CL 127/INF/10


Hundred and Twenty-seventh Session

Rome, 22-27 November 2004

The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS)
Response to the Independent External Evaluation conducted in 2001-2002

FAO has taken action on all recommendations of the Independent External Evaluation carried out in 2001-2002. Details of action taken are found in the Annex. Major action has focused on:

1. All projects maintain the common elements characteristic of the SPFS including national ownership of implementation as well as a focus on increasing food production based on sustainable water management, intensification and diversification using low-cost methods lying within the reach of poor farmers. In African programmes, these characteristics coincide with the NEPAD/CAADP pillars and therefore should be easily integrated into national and regional development efforts. Some regions, however, especially Latin America, have required more complex, integrated and broader programmes, where specific activities such as micro-credit, capacity building, sensitization of public opinion and decision-makers, and support for decentralized local institutions have arisen as key elements.

2. Where possible, ongoing projects are adjusted to respond to the recommendations of the External Evaluation. The main opportunities for the adjustment, however, arise in the design of new projects and in the dialogue leading to the formulation of national-scale food security programmes. These reflect the evolution of the SPFS to allow for greater flexibility in responding to country needs and priorities, and for integrating SPFS more fully into national development processes, particularly the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). Evolutionary aspects include methods for incorporating greater participation, especially through community-driven planning and project designs, involving all stakeholders and development partners, and practical capacity building in field schools that foster ‘participatory farmer groups’ and marketing groups.

3. Although there is growing emphasis on demand-driven change processes, most programmes are aware that farmers need new scientific knowledge and skills combined with local knowledge to implement sustainable water management, intensification and diversification activities. This could lead to farmer-oriented research partnerships between SPFS and national and international research institutions and universities.

4. Capacity building on food security technical aspects with government officials and decision-makers is becoming part of a broader set of interventions to strengthen the enabling institutional environment to eradicate hunger in each country. Networking, coordination of field activities, awareness and advocacy campaigns, communication for development and support to existing or incipient extension systems can play an important role as well when designing programmes aimed at scaling up the impact on reduction of undernutrition. In addition, there is stronger focus on national policies and action plans which form the basis of national ownership of programmes and ensure provide policy and budget support to field implementation activities. Finally, focus is on moving rapidly towards large-scale programmes based on experiences of the SPFS and/or other similar interventions. Replicability is an important consideration to ensure that externally funded programmes can continue under national and local funding.

5. Large-scale national food security programmes increasingly focus on inclusive related policies which look not simply to the production dimensions of food security programmes but also to safety nets, which broaden access to food. This is in line with the twin-track strategies for hunger reduction articulated by FAO, IFAD, WFP and IPGRI on behalf of CGIAR as well as by international NGOs which have come together to found the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH). This broadening approach is reflected in growing collaboration with WFP on school garden projects related to school-feeding programmes. It is also evident in the urban/peri-urban horticulture development activities being supported by the SPFS in several countries.




Item No.



Action taken/being taken/to be taken




Consider more flexible people-driven approaches for SPFS.

Move away from a focus on production to include the economic, financial and social dimensions and community empowerment.

Action taken:

(i) In several national SPFS, the focus in up-scaling is on added dimensions, in particular on capacity building for better extension delivery (farmer field schools) and group action.

(ii) These aspects are highlighted in M&E guidelines, including training and funding of community-based participatory planning and appraisal.

(iii) The community-driven approach is strongly reflected, in particular, in community-based action groups.

Recommendation (i) largely taken up in new designs, e.g. in Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Kenya, Laos, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, etc.


8, 74,


Improve the use in technical guidelines in the field.

Setting up of a Guideline Technical Committee with the responsibility of rationalizing the approach to planning, producing, approving and updating the guidelines as a whole.

Include guidelines for aquaculture and small ruminants.

Action taken:

(i) Distribution of guidelines (hard-copies, CD-Rom, web site) to all actors concerned, especially in the field, is undertaken.

(ii) Establishment of a Technical Support Group, involving all technical divisions concerned.

(iii) Identified gaps for guidelines on topics and developed new guidelines for subjects not yet or inadequately covered by the current series.

With reference to point (iii):

For example: school gardening (garden-based learning); nutrition; aquaculture (including rice-fish); agro-forestry; rural finance.





47, 62,


Introduce a systematic, simple and efficient M&E system (para. 14 a of the Report).

Improve economic financial analysis on the technologies and enterprises being promoted under the SPFS (62) and evaluation of the degree of adoption/uptake of technologies demonstrated (9).

Action taken:

(i) Position (P-3) M&E officer established in TCOS.

(ii) Comprehensive M&E guidelines developed and field tested in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malawi and Nigeria.

(iii) A M&E working group was established in collaboration with PBEE, TCA, AGS, ESAF, which guided development of M&E manual.

(iv) M&E guidelines distributed to all SPFS countries.

(v) M&E guidelines were discussed twice. with national staff participating in two regional workshops (on gender in irrigation projects) in Africa (April and September 2003) and Asia (September 2003 and February 2004) covering 20 countries.

(i) Need for further improvements of guidelines based on feedback.

(ii) Need for providing budget allocations for M&E in projects.



Improve management at different levels and independent evaluation at project level.

Action being taken:

(i) Introduction of regular supervision of all ongoing projects by TCOS and other staff (visits by TCOS staff undertaken to over 40 countries in the past 12 months).

(ii) Provision for backstopping in project budgets (ATS and STS) to enable a systematic project supervision.

(iii) APOs and volunteers posted in country project offices, e.g. Spanish APOs in Mauritania, and in Latin America projects; APOs from Japan in Asia projects; US Peace Corps volunteers assisting in Bolivia, Ecuador and Mauritania; discussions in other countries are ongoing.

(iv) Monitoring, and participation in tripartite evaluation missions, including SSC, in line with project agreements (Japanese projects in Asia, Spanish projects in Latin America, Italian projects, Nigeria project, AfDB projects in Africa).

Marked increase in backstopping by HQ and regional office staff.

Efforts to place more APOs and Peace Corps volunteers continuing.





Re-examine the extensive use of subsidies to encourage technology adoption (10).

Use of subsidized inputs and interest rates only if part of national policy.

Credit administration by competent credit institutions.

Action being taken:

(i) Cost recovery systems are included in the design of all new projects, involving existing rural finance institutions where feasible, in line with prevailing national credit polices and procedures.

(ii) Update guidelines for microfinancing.

(iii) Enhancement of multiplier effect through strengthening of participatory farmer group approaches, facilitating cost recovery and self-financing.

It should be noted that introduction of new technologies may incur a risk to farmers and consequently initial inputs may be provided at concessionary rates.





Prioritize countries for SPFS-related initiatives (12)


- whether a country wants to initiate an SPFS activity or is seeking support for continuing an activity initiated earlier;

- the malnourishment in the country;

- the institutional infrastructure in place to support SPFS initiatives;

- national commitment to addressing food security issues, etc.

Action being taken:

(i) Increase institutional response capacity in FAO to respond to demand from countries seeking to embark on SPFS.

(ii) Food security programmes being up-scaled in 24 countries committed to improving food security and reducing hunger; 18 other countries identified as having strong potential for national scale programmes.

It is not appropriate for the secretariat to exclude or give lower priority to any of the member countries wishing to join the SPFS.


6, 12,












Increase household food security:

Target food insecure areas for site selection, more disadvantaged farmers and vulnerable groups (191) and draw explicit attention on:

- seasonality (12, 157, 222);

- environmental issues (12, 159, 224);

- gender equality (12, 225);

- collaborative arrangements with NGOs and farmers organizations (12, 226);

- meso- and macrolevel institutional and policy issues (12, 227);

- acceptance on longer- time period for achieving impact (12, 228).

Facilitate the identification of food insecure areas (14, 129).

Increase the effort devoted to food security mapping.

Action being taken:

All aspects of this recommendation have been or are being addressed, e.g.:

- seasonality is being addressed through income generating activities, e.g. in South Africa, or Nigeria;

- gender issues are being addressed in several ways, e.g. gender workshops in Asia and Africa (covering 20 countries); linkages with NGOs and farmer organizations are strengthened, e.g. in Ecuador, Kenya, Senegal, Tanzania;

- meso- and macrolevel institutional and policy issues are addressed by programme activities in several countries: Brazil, Cambodia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Mexico and Sierra Leone.

Countries engaged in planning national programmes are encouraged to address both production and access dimensions of food security. Also as part of NEPAD-CAADP such issues are addressed.

Linkages are being established between SPFS and FIVIMS particularly in Central American countries to facilitate better targeting; linkages with WFP on VAM are also being strengthened, e.g. in Ghana.



Handing over responsibilities at the end of the implementation period.

Design an exit strategy with use of participatory logframe in the design phase and of a participatory dynamic logframe during the implementation phase.

Action being taken:

(i) Under leadership of governments, international financial institutions play a lead role in up-scaling and expansion (Phase II), with FAO supporting activities (technical assistance), as required, e.g. AfDB up-scaling in Malawi and Tanzania.

(ii) National financing increasing, both in piloting and up-scaling, i.e. over 60 percent of all SPFS is nationally financed, thus, ensuring sustainability, e.g. Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Venezuela, and others.

The process of moving from Phase I to Phase II is gradual and efforts to up-scale are continuous.





Avoid top-down interventions.

In the approval process (39), in SSC project formulation (111) and in the case of extension provided under SSC (168).

Action taken:

Participatory processes are now standard features in the design of SPFS projects, giving due consideration to country and site specific requirements to food security.

Formulation and implementation of recent projects are carried out with full participation of stakeholders, in particular farmer communities (PRAs, FFS, PFGs).





Enhance countries' participation at project formulation stage (40-43).

National governments have most commonly, at least in the case study countries, played a rather passive role (92).

Action being taken:

(i) Ensure that the guidelines more strongly reflect a participatory approach (e.g. preparation of an Aide Mémoire).

(ii) More direct involvement of TCOS in facilitating the formulation process, including sensitizing national officials and formulation teams.

An exploratory mission is fielded only after a formal request of the government. The SPFS scope, activities and responsibilities are agreed with the government in an Aide Memoire.



Integration of the SPFS into the national agricultural programme design.

Action taken:

(i) Ongoing.

(ii) Up-scaling SPFS may be part of national medium-term investment plans in NEPAD-CAADP in Africa.

(iii) Efforts are made to include food security in agriculture sector reviews and PRSP processes (Angola and Sierra Leone).


44, 124, 125,


Involve international agencies and other donors at the initial design stage.

Establish practical working/linkages in order to multiply impact of SPFS and improve the possibility of identifying funding for continuing SPFS (124).

Establish linkages with other development agencies (e.g. NGOs) to increase the impact of SPFS (226).

Action being taken:

(i) Linkages with donor coordinating mechanisms at national level and at HQ level are actively encouraged, starting at the planning stage.

(ii) Regular meetings with regional banks and financial institutions (e.g. WB, AfDB, IsDB, BADEA) and with bilateral and multilateral donors and development agencies (e.g. WFP, UNICEF).

(iii) Similar meetings with NGOs (Glocal Forum on Nutrition in in six cities) and the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

(iv) Joint missions with donors and international financial institutions (e.g. Tanzania).

(v) High level visits, involving senior representatives of governments of FAO. Member countries, including donor and recipient countries, international financial institutions, are organized to SPFS sites in selected countries. (Nigeria, Ecuador, Guatemala).

(vi) Creation of IAAH and National Alliances.

A significant number of donors has joined the programme and in most cases has participated in its design or adaptation.

Local representatives are systematically visited by formulation missions and other FAO missions (included in the TOR).



Decrease the 13 percent rate to channelling funds through FAO (126).

Action taken:

(i) PBE prepared report clarifying basis for setting the PSC rate. This rate can be reduced when the cost of specific support activities is included in the project budget.

(ii) TCA revised TF guidelines on this matter.

The decision on 13 percent support cost has been taken by FAO Governing Bodies which is also the same for other UN agencies.



Place greater emphasis on water-related activities.

Water harvesting, moisture conservation, watershed development.

Action taken:

The water control component is usually the entry point for initiating the SPFS, in particular, in drier countries, and continues to be an important component during up-scaling.

The water control component includes a wider set of water-related activities (e.g. water harvesting).

Many workshops have been supported on these subjects and extensive material has been translated into five languages.





Handle issues related to agricultural pricing policy.

Wider socio-economic and health related issues not only in Phase II, but already in Phase I.

Action taken:

(i) Socio-economic issues are already addressed in Phase I, in particular, through the Constraints Analysis (CA).

(ii) TCA has organized training courses on CA methodologies in SAFR, RAF, RLC, RAP and HQ to further enhance their knowledge on the implementation of this component.

Socio-economic issues include: policies (e.g. agriculture pricing), supporting infrastructure and agriculture support services (e.g. marketing, credit, input supplies, health hazards).




Consider the Constraints Analysis (CA) not as a component but as a methodology (52).

Enhance the integration between the three “production components" (54).

Action being taken:

When resources are available all components are initiated simultaneously.

An increasingly holistic view is being taken of small-scale farm development.

Constraints analysis is considered as an underlying component to ensure that adequate attention is given to this important aspect.

The lack of integration between three components was mainly due to lack of initial resources.