DFID’s portfolio of rural livelihoods projects in Bangladesh tackled rural poverty by improving access of the poor to common resources (especially waterbodies for fisheries); directly training poor people in agriculture and food production; strengthening organisations providing advice and information on agriculture and fisheries techniques; and improving the relevance poverty orientation of agricultural research. At this time, DFID was reducing its staff headcount and needed support in managing the regular reviews of these projects.
We were contracted by DFID Bangladesh to conduct all the annual and final reviews of the 10 projects. The core services included drafting terms of reference, formulating review teams with national and international specialists, conducting and oversight of the reviews, and timely report delivery. We added value to the review process by ensuring the same reviewers were used in subsequent years; reviewing similar projects (e.g. the research projects) in a cluster to identify common issues; and producing a set of thematic lesson papers from the reviews, in English and Bengali. We ran workshops and seminars to spread the lessons to DFID, other development partners, the Government of Bangladesh, and NGOs. We partnered with organisations in the UK, USA and Bangladesh to field a team of reviewers with specialist skills (e.g. fisheries, farmer field schools) and different expertise (e.g. poverty analysis, gender analysis, empowerment, and rights-based approaches).
Our approach to managing this contract meant that the projects benefited from high quality and consistent reviews, and DFID benefitted from a more cross-sectional analysis of its rural livelihoods portfolio. The thematic lesson papers continued to be useful by organisations beyond DFID after the end of the contract.
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