16. Policy work is distributed throughout FAO with almost all technical units addressing certain aspects of policy. Headquarters provides support for development of capacity in agricultural policy and planning (seven professionals -TCAS), coordination and support to regional policy assistance branches (seven professionals - TCAR), forestry (FON) and fisheries policy and planning (FIP) (some ten professionals each, although it should be noted that especially in Fisheries, the department as a whole is involved) and trade policy in the Commodities and Trade Division (ESC) (four professionals but substantially more in the division working on trade issues contribute to the policy work). Many other units contribute to more technical areas of policy such as: land tenure, institutions (including research and extension), marketing, rural finance, plant genetic resources, phytosanitary measures, nutrition and livestock. The FAO Investment Centre also contributes to policy dialogue in its work at national level with the IFIs.
17. At the regional and sub-regional levels, including Europe, FAO has officers grouped in Policy Assistance Branches, specialised in providing assistance in policy and planning for the agricultural sector (excluding forestry and fisheries). It also has forestry, fisheries and livestock, nutrition officers, etc. who include policy work among their overall technical responsibilities. The number of professional staff concerned primarily with policy differs from region to region but in 1999 there were on average 4.4 policy officers 7 in post in each Regional Office and one policy officer in most of the Sub-regional Offices (with the significant exception of the Sub-regional Office for Southern and East Africa (SAFR), which in 1999 had four 8). It is also pertinent to note that policy officers accounted for a very significant proportion of the professional technical staff of Regional Offices (11 - 57%) 9.
18. At the country level in most developing countries, with the significant exception of countries from the former Soviet Bloc, FAO has an internationally-recruited country representative with a very small staff. The country representative provides a focal point for dialogue with government and is a member of the UN country team. Only very limited work can be undertaken at the country level by these various units without resources additional to their regular budgets.
19. Most country-level policy work is supported through small technical assistance grants from FAO's own funds (FAO-TCP) or by development partners providing funds in trust to FAO. In recent years FAO-TCP has been the most important source of assistance. It was not possible to arrive at a complete database for policy work at the country level as both FAO's decentralized structure and the fact that policy as defined for this evaluation is not a separately coded budget category mean that individual reporting by units had to be relied on as the data source. The summary which follows in Table 1 is based on an indicative count of 225 interventions. The average budget on policy work per intervention for those reviewed by missions was US$ 270,000.
|Table 1: Percentage Distribution of 225 Policy Interventions by Number|
|Asia & Pacific: 18%||Europe:
|Latin America & Caribbean: 18%||Near East: 13%||Int/Global:
|Source of funds|
|Trust funds (GCP): 10%||Trust funds (UTF): 3%||FAO- Regular Programme: 8%||World Bank:1/ 5%|
|Sector||Specific Subject matter areas covered (where applicable)|
10% of the total
|Environment (1); Food Security (1); Gender (2); Institutional Reform (1); Participation (1); Trade (12) (accounts for 8% in the total of 10%).|
60% of the total
|Industry (1); Cereals (1); Credit (1); Extension (3); Food Security (14); Gender (1); Horticulture (2); Institutional Reform (4); Institutional Restructuring (1); Irrigation (7); Land (2); Land Reform (5); Marketing (2); Mechanisation (3); Participation (2); Pests (3); Plant Production (1); Post-Harvest (2); Research (3); Seeds (3); Trade (5); Water (3) (accounts for 30% in the total of 60%)|
|Concession (1); Food Security (1) (accounts for 1% in the total of 12%)|
|Access (2); Aquaculture (2); Artisanal (1); Inland (2); (accounts for 3% in the total of 10%)|
|Dairy (1); Genetic Resources (1); Institutional Reform (1) - (accounts for 1% in the total of 4%)|
|Food Quality (1).|
|1/ Mostly under the FAO/WB Cooperative Programme. There is also some policy work with other IFIs but this did not fall in the sample.|
20. The sample of interventions and projects reviewed by the evaluation missions provides an indicative breakdown of the types of assistance. It may be noted that slightly over half the work was at the general sector level. Forty-three percent of the interventions reviewed by missions dealt with specific subject-matter areas 10. By far the majority of projects were primarily advisory, with the principal output being reports with recommendations. Seventy-six percent of the interventions fell into this category; 5 percent were principally designed for training and capacity building and 15 percent combined advice and capacity building.
|Table 2: Summary of Projects/Interventions Reviewed by Missions by Sector|
|Number of interventions reviewed||Africa||Asia||Europe||Latin America||Near East||Total|
21. The table below summarises the assessment of the quality and performance for different aspects of the projects and interventions by evaluation missions. The picture presented by these scores will be discussed under the relevant headings below.
|Table 3: Missions' Assessment of the Policy Component of Individual Projects and Interventions|
|Africa||Asia||Europe||Latin America||Near East||
|Number of cases assessed||19||13||13||10||11||66|
|Percentage of cases for which:|
|Relevance/Priority to National Needs||High||74%||38%||38%||60%||73%||58%|
|Conformity to FAO's Priorities||High||53%||69%||38%||80%||36%||55%|
|Quality of Project Formulation||Good||16%||8%||23%||20%||18%||17%|
|Quality of Project Implementation by FAO||Good||42%||23%||54%||40%||27%||38%|
|Quality and Quantity of Output||High||68%||23%||38%||80%||18%||47%|
|Quality of the Process||Good||53%||23%||31%||60%||18%||38%|
|Effects (application of outputs)||High||47%||8%||15%||80%||27%||35%|
|Sustainable impact on policy||High||26%||0%||15%||70%||0%||21%|
|Table 4: Relative Strengths in Policy Work for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (comparing FAO, IFIs and Bilateral Agencies)|
|Agenda Driven||Capabilities||Financial Leverage||Access to Government|
|Technical||Economic Analysis||Bringing Together, Technical Economic and Social||Normative Under-pinning||Agricul-tural Ministries||Finance and Planning Ministries|
22. As developing countries have progressed in their technical and managerial capabilities, attention and needs have moved upstream to assuring the optimum policy environment. In addition to macro-economic decisions affecting agriculture, liberalisation of economic policies has accentuated sector policy decisions being made outside the agriculture ministries which are FAO's natural counterpart 11. In many countries major decisions also tend to be taken at the highest political level, with advice from the line ministries being only one of several voices influencing the decision. Responses to country questionnaires by 91 agricultural sector departments in 51 developing countries indicated that the highest area of demand for policy assistance was in the macro-sector interface for rural policy (e.g. implications of trade agreements for cropping opportunities). In other words, the agricultural ministries found a need for support to better engage themselves in these processes.
23. At the same time in defining needs it should be borne in mind that agriculture and other line ministries such as health are being called upon to extend their regulatory functions and capacities in support of macro policies, while the major policy decisions which continue with line ministries largely pertain to the public sector services which remain in their domain (such as extension, research, phytosanitary measures, forestry and fisheries protection). Only one intervention reviewed was specifically concerned with extension 12 and only one intervention in Mali concerned with agricultural research made an in-depth programme assessment.
24. The World Bank, the Regional Development Banks in Asia and Latin America and the various bilateral agencies are very active in agricultural sector policy (sometimes with FAO inputs, particularly by the Investment Centre). Ministries of finance and planning, which are making many of the macro-decisions for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, regard the IFIs, in particular the World Bank, as their natural partners. Countries thus generally have a choice of macro- and sector-level policy advice, with the exception of the fisheries and forestry sectors. This was reflected in demand to FAO, although particularly in the fisheries sector FAO had found it difficult to meet the demand. The IFIs, in particular the World Bank, see sub-sector policy and the policy-technology interface (including costs and benefits of policies) as the area of FAO's relative strength, rather than general agriculture sector work. At the same time FAO may be needed to provide alternative views to the government at sector level to assist the government in making choices.
25. Missions found that overt demand for overall agricultural sector reviews from FAO was declining, although there were significant exceptions. In East and Southern Africa, FAO was not looked to as a source of general sector policy support for agriculture, which was assumed to come from the World Bank. As FAO had not provided much sub-sectoral assistance, it had become a less significant source of policy advice. In West Africa, on the other hand, the mission found that demand remained strong. In Latin America, FAO was often stated to be the partner of choice but other sources of assistance were used because of their timely availability. They also found that line ministries frequently stated that FAO's advice was respected for its neutrality and objectivity in comparison with the IFIs and the bilaterals, a view which was repeated in questionnaire responses.
26. Responses to questionnaires indicated that the concerned departments normally found FAO to be either as good or better a source of policy support than other agencies in most subject matter areas. FAO was indicated to be the best source of support in 50% or more of the responses for marine and inland fisheries, forestry and for plant pests, land and water and food and nutrition (73% of responses). In most subject matter areas, respondents indicated that FAO was as good as other potential sources of assistance but not better. In no subject matter area did respondents generally find FAO inferior to other sources of assistance.
27. The evaluation concludes that FAO has a relative strength in terms of demand for services, absence of competitors and quality of product, in providing sector policy support for fisheries and to a lesser extent forestry, including upland management. This comparative advantage was far from reflected in the actual work carried out, where the sector emphasis was in agriculture. Within agriculture the advantage in specific subject matter work was not reflected in the actual pattern of activities (almost exactly half were at general sector level).
|Table 5: Summary of FAO Strengths and Country Needs by Subject Matter Area|
|Areas for advocacy in policy||Food security (household and national); fisheries management; forestry management; importance of the agricultural sectors in rural development and livelihoods; pesticides and pest management; food safety and standards.|
|Work at the macro-sector interface (e.g. implications of money supply policies for agriculture)||Need high, demand moderate, FAO capacity limited. Capacity in IFIs but attention not always given to detail of implications for agricultural sectors and thus necessary adjustments in policy.|
|Sector Overall Review||High demand in fisheries and forestry - lack of qualified supply from others. Need high in livestock but not fully reflected in demand. Agriculture, only moderate demand and many other agencies active, including the IFIs (sometimes with FAO inputs).|
|Sectoral subject matter areas of need and high demand where other providers lack capacity and FAO has a good track record||Trade; property rights and access for land, forestry and fisheries; genetic resources; management of fragile ecosystems, especially uplands.|
|Sectoral subject matter areas of need and high demand where other providers lack capacity but FAO also needs to strengthen capacity in terms of quantity and sometimes in normative underpinning||Water and irrigation; research and extension (innovation and learning); rural livelihoods (entrepreneurship) and non-government services for agriculture and rural development.|
|Sectoral subject matter areas where FAO has some capacity but capacity is also strong with several other agencies, IFIs, etc.||People's participation, gender and decentralisation.|
28. Demands varied by region, for example in the transition countries there was a continuing, although declining demand for support on tenure issues. In the Near East, water and the implications of WTO and EU trade agreements were regarded as particularly important. There is a clear differentiation in the demand for services between the low-income food-deficit countries, especially in Africa, and the more developed countries. Firstly, the least developed countries have less absorptive capacity for policy support and secondly, their overriding concern is national food security. More developed countries are involved with policy choices which need to be supported by normative work on, for example, trade or the desirable role of a small farm sector. EU accession countries, with the exception of Turkey, have adequate assistance in immediate accession issues. Reform of land tenure remains an important issue in much of Africa, Latin America and the former Soviet Bloc.
29. In their responses to questionnaires, 89% of responding agricultural ministries scored training as very useful, higher than the scores for other categories of policy support. Missions, however, urged caution on the absorptive capacity for traditional training and noted the needs for alternative approaches in capacity building. The evaluation concludes that the greatest need in all countries is to enhance national capacities to develop policy and absorb policy advice. Policy and planning ministries have greater analytical capabilities than line ministries but even there, in many of the less developed countries, capabilities are insufficient. Line ministries need to raise their capabilities to dialogue with Finance and Planning on sector policy and to determine policy for their own programmes. In many cases, however, the answer to these problems is not conventional training, but FAO facilitation of policy development processes which fully involve staff and reinforce the process with experience in applying analytical techniques and methods.
|Table 6: Missions' Assessment of Usefulness of Types of Policy Support|
|% Of countries visited where Very Useful* or Useful||Africa||Asia||Europe||Latin America||Near East||Total|
|% Very Useful||% Useful|
|National level analysis and recommendations||33%||50%||100%*||33%||75%||18%||41%|
|Facilitating national dialogue||33%||50%||80%||0%||100%*||23%||32%|
|Regional meetings and workshops||83%||100%*||60%||33%||50%||18%||50%|
|Information and awareness raising on policy issues||100%*||100%*||100%||100%||50%*||41%||50%|
|* Percentage for "very useful" was equal to/ or greater than 50%|
|Types of policy support were graded from 1 to 3 where 3 is very useful and 1 of limited usefulness|
30. Although FAO's support could have better addressed priority areas and comparative advantage, the Organization's inputs into the policy process have been largely relevant to a need. Table 3 indicates that 58% of interventions had high national priority and relevance and only 4% were inappropriate. In no cases did FAO support fall outside FAO's priorities and missions found that 55% of interventions were in areas of high priority for FAO in terms of the Strategic Framework.
31. There appears to have been reasonable-to-good partnership with the rest of the international community and little duplication of effort. FAO's role has most commonly been supportive rather than leading, and this diminution in FAO's role is gradually becoming the rule, rather than the exception, with the lead in agricultural sector policy support being taken by the World Bank and the Regional Development Banks.
32. Policies are continuously evolving and few countries have static sector policies; however within the policy mix there are intensive periods of work on certain aspects, followed by a move to implementation. This policy process can be characterised as having the following phases which are generally overlapping and iterative:
In the real world, policies are often not thoroughly thought through until it comes to the design of the implementation measures and this is likely to provoke a repeat of much of the above process.
33. The design of the policy interventions could have better stated how the intervention was expected to fit into the policy process continuum and what was expected in terms of policy results or development of strategies. Application of a logframe to interventions (which was never done in a formal sense) would have assisted this. There needed to be a better appreciation of how the policy change would take place and of how consultation, partnership and civil society involvement would be assured in the policy process (issues of process are addressed separately below). Where work was not carried out in cooperation with IFIs or other donors, there was also frequently no consideration in the design of the intervention as to how follow-up to the policy review and design work would be achieved. It was in the light of these inadequacies that missions were critical in their scorings of project formulation, which was only found to be good in 17% of cases (Table 3).
34. Almost no cases were found of FAO-TCP interventions completed in the foreseen 12 months. A weakness of project design has been a failure to identify which phases of the policy process are to be addressed and thus what can realistically be achieved. There has often been an assumption that all phases, including sometimes the design of implementation measures (such as legislation) can be tackled in one FAO-TCP project. Recognition of the longer-term nature of the policy process and the stages within it, means that individual interventions cannot generally address all stages of the process. Where feasible, but not possible with the FAO-TCP modality, interventions also need to be designed for longer periods to support an iterative process.
35. Most government representatives consulted felt that the professional experience of international input required for policy work was very difficult to obtain under the TCDC formula presently applied by FAO. This view was shared by FAORs and other FAO staff. Most of the projects reviewed had been initiated before the current internal guidelines were put in place for use of TCDC but, where this was not the case 13, delays and dissatisfaction with the TCDC input had ensued. One of the most valuable things that FAO can bring to the policy process is experience from elsewhere and a substantial input of internationally experienced expertise was usually a necessity. Clearance for this could badly delay projects.
36. On the other hand, there was a strong demand for use of national consultants to work with international expertise and missions found that the high involvement of capable nationals substantially improved the policy development process. Indeed the ideal situation was for a national team to take the lead with FAO providing international support. Not all countries could, however, provide a substantive national technical input and it was observed that, in some of the least developed countries, qualified competent nationals were over-committed and thus failed to deliver.
37. The implementation management of individual interventions has generally been adequate (see Table 3). However, there were problems which affected the whole attitude of national governments and development partners to FAO's role in policy assistance. In country responses to questionnaires, flexibility of response was found to be the weakest aspect of FAO's policy work.
38. Response time: There are periods of policy making when what is required is a rapidly available and relatively short input addressed at specific questions. This has sometimes been the case in transition and structural adjustment processes, when IMF stand-by credits are being negotiated, in EU accession, etc. It also occurs when a process acquires an internal velocity of its own. The very limited resources available to Regional Policy Assistance Branches have restricted FAO capacity to respond to these requests. FAORs, almost without exception, singled out delays and incapacity to provide a timely response as the greatest impediment, along with limited resources, for the effectiveness of FAO policy work. Countries and donors also frequently raised this as a major problem. There were often delays of over a year between a request for policy support and the actual delivery of that assistance. It was noted that the time-consuming internal consultation to improve project documents in FAO often did not result in significant improvements. Delays could very considerably reduce the relevance of interventions. It was commented, for example, that IIACA in Latin America could mobilise short-term technical inputs at a few days' notice, due to funds at disposal with country representatives. In Latin America and Southern Africa, it was observed by some persons interviewed, that a speedy negative response to a request was preferable to prolonged delays which reduced the eventual effectiveness of the input.
39. Some changes have already been made which should assist in reducing this problem including the availability of US$ 1.5 million of TCP resources for rapid local approval on small-scale requests and a US$ 400,000 small-scale facility for hire of national consultants by FAORs (both figures per biennium).
40. Administrative procedures: In a related issue, governments and development partners were highly critical of the Organization's administrative procedures and lack of decentralized decision making. It was considered very important for FAO to strengthen the flexibility of response to policy needs as well as improving financial reporting. In only two countries 14 visited by missions was this not a constant strongly-voiced criticism, although missions were not actively seeking general views on FAO as an implementor of assistance.
41. It is probably in capacity building that the interface between normative and field work becomes most important. FAO policy work builds capacity at national level through:
42. Publications: Those countries which shared a common FAO official language at working level have the greatest potential to benefit from both international meetings and publications on policy issues. The language limitation at working level, especially in Asia and the former Soviet Bloc should not be underestimated. The lack of dissemination of FAO publications was a complaint in all the countries visited. It was also evident that Internet access was not sufficiently widespread to make electronic access a substitute for paper. A culture of really using the Internet develops some time after access becomes easily available. Only a limited sample of publications was reviewed but it was evident that there was room for a greater issue orientation, greater clarity on target audience, improved brevity and simplification of language. These problems of focus, presentation and language may have, in part, explained why country responses to questionnaires identified publications as the least valuable form of policy output (this was particularly noted in Latin America but it was also noted that FAO publications fed into university teaching). It is also clear that publications alone have limited impact on capacity and this is mostly the case in the least developed countries. In all countries, publications need to be actively promoted and fed into other elements of capacity building.
43. Regional workshops and conferences: Regional Policy Assistance Branches had played an active part in organizing meetings on policy topics. Water policy was examined at a series of three workshops in the Near East, with attendance from responsible government departments and also the World Bank. For the Maghreb, workshops were organized with an invited speaker of significant international standing. In Europe the Sub-regional Office organized, in collaboration with the World Bank, one workshop per biennium on a particularly significant topic. Three TCP projects working on forestry policy were also brought together to organize a seminar on forestry policy for the Baltic States. In both West and Southern and Eastern Africa, the Regional and Sub-regional Offices respectively had organized workshops. In an innovative formula in Asia, two meetings were organized to expose selected agricultural ministers to the views of national policy research institutes in the region. The workshops in Europe were regarded as particularly useful because they enabled accession countries and EU representatives to discuss broad issues in a non-negotiating forum. The mission to Southern Africa felt that the lack of follow-up on the workshops was a problem.
44. The extent to which the Regional Conferences of FAO had been used to develop awareness on policy issues varies. The region furthest advanced in this respect appears to be the Near East where one policy-oriented topic has been placed on the agenda of each of the last four Regional Conferences, but all regions have had some coverage of policy issues. Opinions vary on the value of the Regional Conferences for policy debate. Most feel that the Regional Conference is a useful forum creating awareness but not for policy discussions as political decision makers are not always present or are reluctant to debate policy in an open way.
45. Networks which have been established by the Regional Offices on specialist topics are another important potential forum for policy awareness raising and to some extent discussion. The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific works closely with six active associations (rural finance, marketing, cooperatives, agricultural research, forest research and seeds). Rural finance associations are also important in Africa and the Near East. Latin America and Europe have strong histories of networks but these seem, with a few exceptions, to have been technically focused. Also in the Near East, an agricultural policy network is under formation. These networks are largely self-financing and are orientated towards the problems identified by their members. They do not provide fora for governmental policy discussion but rather involve senior line managers at sub-sector level. They can fulfil a role in enabling managers to better understand the macro-environment and thus reduce their resistance to change or even inspire them as change agents. They provide an opportunity, which has not been fully realised, for a wider group than the technical unit concerned in the Regional Office, to explore the practical dimensions of policy issues with senior managers from the public and, in some cases, the private sectors.
46. Training occurred both in projects which were designed to improve capacity and as a more incidental by-product in interventions designed to cooperate directly in policy development. Most countries did not rely on specialist policy units in the Ministry of Agriculture for agricultural policy development or for the information on which to make decisions. Line managers, senior officials in the Ministries of Finance and Planning and, in some cases, politicians had a much more significant voice. In all the countries visited there was a training requirement but this was first and foremost for the development of broad-based skills in identifying issues and options and in analysis of the priorities and policy instruments in government programmes, not sophisticated techniques. Such skills are useful to managers, very senior civil servants, academic resource persons and lobbyists. They are also applicable in various positions, which is important when high staff turnover and a lack of specialisation are prevalent, as is the case in many countries.
47. There were rather few examples of the integrated use of study tours to expose decision makers to alternative policy options but where this was done it was found to be very useful 15. A lower cost possibility is exchanges using seminars to expose countries to experience elsewhere, and the FAO-TCDC formula can be helpful here.
48. FAO was found to have developed a number of very useful training materials, for example on trade and on food security. Missions found that FAO's work in training was generally regarded as being of good standard. However, the Organization needed to move much more towards a modular approach to training material development, relying on materials from elsewhere, when available, and regarding the materials as work in progress which are subject to continuous improvement. There were significant delays in making materials available to a wide audience because of a desire for each manual to be complete in itself and to be of a high standard. This could have the reverse effect of rendering material dated before it was published. There was also a need to be clearer on target audiences, reducing the use of academic language and separating out theory into annexes.
49. Facilitating national processes and capacities: Work in many related areas enhances national policy processes and capacities:
50. Missions concluded that the overall technical quality of FAO's policy work to be on average as good as, or better, than other agencies. As noted in Table 3, missions scored 47% of outputs from individual interventions as of high quality and 48% adequate. The quality of analysis was sometimes inferior to work done by the IFIs but the relationship was closer to the working level of government, particularly the Ministries of Agriculture, and there was very often a more consultative process. The policy change stance was in general forward looking, supporting a greater role for the private sector and farm families and a diminished role for government. The mission to Asia found that this was not always the case, however, and in a few examples FAO appeared to be placed in the role of protecting civil service vested positions. Countries in Latin America noted that FAO seemed to be overly concerned with issues of food self-sufficiency. Whereas the IFIs generally have a broad policy position on major current issues, this was left to a greater extent to individuals in FAO. While flexible responses to situations are desirable, these should not result in advice which is contrary to mainstream development thinking or run in the face of what government has firmly decided to do 16. Rather, it should serve to constructively develop and modify policies in order to make them more effective.
51. Areas for improvement in policy work included:
52. Rather little work explicitly examined, or stated whether there were, gender implications in the policies. Similarly women's representatives were not generally involved in policy processes. Missions recorded no examples of this neglect actually detracting from the policy solutions but policies in areas which involve the household and small business will always have gender implications and it is essential to understand the roles of women and children (e.g. rural finance, extension, water management, and fish processing).
53. FAO has the potential strength of bringing normative work to underpin its cooperation with countries in policy development. That normative work can likewise be reinforced by the country experience. In fisheries, in particular, policy development for countries has been clearly linked to the global development of the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries, which brings together considerations of the resource base, fishing technology and management practices. There has also been benefit from inputs from other parts of FAO in such areas as people's participation and rural finance. In forestry, the comprehensive framework and the linkages are at an earlier stage of development. Cooperation has been good on trade work. However, whereas the Fisheries and Forestry Departments retain a strong link between technical and policy units, this has been less the case in agriculture at the sector level. Policy work is often combined in the technical divisions but may lack the economic input (costs and benefits of policies). The TCA Policy Assistance Branches need strengthened two-way interaction with the development of normative work in ES, SD and AG Departments. Stronger links will better ensure that TCA gets the support it needs and that the normative work is informed by countries' needs as identified by the FAORs and the TCA Policy Assistance Branches.
54. Thus, across divisions and departments, the Organization does not have a coherent and widely accepted concept of its roles and strategy in policy development. There is also inadequate awareness of work being undertaken by various units that is in particular need of strengthening, on such common interests as property rights and institutions. Many technical divisions have not adequately shifted resources from the more detailed aspects of technology to the policy and strategy implications of technology. There is a need to pursue normative work in line with policy assistance needs and this has largely been the case but in an ad hoc and not fully integrated manner. The problem extends to the Regional Offices, which are the main actual providers of policy inputs to countries.
55. Regional Offices have technical teams of limited size and the individual sector specialists have made useful contributions on occasion to policy in their sectors, for example work on forest harvesting in Asia. There are also useful examples of joint work between Policy Assistance Branches and technical officers, for example policy-related workshops on irrigation and pastures in the Near East and a joint input on marketing and parastatal reform in Southern Africa. However, the full potential to provide a multidisciplinary input to policy work has not been realised. This is not facilitated by the absence of any regional programming mechanisms. Staff report, at least on paper, for all technical work to Headquarters-based programmes in their technical divisions. Lines of communication with Headquarters for technical inputs outside of this framework (i.e. across programmes) are largely based on personal contacts and goodwill.
56. A qualitative assessment was made of the quantity of output of regional Policy Assistance Branches in relation to resources deployed. The findings of the different missions are summarised as follows:
|Table 7: Missions' Assessments of the Policy Assistance Branches in the Decentralized Offices|
Policy Assistance Branch*
|Africa (RAF)||There is demand for policy support in the ten West African countries with relatively stable governments, in particular sector policy. The officers of the Policy Assistance Branch are divided along geographical lines and chair country task forces which include representatives of the Technical Department Groups. The quantity of work was found to be good on sector policy and SPFS (constraints analysis) but quality was variable with the capacity of individual officers a limiting factor. The group also lacks priorities. Resources are a constraint to fuller utilisation of staff for in-country work.|
|East and Southern Africa
|Although a full division of work with the Regional Office (RAF) had not been agreed, the office had the main responsibility for East and Southern Africa. The orientation of the Policy Group was towards Field Programme development and support to the SPFS. Staff have also worked on country briefs, an activity which was found to be of limited usefulness. There was reported to be little demand for specific policy work in the sub-region and limited technical capacity to respond if more specialist policy advice was sought.|
|Asia (RAP)||There are two officers primarily concerned with Field Programme development and two with policy work. The output from the two concerned with policy work and the financial resources deployed has been relatively high, but there is room for qualitative improvements in analysis and on occasions there could be a more forward looking policy stance.|
|Europe (REU)||In Europe, there is little country presence (only one FAOR). Quality of work was regarded as fair to good but there had been too great an emphasis on sector work. The overall level of output should be increased. Part of the reason for this was the shortage of non-staff resources available for travel, etc. There was no clear division of work with the Sub-regional Office, with the area of concentration in technical cooperation for both offices being Eastern Europe.|
|Latin America and Caribbean (RLC)||The quantitative output is modest but good quality. The primary role has been on policy work but the Branch is now being strongly reoriented to focus on Field Programme development.|
|Near East (RNE)||Although work in developing country briefs has received some priority, the main emphasis has been on strategy and policy work. The quantity and quality of work was found to be good but if more non-staff resources were available, there was the possibility to increase the proportion of time spent in giving direct support in country from the present 20% to nearer 40%.|
|North Africa (SNEA)||There is a clear split of responsibilities with the Regional Office (RNE) where SNEA takes responsibility for the Maghreb and coordinates its programme with RNE. The Policy Assistance Branch was staffed by only one officer and included one other vacant post. Activities include direct policy advice and expert consultations on specific issues as well as project identification and formulation for the Field Programme (including SPFS). Both quantity and quality of the work were found to be more than satisfactory, within the limited human and financial resources available.|
|* The Sub-regional Offices in the Pacific, Caribbean and Central and Eastern Europe were not visited by missions|
57. The countries of the former Soviet Bloc which are en route for accession to the EU have a considerable amount of policy advice available to them from the EU itself. This is less true for CIS states, which have, however, received priority attention from the World Bank. FAO has to date been in a poor position to satisfy the needs of the CIS states and other former Soviet Bloc countries with similar problems (i.e. non-EU accession states). An initial priority is for various forms of policy support. However, there are no FAORs in these countries and it is difficult to develop coherent capacity as the countries fall within three FAO regions. There are also problems of electronic and air communication.
58. Regional Office Policy Assistance Branches have a number of functions in addition to those of providing direct policy support. In particular, they take the lead on Field Programme development and develop country briefs. It was found that there was a tendency to neglect either the policy function or the Field Programme development function. In general, the Field Programme development function was not well fulfilled and required very different skills than that for policy. There could also be a conflict of interest in the offering of impartial policy support and in working for Field Programme development. Country intelligence work is essential for the Organization as a whole and is especially important in both policy and Field Programme development. However, this work could duplicate that undertaken by others, especially the FAORs, and could only be partial in coverage, given the limited resources of the Policy Assistance Branches.
59. Policy Assistance Branches have more funds for travel and use of consultants than technical units but this is only because they do not use non-staff funds to the same degree for meetings and publications. Ratios of staff to non-staff resources averaged 1:0.31 for Regional Office technical groups and 1:0.23 for Policy Assistance Branches 18. There was also a considerable difference between branches with the ratio being 1:0.32 for RAP, 1:0.15 for RAF and 1:0.14 for Europe. In the view of the evaluation, such low ratios lead to inefficient use of staff time, making it impossible for work to be carried out at the country level without additional resources. They also make it difficult for the branches to use consultants to supplement their own expertise. This had proved more possible in RAP by leaving posts vacant. Elsewhere, it was observed that Policy Assistance Branch staff were only spending about 20 percent of their time in the field directly assisting countries.
7 Excludes posts designated Field Programme Officers
8 Regional Office for Africa (RAF - serving primarily West Africa) 4; Sub-regional Office for Southern and East Africa (SAFR) 4; Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP serving primarily Asia) 2; Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands (SAPA) 1; Regional Office for Europe (REU) 4; Sub-regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe 2; Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (RLC - serving primarily Latin America) 5; Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean (SLAC) 1; Regional Office for the Near East (RNE) 5; Sub-regional Office for North Africa (SNEA) 1.
9 RAF 19%; RAP 11%; REU 57%; RLC 29%; RNE 29%.
10 Of these, the topics were: cereals 1; environment 1; extension 1; food security 4; gender 1; genetic resources 1; horticulture 1; irrigation 2; land 2; land reform 2; participation 3; post-harvest 2; research 1; seeds 1; trade 5.
11 For example: i) privatisation has often been handled by Ministries of Finance and Planning; ii) international agricultural trade issues tend to be the prerogative of Ministries of Trade and of Finance; iii) national trade issues are primarily the prerogatives of Ministries of Commerce and Finance, often with an input from traders' associations; iv) rural finance decisions are often primarily taken by the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance; v) taxes are handled by Ministries of Finance; vi) issues of civil service reform are generally not handled by line ministries; vii) many programmes and services are increasingly planned and managed by decentralized local authorities.
12 TCP/BRA/4456 Support to the Formulation of National Agricultural Extension System and Programme Implementation.
13 TCP/LIT/0065 Development of Private Forestry Sector in Lithuania; TCP/URT/6716 Assistance to the Formulation of an Agricultural Sector Policy in Zanzibar.
14 Egypt and from the government side, Bangladesh.
15 e.g. TCP/MEX/4554/7821 Support to the Promotion of Soil Conservation.
16 Examples were found of advice to re-establish public sector supply and servicing for irrigation equipment and on the other side of the equation, proposals in another country to establish an unworkable irrigation water charging system. In trade, the need to ensure that countries have maximum room for manoeuvre in their WTO accession agreement, sometimes led to the message that protectionism and subsidy were desirable, in situations where this was not the case.
17 TCP/LIT/4555 Preparation of a National Seeds Master Plan.
18 Ratios of staff to non-staff resources 2000
|Policy Assistance Branches||0.15||0.32||0.14||0.27||0.23||0.23|