This is the first country strategy and programme evaluation carried out in Sierra Leone by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE). The report reviews the joint work of IFAD and the Government of Sierra Leone from 2003 to 2019, covering five projects.
The period covered by the evaluation was highly dynamic, characterized by the efforts to reconstruct the economic and productive sectors and to promote sustainable growth in the aftermath of the lengthy civil war. The evaluation found that the IFAD adapted well to the rapidly evolving national priorities and strategies, shifting focus from basic agricultural inputs and infrastructure to fostering access to rural finance and strengthening commercial agriculture. In addition, the portfolio’s outreach was remarkable, achieving targets by 100 per cent or close; well over 80 per cent of the community banks, while financial services were successfully made available to over 200,000 households.
However, the report highlights some areas for improvement. Financial inclusion could be enhanced, to encompass a greater proportion of smallholders. The value chain for rice, a main staple crop in Sierra Leone, could be strengthened, with particular focus on the linkages between producers and processing and marketing actors. In addition, activities to attract more youth to agriculture could be implemented.
Moving forward, the report recommends, among other things, to bolster the development impact of agricultural growth by focusing on strengthening value chains, increase the level of engagement in rural finance by building on existing rural financial structures in the country and develop a country-specific youth strategy.