Evaluation at FAO

Evaluation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security


The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT)[1] provide countries with a framework and principles for internationally recognized good practices in tenure-related policies, laws, regulations and strategies. Such guidelines were endorsed in May 2012 during the 38th (special) session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome. After an unprecedented large-scale consultation process, this is the first product to be endorsed by the CFS after its reform, which increased the participation and role of civil society.

After the endorsement of the VGGTs in 2012, the FAO Land Tenure Division developed a programme to support the diffusion and use of the VGGTs at global, regional and country level. This programme included interventions related to the creation of partnerships with global and local actors, the organization of training workshops for decision makers, as well as awareness raising events aimed at spreading the knowledge and use of the guidelines. The programme included 13 projects and activities in 16 countries, and was planned for the period 2012-2016. It was funded by various donors, including the European Union, Department for International Development, Belgium, France and Switzerland.

After the end of the first phase of this programme, in 2016 the FAO Office of Evaluation (OED) was asked to conduct an evaluation of the first phase in order to analyse the relevance and results of the activities implemented, both at global and country level, and to learn lessons on FAO’s work in governance of tenure.

The evaluation focused mainly on country level activities, and included country case studies in: Guatemala, Mongolia, Myanmar, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Uganda. More than 160 informants were interviewed (from FAO, governments, civil society organizations, private sectors and other development partners) and gave their opinion about the work FAO is doing to expand the use of the VGGTs. An online survey was also developed in four languages and received more than 94 responses from ten different countries.

The evaluation team, composed of one international consultant, two Office of Evaluation (OED) staff and four national consultants, concluded that:

  • The programme focused largely on activities, such as workshops and training, aimed at raising awareness and developing capacities about the VGGT and their use for those who may have a role in governance of tenure. These activities were relevant, considering that many of the principles in the VGGTs were new and unknown in all countries.
  • These activities have actually increased the knowledge of the VGGT guidelines and have provided government and non-government stakeholders with new insights to address longstanding problems. The impact on civil society persons engaged in governance of tenure was profound. 
  • The relationships at country level between the FAO country office and the civil society, as well as the FAO management and leadership capacities, were essential to the achievement of fruitful partnerships.
  • In general, the first phase of the programme lacked a clear long-term vision of its support to countries.

In addition, the following recommendations were made for the future phases of the programme:

  • FAO should continue key activities under the second phase of the VGGT global programme, especially in terms of capacity development, technical assistance and partnership building.
  • It should also provide continuous and long-term engagement at country level, and ensure the availability of funds through coordination with other donors.
  • If resources allow for the addition of new countries, the selection should be based on specific criteria for success, including political will at country level and leadership capacities of the FAO country office.
  • Changes in the policy framework are not sufficient: the programme should aim at strengthening the institutions in charge of implementing these policies. This is easier with a great engagement with civil society organizations who are empowered to advocate for the implementation of these policies.

[1] The guidelines can be found here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i2801e/i2801e.pdf

Main Report

English (PDF)