Evaluation of Finland´s support to rural development in Nicaragua

Propemce final report (PDF)

Prodega final report (PDF)

Nifapro final report (PDF)

Nicaraguassa tehtiin vuoden 2013 alkupuolella kolme evaluaatiota maaseudun kehittämisohjelmista osana Suomen kahdenvälisen yhteistyön päättämistä: PRODEGA -ohjelman jälkikäteen tehty evaluaatio sekä NIFAPRO ja PROPEMCE -ohjelmien loppuevaluaatiot.

As part of Finland´s bilateral cooperation closing in Nicaragua, three evaluations of rural development programmes were carried out during the first semester of 2013: the ex-post evaluation of PRODEGA programme, and the final evaluation of NIFAPRO and PROPEMCE programmes.

The objective of the PRODEGA programme (1989-2003) was poverty reduction and peace-building through milk and dairy production in the provinces of Boaco and Chontales.

The main challenge the ex-post PRODEGA evaluation faced was the unavailability of historical information. There was also little information available among beneficiary groups to perform comparative analysis.

In the regions where the PRODEGA programme operated, the local dairy sector experienced sustainable economic growth. The growth can be associated by and large to the programme. In the original design of PRODEGA, poverty eradication was not considered an objective. The programme was to focus on the economic development of small and medium producers. However, the development of small and medium farms created also a trickle-down effect towards the poorest population groups. The programme outcomes did not have a specific gender or environmental dimension.

PRODEGA became an important factor contributing to the pacification of Nicaragua after the civil war in the 80´s. PRODEGA could successfully promote the model of 'associability', which in turn was adopted by the government as a development model in the rural development sector – a model that has been sustained until now. PRODEGA´s design and outcomes can be considered as a successful example of an Aid for Trade intervention and a public-private partnership (PPP) strategy.

The objective of the PROPEMCE programme (2009-2013) was sustainable inclusive growth in Nicaragua's private sector. The purpose of the programme was to enhance micro, small and medium enterprise growth and provision of opportunities for women and excluded populations. PROPEMCE worked with five pro-poor agricultural value chains: dairy, wood-furniture, roots and tubercles, tourism and vegetables. The programme supported different stages of value chains that included public and private agencies, producers and exporters, among others.

PROPEMCE initiative came from Finland´s new vision of Aid for Trade. The programme was designed and co-funded by Finland and DFID. It was decided to use M4P (Making Markets Work for the Poor) as a methodological base. DFID delegated the technical and financial administration to the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs during the execution of the programme. An important decision was to create an independent implementation unit in spite of  years of implementing the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness in Nicaragua. However, the M4P approach proved to be difficult to implement due to lack of practical experience in using it. Moreover, the Nicaraguan government never fully aligned with M4P. The start of the project was delayed for various reasons. The project had three different Principal Technical Advisors, two global operational plans and was also affected by a new Finnish procurement law approved in 2011. The majority of the projects were implemented during 2012. The project succeeded in executing only 53.5% of the total budget.

The objective of the NIFAPRO programme (2006-12) was to build national capacities and competencies in agro-biotechnology and agro-biosecurity in Nicaragua. The bilateral agreement was signed between the Finnish MFA and the University of Helsinki. The direct beneficiary of the programme was the Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA).

The main outcome was funding ten students with a scholarship to conclude their master's studies, after which finishing they were hired as permanent staff for INTA. Additionally, an agro-biotechnology lab was established. An objective that was not possible to achieve was the formulation of a national agro-biotechnology strategy.