Development Plans.

There have been over 2 400 village-level participants in training activities, including 31% of women, though the total number of trainees is probably about half, as most trainees have been involved in more than one training course. Training has taken place in crop production (horticulture, mushroom cultivation, fruit tree propagation), livestock husbandry, rural credit, non-formal education, community development, and health. A further 423 participants have been government staff trained in rural credit, education, community development, rural infrastructure and institution building activities. In addition, 10 study tours have taken place in Laos and in Thailand for line agency staff and farmers.

Overall, USD 2 363 050 of the IFAD loan had been spent or committed for expenditure on civil works at the time of IE, though only USD 1 321 020 had been officially disbursed. In addition, USD 873 514 had been officially disbursed in other categories. Assuming that current commitments were fully disbursed, total currently planned project expenditure would amount to over 80% of the loan.

Main weaknesses

The project has been affected by difficulties throughout its implementation. The irrigation component will achieve an acreage substantially below design, amounting to 72% of the total intended area; the number of beneficiaries is likely to be a maximum of 60% of the target.

Serious management problems have dogged project implementation, with lack of cooperation and coordination between National Project Management and the TA team; the latter has been involved in activities that were not intended at design, namely investment funding.

The agricultural component has achieved little, involving a wide dispersal into trials of new crops without attention to marketing. Minimal attention has been given to the important sector of NTFPs. Farmers introducing new crops, particularly fruit trees, have not been provided with the technical support they needed.

No rural credit mechanism was included in design. The revolving fund included at MTR has not been operational due to different views on procedures between project management, the TA team and UNOPS. Among other activities that have suffered from the lack of rural finance, the absence of credit has prevented farmers from clearing new land, and women from setting up better marketing networks for their handicrafts and other produce.

The livestock component has been particularly weak. Livestock vaccination was planned to be a major project activity. Although 73 Village Veterinary Workers (VVWs) have been trained, few of them are actually working, and there have been serious problems with the vaccination programme. Most recently, in 2001, widespread vaccination of livestock was not carried out, apparently mainly because of differences of opinion about its effectiveness between the TA team and project management.

While the project has successfully targeted minority populations, the targeting of women and of poorer people within communities have been neglected. Women's authority in agriculture has been weakened as no women are included in the Water Users' Groups (WUGs) and very few women have been trained, even in subjects which are of prime interest to women, such as livestock. Poorer people have not been given priority for project support within communities.

Community Development activities have been operated entirely through the TA team, and implemented by their staff. As a result, local government Rural Development and Women's Union staff have not developed the capacity to assist communities in mobilization and other community development activities, nor have community members developed a capacity for self-management.
Most importantly, the participatory measures included at design to ensure sustainability of investments have not been implemented. Hence sustainability of project achievements is likely to be weak, given that inadequate mechanisms have been established for village-level management of the investments:

  • the WUGs were not fully operational and have not been given the training needed;
  • no road maintenance mechanisms have been established at community level for the roads built;
  • VDCs were not sufficiently well trained to implement Village Development Plans; those Plans are not genuinely village-level initiatives;
  • the district Lao Women's Union and Rural Development staff were neither trained nor equipped to support village-level sustainable decentralized activities;
  • line agency staffing will become an issue as, contrary to the designed 2 incremental staff, according to the MTR a total of 36 additional staff had been hired by the various departments; and
  • in addition, after changes decided at MTR, project activities are dependent on loan funds for operational costs, in particular DSA and transport, resulting in further threats to sustainability.

The Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) unit has not used the village profile data collected on the villages at an early stage in the project to consolidate them into an overall baseline study of the project area, nor have these data been updated to reflect change and progress. To the contrary, new varieties of more sophisticated, complex and wordy versions of the profiles have been developed, which add little information and make identification of progress and change due to the project even more difficult to identify.

Finally, project supervision has been inadequate, with insufficient action to solve the project's problems.
Lessons learnt

Project scope. With a planned duration of 7 years and a loan of just over USD 4 million, the project is having difficulty in disbursing the funds provided. There are many reasons for slow disbursement, including:

  • development of decentralization and increased role of local government in implementation;
  • involvement of communities in decision-making for project-financed activities;
  • natural conditions, which limit civil works during the rainy season; and
  • relatively low cost of individual subprojects. Although the demands on management and line agency staff time remain considerable, disbursements are consequently much slower.

In view of the increasingly participatory and community-based approach of IFAD projects, a lesson from this project is that size of loans, duration of projects and disbursement schedules need to be adjusted to accommodate the facts that participatory approaches and decentralized mechanisms are slower. However, it should be noted that slower short-term disbursements should be compensated in the long run by improved sustainability of investments.

Decentralization and participation. These processes are linked, but not identical: government decentralization policies involve increased participation of local government staff and can also increase participation at the community level. Both require more lead-in time. In order to avoid some of the difficulties and problems that have occurred in the past, and to ensure the sustainability of investments, it is important to establish systematic beneficiary consultation and participatory mechanisms, starting with the earliest stages of any activity.

Cofinancing is often a major source of implementation difficulties. With respect to cofinancing with GTZ, this project is an extreme example of the situation, with what was originally intended to be a TA input having become a separate project (with different accountability structure, its own investment financing, etc.), i.e., parallel financing.

Technical Assistance and co-management issues. A major lesson of this project is that any TA should be managed within the framework of the investment project, not separately. TA personnel (whether short or long term) should work within the framework of a single project management with a single project manager. Issues related to co-management and technical assistance deserve serious research. In a situation where no improvements can be achieved, structural change should be chosen in preference to 'patching-up' efforts.

Supervision. The role of supervision is to ensure that projects are implemented according to the Loan Agreements and the Appraisal documentation. This is both a supervisory and a supportive role. Supervision should help project management to deal with constraints and problems and provide the necessary support. Supervision of this project has been inadequate, not providing enough support, especially since 1999.

Rural infrastructure. Rural infrastructure investments can be a major support to rural development and can assist poverty alleviation. This is the case for roads, schools and also small-scale irrigation systems. If their location is determined with good targeting, these are investments that can help IFAD fulfil its mandate of reaching the rural poor and reducing poverty.

Agricultural development. Insufficient household rice production is the prime indicator of poverty in Laos. Thus, helping increase rice production is the most effective means of influencing household food security. Project focus on this sector was the correct strategy and should have remained the main project activity; diversification into a variety of other crops and agricultural interventions should have been delayed till the primary - rice production - objective had been achieved. The main lesson from this experience is that priority should be given to interventions that are known to successfully alleviate poverty effective, at the expense of innovations whose effectiveness remains to be proven.

Sustainability. Sustainability is the most fundamental criterion of success of a project, and should be constantly and consistently the focus of project designers and implementers. Insofar as beneficiary participation is the main assurance of sustainability, it is essential that this participation be considered a priority in implementation. No physical works should be implemented without prior establishment of participatory beneficiary institutions (be they formal or informal) to design, construct, manage and maintain them.

Recommendations

Concerning the inclusion of Bokeo Province in the proposed Community Initiatives Support Project

In view of the low absorption capacity of Lao PDR for rural development funding, as demonstrated in the Bokeo Food Security Project, with an average disbursement rate of USD 500 000 per annum, and of the demonstrated difficulties of cofinancing, the Evaluation strongly recommends that the Community Initiatives Support Project (CISP) should:

  • adjust its overall size according to proven disbursement capacity; and
  • only include Bokeo if, by the end of the Appraisal mission (mid-November 2001), an open and clear agreement has been reached between GTZ, the State Planning Committee (SPC), District Planning Committee (DPC), Project Support Office (PSO) and IFAD concerning the details of the use of GTZ funds in the period 2001-04. The agreement should include details of funds allocated per activity per district per quarter. All parties concerned are to be fully informed of the details of GTZ fund allocations according to a format similar to that used in appraisal cost tables. A new organigram must have been prepared and agreed in which the Provincial Steering Committee (PSC) and DPC play an increased role of supervision and management, and all staff of the GTZ TA Team report to a single person, the National Project Director, who is responsible for coordinating the project implementation on behalf of the DPC, the PSC and the Provincial Government.

Only the long-term and general recommendations are included below. A number of immediate recommendations for the design of Phase 2 and for the remaining period of Phase 1 can be found at the end of the Main Report.

Strategic to Government

Government should address the issue of its civil service payroll. Government needs to decide which services it is to provide, and make available the funds necessary to pay reasonable salaries to the staff who perform these services. Adequate provision for running costs (transport, DSA, etc.) must be included routinely in annual budgets. Without these, no investment will be sustainable.

Decentralization policies are making new demands on local government staff and on community-level leaders. These people have not been trained to fulfil their new tasks. To assist this process, IE recommends that:

  • village leaders be given training in social mobilization and participatory development;
  • local government staff be trained in the relevant management, participatory and accounting skills so that their way of working and work culture will be changed and re-oriented gradually towards providing services to the clients in a demand-driven and participatory manner;
  • an adequate number of qualified staff be re-deployed from the central and provincial level to the appropriate regional and district levels to ensure that the necessary skilled staff are available in the rural areas; and
  • to develop accountable systems and procedures to implement the government policy on decentralization, such as contractual arrangements between the provincial governments and the public service providers using public funds for implementation of development project activities.

Once trained, district- and village-level staff should be given more responsibility and authority with respect to financial management of Government and Project budgets. These new responsibilities and power need to be accompanied by effective procedures of financial reporting, monitoring and supervision to ensure accountability and transparency. The VDCs should be allocated some budgets, to be used at their discretion.

While government policies already favour supporting women, to improve the effectiveness of these policies it is necessary that government implements the following measures, among others:

(i) systematically issue land and housing titles in the names of wife and husband for couples;
(ii) promote increased representation of women in key decision-making positions at all levels, and recruit more women in the staff of the project management and line agencies;
(iii) provide adequate resources to ensure that ethnic women have equal and adequate access to education, family planning and health services;
(iv) develop procedures to involve women in participatory planning;
(v) provide gender awareness training for all its staff;
(vi) give the Lao Women's Union (LWU) a leading role in poverty alleviation programmes; and
(vii) include gender-disaggregated data in reporting systems of all levels of government institutions.

Government would find it beneficial to review the terms of its relationship with GTZ. Regardless of the fact that GTZ provides grant funds, government has the right to demand transparency concerning the use of these funds and take an active role in the distribution and allocation of funds available for the country, as well as the working and reporting procedures between the TA team and the national counterpart.

Participatory mechanisms at the local government and community level are essential. They are, in the new century, routinely well designed in development projects. Participation would be strengthened by formulating enabling legislation on rural user groups (irrigation and drinking water, roads, etc.). Similarly, participation for land use activities would be improved through the systematic issue of land certificates for existing farmers, who would benefit from public investment, such as potential irrigation schemes, which should ensure inclusion of women among certificate holders. This would increase the incentive for them to participate effectively in design, construction and operation and maintenance (O&M) of the irrigation schemes and other improvement activities.

Government should give more attention to the positive features of minority cultures and livelihood systems and ensure that they are protected in development activities, while involving minorities in economic development.

While government policy to reduce shifting agriculture is understandable and reasonable, in practice there are few economically viable alternatives for upland farmers. The stabilization of their agriculture has reduced fallow cycles, no alternative sustainable sources of income have been created, and insufficient lowland irrigated land is available for those who need it. Therefore, Evaluation recommends that the policy towards stabilization of shifting agriculture be implemented more gradually, taking into consideration the availability of alternative sources of livelihood for the farmers.

Now that considerable experience has been developed of village-level animal health services, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) should conduct a study on the field experiences of the pilot programmes of VVWs in the different projects in the country. The study would be designed to issue guidelines for the future development of village-level veterinary services on a user-pays basis in Lao PDR.

Strategic to IFAD

IFAD should, through a detailed study, review the advantages and drawbacks of cofinancing, and possibly reconsider its strategy concerning cofinancing. TA is necessary for many projects, and IFAD should develop mechanisms to ensure that it fulfils its role precisely and does not divert the project from its intended course. Using IFAD loans for financing TA should be considered, as well as other sources of TA financing, to ensure that TA fulfils the role defined at design and according to the implementation needs of projects.

IFAD should seriously examine its mechanisms for supervision of projects, both with respect to frequency and to content. Supervision must ensure that projects follow the spirit as well as the letter of appraisal documents and should play a more active and forceful role in project implementation. The frequency of supervision missions should be determined by project status and could be as often as three times a year for the more problematic projects, as was the case for most of the time in Bokeo. It should routinely be twice a year (one full supervision and one follow-up mission in countries where the cooperating institution is executing more than one project).

LANGUAGES: English

Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project (2001)

April 2001

 

Completion Evaluation

Foreword

This document being submitted for the consideration of the Evaluation Committee contains two distinct sections related to the completion evaluation of the Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project, India. The first section contains the evaluation's Executive Summary, and the second section includes the Agreement at Completion Point that is a mandatory feature of IFAD evaluations. This Agreement at Completion Point was reached among various evaluation partners on 30 April 2001 in Hyderabad. It is based on an in-depth analysis and reflections on the main evaluation findings. The Agreement at Completion Point is the product of a learning exercise and an intense dialogue among the members of the Core Learning Partnership.1 It consists of five key evaluation insights.

Abbreviations and acronyms

APTDP Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project
GCC Girijan Cooperative Corporation
ITDA Integrated Tribal Development Agency
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
NTFP Non-Timber Forest Product
PRA Participatory Rural Appraisal
PWG People's War Group
SHG Self-Help Group
VTDA Village Tribal Development Association


Section one: executive summary

Introduction

Project background. The Andhra Pradesh Tribal Development Project (APTDP) was appraised by IFAD in December 1990. The loan became effective on 27 August 1991 and closed on 31 March 1999. The total project cost was USD 46.5 million, funded by the Governments of India/Andhra Pradesh (USD 19.5 million), IFAD (USD 20.0 million) and The Netherlands (USD 7.0 million). The cooperating institution was the United Nations Office for Project Services. The Tribal Welfare Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh was the executing agency, with overall responsibility for project implementation.

Project area. The project area is located in the north-eastern regions of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The project was implemented in four contiguous Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs), with a high concentration of families engaged in podu (shifting/slash-and-burn) cultivation: Seethampeta (Srikakulam district), Parvathipuram (Vizianagaram district), Paderu (Visakhapatnam district) and Rampachodavaram (East Godavari district). The project area comprises wide plains, hills and narrow valleys. The altitude ranges from 200 m to as high as 1 600 m in some areas of Paderu, and the area contains a wide range of microclimates. The areas where podu cultivation is practised often have steep slopes in excess of 28 degrees. Rainfall averages about 1 100 mm per year, with around 80% of precipitation occurring during the south-west monsoon (June-September). The project area is endowed with a generally good climate, productive soils, rich biodiversity and is subject to less demographic pressure than exists on the plains.

Target group. At the time of project appraisal, the entire project was inhabited by scheduled tribes. About 70% were engaged in podu cultivation, and the majority of the remainder relied on rainfed crop production. The degree of poverty was greatest among the 13% of households with only podu land, and average incomes per year, including off-farm income, were estimated at 2 660 Indian rupees (INR) for these households. The comparable figure for families with both podu and permanently cultivated land was INR 3 710. Both figures were well below the annual poverty level of INR 4 800 per household used by the Integrated Rural Development Programme. Especially vulnerable groups include significant numbers of landless households, the poorest women and under-employed youth. About 60% of tribal families were reported to be in debt to non-tribal traders/moneylenders, with an average debt of INR 1 390. The target group comprised all 63 370 families living in the 2077 villages of 16 selected watersheds.

Objectives and strategy. The main objective of the project was to foster self-reliant household food security by increasing food production and raising the income of tribal families, with specific focus on households practising podu agriculture. The project strategy included several elements: (a) planting the hill slopes with tree crops to provide food and cash income, as well as utilizing soil conservation measures to restore the ecological equilibrium; (b) improving the productivity of food crops through expanded irrigation and improved farming technology; (c) formulating a community development strategy to ensure the sustainability of economic development; and (d) identifying measures to address the chronic indebtedness among tribals by strengthening credit and marketing systems and, in particular, by building up the assets and capacities of the Girijan Cooperative Corporation (GCC).

Project components and implementation. The APTDP had the following components: (a) community and women's development (6% of project costs), (b) health and education (9%), (c) natural resources development (70%), (d) credit and marketing support (9%), and (e) project management support, including monitoring and evaluation (6%). The Tribal Welfare Department had the overall responsibility for project implementation, with the commissioner for tribal welfare as the project coordinator. Project activities were implemented through the regular ITDA channels. The respective ITDA project officer was designated as project director and was responsible for day-to-day management of the project.

The political factor: Naxalism. The main risk involved in the implementation of the APTDP was the history of socio-political unrest in the region. During the 1970s and 1980s, the project area witnessed a period of turbulence as the epicentre of the Naxalite revolt, a radical insurgency movement. The initiation of the project represented a bold move on the part of both the Government of India and IFAD and provided the opportunity to assess the relationship between a grass-roots-led protest movement and the operation of a participatory tribal development project.

Completion evaluation process. The main objective of the completion evaluation was to assess the performance and impact of the APTDP. An additional objective was to document the experiences of the project and develop a series of lessons learned that could assist in the design and implementation of similar ongoing and future projects in the country and elsewhere. The evaluation was jointly conducted with The Netherlands, the project's cofinanciers, and was planned and implemented to promote maximum local participation and ownership.

A participatory rural appraisal (PRA) was undertaken from 15 September to 15 October 2000 by Outreach (a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Bangalore, India). The objective of this exercise was to collect primary data from project stakeholders in order to assess the performance of the project from the beneficiaries' perspective, including its targeting, impact and sustainability. The results and analysis of the PRA were discussed in a stakeholders' workshop in Hyderabad in October 2000 and were made available to the evaluation team.

The completion evaluation team was then fielded in November 2000. It held discussions with representatives of the Indian Government and the Embassy of The Netherlands in New Delhi before proceeding to the project area, where discussions were held with officials of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, NGOs and other project participants. Two workshops representing major stakeholders were held at the outset and at the end of the mission to create a forum for consultation, dialogue and knowledge-sharing. Mission members spent about two weeks in the four project areas, during which they were able to interact directly with beneficiaries in 35 villages and gain valuable insights from their experience. They also examined some of the physical achievements of the project and participated in in-depth discussions with key project staff. A video conference (Delhi/Rome) was organized during the evaluation mission's wrap-up meeting in New Delhi. This provided concerned IFAD staff from the Office of Evaluation and Studies and the Asia and the Pacific Division with the opportunity to participate in discussions. Finally, a stakeholder workshop was held on 30 April 2001 in Hyderabad to discuss the draft evaluation report and to formulate the evaluation's Agreement at Completion Point.

Implementation performance

Natural resources development. The physical results under the natural resources component have generally matched or exceeded targets. Total food production in the project area has increased by an estimated 500% during project life. However, these figures mask important problems, such as the need for better maintenance of irrigation systems, a lack of sufficient know-how regarding horticultural techniques and, perhaps most significantly, an increased vulnerability to drought because of the dependence on irrigated agriculture at the expense of traditional techniques that included built-in measures to counteract periodic drought conditions. When questioned, the farmers admitted that they were continuing podu cultivation as a fall-back mechanism, or that they would revive it if necessary.

More specifically, about 20 000 ha of rainfed lands were provided with irrigation, representing an increase in the irrigated area of six and a half times as compared to the pre-project period. More than 54 000 ha of land belonging to some 27 000 households were subjected to soil and water conservation measures. More than 55 000 families now directly benefit from highly productive horticultural plantations and orchards, where the emphasis is on mixed plantings of cash and food crops. A most significant achievement has been the establishment of nearly 40 000 ha of orchards, mostly cashew, but also mango, guava, citrus and silver oak for coffee. Under the APTDP, in addition to greater irrigation and soil conservation methods, determining factors in enhancing food production were the development of improved seed varieties, the wider application of fertilizers and the adoption of improved agricultural practices.

Agricultural extension is provided by village extension officers. The outreach capacity of the village extension officers is constrained by the lack of training necessary for the dissemination of innovations and technologies, and of transportation facilities. To overcome these constraints, some support has been provided by village-level workers and the posting of agricultural graduates as agricultural development consultants in villages that are not easily accessible. The APTDP achieved its target of establishing 6 500 demonstration plots and 2 400 seed-production sites. About 900 farmers were given training to enable them to establish satellite nurseries. Adaptive research was initially made available through Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, and since 1995 the responsibility has been entrusted to the National Institute of Agricultural Extension Management. Research focused on cropping systems, inter cropping experimentation, natural resources management and so on.

Community participation and village institutions. Participatory approaches designed to motivate and empower men and women have been a key process in project activities. The APTDP established a variety of local-level institutions, including self-help groups (SHGs), cluster-level associations of SHGs, user groups/village development committees (for example, for education, health, irrigation, grain banks) and a nodal institution in the form of village tribal development associations (VTDAs). The latter were conceived on the one hand as a forum for the expression of community priorities and concerns and on the other as a means of delivering project and programmes to the community. A total of 1 029 VTDAs were formed in the project area, fives times the original target. Similarly, 1 231 SHGs were formed. However, more than half of the SHGs are inactive, most likely due to the fact that they can be set up easily, but are difficult to sustain. The cohesiveness and sustainability of groups have been weak, and too much emphasis has been given to the mere existence of SHGs. A total of 467 grain banks were established. They have been the most significant of village-level institutions and have enabled members to do without the services of moneylenders for the greater part of the year. Community coordination teams - groups of young, dedicated professionals who live in villages for up to three years - have had notable success working with villagers by encouraging genuine participation in helping tribal communities identify village priorities and implement and monitor development activities in the sphere of health and education.

Education. The principal activities in education focused on infrastructure and access improvement, training, awareness-building and performance monitoring. The support for community initiatives included the provision of matching funds for the construction of community (maabadi) schools and for the payment of their teachers, as well for basic equipment such as blackboards, stationery and slates. Support was given to 1 323 community schools, covering nearly 20 000 schoolchildren. A total of 81 educational resource centres were constructed. These were used for ongoing teacher training programmes, access to educational materials and teacher conferences. Training sessions included teacher training, programmes for community school volunteers and guidance for village education workers. Awareness campaigns were mounted to emphasize the importance of education and increase enrolment in primary schools and to reduce drop-out rates. Through this component, the project also ensured the provision of midday meals and the undertaking of a comprehensive survey in terms of access, capacity and enrolment projections, as well as the rationalization of educational institutions and school complexes through a scientific school-mapping exercise.

Considerable emphasis was given by the educational resource centres to improving teaching methods and monitoring educational standards. The basic model of these centres included a training hall equipped with audio-visual facilities, a library, a laboratory, a kitchen and some accommodation for visiting teachers. The centres normally served 30-40 schools of all kinds under the aegis of the head teacher of the school that hosted the complex.

Health. Considerable emphasis was placed on the health sub-component at the design stage, but, as with education, little was achieved in the first years of the project. The programme focused on the promotion of community-based preventive health care. The principal objectives of the health sub-component were to promote accessibility to primary health care and monitor mother and child health/epidemics, as well as to raise the awareness of tribal people and capacity-building among medical and paramedical staff and tribes. Another key element in this initiative was the deployment in remote villages of well over 1 000 community health workers, each of whom was provided with a month's intensive training and a basic medical kit. The basic training focused on hygiene, malaria prognosis and first aid. Community health workers were selected from among married women in their twenties and thirties, preferably with a modicum of education. Other major achievements included the provision of drugs, equipment and vehicles for 32 primary health centres and of vehicles for mobile medical units; matching grants for the construction of 181 subcentres; the establishment of a referral fund for medical emergencies; and the provision of training kits. Thirty-seven jeep-cum-ambulances were supplied to primary health centres. Training sessions were provided for medical officers at the Indian Institute of Health Services in Hyderabad, and drugs and other equipment were supplied to primary health centres and subcentres.

Housing. Upon the recommendation of IFAD, the Tribal Housing and Habitat Improvement Facilities Programme was proposed as an additional activity in 1997-98, and the loan agreement was accordingly amended. As podu lands were converted to orchards and plantations and forest regulations were more strictly applied, the growing shortage of roofing and thatching material provided the rationale for inclusion of the housing programme. The basic objective was to provide low-cost pukka (bricks) housing to tribal villagers. A total of 14 292 houses were constructed, only eight short of the target. The housing programme was to be funded through a grant to VTDAs to be distributed among villagers as loans. In the majority of villages, however, payment for the houses has been regarded as a grant and not as credit, although beneficiaries have supplied the labour or labour payments and, in many cases, additional materials. The procedures for selecting beneficiaries under the housing scheme were not consistent, and the involvement of beneficiaries in design was limited.

Credit and marketing. The project provided resources to improve the operational capacity of GCC, in particular its ability to manage credit operations, improve marketing and support research and development activities that would benefit tribal people.

The project's performance in credit delivery was inadequate. Crop loans were provided both in cash and in kind, with approximately 59% being distributed in cash, and the rest in the form of fertilizers and other agricultural inputs. Consumption loans were also provided. SHGs were the principal vehicle for the channeling of credit. About 60% of the SHGs formed during the project period were inactive. In the six villages studied during the PRA, two SHGs were totally defunct, and the four remaining could be categorized as functioning moderately. It was noted that SHG activities were better in the initial years and gradually worsened. The initial enthusiasm is partly explained by the provision of matching grants to the SHGs by the project irrespective of their performance.2

In terms of credit delivery, the amount disbursed more than doubled from 1991-92 to 1992-93 (from INR 6.6 to 13.6 million) at the time that IFAD funding to GCC became available, but then gradually fell, reaching its lowest level, INR 2.2 million, in 1996-97. It picked up slightly in the next two years, but had still only reached INR 4.9 million by 1999-2000. The trend was similar in terms of loans in the form of agricultural inputs. From a 1991-92 level of INR 2.3 million, the total amount of such loans increased to INR 6.4 million the following year and thereafter began to fall sharply, until in 1998-99 no loans at all were disbursed, and only INR 2.1 million was disbursed in 1999-2000. One of the reasons given by GCC for the reduced levels of credit was the sharp decline in recovery rates. The GCC figures indicate about 60% recovery in 1999-2000, which is more than the rate in some earlier years. For example, in Paderu district the collection rate declined steadily from 88.7% in 1994-95 to 39.3% in 1999-2000.

In recent years, GCC has put more emphasis on marketing than on the provision of credit. With regard to marketing, GCC took a number of steps in organizing grass-roots channels, strengthening the supervision of procurement and sales and developing new products. In particular, the reach of the Girijan Primary Cooperative Marketing Societies was greatly extended. VTDAs organized periodic meetings of villagers to discuss who needed credit and how to improve the marketing of produce and obtain better prices. The project also provided training for functionaries of the Girijan Primary Cooperative Marketing Societies and considerably improved methods of processing, packaging, transportation and promotion.

Research and development activities constituted a major aspect of implementation, and GCC has tackled these activities systematically by commissioning market surveys and studies on processing techniques, financing opportunities and pricing, and undertaking the regular monitoring of the activities of tribal people. This has led to the identification of new non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and the creation of a database on forest products and their use. The emphasis on research and development has supported a process of synthesis between modern techniques and the tribal people's indigenous knowledge systems and has boosted efforts to market forest produce more actively. GCC initiatives have generated value-added items derived from many forest products such as gum karaya, gum olibanum, cleaning-nuts, marking-nuts, jatropha curcas, gymnema leaf and neem. The generation and processing of gum karaya have been particularly successful, providing much employment to tribal women. Gum karaya has been developed in four forms, powder, granule, cream and gel, with numerous usages promoted commercially. Cleaning-nuts are another item of technical processing, which has led to the production of Natfloc-1001 with a variety of functions in the clarification of water, including in large-scale industrial operations. These and many other familiar items, such as soap, honey and washing powder, have been developed by the research department of GCC.

The overall value of the forest and agricultural produce purchased by GCC rose sharply to a total value of INR 220 million in 1999-2000, compared to an average of about INR 100 million during 1992-96. The collection and sale of gum karaya are an increasingly important part of GCC operations, with top-grade gum being purchased from villagers at INR 125 per kg, a fivefold increase during the project period. The GCC organizational expansion facilitated by the APTDP led to the creation of the Commercialization, Research and Development Division, illustrating the emphasis GCC assigns to issues related to market linkages.

Project management and coordination. Project implementation was marked by frequent changes in management personnel in the Tribal Welfare Department. Nevertheless, the overall project coordination by the Tribal Welfare Department was effective. ITDA project officers were particularly enthusiastic in their efforts to institutionalize participatory approaches, and their efforts culminated in the Government of Andhra Pradesh issuing an order requiring that all works in tribal subplan areas should be executed by village SHGs. One major problem has been the fact that intermediaries between ITDA and the grass-roots level are limited, which has not facilitated project operations. Project supervision by the United Nations Office for Project Services was highly incisive and constructive, and the appointment of the same cooperating institution to supervise the follow-up project (the Andhra Pradesh Participatory Tribal Development Project) has provided good opportunities for the transfer of experiences between the two projects.

Analysis and impact

Food security and natural resources. The combined effect of better agricultural practices, input supply, horticultural initiatives and infrastructure interventions has led to marked increases both in productivity and in total production and thus a significant improvement in food security and income levels. The PRA reveals that the food security of selected households across the four ITDAs had improved by 20-30% by project year six. More specifically, at project inception only six households out of 24 enjoyed food security for nine months or more of the year, and this figure had increased to 18 by project completion. For the four poorest households, which were described as enjoying only three months' food security initially, the period of food security had doubled by the time of the PRA. In the village of Diggavu Solamalu, in Paderu, there were seven households in the pre-project period that had a full 12-month food security, and this figure had doubled to 14 by project completion. The number of families enjoying at least nine months' food security increased from 12 to 17. Generally, those households that were less food secure did not possess irrigated land.

The GCC initiative in gum karaya has been a major source of income for almost 12 000 tribal people and an important source of employment for tribal women. Coffee has proven to be popular with tribal communities and has generated greater economic returns. There has been a per-unit yield increase of 84% for Seethampeta, 94% for Paderu and Rampachodavaram and 115% for Parvathipuram. The average yield of paddy throughout the project area has increased nearly threefold (from 1 100 to 3 100 kg/ha), and, in cases of optimum fertilizer application, up to 4 500 kg/ha. Given an irrigated area of 20 000 ha by the end of the project, total food production from the irrigated area can be estimated at 62 000 t, without the application of fertilizer. If only 20% of farmers applied fertilizer, production would be in the region of 80 000 t, an increase of almost 500% over the pre-project era.

Generally, the perception of farmers is that irrigation and plantation have been the main contributions of the project. Extensive podu areas have been converted into orchards, with a positive impact on the environment. This transformation has also been sound from an economic standpoint, since the potential economic returns from orchards are several times greater than the returns from podu farming. However, price fluctuations and continuing exploitation by middlemen have meant that farmers have frequently been compelled to sell their products at uneconomic prices. In several villages, the progressive diminution of podu farming can make the tribals more vulnerable to severe drought conditions, and in some cases they are uneasy at not having their traditional mix of rainfed grain and other low-intensity crops to fall back on. This problem has been exacerbated by extended periods of drought in the past few years. These difficult conditions underline the need to promote agricultural strategies that rely on irrigation and rainfed systems. Further, to ensure the sustainability of plantations, there is a clear need for more training to educate farmers in agricultural know-how concerning new crops and techniques and the ongoing management of their plots.

The sustainability of small-scale irrigation is especially dependent on the effectiveness of community action, and, where the local communities have not been properly consulted in planning, the actual location of the check dam has sometimes been inappropriate. Similarly, the quality of construction has suffered when local people have not been involved in implementing the scheme and the necessary land development has not taken place, with the result that the benefits of irrigation have failed to reach the maximum number of households. Greater attention must still be focused on certain key technical aspects of irrigation development. These include the need to ensure that each scheme is selected on the basis of cost effectiveness, the permanency of water supplies and equitable land distribution and that it is designed and executed on the basis of detailed field investigations and PRA exercises. Greater financial and technical support to farmers is also required for downstream on-farm water projects to ensure the maximization of benefits and equitable distribution of the water through the formation of permanent water users associations. The expansion of irrigation has greatly contributed to reductions in the pressure on podu land and increased the area cropped under rice. However, there are striking disparities with regard to cropping intensity, improved crop husbandry and maintenance.

Environment. The evaluation generally noted an abundance of natural vegetation, and the project areas on the whole are well watered and fertile. Strict forest regulations are in place to prevent deforestation. Attempts to curtail the practice of podu cultivation are important for maintaining and improving environmental conditions, and terracing and bunding have in many cases led to immediate improvements in the orchard-level conservation of soil and water. However, it remains unclear whether thinly planted orchards will suffice to prevent localized erosion, especially where appropriate soil-conservation measures have not been put in place or where other ground cover is scarce. There is also concern about the development of low-lying land for paddy cultivation, with the application of non-organic inputs for high-yield varieties of rice such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Care must be taken to avoid a build-up of chemicals in these regions, and impact assessment and research into alternative agricultural practices may be necessary. The potential for organic methods of agriculture should be explored, particularly in view of the rapidly expanding market that exists for organic produce.

Beneficiary participation. Participation was promoted through SHGs, VTDAs and users groups. Such institutions have been replicated on a large scale in Andhra Pradesh and cover a wide range of activities. However, one problem has been that there are too few intermediaries between ITDA and the grass roots. Village-level workers and agricultural development consultants have had to cover up to 60 habitations, which often are widely scattered and remote, making it virtually impossible to meet villagers regularly. Thus, often only a small proportion of tribals have been able to grasp the benefits of ITDA inputs, which in some cases has led to strengthening those who are less poor. Despite some good results in the institutionalization of participatory approaches, the concept of participation has been conceived differently by people. Participation has also invariably been linked with an activity, so that social mobilization and community participation were primarily seen as a mechanism for preparing people for the delivery of services, rather than as a process for boosting empowerment. More could have been achieved, but perhaps the time and interaction required for such new thinking to take root in government-led programmes were underestimated. Furthermore, executing agencies require greater incentives to institutionalize structures in support of participatory development processes that can gradually lead to the transfer of authority 'downwards'. The concept of participation promoted through the APTDP has been extremely important, as it is has provided the stepping stone for future development programmes and activities. Participation has contributed positively to changes in social relationships not only within the state and grass-roots institutions, but also among tribal people themselves, as well as between tribal people and other actors in the informal economy, such as moneylenders, traders and other service providers. The APTDP also assisted in initiating a trend to change administrative and bureaucratic approaches, bringing them more in line with the fact that sustainable development is best achieved from the 'bottom'. The PRA signaled that there needs to be a much greater emphasis on training of project staff and enhanced support from ITDAs for village institutions, as well as capacity-building and the streamlining of institutions for the sustainability of the programme.

Credit and marketing. In the past decade, there has been a fluctuating trend in terms of credit delivery and a clear reduction in the amount of loans because of the sharp decline in recovery rates, implying that tribal capacity to repay loans improved only marginally. However, the presence of the GCC credit facility has given a certain confidence to tribal communities, and, through the creation of SHGs, the propensity to save has now become more well established among tribal people. The practice of borrowing in advance and pledging the produce of the following season has not been entirely displaced, despite GCC's expanded programmes. However, wherever there are active social workers or committed officials, the GCC schemes have had a noticeable effect. Greater efforts need to be made to sustain the flow of credit and improve recovery rates and to devise measures so that the landless are able to participate in such schemes.

The marketing of NTFP has been given a major boost. GCC undertook research on the processing and marketing of the forest produce collected by tribal peoples. Its initiative on gum karaya was a good example of the benefits of combining a concern for tribal people with the dissemination of scientific knowledge and professional marketing techniques. Gum karaya is the most important NTFP procured by GCC, accounting for about one-half of total procurement, and is a major source of income for almost 12 000 tribal people. The employment of a pharmaceutical specialist by GCC led to the development of scientific tapping and post-harvest practices, and storage and quality control were modernized. Nearly 80 consultants and 400-500 liaison workers were engaged to train and supervise the collection of the gum. Within two years, the price of Grade-I gum tripled, from INR 30 to 90 per kg, and tribal income rose proportionally. Tree life was also extended as a result of improved techniques of tapping. Similar successes were achieved in the development of bioflocculant from cleaning-nuts, in the identification of a large number of medicinal herbs available in the forest and in establishing markets for them. GCC attempted to institutionalize the involvement of tribal communities in these efforts and also to involve tribal youth through forest-produce gatherers associations. However, the trader-cum-moneylender continues to have a strong presence in the marketing of NTFP, and even though the law has given monopoly rights of procurement of NTFP to GCC, it has been able to procure only about 70% of these products according to its own assessment. The remaining portion, often including the best quality NTFP items, is left to the private trader. The linkage with the moneylender continues because of transactions based on the dynamics of tribal contingent needs. The trader's agent arrives at the villager's doorstep as soon as the produce is available and collects the item against advances provided earlier. Even though the interest on the loan is as high as 10 or 15% per month, the practice continues, and in some places VTDA or the liaison worker has intervened only to redirect this sale to GCC. Further improvements need to be made in ensuring greater communication at the village level as regards the availability of information on NTFP prices fixed by GCC. Because of illiteracy and lack of information, traders are in a position to manipulate prices for the purchase of both agricultural and forest products.

Social impact. The PRA indicates that the project successfully reached the great majority of households within five of the six settlements. In the six villages assessed, three villages identified the construction of the check dam as the most important achievement, and the other three cited the construction of pukka houses. A total of 14 292 houses were constructed, and tribal people felt pride of ownership because of their involvement. The overall standards of health and nutrition are surprisingly high, and the placement of more than 1 000 community health workers to make basic health facilities available in remote villages has been the most important innovation under the health component, especially in pre-natal care and hygiene.

The demand for education now has its own dynamic: a conclusion that may be the single most significant development in terms of long-term changes in perceptions in tribal areas. The introduction of community schools and direct involvement of parents in managing the schools have played an important role in raising enrolment and attendance rates. In all four districts, there have been annual increases in enrolments (27% for Seethampeta, 9% for Parvathipuram, 12% for Paderu and 19% for Rampachodavaram), of which approximately 40% are accounted for by girls. School drop-out rates fell from 71% in 1995 to 53% in 1998 and continue to fall. One crucial educational element that needs to be addressed immediately is the provision of vocational training in tribal areas.

According to the PRA, the status of women is generally higher in tribal areas than in non-tribal societies, and in some instances, the leader of VTDA was a woman. The PRA shows that the perception of gender equity improved noticeably in all six villages under review, mainly because of the existence of SHGs. However, the dynamic connection among women's groups, credit access and income generation has been absent in the APTDP area. Female literacy rates in the project area have risen substantially, although perhaps the main impact of the project activities on women has been the steadily increasing proportion of girls in school. One negative impact on gender equity has been the fact that men now concentrate more on work in the irrigated areas, whereas men and women were previously accustomed to a large degree to working together on podu land. Women play a key role in agriculture, village institutions, education and rural marketing, and it is essential that gender issues be woven into all aspects of IFAD strategy.

Peace-building. The project area suffered from an insurgency campaign mounted by the Naxalite People's War Group (PWG), which, in the early stages at least, appeared to have been motivated by a genuine desire to improve the welfare of tribal people. At that time, the PWG served to highlight the problems of tribal people and the urgent need of measures to protect them, in particular in terms of their alienation from tribal lands and exploitation by unscrupulous moneylenders and middlemen. The APTDP contributed to reducing insurgency activities in the project area, illustrating that the Fund has a facilitating role to play in peace-building, particularly in those areas in which protest movements are supported by people at the grass-roots level that have little choice but to join due to their social and economic vulnerability.

The project demonstrated that IFAD has a development philosophy characterized by participatory and bottom-up approaches, with the objective of transferring decision-making and ownership to tribal people themselves. IFAD also contributed to promoting changes in attitudes among government and related authorities on the one hand and people at the grass-roots level on the other - particularly participants in the insurgency movements. In its earlier days, the PWG gained momentum through the support of disenchanted tribal people, relegated to lives of abject poverty, who looked to the PWG as a possible escape from misery. However, the APTDP brought about changes and development in ITDAs that created an atmosphere of optimism and empowerment, leading tribal people to gradually distance themselves from the PWG, thereby weakening the Naxalite movement in the project area. Finally, the APTDP promoted better functioning of the informal sector in the tribal area, including among moneylenders, contractors and traders.

Insights and recommendations

Participation and empowerment. The APTDP has been a pioneer in stressing community participation and has brought about changes in tribal development during implementation by creating space for a multi-stakeholder approach with a specific focus on tribal people. One achievement has been that programme management has been initiated, executed and monitored by communities and tribal people have been empowered as partners in the improvement of their natural resource base and their means of livelihood. However, despite some good progress towards the institutionalization of participatory approaches, the concept of participation has been differently understood by different people at different times. Consequently, community participation strategies were applied differently in the four ITDAs, and there was inadequate continuity in the approaches and the emphasis on participation. Moreover, because participation was linked with an activity, social mobilization and community participation were primarily seen as a mechanism to prepare people for the delivery of services. It is important to build a culture where people are not accountable for the results achieved, but for their ability to 'manage for results'. Village institutions should be organically linked, nurtured and facilitated. Training and capability development for social mobilization should be an integral and regular aspect of project design and implementation, as should the involvement of competent NGOs. Careful attention should subsequently be given to the institutionalization of the expertise and skills generated so that the capabilities developed are successfully sustained.

Community institutions. The performance of various community institutions varied widely from village to village, depending largely on the level and regularity of project inputs, both economic and motivational. The design of future projects should be more realistic as to the formal extent of community involvement, and competent NGOs should be involved in both the creation and support of nascent institutions. With the knowledge that villages with strong traditional institutions find it easier to internalize new approaches and technologies, the intensity of project delivery needs to be based on the institutional capacity available at the village level. The fact that the project lacked a coherent strategy to ensure the convergence of community institutions with the traditional power structures on the one hand and government institutions on the other may have created difficulties in achieving better bargaining power for the community. In order to avoid the emergence of parallel and potentially divisive structures, the nature of traditional authorities must be investigated, and the necessary links between new and old institutions explicitly recognized. Although the project was successful in bringing about changes in attitudes among development workers at all levels, the building of strong, long-lasting community institutions that allow tribals to become self-reliant and to reduce their dependency on external institutions is a process that requires time, the continuity of efforts and sustainable support mechanisms.

Insurgency movements and development projects. The APTDP offers an unusual opportunity to examine the role IFAD can play in conflict resolution, in particular through assessment of the relationship between an insurgency movement (Naxalism) and the operation of a participatory development project in tribal areas. The mere involvement of IFAD in such a sensitive area was seen as a serious effort by the Government to respond to tribal disaffection and exploitation. IFAD provided a silent bridging leadership, playing the role of a facilitator that could be trusted and was committed to furthering the interests of tribal communities. The Fund's facilitation role significantly contributed to greater awareness within the Government and the civil-service cadres and to a process of change in bureaucratic attitudes that favoured more listening and greater partnership-orientation in the effort to boost the development of the girijans (tribal people). Emphasis was also placed on the need to address the movement through social and economic advancement schemes, as well as through a law-and-order approach. The APTDP also brought about the development of ITDAs, creating an atmosphere of optimism and empowerment, thereby weakening the Naxalite movement in the project area. In order to maintain the physical and social assets created under the APTDP, further investment in infrastructure, training programmes and adaptive research is essential.

Exit strategy and post-project monitoring. Although the development of a post-project completion plan is integral to project design, it is common for projects to be designed and implemented with limited attention to a strategic phase-out. It is necessary to devote serious attention during design to a completion plan that identifies institutional responsibilities and roles and, to the extent required and where possible, recognizes that IFAD's continued assistance in the post-project period is critical. This task would be facilitated by the creation of a post-completion monitoring system to highlight important issues requiring the Fund's follow-up and guidance. There is a need for the immediate assistance of IFAD and the state in consolidating the achievements and impact of the APTDP, particularly with respect to capacity-building in communities and community institutions. This would require the allocation of additional resources specifically allocated to social mobilization and training.

Food security, podu farming and the environment. Total food production in the project area has increased by an estimated 500% during project life. However, this figure masks important problems, including poor maintenance of irrigation systems, a lack of sufficient know-how regarding horticultural techniques and, most significantly, increased vulnerability to drought because of the dependence on irrigated agriculture. The degree of change involved in the replacement of a tried and tested agricultural pattern by an approach requiring different techniques, different seasonal patterns and a different attitude towards natural resources must be recognized. For example, emphasis needs to be placed on preliminary research concerning the choice of horticultural crops in particular areas to determine which crops would be successful in given soil, altitude and climate conditions. Wherever radical agricultural transformation is being attempted, there is a vital need for training, guidance, adaptive research and strengthened extension services in order to support and sustain the transformation. The training of trainers is the first requirement of training programmes, and this must take into account the fact that the line department officials themselves may have little knowledge of either local conditions or tribal societies.

Water users associations. A notable achievement of the project in terms of the increase in irrigated land has been the utilization of indigenous knowledge in the design and construction of cost-effective irrigation systems. However, in various villages the full impact of these improvements has yet to be realized, owing to the underperformance of water users associations. The responsibilities of these associations include the construction and maintenance of irrigation channels, but in many cases no associations existed, or, where they did exist, they were ineffective. In some cases, irrigation channels are already in need of maintenance. The main reason for this appears to be the lack of training provided to water users associations concerning their duties and responsibilities. Irrigation development includes the appropriate construction of field channels, land development, efficient on-farm water-management measures and efficient land-use and crop production, as well as post-harvest
management practices. In each of these areas the training of association members is the crucial element. Despite the repeated recommendations of supervision missions, the necessary training programmes were not put in place. In many schemes, there is now sufficient water for a second crop, but there has been no investigation of the possibility of advancing the second planting, as was done in earlier programmes in the plains of the Godavari districts during the Green Revolution of the 1960s.

Importance of vocational education. The demand for education in tribal areas has grown rapidly over the last decade, even in the absence of the necessary infrastructure and personnel. However, educational gains have not been matched by employment opportunities. The ashram schools, which are geared towards basic academic education, meet the overall mental- and social-development needs of the child but are not directly linked to post-school employment. Although these schools are admirable, tribal communities have an immediate need for craftsmen, irrigation engineers, nurses, teachers and tailors, and, above all, there will be an increasing need for farmers with knowledge of slope-agriculture land technology, pesticides, orchard maintenance and animal husbandry. Hence, it is important that the teaching of these skills be given the central importance it deserves, and this should be achieved within the existing ashram system. This shift in the purpose and philosophy of the ashram schools will require the full support of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, and it must be emphasized that the educational system cannot stand outside the development process as a whole. The Government of Andhra Pradesh should be encouraged to set up a working group within the Department of Education to explore the possibilities for vocational education within these schools. As part of the suggested post-completion process, IFAD should perhaps consider funding comparative studies on vocational education and its applicability to tribal areas.

Health care. Community health workers have been one of the undoubted successes of the project. The basic training package is sound and should be refreshed and extended where possible. In particular, basic midwifery training should be included in all programmes, particularly in view of the resistance to institutional care among tribal women in certain places. The Government prohibition on intramuscular injections by unofficial health staff might perhaps be reviewed. After two or three years of experience and a series of training programmes, such injections ought to be well within the competence of capable community health workers. The relationship between official health staff and the community health workers needs to be one of partnership. In some cases, there is some suspicion on the part of trained officials towards the 'barefoot doctors', and indeed this is to be expected to a certain extent. This could be minimized by ensuring that the health staff immediately superior to the community health workers be personally implicated in their training, as well as in supervision. In this way, they could themselves identify with the progress and achievements of the community health workers. Some workers were given very specific instructions to deny the validity of traditional medicinal practices. In view of the emphasis on the part of the project and ITDAs on respecting, utilizing and building on traditional tribal culture, more attention might be given to an assessment of traditional practices regarding herbal teas, roots and other medicinal plants. Wherever possible, beneficial therapies of this kind should be married with modern therapeutic practice. The dismissal out of hand of local knowledge runs counter both to the spirit of the project and to the increasing attention being accorded to traditional medicine in general.

Land and parity issues. The disparities that exist between remote and less remote villages must to some extent be regarded as inevitable given the difficulties of communication. Where reaching a village demands long journeys on foot and overnight stays, the evaluation noted that the village does not receive the same attention as more accessible habitations. In effect, more remote villages require a greater proportional investment in terms of time, effort and money, and this needs to be reflected in project design. Wherever possible, a housing scheme should include all householders of a hamlet or village, provided they meet the targeting criteria, in order to avoid the emergence of a two-tier social structure with hut-dwellers as a conspicuously less-favoured group. Certain long-standing settlements are located in areas designated as reserve forests. Communities have been allowed to remain where they are, but it is still legally impossible for secure land titles to be issued in such circumstances. This is a matter that requires consideration by the Forestry Department and ITDAs in order to ensure greater integration of all segments of tribal society. Finally, tackling the problem of landlessness has not been a major focus of the APTDP, and the majority of project activities have focused on households with a modicum of land. However, the seriousness of the problems of the poor and of marginal farmers in tribal areas can be gauged from the fact that approximately 20-25% of the households in tribal areas are estimated to be landless.3 Marginal farmers having up to two acres of land constitute 30-35% of tribal households. In other words, almost half of the tribal families possess little or no land and rely either on NTFP, or on work on other people's fields or on podu cultivation.

Maintenance of physical and social assets. Although the project achieved good results in terms of infrastructure-related improvements and attempts at social mobilization, an urgent concern is the extent to which these assets can be maintained in the post-project phase. Continuing efforts are necessary, particularly in terms of training programmes for ITDA staff and beneficiaries alike. This means that levels of investment must be maintained. During the year 2000 and beyond, state financial problems have meant that ITDAs have been starved of needed funds. The effect of the recent shortage of funds on the operation of ITDAs has clearly been profound, and in many cases it was difficult for the evaluation to determine how far this alone was responsible for operational deficiencies. The evaluation witnessed examples of damaged irrigation channels, vehicles out of commission, buildings requiring immediate repairs, cashew farmers struggling due to lack of training and guidance, primary school children without slates, and SHGs without motivation. In Paderu, the closure of the maabadi schools affected nearly 14 000 schoolchildren. All these problems can be addressed through relatively small interventions, but recently ITDAs have not had sufficient resources even for these.


1/ These included the commissioner of the Tribal Welfare Department of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the development cooperation officer at the Embassy of The Netherlands in New Delhi, Outreach (a non-governmental organization) and IFAD (represented by the Asia and the Pacific Division and the Office of Evaluation and Studies).

2/ Cluster-level associations have been set up in many areas of the Andhra Pradesh Participatory Tribal Development Project with the principal aim of ensuring that communities can take full advantage of all ITDA programmes. The associations consist of ten or more SHGs formed according to the norms of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development. Individual SHGs were considered as too small to be effective borrowing units, and their capital did not go far enough as investments in productive and profitable activities. The formation of cluster-level associations is a significant step in facilitating credit from GCC, ITDA and banks, and, in the Bhadrachalam ITDA, the institution has made remarkable progress. The emphasis was on the formation of women's cluster-level associations that combined several SHGs. The evaluation team observed two cluster-level associations in Bhadrachalam which had been able to purchase tractors and lease land for cultivation. Shops had been set up; the management of girls hostels had been taken over, and other profitable activities had been planned. However, the notion of the cluster-level association is still in its infancy and has not been fitted into the overall scheme of the Girijan Primary Cooperative Marketing Societies, nor coordinated with the activities of VTDAs. Although the Bhadrachalam ITDA adopted a clear policy of promoting women's groups, GCC as a whole does not have a specific gender dimension built into its programmes. In Bhadrachalam, the evaluation team noted a new wave of women's awareness and a determination to generate income independently and take organizational initiatives with the support of state agencies, NGOs and other public bodies. Women's groups campaigned against alcoholism and the trade in liquor and were addressing significant issues, including primary education and health.

3/ In some villages, the definition of landlessness is understood in terms of the lack of ownership of 'wet land', and podu land is not reckoned as cultivable land.

 

LANGUAGES: English

Rural Development Project for Ngöbe-Buglé Communities (2001)

April 2001

Interim Evaluation

An innovative and complex project

The Rural Development Project for Ngöbe Communities was an innovative project in that it included an ethnic rights objective-legal recognition of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca-which endowed the project with very special political characteristics stemming from the involvement of indigenous leaders in the Steering Committee and the provision of training to prepare those leaders to carry out planning and administration for the Comarca. The lasting impact of this objective and the legal recognition of the Comarca in 1997 confirm that the design was correct from the strategic standpoint. Moreover, the training provided for Ngöbe-Buglé technical personnel, community leaders, and producers involved in the project proved to be a positive investment in human capital for the Comarca that will undoubtedly continue yielding results in the future.

The project also included two components that posed a significant technical challenge: the improvement of family incomes based on agricultural production in an agriculture-ecological environment with restrictions and the establishment of the Capitalization Fund to finance productive activities, which was to be administered by grass-roots beneficiary organizations that lacked an organizational tradition and had weak administrative and managerial capacity. The limited results achieved under both components confirm that during project execution more emphasis should have been placed on analysis and adjustment of these two lines of action in order to enhance their effects and impacts. Notwithstanding these limitations, the project did result in improved family food self-sufficiency, thanks to the introduction of new productive activities.

Project design

The design of the project, which drew on the lessons learned from the Rural Development Project for the Guaymí Communities, was on target in several respects, for example: inclusion of an intensive training programme as a basis for organization of the beneficiaries, promotion of their participation in planning and management of the project, creation of a Project Executing Unit (PEU) to coordinate activities, contracting with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to serve as a project administrator, construction of development centres to decentralize the development activities, establishment of realistic guidelines for the formulation of an agricultural technology proposal that was simple and appropriate to the potential of the area, incorporation of studies on the status of natural resources and the impacts of productive activities, and environmental protection based on the promotion of an environmentalist attitude among the population.

Nevertheless, the project design missed the mark in other areas, such as entrusting the majority of the activities to public-sector institutions without establishing effective mechanisms for coordination with the PEU; miscalculating the implementation period for the Capitalization Fund; overestimating the willingness of groups of farmers to pay directly for technical assistance; not planning for marketing support services; misjudging the extent to which the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) would be able to improve the road system in the area, which was only partially accomplished; and in the incomplete organization of the Administrative Unit of the PEU.

Overview of project execution

The project was carried out in a favourable macroeconomic, political, and climatic context, characterized by moderate but sustained growth of the national economy. In addition, monetary and price stability prevailed, as a result of several factors: implementation of economic policies aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the state; the government's acknowledgement of the unfair distribution of wealth among the Panamanian population and its especially detrimental effect on the indigenous populations; the formulation of social policies targeting the poorest groups; legal recognition of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, an achievement which the project was instrumental in bringing about; stability of domestic agricultural prices, coupled with an increase in the price of coffee and beans; and the absence of climatic disasters, except for some negative effects of the El Niño phenomenon in 1997.

However, the fact that there were three changes of government during project execution led to the replacement of the authorities within the executing agency and the representatives of the other public institutions involved on the Steering Committee. Moreover, the representatives of the Ngöbe-Buglé General and Regional Congresses changed several times. These changes translated into a high degree of instability in the staff of the PEU, which had 5 executive directors, each of whom served for an average of only 15 months, in addition to two officials who served as directors on a temporary basis. This turnover also affected other key positions within the PEU; the 27 officials in charge of project components and administration remained in their posts for less than 14 months, on average. In sum, the 8 key positions within the PEU were held by 32 different people, who served for an average of 14 months each, although it should be pointed out that 8 of those 32 people were promoted from lower positions within the PEU.

The foregoing difficulties delayed start-up of the project, which was launched in 1994, but some components did not get under way until 1997. It is worth noting that 1997 was also the year that Ngöbe-Buglé professionals joined the executive management of the PEU. The high turnover of administrators within the PEU, coupled with the shortage of administrative staff and the lack of importance attached to administrative and accounting procedures, resulted in an appreciable delay in the disbursement of funds for IFAD loan 331-PM-so much so that the amount authorized for the Special Account was disbursed in 1995, but only in 1997 did the first replenishment of funds take place. Despite these problems, however, thanks to timely action by the Social Emergency Fund (FES)/Social Investment Fund (FIS), the entire counterpart contribution was paid on time, which made it possible to maintain project operations when the IFAD loan funds could not be disbursed.

Generally speaking, the organization of the PEU was adequate, but the bulk of resources were allocated to the central office, to the detriment of the development centres, which lacked sufficient personnel and office and transport equipment to carry out the functions assigned to them according to the project design and execution.

A noteworthy aspect of the project was the stability and the regularity of sessions of the Steering Committee, which met 55 times over 7 years and dealt with all important project-related matters.

However, the overall performance of the project depended more on the performance of the public institutions that collaborated in its execution than on the functional organization of the PEU, and the failure of some of those institutions to fulfil their commitments limited the project's sphere of action. As a result of these failings on the part of the co-executing institutions, many activities were not carried out or were left to the PEU, whose technical staff was overburdened with responsibilities. The deficient performance of the public-sector institutions was due both to their own operational limitations and to the reluctance of the project to provide them with equipment and resources for operations, even though it was to have done so under the agreements established.

Another positive aspect of the project was the mechanisms for beneficiary participation, which were built into the project design. Those mechanisms were complemented by new forms of participation, as a result of the evolution of the beneficiary organizations. The basic mechanisms for participation were: (i) formulation, monitoring, and evaluation of the annual work plans of the development centres by the producers councils, composed of leaders of grass-roots groups and community organizations; (ii) inclusion of four Ngöbe-Buglé leaders on the Steering Committee, the supreme decision-making body for the project; and (iii) participation of Ngöbe-Buglé representatives on the Regional Credit Committees.

One obstacle that the project had to get around was the reduction of the financing by USD 2.1 million (15%), which was to be contributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The impact of this loss of funding became apparent only after the start of the year 2000, owing to the project's low initial level of financial execution. Nevertheless, even prior to that year there were some budgetary constraints for the Production Development and Training/Organization components. The project also received complementary financing from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which was used to supply agroindustrial equipment and technical assistance to eight of the cooperatives served. It should be noted that the Government of Panama contributed the entirety of the counterpart resources committed and that between 1994 and 1996 the project operated mainly with national funds.

Principal activities and their effects and impacts

One of the project's most important accomplishments is its contribution to the recognition of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, since the achievement of that legal status will ensure effective protection of the territories of the Ngöbe-Buglé people, establishment of their own forms of government, and maintenance of their way of life and traditions. The most noteworthy activities in this area were the economic and logistic support provided to the Intergovernmental Commission of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice and to the indigenous leadership, the dissemination of laws 10 and 69 and Charter of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, and the logistic and financial support for the various General and Regional Congresses held during the project execution period.

Also significant, both in terms of their coverage and their impact, were the training activities, which sought to strengthen the social organization of the beneficiaries, develop participatory assessment and planning, promote application of the gender perspective, enhance institutional and administrative organization of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, improve agricultural production, and raise awareness of environmental issues and promote widespread adoption of conservationist farming practices.

The training imparted under the Training/Organization component was targeted at four different types of participants: producers in the grass-roots groups, leaders of the cooperatives and associations, technical personnel of the PEU and the institutions involved in co-execution of the project, and indigenous leaders. Some 1 800 events were carried out, the majority (93%) for producers, while 5% were for technical personnel PEU and the co-executing institutions, and the remaining 2% were for indigenous leaders. The participants in all these events totalled 10 254 producers (86%), 1 176 technical staff (10%), and 869 Ngöbe-Buglé leaders (4%). Women's participation in events of the UOC reached 33%. However, the records on participants, which do not identify them by name, make it impossible to establish the exact number of people trained, since some people attended more than one event.

Thanks to the training and organization-building activities, there are currently 20 community organizations, almost all of them legally established, including 14 cooperatives and 4 producer associations with a total membership of close to 1 000. In addition, this component of the project served 336 grass-roots groups composed of farmers, artisans, environmentalist committees, and pro-works committees. It should be pointed out that several groups were never consolidated and almost 40% later broke up. Nevertheless, the beneficiaries interviewed by the Mission expressed satisfaction with this achievement, since the Ngöbe-Buglé cultural tradition emphasizes family work (not group work), and they had also suffered bad experiences previously. Another form of organization was producer councils formed within the development centres and composed of representatives of the groups associated with each centre. The councils began to form in 1998 as an initiative of the producers to evaluate fulfilment of the annual work plans and monthly work programmes of each centre, and they have become an important mechanism for beneficiary participation in the project, with the potential for ongoing self-management.

The training offered on the gender perspective also yielded extremely positive results, as evidenced by women's involvement in the majority of project activities. For some of those interviewed, this signified a positive break with tradition, since Ngöbe-Buglé culture assigns women a secondary position in the social milieu. The signs of this cultural change can be seen in the participation of women in the beneficiary organizations: 309 women participated as members of community organizations and 47 occupied leadership positions. The grass-roots groups had 1 626 female members, with 494 in leadership positions. This enhancement in the social status of women also extended to the level of the Comarca, as shown by a Women's Congress in which more than 2 000 women took part. Moreover, until March 2001, a woman served as Vice President of the Ngöbe-Buglé General Congress, and at the last General Congress (March 2001), one of the three presidential candidates was also a woman. Within the PEU, women consistently made up 30% of the staff , and professional Ngöbe-Buglé women had risen to several managerial positions by the end of the project, including those of Executive Director, Coordinator of the UOC, Director of the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (MEU), and Coordinator of the Alto de Jesús Development Centre.

The environmental training was aimed at fostering the protection of natural resources and also disseminating the legal framework relating to the environment. The participants in the training numbered more than 2 000 and included technical personnel from the PEU, Ngöbe-Buglé leaders, and producers. The topics covered included environmental legislation, soil and water conservation, environmental conservation (flora and fauna), and agroforestry system management.

Almost all the training mentioned above was imparted through brief events without any organized curriculum or further training events, except for the Sustainable Agroforestry School, which was a training programme in organic and conservationist agriculture. The latter consisted of eight modules of one week's duration, offered over eight months and aimed at producers selected on the basis of the high probability of their remaining in the community and their willingness to transfer their knowledge to other community members. Each module covered a specific topic in organic farming-such as soil conservation techniques, biological pest control, development of organic fertilizers, and others-which included both theoretical and practical components and required the participants' to devote themselves full-time to their studies. At the end of each module, the participants returned to their property and managed a plot of land applying the knowledge they had acquired. The evaluations took into account not only participation in the courses, but also application of the knowledge acquired when working the land. Those who completed the programme successfully received a diploma certifying them as promoters. A total of 326 producers entered the school between 1998 and 2000, with 210 (64%) graduating as promoters.

The activities in the area of production development included training, technical assistance, and technology assessment. Assistance was provided with regard to traditional crops (corn, rice, beans, cassava, and coffee), new productive activities (flood rice farms, fish farming, rice-fish farming, and integrated farms), and complementary activities, targeting groups of women in particular (poultry and pig breeding). Some non-agricultural microenterprises were also promoted (manufacture of traditional clothing, crafts, bakeries, and restaurants), though to a limited extent.

The technical assistance for farming served 3 018 families belonging to 507 producer groups. As part of the technical assistance activities, technical experts from the Ministry of Agriculture (MIDA) and the PEU created demonstration plots for various crops. However, this technical assistance was discontinuous and in general did not occur concomitantly or as follow-up to the training provided, owing to a shortage of technical staff within the PEU and the co-executing institutions.

The training in productive aspects under the Production Development component was provided by MIDA technical experts and, occasionally, by technical staff from the PEU. More than 1 500 short-term training sessions were offered on various topics. Over 57 300 people (64% men and 36% women) participated, including not only producers who were part of the groups associated with the project, but also other members of the communities served. As with the Training/Organization component, the records on participants did not identify them by name, so the exact number of people trained is not known, since several people attended more than one event.

The results of these activities were access to technical assistance and training for indigenous families, most of whom had not previously received services from MIDA. Many families also launched new productive activities that improved the availability of foods for family consumption; these included integrated farms-66 farms for 241 family groups-and complementary activities, such as free distribution of 473 pig and poultry modules, the construction of 33 ponds for rice-fish farming (500 beneficiaries), and the construction of 106 ponds for fish farming (1 162 beneficiaries). In addition, new production technologies were introduced, such as soil conservation techniques (107 ha), use of organic fertilizers produced on the farm, simple irrigation techniques for flood rice production (9 ha), and coffee management techniques. Several technologies focused on minimizing the use of commercial inputs, thereby avoiding the need to purchase them. Others helped improve the quality of seeds for basic grain crops (rice, corn, beans) through the introduction of some commercial varieties previously unknown to the indigenous population (212 seed banks).

These results were encouraging, but they were limited in scope because the work carried out under the component was affected by the limitations of the co-executing institutions (e.g., only 10 MIDA extension agents, who lacked sufficient means of transportation). Further, the MIDA technical personnel did not have enough experience in group extension methodologies, and the researchers from the Agricultural Research Institute of Panama (IDIAP) had little experience with the prevailing production technologies and conditions among the Ngöbe-Buglé population. In addition to the aforementioned problems, there were other limitations, including the following:

  1. Extension methodology problems stemming from the delayed and incomplete implementation of the Capitalization Fund, which prevented the hiring of technical personnel by the beneficiaries;
  2. Suspension of the WFP financing, which reduced the possibility for disseminating some technologies, especially the implementation of soil conservation works;
  3. Centralization of resources within the PEU, to the detriment of the development centres;
  4. Insufficient coordination of activities between components and even within the Production Development component, since new productive activities were introduced without providing the beneficiaries with adequate training;
  5. Paternalism in the technical assistance, since not only were inputs, materials, and tools provided free of charge, but the technical experts took responsibility for purchasing them;
  6. Technical assistance that overemphasised productive and technological aspects, with insufficient attention to marketing and management;
  7. Training limited to training events, with no follow-up on the application of technologies through the provision of technical assistance to the grass-roots groups;

Serious problems occurred in the implementation of the Capitalization Fund sub-component because the first set of credit regulations, approved in February 1996, limited the creation of revolving funds owing to the characteristics of the cooperatives and associations. There were also administrative problems in the disbursement of the approved financing. The original regulations were modified to enable grass-roots groups to receive project funds directly, but they provided that the recovery of funds would remain the responsibility of the cooperatives and associations, which would continue to manage the revolving funds. This modification was intended to stimulate fund disbursements and increase the number of credit recipients; however, the training provided to the groups on credit management delayed the approval and disbursement of the funds. In addition, to expedite the approval of loans, in 1999 three regional credit committees were established, but approval and disbursement procedures remained slow because seven different entities were involved: the Capitalization Fund Unit of the PEU, the Steering Committee or the Regional Credit Committees, Social Investment Fund (FIS), the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the Administrative Unit of the PEU, and the suppliers of the inputs acquired.

The initial financing was disbursed in 1997. The amount approved as of 31 December 2000 was 728 000 balboas, distributed among 10 cooperatives, 1 producer association, and 258 grass-roots groups. Nevertheless, because of the lengthy procedures for authorization and disbursement of the funds, as of that date only 341 000 balboas had been disbursed to 4 cooperatives, 1 producer association, and 124 grass-roots groups, benefiting 1 518 indigenous families.

The Capitalization Fund resources were devoted to agricultural activities (56%), especially processing and marketing of coffee, followed, in order of importance, by commercial activities (37%, including stores selling consumer merchandise), livestock activities (6%) carried out by 61 grass-roots groups composed primarily of women (poultry farms), and craft activities (1%) by six groups made up of 32 women.

The results yielded by the Capitalization Fund can be considered limited, since they assisted only 30% of the expected target population, although the targeting was adequate, given that the beneficiaries (low-income groups and women) lack access to any other formal financial services. The development effects cannot yet be established because, owing to the short duration of the programme and the fact that the beneficiaries received a single loan, no obvious positive results- such as increased income and/or creation of new jobs-can be discerned. Moreover, the Fund's institutional and financial sustainability is doubtful because the interest rates were not sufficient to cover the costs of administration, currency devaluation, potential default, and capitalization. Furthermore, accounting practices for the project and the community organizations were deficient in that they did not allow for good monitoring of the Fund.

The environmental protection activities consisted of training for technicians and beneficiaries; specialized training for student leaders from the Comarca through the awarding of three fellowships for the study of environmental issues; sponsorship for a graduate thesis on a specific environmental topic; promotion of the formation of several environmentalist groups, three of which have already established by-laws and are in the process of gaining legal recognition by MIDA; and three environmental studies-one on the status of natural resources in the area, compilation of information on natural resources as part of the baseline study (not yet complete), and an environmental impact study of the Kenani Lagoon channel. However, the technical studies called for in the project design were not carried out.

The environmental training yielded positive outcomes in that it helped foster a pro-environmental attitude favouring the protection of natural resources among the population. This attitude was evident in the interviews conducted by the Mission and is evidenced by a significant decline in hunting, fishing, and indiscriminate felling of trees. Hunting is now permitted only for subsistence, and trees may be cut only for the construction of housing. Progress was also made on the protection of waters sources in Cerro Iglesias through the issuance of a declaration on preserving forest cover to protect water sources, Agreement 001-99 of the National Environmental Authority (ANAM), which benefits six communities that are home to some 200 families. Still pending is the establishment of the Administrative Board of the Water Supply System, which will be legally responsible for enforcing the Agreement.

Another activity that yielded good results was the installation of 822 latrines (serving 820 families and 2 schools), with support from the Ministry of Health and the Water Project of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). This activity grew out of the regional participatory assessments, which identified latrine-building as a high priority for the communities in order to reduce contamination of surface and ground water and prevent the spread of water-borne diseases.

As for the forestry development programme, its outcomes were the training of beneficiaries and technical personnel in methods for reforestation in the area and creation and management of test plots; 93 tree nurseries were established-65 for community plantations and 28 for individual plantations-benefiting close to a thousand families; and 105 ha that protect six micro-watersheds were reforested. Although these results were technically encouraging, they fell short in terms of coverage, based on the expectations set out in the design.

The activities carried out under the infrastructure component were construction of 11 development centres-one more than expected; improvement of 83 km of rural roads, and arranging with other institutions for an additional 54 km of road improvement; construction of 7 suspension bridges for use by pedestrians and beasts of burden; improvement of 23 walking paths (93.5 km), for which the communities contributed the labour; and execution of two road studies, one for a road between Cerro Sombrero and Llano Tugrí, future seat of government for the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca.

The road improvements began in 1996, when a contractor company was retained, and activities intensified in 1998, with the supply of road-building machinery purchased through international competitive bidding. The goal established in the design (improvement of 30 km) was surpassed, but the technical specifications for the works were not followed (compacting of the road surface, resurfacing of the steepest roadside drainage ditches), and the improved roads therefore deteriorated quickly. In addition, the improved roads were not maintained, which contributed to their rapid deterioration. During 1998 and 1999, the MOP operated the machinery and provided the agreed contributions-Regional Veraguas-but subsequently project personnel had to take over operation of the road machinery because the contributions from the MOP ceased. Overall, the effects of the roads were positive, since the availability of transportation increased and there was a partial reduction of fares.

The development centres had a clear positive impact in that they helped initiate the decentralization of project activities and also served as a gathering place for beneficiaries, Ngöbe-Buglé leaders, and technical personnel from the PEU and the co-executing institutions. The quality of the construction was good, and improvements were introduced into the design, increasing the area covered. The works began in 1995 and were completed in 2000, which was slightly longer than planned. Maintenance has been generally good, although some repairs are needed and additional maintenance work is required. However, the equipment is insufficient, both in comparison with what was envisaged in the design and in terms of current needs.

The suspension bridges were well built, but only 7 of the 20 bridges planned were actually constructed. Contracts for an additional three bridges have since been awarded to contractors and the formalities are being completed. With regard to the improvement of walking paths, the established goal was achieved, and labour for works was provided by the beneficiary communities, as were the advisory services and topographic surveys by the MOP. All the works constructed are being maintained by the pro-works committees to the extent of their capabilities. Women are active participants on these committees, both in the organization of fund-raising events and the performance of maintenance work.

The activities carried out under the Monitoring and Evaluation component were annual operational planning, monitoring of annual work plans and monthly work programmes, and evaluation. The project design called for the evaluation to be carried out in thirds, as a result of which the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (MEU) focused on planning and monitoring, postponing the evaluation somewhat. In 1998, woman responsible for Gender Issues within the PEU was brought into the Unit with the objective of ensuring application of the gender perspective across all aspects of the project. The MEU also provided training to facilitate the participation of beneficiaries in planning, monitoring, and evaluation of project.

The baseline study, which was to be used for the strategic planning of the project, was not carried out at the scheduled time. The study was contracted for in 1999, but the work was not completed and the final report is not available. The design of the monitoring and evaluation system was not prioritized, either. The system was not was developed until late 1997, and it was only partially implemented.

The annual planning, which initially was carried out exclusively by the PEU, gradually involved the beneficiaries, first through meetings in the field with indigenous leaders and the technical personnel from the co-executing institutions, later in accordance with the plans drawn up by the communities, and finally taking into account the demands identified in the participatory rural assessments, which were prioritized by the producer councils in the Development Centres.

Monitoring was based on the compilation of information on fulfilment of the monthly work programmes (field records) and the submission of periodic reports by Development Centres and of the various units within the PEU. This information was used as input for the meetings of the Steering Committee, the PEU Coordinating committee, and the annual workshops on participatory overall evaluation. Evaluation was promoted and coordinated directly by the MEU-no outside personnel were hired-through the mechanism of the annual evaluation workshops, which gathered information on some indicators. Nevertheless, the project did not have a true system of monitoring and evaluation because the evaluation and monitoring activities were not linked; rather, they were carried out in an isolated and not very systematic manner and did not utilize the project objectives and community plans as a basis.

Project supervision was entrusted to two cooperating institutions, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Development (UNDESD) until 1997 and subsequently to the Office of Rural Development Operations of the Andean Development Corporation. The two agencies carried out a total of 13 missions at regular intervals. Both also administered IFAD loan 331-PM. This supervision was complemented by nine missions carried out by the Latin America and Caribbean Division of IFAD, which addressed specific issues and special situations that required the presence of the Fund. In the Mission's view, the intensity of the supervision and the issues addressed were appropriate, although some weaknesses in the project were not rectified.

The project received technical assistance from several entities: the Latin America and Caribbean Division of IFAD, the Office of Evaluation and Studies of IFAD, the Regional Programmes of IFAD, the cooperating institutions, the Panama Office of the UNDP, and the consultants hired by the PEU. Technical assistance was provided for 19 missions overseen by 13 experts, which dealt with the most complex matters, such as monitoring and evaluation, administration and accounting, Capitalization Fund, training, gender issues, organization and methods and functionality of the development centres. In addition, technical personnel from the PEU participated in several workshops of the IFAD Regional Programmes.

Specific recommendations

These recommendations are aimed at consolidating the project's achievements. Some can be taken on and executed by the project, though others will require the participation of the governmental institutions involved in project execution, whose mandate is to assist in the development of the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca.

Monitoring and evaluation: The information available in the project monitoring and evaluation system should continue to be systematized. It is also important apply the methodology used in the baseline survey for the final evaluation, as doing so will yield more consistent and reliable information for determining the effects and impacts of the project. In addition, bearing in mind that a plan for development of the Comarca is being prepared, it is important to link the community development plans and the annual work plan of the project with the plan for the Comarca, which will make it possible, in the final evaluation of the project, to assess not only the degree to which its objectives were achieved, but also its concrete contribution to the development of the Comarca.

Training: With regard to building local capacity for development, an evaluation of the training system is needed to provide a basis for programming training activities under the new project. That evaluation should analyse the strengths and weakness of the communities and the beneficiary organizations in terms of the achievement of the long-term objectives of the community development plans and the plan for development of the Comarca. In order to reinforce the learning achieved, it is important also establish mechanisms for ensuring in-service training and follow-up with the producer councils and the producers involved.

Production development: In order to assure the sustainability of the effects and impacts achieved and contribute to the creation of a better extension system in the future, the following actions are recommended:

  1. Transfer, to the extent possible, materials, and means of transport to the development centres, which could be managed by the producer councils;
  2. Consolidate the productive activities fostered by the project, reinforcing the training on conservationist technologies and marketing processes;
  3. Ensure the participation of the promoters trained at the Sustainable Agroforestry Schools in a future IFAD project in the Ngöbe-Buglé area;
  4. Promote the modality of volunteer technical assistance used in the JICA programme.

Capitalization Fund: The activities planned under this subcomponent were not completed, and new credit regulations are still being drawn up and preparations are ongoing for the establishment of a second-tier organization of cooperatives to manage the revolving funds. In addition, close to USD 500 000 approved by the Steering Committee and approximately USD 550 000 in available fresh funding remained undisbursed. The mission believes that this second-tier organization is not very feasible in the short term. Moreover, the community organizations have little experience and need to be strengthened with an eye towards their consolidation. It is therefore recommended that a nongovernmental organization with credit experience in the area be retained to manage the funds, which would be accessible to community organizations in the Ngöbe-Buglé Comarca, both for their own productive activities and for the extension of loans to members or grass-roots groups. It is important that the latter not have direct access to the Fund and that the conditions for sub-loans, including interest rates, be established by the community organizations.

Future use of the road machinery: The machinery was acquired to improve and maintain the roads of the Comarca with the ongoing participation of the MOP. However, this did not fully occur, which led to problems that affected the quality and stability of the works. This situation makes it essential to consider new ways of utilizing and operating the machinery in order to ensure that it remains in the Comarca and is operated efficiently.

Environment and reforestation: The environmental protection and forest development activities should be part of a plan for environmental management of the Comarca. It is therefore recommended that the ANAM develop such a plan, in fulfilment of its mandate. The plan should also identify and appraise the productive activities compatible with rational use of natural resources with a view to restoring and preserving the ecological balance in the Comarca.

Administration: The current accounting records are inadequate to complete the administrative closing of the project. Hence, it is recommended that accounting practices be normalized during 2001 so that the project's assets can be transferred, as appropriate, to beneficiary organizations. This transfer of assets should be based on an updated socio-economic assessment of the applicant organizations.

Budgetary and financial issues: The budget approved for fiscal year 2001 (USD 1 000 000) is clearly insufficient to complete the execution of the project activities under way, which include preparation and updating of the community development plans, implementation of a system for ensuring the sustainability of the Capitalization Fund and transfer of the development centres (equipped and in good repair), in addition to ensuring that the road machinery remains in the Comarca. Accordingly, it is recommended that the FIS and the MEF take the necessary steps to obtain a budgetary increase as soon as possible in order to conclude the activities during 2001. IFAD might also consider modifying the pari-passu for the remaining loan funds.

Conclusions, general recommendations, and lessons learned from the experience

The efforts of the FES/FIS, MIPPE/MEF, IFAD, and the cooperating institutions aimed at overcoming the technical, organization, and functional limitations of the project were unsuccessful in many cases. This was mainly due to the frequent changes in representatives to the Steering Committee and high staff turnover within the PEU.

Participation by traditional authorities and representatives of the political-administrative entities of indigenous communities in the management of a project aimed at a homogeneous ethnic group is an essential condition for execution of the project and for participation of the beneficiaries.

It is important to formulate long-term community development plans to serve as a guide for the preparation of annual community plans, which, in turn, serve as a basis for the annual work plans for the project. The community development plans and the plan for the project should also serve as input for participatory evaluation processes. These measures will ensure that the activities are coherent and based on a long-term vision, which will lead to greater possibilities for the sustainability of the processes generated by projects.

Agreements with co-executing institutions should include, at a minimum, the activities to be carried out, the specific goals and expected outcomes (effects and impacts), and also the indicators that will be used to verify the achievement of the outcomes. These agreements should be revised and adjusted annually.

The organization and implementation of project administration should be appropriate and sufficient-in terms of the annual expenditure level-for the administrative activities required. The design should specify the administrative and accounting procedures to be used and the staffing needs for the project and should also identify the computer capabilities required to administer several sources of financing.

In demand-oriented projects, support for existing organizations-before creating new organizations-facilitates organizational strengthening of the target population and increase the possibilities for sustainability. In addition, the emergence of relevant local initiatives should be supported because they will help empower the beneficiaries and enhance the sustainability of local development processes. In this connection, the application of a cross-cutting approach to training in a demand-oriented development project will not be very effective if it is not articulated with the long-term objectives of the community development plan and the strategic plan for the project.

Application of the gender perspective across all aspects of the project by the technical team of the PEU increases the likelihood of achieving positive results in the communities and organizations served.

The approach of "cascade training" should be accompanied by concrete mechanisms to provide in-service training for those who will be expected to replicate the knowledge and abilities they have learned in order to ensure the quality of the training received by people at the lowest levels of the "cascade." This type of approach is not very effective in terms of generating significant local capacity if it is limited to training of a single representative or delegate per organization or if it focuses strictly on training managers to perform their functions, since it will not assure the continuity of processes if the managers change.

The training for production development and the extent of its impact yielded the following lessons: (i) short-term training with broad coverage is important for disseminating new technologies, but greater relative emphasis should be placed on more intensive training with fewer participants; (ii) training for technicians and producers, especially the leaders of organizations devoted to the marketing of products, should incorporate matters relating to markets and marketing; (iii) although it is logical for several components to include training activities, the central role of the training component should be clearly established with regard to the prioritization of contents, types of beneficiaries to be served, and coordination of the training with the rest of the activities; and (iv) it is essential to control the quality of the training as part of the monitoring activities.

Public extension institutions may not possess the capacity to provide appropriate services to indigenous populations, which requires a knowledge of the predominant production systems, a suitable technological-productive proposal, and extension methodologies that take account of the characteristics of the beneficiary population (e.g., language, high level of illiteracy). It is therefore desirable to consider employing alternative systems that utilize community members who have received intensive training and who live in the communities and are able to communicate in their own language. This means establishing an appropriate training programme and mechanisms for providing refresher courses for the promoters trained.

Establishing and administering a credit fund is a complex undertaking that requires specialized skills, for the following reasons: (i) application of a financial policy for a project is difficult because various interests exist which may be at odds with financial management standards; for this reason, the role of the project should be mainly to formulate policies and then contract for administrative services from a specialized financial entity; (ii) as specified in the design, the loans were made in kind in order to control investments by the beneficiaries; the experience of other projects with regard to this modality of disbursement has not been positive because the borrower's management capacity is underestimated and also because direct responsibility is assumed in the financed activity, which increases the transaction costs (transport, storage, losses, and others; and (iii) no provision was made for a savings component, although experience with microfinance has shown that an intermediation system is not sustainable in the long term without mobilization of the users' own resources; furthermore, those savings may serve as an element for client selection and may be used as collateral.

With regard to the Physical Infrastructure component: (i) the effective participation of the communities, through the pro-works committees, in the selection of the works to be carried out and in their later maintenance contributed significantly to the positive effects achieved; and (ii) when co-execution modalities with public institutions are established, the project should have guarantees of the technical capacity and the availability of resources from the co-executing institution; in addition, the commitments should be clearly spelled out in the agreements, as should mechanisms for evaluation, revision, and adjustment.

The Environmental Protection component also yielded the following lessons which could be applied in the design of similar projects: (i) lack of information on the environmental situation at the outset limits the ability to assess the effects and impacts of the project and hinders the development of indicators to guide decision-making during project execution; and (ii) lack of medium- and long-term plans impedes the continuity of activities, especially when there is a change in personnel. This planning, which should be updated periodically, should be the starting point for the annual work plans developed jointly with the beneficiaries and the environmental authority.

 

 

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Smallholder Agricultural Development Project (2001)

April 2001

Interim Evaluation

Background

Objectives, components and project area

The Project aims at improving the incomes and food security of Swaziland's disadvantaged smallholder families, particularly women on Swazi Nation Land (SNL). It sets out to improve incomes of smallholders and standards of living of disadvantaged smallholders on SNL. The main objectives of the project are to: (i) assist the Government in its overall efforts to achieve food self-sufficiency; (ii) strengthen the institutions already supported under the Swaziland Credit and Marketing Project (SCMP); and (iii) address constraints to raised productivity in rainfed crop production and the livestock sub-sector, particularly the need to introduce new systems of production that will reduce the number of cattle in the range. The project intended to develop grassroots institutions to achieve the project objectives.

The four major project components of the project are: (i) crop production including irrigation; (ii) livestock production; (iii) credit; and (iv) institutional strengthening. About 5 000 households would receive the full complement of inputs and services. Other families on SNL would benefit from general extension and adaptive research services.

The project area consists of the SNL areas, which comprise up 60% total arable land 70% of its population. It was intended to include all the four agro-ecological zones. Support for agricultural development particularly in terms of adaptive research and small scale irrigation development, would be directed to the Lowveld and those parts of the Middle and Highveld, where the irregular rainfall pattern is a major constraint to agricultural production.

Projects costs, financing and implementation arrangements

The total project costs for the seven-year disbursement period were estimated at E 31 million (USD 8.4 million, including physical and price contingencies). The foreign exchange costs of the project comprised 63% of the total base costs, equal to USD 5.2 million. Physical and price contingencies represented 12% of project base costs.

IFAD had approved a loan of USD 6.9 million to cover 83% of total project costs. Government of Swaziland /SDSB/NAMBOARD had agreed to finance USD 1.5 million, of which USD 0.8 million would be taxes and duties. Beneficiaries would contribute about USD 0.1 million reflecting their down payments for loans received under the line of credit and labour input for irrigation development and construction of grazing land management areas (GLMDA.)

Project organisation and management

Responsibility for the implementation of each component was assigned to the relevant technical department or agency. The project would seek to direct existing services to meet specific target group needs. It would provide any necessary incremental support for this purpose. The Department of Agriculture would be responsible for the dryland and irrigated crop production programmes, for extension and adaptive research services. For small-scale irrigation development, responsibility would be reorganised in Small-scale Irrigation Section within the Department of Agriculture. The Departments of Veterinary Services and Co-operative Development, respectively, would be responsible for the livestock production and co-operative development component. NGOs or other entities under the auspices of the PCC would undertake group development. SDSB would be responsible for credit and the NAMBOARD / Nokwane market for input supply and produce marketing. The African Development Bank was assigned to be the Cooperating Institution (CI).

Financial performance and procurement

Financial performance

IFAD appraised the project early in 1993. Total project costs are US$ 8.56 million, of which the IFAD loan represents SDR 5.1 million (USD 6.9 million). The Project Accountant could not provide details of the balance available for disbursement during the remainder of the project life. The TA has been ineffective in assisting the Project to design the systems and procedures. The situation was compounded by a high rate of staff turnover. The budgeting process in the project was top-down, providing little or no space for participatory processes, reflecting the government's traditional budgeting system. The community organisations had no role in budget planning exercise. Beneficiaries, project implementers - and the mission – fail to ascertain the quantum of investments and cost effectiveness of investments made by the project at each community/group

IFAD's cumulative disbursement as of 2 May 2001 was SDR 2 694 499, or 47% of the total allocation of SDR 5 100 000. The actual rate of disbursement has been much lower than the projected rate. The AfDB operates with a different set of data, which is not reconcilable with IFAD data. The AfDB data indicates a lower disbursement of merely SDR 2.02 million, representing 40% of the IFAD loan amount.

Procurement

The project design indicated that the Government procurement procedures were satisfactory to both IFAD and the CI and would be followed under SADP. But procedures are excessively complicated for smaller procurements. For any procurement exceeding E 5 000 up to USD 50 000, the PCU has to obtain three quotations and seek authority to spend from the tender board in the Ministry of Finance. These procedures are unpractical to follow in a project setting and easily cause non-justified delays.

The CI has remained too passive regarding involvement of NGOs for micro-schemes and engagement of private contractors for small-scale schemes. The project had initially engaged NGOs from developing micro-schemes. The project has made partial payments towards these contracts. The NGOs due to non-payment on their own had to switch to other donors to obtain funds for completing the works. The non-payment of NGOs and the absence of a well-designed procedure to engage the NGOs to implement project activities contributed to the decision by NGOs to disengage themselves from the project.

Project management capability

The Project established a Project Co-ordination Unit (PCU) with a PC, Counterpart Project Co-ordinator (TA), Project Financial Advisor/Financial Controller (TA), Project Accountant, Economist and Secretary. A Project Co-ordinating Committee (PCC) was established. The project subsequently established a system of monthly meetings at the PCU level chaired by the Under Secretary.

But this system for coordination did not meet expectations. The different complementary project supported services did not materialize as expected at the site level. Instead, each sub-component is being implemented in isolation, independent of other activities. Project activities have become fragmented. The co-ordination of the various project-implementing departments has been inadequate. Two issues are evident. First, the project work plan and budget preparation was component driven contrary to the design expectations. Second, the regional level officials were not involved in preparing the project work plan and budget to ensure co-ordinated services to the community / farmer organisations.

The capacity of the project management has been inadequate. The project was established as a small unit with only three staff. The project technical assistance became ineffective due to the turnover of trained staff and inability of the TA to conceptualise community institution development as the core activity and as the basis to fund other interventions. The project staff are drawn from the MOAC cadre; they consider that their compensation levels do not match the project workload. The component heads were required to undertake the project activities in addition to their regular work with little difference between them. As a result, project activities became an appendage of the regular department work.

The project design had provided an initial framework to develop sustainable farmer organisations by using NGOs. The framework, though not well articulated, could have been adjusted based on the experience in participatory development in other countries. The project initially contracted NGOs but with the unresolved dispute over contract payments, NGOs withdrew. The project was neither assisted in settling the payment dispute with NGOs, nor to come up with an alternative framework for developing farmer organisations. The project's intention of developing farmer organisations in the irrigation schemes was thwarted.

The supervision by the CI was inadequate. The Aide Memoires of the CI indicate simple recording of performance as against the appraisal targets. Efforts of the supervision missions to set out the issues and recommendations to address the issues with clearly articulated implementation steps are not evident. In addition, strategy development and adjusting the project activities based on the international experience gained in participatory development and lessons learned from implementation experience have been neglected. The issues related to NGO involvement in micro-irrigation and group development, non-payment of contract amount to NGOs, constraints to deliver credit to the target group through SDSB, financial management, the flow of funds and use of private contractors for irrigation works remain unresolved.

Project design weaknesses

Overall, design features have been inadequate. First, the processes to develop community institutions/farmer organisations as the core of development architecture have not been articulated. The sectoral interventions were not based on the assessed needs and priorities of these institutions/organisations. Second, small stock development (pigs and poultry), as preferred by the IFAD target group, was largely ignored. Third, processes for engaging the NGOs, including selection, contracting and payment procedures were not spelt out. Fourth, the risks of involving only a single financial institution – the SDSB – to deliver credit to resource poor households (given the experience in the earlier SCMP) were not explored. Fifth, the capacity and the need for direct execution of irrigation works by the Irrigation Section were not analysed: the limited capacity and the residual option of contracting irrigation works to private contractors were not made clear.

Targeting

The project design identifies four categories of homesteads on the basis of cash or resource endowment, homestead labour, and associated farming practices. They are: (i) cash/resource rich - labour rich; (ii) cash /resource rich - labour poor; (iii) cash/resource poor - labour rich; and (iv) cash/resource poor - labour poor. It was suggested that the target group for the project could be found in the latter two categories.

The project design did not set out a plan to operationalise the targeting criteria to select those households that should benefit from the project. It did not even specify an area with concentration of target group households, or establish a methodology to identify such areas with concentration of target group households. The project allocated 24% of the funds for cattle development catering to farmers, who do not fall within the target group criteria. The situation is worsened by inadequate emphasis on small stock development (poultry and pigs), which are the activities preferred by the cash/resource poor and labour poor households.

Implementation progress by component

Irrigation development

The project had intended to: (i) expand two existing SCMP schemes by 5 ha each, to make use of water delivery infrastructure already provided; (ii) develop or rehabilitate about 75 ha of small-scale irrigation schemes; (iii) develop/rehabilitate one hundred hectares of new, intensive micro-smallholder irrigation schemes at an average size 1 ha; and (iv) consolidate and reorganise another 257 ha of existing schemes to promote farmer-management. The irrigation component was to benefit 2 215 farmers

Twelve small-scale irrigation schemes have received attention from the project to date, including one of those intended for expansion (Ntamakuphila). The total irrigable area of these schemes at full development will be some 214 ha. However, even though substantial work has been done on some of these schemes, none of them is yet fully operational, even though seven years have elapsed since project effectiveness. Physical works have not yet been started on four of the schemes Compared with the ‘without project' situation, the incremental area developed/rehabilitated and brought into operation/production at the time of the IE is less than 10 ha, compared with the target of 85 ha. Three micro schemes, amounting to a total of about 4.5 ha, have been completed by SFDF and are operational. A further three micro schemes totalling 3-4 ha are reported by the Irrigation Section to have been completed (possibly by Women Resource Centre).

Thus, the sum total achieved to date is less than 10 ha of small-scale schemes and about 4.5 ha of micro schemes, compared with the targets of 85 ha and 100 ha, respectively. Nothing has been achieved on the intended consolidation and reorganisation of the 257 ha of ‘old IFAD schemes'. Moreover, regrettably, the quality of design and construction work leaves much to be desired. The approach to development has also sometimes been top-down

The main reasons for these disappointing results are: (i) inadequate manpower within the Irrigation Section as it has only one irrigation engineer to cover the whole country and the intended overseas training for two irrigation staff apparently never took place; (ii) difficulties with procurement of construction materials and the flow of funds, mainly as a result of the lack of a special account, combined with cumbersome procurement procedures; (iii) difficulties in arranging for force-account work through the Land Development Service which apparently is poorly equipped; (iv) apparent reluctance to contract out for plant hire or construction services even when the Land Development Service is unable to assist; (v) lack of awareness of the state of project finances and consequent inadequate budgeting; and (iv) failure on the part of the PCU to successfully contract NGOs.

However, there are two encouraging points: (i) the schemes have generally been initiated by the farmer groups, who have unstintingly provided their labour (and a small amount of cash) towards scheme construction; and (ii) the groups generally appear to be committed to meeting operation and maintenance costs. The completed micro-scale schemes appear to be functioning well.

With one notable exception (Lavumisa), targeting has generally been satisfactory. Again with the exception of Lavumisa and in the case of Mhlangeni, women are in the majority in the memberships of the scheme. They far outnumber men in the memberships of the micro-schemes. The case of Lavumisa is cause for concern. This 51 ha sprinkler scheme has not been commissioned since it is not yet fully equipped. It was developed together with a 120 ha drip irrigation scheme for sugar cane and a 73 ha drip irrigation scheme for vegetables (which has now apparently been abandoned). This does not appear to be in keeping with project guidelines for targeting.

With the exception of Lavumisa, allocated plot sizes appear to be reasonably in keeping with expectations, although the process may be a cause for concern, since the project has not documented ‘ownership identity' of the schemes. There is little in the way of documentation on file to show that the Chief has given his permission for the use of the land on any of the schemes and that the users (particularly women) have security of tenure.

There is no doubt that the few developments completed to date are having a significant impact on household incomes and nutrition and that these benefits in most cases will far outweigh the costs. However, this situation will continue only if the present limited market access is maintained or improved and the schemes are sustainable. Neither is at present guaranteed – and prospects have not been improved by the failure to contract NGOs for group development.

The quality of supervision is a cause of concern. Only one supervision mission included an engineer. All irrigation sub-components require an engineer to participate in supervision missions, for example to endorse subproject investment decisions. If there are budgetary constraints to including an engineer in supervision missions, future project designs should concentrate on even lower technology than employed on this project – perhaps restricted to micro-schemes.

Livestock development

The services to be provided under the livestock component, as per project design, were not to specifically directed to assist the core poor homesteads. Instead, they were to reach a wider spectrum of SNL farmers. The emphasis was on disease control and prevention, destocking and education and training of farmers and staff.

The interventions proposed were: (i) completion of 15 km outer border Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) fence on the border to Mozambique and vaccination of animals in the buffer zone against FMD; and (ii) reduction of the dipping intervals by researching the partial substitution of some of the dippings with vaccinations against tick-borne diseases; (iii) stall feeding experiments; (iv) support to the Livestock Marketing Unit to develop a marketing information system; (v) training of lead farmers and professionals on alternative production systems through one-week residential training courses at the VFTC in Mpisi.; and (vi) grassland management activity with the aim of involving the community to rehabilitate nine existing GLMDAs and to establish three new ones.

Activities to prevent the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) are based on well-established Government practices and procedures. Until an outbreak of FMD in November and December 2000 in the regions of Manzini, Lubombo and Hhohho, Swaziland had been free of the disease for more than twenty years. It had, in May 2000, obtained status, granted by the World Organisation for Animal Health, as a ‘FMD Free Country Without Vaccination'. The fencing work has been efficiently done.

Results are analysed from five dipping tanks to be compared with data from vaccination against tick-borne diseases. Seventy animals were vaccinated in 1996. Only one died, although none of the surviving 69 had ever been dipped since 1996. This result suggests that vaccination can be used to reduce the number of dippings. The current system of dipping with the government subsidising the entire cost is not sustainable.

The pilot feeding trials have failed. The trials were conducted on government farms and efforts were not directed towards finding cheap local feed materials. The dissemination of price data by the Livestock Marketing Unit is so far limited to cattle prices. The Unit has also conducted courses for farmers in grading of cattle. The Unit has completed building three sales yards and expects to complete the remaining three within the life of the project.

The Veterinary and Farmer Training Centre (VFTC) at Mpisi has played a useful role in training 1 511 farmers of whom 76% were women. The VFTC has established units for fattening of cattle, dairy production, broiler, egg and pig production with project funds. The GLMDAs are technically well established and demonstrate that rotational grazing leads to higher grass production. Pasture sites visited show very good stands of grass under fenced conditions.

The project has rendered partial support to the Philani Poultry Co-operative Society Abattoir, which has a daily slaughter and sale of 1 000 broilers. This is a co-operative with 53 women poultry producers that have built an abattoir, initially by members contributing E 12 000. Subsequently, funding was sourced from an NGO based in the UK to expand the abattoir. The present IFAD project has assisted with training programmes in management, preparation of business plans, training in marketing and record keeping.

The project design had put undue emphasis on cattle. This happened even though the SAR had reported that no less than 42% of the SNL homesteads did not own cattle. The baseline study conducted for the Mid-Term Review found more than 60% of the homesteads without cattle. Yet, for all practical purposes the appraisal report equated cattle with livestock. No attention was given to other animals – even though non-ownership of cattle might be taken as a proxy for poverty. The project has put most of its resources into cattle – with an inherent strong gender bias towards men – with no uptake of stall-feeding among SNL farmers. Women have taken to poultry and pig production in spite of very limited support from the project.

Crop development

Adaptive Research, Extension and Farm Mechanisation Support are the three sub-components of the crop development component. The adaptive research sub-component includes development of: (i) low risk packages for maize production with appropriate inter-cropping; (ii) suitable cotton package; (iii) fodder production; (iv) varietal testing on irrigated vegetable crops; and (v) production techniques to improve marketable quality and priority would be given to tomatoes.

The approach to improving rainfed agriculture in Swaziland has been that of trying to find substitutes for maize wherever rainfall is close to or below 800 mm/year (representing around 40% of the arable land). Thus, the adaptive research work in the project has taken two basic directions: (i) develop crops designed for irrigation schemes; and (ii) develop sorghum, sweet potatoes, cassava, groundnuts, cotton, etc., as somewhat drought-resistant alternatives to maize. The extension program has dedicated some of its efforts to the management and training of farmers in irrigation schemes. The farm mechanisation work has been much more focused on rainfed farming.

Some 16 varieties of some 10 species of field crops (maize, sorghum, cowpeas, groundnuts, sweet potatoes, and cassava), vegetables (onions and tomatoes), and fruits (avocados and mangos) are now ready to be multiplied and tried more widely by farmers; none of the seeds of these species have been multiplied. Thus, none of these investigative efforts have benefited more than a handful of farmers. The project has not recognised the strength of cultural habits, of the desire to grow maize and the need to improve maize cultivation practices. Seed producer groups for spreading drought resistant crops are part of the regular menu of donor supported activities in other countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe: but the SADP design did not provide such support.

Extension work has reached virtually all of its recent objectives in terms of classroom-based trainings and field days conducted, but the impact on farmers' practices is once again fairly minimal, being restricted almost entirely to the spread of certain varieties of seed material. The farm mechanisation programme could compete with commercial tractors, only because the service is subsidised.

Credit

The project would establish a revolving fund with the SDSB to provide credit to the beneficiaries under the project. In this context, the project design comprised two important features. First, attempts would be made to improve the viability of the Agricultural Development Fund through group lending to reduce transaction costs and increase lending. Second, it was intended to use NGOs to train group leaders in leadership, group dynamics and record keeping and savings mobilisation.

The project had made an allocation of SDR 510 000 towards incremental credit. A subsidiary loan agreement was signed between the MOAC and SDSB as early as 1993/94. The subsidiary loan agreement is weak. It is not clear as to who would bear the credit risk and also about the subsidiary loan repayment modalities. Owing to its preoccupation with restructuring, SDSB has not participated in the project until recently. Only during the year 2001 did it submit a work plan and the MOAC submitted a withdrawal application during July 2000. Surprisingly, the entire amount allocated under the project was released to SDSB without taking into account the SAR stipulations on release of incremental credit funds and also without testing the ability of SDSB to fund project beneficiaries.

A statement provided by SDSB indicates that disbursements have been made to the tune of E 1 634 986 to farmers. However, SDSB is yet to deliver credit to the farmer groups mobilised under the project. The responsibility for the inability of SDSB to deliver to project farmers partly lies also with MOAC. The latter has not engaged NGOs to mobilise groups and link them to SDSB. SDSB on the other hand had received 24 person months of TA from the project. In spite of this TA, no SDSB strategy for group lending materialised. The bank even did not request the MOAC to engage NGOs to promote groups while submitting the work plan. SDSB is not geared to providing loans to the farmer organisations promoted under the project, as the transaction costs to reach such farmers are higher. Farmers who are interested in small working capital loans find it difficult to meet the requirements of 25% contribution and to prove their credit worthiness. The current situation of SDSB does not favour experimentation in service delivery to the resource poor households on SNL.

Marketing

The IFAD project has intended to address the constraints encountered in SCMP namely: (i) failure of Encabeni (formerly Nokwane) to attract smallholder produce; (ii) absence of Encabeni market/domestic producer linkages and (iii) lack of well planned and phased production programmes for market oriented production. Moreover, NAMBOARD's statutory and commercial functions were to be separated.

NAMBOARD is mandated by the parliament to regulate imports as well as to determine levies on scheduled produce (vegetables, maize wheat and wheat products and poultry and poultry products) in conjunction with MOAC. It is required to facilitate procurement of scheduled agricultural products to meet any shortfall in production for which import permits are issued and the levy at the border is collected. But, it does not yet have a mechanism to collect data on a scientific basis on local production and determine shortfalls to determine the quantum of import.

NAMBOARD has established a system of procurement of vegetables from the farm gate. It manages two depots (Lomahasha and Piggs Peak) in the country. NAMBOARD staff directly sell procured vegetables to major consumers and retailers through these two depots. NAMBOARD did separate the statutory and commercial functions for a short time. But, as the commercial functions are not financially viable, the separation of these two activities was rolled back. The statutory function continues to subsidise the commercial functions. It competes with private sector by offering better prices, using its purchasing power derived from import levy collection. The net result is that the levies collected from the imports of scheduled produce do not reach the national exchequer but are spent on maintaining the loss making commercial activity. At the same time, development of the private sector marketing sector is stifled to the detriment of the interests of the farmers and the consumers in the longer term.

The NAMBOARD under instructions from MOAC is now in the process of working out joint venture arrangements with a private trader for the Encabeni market, which is the hub of vegetable marketing. Encabeni is currently negotiating with Pick and Pay to export baby vegetables to South Africa. In addition, Encabeni also has a marketing agent in South Africa to supply vegetables to the EU market; the current export volume is very small.

Other institutional strengthening efforts

Drought early warning and contingency planning

The project intended to support the National Early Warning Support Unit (NEWU), which became operational in 1987. The Unit is located within the Economic Planning and Analysis Section. It was intended at the outset that the unit would have a Nutritionist, but that post is yet to be created. The Unit produces monthly food security reports. It acts as a secretariat for the national early warning technical advisory committee, which meets on a quarterly basis. All equipment and training have been provided. But the long-term training as agreed in the Mid-Term Review is yet to be provided.

CCU

The Project proposed a study to prepare a strategic plan for strengthening CCU to ensure that it emerges as a financially viable institution. FINTEC consultants Cairo was selected to undertake this study. The study amongst others proposed internal reorganisation of the CCU, increasing its trading activity, broadening its membership and implementation of several projects. This report was submitted in 1996. The CCU has now embarked on a restructuring process, assisted by the Enterprise Development Fund. Discussions with the officials of the CCU indicate that the CCU would be even interested in moving from trading towards producing fertiliser and animal feed. Yet, there is a need to carefully review benefits and costs of such aspirations since trading – but not production - remains the core strength of CCU.

MOAC Reorganisation

Zimken Management Consultants have been engaged to conduct a study on the reorganisation of MOAC. They have submitted a report in February 2001. This report has been discussed and approved by the MOAC and forwarded to the Ministry of Public Services and Information. The Ministry of Public Services Affairs and Information is now in the process of implementing the Public Sector Reform Programme. The MOAC reorganisation would be considered as a part of this programme. A weakness of this study is that it does not analyse the service delivery approach, diffusion and outreach methods and the organisational requirements to assist the resource poor SNL farmers.

Monitoring and evaluation

In October 1994, a two-day Monitoring and Evaluation Seminar was organised with the help of Mananga Management Centre. This included a session introducing the Logical Framework Approach. The log frame concept is being used in a rudimentary way to report project progress. The Monitoring Officer made some attempts to draw formats to report component-wise activities, outputs and objectives. But these were not adopted and used by the Component Managers. Subsequently, a three-month TA was provided to develop the project monitoring and evaluation system. Even now, the formats designed by the TA are not being fully used by the Component Managers to report progress in project implementation.

The project engaged a consultancy company to undertake base line survey. The baseline survey was conducted in 1996. The baseline survey provides very good details on overall poverty status and farming systems. But it fails to identify the impact points at the community and household level that need to be monitored during the subsequent evaluation/impact surveys. The evaluation surveys proposed to occur once in every two years have not been undertaken. The project was required to undertake an impact evaluation study as an input to the Project Completion Report. Actions to initiate the process are yet to be taken.

51. The project document did not set out the outcomes that could be measured to assess the project impact. It indicates calculating net worth of the project beneficiaries over a period of time as a means to assess the impact of the project. Collection of data on assets and liabilities to assess the net worth is subject to a large number of assumptions. Such an attempt would not provide accurate or meaningful data with which to assess changes in IFAD target group well-being.

Compliance with loan agreement and covenants

The loan agreement between IFAD and the government comprised two covenants. The first one pertains to periodic revision of the interest rates. It would be applied to credits to be made out of the proceeds of the loan so as to take appropriate measures consistent with the policies of the borrower in order to harmonise the interest rates on credits with the Fund's policy on relending rates. The second covenant requires SDSB to minimise its costs. Compliance with these covenants was of little consequence as the SDSB received project funding only in 2001.

Impact and sustainability

Poverty is not being reduced. The project was designed to improve the incomes and food security of Swaziland's disadvantaged smallholder families, particularly women on SNL. However, during the course of project implementation the food and nutrition security situation in Swaziland has deteriorated. According to the national nutritional survey conducted in the year 2000, 30% of children under age five are stunted while those wasted were less than 2%. Under weight, as measured by weight-for-age was found in 10% of the children. This means that a significant number of children start schooling when they are nutritionally compromised. The deterioration of nutritional status was the highest in Shiselweni region. Chronic malnutrition measured by children's stunting rate almost doubled, from 21% in 1995 to 38% in 2000. Nutritional status of children improved marginally from 1995 to 2000 in respect of Hhoho and Manzini whilst the situation was static in case of Lubombo

The IE mission commissioned a small survey to collect data on trends. A total of 244 households were interviewed. The majority of the heads of household were married (61 %), with about 27% widowed. About half of them were not employed, 27 % were in skilled employment and 22 % in unskilled employment. Close to 50% of the households received remittances. Half of the households had no cattle, while 18% had more than ten. Only 5% of the sample had no farming land. Nationally, the homesteads that never produce enough or do not produce maize represent more than 50%; in Shiselweni and Lubombo the proportion is higher than the national figure. Most of Lubombo and Shiselweni consist of the drought-prone Lowveld agro-ecological zone.

From this survey, it becomes apparent that the poor do not perceive their lives to be improving. First of all, very few of them identified sale of agricultural produce as an income source. Secondly, even fewer perceive that there has been an increase in income or consumption from the various agricultural produce. Due to the scattered nature of the IFAD projects, it will always be next to impossible to determine their impact on the socio-economic situation of households. For definite charting of the impact of the project, there need to be reliable indicators that can detect improvements in quality of life over time.

The undertaking of this survey further demonstrates first, the feasibility even by a rapid rural assessment to obtain impact data. Second, it demonstrates the high cost of missed opportunities to IFAD and the MOAC of not ensuring that at least minimal data sets are provided to gauge progress of a USD 8 million project, evidence of emerging impact or its absence, and seek to take corrective action within the project's lifetime.

The irrigation component did much less than expected. Incrementally, it added only 11.3 ha, of which about 4.0 ha were in small-scale schemes and about 7.3 ha are in micro schemes – compared with the targets of 85 ha and 100 ha respectively. Nothing has been achieved on the intended consolidation and reorganisation of the 257 ha of ‘old IFAD schemes'. However, the micro schemes that have been developed to date are producing a range of vegetables for home consumption and local marketing and appear to have a significant impact on household incomes and nutrition. From a consideration of the costs mentioned above and the indicative crop budgets and representative farm model these benefits far outweigh the costs. The project did not envisage a system of cost recovery for the investments made in the irrigation infrastructure. The farmer organisations were not developed to take over the responsibility of operation and maintenance. As a result, the sustainability of irrigation investments is in doubt.

Most of the planned adaptive research has been undertaken on maize, cowpeas, groundnuts, sorghum, tomatoes, cabbage, amaranthus, potatoes, onions, corchora and okra. However, there has been virtually no positive impact yet of all this work on the smallholder farmers' productivity. Of course, in some cases, the reason for the lack of impact was that the trials were unsuccessful, as in the case of the sorghum trials, in which bird damage was severe. Little attention was given at time of design to the step-wise processes that are required to move from the stage of adaptive research to widespread dissemination and uptake. Such steps were neither envisioned nor implemented.

The livestock component has been relatively successful when compared to other components. Until an outbreak of FMD in the regions of Manzini, Lubombo and Hhohho in November and December 2000, Swaziland had been free of FMD for more than twenty years. A partial cost-recovery practice was evolving in the dips was evolving owing to budgetary constraints. However, this was discontinued when the project funds were made available for this activity. This is contrary to what is required for a sustainable arrangement, where farmer involvement is necessary in management, investment and cost recovery of the dips. But an important spin-off effect has been the increased capability of the staff of the Epidemiology Unit to conduct on-farm research.

The training programmes conducted by the Livestock Training Centre at Mpisi have helped in upgrading the capabilities of farmers. Even though the SAR did not place any special emphasis on training in small stock development, the training centre developed a few modules in pig rearing and poultry farming. This effort has had a positive catalytic effect on uptake of small-stock related activities by the women. These activities at present depend on commercial inputs. Efforts to develop local feed resources are vital for long-term sustainability of these interventions. The income levels of the women undertaking pig rearing and poultry production have increased substantially. The inability of the women to access credit has been the main constraint; inadequate working capital has led to closure of a number of poultry units.

Credit and marketing components were the ones that have had least impact on the project target group. Despite the fact that the project disbursed the entire credit allocation to SDSB, no disbursements were made to the project beneficiaries. The activities under the marketing component never were geared to develop linkages between the private sector and the project beneficiaries. Produce has been purchased at relatively high prices with revenues generated from import levies: development of the small-scale private sector marketing has been discouraged.

Lessons learned

Targeting: SADP rightly targeted the SNL where most resource poor households live. The IE survey clearly demonstrates two issues related to identifying resource poor households. First, the project design did not take into account the regional disparities. This resulted in a scattered project implementation, increasing logistic and management problems. In turn, this has contributed to the difficulty in identifying and quantifying impact of the project. Second, the project provided merely broad or vague guidelines for identifying resource poor households. As a result, the project funded irrigation interventions appear to have been targeted to the resource poor households, but in reality reached the better off households. The project design did not pursue or reflect household survey data that show that some 50% of the households possess no cattle and about 5% have no farmland. The IE is of the view that these categories of households form the focus target group of IFAD.

A three-pronged approach is necessary to identify IFAD target group and to assess impact of the project. First, prior to project design, using relevant, valid and low cost data, the most vulnerable areas requiring project interventions will have to be identified. Chronic malnutrition data is one such indicator that represents overall wellbeing of the household/community. Subsequently targets need to be fixed as a part of the objectives of project to reduce chronic malnutrition. Second, with detailed survey data for these households, projects will have to design interventions that reach the poorest groups. These interventions are generally low cost / low capital in nature: they increase the risk taking ability of the households by focussing on their core strengths, and solutions that are found at the level of the community. Third, the welfare of the community over a period of time can be tracked by conducting low cost surveys to collect data on trends across sites in prevalence of chronic malnutrition. Reduction in these rates indicates gains in the welfare of the community.

Participatory processes: This project design had realised the importance of participatory processes as a vital instrument to permit resource poor households to articulate their preferences. It had also visualised the need for engaging NGOs to develop farmer organisations. But unfortunately, the project design did not have community mobilisation as a separate supporting ‘integrating' component that would form the basis for designing the interventions in other activities, for irrigation, livestock development and adaptive research.

Participation is generally not well understood. Some even regard mere consultation with the beneficiaries as participation. Four steps are essential to empower resource poor households to achieve participatory development. First, ascertaining the level of interest of the target group in participatory development is vital. This includes formulation of a social charter outlining the vision of the community with regard to overcoming issues that may relate to health, education, environment, natural resources, women and resource poor. The most important is the social action phase by the community to demonstrate their ability to work together by undertaking activities using their own resources. Second, capacity building of the project staff, NGO staff and the selected community members is the next important step covering community development planning and financial management. The third step involves community institution development and implementation of the interventions; these involve community level planning, facilitation of the community to identify low cost options and sustainable solutions, provision of necessary financial resources and implementation of the intervention by the community themselves. The fourth step represents monitoring the progress including financial discipline, evaluating the impact of the project interventions and adjusting the project priorities and interventions based on the lessons learned.

Supervision: Most if not all of the persistency of the problems encountered can be traced back to poor supervision. Supervising process-oriented projects is not as simple as sector specific projects. The CI needs to use for referral and periodic assistance a core group of consultants with hands-on experience in participatory development and technical interventions such as in the case of irrigation. Even if supervision costs were a constraint, the savings made by the CI by not including an engineer in the supervision are not comparable to the cost of unproductive investments made in irrigation infrastructure. There is reason both for IFAD PMD and the CI to consider the opportunity costs, the wider dimension and missed opportunities of an excessive economy in curtailing supervision budgets.
Project Co-ordination and Management: Too much reliance was placed for too long on a Project Co-ordinator drawn from within the ranks of MOAC, with little in the way of incentives to good performance – or disincentives to poor performance. Experience with other projects in the region suggests that a national Project Co-ordinator recruited from the private sector might have been more effective. Knowing that his/her job depended on it, he or she would have seen that a PCC was essential for effective project management and would have insisted that the supervision took the issue up at the right time and place.

Even though the irrigation section has no capacity to undertake direct implementation, oddly all irrigation works were assigned to it. As a result, the project had to rely heavily on government procedures for procurement and funds flow. This has resulted in piece-meal approach to irrigation infrastructure development. This issue could have been remedied if the project were to engage contractor for implementation and the irrigation section for supervision. It is essential that the government take up the role of the facilitator rather than that of the implementer.

Technical Assistance versus NGO and Private Sector: This project is yet another example of one that makes a feeble attempt to engage the NGO and private sector. More than three years have gone by: substantial funds were invested in technical assistance for the Irrigation Section without any sign of increased capacity. There was and is a dynamic private sector within Swaziland and across the border in South Africa that could have undertaken the design and implementation of most, if not all, of the schemes targeted. The Appraisal Report and Loan Agreement should be much firmer on the issues related to involvement of NGOs and private sector.

Future

The project is due for closure on 31 March 2001. The AfDB vide letter dated 8 November 2000 has informed MOAC that the loan account will close on 30 September 2001; thereafter only eligible expenditure properly entered into before this date and winding down activities will be settled from project funds. The last date of withdrawal from the loan account will be 31 December 2002. This means that the project can continue to implement its activities beyond another 12 months.

Project Co-ordination: It is important that the PCC system is revived headed by the PS and attended by all the Department Heads, with the PC acting as secretary. Such a forum would pass on the ownership of the project to the heads of the department. These meetings could be held once each three months. In addition, the Ministry has a system of fortnightly meeting of department heads. It is recommended that the PC also be invited to attend these monthly meetings to discuss the project issues on a regular basis.

Project management capability: This project intended to use line departments. Hence the PCU had a small staff compliment. However, there is a need to strengthen its capacity by employing a community development officer from the NGO/private sector with experience in working with the NGOs. It is also recommended that the PCU officially request IFAD to provide an Irrigation Specialist and an Engineer to join future supervision missions for the project. The project accounting system will have to be improved by employing a local short-term Financial Management Specialist. Two project vehicles be allowed special registration so as to allow mobility for the staff to work during weekends/holidays and after office hours. The PS of MOAC may write to Ministry of Public Service and Information seeking approval for paying the government approved incentives to the project staff.

Shift from direct implementation to facilitation: The government should move away from direct implementation responsibility and focus on facilitation and supervision. Implementation should be undertaken by private contractors/NGOs.

Support to field level staff: training and motorcycles: It is recommended that the field level staff be provided with training in leadership, communication, use of PRA tools to identify farmers' priorities and to focus on existing groups instead of building new groups. The PCU be permitted to process pending long-term training applications and motorcycles for use by the field level staff of Agriculture and Livestock Department.

Irrigation development and support of NGOs The outstanding payments for the NGOs will have to be settled by forming a committee consisting of the PC, the Project Accountant, the Irrigation Engineer, and a representative from CANGO. It is recommended that the project should now focus on completing and consolidating the small-scale schemes in Nkwene, Mhlangeni, Lesibovu, Kholwane, Mgeza and Ekuthuleni: this would result in an achievement of approximately 90% of the Appraisal Report target for small-scale schemes. The TAG for implementation support should be used to employ a national or regional technical assistant to assist the Head of Section in completing all outstanding groundwork (design, procurement of materials, planning/organising construction or alternatively procuring contractors) over a period of 5-6 months. In the case of Ekuthuleni, the scheme design should be obtained from a reputable irrigation equipment supplier on a turnkey basis including supply and installation, following local competitive bidding; in view of the topography and proposed use, consideration should be given to drip irrigation, rather than a sprinkler system.

The CI use TAG funds to recruit a regional irrigation consultant to participate in the next two supervision missions and provide approvals for the procurements at the time of supervision mission. NGOs be contracted as soon as possible to initiate group development on the above seven schemes. Smallholder Poultry Development: The evidence across IFAD projects is very consistent in showing that first, women headed households tend to be poorer than male headed households and second, their priorities are centred around small animals, particularly scavenging poultry. It is recommended that a team consisting of members from the Livestock Department and the Home Economics Section and the SDSB should visit all small poultry farmers to establish linkages with extension and credit. On the marketing side, the Philani Poultry Co-operative Society Abattoir is a model to follow and the project should attempt to replicate this in as many sites as possible. The small animals can help poor families in starting an asset creation process as clearly demonstrated in the IFAD/Danida sponsored Smallholder Livestock project in Bangladesh. Swaziland should build up human capacity in this area. The first step would be to contact the Network for Poultry Production and Health in Developing Countries (NPPADC) to request its co-operation in planning and conducting a study tour to Bangladesh for three women poultry extension workers and one regional level Home Economics Officer.

Concurrently, the Livestock Department will have to initiate a Poultry Sector Study to understand the strengths and weakness of all the actors involved in poultry production in Swaziland, comparative advantages of smallholder poultry based on commercial inputs vis-à-vis large commercial farms and possibilities to reduce production costs by developing semi-intensive systems. It is recommended that a TA with background in commercial as well as semi-intensive smallholder system be recruited to undertake this study.

Pig Rearing: This sector also suffers from high dependence on commercial feed. It is recommended that Livestock Department of MOAC engage the services of the Animal Production and Health Department, University of Swaziland to conduct a literature review and identify cheap feed resources within the country. Trials in the SNL households in collaboration with farmers and piggery extension officers would have to be set up.

Analysis of the tick-borne disease data, development of a strategy and study tours: The field-based data be analysed in order to come up with a new, probably reduced dipping strategy. It is recommended that TA for this activity be recruited immediately. It is also recommended that the technical staff and some of participating farmers of the sites for the five dipping tanks installed visit neighbouring countries to update themselves on current tick control strategies.

Livestock marketing: It is recommended the Livestock Marketing Unit will have to gather and publish prices of not only cattle, but on all commonly marketed animals. In addition, the sales yards built under the project should be handed over to the farmer organisations.

Information technology: The training courses on the use of computers for the FMD and Livestock Marketing should be initiated without delay. The VFTC at Mpisi should get the four telephone lines it has applied for and be provided with Internet access and the required training to use the equipment.

Crop Development: Intercropping of maize with green manure/cover crops (gm/ccs) will largely control weeds while providing a good increase in the productivity of subsequent crops. It decreases the cost of applying chemical fertilisers and weeding the maize plots. The introduced varieties of cowpeas, groundnuts and sweet potatoes seem to be especially popular among Swazi farmers, and should be spread as far and wide as possible. It is recommended that the Adaptive Research and Extension establish linkages with the existing Zenzele groups and develop a system of a seed revolving fund for quicker distribution of drought resistant crop varieties. It is also recommended that the Adaptive Research conduct field trials involving the farmers in the Zenzele groups to test the gm/ccs.

Credit: A study tour of officers from the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the SDSB and the Co-operative Department may be arranged to visit Palli Karma Sahyak Foundation (PKSF) in Bangladesh and Small Industries Development Bank of India (National Micro Finance Support Programme).

It is also recommended that the PCU establish an Expert Committee consisting of members from MOF, Central Bank, SDSB, MOAC and CANGO to: (i) assess the performance of existing micro-finance institutions, evolve accreditation criteria and develop systems and procedures to start a refinance window for these institutions; and (ii) review the subsidiary loan agreement to address its weaknesses and institute measures to use part of the funds released to SDSB to finance micro-finance institutions.

There has been no effort to develop community institutions in the rain-fed areas. It is recommended that the Home Economics Section identify women groups that have been trained under the project and empower these women to form about 10 savings and credit groups. In addition, a contract for mobilising 10 savings and credit groups may be given to an NGO (ACAT is suggested) so as to ensure that the project at least develops about 20 groups. These groups need to be the focal points for seed multiplication, small stock development and testing green manure cover crops. For this purpose the Home Economics Section and the selected NGO would have to develop the required linkages with research and extension.

Marketing of Horticultural Produce: In the medium and long-term, NAMBOARD will have to completely privatise its vegetable marketing activity. NAMBOARD, using its revenues from the statutory functions, will have to proactively facilitate growth of the private sector in marketing of agricultural produce.

Drought Early Warning and Contingency Planning: The current approach to developing forecast on drought focuses on assessing supply of food and not on the capability of the household to acquire food. In order to fine tune the data collection and to develop required drought mitigation strategies, it is suggested that a post of nutritionist be created within the unit and the Swaziland National Nutritional Council be included as a member of the Early Warning Technical Advisory Committee.

CCU: The CCU is on a path of restructuring with the help of Enterprise Development Fund. The CCU is interested in moving from trading to production of fertiliser and animal feed. It needs to make a full assessment of: (i) its own institutional strengths and weaknesses to undertake such businesses; (ii) its comparative advantage vis-à-vis private sector; and (iii) techno-economic feasibility of the project, before venturing into diverse commercial activities that are not its core strengths.

MOAC Reorganisation: It is recommended that the MOAC revisit the proposals made in the reorganisation study to look into the service delivery strategy needed to reach, and provide facilitation and empower the resource poor households on the SNL.

Monitoring and Evaluation: The project should immediately initiate actions to locate a consultancy company to undertake an impact assessment study. The PC and the Monitoring Officer should make frequent field visits to ascertain the progress in implementation of the project activities and get feedback from the primary stakeholders for taking corrective actions in implementation.

Framework to assist resource poor households: Four factors need attention while developing future rural development strategies for Swaziland. First, a study conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) indicates that any meaningful poverty reduction strategy needs to address women's education, health, status and food availability. Experiences in Swaziland indicate that community institutions play an important role in building education facilities. There is increasing control of resources by women in case of small stock development and vegetable production interventions. Savings and credit group development have taken off with the involvement of NGOs, Co-operative Department and Home Economics Section. The interest of farmers is shifting towards low cost gravity fed systems that are easy to maintain.

Second, the land tenure system favours those with privileged access to human and financial resources. At the same time, it restricts investment in land by those with limited resources. Resource poor farmers may fear loss of land and also investment made owing to inability to cultivate the land as a result of labour shortage. Or they may be subject to land reallocation by the Traditional Chiefs. These in-built fears drive the rural communities on SNL to invest in cattle, which is a low risk and mobile investment but with low economic return. Literature published as early as 1991 indicates that there are strains in the social framework in SNL areas. These will become more evident as the number of landless increases along with the pressures to privatise communal lands to satisfy the demand by commercial companies and entrepreneurial farmers. Resolution of issues related to security of tenure becomes central to any meaningful investment strategy in SNL.

Third, the AIDS epidemic has its debilitating human and social impact; it also affects the scope for productive investment and production in the rural areas. The average life expectancy in Swaziland is now as low as 38 years. These factors do not bode well for any investment that requires a high labour input. The strategy for any future rural development needs to focus on investments, where the priorities are determined by the communities and not investment strategies designed and delivered from outside.

Fourth, the projects so far implemented in Swaziland suffer from top-down implementation mode with little participation of the communities. Inadequate participation of the communities is masked when governments provide high subsidies. To achieve sustainability, participation of the communities needs to be enhanced.

Interventions required to improve livelihood systems of the resource poor households vary from community to community. Projects with a set of activities that are inflexible will not be able to respond to the requirements and priorities of the community. A system of flexibility will have to be introduced in the project design. Impact and sustainability are enhanced when the ability of the communities to identify constraints, and to prioritise and implement the interventions are strengthened. This will have to be coupled with adequate control by the community over the financial resources for implementing activities at the community level. Such devolution of financial powers would empower the communities. It increases their ownership of interventions.

Rehabilitation of Old Irrigation Schemes: The data available suggest that some 300 ha are cultivated by existing small-scale irrigation schemes in Swaziland. If the sample visited by the mission is representative, most of this hectarage is under-performing. It would appear logical to concentrate first on improving the performance of these schemes – through rehabilitation and group development – before embarking on a specific project for expansion.

 

 

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Rural Enterprises Project (2000)

December 2000

Interim Evaluation

During the period June-July 2000, the IFAD Office of Evaluation and Studies carried out an Interim Evaluation of the Rural Enterprises Project financed by IFAD in Ghana. The IFAD loan to finance this project was approved by IFAD's Executive Board in December of 1993. The project is due to close in March 2002.

The Interim Evaluation was undertaken upon the request of the Government of Ghana to finance a second phase of the project. IFAD procedures require that an Interim Evaluation must be undertaken before designing a second phase.

In the evaluation, IFAD has applied a new approach to evaluation being implemented by the Office of Evaluation and Studies since January 2000. The new approach to evaluation is one that emphasises learning through partnership. To promote learning, a Core Learning Partnership is established during the planning stages of the evaluation. The members of the Core Learning Partnership, usually key project stakeholders, guide the evaluation.1They draft an Approach Paper to orient the evaluation and agree on key questions that the evaluation should investigate. Upon completion of the evaluation, the members of the Core Learning Partnership prepare an Agreement at Completion Point for consideration by the main partners concerned by the evaluation.

The evaluation

The objective of the Interim Evaluation of the Rural Enterprises Project was to provide an analysis of the performance and impact of the project. To achieve this objective, the evaluation was designed to answer seven key questions. They were:

  • How was poverty reduced as a result of project activities?
  • How effective were each of the different project approaches to technology and skills transfer, and why?
  • Which activities and institutional arrangements led to successful use of financial services by entrepreneurs?
  • How have joint gains been achieved by exploiting complementarity between this project and other projects or government programmes?
  • How have District Administrations incorporated Rural Enterprise Project activities in their poverty reduction programmes?
  • What are the cost implications of sustaining selected Rural Enterprise Project services and institutions after project closure?
  • How has the performance of international agencies supporting the project influenced its results?

On the basis of findings with respect to the key questions, the Evaluation Team was to provide recommendations to guide Government of Ghana policies in the rural enterprise sector.2 The Evaluation Team was also to make recommendations relative to the features of an eventual IFAD-financed Phase II investment in the rural enterprise sector. It was agreed the Core Learning Partnership would conclude the evaluation process by sharing the findings and agreed follow-up actions with colleagues in government, the donor community and other interested parties at a roundtable meeting in September 2000.

During the evaluation fieldwork, more than 200 individual clients (previously referred to as beneficiaries) were interviewed in all 13 project districts of Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions. In addition, the Evaluation team met with groups of trainees and clients, District Chief Executives, District Implementing Committee members and implementing agency staff.. A stakeholder and client workshop was held before the fieldwork began to guide the Evaluation team on the approach and issues related to the key questions. A similar workshop was held upon completion of fieldwork to brief stakeholders on the preliminary findings of the team and obtain their feedback.

The project

The project was identified in October 1992, and approved by the IFAD Executive Board in December 1993. The IFAD loan became effective in February 1995, and will close in March 2002. The Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, is the responsible ministry in Ghana and the project is implemented by a Project Coordination and Monitoring Unit based in Kumasi. The Ghana Regional Appropriate Technology Industrial Service, the National Board for Small Scale Industries, the Department of Feeder Roads, the Bank of Ghana, the Association of Rural Banks and fifteen participating rural banks work together as implementing agencies in the project. UNOPS supervises the loan as IFAD's Cooperating Institution. The total cost of the project was estimated to be USD 9.3 million of which USD 7.68 million is funded by IFAD, USD 1.18 million by the GOG and USD 0.45 million by the participating banks. As at 31 December 1999, USD 5.5 million had been disbursed.

The objective of the project is to increase rural production, employment and income in order to alleviate poverty through the increased output of small off-farm enterprises. This is being accomplished by: facilitating access to new technology and business advice; promoting easier access to financial services; improving the efficiency of existing small rural enterprises, supporting the creation of new enterprises, and removing communication constraints through feeder road rehabilitation. The project was designed to build on the Government of Ghana's economic reforms and to encourage individuals and other private sector actors in rural areas to take advantage of opportunities created by the opening up of the economy.

The project targets 48 000 families or 300 000 people in the project area who live in poverty. Of these, an estimated 10 000 families live in absolute poverty. At design, it was estimated that direct benefits would accrue to 16 000 families or about 100 000 people in the target group. The design gives special attention to the most vulnerable households, socially disadvantaged women, unemployed youth and those who have been apprenticed to a trade but lack the capital or experience to start a business.

The project has three components: (i) Support for the Promotion of Rural Small scale Enterprises, which includes the establishment of Business Advisory Centres, the construction of Rural Technology Service Centres, and the development and transfer of appropriate technologies; (ii) Rural Finance Services Support, which includes lines of credit to eligible participating banks, supported by training for groups and individual beneficiaries in managing credit, deposit facilities, and a monitoring unit for participating rural banks under the Association of Rural Banks that also provided training to selected rural bank staff; and (iii) Infrastructure Support, which includes rehabilitation of 100 km of feeder roads and a further 15 km of spot improvements to improve mobility and access to markets.

Project performance and impact

Amongst the activities undertaken for the promotion of rural small-scale enterprises, those connected with services provided by Business Advisory Centres can be credited with much of the success of the project. Thirteen Business Advisory Centres have been created and have implemented successful programmes to train more than 4 000 individual clients in income generating and business management skills. From this training, about 1 900 new businesses have been established as of June 2000. This is over half the target for the whole project, whilst there are still two years remaining in project implementation. These new businesses have employed 6 000 people. It is projected that 90% of these businesses will succeed, with 40% - 50% growing to become medium size ventures. More than 3 500 existing businesses have also received business skills counselling. This has allowed existing businesses to employ a further 5 000 workers. Hence a combined total of 5 400 new and existing businesses (and their owners) plus approximately 11 000 people employed by them have been directly reached by the project. The majority were women.

Rural Technology Service Centres were created, equipped and staffed in three districts. Technology transfer activities were successfully implemented through short and long term training at the Centres for apprentices and for master craftsmen. The training for master craftsmen was one of the most effective of the Technology Centre activities. Technology Centres successfully undertook workshop operations including repair services, manufacturing services and dissemination of information. However, because of the high cost of capital equipment, the relative allocation of Centre resources amongst its various activities, and the relatively limited numbers of clients served, benefits generated do not compare well with total costs. Technology development has been less successful than expected.

The Rural Finance services activities of the project have allowed poor and under-capitalised small-scale business people to access the formal credit sector. More than half were women. Up to 70% of the 1 330 loans made as at December 1999 went to businesses which previously had no access to bank loans. However, this is less than half the number of new businesses started and a quarter of total businesses supported. Loan recovery rates have increased from an average of 43% in the Pilot districts at the end of 1997, to an average of 87% across all districts in June 2000. Savings rates in the formal sector have increased by up to 30%. However, only 25% of the resources for on-lending available in the Rural Enterprise Development Fund had been disbursed as of December 1999. Some conditions beyond the control of the Project Coordination and Management Unit have contributed to low performance levels in this component.

The Infrastructure Support activities through June 2000 resulted in the rehabilitation of 74km of roads. A study commissioned by the project showed that average traffic volumes – especially taxis and minibuses – on rehabilitated roads increased by 230% as a result. This provided social and economic benefits by providing better access to services and markets. Agricultural production, especially horticulture, has diversified and incomes increased as a result. Approximately 1 100 people have benefited from employment as unskilled labour for road works. However, plans for routine and recurrent maintenance of rehabilitated roads were not complete. There has been little direct complementarity between the feeder roads programme and the financial services, technology or business development activities. Due to contractor problems, the amount of Project Coordination and Management Unit time allocated to this component has been disproportionately high.

A major strength of the project has been the flexible approach adopted during project implementation using stakeholder meetings, annual review workshops and targeted consultancies and studies to assess activities and modify implementation to improve effectiveness. These activities have worked well at district level. The project has made efforts to coordinate with other projects and undertake project activities in such a way as to complement the work of others. However, the potential for achieving joint gains was not fully exploited.

The key questions

How was poverty reduced as a result of project activities?

The Rural Enterprises Project has reduced poverty for self-employed entrepreneurs and employees in new and existing rural enterprises by increasing incomes and by reducing expenditures. The Project has achieved this by several means.

The Project has reduced poverty by transferring technical skills to rural people making it easier to get a job or to improve the returns to their own businesses. It has reduced poverty by improving the business skills of rural people, allowing them to start their own business or to reduce costs and increase benefits in their existing businesses. It has reduced poverty by providing low-income people with access to banking services and capital. It has reduced poverty by generating new jobs as new businesses were created or existing businesses expanded. It has reduced poverty by providing facilities for technical services that have allowed small rural entrepreneurs to grow and flourish. It has reduced poverty by providing short-term employment in roads. It has reduced poverty by lowering transaction costs linked to transport for rural people. In all, it has built self-confidence and fostered optimism among rural people with whom it worked.

It appears that loan size limitations, training course content and the level of basic technologies supported by the project, functioned as targeting mechanisms, given that more affluent entrepreneurs are unlikely to have sought support at such levels. However, among those who did seek project support, the project has taken a business-like approach. It selected clients for courses, and approved client requests to borrow funds, taking need into account, but using commercial criteria to determine the probability that they would be successful entrepreneurs.

How effective were each of the different project approaches to technology and skills transfer, and why?

The Business Advisory Centres have provided the most cost effective technology and skills transfer services. They have helped to establish more than 1 900 new businesses and assisted another 4 000 existing businesses through counselling. This has been achieved despite substantial under-resourcing at the Business Centres. The Business Centres have focused on easily transferable technologies and provided programmes to improve the ‘living skills' of participants. They have not, however, made significant impact on business management skill development. Business Advisory Centres could have done more had they served as Business Development Centres with a wider role in technology and business management skill training. The successful implementation of the Centres as designed has been achieved through the enthusiastic input of their limited staff, supported by the Project Coordination and Management Unit, as support from the implementing agency was not systematic.

The traditional role of trade associations in Ghanaian society has been a key element of the success of the project, as they have provided a strong link between individual clients and the project technology and skills transfer programmes. The associations, which often in the past have had only a social function, have responded very positively to the challenges and opportunities created by the project. This energy and enthusiasm needs to be harnessed and developed in future projects.

The Rural Technology Service Centre's apprenticeship training programme has trained, supported and motivated a small number of apprentices from poor backgrounds at the Technology Centres. It has not been institutionalised, is not part of the formal Government of Ghana vocational education system. It is also not cost-effective in comparison with provision of technical and train-the-trainer training to master craftsmen. The fee support to traditional apprentices to train with master craftsmen has also helped some poor families finance training of youth but it, too, has not been institutionalised. That is, it will not be continued by a government agency once the project has ended.

As already identified in the Appraisal document and the Mid-Term Review, support to master craftsmen remains a cost-effective way of developing their businesses and improving the traditional apprenticeship training. In the Project this has been handled through the Rural Technology Service Centres. Hence this will need to be revised in future programmes if there are no district-level Technology Centres.

The Rural Technology Service Centres have not yet been able to develop a sustainable model of technology development and transfer. Projections of potential benefits at design were overly optimistic. The Technology Centres provide high quality output and services, but as currently structured, costs exceed benefits. Moreover, they have not been given adequate incentives to respond directly to the needs of local clients for technology development, services and skills transfer. They have not been provided with sufficient guidance or management support needed to re-orient their approaches.

Which activities and institutional arrangements led to successful use of financial services by entrepreneurs?

The project activities in financial services have allowed a group of clients who would not normally gain access to bank finance to secure short-term loans without guarantees. The activities and institutional arrangements that have led to the successful use of financial services have included: (i) technology and business skills training activities by non-bank institutions; (ii) supervision and support to participation of clients in both enterprise and banking activities by District Implementation Committee; (iii) careful communication of information about financial services to potential clients in the form of client briefings; (iv) external oversight by the District Implementation Committee of the client selection process by the bank; and, (v) ongoing monitoring of repayments. These have led to significantly higher loan recovery rates. Clients have gone on to secure further loans to develop their businesses. The degree of success achieved in the various participating using these arrangements has been influenced by the character of the banks themselves and other external factors.

How have joint gains been achieved by exploiting complementarity between this project and other projects or government programmes?

The project has developed some coordination and management systems that can improve implementation and exploit complementarity between projects in the area. Project activities have incorporated groups from the previous IFAD Smallholder Credit Input Supply and Marketing Project. In Wenchi District, the project has been assisting cashew grower groups working with an international NGO. Eleven of the banks involved in the Smallholder Project have become part of Rural Enterprise Project with higher loan recovery rates. The Project has used a District Implementation Committee approach that is highly regarded by clients and implementing agencies. This district level unit could be a good means through which a project can be more integrated with other district level activities, but this has not yet been explicitly developed as such or made part of a district level system for coordination.

How have District Administrations incorporated Rural Enterprise Project activities in their poverty reduction programmes?

Certain District Assemblies, for example Offinso, Kintampo and Tano, and participating banks have adopted the Project credit management and borrower assessment processes (including participation in technology and business management skills training) to implement the Government of Ghana district Poverty Alleviation Loan programme from the District Assembly Common Fund. These processes have led to higher recovery rates for the government Poverty Alleviation Loan programme than when these funds have been allocated by district authorities with other less structured procedures. Some other districts have indicated that they plan to adopt the Project model for funds they have available through the government programme. They are especially interested in the technical and business management skill development they have seen working in the Rural Enterprise Project, but few initiatives have been taken to implement such activities without the Project support.

What are the cost implications of sustaining selected Rural Enterprise Project services and institutions after project closure?

The total annual costs of the existing Rural Technology Service Centres have been estimated to be, on average, GHC 214 million. This includes replacement of existing assets as well as staff and other operating costs. The costs per client trained at the Centres are significantly higher than through other means. The prices charged for manufacturing and repair services were competitive, but these did not reflect the true cost to the Centre. The exact costs and benefits in adaptive research and technology were not estimated as only roughly 4% of staff time has been dedicated to these activities. The current approach of the Centres in providing the various services and the current share of resources allocated to the various services will not permit sustainable provision of the services. However, the services are useful and there is some evidence of alternative means of providing them - in conjunction with the private sector, trade associations or NGOs – that can be tried in the future.

The total annual costs of Business Advisory Centres have been estimated to be, on average, GHC 58 million. Costs per client for training activities (including Business Centre overheads and direct training expenses) range from a low of GHC 15 000 for a one day credit management course to a high of GHC 256 000 for technical training in soap making course. With some improvements in management and resource allocation, the Business Centres could be partly, if not fully, financially self-sufficient, hence sustainable. Moreover, selected benefit/cost ratios calculated on the basis of returns for the supported enterprises are positive, (except for exotic mushrooms). As a result, economic returns to government expenditures to support the Centres are high.

How has the performance of international agencies supporting the project influenced its results?

The performance of UNOPS, IFAD and the Evaluation Team was assessed by staff of the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, the Project Coordination and Monitoring Unit, the Rural Technology and Service Centres, the Business Advisory Centres and by project clients. The assessment showed that UNOPS support positively influenced project results by listening to and consulting with government counterparts, and taking action to solve project problems. UNOPS also contributed to success by providing clear instructions on procedures. The regular checking on information provided, the time in the field, and the technical advisors it recruited also helped the project. IFAD's performance was rated as positively influencing project results in similar ways. Aspects of the performance of the Evaluation Mission that stakeholders found to be positive included clear explanations of the work, feedback on information received, and time spent in districts and with clients. Clients and staff of Centres believed that evaluation results would have been better had members of their groups been part of the Evaluation Team.

Recommendations and follow-Up

The Evaluation Team made a number of recommendations and proposed follow-up action related to its recommendations. Those recommendations and follow up actions that are supported and agreed upon by the members Core Learning Partners are detailed in the Agreement at Completion Point.


1/ Members of the Core Learning Partnership for this Interim Evaluation are: Mr. E.P.D. Barnes, Chief Director, Ministry of Environment Science and Technology; Mr. K Attah-Antwi, Project Coordinator Rural Enterprise Project; Mr. K. Okyere, Deputy Director, National Development Planning Commission; Mr. M. Manssouri (replacing Mr P. Saint. Ange), Country Portfolio Manager, IFAD; Mr. F. Sarassoro, Senior Programme Management Officer, UNOPS; and, Ms. D.C. Palmeri, Senior Evaluation Officer, IFAD. All Core Learning Partnership members participated in parts of the Evaluation fieldwork.

2/ The Interim Evaluation Team was comprised of: Mr I. Teese (Mission Leader / Business Skills Training Specialist), Ms A. A. Quainoo (Rural Finance Specialist), Dr K. Prakah Asante (Technology Development and Transfer Specialist), Dr O. Gyekye (Rural Sociologist), Mr C. Reiner (Financial Analyst) and Dr M. Harper (Enterprise Development Specialist) who joined the Mission for the first 5 days.

 

 

LANGUAGES: English

Nampula Artisanal Fisheries Project (2000)

September 2000

Interim evaluation

Introduction - the project

The Nampula Artisanal Fisheries Project (NAFP) was formulated during 1991-92, whilst Mozambique was still in the throes of civil war, appraised in February 1993 and project Loan Agreement signed in January 1994. Total project costs were USD 11.3 million, funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (USD 6.0 million), the Government of Mozambique (GOM) (USD 3.3 million) and the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Fund for International Development (OPEC Fund) (USD 2.0 million). Project effectiveness date was 4 November 1994, and expected closing date 30 June 2001. The co-operating institution (CI) is the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).

The overall project objectives were to: (i) improve the level of income; (ii) contribute to employment generation; and (iii) improve food security of about 9 300 artisanal fishermen families in the districts of Angoche and Moma. Since the Mid-Term Review (MTR) of the project in 1998, Mongincual has been included in the project area, as well as Pebane in Zambezia as a further outreach area.

The project objectives were to be achieved through: (i) assisting artisanal fisheries development by: providing production inputs for fisheries activities; experimentation and providing extension services in the field of fishing technology; promoting improved methods for processing and commercialisation of fish; and monitoring and evaluation of accessible fish resources to artisanal fishery activities (research); (ii) establishing and rehabilitating rural infrastructure by: rehabilitation of tertiary roads; provision of wells; and building of health clinics; (iii) provision of financial services by: providing micro-credit and assisting in savings activities; assisting in short-term loans for the development of micro-enterprises; and (iv) Institutional Development. Following the MTR, a Community Development Fund (CDF) (identifying and implementing micro-projects) was introduced as a new component of the Project.

The Interim Evaluation (IE) Process

As a primary objective, the IE mission o assess project impact and sustainability, and to develop a series of recommendations and lessons was t learned. After a one-day briefing in IFAD Headquarters on 2 May 2000, the Mission travelled to Mozambique on 3-4 May 2000. Before travelling to Nampula Province on 6 May, the Mission was briefed by: (i) the Director and senior staff of the Institute for the Development of Small-Scale Fisheries (IDPPE); (ii) the Director and Senior staff of the Fisheries Research Institute (IIP); (iii) Campaign for American Relief Everywhere (CARE) staff; and (iv) Executive Director of the Development Fund for Small-Scale Industries (FFPI).

Accompanied by two senior officials of IDPPE, the Mission visited project areas from 6 to 16 May 2000, holding discussions and visiting project sites in: (i) Moma District (Mucoroge, M'puitine, Pilvili and Larde); (ii) Angoche (KwiriKwidje, Sangage, Quelelene, Murrua) Mongicual (Liúpo, Namige, and Quinga). Discussions were held with Provincial Director of Agriculture, Nampula Province, District Administrators, District Directors of Health and Education, members of Fishermen Associations, Members of Co-management Committees, Credit Associations, Water Committees, Health Committees, and Education; some wholesale traders. In addition to holding discussions, the Mission visited water supply (boreholes), health centres, schools and rehabilitated roads – all of which have been supported by the project. The field mission undertook some diagnostic analysis in order to identify the economic, socio-cultural and technical determinants responsible for project efficiency, effectiveness and impact, and overall performance. Before returning to Maputo on 17 May 2000, the Mission participated in a stakeholder workshop held on 16 May 2000, at Angoche District Headquarters, designed to learn about stakeholders' perceptions and understanding of project objectives, their relevance and usefulness. Around 70 people took part in the workshop. A wrap up meeting was held with a range of project partners in Maputo on 24 May, where the mission discussed its initial findings and conclusions.

Project performance

Artisanal fishery development

Provision of fisheries equipment and materials. Supply of fishing gear and spare parts for boat rehabilitation has been historically very low in Nampula Province until the mid-90s. This scarce input supply was compounded by high prices during the times it was available. Assisted by pressure from the project, import duties that were earlier pegged at more than 18% were reduced in November 1996 to between 6% and 14% of Cost Insurance and Freight (CIF) prices. The Project's first attempt to import fishing equipment through a private trader in 1996 collapsed but it gradually established linkages including exchange of information with commercial firms that comprise excellent prospects for sustainability. Presently, a commercial trader has established in the project area, and a further two distributors are expected to open shops in Moma and Angoche. The resulting competition had a positive impact on both prices and availability of fishing inputs within the project area.

Adaptive research and extension services. Data is collected regularly on fisheries technology (equipment), fisheries resources (catch/environment), and postharvest technology and marketing and is inserted into the IIP database. Analysis of the fish survey data revealed that a total of 250 aquatic species have been encountered in the catches. Three of these species, namely prawns and two species of the commonly caught anchovies have been selected and individual stock assessment studies have been commenced to monitor migratory patterns and provide knowledge that would in future benefit artisanal fishery activities. The knowledge of the characteristics of the resource is needed to guide development actions and resource management measures that would safeguard the long-term sustainability of the country fishery resources.

Improved fishing Techniques. Several trials on different types of fishing gear and practices have been conducted at various fishing centres in the three districts in partnership with fishermen and under the control and collaboration of IDPPE and IIP staff. Gill nets are the only technology that has reached the final step of the trial; the results from 2'' to 4'' mesh size were not satisfactory. Long-line fishing has shown promising results and the trammel net experimentation, used for selective prawn catch, is showing extraordinary results. Early this year, 2 IDDPE staff and 3 fishermen visited Zanzibar to study use of light tracked purse seines, which will be soon tested by the Project.

Extension. The NAFP's project extension system consists of 12 extensionists, who either work with fishing centres based in the field or are subject matter specialists based centrally at the project office with frequent field visits. Field extensionists are responsible for the collection of fish catch and other data and the provision of advisory services to the coastal communities. The extensionists constitute the communication link between the communities and the project. The Project recognises the need for further development and improvement of extension services in the area of marketing and technical extension messages to provide specialised advise to the fishermen including information on markets and prices, methods of conservation etc. so as to access high paying markets for quality fish.

Improved methods for fish processing and commercialisation. The project tested and demonstrated at various fishing sites a number of approaches in fish processing and preservation such as rack drying, salting and drying in the rainy season and smoking. Drying racks and salting tanks for small pelagic have not been taken up because the effort and cost for putting them up in most cases exceeds their utilisation level by the mobile beach seine fishermen. The major success has been the upgraded smoking kiln, as modified by the project based on the ‘chorkor' method, which is a low cost smoker, with higher production capacity, better efficiency in wood consumption and easier working conditions. This innovation has been moderately taken up and fish processors installed 43 smoking kilns, in addition to the 6 pilot plants that have been installed and rented out by the project. Eight more smoking kilns were installed, 5 pilot by the project and 3 by private processors, in conjunction with salting tanks.

A fish price information system has been implemented in the market of Nampula City and main inland markets whereby prices are collected weekly, however this has not been carried out consistently and little information has been analysed and disseminated to fishermen. The project has renewed the contacts with the Agricultural Marketing Information System (SIMA), to restart the co-operation on price monitoring of fish.

Fisheries management

Regulation. In June 1999, the project achieved legal dispensation of Law 3/90 on fisheries, renewable on a yearly basis, to use only 0.5" (12mm) mesh for beach seines as opposed to using the 38mm mesh beach seine in the project area. The 12mm mesh size limitation seems acceptable to the fishermen, and appears to be a suitable replacement for mosquito nets since it reduces the capture of larvae and juveniles and still allows to catch small pelagic with a ready market. The project also sought and achieved legal dispensation to extend the trawler exclusion zone from 1 to 3 nautical miles clear of the coast in order to reduce competition between semi-industrial, industrial trawlers and artisanal fishermen. Enforcement of these regulations has commenced and started giving positive results on the reduction in the use of mosquito nets and encroachment and an increase in the fishing area available to artisanal fishermen.

Co-management of Marine Natural Resources. The project promoted the formation of local Resource Management Committees and Co-management Committees with the aim to develop fisheries management mechanisms to be implemented in close collaboration between the fishermen and the Maritime Administration. Fourteen local Resource Management Committees of net owners have so far been elected in grand community meetings in the three districts of Moma, Angoche and Mogincual.

Rural infrastructure rehabilitation

Feeder roads. Rehabilitation works of approximately 138 km of feeder roads is nearing completion. Construction contracts stipulate a guarantee-period of one year to allow for the contractor to rectify probable technical faults following the rainy season. After assessment of the quality of works, the completed road is handed over to the Provincial Directorate for Public Works and Housing (DPOPH).

Water supply. The water supply contractor has completed the construction and rehabilitation of 122 water points in 42 communities, equivalent to 81.3 percent targeted by the project. Siting of the new boreholes was decided in close consultation with the communities concerned. Although some 18 water points have problems such as red and saline water, only 2 out of 122 are not functioning. Each water point is being managed and maintained by a committee elected by the community concerned, usually consisting of five members. Each family benefiting from the water supply contributes Mt 1,000 per month to the maintenance fund. Beneficiaries actively participate in the management committee deliberations and contribute to the pump maintenance expenses readily and willingly.

Health posts and schools. Improvement of health facilities included the rehabilitation of 20 health posts and centres. These project activities are presently being undertaken through the CDF component, which promotes community infrastructure and services through micro projects based on a 25% contribution from the communities, mainly in the form of labour and local materials. Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) were used to identify eight micro projects (5 schools and 3 health posts). Two Health Centres have been completed in Mucoroge and Inguri under the Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation component. However, they were constructed without toilets and water installations and are not yet in function. No other micro project has been completed.

Each micro project is planned and implemented in a participatory way with a locally elected committee, whose main objective is to organise, collect and manage the local contribution and ensure that the community actively participates in the implementation of the micro-project. At present, 4 committees with around 50 members are functioning.

Financial services

Rural micro-credit. An initial 2-year contract, which was renewed in April 1999 for another 2 years, was signed between IDPPE and CARE, an international NGO, to implement the scheme. Credit operations started in Angoche in January 1997 and over time used the following methodologies:

Credit associations comprising up to 30 members per group, who would form sub-groups of five people. They would receive loans of up to USD 80 per member, this mainly targeted small based vendors. Five associations received credit, however, as they could not take the responsibility of the loans and the credit recovery was poor, the operation was discontinued in July 1997;

Solidarity or confidence groups of 3- 5 people with loans of up to USD 400 per member, this mainly targeted fishermen/traders and itinerant traders. This programme actually started in 1998 with CARE component being part of the bi-funded CRER (Rural Enterprise Credit) programme with the Dutch Government. The first loans were in the range of US $ 20-120 for small operators and US $200-300 for larger operators. A total of 126 groups were formed but only 59 are operational with 184 members of whom less than 5% are women. In May 1999, there were 125 loans outstanding in Angoche and Moma to the total value of USD 16 000. Most clients were urban traders with no loans issued for the procurement of fishing gear. CARE concluded that the very limited progress made was the result of the low economic activity in the project area, social instability and no tradition in participation in credit schemes;

Savings clubs were introduced to the programme in 1998 based on the Zimbabwean "stamp" model operating through the post offices and banks. Clubs consisted in most cases of 5-15 urban women. The main motivation for participation has been the need to have a safe place for money and an opportunity to build reserves against future hardships. The system allows deposits of any size, which are recorded in saving books using stamps denominated by amounts of Mt 5,000 or 10,000. Withdrawals are permitted once a page (10 stamps) has been filled. To date 55 groups have been established involving 484 members of whom 75% are women;

Rotating savings and Credit groups (PCRs) that has proved successful in isolated communities in Niger. This method does not require the services of the bank system, as savings are either immediately lent within the groups or after 26 weeks of collection, the money is shared and a new round of collection is then started. The PCR's operate on low minimum requirement as low as Mt 1,000. Money is borrowed for a variety of social and economic reasons including establishment of income generating activities. A total of 12 PCRs was formed, in Larde and Quelelene districts;

CRER was also expected to deliver credit to small groups (3-5) of gill net owners for individual values of Mt 4-6 million. According to CRER field workers the principle reason for not dispensing any loans was the inability to get the members of each group at the same time for the required training.

Formal credit line. Formal credit to small or micro enterprises that play a role in the fisheries economy was channelled through the FFPI, a state-controlled business development organisation, on the basis of a subsidiary loan agreement signed with the Ministry of Finance. FFPI staff operates a mobile service in NAFP districts with a vehicle provided by the project. There is a consistent high demand for credit operated through FFPI. Some 189 applications have been made but only 30 loans so far have been disbursed of a total value of about USD 125 000. Only two clients are considered problematic and a portfolio at risk of 23% has been achieved.

Institutional framework, project management and co-ordination

Project management has been entrusted to IDPPE, the main operational fisheries institution with major activities falling within the broad areas of applied fish research, training and extension, fish policy and project analysis. The IIP is responsible for estimating fish resources in the country and for fisheries research. A Project Co-ordination Unit (PCU) has been established within the IDPPE Delegation at Angoche but falling under the administrative supervision of the National Director of IDPPE. The PCU is headed by the Project Co-ordinator, who is charged with the responsibility of the day-to-day management of project activities.

The Project contributed to considerable improvement of IDPPE through staff training and technical assistance and created an environment conducive to planning and policy formulation for the development of small-scale fisheries. In particular, staff strengthening of the Project/IDPPE Offices in Angoche and Moma has considerably improved and holds promise for sustaining the field operation when the externally supported project expires. Extensionists have been trained in management, extension techniques and other subjects to enable them to gain competence and autonomy in the dissemination of project activities in their area of responsibility.

Community organisations

The NAFP is promoting the formation of various community organisations in order to facilitate a participatory implementation of the different components of the project. Today, due to the efforts of the Project, a total of 142 community organisations (14 Resource/Co-management Committees, 2 Fishermen Associations, 122 Water Committees and 4 Micro-project Committees) with an estimated 950 members actively participate in project activities aiming at improving the living conditions of the communities in the project areas. In a society traditionally dominated by men, the participation of women together with men in water committees is considered a very important project achievement.

The Nampula project employed two strategies to promote the formation of community committees and organisations: (i) it focused on the creation of enabling conditions, such as access to credit and savings facilities, linking their fishing and other economic activities with markets through private traders and micro-enterprises, etc. that enhanced the capacity of beneficiaries to improve their household income. (ii) it created conditions for the satisfaction of the communities basic needs: water supply, primary health and sanitary care and education, in compliance with the ideals of sustainable human development.

Overall the committees are well established and have performed with considerable success. Only the Micro-project Committees under the Community Development Fund have functioned with many difficulties. This is partly due to the complex set-up, the large populations involved and the lack of tradition for this kind of collaboration.

Analysis and impact

Targeting

In the Appraisal Report the principal target group was defined as 9 300 skippers and crewmembers and their families. Given an average family size of 6.7 individuals, it implies a target group of around 62 000 persons. In addition, some 2 000 women were envisaged to be engaged in fish processing and trading activities.

The 1998 MTR considered it unrealistic to expect that more than a very small number of the crewmembers would progress into being net and boat owners themselves or that women were to become involved in fish processing and trading and recommended that the best way to assist these two groups was through increasing the overall productivity of the fishing units, which would yield higher returns to the ordinary fisherman who receives 50% of the value of the catch as payment i.e. a strategic shift towards targeting the net and boat owners instead of the crew members and the women. The MTR recommendation was adopted by the Project, however it entailed a shift from targeting the poorest members of the communities towards targeting a small group of relatively well off and influential persons. This strategic change was justifiable in view of: (i) the investment needed to engage in fishing and the demands for collateral from credit institutions would preclude the poor crew members and skippers and (ii) under the socio-economic conditions of Mozambique, it provided the most practical way to help the original target group. Targeting functioned through the provision of technical inputs and formal credit to net owners to improve their beach seines and credit to large-scale traders to ensure the availability of fishing materials in the project area.

It is estimated that the project has reached some 22 000 persons or 36 % of the target population under the artisanal development component, some 27 000 persons or 44% under the road rehabilitation scheme, up to 175 000 persons or 276 % of the total target group under the water supply scheme and some 900 persons, many of them being women, under the various credit and savings groups. No schools or health centres have yet functioned and, therefore, no project beneficiaries have been reached. The project has also targeted through formal credit small- and large-scale traders to improve marketing and the accessibility of fishing equipment and other inputs in the area.

Artisanal fishery development

Provision of fisheries equipment and materials. The NAFP has facilitated availability of fishing gear to local communities as a result of influencing the tariff levels and an effective dialogue and information exchange with commercial companies, which attracted the retail business for fishnets to Moma and Angoche. The linking of the private sector marketing networks with the fishing communities has not only improved but also guaranteed the supply of fishing inputs and equipment, as well as the marketing of fish and fish products This is a positive attribute to the project, however there is a lack of corresponding economic access to the same inputs. Non-access to credit compelled fishermen to either make their own nets in their backyards or continue to use mosquito nets, to the detriment of the marine resource environment. Additional work is needed to improve the macro-economic conditions for input supply including further tariff reductions and development of an adequate credit delivery system.

Adaptive research and extension. The Project in partnership with fishermen has tested different types of fishing gear and various approaches to fish processing and preservation in order encourage fishermen to adopt sustainable fishing practices and promote efficiency in fish production. The use of trammel nets for shrimp harvesting in the experimentation exercises was successful and many fishermen adopted the technology. Likewise, a number of fishermen took up gill nets, long-lines and trammel nets as appropriate to best suit their fishing effort. These nets do not catch the same type of fish nor the same size and amount of pelagic as the beach seines. However, the development of fisheries technologies and diversification of fishing practices although essential to secure a more sustainable use of the resource, it was found that their successful introduction is dependent on many factors beyond the technology itself, including access to inputs and financial services, the market opportunities for new products, processing and storage techniques.

The integration of local fishing communities into research and technology development has validated both the relevance of adaptive experimentation approach and the fast dissemination and adoption of generated technological innovation. The participatory adaptive trials benefited from fishermen's knowledge and needs and contributed to increased awareness of artisanal fishery development potential and constraints. Before the end of the participatory trial, participating fishermen knew the results/benefits and spread the word amongst their community fellow men several of whom absorbed positive experience. Thus, participating fishermen, in addition to contributing to a more efficient and cost effective research, relieved strain from the extension workers and contributed to the dissemination of research results. However, the process of dissemination and the strengthening of the extension service as a whole including the development of technical extension messages in the project area still requires further attention.

Improved methods for fish processing and commercialisation. Fish processors in Moma and Angoche have shown a positive appreciation of the smoking kilns introduced by the NAFP. Though not quantifiable at present, consumption of fuel wood and post-harvest losses from the adoption of these methods have been reduced. The project by providing support to improvement of commercial infrastructure (processing, drying, etc.) has enhanced prospects and opportunities for village industry. Increased use of these technologies is dependent on effective credit support and market information systems otherwise, it is unlikely that more small-scale processors will adopt them.

Financial services

Formal Credit Line, FFPI Financing Operations. Both the number of loans (only 30) and the amount of funds (only USD 125 000) issued by FFPI were very small and, therefore, the credit could hardly make any noticeable impact on the artisanal fishermen, however significant it might have been for the individual recipients. Almost all fish operators that met with the evaluation team expressed a want for credit to purchase raw material inputs. The technologies on improved fishing and processing promoted by the Project link the extension directly to a credit package tailor-made to suit the needs and capacity of fishermen and processors in the area.

Micro-credit. The provision of the CARE/CRER financial services has contributed towards day-to-day credit needs of the communities through introduction of credit and savings groups, savings groups and confidence group lending. Members of the groups, particularly women, have been able to save and borrow in order to buy food commodities for trade within the communities. Confidence groups were successful in delivering credit for small traders whereas the stamp based scheme has been better at targeting women and in establishing savings and a more easily understood system. Future designs should lay emphasis on savings in a broader perspective allowing for the methodology to move towards the mobilisation of savings for credit and investments.

Fisheries management and environmental sustainability

The project has helped IIP to establish a successful monitoring system for the collection of data from the many artisanal fishery centres in the area. The studies being carried out and those to be undertaken will play an important role in guiding the future long-term judicious use of marine resources and optimising the sustainable benefits for the artisanal sub-sector. The establishment and successful development of the fisheries data collection system is now being replicated in other parts of the country through a programme supported by French Corporation.

By facilitating the formation of 14 co-management committees and two Fishermen's Associations in Moma and Angoche, the NAFP has helped in reducing the undesirable fishing practices that have primarily used mosquito nets and "quinia" for fishing. In addition, the project's strategy is to provide incentives to borrowers i.e. credit to purchase trammel nets, purse seines, drift nets/gill nets and long-lines for open sea fishing and thus improve the marine environment. The established institutional dialogue and the creation of a favourable environment for artisanal fisheries constitute a very sound activity in the process of regulation through empowerment of both the fishermen and fisher organisations and the marine institutions such as IDPPE and IIP.

Community development fund and rural infrastructure development

Co-ordination with local health authorities has proved problematic, reflecting limited capacity in the health services and health care. An effective project strategy would be to look and provide basic support to the communities such as midwives, social/health workers, etc. Community development on a participatory basis in Nampula Province has proven to be more difficult than originally envisaged, because of the underlying conflicts that exist between the community governing structures. Although no micro projects have yet been completed, it is an encouraging sign that functioning commissions have been established and the community members generally seem to accept to contribute 25% of the costs of the micro project. This indicates that the concepts of sharing and ownership have been generally accepted by the communities in the project area.

Wells. Wells must be considered a very successful component. At present, only 2 out of 122 wells rehabilitated or constructed by the project are not functioning. There is no doubt that this component has brought a significant improvement of the standard of living for the target group as a whole and for women in particular. Their daily tasks have been alleviated and they and their children are now less exposed to waterborne diseases.

Roads. The positive impact of the road component is already showing visible signs in the targeted communities. Fishing societies have been physically connected to the surrounding world, which has most importantly meant access to markets both in terms of selling products and buying commodities. One of the main objectives of the project has thus been achieved. In addition, many more benefit from the road rehabilitation, including the inland communities along the roads, which are not fishermen's communities.

Empowerment of communities

The greatest socio-economic impact of the Project is probably its contribution to the empowerment of fisheries communities. The Project has been able to create conditions, which enable the fishing communities to be aware of development potentials, and to start converting latent labour and other resources into real productive resources. Empowering the communities by promoting the formation of groups and social organisations, building capacities and developing skills, the Project is bringing desirable changes especially improving participation in decision-making processes in policy planning and implementation.

Gender. An acute problem in the fishing area is the sexual division of labour. Virtually, women have no role in the fishery industry and their economic activities are almost exclusively restricted to agriculture and selling small surpluses at local markets. Very few women are engaged in informal sector commercial activities. Through women empowerment and gradual participation in committees and organisations, the marginalisation of females is being progressively reduced.

Sustainability

Marine resource

The maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for the Moma and Angoche marine ecosystem was estimated to be approximately 14 000 metric tonnes. Presently, the landings in the region already stand at about 15 000 mt, indicating a high pressure on fish resources in the region threatening long-term sustainability. The proper utilisation of the IIP fishery data and research results by the authorities in formulating appropriate fishery policies and strategies including management action and administrative measures, such as the legal dispensation of mosquito nets and extension of the trawler exclusion zone 3 nautical miles from the coast, provides hope that gradually there will put in place a comprehensive and dynamic regulatory frame that will safeguard long-term judicious use of marine resources and optimal sustainable benefits for the artisanal sub-sector. The resource management issue involves development of strategies for fisheries resources research, improvement of fisheries statistics, monitoring and surveillance activities and the development of institutional arrangements to translate the resource management information into operational management action.

Management of the fish resources will be one of the most important tasks of the new Ministry of Fisheries and would necessitate the development of a modest capability for surveillance and monitoring of the fishing effort, initially focussing on the stocks most acutely threatened. It is, furthermore, the responsibility of Administracao Marítima (ADMAR) to co-ordinate with and make good use of the co-management committees in order to create awareness of fisheries management issues and acceptance of the need for the imposition of discipline by and within the communities. Thus, the integration of community organisations into the embryonic co-management system, even though in a consultative capacity, positively contributes to fishery resource management.

Financial services

The rationale of success for the credit systems lies ultimately in ensuring that the financing lent to the borrower will in the long run contribute towards the borrower's activity being self-sustaining, while at the same time being a good business venture for both FFPI and CARE/CRER. Credit issued to proponents on the basis of growth of businesses based on the viability of the venture is also a desirable indicator of sustainability and economic growth among the communities. It is also an important intervention mechanism contributing to judicious management of marine natural resources. Given the poor economic conditions of Mozambique, the development of the micro-finance system would require time, at least ten years or more, to achieve satisfactory results. Availability of credit to fishermen and processors to, inter alia, purchase inputs and maintain/substitute fishing gear would have a positive effect on sustainability and employment prospects of crewmen, whose families rely on the income derived from fishing. Support for the strengthening and further expansion of the CARE/PCR savings groups could eventually lead to a sustainable source of credit for the poorer segments of the communities through the mobilisation of savings. The consequence of not meeting the credit needs of eligible applicants and the absence of an adequate financial delivery system to support technical diversification may, in the long term, place a principle source of livelihood for fishermen and their families at risk.

Community development fund and rural infrastructure development

Inability to maintain the network of tertiary roads, will cut off the inland urban market, which is the principal fish market and prejudice the realisation of increased income levels, employment generation and food security. Lack of road maintenance would also affect provision of health services linked to medical centres, inaccessibility to centres of education and an overall reduction of the exchange economy's performance due to reduced access of traded food commodities to fishing communities. The Project should open a dialogue with the Government to address the road maintenance issue. Although no health posts and schools micro-projects have yet been completed, the establishment of functioning commissions and the willingness to contribute 25% of the costs indicate that the concept of sharing and ownership of community development initiatives have been developed in the project area.

Project management and co-ordination

Over the years, the institutional capacity of the implementing agencies has been strengthened and project management has demonstrated improvement in performance typified by growing professionalism and strong strategic vision for future development.

In recent years, the IDPPE has made substantial contribution to the fishery legal and management reforms. Nevertheless, the institutional capacity of the Institute still requires further strengthening and consolidation at all levels of staff training, including institutional dialogue and communication. Likewise, the institutional capability of IIP requires upgrading and strengthening through training and provision of appropriate equipment. It also needs assistance to expand its work on monitoring and stock assessment for fisheries management in the project area as well as improved statistics to correlate fish stocks against effort and catch. In light of the Project's achievements, IFAD

Management and GOM are considering to implement a second intervention in the fisheries sector in Mozambique. Thus, the opportunities for longer term sustainability and development of activities and results promoted under the project are likely to be further strengthened.

Lessons learned

Input supplies

The Project has been successful in facilitating and influencing positively the availability of fishing gear in the project area not through its direct importation but through influencing the duties and tariff levels and through linking the private sector marketing networks with the fishing communities. The important lesson to be drawn is that the creation of a suitable economic framework and the encouragement of the private sector companies through effective linkages and dialogue are a more effective mechanism for socio-economic growth and poverty alleviation than any direct project or Government commercial intervention.

Adaptive research, extension and participatory client-driven technology development

The integration of local fishing communities into research and technology development has validated both the relevance of adaptive experimentation approach and the fast dissemination and adoption of generated technological innovation and research results. Participatory adaptive research benefits from fishermen's knowledge and creative diagnosis and provides vital feedback in technology design and stimulates further research in response to fishermen needs. Before the end of the participatory trial, participating fishermen know the results/benefits and spread the word amongst their community fellow men. Thus, participatory adaptive research, in addition to contributing to a more efficient and cost effective research, relieves strain from the extension workers and contributes to a more cost-effective extension system. However, the process of the dissemination of the research results in the project area and the strengthening of the extension service as a whole including the development of technical extension messages still requires further attention.

Fisheries technology and marketing

The use of trammel nets for shrimp harvesting in the experimentation exercises was successful and fishermen adopted the technology. The development of fisheries technologies and diversification of fishing practices are essential to secure a more sustainable use of the resource but their successful introduction has been found to be dependent on many factors beyond the technology itself, including access to inputs and financial services, the market opportunities for new products, processing and storage techniques. The NAFP has shown that such programmes can be used as effective fora for the exchange of technical experience between fishermen. The establishment and maintenance of a market information system to support associated project activities (especially fisheries technology and processing) has been proven to be relevant and useful. Sustainable methods for information collection have still to be perfected. In addition, diversification of fishing practices could be encouraged by policy related incentives and disincentives such as increasing levels of licence fees for beach seines (higher costs) versus lowering those of gill nets or purse seines, which would encourage fishermen to shift of fishing practices. It is, therefore, recommended that (i) future project designs incorporate more active policy and planning roles for articulation with the Government, and (ii) the Project provides support to market development initiatives including the establishment of shore infrastructure, landing facilities, auction halls, ice making, cold storage and market information.

Fish processing and income generating activities

The development and dissemination of improved processing methods has proven difficult, due in part to the dynamic and migratory nature of fishers and poor technical institutional capacity. In addition to fish processing, there is a large number of skilled labour in the project area with the capability of weaving nets and piecing inputs for fishing. It is recommended that Project explores the possibility of providing support, mainly through the supply of credit, for the development of income generating activities to utilise available skills, create local employment and improve household incomes. Extension techniques and messages in this field require further adaptation to suit both production and market access. The effective delivery of financial services is absolutely essential.

The NAFP (IDPPE) and IIP

Over time, the constructive collaboration between IDPPE and IIP has been strengthened and the research activities intensified with very beneficial results on the quality and quantity of the output of both institutions. The development and establishment of a fisheries data collection system was successful and the model is now being applied in other parts of the country though a programme supported by French Co-operation. Likewise, the successful dialogue and experience of the joint IDPPE/IIP Delegation in Angoche has had positive impact. Anchorage of the project in the IDPPE remains highly relevant and the PCU has achieved notable successes in management and co-ordination and in the improvement of the wider conditions for the artisanal fisheries. It is advisable that the two institutions resolve internally whatever problems and disagreements they may have and avoid changes to the overall administrative framework of the NAFP. For reasons of efficient use of limited 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 is sound and it is recommended that NAFP continues to act as catalyst in strengthening the capacity of co-operating institutions.

Financial services

The Project has made important advances in the delivery of financial services at community level. The 4-year micro-finance pilot scheme has tested the feasibility of the approach and has set up an operating delivery system. Notwithstanding weaknesses, an important lesson learnt is that the rural fishing communities were able to overcome the barriers of working jointly in-groups of trust for mutual financial benefit. In conjunction with this, a second lesson learnt is that, under the socio-economic conditions of the project area, where the culture of borrowing through rural credit was near absent among the population and no money-delivery system of this kind existed, the widespread acceptance of the savings and credit concepts by the fishing communities would require a longer time-frame than originally envisaged in the project design. Experience shows that each of the four methodologies tested has its strengths and weaknesses but savings were seen as the most valued and appreciated of the financial services offered. Further development and consolidation of the micro-finance network with project support, particularly the savings groups methodology, should include strengthening and extension to other areas, not only other fisher communities, and the creation of Credit Unions to service the financial inter-mediation needs of the poorer income groups.

Strengthening of these institutions should involve accompanying measures in the field of training, institution building and development of the appropriate legislative and regulatory framework. It is highly recommended that the project continues to work towards the development and consolidation of a long term sustainable micro-finance system, capable of extending financial services to the poorest target group including loan capital from the mobilisation of savings for non-fishing activities to the female-head and other members of fishing families. Emphasis should be given to savings in a broader perspective allowing for the methodology to move towards credit.

Concurrently, efforts should be made with FFPI to improve its lending programme to small fishermen, processing and marketing. In line with NAFP's achievements in the area of co-management of the marine natural resources in collaboration with the 14 resource co-management committees, the Project could explore the possibility of implementing in collaboration with the Fishermen's Associations a co-management credit delivery framework that promotes sustainable resource utilisation and conservation. Such a co-management credit delivery framework has been successfully implemented by IFAD in Palestine-Gaza Strip under the Relief and Development Programme in partnership with CARE, the Arab Bank and the artisanal fishermen co-operative, the Al-Tawfik Fishermen Co-operative. Selection of investments should include the potential to increase employment and generate income for poor households, either by directly increasing their assets and incomes or indirectly by improving marketing modalities for their output. The technologies on improved fishing and processing promoted by the Project for implementation link the extension directly to a credit package tailor-made to suit the needs and capacity of fishermen and processors in the area.

Another important lesson that may be drawn in relation to the implementation of the micro-credit scheme is that the coalition in project activities with suitable local and/or international NGO's such as CARE, with hands-on experience in mobilising and empowering rural communities and in particular women specifically, could generate added value in a cost-effective manner, for the benefit of rural poor. Experienced NGOs could provide a sustainable link between the private sector and the fishing communities in terms of inputs and marketing opportunities, facilitate the use of modern technologies and supply technical support and extension, with the view to optimising costs, promoting sustainability of such services and ultimately relieving the Government of the burden of a big and costly extension service.

Empowerment of communities

Although Mozambique had little experience with or no tradition in community participation and a political culture that originally discouraged it, the NAFD has demonstrated that it is possible to successfully promote empowerment of the local communities to enable them to identify, plan and manage their resources, interact with members and influence policy and take over the management of their affairs. The Project has been instrumental for the formation of 142 community committees and organisations that have been actively participating in implementing project activities corresponding to the needs of the communities. The established institutional dialogue and linkages between committees and fishermen associations and formal management bodies, including the Fisheries Administration has been an important part of the empowerment of stakeholders. The successful experience of NAFP in empowering the stakeholders provides a model to be replicated in other communities and geographical areas of the country.

However, the practical experience and lesson learnt from some community development projects such as the M'puitine primary school is that community development is a slow and complex process and emphasis need to be given to understanding the complex socio-political fabric of the communities in the project area. In other instances, such as the Quinga road and invariably FFPI credit, the NAFP failed to instigate effective communication with communities that hindered implementation and at times raised false expectations that undermined project credibility. New associations and organisation require a significant amount of assistance with the bureaucratic process of formalisation and registration. Institutional support and training to such bodies is perceived important to not only the development of capacity but also the establishment of realistic aims and objectives.

A serious attempt has been made by the Project to empower women by integration into community committees and other project activities. Women were able to join credit and savings associations but have been active particularly in savings and in water supply committees. However, their integration into the development process proceeds at a very slow pace.

The empowerment process still requires formalisation, legal status and recognition by the authorities. There is need to improve the institutional and legal framework for the establishment of community committees and co-management organisations, including definition of competence and authority and establishment of the institutional structure for dialogue and decision making with the Fisheries Administration.

Rural infrastructure

The rehabilitation of tertiary roads has been shown to be as valid aspect of both commercial and community development. However, insufficient attention has been paid to the issue of longer term road maintenance and that this deficiency will make the realisation of the project objectives (i.e. increasing income levels, employment generation and food security) difficult. A lack of maintenance of the project roads would also 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 reduced access of fishing communities to traded commodities. The beneficiary communities feel that the feeder roads are public goods and their maintenance should be the responsibility of the government, and there is clearly further work to be done to secure any long term benefit from these investments should the State be unable to fulfil this expectation.

Artisanal fisheries from project to sub-sector investment programme

The NAFP has validated the effectiveness of the integrated cross sectoral methodology by targeting concurrently technical, commercial, social and institutional components. The institutional targeting was directed towards strengthening the capacity and promotion of the formation of community-based organisations as a medium for self-mobilisation for development purposes. The functional targeting was directed towards removing single or multiple critical constraints to artisanal fisheries development namely the supply of inputs, provision of credit and the development of infrastructure. The third ingredient is the primacy of market linkages between the fishermen and the private sector in input distribution and marketing fish and fish products. The lesson to be drawn is that development investments would have a far more reaching effect and impact, if the strategies shift from a narrow project area focus to a wider sectoral integrated programme approach. Such a shift of the artisanal sub-sector investment programme would be consistent with current concerns in IFAD with a shift in development planning towards a wider programme approach. Individual projects would address specific objectives within the larger programme.

Linking agricultural and fishing sectors

In addition to fishing, coastal communities in Nampula are engaged in agricultural production and other non-fishing activities such as itinerant trade. While men undertake fishing activities, women are responsible for food production. Notwithstanding difficulties, as development interventions should lead to an overall improvement of household incomes and livelihoods, future IFAD interventions msy explore the possibility of linking fishery development with agricultural production in an integrated rural development fashion. Such a linkage of the fishery and agricultural sectors has many benefits. The linking of the agricultural and fishery sectors would, also, contribute to the empowerment of women by improving their entrepreneurial capacity and integrate them in the process of development.

LANGUAGES: English

Tamil Nadu Women's Development Project - Completion Evaluation (2000)

April 2000

Completion Evaluation

Introduction

The Executive Board approved the IFAD-initiated Tamil Nadu Women's Development Project (TNWDP) in April 1989. The project became effective in January 1990 and closed on 31 December 1998, following a one-year extension. The total cost of the project amounted to USD 30.6 million, of which IFAD provided USD 17.0 million on highly concessional terms and the Borrower contributed the balance of USD 13.6 million. The cooperating institution was the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the executing agency was the Tamil Nadu Corporation for Women's Development (DEW).

Project design and objectives

Target group

The target group consisted of the poorest rural women, with special emphasis on women-headed households. While the project was initially to be carried out in three contiguous districts (Dharmapuri, Salem and South Arcot), during implementation its coverage was extended to two additional districts (Madurai and Ramanathapuram).

Objectives and components

The main objective of the project was to bring about the economic and social betterment of women to improve the welfare of their families and their status both within the family and in the community The project was designed to achieve its objectives through the following components: (a) income-generation activities: farm and crop development, animal husbandry and cottage and village industries; (b) institutional credit: the Indian Bank was responsible for providing credit to village women; (c) informal credit and savings mobilization: the project encouraged group-based savings to meet the financial requirements of group members, particularly small loans, in order to create an alternative credit system to replace the traditional moneylenders; (d) group development: promotion of strong, cohesive groups of women as the organizational catalyst for the economic and social betterment of the target group; (e) institutional support: establishment of a network of social extension workers to provide the necessary social development thrust and support to women. Animators were appointed in each village and one supervisor for every 12 villages; (f) training was provided to women on a variety of subjects, including group organization and management, bookkeeping, entrepreneurial development programmes and legal and social issues. Training was also provided to improve the capacity of project staff, bank officers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social extension workers; and (g) NGO involvement: selected NGOs were contracted to assist in beneficiary identification; group formation; training of animators, supervisors and project field staff; selection of activities; and provision of bank loans and the recovery thereof.

Evaluation

Project implementation arrangements

Project implementation was entrusted to DEW, a Government of Tamil Nadu (GOTN) undertaking. A project management unit (PMU) was established within DEW, the chairperson/managing director of which served as project manager. The executive director of DEW acted as project coordinator, supported by several officers, including a training officer and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) officer. Project implementation units (PIUs) were created in the five project districts, each headed by a project officer with specific areas of responsibility (credit, livestock, sericulture, rural industries and banking). These officers were seconded to the PIUs from various GOTN line departments and the Indian Bank, which, through its numerous branch offices in the project area, was the main vehicle for providing institutional credit delivery. The project relied on NGO involvement in all five districts to support the project's overall activities. A network of social extension workers (village animators and supervisors) supported the project.

Evaluation mission

The responsible IFAD Evaluation Officer visited the project in September 1999 for the purpose of initiating the completion evaluation (CE) process. A brainstorming workshop held during the visit brought together the project's core partners, including approximately 20 women beneficiaries whose engagement and participation was laudable and enriched the discussions. Other participants included project implementation personnel, field staff of several collaborating NGOs, representatives of the Indian Bank and the state government. The brainstorming session provided a unique opportunity for the Evaluation Officer to learn the opinion of several stakeholders first-hand and to hold discussions about the project, thus making it possible to draft the CE mission's terms of reference in an issues-oriented manner. The workshop not only made it possible to develop the CE mission's programme in a participatory fashion but it enabled the partners to comment on the proposed approach and focus of a rapid rural appraisal (RRA) to be undertaken prior to the CE mission.

The RRA was undertaken by local experts between 20 September and 7 October 1999 and a draft of the report was ready for the CE mission upon its arrival in Chennai. The methodology followed included social mapping; seasonality mapping and economic status ranking; participatory gender analyses of access to, and control over, income and benefits; focus group discussions; and other informal interviews. Eight representative target groups were selected for in-depth study.

The CE mission's fieldwork was undertaken between 10 and 28 October 1999. Before proceeding to the project area, however, mission members held discussions with representatives of the Government of India and of various international donors. The mission subsequently visited the project districts where in-depth discussions were held with all project stakeholders, including, among others, representatives of the beneficiaries, NGOs, GOTN, the Indian Bank and project management and implementation staff. The preliminary results of the RRA and the CE were discussed with a wide range of stakeholders in a one-day workshop held on 22 October 1999 and during two wrap-up meetings held in Chennai and New Delhi, respectively.

Savings and loans

The formation of dynamic and cohesive self-help groups (SHGs) contributed to the project's very positive performance in terms of thrift and self-help. Moreover, the role of moneylenders was substantially replaced by sangha (group) loans to meet members' emergency/consumption loan requirements. The savings mobilized within groups (which were then deposited in a bank account in the name of the SHG) were rotated as loans among members and, on average, each member benefited from three-to-four such loans. Subsequently, thanks to the members' good repayment performance, individual women were able to obtain credit from formal sources. Indeed, compared with the target of 40 320, some 87 539 beneficiaries received institutional credit during the life of the project for an aggregate total of Rs. 753.74 million. Loan recovery rates consistently exceeded 80%. Credit for income-generating activities mainly involved animal husbandry and cottage industries, which together accounted for nearly 75% of all loans.

Targeting

The project focused on districts that were backward in terms of human development, such as Dharmapuri and Ramanathapuram, and other areas with high levels of female infanticide such as Madurai and Salem. The representation of women living below the poverty line, women-headed households and landless households was significantly higher than in government programmes such as the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP). However, the involvement of women from the scheduled caste (SC) and scheduled tribe (ST) groups — who are usually the poorest and most marginalized within the villages — and of widows and disabled, deserted and settled single women was less satisfactory than in the IRDP.

Group formation and dynamics

By March 1998, a total of 5 207 SHGs had been formed compared with the target of 2 688, and 120 960 women had enrolled as members. Individual groups, of approximately 20 members, usually comprised a mixture of castes. The groups were autonomous, democratically-managed bodies with their own procedures governing the operations of savings and loan funds, and decisions were taken collectively. Each group had an animator from the same village who provided assistance to group members on a variety of issues. The majority of groups were cohesive and well regulated and the survival rate stands at about 88%. More than 80% of the groups met at least twice a month, with attendance averaging 80-518. Approximately 65% were graded as ‘A' or ‘B' according to the grading system evolved by the project. Seventy-five per cent belonged to cluster-level federations and, independently or through the federations, took on a variety of welfare and infrastructure activities. Apart from giving a sense of belonging, membership in federations played a useful role in strengthening the groups' accounts and recovery performance. A high rate of replication was visible in terms of group formation and, in 239 sample villages where groups had been operating under the project, some 184 new groups were formed. However, in some of the groups, it was found that the guidance provided by NGOs had been too influential.

Training and capacity building

While the process of establishing an appropriate training programme took some time, it is clear that, during the last two or three years of the project, training became a key factor in ensuring sustainability. That is, intensively trained group members became more aware of their capabilities and of the benefits they might derive through participating in the project; whereas the animators and staff of the project, the Indian Bank and NGOs were better equipped to serve the best interests of the target group. Participation by the stakeholders in training design was actively encouraged, and multifunctional programmes (perspective building, technical and managerial aspects) were developed to suit the needs of individual stakeholders. However, more emphasis on the training of trainers (NGO staff, new animators and representatives) would have been beneficial, as well as training of male relatives of SHG members, government workers in the villages and members of village institutions. Classroom training was the main strategy for implementing this module. It would be worthwhile for the project to broaden its range of training approaches by including visits to well-functioning groups and federations, and through income-generation activities, information/marketing fairs, adopting mentoring/apprenticeship models, etc.

Project management and coordination

Overall responsibility for project implementation was entrusted to DEW. Problems were encountered at the outset due to the time needed to convince all partners of the proposed project approach and delays in recruiting a training coordinator. The calibre of the PIU and PMU staff improved once stricter procedures were established for selecting the project assistants. Despite frequent changes in senior DEW staff, the project was generally managed competently and in an exemplary manner towards the end of its life. One of the most encouraging features of the project was the successful collaboration and coordination among DEW, NGOs, Indian Bank and line departments. However, at the district level, the frequent turnover of key staff somewhat hampered efficient communications.

Transaction and delivery costs

The terminal evaluation report compiled by the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) estimated the average lender transaction cost per Rs. 100 loan at Rs. 2.24 compared with Rs. 3.33 for IRDP. The average borrower transaction cost was Rs. 182 per loan account compared with Rs. 332 under IRDP. The administrative expenditure and overheads incurred in delivering a loan of Rs. 100 under the project were estimated at Rs. 26 compared with Rs. 48-51 for IRDP.

Non-governmental organizations

Non-governmental organizations played a central role in project implementation, particularly in the identification of beneficiaries, formation and supervision of groups, establishment of credit linkages and training of animators. Indeed, the initial selection of blocks and villages appears to have been contingent upon the presence of reputed NGOs. With more than 30 different NGOs involved there were inevitable variations in levels of performance, but stricter screening processes were established progressively. The contribution of the more efficient NGOs was exemplary and their experience proved invaluable, but the weak performance of certain groups was largely due to inadequate NGO supervision and support. Project design provided for a supervisory structure over the groups and animators. While that proved useful during the early years before the efficacy of the NGOs was known, it was allowed to lapse and project supervision was successfully taken over by NGOs.

Monitoring and evaluation

As in the case of a number of other IFAD projects, TNWDP encountered difficulties in the area of M&E. UNOPS supervision missions repeatedly stressed the need to install an integrated management information system, but this was done only towards the end of implementation. Until that time, monitoring relied on feedback from a wide variety of sources, including frequent visits by PMU members to the districts and regular stakeholder meetings at the block and cluster levels. Fortunately, despite the lack of an effective M&E system throughout the project's life, project management does not appear to have been out of touch with realities in the field. This may be partly due to DEW's strong field presence. Evaluation reports were commissioned from independent organizations, and SHGs developed a mechanism for group grading with the support of DEW. Groups used the grading mechanism as a self-assessment exercise, and the desire to be upgraded acted as a powerful incentive for improved group performance. After a lengthy participatory process, a grading system was also developed for NGOs as a means of providing them with incentives to improve their performance.

Project impact

In determining the impact achieved, it is worth noting that during implementation the primary focus of project activities shifted from providing credit for income-generation to the broader aim of empowerment and social improvement through the solidarity of economically disadvantaged rural women.

Poverty impact

According to AFC estimates, 64% of all project beneficiaries crossed the poverty line during implementation, which compares well with government-run schemes. In addition, and perhaps more importantly from the point of view of sustainability, the self-perception of economic improvement is very marked. The AFC terminal evaluation report indicated that, thanks to the project, beneficiary families had seen a 70% rise in their incomes during implementation. The thrift and savings group approach reduced the vulnerability of member households to social and environmental calamities and to seasonal fluctuations in income and expenditure, and dependence on moneylenders was considerably reduced in most project areas. Higher incomes led to improved food and nutrition, health care and education of household members, although gender differences need further improvement.

The RRA findings indicate that, as a result of bank loans, 69% of the women beneficiaries who were previously unskilled labourers have either become fully self-employed or are less dependent on wage labour. Moreover, 65% of all bank loan beneficiaries claimed they had acquired new technical skills and another 20% had strengthened their existing skills with training received under the project. Almost all the groups covered by the RRA exercise reported some degree of collective action to increase access to drinking water, electricity, health care or education facilities.

Contrary to expectations that most of the loans would be used for crop improvement purposes, more than half went towards livestock activities (purchase of dairy cows, nanny goats and ewes) that provided landless and smallholder women a daily income. Apart from animal husbandry, other income-generating activities included such diverse activities as bee-keeping; cultivation of jasmine, mangoes, betel, grapes and coconut seedlings; rope making; fishnet production and repair; mat weaving; tailoring; and pottery. Loans enabled women to manage their activities independently and to have more control over their assets and income. The assumption that women would generally make wise choices because their expertise and knowledge of local market conditions was sound, and the good repayment rates are proof that their choices were generally sensible.

Social impact

Perhaps the single most striking result of the project can be seen in the remarkable increase in opportunities for disadvantaged women to come out of their homes and enter the public domain. Women have also acquired a new physical mobility and have been able to expand their contacts with banks, NGOs and district authorities. According to the AFC and the RRA findings, over 80% of group members became more aware of their political and property rights. By attending group meetings, poor women gained more confidence. The project introduced a new mind-set, which led many groups to broaden their field activities. By branching out beyond savings and credit, the groups initiated community-oriented projects and negotiated with obtained the approval of the authorities for new milk-collection routes, street lightning, bus routes, better well maintenance, etc.

Important social changes have been engendered by the project. For instance, any opposition and interference by men in the initial stages of the project was generally transformed into positive support within three years of the groups being formed, and economic benefits accruing to households through the project made the approach to women's empowerment acceptable to men. In most cases, men were more willing to take on simple household tasks while their wives were attending meetings or training sessions. Gender disparities remain as far as decision-making within the household is concerned, although the RRA revealed a discernible increase in women's decision-making powers on matters relating to children's education, health care and the disposal of household assets. However, only 30% of women in the male-headed households covered by the RRA were involved in the purchase of raw material and in sales of produce. This traditional division of labour is only broken down in the event women obtain full control over the assets and income of their enterprises.

Seventy per cent or more of women interviewed during the RRA stated that they had greater self-confidence; 70% no longer felt any anxiety about dealing with government officials; 70% felt motivated to protest against abuse and exploitation; 80% had attended health and nutrition programmes; 80% were opposed to dowry payments; and 80% were aware of statutory provisions regarding women's representation on the panchayats (village committees). More than 90% had had their children vaccinated and 94% were opposed to female infanticide and female foeticide. With regard to these aspects, although the number of such cases had fallen from 112 to four over a three-year period in one block of Madurai District, female infanticide and foeticide need to be reduced further.

What might require further attention is that a significant proportion of the women interviewed stated that bankers' attitudes had not changed towards poor women. Bringing about a change in attitude will take time and further training and sensitization of bank officials may be required to redress the situation.

It is impossible to quantify evidence in the 'intangible' areas, but what is beyond doubt is that there is a new air of confidence and optimism among the groups. Readiness to come forward with opinions and suggestions is not restricted to the animators or to a few leading members of the groups, but it is clearly something that, in mature groups, has infected even naturally timid members. Significantly, there is a growing willingness among group members to approach the panchayats and district administrators with petitions or grievances; in several cases, members have stood for and won election to both gram panchayats (village assemblies) and block panchayats.

Institutional impact

The effect that the project has had on DEW is unmistakable: major increases in funds and influence have resulted from project activities and new, purpose-built premises have been built. This effect can be observed in various aspects of DEW's activities, with better-trained and more motivated staff, more confident management and greater bargaining power vis-à-vis the state authorities. DEW has matured into a solid institution, capable of implementing poverty eradication programmes efficiently and of providing invaluable advice to GOTN and others on policy and related issues. The main effect that the project has had on the Indian Bank is its ability to persuade bank officials that group collateral-based microfinance can be commercially viable. The future of microcredit schemes in Tamil Nadu will certainly benefit from the generally good repayment record and successful collaboration under the project. The Indian Bank took a cooperative attitude and brought together a team of dedicated officers to manage project lending, but its capacity was over-stretched in remote areas where it has few branches. The bank did not gain financially from its involvement in the project as it agreed to involve itself in the pioneering approach to rural finance introduced by TNWDP without reaping any profits. Project activities also encouraged NGOs to extend and intensify their operations, and the selection and remuneration procedures devised under the project have served to improve or maintain the standards of NGO activity.

Sustainability

According to DEW, about 70% of existing groups possess the characteristics required for sustainability. A special training module, known as the sustainability module, was included in the SHG training programmes to make groups aware of factors affecting sustainability. The survival rate of TNWDP groups (88%) is substantially higher than that achieved in similar projects elsewhere. Half of all groups are already paying their animators' salary and, according to AFC, more than 60% are in a position to maintain their own records and accounts. The majority of groups are capable of building up enough capital to meet the routine consumption needs of their members within three years of formation. However, the TNWDP experience also indicates that the younger groups and those graded ‘B' or ‘C' require more support from NGOs and PIU staff to ensure their sustainability, especially in the areas of management and finance.

The aim is to build up capacity in order that underprivileged members of the community will have both the means and the confidence to gain access to established services and opportunities. Thus, the role of NGOs as initiators and facilitators is expected to dwindle and ultimately disappear; and there is considerable evidence that mature groups guided by intelligent NGOs require their services less and less. The new system of NGO remuneration is designed to encourage this development inasmuch as NGOs payments are not pegged to the number of women accessing bank loans but to group formation, dynamics and sensitization. It also takes account of the progress of groups towards reaching sustainability, including the diffusion of technical skills among its members.

The sustainability of the social impact is to a large extent contingent on the presence of NGOs. It is suggested that, during the coming phase, the capacities of cluster-level federations be strengthened in order that they can take over the motivating role played by NGOs. Federations may be gradually formed into block, district or even state-level federations. So far, about 75% of groups have been formed into cluster-level federations, which are slowly taking over some of the supervisory functions of NGOs and tackling wider social and regional issues beyond the capacity of individual groups. The existence of effective federations may serve as an important aid to sustainability, as that would lessen the need for NGO involvement, provide a higher authority to take on issues that can not be resolved at the group level and involve women in projects relating to longer-term issues of broader significance. Cluster-level federations can contribute to improving savings and loan recoveries, resolving conflicts and cases of financial mismanagement in the SHGs, mobilizing government programmes, and addressing common social and economic needs of villages in the cluster. In some cases, they could even act as financial intermediaries for mobilizing capital from some groups and channelling it to others. Federation membership also gives SHGs a sense of belonging to a larger group. In short, federations can contribute not only to the sustainability of SHGs but also assist in reducing overall transaction costs.

An important factor expected to contribute to project sustainability is that the institutional structure of the project continues to be in place beyond project closure. DEW, which is involved in supporting post-project operations, benefits from the backing and commitment of the State Government and other project partners.

In light of the project's achievements, GOTN decided in 1996 to scale up operations with its own funds. It also announced a project of its own — the Mahalir Thittam — which foresaw a phased extension of project activities to cover Tamil Nadu's 28 rural districts by the year 2000 together with continued maintenance of existing TNDWP groups. The number of TNDWP groups has now reached over 13 500 and approximately 60 000 women's groups are expected to be formed under the Mahalir Thittam project. The positive loan repayment performance demonstrated under TNWDP convinced the management of Indian Bank to continue providing rural microcredit to SHGs under the Mahalir Thittam project. Other commercial banks have also joined in this project.

Lessons learned

General

The project's unique contribution has been to facilitate the realisation of a very significant potential among women in the rural areas it covered. Although there is evidence of all three, neither good design nor effective management nor bank/project cooperation can entirely explain the dynamism and optimism that observers noted at group and federation meetings. In the latter phases at least, the project did not operate primarily as a credit-cum-subsidy project but as a genuine process of empowerment, and therefore the crucial interaction between the social and economic aspects of the project must not be allowed to disappear. The project has demonstrated that the provision of microcredit can not by itself create the necessary conditions for economic and social change. Therefore, care should be taken in future projects to tie credit provision to group cohesiveness and community sensitization, including training and awareness building of local institutions and individuals involved in the project. Wherever possible, group members should be actively involved in all stages of the planning, implementing and monitoring of activities.

Enabling environment

A key factor in the success of the project was the environment under which it operated. Despite the higher turnover of project management staff, implementation remained on track thanks both to the conducive institutional set-up and the strategic alliance between core project partners (NGOs, GOTN officials, beneficiaries, Indian Bank and DEW) that built on the comparative advantage of different actors. The DEW brought legitimacy, resources and overall vision into the project; the banking institutions brought in resources and helped institutionalize efficiency into the system; and the NGOs contributed by helping to reach the poor and mobilize them into groups. The constructive attitude of all individuals involved was also instrumental and should not be underestimated in gauging the project success as it created an environment that allowed for the efficient coordination and follow-up of activities. The project therefore illustrates the crucial and far-reaching effect that the operating environment can have on results and outcome, and the importance of building trust and respect among the individuals most closely involved in the project from inception.

Group formation and cohesion

A slow but steady pace of formation seems important for effective group functioning. In the initial years of group formation, especially in the new areas, there is always a necessary stage of learning and adaptation which may be inhibited or even derailed by over-ambitious or strictly applied physical and financial targets that may not support the ultimate development objectives of the intervention. Therefore, the evaluation analysis concluded that a flexible and gradualist approach is required, with both targets and regulations kept to a workable minimum. The crucial factor for group cohesion is that, before receiving institutional loans, there should be a period of one-to-two years during which the groups systematically save money and rotate their funds in the form of petty loans for productive, consumption and social purposes. This process demonstrates the potential of solidarity and of self-reliance. It may also play a very important role in group sustainability by showing women that they can accomplish a lot by themselves through group discipline. Other dimensions for effective group operations include, optimal group size, rotation of leadership responsibilities, economic and social homogeneity of group members, continuity of members in groups, and rules governing group operations. The project also illustrates that pro-poor, equitable and transparent savings and lending practices contribute to group functioning and cohesion, as well as group engagement in collective action such as welfare activities, building of community infrastructure and lobbying with government for electricity and other facilities.

Non-governmental organizations

The capacity and performance of NGOs is critical to the continuing success of SHGs, especially in the early stages of group formation. The need for NGO support is expected to diminish over time, as illustrated by the TNWDP experience. Nevertheless, the presence of suitably motivated and skilled NGOs in a given area is of crucial importance in programmes where the initial emphasis is on the training and sensitization of beneficiaries. The project highlights the importance of rigorous screening procedures to select committed and capable NGOs that are driven primarily by the desire to improve the well being of people at the grass-roots level. An NGO grading system and appropriate remuneration modalities, as introduced by the project, should go a long way towards remedying a discernible over-anxiety on the part of some NGOs to form new groups to access institutional credit. Furthermore, the role of NGOs must be clearly defined so that they act as catalysts and advisers rather than as decision-makers.

Targeting

Performance with respect to targeting the poor is better in bottom-up group-based credit and savings programmes than in credit programmes for individuals. However, attention should be paid to the targeting of subregions, states, districts, blocks and villages, and poverty groups within villages. Microlevel wealth ranking (based on criteria developed by the beneficiaries themselves) and social mapping methods may be used for identifying the poorest. Along with targeting, a ‘saturation' policy and pro-poor approach to group formation and savings and lending may also help in reaching out to the poorest amongst women as they tend to be risk-averse and join groups once they see others working effectively. These aspects may need greater attention in the less poverty-stricken districts. Another issue is the proportion of SCs and STs within each group. No problems are encountered when the community is predominantly ST or SC, but when the proportion of STs and SCs is smaller there is an obligation to engineer the composition of the group accordingly. Although this has worked quite satisfactorily in many cases, there is a strong feeling among project staff and NGOs that it is better not to enquire about caste initially so that it is simply not an issue from the start. Normally, and ideally, the creation of one group within a community will lead to others so that ‘saturation' is finally achieved, including the SC/ST population. This may be preferable to attempts artificially to influence the composition of the groups.

Training

The importance of training cannot be overstressed and, in projects of this kind, the reach of training should be very broadly based. If budgetary provision for training is inadequate, a project's chances of success will be curtailed. In addition to existing training modules, strategies to encourage cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques between groups and concerted action at the cluster, block and district levels should be considered to address the deep-rooted gender-specific causes of poverty. It is also necessary to invest in strengthening the capacity of different implementing agencies (bankers, PMU and PIU staff, animators, supervisors and NGOs) on a series of project-related issues, including poverty and poverty reduction, gender concerns, the SHG concept, savings and credit, and microenterprise development. Stakeholder participation in the design of training modules is particularly essential. The capacity of state and national training institutions to cater to the requirements of such grass-roots development projects also need to be strengthened.

Income-generating activities

It was foreseen at appraisal that the income-generating activities promoted by the project would be primarily land-based and that increased agricultural and horticultural productivity in the project areas would be a central aim. Integrated packages of soil and water conservation measures were also envisaged. In the event, the great majority of income-generating activities focused on animal husbandry and village industries. One lesson here is that land-based activities are unsuitable when the majority of the target population have neither title nor access to land, as was the case with the project. Another is that the principle increasingly adopted by DEW management, that women be allowed to choose the object of their investment, is sound and successful. This also illustrates the importance of flexibility in project design and the need to build on the preferences, priorities and vast knowledge of local people and their communities.

Marketing

Non-local expertise is of prime importance in this area of activity. The post-production linkage of marketing was not built into the project profiles and led to a lack of assured marketing opportunities, non-remunerative prices or exploitation by merchants and middlemen. Therefore, particularly in projects promoting income-generating and other productive activities, the need to define a priori marketing and processing channels and opportunities is of utmost importance, as their absence may result in disincentives for related programme activities.

Credit

The project proved to be highly cost-effective, although the lender transaction cost could have been further reduced had the loans been delivered to groups rather than individuals within the groups. This is clearly an attractive option for the banks but in such an eventuality care should be taken with regard to group dynamics, particularly with regard to loan distribution within groups to ensure that poorer women are not marginalized.

Indian Bank, which was chosen as lead bank in all five districts, struggled with the pressures of financing in areas such as Ramnathapuram and Madurai where it has a limited branch network. A larger number of participating banks would have been desirable, as recognized under the Mahalir Thittam project. The provision of vehicles to bank field staff would have allowed bank staff to carry out fieldwork more effectively.

The SHGs' linkages with commercial banks should be institutionalized, following a period of sound credit operations during which they illustrate proper management and discipline, to enable group members to make a quantum leap in their incomes and well being. This would establish a direct relationship between women and the banks, and ensure continuity of credit flows to SHG members based on their financial record rather than on the recommendations of NGOs or PIU staff.

With regard to group savings, the challenge is to allow for flexible savings by SHG members while at the same time ensuring that internal lending is not linked to the amount saved. Linking internal lending to the amount of money saved may reduce credit flows to the poorest members of the group. A minimum amount saved may be required, but it may be set at a low level that all members can afford. This would also ensure that none of the members adopt negative strategies (such as borrowing from moneylenders or cutting down on their own consumption) to meet the rule governing savings.

Interest on savings should be regularly paid to SHG members, as it would encourage them to save with the group and reduce savings outside the group. It would also encourage poor women who feel they can not risk taking a loan to join the group and slowly increase their risk-taking capacity. SHGs should promote policies that allow members to withdraw their savings after they have reached a certain amount, as this would encourage more women to participate in group activities.

An appropriate interest rate policy should be established for internal SHG lending. In setting their interest rates, groups should be aware of moneylenders' and commercial banks' charges. It may be worthwhile for groups to charge different rates according to type of economic activity for which the loan is taken, thus reducing the burden on very poor women in the groups. Implementing agencies should monitor the SHG interest rates on a regular basis. While it is also worthwhile to monitor repayment rates, the source of repayment should be reviewed to ensure that group members are not resorting to repayment strategies that may not be in their overall interest. In such cases, groups should be encouraged to revise the repayment schedules.

Executing agency

Although DEW is a GOTN undertaking, it enjoys semi-autonomous status and decisions are taken by the its chairperson/managing director. The positioning of the DEW in the Government structure contributed to the success of project implementation in that it was able to benefit from the support of government authorities and line departments while minimizing undue political or bureaucratic interference due to its close association with IFAD and knowledge of the latter's implementing procedures and loan agreement clauses.

Recommendations

The key element in the project's success - the energy of the women themselves – should be preserved and nourished. This can be best achieved by a flexible approach that focuses on the needs, priorities and capacities of the groups rather than on predetermined economic and financial targets.

The project is deserving of further involvement on the part of IFAD to help maintain the independence of groups and of DEW and to continue to learn from the projects' successes. IFAD may consider providing an NGO/Extended Cooperation Programme grant to DEW for the purpose of strengthening NGO capacity in key areas and supporting a post-project monitoring system.

The inclusion of more banks under the extended programme would be useful for the purpose of rectifying problems of access and over-stretched facilities. Consideration should be given also to establishing mobile banking in the more remote areas.

Greater efforts may be required to involve women from the SC and ST groups and other under-represented women. The rule that only married women of 18-55 years of age can join the SHGs should be changed. Poor single women settled in the villages and elderly women able to engage in productive work should be allowed to join the groups and, since they are in a vulnerable position, adolescent girls and young women should also be encouraged to become members.

 

 

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