External coherence of agriculture interventions

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©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

External coherence of agriculture interventions

Dear members,

I would like to share with you one of the themes I am working on at the moment.

In Burkina Faso, the agricultural sector is the field of intervention of a multitude of actors (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Research (INERA), NGOs, TFPs, associations and farmers' organisations). Under the Priority Investment Programme (PIP), there are more than 80 development projects and programmes implemented by the public administration in the agricultural sector. In addition to these projects, there is a myriad of interventions carried out by other categories of actors other than the public administration. These are interventions implemented directly by technical and financial partners, non-governmental organisations, associations, etc.

A priori, the interest and actions of all these actors constitute an excellent asset for the development of the agricultural sector and to reach one of the "Hight five" of the African Union namely "Feed Africa".

However, it is clear from the field that interventions or implementation strategies are sometimes antagonistic and annihilate the results and progress achieved. Indeed, in the context of some evaluations of agricultural projects, there are many findings on the lack of coherence of interventions. The most recent example encountered in the framework of an evaluation concerns the setting up by an NGO of endogenous trainers (paid by the beneficiaries) for the benefit of producers in a locality of the country and the organisation of training sessions (free of charge and with payment of perdiems for catering) for producers on the same themes developed by the endogenous trainers.

Moreover, this lack of external coherence in intervention strategies often leads to strategic behaviour (bias) on the part of beneficiaries. Thus, the intervention is perceived as a source of income in the short term instead of being a means of sustainable change. Indeed, during surveys of producers, it is clear that they are familiar with good farming practices and are aware of the benefits they could bring them. However, the level of adoption of these good farming practices remains low and a significant number of producers are still in a state of permanent assistance.

Isn't the proliferation of agricultural projects and often micro-projects a negative factor for the achievement of development results in the agricultural sector?

What are the good practices in terms of setting up a unifying framework for interventions in the agricultural sector?

Have countries or international organisations such as FAO already carried out evaluations on the coherence of interventions in the agricultural sector? If so, what are the main findings and what are the possible solutions?

 

Nabyouré Jean Stanislas OUEDRAOGO
Economiste/Spécialiste en Suivi-Evaluation
Programme d'Amélioration de la Productivité Agricole des Petits Exploitants en Afrique Subsaharienne (SAPEP-Burkina)
Secrétaire Général du RéBuSE
 

This discussion is now closed. Please contact info@evalforward.org for any further information.

 

Thank you all for your very interesting contributions.

I note several very interesting solutions proposal. Indeed, a global framework of intervention and a real leadership of the beneficiary countries could be a possible way. In certain fields such as education, the "common basket" is being tested in order to ensure greater coherence and efficiency of interventions. I

n addition, as highlighted in yesterday's webinar on 'Agricultural Policy Monitoring and Evaluation Systems' organized by EvalForward and RFE, capacity building of monitoring and evaluation systems could be a solution. In fact, we can only "cure" what we have diagnosed. "If in our agricultural policies and interventions, we are content to follow the deliverables, without evaluating the achievement of results in depth, we always risk waste our meager resources on very low and sometimes negative impacts.

I would like to end by winking at Tim Njagi's post. You tackle a very interesting problem which will be the subject of a future post. This is the low adoption of popularized technologies in the agricultural sector in many African countries. Indeed, after years of popularization of certain very essential technologies to improve the productivity of farms, we sometimes have the impression that we are stagnating. I will share with you a post very soon so that we can discuss the issue in order to unravel together what can be the determinants of the non-adoption of technologies and what are the new avenues that we can explore.

I apologize for the English because translated so ……

Best regards

Thank you, Jean, for initiating a very insightful discussion.

 

In my view, the effectiveness of agriculture programs and projects is heavily influenced by their design, lessons from what has gone on and ability to adjust to suit local situations. Because data and M&E are low, and the appreciation has been low in the past, many of the changes that could be made in real-time have not happened. At the policy level, it is important to evaluate why we have a relatively low impact on overall is attained in the sector. for instance, why is adoption low despite promotion and campaign for good agricultural practices? In our experience, policy incoherence explains this. Our experience was that although the promotion of technologies was well done, most of these technologies required inputs which were imported. a counter policy on taxation ensure input costs remained high and thus farmers, who are very rational opted to use local technologies because it makes economic sense.

in setting up unifying frameworks for intervention, it is important to expand the reach beyond traditional agricultural stakeholders. bring on board people in the trade, finance, and so on to ensure that the policy support and levers required are in place, or at least there is not counteracting policy that negates the gains that can be attained in agricultural policy. this also calls for understanding the broader policy environment that we operate in.

I have attached a link on some of the examples of policy incoherence for further contextualization. please see https://theconversation.com/how-incoherent-farm-policies-undermine-keny… 

Greetings!

Rather than answering the set of questions posed here, one would think that it might be useful to offer a possible way forward an approach that may help one to overcome the difficulties previously discussed. 

Naturally, it will require a great deal of work as the number of people one will have to influence is very large. 

Best wishes!

Lal Manavado

(see attachment) 

Dear OUEDRAOGO and colleagues,

I like so much the topic under discussion. Let's consider a scenario. Imagine the left hand is conflicting with the right hand. Or, one hand is duplicating what the other hand is doing. Outcome: the whole body would suffer. If this were to happen in development interventions, and indeed it is unfortunately happening, it is counterproductive and self-defeating.

Thanks Serdar for sharing your reflection which, when followed, has proven effective in addressing development duplicates, waste of resources and negative effects on the lives and livelihoods of communities.

I would like to share my two cents:

  1. Creating and working in technical or thematic working groups for review and supporting one another. I have found this effective. For example, I encourage development partners to plan and conduct a multi-stakeholder, multi-projects evaluation in a community rather than each doing it on their own. When done in silos, this requires more time, extra resources from all stakeholders including community members. When done by multiple stakeholders, it saves resources for both. It adds credibility and sense of ownership and belonging among all actors. It becomes easier to advocate for the use of jointly-generated evaluation results. It informs coordinated programming and improved development outcomes. Here comes in accountability to raise awareness not only among development actors but also among communities. Anyone involved in misaligning and therefore misusing limited resources should be held onto accounts.

  2. Exchange and sharing platforms for learning and dissemination of results/evidence (slightly an extension of the above point): In this media-focused era, no single development actor would like to lag behind. Each wants to be at the high table to showcase what they are doing (this seems natural and okay to me when done with integrity). By being invited to a sharing forum by x partner, y partner can be encouraged to do the same in the future. Some development actors wrongly think that by holding information to themselves, they will have competitive advantage over others. There is lots of evidence that development organizations that are open and sharing lessons benefit more, and eventually become the powerful source of evidence about what works or about how to redress what does not work. They thus attract opportunities for funding and partnerships.

  3. On a personal, possibly on a political note, I have seen these conflicting and duplicative development interventions somehow reflecting the lack of or limited leadership for sustainable development. Good governance can make a difference. It is common wisdom that most (if not all) development interventions are interconnected, interdependent, and enriching one another. Colleagues have clearly pointed it out. A very good lesson is this covid-19 pandemic. It has proved difficult for social, educational, economic, agricultural interventions, etc. to strive for results when health is under threat. I guess, no single development sector or actor can navigate the current development landscape alone and expect sustainable results. The same applies within the same sector.

In addition to the development forums and guidelines mentioned by colleagues, I believe community participation in the design and monitoring of projects through accountability practices can contribute to eventually addressing this serious challenge.

Stay safe and well in these crazy times!

With kind regards to all,

Jean

The African Capacity Building Foundation

Dear Nabyouré Jean Stanislas OUEDRAOGO,

Thank you very much for raising this strategic question, which is at the heart of the discussions held today in the context of best practices and development pathways towards achieving the Agenda 2030. All countries, all developments stakeholders, communities and individuals should act in collaborative and productive partnerships to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The proliferation of development interventions could indeed become a negative factor, if their universe is composed of projects that do not exploit potential synergies and apparent complementarities, and are not based on partnerships based on solid analysis of mutual benefits generated from joining forces, capacities and resources toward common goals.

We live in communities and environments that are affected by a multitude of factors that are interconnected, broadly defined as social, economic, environmental, health-related and other development factors. Accordingly, the development interventions should be developed with due attention top and in full consideration of these inter-linkages, inter-connections and trade-offs. There are examples of good practices used by development organizations to coordinate and consolidate the universe of development interventions to take full account of development context and exploit potential complementarities in addressing the inherent interlinked development issues and challenged. Some of these examples are show below: 

  • The United Nations Development Assistance Framework, if planned with due consideration of local context and with robust analysis of development challenges, would guide UN entities and other development actors  in producing coherent and well-coordinated package of development support towards achieving national development goals and objectives.
  • United Nations Global Compact that helped creating multi-stakeholder initiatives, supported by the UN, international financial institutions, private businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises, to address development challenges in a more coordinated manner.
  • The United Nations pooled funding mechanisms, which serve as channels for directing flows of development and humanitarian assistance from diverse groups of external factors through national budgeting and financing schemes, helped to improve effectiveness, reduce duplication and promote alignment among a wide range of actors. 

These are just a few examples from the recent past. The new generation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks (https://unsdg.un.org/sites/default/files/2019-11/UNSDG-SDG-Primer-Repor…), are being developed to move the development aid paradigm from assistance to cooperation, and from individual contributions by development agencies to a collective and coherent response to countries' opportunities, gaps and challenges. 

The new Cooperation Frameworks will consider development priorities from multiple perspectives of the diverse groups of stakeholders, taking their views as the basis for developing coherent development support package. In doing so, the Cooperation Frameworks will aim at developing interventions that take full consideration of potential effects among different sectors. If done and implemented right, these Cooperation Frameworks will guide the transformation of development projects into a coherent and well-coordinated package of development assistance, aligned with the national plans towards achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

Just a reflection.

Kind regards,

Serdar Bayryyev

Food and Agriculture Organization

 

 

 

 

 

 

The multiplicity of development projects is a reality in Africa. At the level of each of the government departments, there are often a multitude of projects without real internal consistency. This situation is the source of ineffective action against the main socioeconomic and environmental problems in Africa: unemployment, hunger, poverty and climate change. This is the observation made by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and which has justified the creation of inter-agency Policy Task Forces in its actions in the process of the fight against climate change in Africa.

The answers below to the questions under discussion provide some understanding of the situation.

1) Isn't the proliferation of agricultural projects and often of micro-projects a negative factor for the achievement of development results in the agricultural sector?

The multiplicity of interventions and actors with different logics, approaches, objectives, strategies and methods poses serious problems. Indeed, the multiplicity of development projects often generates conflicts; conflicts of intervention which the beneficiary populations watch helplessly as a scene. In reality, many of these projects are limited to intermediate results (outputs), so that changes that can be measured or described in the form of effects and impacts (development results) are not achieved, due to the fact that other important factors are not taken into account. It can also be the misidentification of the development problem itself on which the project is based from the beginning. When the identified problem is a false problem, the intended development result cannot be achieved, because despite the actions, the real problem and its causes remain. At the problem identification, strategies definition and the methods and actions choosing, care should be taken to ensure that there is no risk of antagonism between interventions on the ground at the implementation stage. The proliferation of agricultural projects has often suffered from the lack of a federative axis that could force their coherence.

2) What are the best practices for setting up a unifying framework for interventions in the agricultural sector?

As stated earlier, for overall effectiveness, the various programs, projects and micro-projects should converge towards a federative axis that would guarantee their consistency; either they stem from the same development plan or from the same strategic plan, etc. That’s not often the case. The development of a unifying development plan at the Commune or District level, periodically evaluated and updated, could guarantee better results. Another good practice is to require the establishment of a map of the other actors intervening in the zone and the formalization of a framework of synergy with them, in order to identify complementary actions and avoid that several projects repeat the actions in the same locality. This approach makes it possible to move the project to other localities if necessary in case the actions of other actors are similar to what is planned in the new project. In Benin for example, the national project to fight against climate change, called the “Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Project (PABE)”, that’s initiated with funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is in the way of this good practice approach. The PABE, launched on September 21st, 2020, integrates into its approach the analysis of the synergy of actions between other development actors in its area of ​​intervention.

3) Have countries or international organizations such as FAO already carried out evaluations on the coherence of interventions in the agricultural sector? If so, what are the main findings? And what are the possible solutions?

The inventory carried out this year 2020 on the projects that are already being implemented in the seven communes/districts of PABE revealed many other current projects on the ground. They are about twenty projects that already exist in the PABE communes/districts, which are only 7 out of the 77 communes in Benin. This is an initiative of UNEP and GCF. A phase of the solution proposed to the PABE is the holding of a workshop in order to establish a synergy map of actions with the actors who were already intervening on the ground as far as sustainable agriculture and forestry are concerned. This made it possible to have a database on the actors with a view to establish partnerships, and to identify complementary actions at the spatial and operational levels.