Agriculture

Learning From Failure 2022

In 2019 and 2020, CARE published Learning from Failures reports to better understand common problems that projects faced during implementation. Deliberately looking for themes in failure has helped CARE as an organization and provides insight on what is improving and what still needs troubleshooting. This report builds on the previous work to show what we most need to address in our programming now.
As always, it is important to note that while each evaluation in this analysis cited specific failures and areas for improvement in the project it reviewed, that does not mean that the projects themselves were failures. Of the 72 evaluations in this analysis, only 2 showed projects that failed to deliver on more than 15% of the project goals. The rest were able to succeed for at least 85% of their commitments. Rather, failures are issues that are within CARE’s control to improve that will improve impact for the people we serve.
To fully improve impact, we must continue to include failures in the conversation. We face a complex future full of barriers and uncertainties. Allowing an open space to discuss challenges or issues across the organization strengthens CARE’s efforts to fight for change. Qualitative analysis provides critical insights that quantitative data does not provide insight into the stories behind these challenges to better understand how we can develop solutions.
CARE reviewed a total of 72 evaluations from 65 projects, with 44 final reports published between February 2020 and September 2021 and 28 midterm reports published between March 2018 and October 2020. Seven projects had both midterm and final evaluations at the time of this analysis. For ease of analysis, as in previous years, failures were grouped into 11 categories (see Annex A, the Failures Codebook for details).

Results
The most common failures in this year’s report are:
• Understanding context—both in the design phase of a project and refining the understanding of context and changing circumstances throughout the whole life of a project, rather than a concentrated analysis phase that is separate from project implementation. For example, an agriculture project that built it’s activities assuming that all farmers would have regular internet access, only to find that fewer than 10% of project participants had smartphones and that the network in the area is unreliable, has to significantly redesign both activities and budgets.
• Sustainability—projects often faced challenges with sustainability, particularly in planning exit strategies. Importantly, one of the core issues with sustainability is involving the right partners at the right time. 47% of projects that struggled with sustainability also had failures in partnership. For example, a project that assumed governments would take over training for project participants once the project closed, but that failed to include handover activities with the government at the local level, found that activities and impacts are not set up to be sustainable.
• Partnerships—strengthening partnerships at all levels, from government stakeholders to community members and building appropriate feedback and consultation mechanisms, is the third most common weakness across projects. For example, a project that did not include local private sector actors in its gender equality trainings and assumes that the private sector would automatically serve women farmers, found that women were not getting services or impact at the right level.
Another core finding is that failures at the design phase can be very hard to correct. While projects improve significantly between midterm and endline, this is not always possible. There are particular kinds of failure that are difficult to overcome over time. Major budget shortfalls, a MEAL plan that does not provide quality baseline data, and insufficient investments in understanding context over the entire life of a project are less likely to improve over time than partnerships and overall MEAL processes.
Some areas also showed marked improvements after significant investments. Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, and Learning (MEAL), Gender, Human Resources, and Budget Management are all categories that show improvements over the three rounds of learning from failures analysis. This reflects CARE’s core investments in those areas over the last 4 years, partly based on the findings and recommendations from previous Learning From Failure reports. Specifically, this round of data demonstrates that the organization is addressing gender-related issues. Not only are there fewer failures related to gender overall, the difference between midterm and final evaluations in gender displays how effective these methods are in decreasing the incidence of “failures” related to engaging women and girls and looking at structural factors that limit participation in activities.
Another key finding from this year’s analysis is that projects are improving over time. For the first time, this analysis reviewed mid-term reports in an effort to understand failures early enough in the process to adjust projects. Projects report much higher rates of failure at midterm than they do at final evaluation. In the projects where we compared midline to endline results within the same project, a significant number of failures that appeared in the mid-term evaluation were resolved by the end of the project. On average, mid-term evaluations reflect failures in 50% of possible categories, and final evaluations show failures in 38% of possible options. Partnerships (especially around engaging communities themselves), key inputs, scale planning and MEAL are all areas that show marked improvement over the life of the project.
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Study on the sustainability of GRAD structures and outcomes

This study conducted by PDCR aims to better understand the sustainability and functionally of the processes and elements of GRAD-I as well as the different actors and structures supported and established by the project. And as such this report will focus on VESAs, household/value chains, agro-dealers, FEMAs/Cooperatives, micro-franchise, multi-stakeholders platform and access to finance after the project ended and will cover the period from December 2016 until September 2019.

Background
The Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development (GRAD) project (hereafter referred to as the project) was a five-year USAID-funded project which began in December 2011 and ended in December 2016. Its strategic objective was to graduate a minimum of 50,000 chronically food-insecure households from the Ethiopian Government’s (GoE’s) Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP). Additionally, it aimed to increase each household’s income by $365 by the project’s fifth year in 16 Woredas in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples Region (SNNPR). During the implementation of the project combined “push” and “pull” model into a complete and integrated package of interventions and within this model the project at times established and/or the above-mentioned actors.

Methodology
Accordingly, desktop reviews of relevant documents including the project final evaluation, suitability and exit plan as well as a variety of reports were undertaken. The study team collected quantitative and qualitative information from 330 VESAs, 1,066 households, 188 saleswomen, 21 agro-dealers, 31 FEMAs/cooperatives. Furthermore, it consulted with representatives from multi-stakeholder platforms groups, Woreda FSTF, MFIs/RuSACCOs and participating wholesalers linked to the project.
Key findings:
VESAs:
56% of the VESAs established and supported by the project are still active as members were able to benefit from their membership, improve their saving and loan management, improve loan repayment mechanisms, were able to share out on time and at critical times, have structured and transparent management committee. These groups develop their members’ social capital, have a strong sense of trust, have benefited from their family’s support. The active VESA have reasonable membership size, common interest and have managed receive continued support.
42% of the VESAs established are inactive as members lost confidence and the interest right after the project ended. Members did not clearly understand the value of the VESAs, some faced internal conflicts, others such as the groups in Sidama and Gurage Zones were affected by drought and security issues. Overall, the inactive VESAs have received less support especially those established in the later part of the project. On a positive side, in Tigray few groups dissolved their VESAs as there was no needed since they now have started saving at banks and can access credit from MFIs.
2% of VESAs have transformed into RuSACCOs. Those who managed to this transformation was encouraged by some of their members who already were also member to a RuSACCO. The VESAs were not encouraged due to RuSACCO’s principle that supported individual membership to join already established RuSACCOs; and groups would rather retain their VESA as they feel they have full control and do not want to lose their social capital.
Active VESAs were formed on a voluntary base and were given adequate briefing about the purpose of the group. In contrast, the inactive VESAs members were mainly selected and groups were formed by project staffs.
Active VESAs remained together and have not sought to split into smaller groups as they value the social capital created within the group and prefer to work as a one team. Dissimilarly, 53% of the currently inactive groups did separate to form smaller groups, mainly due to internal conflicts, dissatisfaction regarding members selection methods and lack of management skills amongst the leadership.
Across all study areas, all VESAs were found have bylaws and in the case of Tigray and Amhara regions, some groups internally agreed and have amended their bylaws articles related to saving amounts, loan repayment mechanisms and interest rates reflecting their needs.
Active VESAs have successfully built social cohesion, capital, are a safe and fertile environment for training, social and cultural norms discussion platforms that may impede development drives and contribute to food security (e.g. gender inequality, infant feeding practices, etc.).
On average 61% of the active VESAs have been able to increase their savings size while only 13% reporting a decrease. Those who reported a decrease was directly associated to their inability to save as family expenses have escalated and they were unable to generate more income in order to save.
In all the study areas, the groups have paid share out every year in May and June. Their average value of liquid savings during the last share-out was 28,282 Birr with an average group share out of 1,444 Birr ($51) and an internal loan size of 26,649 Birr.
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Enhancing adaptive capacity of women and ethnic smallholder farmers through improved agro-climate information in Mai and Samphanh district, Phongsaly Province, Laos

The Agro-Climate Information for the Adoption of Resilient Farming Practices by Women and Ethnic Minority Farmers (ACIS2) is implemented by CARE International in Lao PDR. The project financed by the Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development (MECDD) in Luxembourg, is designed to support poor and vulnerable households in remote, rural areas and to enable women and ethnic minority farmers in Mai and Samphanh districts (Phongsaly province) to better anticipate risks and opportunities related to climate variability thus improving their response through participatory and equitable agro-climatic planning. The project’s aim is to contribute to SDG 13 by increasing climate resilience of women and ethnic minority farmers in northern Laos.
The purpose of the evaluation was to determine the project’s success in implementing activities and in attaining the project’s goals and expected results. The ACIS2 has implemented a wide variety of activities to increase the resilience of ethnic communities to climate change and climate variability. The project has been successful in achieving its objectives and expected results. Project provide the weather forecast and agriculture advisory and support for cardamom production, intercropping galangal, pineapple, fruit trees, bee keeping, vegetable gardening, improved rice production and support to women’s savings and loans groups which has resulted in reducing the impact of climatic hazards and improving farmers’ incomes.
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Sierra Leone: Smallholder farmers and the global food crisis

The war between Russia and Ukraine has led to unprecedented price shocks in food, energy, and fertilizer globally due to the centrality of both countries in the functionality of these markets. Like in most countries in the world, Sierra Leone is severely affected by these shocks. Prices of food and non-food commodities have also increased exponentially.

Poor smallholder farmers—who already struggled to produce enough food—are facing severe impacts because they can no longer afford inputs and related services. Food security, especially among the rural population who depend largely on farming as a primary source of livelihood, is therefore of grave concern. Farmers are reporting that they are only planting half the field size, the price of seeds and fertilizer has more than doubled, and "low production levels of food crops is inevitable."

To understand the current impact of the global food crisis on smallholder farmers and their (farmers) resilience in the local context, CARE engaged participants of its Solar Harnessed Entrepreneurs project in two communities in the north of the country. The aim is to obtain first-hand information on affordability of inputs, impact of these shocks especially on women farmers and farmers’ coping mechanisms in the wake of the current global crisis.
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SHOUHARDO III – Capturing the changes and impacts of reformed Community Groups

SHOUHARDO III program established the Community-level Thematic Groups in the inception year of the program in 2016 to facilitate the large-scale program interventions on Agriculture and Livelihoods (Farmers’ Field Business School/FFBS), Health and Nutrition (Maternal Child Health and Nutrition/MCHN groups and Mother Groups), Women’s Empowerment (Empowerment Knowledge and Transformative Action/EKATA), and Governance (Village Development Committees) with additional components represented by the youth groups and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). These groups were reformed into gender and age-specific Community Groups (CG) following the midterm evaluation in 2018 that provided recommendations on putting in place a sustainability strategy. Read More...

My Forest, My Livelihood, My Family program (FUTURES) Baseline report

The FUTURES—My Forest, My Livelihood, My Family program (FUTURES) serves communities in the Yayu Coffee Forest Biosphere Reserve (YCFBR) located in Southwestern Ethiopia, in Oromia Regional State. The YCFBR encompasses the Hurumu, Yayo, Bilo Nopa, Alge-Sachi, and Doreni woredas of Illu-Abba Bora zone and Chora woreda of Buno Bedele zone and includes protected forest area as well as designated areas for economic activities like coffee and spice production, commercial forest plantations and eco-tourism, and areas where many traditional and modern agricultural practices take place.
Households in the area depend on a combination of small-scale agricultural and forest management systems dominated by traditional agronomic practices and characterized by a lack of crop diversity and low productivity. Deforestation, degradation, and increased loss of biodiversity are major concerns for sustainable agricultural and livelihood practice in the region. Social, gender, and cultural barriers have historically limited women’s and youth’s engagement in agricultural and economic sectors. High rates of early and forced marriage, and limited availability of reproductive health and family planning services, especially youth-friendly services, may further limit women and youth from participating meaningfully in agricultural practice and livelihood generation. Government services and local civil society organizations in the area operate at a limited capacity, and their offices are male-dominated and do not meaningfully incorporate a gendered approach to their work (Gebrehanna and Seyoum, 2020).
The three-year FUTURES project was launched in April 2021 to address many of the health, environment, and livelihood concerns of the YCFBR region. The project is implemented by CARE Ethiopia and its three local partners, Oromia Development Association (ODA), Environment and Coffee Forest Forum (ECFF), and Kulich Youth Reproductive Health and Development Organization (KYRHDO). The FUTURES project evaluation, funded by USAID, and led by Data for Impact (D4I), aims to understand the impact of the FUTURES project on key health, agricultural, and livelihood and conservation behavioral outcomes, and to contribute to knowledge about the implementation of cross-sectoral programs, including monitoring, evaluations, and learning (MEL) of such programs. Read More...

Information for Adaptation in Vietnam (InfoAct)

Enhanced livelihoods and increased resilience of poor ethnic minority women and men rural areas to the effects of climate change and variability.
The “Information for Adaptation in Vietnam” Project (InfoAct) is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, abbreviated BMZ, and jointly implemented by CARE Vietnam (CVN) and three local partners, named Center for Community Development (CCD), Lai Chau Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and Lai Chau provincial Vietnam Women’s Union (VWU). The project sites include four communes of Dien Bien province and four communes of Lai Chau province, namely: Muong Phang and Pa Khoang communes (Dien Bien district); Ang Cang, Ang Nua communes (Muong Ang District); Than Thuoc, Trung Dong, Ho Mit and Nam So Communes of Tan Uyen district, Lai Chau province. The overall objective of the InfoAct Project is to enhance livelihoods and increase the resilience of poor ethnic minority women and men in rural areas to the effects of climate change and variability. This is to be accomplished through a specific objective (outcome) to ensure ethnic minority households in rural areas have improved access to and use of climate information, and resources to help increase their climate resilience. The InfoAct Project is focusing mainly on two target groups: (1) 5,000 ethnic minority households, especially women, in Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces and (2) government authorities and service providers, namely Department of Hydro-Meteorology, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the provincial VWU and CCD. As InfoAct was going to phase out after three years’ implementation and close all its activities by November 2021, an independent final evaluation was conducted to understand the project’s impacts/outcomes and key lessons learned.
The Final Evaluation applied a mixed-method approach by using qualitative and quantitative data from primary and secondary sources. The primary data was collected from the key informants and household survey. The household survey was implemented with 363 and 266 people in Dien Bien and Lai Chau provinces, respectively. A total of 49 In-deep Interview (IDI) was conducted with stakeholders. In addition, 34 women and 39 men in two provinces participated in Focus Group Discussion (FGD). Read More...

FINAL EVALUATION “Support to Development of Agricultural Cooperatives”

The Final Evaluation Report consists of a project background, methodology, main findings (including analysis of in-depth interviews and focus group results), conclusions, recommendations and lessons learnt. The methodology used triangulation, combining desk research (qualitative and quantitative secondary data) and primary data collected during the mission in North Macedonia via interviews and focus groups in Skopje and other locations.
Relevance: The project was clearly relevant to the context of North Macedonia and the Western Balkans region. The interventions were timely and focused on addressing the priority needs of farmers, important for enhancing sustainability of North Macedonian agriculture. Its design was based on the in-depth needs assessment, which was a collaborative effort carried out by the partners, stakeholders and project beneficiaries. In the course of its implementation, the identified needs farmers and stakeholders were also met by the project to a great extent.
Effectiveness: The effectiveness of the project was visible in several areas. However in some areas more time is needed – likely until the completion of the project - to unveil the project outcomes and impacts. The project greatly succeeded in creating a significant number of new ACs and increasing the involvement of farmers into this kind of business model. Yet, their membership size is often small. Despite the efforts to consolidate representation of the AC’s, there were mixed results regarding the umbrella organization. On the one hand, it visibly improved the planning, management, and provision of services while ensuring the continuation of the funding until the end of 2020. On the other hand, it split into two entities, which hampered the consolidation process. There is limited progress that is visible in terms improved business performance of the ACs. However, the project lifespan was too short to detect a major shift in economic terms.
Efficiency: The implementation of the project was smooth and largely in line with its budget and timeline. The project encountered minor delays and budget issues from the beginning. Yet, the project was complemented with in-kind resources of the partners and thus was cost-efficient. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the project duration had to be extended. The management of the project was very efficient and responsive against this force majeure. The project lifetime was extended and this allowed for an adequate adaptation to those unusual circumstances.
Sustainability: Despite the relatively successful establishment of the ACs, the sustainability of the project has been called into question due to the fact that related legal frameworks have not been adopted and the challenges ACs face in accessing the markets. The cooperatives benefitted from investments to upgrade farm facilities (machinery, post-harvest storage), yet they were not clearly embedded into functioning value chains. The pandemic proved to be challenging for enhancing the links between the farmers and other value chain actors. Participation in face-to-face meetings and business events was seriously constrained. Yet, the project succeeded in facilitating contacts between business partners, especially for the AC Prespansko Jabolche. Read More...

EVALUATION A MI-PARCOURS DU PROJET « PROSPER I »

Le projet évalué a pour objectif de contribuer au développement durable des communautés productrices de cacao, à travers une approche communautaire, qui repose sur trois piliers essentiels à savoir : i) le renforcement des capacités locales de développement et la mise en place/ œuvre des Plans d’Action Communautaire (PAC) ; ii) la diversification des revenus et iii) la nutrition et l’assainissement du cadre de vie. Pour atteindre ces objectifs, la stratégie élaborée repose sur les trois piliers du projet qui sont : Le processus de planification communautaire a démarré avec les Diagnostics participatifs (DP) qui ont pris en compte la priorisation des actions de développement dans les communautés participantes. Les DP ont abouti à la mise en place des Comités de développement communautaire (CDCOM) qui se sont chargés, avec l'appui de l'équipe projet, d'élaborer les Plans d'Action Communautaire (PAC). Les comités sont composés de quinze (15) membres dont l’organe de gestion (président, secrétaire en charge du suivi évaluation, trésorier). Les autres membres ont en charge les principales thématiques du projet à savoir la nutrition et l’hygiène, la diversification culturale, la promotion du genre, les AVEC (Associations Villageoises d’Epargne et de Crédit).
Les CDCOM et les AVEC sont des canaux de renforcement de capacités des membres des communautés afin de contribuer ainsi au développement de leurs communautés respectives. Les bénéficiaires qui sont les membres de la communauté œuvrent pour leur autonomisation (sociale et économique) ainsi que pour le développement de leur localité. Ils sont composés d’hommes, de femmes, de jeunes hommes et de jeunes femmes. Les activités avec le CDCOM se résument en des formations sur la conduite de réunion, la gestion pacifique et la prévention des conflits, la mobilisation des ressources, la mobilisation communautaire, la mise en œuvre de leur plan d’action communautaire.
Cette évaluation a deux objectifs principaux : i) analyser les progrès réalisés par le projet en rapport avec ses objectifs et résultats cibles et ii) identifier les effets émergeant des activités du projet qui ont contribué positivement ou négativement aux conditions de vie des communautés productrices de cacao.
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FINAL NARRATIVE REPORT – Far Ban Bo – Protecting Fisheries Livelihood

The Far Ban Bo (FBB) is a four (4) year project with funding support from the European Union (EU). The project is implemented in thirty (30) districts in four coastal regions of Ghana (Western, Central, Greater Accra and Volta Regions) and one inland region. Specific project pilots are implemented in four (4) coastal communities (Dixcove, Anomabo, James Town, and Keta) and one inland community (Kpando-Torkor). The overall objective of the Far Ban Bo Project is to contribute to sustainable fisheries resources management to improve food security and nutrition and livelihoods of smallholder fishers and other users of fishery resources. The specific objective is that smallholder fishers and processers benefit from equitable and sustainable rights-based fisheries resources management. The project is expected to deliver three results to achieve its objectives. The expected results (ERs) of the project are:
1. Empowered Smallholder Fishery Associations take Active Part in Fisheries Governance;
2. Effective illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) Monitoring and Grievance Mechanisms Piloted; and
3. Social and Economic Safeguards Contribute to Improving Livelihoods and Nutritional Status of Smallholder Fishers and other Users of Fishery Resources Read More...

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