IFAD projects reach 50,000 rural Tunisian households
Development projects financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have contributed to better living conditions and less poverty in rural areas through substantial investments in natural resources management and socio-economic infrastructure, according to a new report presented today in the capital city of Tunis.
The report, prepared by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE), includes evaluations of six projects implemented between 2003 and 2018 for a total cost of US$248 million, of which $105 million was financed by IFAD.
According to the report's findings, IFAD's participatory and integrated territorial approach has empowered rural communities where 50,000 households have participated in the planning and management of socio-economic and productive investments. The report notes that the IFAD-funded programme has achieved "remarkable" environmental and natural resources management results.
For example, projects have helped combat land degradation on 35,600 hectares; and developed irrigation infrastructure on 3,600 hectares of farm lands. About 167,800 hectares of rangelands were recovered thanks to deferred grazing in agreement with land and livestock owners. Interventions like this, while boosting agricultural productivity and diversification, also help to raise incomes in rural areas.
"IFAD and Tunisia have been working together for almost 40 years" said Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s Regional Director for Near-East, North Africa, Central Asia and Europe. "IFAD has shown its comparative advantage in targeting vulnerable farmers and in creating rural employment. Long-term presence and close monitoring have improved sustainability and impact of our projects.”
Project successes are also attributed to several partnerships between Ministry of Agriculture, research institutions and community-based organizations, all of which worked together to find context-specific solutions.
The report highlights some areas for improvement. For instance, the IFAD programme had a rather modest impact on the social and economic empowerment of women and youth, and social and environmental sustainability of some investments remains uncertain.
The evaluation makes recommendations for future collaboration between IFAD and the Tunisian Government to reduce rural poverty. One of these is to ensure that interventions reach out more effectively to the poorest and most vulnerable, particularly poor farmers, women and youth. Another recommendation is to minimize the vulnerability of supported value chains to climate and market risks.
"The country strategy and programme evaluation raise an important question for IFAD's future interventions in Tunisia," said Fabrizio Felloni, IOE Deputy-Director. "How can IFAD, based on its global experience, help the government to develop more effective and innovative approaches to tackle persistent pockets of rural poverty and create decent employment opportunities for rural women and youth?" According to the evaluation report, this question should be at the centre of IFAD’s new country strategy for Tunisia.