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5 Key Findings from Application of the FFS Approach within RFLDC

5.1 Relevance

Bangladeshi and Danish policies and strategies for economic development and food security

The Evaluation finds that FFS within RFLDC is very well in line with the PRSP II in Bangladesh, which places emphasis on activities that are targeted to benefit the extreme poor, women in poverty, landless poor and other vulnerable groups, as well as the focus on protecting the poor from falling into deeper poverty (through social safety net programmes and include food security). RFLDC also links up with the National Fisheries Strategy, the National Livestock Development Policy and the National Fishery Policy, as well as the New Agricultural Extension Policy, which covers not only the crop sector but also considers the fisheries and livestock sub-sectors, which aim to promote more integrated services.

The FFS approach and target group of the RFLDC are highly relevant in view of Danida's overall goal of poverty alleviation and its priority areas of supporting the poor and marginal, including indigenous people. RFLDC is pro-poor and focused on promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and women’s rights to education, production and income.

On the other hand, the current RFLDC implementation set-up is not in line with Danida’s policies and strategies on sustainable development or commitments on country ownership and alignment[40]. RFLDC is implemented through a project-like modality, which can be seen as a continuation and a left-over from previous times, when Danida implemented projects directly, parallel to, or independent of, the government of the recipient country, and extensively paid top-up allowances and salaries of project stakeholders and beneficiaries. It is noted that the original RFLDC document was designed to give DoF and DLS an active role as implementers, but as no allowances have been paid from the Danida budget to Government staff, the willingness of DoF and DLS staff to contribute has been limited.

FFS content

The Evaluation considers the content of the FFS relevant for the target groups: participants select topics according to their needs, even though the choice is mostly already pre-defined by the facilitator based on her/his experience and understanding of the most common needs of the participants.

FFS technologies

In general, the FFS participants appreciated the hands-on, practical approach of the FFS, with demonstrations in gardens and ponds, and the use of live samples and drawing, which makes it easy to understand and memorise. Poultry was considered the most useful session and was very popular. In vegetable production, making raised beds and the preparation and use of compost were well received and widely implemented, as well as the use of bio (botanical) pesticides for pest management.

In both Barisal and Noakhali, the Evaluation found that the FFS participants seem to readily apply what they have learned through the FFS sessions, although sometimes the (improved) inputs are difficult to acquire and vaccination of chickens is not always effective. The motivation and expectations of the FFS participants were to learn (new) technologies, increase their production and consequently increase their income, produce more vegetables and poultry for home consumption and ultimately reduce poverty (have more to eat and sell). Some FFS participants mentioned the potential access to new inputs (seeds, vaccine) as a motivating factor.

In Noakhali, in the majority of the cases, the women are the ’principal’ FFS participants, however, the men also expressed that they found the content relevant for their household (their wives) and partly for themselves as far as they were involved in agricultural activities themselves; most are day labourers or occupied with non-agriculture jobs, and are not engaged in production on their own land plots or ponds.

A group of men interviewed in the Char area in Noakhali mentioned that due to the knowledge and use of compost making they were now able to cultivate rice on previously saline land. The same men (who had some land) attended training provided by other projects and they mentioned that the advantage of FFS is that it is practical, in the field and integrated all their resources, including homestead, the year round.

5.2 Efficiency

FFS methodology

Most of the visited FFS sessions provided examples of top-down demonstration sessions of rather simple production improvement methods. As a demonstration exercise they were good: well prepared, appropriate materials and use of it, nice sitting arrangement and the questions (for knowledge, understanding and recapitulation) were generally addressed to several participants.

The applied methodology may therefore have achieved the objectives of improving the production and livelihood of the participants, but not yet the development of farmers as skilled, informed independent decision making experts. However, for the level of existing knowledge and experience of the participants as well as their actual need for rather simple, easy to implement production improvement technologies the used methodologies were adequate and effective.

The main limitation to the methodology applied is that the level of experience of the farmers may not be sufficient to make effective use of the Experiential Learning approach and/or the fact that this approach was not adequately used. The educational level is low and illiteracy, especially among the women, high. Most men are not full-time farmers and have to divide their time between wage-paid labour and work on their own farm.

Training approaches

In both Barisal and Noakhali the Evaluation observed that the FFS was generally participatory demonstrations that included field and pond visits, but without intensive and recurrent AESA/FMA. This approach may be very well suited for the target group to demonstrate a simple technology and may, for the female participants with limited own experience and resources, constitute a first introduction to the FFS approach. As the participants from previously completed FFS batches were very eager to expand their (agricultural) activities and were interested in learning more, the development of their more advanced FFS evaluation and decision-making skills could be achieved in a future FFS module of appropriate duration and content.

The observed Season-Long Learning session was very practical and participatory. However, the Evaluation is concerned that the attention given to facilitation and communication skills is too limited[41]. Another concern of the Evaluation is that the ’practice’ FFS, run by the individual Local Facilitators, may not be supervised intensively enough. It was understood that the trainers and RFLDC staff visit the practice FFS, but the frequency of these visits was unclear. It was also unclear whether facilitation skills are being assessed to the same extent as technical issues are.

Every two months the Local Facilitators of one Upazila attend a (de)briefing meeting/refresher course. From the discussions however, it appeared that these meetings were mainly used for organisational and coordination matters and little time was being allocated for discussion of additional training issues.

The Evaluation found it encouraging that several Local Facilitators mentioned that they would like to have more training on facilitation/non-formal education skills, gender related issues and on Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA). Some male facilitators wanted to have more knowledge on crop cultivation (rice, soybean). This indicates that the Local Facilitators are critical about their own performance and their required additional training needs.

Selection of households for FFS

As in the AEC, the criteria for selection of households for FFS within the villages are not clear. They depend a lot on the Local Facilitators and may be influenced by different socio-cultural, religious and economic forces in different places (see also discussion in Section 4.2).

Local Facilitators – selection and delivery

Overall the Local Facilitators met in Barisal and Noakhali showed commitment and enthusiasm for their jobs. They were well liked and their skills and knowledge highly appreciated by the FFS participants. The ’Tripura-speaking’[42] Local Facilitator in the FFS for Tripura women in the Chittagong Foothills, was highly appreciated by the illiterate FFS participants, who spoke very little Bangla.

The Evaluation observed Season-Long Learning sessions in both Barisal and Noakhali, and found that the relatively young trainees showed much commitment and enthusiasm for their job. The technical level of the training and the facilitation of the Season-Long Learning were of high quality. However, the PRA tools discussed during the sessions appeared to be too complicated and too theoretical for the FFS participants. There was too much writing in Bangla, given the high rate of illiteracy and the Adivasi FFS participants of some FFS.

In both Barisal and Noakhali, the Evaluation found that in general the Local Facilitators matched the selection criteria[43]. In the guidelines the minimum qualification is stated as Secondary School (grade 10) although High School is preferred. It appeared that in practice most facilitators interviewed by the Evaluation had High School level education or even higher. According to RFLDC the requirements for educational levels will be reduced to allow for inclusion of more women and promising former FFS participants, who generally have a lower level of education. The Evaluation fully supports this move and considers primary education (being able to read and write) sufficient to be able to attend the Season-Long Learning Local Facilitator training. None of the interviewed Local Facilitators had previous experience as FFS participants, but more than half of them had previous experience as facilitator/promoter. This can be an advantage, but equally well be a disadvantage as they are generally used to more top-down extension methods than the participatory FFS methodologies.

For both Barisal and Noakhali, the Evaluation found that the main motivation of the Local Facilitators was the opportunity to develop their own agricultural production skills, and benefit from this in their own household. For some (young) men and women the job as Local Facilitator provided an opportunity to obtain a paid job locally[44]. Only a few of the facilitators, mainly the older men, mentioned that as Local Facilitator they could help the development of their community.

In terms of gender, even though the CBO and RFLDC staff is mostly composed of men, the risk of gender bias in the selection procedure seems limited since the procedures require equal nominations of men and women. This also applies to the selection of members of ethnic minorities[45].

Another issue related to the Local Facilitator selection process, which is of some concern to the Evaluation, is how the CBOs will manage their role in this process in the future in a scenario without the presence of RFLDC for ’quality assurance’. Many CBOs seem to have reached a level now, where they can only absorb uptake of a few new members each year. They appear to give priority to new members that are ’educated’ and can contribute to ’further development’ of the CBO. This must be seen as a natural consequence of the gradual movement of the CBO’s towards becoming community centres for linking of farmers to input supplies and, increasingly, also to marketing. This increases the requirements for the level of competencies and skills within the CBOs. In relation to the Local Facilitators, who are all supposed to become CBO members, there is an obvious risk that the CBOs may be looking more into these potential ’CBO developing’ competencies in the future than into what is actually most needed in terms of becoming a good Local Facilitator. Attention needs to be paid to this issue.

It was found that facilitators find it difficult to explain the objectives of CBOs to the FFS participants and to encourage them to become members, even though they are employed by a CBO, some are members themselves, and have received training on CBOs. This could also be related to the fact that they anticipate that most of the FFS participants will not be interested in membership as they cannot afford the membership fees or are restricted by social norms. Especially in this case, they will need to strengthen their convincing skills.

5.3 Effectiveness

Achievement of intended outcomes and outputs

Outcome indicators

The immediate objective of the RFLDC is: Improved and sustainable productivity of and returns from fisheries and livestock systems of resource-poor households. The following targets have been established for RFLDC FFS interventions at the outcome level in terms of income, production and food security:

  • at least 500,000 resource-poor households will have increased their yields and/or returns from fisheries and livestock enterprises by at least 100%; and
     
  • percentage of household income from fisheries and livestock by at least 20%.

Based on data from the RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation, the Evaluation finds that RFLDC is well on track to fulfil the outcome target indicators. Data show that at the time of the survey 143 FFS households (46% of those responding) had increased production yield by at least 100%. In terms of fisheries and livestock, 95 FFS households (24% of those responding) had managed to increase their yield by at least 100% so far. Finally, according to the data the share of total household income among FFS participating households from fisheries and livestock has increased from, on average, 18% before FFS, to 22% after FFS,.

Output indicators

Table 5.1 provides an overview of the number of FFS and farmers reached by FFS within RFLDC up to December 2010 (targets and achievements).

Table 5.1 Number of FFS and farmers reached in RFLDC (by December 2010)
  Programme targets
(RFLDC-Noakhali
and RFLDC-Barisal)
Planned by end of
December 2010
Achieved by end of
December 2010
Total number of FFS established Total: 13,300
Noakhali: 5,800
Barisal: 7,500
Total: 10,500
Noakhali: 4,000
Barisal: 6,500
Total: 10,749
Noakhali: 3,779
Barisal: 6,970
Total number of FFS phased out Total: 13,300
Noakhali: 5,800
Barisal: 7,500
Total: 8,416
Noakhali: 2,563
Barisal: 5,853
Total: 8,210
Noakhali: 2,563
Barisal: 5,647
Total number of households(FFS established)     Total: 256,245

Noakhali: 103,032 (principal participant: 28,728 male and 74,304 female)

Barisal: 153,213 (292,813 farmers: 115,337 male and 177,480 female)

Source: Data provided by RFLDC-Barisal and RFLDC-Noakhali.

According to the component data from December 2010, RFLDC is slightly ahead of the planning in terms of number of FFS established. After a slow start, RFLDC-Barisal has caught up and is now fully on track with the targets. This means that more than 13,000 FFS will have been established within RFLDC by the end of the programme, covering a total of more than 300,000 households.

It is noted that the percentage of female participants is high: In Noakhali the ’principal’ household participant is in 72% of the cases the woman. In Barisal, where men and women were following different sessions up to 2010, the women ratio is 61%.

Group formation

In RFLDC, FFS members’ continuation with group activities after completion of FFS, has up till now primarily been related to their linkage to CBOs.

Table 5.2 Number of CBOs and members in RFLDC (by April 2011)
  Noakhali Barisal
Number of CBOs Noakhali: 171
(of which 85 already existed in 2007)
Barisal: 256
Number of male/female members in CBO’s (incl. members of the Executive Committees) Male: 6,120
Female: 4,292
Male: 23,425
Female: 16,106
Number of male/female members in CBO Executive Committees Male: 601
Female: 148
Male: 2,326
Female: 442

Source: Data provided by RFLDC-Barisal and RFLDC-Noakhali.

In total, more than 400 CBOs are now functioning within the RFLDC area, with a current membership base of around 50,000 persons or, on average, close to 120 members per CBO (Table 5.2). Most CBOs are now either legally registered or in the process of becoming so. RFLDC is assisting in this process, which is reportedly quite demanding for the CBOs to come through[46].

Based on discussions with CBO members, and an attempt to understand how they perceive the role, function and mandate of the CBO, the Evaluation found that the ’CBO’ name is inappropriate. Although the CBOs also fill a role for social protection and local decision-making within the community, the majority of the CBO members consulted considered the CBO to be more a ’farmer organisation’ than a ’community organisation’. It was repeatedly mentioned by the CBO members that the driving force to become a CBO member was to get mutual benefit from existing farming practices and get access to better agricultural information/services.

Not all CBO members are FFS farmers. In fact, in the ’old’ CBOs in Noakhali and Barisal, many of the members are not from FFS and few new FFS members are taken in each year. In Noakhali, there is no record of how many CBO members have joined from FFS. During the year 2010, a total of 1,223 (220 male and 1,003 female) FFS farmers became CBO members. In Barisal, within the CBOs established during PBAEC (especially for Patuakhali and Barguna district), there were no FFS conducted before ASPS II. However according to RFLDC-Barisal the share of FFS members in these CBOs should be approximately 50%. In the ’new’ districts of Bhola, Barisal, Pirojpur and Jhalokati, there is a policy decision that selection of CBO members should be from FFS. The CBOs in these districts now have a total number of FFS members of 16,889.

A rough estimate would therefore be that maximum 80% of the CBO members are from FFS. In that case, less than 40,000 out of nearly 400,000 already phased-out FFS participants, or less than 10%, would have become general CBO members. There is no data within RFLDC on CBO member’s ethnic/religious background. However, in all CBOs visited by the Evaluation the proportion of Muslim members to Hindu members was well-above the proportion between Muslims and Hindus living in the community. Only in a very few cases were Hindus members of CBO Executive Committees.

Despite the fact that the large majority of the principal FFS participants are women, within the CBOs the majority of the members (60%) are men. There is no official data available on CBO meeting attendance; however from the meetings carried out with CBO representatives during fieldwork it was informed that the relative attendance rate is much lower for women than for men.

In the CBO Executive Committees the gender imbalance is even more striking in favour of men: Out of a total of 3,517 Executive Committee members, only 590 members (17%) are women. From the 171 CBOs in Noakhali, there are nine (5%) female Presidents and 12 (7%) female Vice-Presidents[47].

The above data and findings on the CBO members, suggest that the group dynamic introduced through FFS is at high risk of being dissolved right after completion of FFS. In particular women appear to become excluded, or exclude themselves, from CBO membership to a large extent.

Given FFS female participants’ relatively low representation in the CBOs, in particular in the Executive Committees, it seems that FFS in general has not contributed effectively to gender equality in leadership and decision-making of those organisations. Moreover, even powerful women in the executive decision-making bodies of the CBOs do not necessarily ensure that a fair share of CBO spending of block grants and savings will be allocated for activities, managed and decided by women.

In RFLDC, women’s economical and organisational/political empowerment seems therefore in many cases to end at the FFS completion. There is not yet any natural organisational evolution of the FFS into CBOs that ensure women’s equal opportunities and involvement. The qualitative fieldwork revealed that women are hardly informed about CBO activities and purpose. In other cases, they claim not to be interested, since they find it too inconvenient or they are not allowed to travel out of their homestead and village to attend meetings at the CBO Office, or have no time left over from reproductive or productive activities. Some households were not interested since CBOs do not offer loans to their members.

However, the challenge of getting a higher rate of FFS participants (in particular women) to join the CBOs, not only reflects a limited demand for membership, but is to some extent also linked to the CBOs limited absorption capacity. Due to the escalating number of FFS being implemented and phased-out within RFLDC during the last 2-3 years, the many existing CBOs have serious problems with increasing the intake of new members from FFS in line with the number of phased-out FFS participants ’produced’. This absorption issue still has not been sufficiently compensated for through establishing of additional CBOs.

In addition, the CBOs also reported strong interest from non-FFS participants (mainly men) to join CBOs. However, due to a combination of the above mentioned absorption issue and a clearly observed tendency among existing CBO members to prefer membership of FFS participants, it is only a very few non-FFS participants that actually manage to become CBO members. Likewise, most non-FFS participants are not allowed membership, although many reportedly are showing interest. According to the CBO leaders, the main reasons for not allowing non-FFS participants membership are that, since they have not been trained through FFS, they are not able to ’keep pace’ with the phased-out FFS participants. Another reason provided is that the non-FFS participants are not ’disciplined’ enough in terms of contributing to the CBO savings. Within control villages, farmers were in general not aware of the existence of CBOs.

As a result, many CBOs only allow a limited ’quota’ to become new members each year. These new members are often ’hand-picked’ by the CBO leaders, based on their abilities to contribute to ’further development’ of the CBOs. This issue seems to become of even more importance at a time when the CBOs are increasing their role and involvement in a number of activities, including income generating activities, input supplies and marketing. New members are therefore often relatively educated people (see also discussion of this under the section covering selection of Local Facilitators) with financial capability to contribute to the CBO saving scheme (approx. BDT 100 per month). In this way, there is an obvious risk that in the future the CBOs will gradually turn even more into ’elite groups’ within the communities.

A ranking system is being applied by RFLDC for assessing the performance of the CBOs. Data is collected once a year from the CBOs. The CBO Performance Assessment is a useful monitoring and management tool for RFLDC in several ways: i) for identification of needs for assistance to the CBOs (mainly in terms of capacity development); ii) for assessing the CBOs capacity/capability in terms of FFS implementation; and iii) for assessing the CBO’s capacity in terms of receiving block grants.

Access to production inputs and services

When asked about the purpose of the CBO, the two most common answers from the CBO members were that the CBOs were for ’sharing of experiences and learning’ and for ’easier access to support and inputs’.

The CBOs have gained increasing importance among its members and in some cases also for some non-CBO members, in terms of facilitating various types of inputs and services to the farmers. These services and inputs are often cheaper, of better quality and more reliable than when the farmers have tried to access them on an individual basis. During the discussions with CBO members, it was often raised as a key issue that since the Upazila central markets are located rather far away from the communities, it is very important to have a local supply facility.

In addition many CBOs are getting, beside other farm inputs, post larvae[48] through the market linkage with hatcheries and selling these to the community/local bazaar thereby becoming an important income generating activity for them[49].

Marketing and income-generating activities

The CBOs are increasingly getting involved with various types of income generating activities. This includes fish culture, nursery, vaccine, beef fattening, goat rearing and retailing of seeds. Recently, the CBOs have started to establish input selling centres in small scale (mainly fish feed, animal feed and seeds) as well as animal health centres (including vaccinations). These centres are also to some extent benefitting non-CBO members, who will also have access to buying these services from the CBO (if feed, seeds and vaccine are still available after the CBO members have got their share).

The Evaluation found that the concept of linking FFS up to CBOs for further developing of inputs and marketing channels has a lot of potential. The business orientation of the CBOs is clearly developing and they are eager to take on new projects to generate income for the CBO. The majority of the CBOs consulted during fieldwork seemed very confident that they could handle business processes such as provision of services and quality inputs to their members through buying from wholesalers.

CBO funds consist of monthly member deposits, revolving block grants (originally from RFLDC), CBO share selling, profit sharing and, most importantly, of income from input selling by the CBOs, inputs that the CBOs often receive from the CBO Association at district level. The fish culture projects are very popular among the CBOs and generate high income in this region. Besides, they have the scope of involving other community people for economic return.

The development of the role of the CBOs in terms of supporting its members farming production has focused mainly on the supply and input side, although RFLDC’s major thrust since 2010 has been to diversify the activities of the CBOs into marketing. In terms of marketing however, from the discussions with FFS farmers during fieldwork it was clear that they are still very dependent on the local markets for selling their products and are lacking access and linkages to larger, more distant markets. The fact that the FFS farmers have improved access to better, cheaper and more reliable inputs, in addition to the training and knowledge they have gained from participating in FFS, has allowed them to increase production and selling of various products significantly (see Section 5.4 below). This obviously leads to the need for developing realistic marketing strategies and establishing mechanisms to make it possible for the CBOs, to support the farmers in reaching regional and national markets.

Since individual CBOs have limitations in terms of size and scope of their work, four CBO District Associations have been established in Noakhali and another four in Barisal. These associations are composed of representatives of the individual CBOs, either the CBO President or the Vice-President attends the meetings in the District Association. Since very few women have the position of either President or Vice-President in the CBOs the District Associations are almost entirely composed of men. The CBO District Associations have been established with a particular view to play a role as wholesaler and facilitating services at a higher level. The individual CBOs pay a monthly contribution to the CBO District Associations. RFLDC assists the CBO District Associations with establishing of linkages and networking.

Education and awareness

The Evaluation identified no evidence of any direct effects (positive or negative) from FFS on the raising of awareness on socio-cultural issues within RFLDC. However, as it was also found in AEC, there is no doubt that simply raising these issues during FFS sessions with the women (and according to Local Facilitators and female FFS participants consulted that has actually happened), has contributed to breaking the silence in the villages and spreading the word on some very sensitive issues and taboos which are affecting women and children in their daily life. Please refer additionally to the discussion under Section 4.3.

5.4 Impact

Income and food security

Income

The RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data indicate that the observed increases in average household income can be attributed to the FFS interventions within RFLDC (Table

5.3). Both FFS households and control village households have experienced significant increases in household income since FFS started. However, the increases within FFS households are significantly larger (significant at the 1% level)[50].

Table 5.3 Changes in total annual household income (BDT)

  Before After Difference
FFS villages 51,919 71,713 19,794***
Control villages 46,877 56,621 9,744*
Difference 5,042* 15,092*** 10,050***

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

In addition, double difference estimates show that the income increases have been most significant for the poorest FFS households within RFLDC: while total annual household income increased by BDT 12,137 per year (significant) for the below median income it only increased by BDT 6,954 (insignificant) for the above median income.

A breakdown of total household income into different sources of income also shows differences between FFS households and control village households that can be attributed to the FFS interventions within RFLDC (Table 5.4). It is notable that changes in income from, in particular, fish farming, poultry and livestock are significantly higher for FFS households than for control village households (at the 1% and 5% level). The change in crop income is also significantly higher for FFS households than for control village households (at the 10% level).

Table 5.4 Changes in annual household income for different sources of income (BDT)
Agricultural/crop income Before After Difference
FFS villages 20,064 26,457 6,393
Control villages 14,591 17,461 2,870
Difference 5,473 8,996 3,523*

Livestock income Before After Difference
FFS villages 5,162 9,593 4,431
Control villages 2,091 4,015 1,924
Difference 3,071 5,578 2,507**

Poultry income Before After Difference
FFS villages 2,565 5,471 2,906
Control villages 1,356 1,988 632
Difference 1,209 3,483 2,274***

Fish farming income Before After Difference
FFS villages 4,259 6,823 2,564
Control villages 1,894 2,493 599
Difference 2,365 4,330 1,965***

Wage income Before After Difference
FFS villages 13,273 15,246 1,973
Control villages 17,956 20,735 2,779
Difference -4,683 -5,489 -806

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

The only income source that does not change significantly is income from wage. Data on wage income actually shows less increase within FFS households than within control village households which indicates an increased focus on agricultural productions within FFS households.

Labour migration and off-farm income

According to the RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data there is no evidence that the observed relative change between ’on-farm’ and ’off-farm’ income within, respectively, FFS households and control village households, has been significant and can be attributed the FFS interventions.

The qualitative fieldwork provided indications that the FFS have had some impact on seasonal male labour migration among FFS households. There were indications that FFS participation has contributed to reducing male labour migration because male farmers now assist their wives in homestead poultry or aquaculture production on a larger scale. On the other hand, off-farm day labouring does not seem to have been reduced: The men are still doing day labouring to the same extent as previously, but they are at the same time assisting more in household production activities.

Consumption

The RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data (Table 5.5) shows that general increases in consumption cannot be credited to the FFS interventions.

Table 5.5 Total annual household consumption (BDT)

  Before After Difference
FFS villages 74,547 91,273 16,726***
Control villages 56,632 70,061 13,429***
Difference 17,915*** 21,212*** 3,297

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

The increase in household consumption has been highly significant for both FFS participants and control village households (highly significant before-after estimates for both groups)[51]. However, when matched double difference is included the estimates suggest that the observed increase in consumption spending cannot be attributed to the FFS intervention.

Saving

With significant income increases and no effects on consumption it would be expected that FFS interventions would have had a well-determined effect on household savings. This is confirmed by the matched double difference estimate (Table 5.6). It is also noted that FFS interventions have had a positive impact on FFS household’s vulnerability (climate) as well as on a number of financial indicators, related to changes in income.

Table 5.6 Vulnerability and financial indicators (% of households that report of

 increased vulnerability/spending)

    FFS villages Control villages  Difference  
Vulnerability Fish catching 3.2 -11.7 14.9  
Climate 0.2 17.9 -17.7 ***
Government actions -15.9 -20.5 4.6  
Financial Debt -12.5 35.4 -47.9 ***
Loans 1.3 12.5 -11.2 *
Educational expenses 78.5 56.1 22.4 **
Festivals etc. 87.8 72.8 14.9 *
Medical/health expenses 35.6 48.8 -13.3 *
Expenses on clothes 91.0 80.2 10.7 *
Savings 69.7 45.8 23.9 **

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

The data also show that control village households have increased their debt to neighbours and NGOs to a relatively greater extent than the FFS participants. Both groups have increased spending for education and clothes.

Given FFS households’ lack of access to loan and credit facilities in the RFLDC, the support through FFS has not directly provided loan alternatives to local money lenders, NGOs etc. However, the observed increases in household production and income appear to have led to decreased loan taking.

Food Security

FFS intervention has led to a significant reduction in the likelihood of being hit by food shortage (Table 5.7).

Table 5.7 Probability of experiencing food shortage (%)
  Before After Difference  
FFS villages 20.1 11.3 -8.8 ***
Control villages 31.3 30.0 -1.3  
Difference -11.1*** -18.7*** -7.6 ***

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

The FFS households report that their probability of being hit by food shortage has decreased from 20.1% before FFS to 11.3% after FFS. In comparison to the control village households this is a significant decrease, as they reported only a limited decrease in food shortage within the same period. It should be noted, that this result is mainly driven by the FFS households in the lower income levels: the double difference estimates are, respectively, 10% for below median income earners and 5% for above median income earners.

The qualitative fieldwork confirmed these findings: the control village households had not been able to increase food security to the same extent as the FFS participating households within the same time period.

Employment and workloads

In the RFLDC area the FGDs provided a mixed picture in terms of the impact from FFS on workloads: in some cases the work loads of poultry and aquaculture producers had decreased, due to the new methods and knowledge that the producers learned during the FFS. In other cases, the work load had increased for the better, depending on the level of income and reinvestment in agricultural activities, or the involvement of CBO.

Women empowerment

The RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data (Table 5.8) show that the FFS interventions have had a highly significant positive effect with regards to women’s participation in income generating activities, family decisions, production decisions and in community activities.

Table 5.8 Women’s mobility and participation (%)

    FFS villages Control villages Difference  
Mobility Towns etc. 71.3 75.8 -4.5  
Social calls 80.9 47.2 33.7 ***
Health centre -3.2 1.7 -4.9  
Zila offices 23.2 10.7 12.5  
Participation Income generating act. 82.2 26.4 55.8 ***
Family decisions 84.9 37.6 47.3 ***
Production decisions 78.8 20.3 58.5 ***
NGO activities 43.0 18.6 24.4 **
  Community activities 78.5 43.9 34.6 ***

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

In terms of mobility of women in the RFLDC areas, there is no evidence that FFS interventions have had any significant effect in terms of increasing women’s mobility and access to e.g. towns and health centres, though it has to be mentioned that the issue was not a direct part of the RFLDC mandate.

The qualitative fieldwork left no doubt that participation in FFS has been highly appreciated by the women of all ages, and that the FFS has contributed to increasing women’s productive role, their self-confidence, and their status in the family and community.

Overall, there seems to be more gender equality in the poorest households; here generally, ’husband and wife are in it together’. Any support to women and any contribution from their side is highly appreciated by the men in the households; more so in the Hindu and Adivasi communities, than in the relatively better-off Muslim households.

Income and income distribution at intra, and at inter household level

The Evaluation found that men/husbands only controlled to a limited extent FFS women’s/wives’ increased income from homestead production within the RFLDC. This appears to be because income among RFLDC FFS households is very low in most cases, and because the RFLDC targets and reaches more of the poorest women from female-headed households, and from Hindu and/or tribal households, where husband and wife share decision-making more equally than in Muslim households. Women’s poultry and vegetable production is relatively small, but the surplus from household production is in most cases sold in quite small quantities at the farm gate or in the village, and not by husbands or sons at the markets. This appears to give women slightly more control over their own income, compared to before FFS, where the women were mostly unable to generate any income at all. This effect is most notable within households where husbands are absent.

Nutrition

From the RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data, the Evaluation finds a significant positive effect from the FFS interventions on household food intake, in particular in relation to rice, dal, fish, meat, egg, milk, potato and vegetable (Table 5.9).

Table 5.9 Household food intake (% of households with self-reported increases)

  FFS villages Control villages Difference  
Rice 58.6 43.8 14.8 ***
Wheat 39.6 26.9 12.6  
Potato 49.8 37.5 12.3 *
Dal 45.6 30.5 15.1 ***
Fish 51.4 34.9 16.6 ***
Meat 57.7 42.5 15.2 **
Egg 58.6 44.6 14.0 **
Milk 51.1 26.9 24.2 ***
Dried fish 33.6 24.4 9.2  
Vegetables 53.7 41.3 12.4 **
Fruits 45.2 32.5 12.7  

Source: RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation.

Note: *, **, *** indicate significance at a 10%, 5% and 1% level, respectively.

From the qualitative fieldwork, it was found that the FFS nutrition awareness sessions for women and the increased vegetable production were the main explanatory factors for the increased consumption of (purchased or home-produced) vegetables, fruits, eggs, meat and fish. FGDs with non-FFS households in the FFS villages also indicated some positive replication and spin-off effects from the FFS nutrition sessions.

Unplanned/unintended impacts

The Evaluation found increased incidence of child labour[52] in some RFLDC areas, especially in the poor Char and hill areas, because there are few schools, except for ’Madrasas’ in the Char areas (and free Madrasa classes are conducted in the early mornings, mostly). Please refer additionally to the discussion under Section 4.4.

5.5 Sustainability

In Noakhali a total number of 17 CBOs have closed, all of them established during GNAEC, and mostly due to problems among the members and the Executive Committee, and the fact that there was no support for them during an interim management period between ASPS I and ASPS II. All these 17 CBOs had closed before formal starting of RFLDC interventions. During the RFLDC period, no CBO has been closed so far.

In the case of Barisal, no exact record is available on possible inactive CBOs, though 234 CBOs out of 256 are considered active and functioning well for the time being (July 2011). This does not mean that the remaining 22 CBOs are not active, but there have been objections from the RFLDC-Barisal Office regarding their management. However, from an internal audit report, it was noted that three CBOs were inactive for reasons of, respectively, expiry of Executive Committee, no activity performed due to absence of local facilitators and conflict between the CBO President and the Local Facilitators.

The Evaluation found that Local Facilitators often continue to visit the homes and fields of the FFS participants after completing the training. This is an important aspect in terms of sustainability in a future scenario without RFLDC support.

However, while the Evaluation found that the CBOs in general have good Local Facilitators for conducting of FFS sessions and for any field advice and sharing of experiences and learning, a more critical challenge facing the CBOs seems to be in mobilising any required support from external experts on their own. An idea could be for CBOs to use the Local Facilitators in a post project situation as resource persons in income generating activities; for instance as managers of commercial CBO input supply centres, and thereby paid by the CBO business revenues.

Many CBOs seem reasonably well-established, organised and capable of planning and managing an increasing number of activities. The RFLDC block grants serve as an ’injector’ to the CBO system to ensure funding for an increasing number and scale of activities, some of a more innovative nature. A lot of experimenting has been undertaken and the experience and learning from here could be used for planning of new CBOs.

In terms of developing the CBOs and CBO Associations, the importance of support and influence received from the RFLDC Offices must not be under-estimated. RFLDC technical and financial support has been important to get these CBO activities running and, even within those CBOs that are supposed to be among the most developed, the Executive Committee members still see a strong need for RFLDC technical support and back-up over the next years in order for their CBOs to develop further. It is very difficult at this point to assess real sustainability aspects of the supported CBOs, as long as these organisations are continuously provided with relatively large block grants and technical support from RFLDC.

It must also be noted, that the current system and procedure for allocation of RFLDC block grants to the CBOs is not necessarily ensuring sustainability of the CBOs, in case the block grants are not used as seed money for revolving activities. According to the RFLDC Mid-Term Evaluation data, the block grant composes on average approximately 50% of the total income for the CBOs. According to the current procedures applied by RFLDC, if CBOs perform well, they are entitled to more block grants from the RFLDC. In this way it may be argued that the CBOs never learn to ’stand on their own two feet’, but are instead becoming subject to increasing ambitions (more funding and larger projects, developed under RFLDCs ’protection’).

Another issue raised by CBO Executive Committee members during the fieldwork was related to the increasing work load due to the expanding of CBO activities. It was anticipated that it would be necessary in the near future to offer some kind of remuneration to the Executive Committee members. This would obviously put additional pressure of the CBO funding.

The CBO Associations visited in Noakhali appeared to be at rather different stages in terms of sustainability development. While one CBO Association had now employed additional staff from its own resources and was renting transport to collect products from the CBO members, another CBO Association still had not reached this point, but was still referring to the need for support from RFLDC for their further development.


[40] As reflected in the Paris Declaration (2005) and in documents on aid effectiveness made prior to this declaration (e.g. Rome (2003) and Marrakech (2004)).

[41] In the received copy of the curriculum only two out of the 52 learning sessions in the Season-Long Learning address those competencies and it was not indicated how they are dealt with.

[42] An indigenous language of the indigenous people in the Chittagong Hills.

[43] i) being a local person (resident in the area); ii) being a good motivator; iii) having good social abilities; iv) being experienced in agriculture; v) being committed; and vi) being educated.

[44] This is an indication that young people could tend to see the Local Facilitator position more as a (temporary) job in preparation for a better job outside the community, including young women, who would in most cases leave the community after getting married.

[45] As illustrated in the attended ongoing Season-Long Learning visited by the Evaluation: 13 out of 27 participants were women and the group of trainees included nine Hindus (seven women and two men).

[46] It is not a legal requirement for the CBOs to be registered. However in a future scenario, without RFLDC to provide ’protection’, it is considered useful for the CBOs to be registered in case any kind of conflicts should arise. Registration is also assumed to provide better possibilities to access some types of government support.

[47] Similar information was not available from RFLDC-Barisal.

[48] The post larvae from the hatcheries are grown and acclimated in nurseries before being transferred into ponds, where the prawns are then fed and grown until they reach marketable size.

[49] The prawn (and carp and tilapia) seed are mainly distributed through the Community Agriculture and Aquaculture Resource Persons who are attached to the CBOs as commission agents of the hatcheries.

[50] The amounts in Table 5.3 are not inflation corrected. This would however not alter the double difference estimate (10,050). Only the before-after estimates would be affected (the 9,744 estimate would become insignificant and the 19,794 less significant).

[51] Although less significant if correcting for inflation.

[52] Children working instead of going to school.




This page forms part of the publication 'Evaluation of the Farmer Field School Approach in the Agriculture Sector Programme Support Phase II, Bangladesh' as chapter 9 of 14
Version 1.0. 22-12-2011
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/11112/index.htm

 

 
 
 
 
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