This year, the 7th Regional Forum for IFAD-funded Projects will take place from 12th to 15th of November 2012, in Banjul, The Gambia. The forum is being organized and financed jointly with projects and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of the Gambia. The Annual Regional Forum is an important knowledge-sharing event, which enables IFAD-funded projects, and development partners from the region to meet, network and share experiences and review performance with the objective of improving the lives of the rural poor. It is also an important portfolio management process, and mechanism for the West and Central Africa Division (WCA) to continuously improve the performance of projects and grants in terms of relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency.
Key objectives of the Annual Regional WCA Forums are:
The need to reduce poverty and food insecurity has never been more urgent. Under its Ninth Replenishment, IFAD has committed to bringing 80 million people out of poverty by 2015. The member countries which fund IFAD face severe fiscal and economic constraints and are looking to IFAD to demonstrate its value-for-money more than ever before. A drive for effectiveness and efficiency is, thus, at the heart of everything IFAD does.
The 2011 edition of annual Report on IFAD’s Development Effectiveness (RIDE) clearly shows our progress during the Eighth Replenishment 2010-2012 period (IFAD8), compared with the previous three-year Seventh Replenishment period (IFAD7). Looking at the historical performance since 2009-2010 review period, WCA’s on-going portfolio size has been growing at an annual average rate of 11%, which indicates the region’s improving operational capacity to absorb and manage larger resources. At the same time, the annual disbursement increased at a pace of 31% annual average, thus indicating the region’s improving implementation efficiency. IFAD operations in WCA are, on the whole, contributing positively to sustainable rural livelihoods across the region.
However, overall, ratings on project management for on-going projects during this reporting period, have remained stable in average scores compared to the previous period (3.98 in 2010-2011 and 3.93 in 2011-2012). They continue to be moderately unsatisfactory overall. Coherence between planned and actual AWPB implementation is the lowest rated project performance indicator with an average of 3.5, meaning that projects on average met less than 50% of the 2011 targets. Only about 52% of projects have been able to carry out more than 70% of the planned activities. These projects were able to implement more than 80% of 2011 planned activities on time and within the budget allocation. Even where project design has been satisfactory, weak implementation capacity has often led to unsatisfactory results. Not surprisingly, there appears to be a direct relationship between the inadequate quality of project management and that of the weak performance of M&E and of quality of preparation/coherence in AWPB.
Weaknesses in project management can be attributed to weak overall results based management culture and competencies in many countries of the region. There is also a direct relationship between the quality of project management and the overall performance of projects as well as M&E and the preparation/coherence in AWPB. The AWPBs remain too often overly ambitious without realistically taking into consideration local (project and government) context: weak planning capacity, limited availability of qualified service providers and lengthy government procurement systems, resulting in long implementation delays. Existing M&E systems are generally not adequately capturing and documenting results and impact and are not effectively used as management tools.
As a result of this low to poor implementation performance, there is a clear need to identify ways to increase the performance and sustainability of investments in the region, by pinpointing practical measures to improve project implementation. This includes planning, implementation arrangements, supervision/implementation support, and systems for monitoring and evaluation. Those are key areas for improved performance, which will be the focus for WCA in the coming years.