Development projects supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the Philippines “have contributed to improving rural livelihoods and empowering the rural poor,” results of a United Nations audit report released on Wednesday showed.
The country strategy and program evaluation was carried out by the UN Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) to assess the results and performance of the IFAD-supported program in the Philippines from 2003 to 2015 and make recommendations for future programs between IFAD and the Philippine government.
According to the report, the country program “has been particularly strong in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.”
“Individual project initiatives contributed to increased incomes and economic opportunities for women and their households, as well as an increase in women’s participation in the decision-making processes—for example, in positions of leadership in irrigators’ associations,” the report said.
“The evaluation has allowed us to review our achievements and the impact of our work in rural areas,” Périn Saint Ange, Associate Vice-President and Head of Programs for IFAD said in a statement. “The country program has been strong in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment and has provided a conducive environment for women to develop microenterprise activities.”
Other areas of progress noted by the IOE assessment included rural infrastructure, particularly in the development of farm-to-market roads and footbridges. “Projects have also boosted participatory development processes with rural communities and local government and improved farmers’ productivity by strengthening irrigators’ associations that manage communal irrigation systems,” the report added.
General recommendations made by the report were that IFAD explore opportunities for both financial and non-financial support, and that it expand its support for knowledge management platforms in the Philippines.
“There is need to further upgrade knowledge management so that it better informs policy discussions and investments. The links between knowledge, policy engagement and the potential for scaling up are essential for the future rural development work being carried out together by the Philippines and IFAD,” says Fabrizio Felloni, Deputy Director of the IOE. “It is also important to strengthen project monitoring and evaluation to generate better quality evidence and knowledge.”
The report also made a general recommendation that the results of benefits to different groups of people, such as indigenous peoples, agrarian reform beneficiaries, fishermen, and women be more closely monitored to better calibrate programs to specific segments of the rural poor.
According to IFAD, it has provided $243.7 million in loans for 15 major projects in the Philippines since 1978, benefiting an estimated 1.74 million households.