The period between 1994 and 2003 saw decreased Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the agricultural sector and IFAD’s work shifted from a focus on agriculture to a broader focus on rural development.
The Millennium Development Goals
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were introduced in this period, signaling a renewed commitment to tackling poverty, in particular, rural poverty, and other challenges already known to IFAD. Against this backdrop, in 2003, IFAD sought to determine the relevance of its mission and the impact it was having in reducing rural poverty. This impact evaluation was the first truly independent and comprehensive evaluation in the Fund’s history.
By 2011, donors were increasingly commissioning meta-evaluations of development effectiveness to assist resource allocation decision-making. The 2011 case study project is part of a collaborative effort co-sponsored by IFAD and GEF’s evaluation offices. The aim is to find out the impact of evaluations of multilateral development institutions and to draw lessons concerning the way these evaluations are designed and used.
The IFAD evaluation
Itad led the evaluation of IFAD in 2003 and has recently concluded the case study of IFAD as part of the broader study. The evaluation assessed the effectiveness and impact of IFAD’s work, including projects, policy and advocacy. Data was collected in two main stages – a desk review of 21 country programmes and impact assessment visits to 20 projects in 10 countries. A random sampling method was used. Additionally, a questionnaire was developed to quantitatively rate performance for comparative analysis.
Using the evaluation of IFAD as the case study, the review assesses how well the design, implementation and follow-up to the evaluation contributed to greater accountability and learning within the organisation. It does so by constructing a timeline of actions taken by IFAD management in response to the evaluation, conducting a survey with stakeholders and examining the evaluations’ influence on other internal and external evaluations at IFAD.
The 2003 evaluation’s main conclusion is that IFAD has a relevant, clear and distinctive role to play in reducing rural poverty. To achieve this, however, the Fund will need to improve its performance. The final report makes a series of recommendations that indicate clear policy and strategic directions that IFAD should pursue, as well as specific actions needed for the Fund to improve its performance.
The findings of the IFAD case study, taken with the other case studies, provide a historical narrative on how the comprehensive evaluations provided evidence that could be used in decision-making processes for the concerned organisations; thus demonstrating the value of evaluations.