“First of its kind” agriculture and rural development evaluation approved by AfDB and IFAD Executive Boards

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Tunis and Rome, 10 January 2007 – The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are set to begin an independent joint evaluation this month that will review the agricultural and rural development policies and operations of AfDB and IFAD in Africa between 1996 and 2005.

«"IFAD and AfDB share the need to understand better what works in fighting rural poverty and what doesn’t," said IFAD President Lennart Båge, after the evaluation was approved by each of the organizations’ Executive Boards in December 2006.

"This evaluation will help both institutions to internalize this knowledge and build upon it, as well as to disseminate it to other rural development partners," said AfDB President Donald Kaberuka.

The joint evaluation will release a final report toward the end of 2008. Initial findings are expected to be available as early as the end of 2007. There will be many opportunities for various stakeholders, including African governments and poor rural people themselves, to share their feedback and suggestions on the evaluation as well as to learn about its ongoing findings.

The evaluation will be governed by both AfDB and IFAD’s evaluation policies and share the same framework, criteria and methods. There will be a single team of evaluators.

According to the heads of both AfDB and IFAD, this evaluation will be the first of its kind for both institutions, and if accomplished successfully, will contribute substantially to the harmonization of agricultural development policy and programs in Africa as well as evaluation practices.

Africa is the only region in the world where agricultural productivity has declined over the last 20 years. While there are some success stories, yields of many important food crops in Africa, such as maize, millet, sorghum, yams and groundnuts, are no higher today than in 1980. Access to domestic, regional and world markets is still limited for most small farmers in Africa, particularly among the large group of African women farmers.

The evaluation will also assess how to improve the contribution of agriculture and rural development to growth and poverty reduction, the sectors’ international competitiveness and policy environment, and investment potential in vital sub-sectors, such as water, rural infrastructure and microfinance.

The evaluation will focus on the results of AfDB- and IFAD-supported operations by drawing upon three sources of information: internal and external documents and databases, interviews with governmental officials, farmers, members of the donor community and other experts, and direct observation in at least 10 borrower countries.

AfDB and IFAD signed a formal partnership agreement in 1978 to facilitate joint rural development initiatives. The two institutions have since invested a combined total of more than US$10 billion in loans and grants to support agricultural and rural development in Africa. This investment climbs to US$17 billion when co-financing and borrower contributions are included.

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