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COSOP Design, Preliminary Thoughts Regarding Pathways and Scaling Up

Display Date: 5/23/12

To start with, here are key facts of significance on our outreach based on existing estimates issued by IFAD Operations Department:

Estimated beneficiaries (3.1 million out of 11 Million rural population that is 28% of rural population)

Cost by beneficiary: 20 dollars

GNI 760 dollars

Cost by beneficiary is equivalent to 2.6% of annual GNI, which is very modest. If we consider that these 20 dollars are spent on average over a period of 5 or 6 years, it appears that the real annual cost per beneficiary is extremely low at less than 0.5% of the GNI.

 

So we reach a significant share of the rural population, mostly the poorest but we invest very little per capita.  Can we claim in any credible way that this level of expense allows us to lift a comparable number of people out of poverty.  I doubt it.  I would expect us to have achieved the poverty reduction target with a much smaller number of families and people.  Let us assume for a while that this is the case.  Our problem becomes then not to increase the total outreach but actually to increase the proportion of people reached that are actually lifted out of poverty. The question is therefore:  how and this is to what I would like to invite you to share views and keep in mind as we progress in our COSOP design.

To get the ball rolling here are some pathways we can think of  some of which have already emerged in some of our discussions:

1.       Adopt a  programme-based approach to  promoting innovation and scaling it up around successful or promising experiments (ours and those of others) such as the extension-GRF model etc. . See the booster (push and pull model we have been discussing)

2.       Some programmes such as LASED (social land concessions for the poor) have not succeeded in their pilot phase but have potential for success and scaling up if redesigned and implemented in a decentralized way;

3.       Supporting membership based farmer organization in their providing services to their members;

4.       A deliberate and more systematic choice of activities and investments that maximize the poverty impact rather than outreach (to be identified)

5.       Facilitating and mediating between farmers and the private sector (value chain development and contract farming)

6.       All the above are very much investment project or programmes financing. I would like to put forward another option which is radically different. Why not identify first a single policy measure or a small set of policy measures that if adopted by the Government and adequately funded and properly implemented would have a  far reaching and lasting impact on rural poverty with large mulitiplier effects.  Once this is done the programme would work at making an evidence-based case in favour of this measure and allocate adequate resources to their implementation.  

I look forward to hearing more on this subject. Meantime I would very much like to receive some feed back on the above ideas.

Comments
Thank you Khalid for opening these important issues for discussion.

I fully support that the focus should be on moving people out of poverty rather than number of people reached. But the two do not have to be mutually exclusive as is hinted in point 4. In a scaling up “mindset”, they are in fact complementary—only successful initiatives, effective at meeting their objectives of rural poverty reduction, could create the learning space for scaling up. So, as long as the scaling pathway can be charted well and successfully pursued, in principle it is necessary first to demonstrate effective rural poverty reduction initiatives- within a policy and expenditure framework that can be supported by other partners- and create the case/opportunity for others to contribute to taking that to scale.

So in this sense I support very much your emphasis on poverty reduction rather than on minimizing cost and maximising beneficiaries at the start. It seems to me it will also be important, before embarking, to establish the key ingredients, linkages and partnerships that would allow for scaling up - otherwise the successful poverty reduction effort risks to stand as a its own solitary island of success- good outcome, but small and isolated.

One of the necessary ingredients will be effective measuring and communicating of results, as a contirbutor to better capture of knowledge/experience and its dissemination.

Second, I wonder whether there are already innovations that can be taken to scale, even before experimentation. If scouting is appropriate- what kind would be appropriate? National, regional, thematic, or other? More generally, in our approach to innovation and scaling as a division, do we have tools for scouting innovations? Should we rely on PTA, ECD, SKM etc or to CPMs exposure, motivations and networking? How can we strengthen our capability for scouting innovations- or do we need to at all?

All the above may be already integrated in the programmatic experimentation/innovation/scaling approach, the booster model, and other conversations you are already having… I apologise for any redundancy. Yet this presents a useful opportunity to reflect on key programmatic considerations for IFAD's entire Asia and Pacific portfolio; so I hope that in moving forward the team working on the COSOP, and this discussion space, may explicitly address some of these issues... Thanks for the opportunity to reflect and discuss this.

Posted on 5/24/12 9:51 AM.

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Thanks Tawfiq for your contribution. I intended to wait a bit to leave more chances to our other members to come up with their own comments and I trust this will eventually happen. Meantime let me clarify that I do not see outreach and povery impact as mutually exclusive, but at the same time we should also recognize there is a certain degree of trade-off between the two: for any given amount of additional resources we could theoretically either increase scope/outreach (total number of beneficiaries) or depth of intervention ($/beneficiary). I proposed as a working hypothesis that the situation in Cambodia requires investing more in depth as a priority than trying to reach more people.

With regard to your question on scouting, I do not know if we need specific tools other than those we use in our daily work including communication tools. Generally, the scouting effort should be guided by a specific challenge we need to meet or a specific solution that we want to improve. This facilitates a lot the search and intelligence work. Scouting is generally done by "Scouts" who have a great familiarity with a given field, geographic area, market etc. and who also have a recognize ability to track and find people that have the solution or the skill they are looking for.

Posted on 6/5/12 12:20 PM in reply to Tawfiq El-Zabri.

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Hello Khalid, Tawfiq,
This is a very interesting strategic discussion and wish to bring my 2cents here.
I cannot agree more with the choice of the primary target and the non-exclusiveness of the approach.

Tawfiq also raises an important issue: ‘One of the necessary ingredients will be effective measuring and communicating of results, as a contributor to better capture of knowledge/experience and its dissemination’.

I believe strongly in this and can bring in here a bit of communication theory. One of the opportunities that climate change presents in this framework is an element of risk perception that could allow for medium to large scale use of behavioral change techniques. These are largely based on the capture and re-dissemination of knowledge with a good level of integrated monitoring. An approach that gears to address vulnerability and to build resilience is fit to target the poorest of the farmers in the coming years.The wide reach of the IFAD farmers group appears an excellent channel to use in this regard.

Another point is that from what I have witnessed, scouting in the country side, is that those that make it past the ‘poverty-post’ are those that have applied various techniques – holistic approach. It is therefore important to know what works in what context and to see the applicability of the best examples for specific targets. Communication in the IFAD farmer channel is already very present (trainings and meetings of farmers, with passing on of skills and coordination). One idea could be to loop the loop by generating feedback on learning needs to better assess the kind of information that benefits the specific target groups. I see a number of points raised by Khalid covered by this approach (1,3 and 4 in particular). This will help monitoring as well. Increased flows in communication will also have collateral impact to address 5. and 6.
This is a very interesting thread and I hope others will also contribute. I will try to design some specific questions in the upcoming filming to see what the poorest farmers have to say about this...but I would not be surprised that the issue of land is high on the priority list. A small policy in that direction could indeed go a very long way.

Posted on 6/11/12 4:50 PM in reply to Khalid El Harizi.

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CARE Cambodia orgainized its first livelihoods workshop, in Phnom Penh from 20-21 March 2012. The participants included CARE, AusAID, USAID, the UN and local and international non-government organizations and the Cambodian Government.I found the finding is very interesting for the sake of our new COSOP formulation, these included:

- Farmers learn best from demonstrations not textbooks or classrooms.

- Market and value chain analysis in livelihoods programming is weak and needs to be addressed to maximize opportunities for the poor. Staff capacity needs to be significantly increased to operationalise this.

- The private sector is an important but underutilized partner in development – opportunities need to be explored for working with them to support longer term, sustainable initiatives.

- Women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming are recognized as important but struggle at times to be effectively considered and integrated into livelihood programs. If communities are going to maximize benefits from development efforts, this needs to change.

- Climate change adaptation will significantly impact on the poor so integration into livelihood approaches is critical. However, in practice, efforts are rarely more innovative than focusing on the use of environmentally friend herbicides and pesticides. Sustainable use of resources beyond project completion are rarely understood.

- Farmers need greater collective bargaining power to enable them to maximize benefits from agricultural and non-agricultural activities.

- Benefits from livestock rearing are limited by issues around access to quality vaccines, and lack of technical knowledge of field staff. Significant capacity building and further research is required in this regard.

- To date, livelihood projects have focused on home and kitchen gardens to enhance nutrition, however, the link to nutrition is unclear. Broader consideration of addressing nutrition, especially for young children aged 0-2 years, should be given. In addition, better tracking of the link between home gardens and nutrition is required.

- There is not a comprehensive understanding of the term sustainability and what this means in practice. This needs to be addressed to support the intended impact of our projects.

- There is a lack of knowledge of how to scale up projects and what this would look like in practice.

- Currently, the impact of land concessions and reallocations on target beneficiaries as part of livelihood programming are rarely considered. Given the substantial impact this has on the poor and their vulnerability, this needs to change.

- Participants identified a broad range of potential beneficiaries who could benefit from CARE’s livelihood activities. These include the poor and poorest including ethnic minorities, remote communities, landless, disabled persons, female headed households, children, unemployed youth, migrants, trafficked or HIV/AIDS affected people, IDPoor category 1 and 2 people and those affected by land concessions, among others.

Posted on 6/12/12 4:46 AM in reply to Cedric Joel Jancloes.

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Thanks Cedric! I completely support the "loop the loop" tactic you recommended, and would be very interested to learn of the filming you are doing. I feel that video is underutilised by development projects as a monitoring and mutual learning tool. I am hoping to work with M&E experts in China to adopt video within the most-signficant-change and writeshop (in this case, videoshop) methods. within project completion review processes. If this materialises I'll certainly keep IFADAsia updated! Looking forward to hearing more about your work in these areas too.
Best, Tawfiq

Posted on 8/15/12 9:18 PM in reply to Cedric Joel Jancloes.

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