Photo Credit: By Mike Blyth (Own work) [CC BY 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
In support of the Department for International Development (DFID), we recently finished a long-term evaluation of its programme seeking to increase the incomes of 650,000 poor men and women in Northern Nigeria and stimulate sustainable growth.
The initiative, named Propcom Mai-karfi, began in 2012 and sought to increase the inclusion of poor rural farmers in markets by improving their access to agricultural markets, improving their commercial relationships, increasing private sector investment in rural markets, and raising the availability of goods and services to poor farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers. With a mandate to alleviate poverty for over half a million men and women in Northern Nigeria, Propcom is expected to stimulate private and public investment in the rural economy by £12.5 million.
An estimated two-thirds of Nigerian women live and work in rural areas, taking responsibility for domestic responsibilities, caring for family members, and pursuing economic opportunities. Much of the rural and household work undertaken by women is informal and unpaid, potentially decreasing a woman’s quality of life compared to a man, who is five times more likely than a woman to own land in Northeast Nigeria.
That disparity in landownership severely limits a woman’s access to credit, and also her ability to weigh in on decisions made concerning agricultural inputs or production. Women also experience other restrictions in ability to access and compete in markets, heightened by physical vulnerability forced upon them in day-to-day life.
Our independent theory-based evaluation of Propcom assessed the impact and relevance of different programme interventions to the beneficiaries, and the extent to which systemic change has taken place in targeted markets.
Elbereth Donovan, Divisional Director of Monitoring, Learning, and Evaluation within WYG’s International Development team, said: “Our evaluation sought to provide Propcom with an opportunity to reflect on and refine its approach. It provided DFID with an independent view of the programme, and presented the wider development community and private sector partners with an opportunity to learn from our findings.”
Propcom identified demand and supply side constraints in its interventions. They matched interventions with established policies and priorities of the public sector, working with institutions to develop and roll them out.
Some of these interventions were gender-blind, focused on enabling both men and women without including specific activities to secure women’s participation. Some were women-specific, focused on increasing women’s economic empowerment and participation. The evaluation looked at a mix of interventions. In 8 of the 9 evaluated interventions, beneficiaries reported increased access to inputs or services or increased income resulting from increased access.
The evaluation found that programme interventions were particularly helpful as the regional markets commonly struggle with constraints like a lack of access to information, finance, quality goods and services, etc.
One of Propcom’s initiatives, a poultry health intervention, saw average household incomes increase by a factor of 2.7. Some households surveyed by the evaluation even reported spending additional income on school and medical fees, and an overall improvement to living standards.
Three examples provide more detail:
The evaluation also showed that women benefited from both gender-blind and women-specific interventions, including unexpected benefits from gender-blind interventions that could open the door to the creation of new or secondary markets. It was unclear if there was a difference in women’s economic empowerment between the two types interventions. These woman-focused interventions tend to take longer, cost more to deliver returns, and may not reach scale. This suggests that continuing to refine the currently gender-blind interventions to target and include women beneficiaries at an early stage could help empower larger numbers of women.
Elbereth concluded: “We are proud of our role to help reassure UK taxpayers that programmes like PropCom are working towards the results set by the Government, and ultimately, achieving better outcomes for a diverse range of people. We are constantly evolving our offering to help partners learn and adapt their work, and to help ensure UK aid programmes take into account the needs of women and ultimately benefit all groups.”