One of the most positive outcomes of the implementation of the restocking project is the realisation by the rural population that support is being given to the herding community and this is greatly appreciated. The pilot project has provided a very good learning experience for the implementation of the future IFAD Restocking Project and important lessons have been learnt about how to make the process more effective. The following are the main points to be considered in the future:
The implementation process has gone ahead without too many problems and the overall feeling amongst the community about the project is very positive. However, the Sum Work Team were to a certain extent by-passed in the major activities such as procurement and over-ridden in the identification of replacement households for the two eliminated. Although this hands-on experience of implementation for the aimag team has been of great value in the long-term, it is important that the sum feels ownership over the project and plays a central role in the management of key activities, such as procuring animals. This is crucial for strengthening local government capacity. In the existing hierarchy each level wants to keep control and the division of responsibility needs to be clearly defined. Issues of financial management, procurement, identification of beneficiaries and replacements, etc., should be managed at the sum level with advice and guidance from the aimag.
The initial phase of the IFAD project will involve a total of 150 households in 6 sums, averaging out at 25 per sum. If allocated on this equal basis, rather than according to proportion of poor in each sum, it is important that restocking activities are limited to only one or two bags per sum. If all bags are involved the transaction costs of the participatory implementation approach will be too high and will set an unacceptable standard from an economic point of view.
The system of repayment to be implemented in the pilot project is very unclear to those at sum level and this needs to be clarified urgently.
The beneficiary selection criteria were used in a very rigid way, which in one sense was very helpful because it limited the number of potential beneficiaries and therefore the difficult selection process. However, we were told that adhering to the criteria in such a rigid way also problematised the process of identifying replacements for the two households which were later disqualified. Many people also felt that the criteria benefited the middle level of people rather than poor, and mat the bod level of eligibility should be reduced to below 10. The results of the wealth ranking interviewing can, however, provide an indicator on the locally perceived socio-economic status of potential beneficiaries and thus can be used to identify from amongst them, the poorer households. In the first round of implementation it is clearly important that the risk factor for repayment is low, to ensure a successful start to the project and build local management capacity and experience. However, in following rounds a step-by-step approach should be taken in loosening the criteria to gradually reach poorer people.
A households stage in the life cycle was also considered to be an important criteria by many people. It was felt that younger households with young and many children should be given priority over older people because their needs are greater as they start out in life, and thus the potential benefit to the household is greater. Elderly people are less likely to be able to look after the animals and are generally supported by their grown-up children.
Training inputs were considered to be very important and an on-going training plan should be developed. In particular, it was stressed that the ideas and information from the PME workshop should be spread to the bag community members, and that more informal training by local expert herders would be very beneficial and popular.
Close attention needs to be paid by the Aimag Management to the implementation and maintenance of the monitoring system. This was discussed and refined with the Project Work Team, to include community monitoring by a beneficiary leader and self-monitoring by the beneficiaries themselves. Responsibility for collating monitoring information from different sources and levels (aimag, sum, bag) needs to be clarified.
Publicity for the project needs to be done well in advance of beginning the beneficiary selection process and should provide clear information about criteria for eligibility, the implementation process, repayment system, mechanisms for purchasing animals, etc. The bag hurals should also be well publicised to ensure maximum participation of the community in the selection of beneficiaries.
The bag hural open voting system was felt to be too inhibiting for people to criticise each other and it is therefore recommended that a secret voting system be adopted. The names of all applicants who fit the project criteria should be presented by the Bag Governor with their details and with an opportunity for discussion. Then the hural members would receive lists of names, against which they would tick their choices and the results of the voting would be announced and discussed, with a further round of voting if necessary. The most important thing is that the process remains transparent and based on communal agreement, to prevent the possibility of fixing the results.
The bag hural should draw-up a reserve list from the voting results, so that if any beneficiaries are later eliminated they can be easily replaced, through a transparent procedure, based on community opinion.
The calculation of the number of animals to be received by each household should be based on the number of people in the household, rather than being set at a standard viable herd size of 25, e.g., 4 bod per adult and 1 bod per child. This would mean a more flexible upper limit for larger households, but it is important that this is not too high because repayment on the loan would become too difficult. A simplified way of doing this may be to restock households with less than 5 members up to 20-25 bod and those with more than 5 members to 25-30 bod. Manipulation of the size of households is of course a potential problem with using this method and should be carefully monitored.
The bag vets as well as the sum vet, should be involved in the procurement and processing of animals to consolidate professional opinion on the health and quality of animals when distributed.
The suggestion of project beneficiaries forming groups to market their excess produce by using another person, preferably someone on the poverty list, as the salesperson, is a good idea and should be encouraged and supported by the Sum Work Team. Local marketing channels need to be developed to assist this form of local enterprise. The Local Development Fund, if available in the sum, could be used to support such group income generation activities.
The main areas of activity in which implementation time could be saved are: i) beneficiary household discussions regarding number and composition of animals to be restocked could be reduced to one meeting, ii) information on animals needed will be well publicised in the local newspaper and an auction will be held in the sum at which it is hoped the majority of animals can be bought, thus cutting out the need to make investigatory visits to households, iii) households could identify relatives or friends to sell animals, iv) procurement procedures will be conducted by the Sum Work Team under the guidance of the aimag, thus reducing travel time and costs and delegating the job to those with freer work schedules.