Pathways Project End of Project Evaluation Report

Publication Date: 01/03/2019

Pathways aimed to increase productivity and income in equitable agriculture systems. CARE innovated an effective Theory of Change to address real issues affecting rural women farmers by providing them with capacities in agriculture; access to inputs, extension services and markets; empowerment to influence decisions; and an enabling environment for growth.

Pathways has met and, in most cases, surpassed targets set in its M&E framework. In the words of women themselves the project has worked very well, focusing on groundnuts and soybean as high-value cash crop substitutes for tobacco because of their high potential for markets, ability to replenish the lost soil fertility and strong nutritional value. It has grown from working with 9,000 to 14,282 farmers (hosting a population of 71,410 people), organising them into 1,528 groups. Women provide leadership to most of the groups after being transformed to become successful wives, farmers and entrepreneurs who can make independent decisions and speak in public.

In 2015 alone, collective sale revenues from groundnuts and soy amounted to MK128, 601,938 (US$233,821.7) and rose to MK854, 356,267 (US$751,511) by the end of 2017. Contract farming organized by the project contributed US$34,233 to these revenues. In 2014, the project conducted 188 community-wide gender dialogue sessions and reached out to 9,654 people, 7193 female and 2464 male, helping them to internalize and address gender inequalities. Men have generally started looking at women as partners in agriculture and development that is cementing marriage bonds and creating an enabling environment for women to succeed. Along with this, CARE Malawi linked women farmers to key players in the groundnut and soy value chains to help them excel.

As a consequence, by December 2016 a total of 246 farmer groups had accounts with OIBM and other banks through which they saved MK49, 175,577 and 6 VSLs accessed two group loans worth MK4,800,000 (US$7,804.88) which they invested in agriculture, business and VSL activities. VSLs profited and shared out US$871,178 in the year, with more benefits seen in 2017 when savings accumulated to US$3,756,435 e.g. earnings of MK47, 489.32 to MK204, 769.33 per household on average. In turn, per capita household monthly incomes and expenditures doubled by the time the project closed in December 2018. Although agricultural productivity continued to decline over the project life due to poor weather conditions, Pathways farmers remained food secure and continued to eat at least two meals a day. Household dietary diversity (HDDS) and women intra-household food access (AHA) data from this evaluation found levels of consumption to be acceptable and typical of food secure households. These results showcase that Pathways beneficiaries have grown their incomes, assets and food availability in the face of the changing climate and are better off even in difficult years.