Rome, 23 September 2022 – The IFAD co-financed Market Infrastructure, Rural Finance and Value Addition Support Programme (MIVARF) in Tanzania undertook capacity-building of a wide range of stakeholders across a wide geographic area, which spread financial and management resources thin. The ambitious scope of the project diluted the capacity-building effort, with required support for institutions proving to be beyond what can be rendered in the lifetime of one project. This, according to the MIVARF Project Performance Evaluation, published by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) [here].

The MIVARF supported a total of 14 value chains across the project location. The goal of the programme was to reduce rural poverty and enhance rural economic growth in the participating districts on a sustainable basis. IOE’s evaluation focused on the IFAD-financed components of the project, namely producer empowerment and market linkages, support to institutions and systems development for the rural/microfinance industry, establishment of a risk-sharing facility and setting up of an innovation fund.

The MIVARF spanned a wide geographical area, with broad thematic and institutional focus. The project was able to reach marginalized smallholders through its value chain interventions through selection of smallholder appropriate value chains such as staples. Unfortunately, the project’s ambitious design lacked a diagnostic assessment of capacities and willingness of partner agencies to accept or be equipped to implement its multi-faceted and complex design in an integrated manner. Thus, during implementation, changes had to be made to suit partners’ existing capacities and new partners had to be selected leading to substantial delays in implementation of value chains and rural finance interventions, and redesign of the implementation arrangements.

The scattered and discrete nature of capacity-building for marketing groups and financial institutions, and the wide thematic, institutional and geographic focus of the project, meant that most of the groups and institutions had lingering capacity challenges. This prevented the MIVARF from systematically providing backstopping to address residual capacity gaps, and building an exit strategy into its capacity-building efforts during implementation.

The experience of the MIVARF highlights that future programmes should undertake a thorough diagnostic assessment of existing institutional capacity and willingness to implement complex interventions. Furthermore, value chain development activities should be targeted at those value chains and target groups which are characterized by suitable quality and quantity of production and capacity to participate in value chain development activities.

IOE’s evaluation report also underscores the importance of having a more concentrated geographic and thematic focus to ensure focused capacity-building, mentoring, backstopping and integrated delivery of interventions.

In Tanzania, despite sustained economic growth and a persistent decline in poverty, the absolute number of poor people grew from 13 million in 2007 to 14 million in 2020. Vulnerability is also reported to remain high; for every four Tanzanians who moved out of poverty, three fell into it. Access to markets is limited, particularly in the northwest and southeast, areas typically characterized by severe poverty. Lack of market access thus traps rural farmers in poverty and exacerbates inequalities between rural and urban areas.

 

For further information, please contact Alexander Voccia [here]

 

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