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Final Evaluation of DFID’s FoodTrade East and Southern Africa Programme

With the conclusion of Itad’s five-year longitudinal evaluation of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) FoodTrade East and Southern Africa Programme (FTESA), we are very pleased to share our report on the Final Evaluation and two accompanying learning briefs

The first on key findings, lessons and recommendations from the evaluation; and the second on lessons and recommendations from the evaluation specific to promoting structured trade and systemic change. Below are some of the highlights from the evaluation, the details of which can be found in the learning briefs; and, for those seeking even more detail, in the evaluation report itself.

The programme, in brief: FTESA was a five-year (2013–2018) regional programme funded by DFID (£35 million) that supported food staples market development and trade by tackling market failures. FTESA funded interventions by awarding grants to the private sector via a challenge fund mechanism and to non-commercial organisations via a development fund.

FoodTrade Programme
Image Credit: Francesco Gallarotti

The evaluation, in brief: this longitudinal, independent evaluation focused on accountability (programme results) and lesson learning. It employed a theory-based approach, drawing on principles of realist evaluation. The evaluation used mixed-methods, and consisted of various ‘modules’, including qualitative and quantitative case studies, thematic studies, policy dialogue and influencing studies, a portfolio review, and a value for money assessment.

Main lessons from the FTESA programme:

  • Portfolio inter-linkages and complementarities: Award-based mechanisms, by design, can limit the ability to directly build in strong inter-linkages and complementarities across the portfolio.
  • Improved post-harvest markets for smallholder farmers: While collateral can help farmers to access credit (one of the original programme assumptions), the experience across the grants shows a wider range of conditions necessary to improve the bankability of smallholder farmers and their access to credit.
  • Systemic change in national and regional staple food markets: Systemic changes are only likely to continue and spread in the longer term if:
    • (i) benefits from additional effort materialise and endure (i.e. better markets);
    • (ii) there are mechanisms for continual updating of knowledge and learning alongside consistent positive demonstration effects; and,
    • (iii) the market provides supporting functions, such as access to credit.
  • Reform to food trade policies and regulations: Policy and regulatory issues affecting the food market require constant attention and engagement due to the presence of vested interests, wanting to keep the status quo.
  • FTESA’s Value for Money (VfM): The existing VfM metrics are suitable for the assessment but we were unable to find comparable indicators on effectiveness across DFID programmes, which suggests that in future there needs to be more careful selection of appropriate indicators that allow for comparison (e.g. jobs created, etc.).

We hope that these, and other lessons from the FTESA evaluation will prove useful for commissioners, implementers and other evaluators working on issues of structured trade and systemic change. We look forward to hearing your comments and answering any questions you may have.

Read the report annexes here.

This final evaluation report is accompanied by two learning briefs:

Follow the link for The Final Evaluation Report: FoodTrade East and Southern Africa report.