1. Post-Project Study of PPP-Ghana
2. Project Background
3. Study Findings
4. Study Conclusions and Recommendations
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) established the People's Participation Programme (PPP) Project in Ghana in early 1982. After FAO's involvement in the project ended in 1992, it proposed a Post-Project Study of the PPP Project in Ghana (PPP-Ghana). The purpose of the study was to answer three fundamental questions concerning the project's long-term impact. First, how sustainable and self-reliant were the organizations formed by the project? Second, to what degree was the PPP development approach institutionalized and replicated in Ghana? Third, what benefits did individuals and their organizations receive from the project?
FAO established PPP in 1980 based on the recommendations of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development that called for greater participation of the rural poor in their own development. PPP established pilot projects as a method of incorporating people's participation into larger rural development programs. These pilot projects were intended to promote the formation of small, self-help groups that would allow members to develop income-generating activities, receive services from other development agencies, and serve as a voice for dealing with local authorities.
The PPP pilot project in Ghana began in 1982, and has subsequently progressed through four phases (Phase I, Phase II, the Transition Phase, and Phase III). While FAO involvement in the project ended with the termination of the Transition Phase in 1992, the project continues into Phase III directly managed and funded by non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Phase III project activities are presently scheduled to last four years and end in 1996.
PPP-Ghana was implemented in two separate action areas (AAs): the Wenchi AA in Brong Ahafo region and the Begoro AA in Eastern region. In both AAs, the process of group formation began in late 1983 and continued through 1988. During this period, the project facilitated the formation of 237 groups in Begoro AA and 211 groups in Wenchi AA. Only a fraction of these, however, were functioning at any particular time. For example, during Phase II, only 126 and 123 groups existed in Begoro AA and Wenchi AA respectively.
A variety of factors made implementing PPP-Ghana especially difficult. Among the most important were the difficult political and economic conditions in Ghana in the 1980s, the innovative nature of PPP, reduced FAO supervision, and limited funding available to the project. These factors often worsened the mistakes made during the project's implementation. While FAO and project staff were able to overcome many of these mistakes, some persisted and limited the project's success throughout its lifetime.
PPP-Ghana encountered little difficulty achieving its numerical objectives for group formation. With respect to its more important goal of promoting group self-reliance and sustainability, however, the project consistently fell short of its set objectives. By the summer of 1993, only 1 percent of Phase I, 18 percent of Phase II, and 36 percent of Transition Phase groups were still active. While the project was able to correct some of its early mistakes and increase the sustainability of the PPP groups in Begoro AA, the project proved unable to develop sustainable PPP groups in Wenchi AA.
Although numerous factors contributed to the project's general inability to develop sustainable self-help groups, the most important was the project's savings and credit component. Early in the project, PPP groups were formed almost exclusively to receive credit and inputs. When FAO officials and project staff tried to diversify these PPP groups by promoting group income-generating activities (IGAs) and group savings, these activities were often promoted new requirements for additional credit. Therefore, when project credit ended in 1988, most group IGAs and savings ended and the groups themselves eventually collapsed.
Another important factor that contributed to group failure was the lack and inappropriateness of group income-generating activities. Fully 40 percent of Phase II PPP groups had no group IGA whatsoever, and many of the remaining groups only had group IGAs in order to receive project credit. In addition, 75 percent of group IGAs were group farms that proved to be locally inappropriate for group action. Finally, the internal structure of PPP groups, including their heterogeneity, weak leadership, and ineffective bylaws, record keeping and problem solving, contributed to the development of dependent PPP groups that could not withstand the end of project credit.
While promoting PPP group sustainability was a central element of PPP-Ghana, institutionalization and replication of the PPP development approach was also an important objective of this PPP pilot project. The government of Ghana, various NGOs, and FAO have all been involved, to varying degrees, in institutionalizing and replicating the PPP development approach. As with promoting group sustainability, however, the project encountered various barriers to institutionalization and replication. These include the lack project success at developing sustainable self-help groups, the project's confused institutional arrangements, the high rate of staff turnover, insufficient staff training, the lack of effective participatory monitoring and on-going evaluation (PMOE), and the almost complete lack of action area Project Implementing Committees (PICs).
The fourth and last phase of PPP-Ghana, called Phase III, represents the most significant example of the institutionalization of the PPP development approach. Institutionalization beyond Phase III, whether in the local communities or within the implementing NGOs, has been very limited. Additionally, there has been no formal replication of the PPP development approach in Ghana. The project has served, however, to increase awareness of participation in development and increase the level of local participation in various government, NGO, and FAO development projects.
Although the sustainability of PPP groups and the institutionalization and replication of the PPP development approach has been limited, various individuals and organizations benefited significantly from the project during its first three phases. These benefits include direct benefits (including improved individual activities, group income-generating activities, and community service activities), training, increased women's participation in development, group linkages, and former project staff who continue to work in development and public service. While some of these benefits have been sustained beyond the collapse of most PPP groups and the limited institutionalization of the PPP development approach, many continued only as long as PPP groups and PPP-Ghana still functioned.
Development professionals involved with PPP-Ghana and project participants often differed when listing the project's benefits and costs. This divergence indicates that these two groups had different motives for participating in the project. If FAO officials and project staff had allowed project participants to identify their felt needs and develop plans to address them, there would have been greater agreement over project objectives and methodologies. The lack of such agreement indicates that PPP-Ghana did not fully implement its participatory methodology of rural development.
In addition, the problems caused by the project's credit component stem from an initial lack of effort to identify existing, successful methods of savings mobilization and credit supply and adapt them to the project. Instead, FAO officials designed the credit component in Rome, and limited their efforts in Ghana to searching for an institution to administer it. This process severely limited the ability of local individuals and organizations to participate in project design and resulted in a credit component that was inappropriate for the local conditions.
While problems with the credit component accounted for an estimated 75 percent of group failures, other factors also contributed to determining group sustainability. Comparing the Begoro and Wenchi action areas identifies factors that can improve group sustainability. These include decentralizing decision making to the action areas, increasing project staff accountability, de-emphasizing credit, allowing NGOs to select their own project staff, decreasing staff turnover, and providing loans two years after groups are formed.
While it was possible to determine the sustainability of PPP groups, most of the project's costs and benefits could not be quantified during field research. Therefore, it was impossible to conduct a formal cost-benefit analysis of the project. From a cost effectiveness perspective, however, many development professionals familiar with the project feel that the PPP development approach is a relatively expensive and ineffective methodology. This general perception was the single largest factor limiting the project's replication and institutionalization.
More generally, various aspects of the PPP development approach itself contributed to problems encountered during project implementation. These include viewing participation as a goal instead of as a means of producing locally recognizable benefits, using a cookie-cutter approach to group formation instead of taking advantage of local formal and informal methods of organization, the program's dependence on group promoters instead of participants for group success, the lack of accountability between FAO and implementing NGOs and between NGOs and project participants, and finally a short scheduled life span that focused project activities toward the less important objectives of the project.
This report ends with a variety of recommendations. Recommendations to increase group sustainability include delaying the provision of project credit, basing group formation on local formal and informal methods of organization, choosing group income-generating activities that are locally appropriate for group action and that employ locally available resources, promoting greater group savings, and basing credit on a group's proven ability to save. Additionally, project beneficiaries and implementing agencies need to be more involved in project design, administration, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Finally, institutionalization and replication need to be planned for from the beginning of the project and time and resources dedicated to guaranteeing sustainable replication and institutionalization.