PC 93/INF/5

Programme Committee

Ninety-Third Session

Rome, 9-13 May 2005

Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP): Findings of the Internal Consultation

Table of Contents



1. This document is one of the two supporting documents upon which the report entitled “Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) – Management’s Proposals for Strengthening the TCP” is based. It describes the consultative process that took place within FAO during November and December 2004 under the auspices of the Field Programme Committee (FPC). The second supporting document describes the consultation process, coordinated by FAO’s Evaluation Service (PBEE), with governments and other important external stakeholders.

2. This document is organized into three parts. Part I provides the background to the internal consultation; Part II reviews the process that was implemented for this consultation; and Part III provides the principle findings of the consultative process.


3. At its 92nd Session, the Programme Committee reviewed a document entitled “Policy and Operational Framework of the TCP: responding to a changing environment”(PC 92/7). The objective of the document was to provide a basis for an initial discussion by the Programme Committee on the major issues to be addressed in adapting the TCP to evolving circumstances. This document constituted the first step in the review process of the TCP to be undertaken by the Secretariat with the guidance of the Programme Committee.

4. The document identified a number of significant changes in the international environment and within the Organization that have taken place since 1976 and to which the TCP should respond. It acknowledged that in some cases, the TCP had already responded, but that there remained further scope for exploring how the TCP could best respond to, and benefit further, from these recent changes.

5. Given these new realities, the critical question lying at the heart of the TCP review process is: What are those aspects of the TCP that need to be strengthened or modified to reflect the contemporary needs of government, what new elements could be added, and which aspects need to be preserved and/or reinforced in order to maintain the Programme’s core value, respond effectively to the emerging needs of member countries, and ensure that appropriate attention is given to food security and rural and agricultural development issues?

6. The Committee endorsed the document’s principal findings, including the recommendation that a consultative process, involving an internal consultation in FAO and an independent review to elicit the views of governments, be initiated to identify proposals for strengthening the impact and effectiveness of the TCP by ensuring that it is aligned with new realities at country level as well as with the technical capacities that FAO has to offer. It was further agreed that three broad sets of issues should constitute the primary focus of the consultative process: (i) national TCP processes; (ii) TCP criteria and categories; and (iii) country eligibility.

7. The Secretariat decided to manage the internal consultation through the FPC1.


8. The internal consultation was intended to elicit the views of FAO staff members on the above-mentioned set of issues, and to draw on their experiences, insights and knowledge in order to strengthen the TCP and the service it provides governments and the world’s poor and hungry.

9. In October 2004, the Technical Cooperation Department prepared an Issues Paper in order to facilitate debate and discussion within FAO on the TCP. This Issues Paper was organized into two main parts: Part I provided the background to the consultative process; and Part II focused on the three main issues highlighted by the Programme Committee and added the issue of TCP procedures to reflect additional comments of Members of the Programme Committee.

10. On 5 November 2004, the Chairperson of the FPC, in consultation with the Director, OCD, circulated the Issues Paper to the FPC members, the five regional and subregional offices, and a sample of thirteen FAO representations (FAORs), encouraging them to seek the views of as many staff as possible in order to respond to the questions raised in each of the four above-mentioned sections.

11. The FPC Secretariat received 29 contributions and consolidated them by issue and contributor in one comprehensive table. In addition, it consolidated the main findings and recommendations in a five-page summary note. To ensure transparency, a module entitled “TCP Review” was developed on FPMIS in order to make available all of the background documentation and contributions received from technical and operational divisions at headquarters, regional offices and FAORs. The FPC met in mid-December 2004 to review the various inputs received and to agree on principle findings and recommendations for submission to the Secretariat.

12. In February 2005, the Secretariat prepared the final report to be considered by the 93rd Session of the Programme Committee, taking into account the findings of this consultative process, the recommendations of the report of the Independent Review of the TCP (PC 93/INF/3), the recent Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization, the External Auditor’s comments regarding the TCP, and TCP-related findings of recent PBE Thematic Evaluations.


13. The Field Programme Committee agreed on a number of issues, in particular:

  1. Importance and value of the TCP. It was recognized that the TCP was an extremely valuable mechanism for both FAO and its Members. This consensus was elaborated along three fundamental lines:
  1. TCP resources and national and sectoral priorities. There is a need to ensure that TCP resources are used in direct support of government priorities. In particular, FPC members agreed on the need to link the TCP, to the greatest extent practical, to national planning processes and related agricultural development programmes while maintaining a necessary degree of flexibility in the allocation of TCP resources since so-called “ad hoc” eligible TCP requests would continue to be submitted by governments relating to critical gaps and problems that fall outside of these planning processes and related programmes.
    In this regard it was stressed that the TCP review would be closely linked to the ongoing initiative regarding the improvement of FAO’s responsiveness to countries’ needs through the development of Country Indicative Programme Agreements to be implemented on a pilot basis in six countries. Depending on the results of this pilot exercise, the allocation of TCP resources could be linked to these Frameworks, thereby strengthening the contribution of TCPs to, for example, Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and the Millennium Development Goals.
  2. Increasing FAOR responsibilities. FAORs need to play a greater role in the assessment of TCP project proposals as they are closest to country needs, government priorities and national planning processes. Whilst several FPC members as well as FAO representatives themselves expressed reservations as to delegating the authority to approve TCP projects to FAORs, it was suggested that FAORs should receive a clear signal on the eligibility of a proposal at the start of the process so that they could engage the Organization rapidly.
  3. Facilitating FAOR engagement. There is a need to explore the possibility of providing FAORs with a more substantial annual allotment in order to enable them to be effective partners at country level and carry out targeted, catalytic and responsive action without recourse to headquarters for review and approval (an amount higher than the existing US$15 000 under TCP Facility projects), as it was recognized that the lack of response capacity of FAORs weakened FAO’s role and impact at country level.
  4. Enhancing the scope for co-financing. The need to remove the current blanket restriction on co-financing was recognized, since it is a major constraint on FAO’s ability to build partnerships at national and international levels. Although co-financing should not be seen as a budgetary-support type, it was emphasized that there was scope for other types of co-financing or parallel funding, in particular in the context of joint programming.
  5. Country eligibility. The need to keep TCP eligibility open to all member countries was emphasized, whilst the introduction of a mechanism for prioritization to the most needy countries was also proposed.
  6. TCP criteria. The main suggestions emerging from the internal consultative process revolved around either removing and/or modifying and strengthening the criteria, in particular:
  1. TCP categories. The existing categories should be reviewed with a view to better covering the range of activities supported by TCP assistance and to avoiding distortions in the reporting to Governing Bodies. Consequently new categories were proposed, such as: innovative approaches, “pilot demonstration”-type assistance, in particular by NGOs/CSOs; networked-based activities to create neutral discussion; institutional strengthening; support to field programme development; support to regional priorities; and support to FAO programmes such as the SPFS.
  2. Continued scope for refining procedures. The FPC agreed that there was further scope to build upon recent initiatives to further streamline TCP procedures, in particular:

14. The possibility of changing the name of the TCP in order to better reflect its nature, scope and purpose was considered.


1 The Field Programme Committee, reactivated by the Director-General on 1 February 2001, is chaired by the ADG of the Technical Cooperation Department. It is composed of the ADGs of the technical departments, the ADG of the Administration and Finance Department, the Director of the Office for Coordination of Normative, Operational and Decentralized Activities; the Chief of the Development Law Service, and the Director of the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation. It has as resource persons the ADGs of the regional offices and it involves the FAO representations on an ad hoc basis.