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Evaluation of FAO's Programme in West Bank and Gaza Strip

04/09/2017

The population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and specifically inhabitants of rural areas face multiple risks and recurrent threats. For decades they have lived under an occupation charactized by restrictions on land, water and trade, with few livelihood opportunities and little government capacity to provide support. The evaluation of FAO’s programme found that the organisation has been exceptionally capable in this highly sensitive political context to engage on different fronts by exploiting its own comparative advantage and working as a broker between institutions, covering the UN aims of responding to humanitarian needs, supporting institutions through development cooperation and  indirectly affecting the peace process, while remaining within its mandate as a technical agency.

The particular conditions of the context shaped the programme and led it to successfully tread along paths that are quite innovative for FAO. For example, an emerging trait of the programme and a lesson for FAO corporate is to address resilience by working through value chains on accessing markets to bridge humanitarian and development work. Equally, its adoption of a technical approach to influence advocacy is an unusual way to be proactive and position itself as a technical agency in a protracted political crisis. Although the programme’s agriculture and livelihood activities were relevant to local needs, they were not always based on a comprehensive analysis of the social, economic and political context, and this weakened their effectiveness.

Other evaluation findings reflect the way the programme is defined by the context: for example the lack of access to regular programme and TCP funds and other constraints tied to the office’s status as a non representation constitute a challenge to the present shift towards a more development-oriented portfolio. In particular, supporting the Palestinian Authority to develop better policies and standard-setting frameworks has multiple advantages, including opening outlets for the constrained Palestinian economy and reinforcing the government’s position vis a vis local and international partners in negotiations, and markedly in the peace process. Based on these and other findings, the evaluation team made the following recommendations, among others, which are relevant to both the WBGS programme and FAO in general:

  • Market access and value chains are good entry points to work on resilience considering FAO’s mandate and technical expertise, though livelihood promotion and livelihood protection objectives should be more clearly distinguished in programming. Attention to protection threats should be made more explicit to better understand the causes of livelihood vulnerability, and the multiple links between livelihoods and protection.
  • Successful efforts to further integrate and harmonise activities within the programme are ongoing, and in a situation of declining resources it is vital to increase efficiency by promoting synergies. However this requires dedicated resources and donors that are more open to support activities whose benefits go beyond the single projects they fund.
  • Seeing the office’s overall excellent performance over the years, and the importance of this programme for West Bank and Gaza Strip, FAO corporate should attentively reflect on how to ensure that the office can continue to play this role by finding ways of channelling the necessary resources.
  • The office in practice enters into different kinds of partnerships, and partners participate in FAO activities to different degrees. In order to maximize the use of partners’ capacities through more flexible partnership mechanisms and ensure more direct and equal involvement of partners throughout its work, FAO corporate should create simpler and more actionable legal instruments to put true partnerships in place.

The findings of this evaluation indicate that even in complex settings where institutions are fragile, risks are rampant, and success elusive, there are concrete gains in supporting institutions, with potential achievements in terms of peace dividends. Even when there can be no guarantees that these achievements will be long-lasting, this should remain an “imperative” for FAO, as a technical organisation of the UN.

Main Report

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