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Dominican Republic: South Western Region Small Farmers Project, Phase II

01 July 2011

Completion evaluation

Background and Introduction

The IFAD Office of Evaluation conducted a completion evaluation of the South Western Region Small Farmers Project, Phase II, in the Dominican Republic in 2009/2010. The evaluation had a dual objective: (i) to assess the performance and impact of PROPESUR; and (ii) to generate lessons and recommendations to improve the design and implementation of similar development projects in the country.

The agreement at completion point (ACP) reflects the agreement reached between the Government of the Dominican Republic (represented by the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development) and IFAD Management (represented by the Latin America and the Caribbean Division) on the main evaluation findings (see section B below), and the commitment to adopt and implement the recommendations included in section C. It is noted that although the Office of Evaluation facilitated the process leading up to the agreement, it does not sign the ACP.

Implementation of the recommendations agreed upon will be monitored through the President's Report on the Implementation Status of Evaluation Recommendations and Management Actions.

Main Evaluation Findings

The evaluation notes that the project design as a whole was relevant to the needs of poor people living in the south-western region, as well as in terms of government strategy and IFAD priorities. PROPESUR explored and developed a new form of intervention by the Government of the Dominican Republic to better respond to the challenge of reducing rural poverty. The project design sought to combine strategies to promote rural development with an inclusive approach to beneficiaries, and benefited from much latitude for experimentation (in part owing to the relative absence of the State in the project area). The project selected the National Planning Office (ONAPLAN) as implementing agency, included mainly private implementers and promoted genuine participation by rural communities. However, the pioneering nature of the project was not supported by a more decisive strategic role to oversee and make decisions on project orientation beyond the level of operations management.

The project actions focused on the target population: poor people. However, reducing poverty for different groups of poor people – single mothers, unemployed young people, illiterate adults, farming families with their own land – calls for adopting a very different approach in each case. This gave rise to greater complexity, which led to delays in implementation and had an adverse impact on project efficiency.

PROPESUR was effective in several respects: supporting grass-roots organizations, promoting gender equity, providing services, social infrastructure and access to financial services. On the other hand, results were limited on promoting the establishment of new rural microenterprises and integration with value chains. During the early years of project implementation, social works were given priority to the detriment of a strategy to promote timely support throughout the entire value chains identified for intervention (coffee, banana, sheep and goats).

The project had a positive impact on the incomes of families (particularly coffee producers), increased social capital in the communities supported and also strengthened private institutions such as NGOs, cooperatives and financial institutions. On the other hand, it had no impact on food security or natural resources management, since insufficient attention was paid to integrated micro basin management.

Strengthening grass-roots organizations and communities, and working directly with them, enhanced the social sustainability of project interventions. In the economic and financial sphere, the improved commercial positioning of producers within the selected value chains enabled them to achieve self-management and to work with profitable local financial institutions. On the other hand, the prospects for sustainability of project interventions focusing on food security and the environment are limited.

PROPESUR benefited from much latitude for experimentation (in part owing to a relative absence of the State in the project area) and put forward innovations such as operation and demand-driven planning, strong private-sector participation in implementation, strengthening of rural financial services, and an emphasis on gender equity. Despite some efforts made in this regard, there are opportunities for improvement in disseminating experiences and lessons learned on development in the area, particularly given PROPESUR's high innovation content.

Agreement at Completion Point

(R1) Ensure an institutional and policy anchor for new projects at an institution specializing in rural development, within the framework of the new policies and strategies of the Government of the Dominican Republic. Closer relations are recommended with various public entities – both central and municipal – as well as with other development projects and private entities, to identify possible synergies and achieve a more solid base for new project activities in the area.

IFAD and the Government of the Dominican Republic have been responsible for implementing the first part of this recommendation, which is being applied implicitly in the design of the two new projects. The Government, through the Project Execution Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, will be responsible for implementing the second part during the six years of the two projects to be executed in the country's western and central-eastern regions. IFAD will support this work through its supervision missions.

(R2) Design and targeting:

  • Improve the definition of the target population, indicating those units to which the project is addressed (families, individual microenterprises, grass-roots organizations, communities); and ensure a clear differentiation of the set of "instruments-interventions-timelines" according to the different needs, capacities and "development paths" of the various target groups.
  • Ensure the active participation of beneficiaries in defining and implementing avenues of action throughout the project, adhering to the principle of demand-driven services in addition to taking into consideration elements such as the potential and risks of organizations, the environment, markets and the region as a whole.
  • Highlight the provisional nature of certain design elements as an initial guideline, differentiating those which are obligatory for the project (commitments included in the loan agreement) from those which are indicative and subject to the discretion of implementers (steering committee and management). it is suggested that the loan agreement predefine implementation guidelines to be followed by implementers.1

IFAD and the Government of the Dominican Republic have been responsible for implementing the first and third of these recommendations, which are largely reflected in the design of the two new projects. The Government, through the Project Execution Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, will be responsible for implementing the second during the six years of the two projects to be executed in the country's western and central-eastern regions. IFAD will support this work through its supervision missions.

(R3) Implementation arrangements:

  • Ensure that functions which are strategic to project implementation are performed by entities with appropriate experience and capacity; Such functions include supervising operational and financial execution, monitoring implementation and decision making on project orientation, particularly in the case of major changes.
  • Examine the approximate costs of different implementation models (execution by project, outsourcing of services, or a combination) to set reference guidelines.
  • Provide for adequate outsourcing of technical and financial services. making use of local capacities calls for explicit negotiating strategies, particularly with important NGOs active in each territory.

The Government, through the Project Execution Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, will be responsible for implementing these recommendations during the six years of the two projects to be executed in the country's western and central-eastern regions. IFAD will support this work through its supervision missions.

(R.4) Lines of action / components:

  • Complete support for commercial crops such as coffee and bananas produced by peasant groups throughout the entire value chain2 and reconsider the range of products to be promoted, including irrigated farming (as identified in the design of PROPESUR), with potential for rural job creation.
  • Promote competition for access to project funds to carry out community-based production projects, incentivizing participation by young people. it is recommended that incentives be provided for innovations, including the development of economic relations between communities and cities.
  • Evaluate the consolidation status of social organizations to be strengthened as a basis for defining specific project support in each case3.
  • If continued support is to be provided for social works, explicitly define the relationship between community representation and grass-roots organizations with respect to responsibilities for maintenance and possible future expansion of the works.
  • Provision of access to financing should (re)consider its connection to rural demand and also support microfinance initiatives more deeply rooted in rural communities. a climate insurance instrument warrants support to contribute to a nationwide modality (rather than a service exclusively for the project's clients as long as it is in the area) 4.
  • In terms of food security, it is recommended that an investment be made in designing a program with prospects for improvement over the medium to long term5, rather than the short term,as well as exploring the possibility of combining it with government subsidies6.

IFAD and the Government of the Dominican Republic have been responsible for implementing four of these recommendations (a, b, c and e), which are largely reflected in the design of the two new projects. With respect to recommendation (d), the new COSOP does not include these issues among the strategic priorities agreed upon with the Government. On the other hand, the possible implementation of the final recommendation (f) will be the responsibility of the Project Execution Office of the Ministry of Agriculture during the six years of the two projects to be executed in the country's western and central-eastern regions. IFAD will support this work through its supervision missions.

(R.5) With respect to knowledge exchange, the evaluation recommends completing the systematization of PROPESUR experiences and disseminating and exchanging them with specialized actors (NGOs, public entities, projects) to consolidate best practices and lessons learned.

IFAD and the Government of the Dominican Republic have been responsible for implementing this recommendation in part, in designing the two new projects, through the participation of a large number of former members of the PROPESUR coordination team in formulating the new projects. The Government, through the Project Execution Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, will also be responsible for implementing this recommendation in a broader sense, by adopting a knowledge management approach during the six years of the two projects to be implemented in the country's western and central-eastern regions. IFAD will support this work through its supervision missions.

Signed by:

Mr Nelson Toca Simó
Vice Minister of Planning
Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development
Date:  21/03/2011

Ms Josefina Stubbs
Director
Latin America and the Caribbean Division
Programme Management Department
International Fund for Agricultural Development
Date:  26/4/2011


1/ For instance, a schedule with administrative milestones to be reached on certain dates, such as issuing regulations on administration (operating manual, accounting structure, etc.), management (management information system) and the programme (a final logical framework) by year two of the project.

2/ For instance, so that associations with idle coffee processing plants can obtain credits to purchase ripe coffee beans.

3/ As recommended by the midterm review in 2005; appropriate methodologies exist, as per the study conducted by the PRODEVER project in Guatemala in 2006.

4/ The Government is developing an agricultural risk insurance policy whereby the producer pays a premium, initially subsidized by the State with the producer paying 25 per cent of the cost, with stepped increases so that the producer eventually absorbs the entire cost of the premium. For the moment, it is being applied to rice and banana cultivation.

5/ For instance, poultry supply in connection with establishing a small chick reproduction enterprise in the community.

6/ For instance, introducing household production of fruits and vegetables.

 

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Dominican Republic: South Western Region SmallFarmers Project, Phase II (Issue # 80 - 2011)

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