The IFAD V: Plan of Action (2000-2002) recommended that the Office of Evaluation (OE) produce a systematic overview of the results and impact of IFAD’s operations, based on the evaluations it undertakes each year. One of the obstacles to such an overview was the lack of a consistent evaluation framework, but this obstacle has now been removed. With the introduction in 2002 of the new Methodological Framework for Project Evaluation (MFE), a common framework is now available for use systematically across all IFAD project evaluations. The main objectives of the MFE are to: (i) promote a more systematic assessment of impact at project completion; (ii) facilitate the production of a consolidated picture of the results, impact and performance of the evaluated projects during any given year; and (iii) facilitate the consolidation of insights and learning from evaluation.
The new IFAD evaluation policy approved by the Executive Board in April 2003 re-emphasized the recommendation made in the IFAD V: Plan of Action. It states, "The main purpose of the independent evaluation function at IFAD is to promote accountability and learning in order to improve the performance of the Fund’s operations and policies. Evaluations provide a basis for accountability by assessing the impact of IFAD-supported operations and policies. They are expected to give an accurate analysis of successes and shortcomings, i.e. ‘to tell it the way it is’. This feedback helps the Fund improve its performance." The policy states that such overview is to be presented annually to the IFAD Executive Board.
This Annual Report on the Results and Impact of IFAD Operations (ARRI), based on the projects evaluated during 2002 and using the MFE for the first time, represents IFAD’s first attempt at consolidating these results. As such, it is necessarily exploratory, experimental and a challenge for OE and IFAD. All multilateral and bilateral agencies are, to a greater or lesser extent, having to face up to a similar challenge: how to analyse, and report on, their overall effectiveness on the basis of improving, but still limited, evaluation and performance information. In generating insights and learning from evaluation, this ARRI also combines the results of two country programme evaluations (CPEs) and two corporate-level evaluations (CLEs) undertaken during 2002.
The report presents a mix of qualitative findings and ratings. Summarizing a large volume of evaluation material, and expressing judgements on impact and performance through ratings, is bound to be an approximation and to some extent an oversimplification. There are inherent dangers in reading too much into aggregate ratings, particularly in view of the small and diverse sample of projects covered. Great care needs to be taken in interpreting the results and drawing definite conclusions on the basis of this year’s data alone. That said, OE believes that there is value in presenting data clearly and transparently as a basis for discussion and as a contribution to constructive debate and learning within IFAD and outside.