Independent evaluation shows that IFAD support to Burkina Faso has increased agricultural productivity and incomes of households: By Cristina Spagnolo

Development projects financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have contributed to increased agricultural productivity and food security levels in Burkina Faso, according to results from an independent evaluation presented today.

The evaluation, conducted by the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) of IFAD,  assessed the results and performance of the IFAD-financed programme in the country, while providing recommendations for IFAD’s ongoing partnership with Burkina Faso as they work together to reduce rural poverty. The country strategy focused on the nutrition of the rural population, the resilience of rural households to food security, and the economic challenges they face.

The IOE evaluation, the first of its kind in Burkina Faso, covered the period from 2007 to 2017, and included six completed projects, of which one is on-going. The evaluation spanned 11 of the country’s 13 regions.

IFAD has been one of the major partners financing rural development interventions in Burkina Faso since 1981 and has disbursed US$276.7 million out of total project costs amounting to $548.4 million when co-financing has been included.

“The positive outcome of the independent evaluation of the results and performance of IFAD-supported projects and programmes in Burkina Faso is very encouraging,” said Lisandro Martin, Regional Director for West and Central Africa Division of IFAD. “In a country where the agriculture sector employs 80 per cent of the population and contributes up to 30 per cent of the GDP, creating attractive opportunities in the sector is key. IFAD is determined to accompany the government of Burkina Faso in its process of the transformation of the rural areas.”

According to the results of the evaluation, IFAD-supported projects enhanced agricultural productivity and food security by improving agricultural practices for food crops (maize, millet and sorghum) and for cash commodities (sesame, honey, dairy and shea). For example, through the warehouse receipt system, an effective risk management tool to reduce post harvest losses and control pest and diseases, smallholders were able to access good-quality crops in times of need and ultimately, better credit as well.

IFAD interventions also helped to diversify and increase rural incomes by promoting micro-enterprises and income-generating activities. As an example, the Rural Microenterprise Support Project contributed to the creation of 5,277 jobs, exceeding its goal of 2,700 jobs.

Among the successes, IFAD-supported activities generated a large number of technical and institutional innovations in the targeted regions, such as providing quality equipment for processing cassava, rice, fruit juice, milk, shea almond and meat drying. Other positive impacts highlighted by the evaluation include enhanced capabilities of farmers’ organizations (FOs). New FOs were created, members were trained and development plans were created to improve their access to markets. IFAD-supported projects also contributed to strengthening the partnership with the government through the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture, who worked together with local communities to ensure coherent interventions with respect to governmental policies.

Challenges for the future

The evaluation highlights achievements as well as issues that still need to be addressed. One of its recommendations is to focus on the sustainability of interventions by setting up an effective monitoring and evaluation system. Another recommendation is to step up actions, in cooperation with partners, to manage crop production and other natural resources in a sustainable way in order to reduce the vulnerability of rural communities to climate change challenges. Looking ahead, the report says IFAD will need to extend its reach to the poorest and most vulnerable populations, particularly women and young people, by enabling them to access microcredit.

According to Oscar Garcia, IOE’s Director, “Positive and sustainable changes can take place in the agriculture sector in Burkina Faso only in the context of well-planned interventions and in a culture of mutual learning and incorporation of lessons learned.”