C 2001/INF/24


Thirty-first Session

2-13 November 2001

Evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS)

Progress Report


Dr Dunstan S. C. Spencer
Leader SPFS Evaluation Team
On Mission in FAO, Rome

September 14, 2001

Dr. Jacques Diouf
Rome, Italy


Dear Dr. Diouf,

Please find attached a short progress report on the work of the SPFS Evaluation team, which has just completed field visits to nine case study countries, and the preliminary phase of report preparation. We very much look forward to visiting the remaining three countries, and completion of our draft report in December 2001 as planned.

On behalf of all the members of the team, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for giving us the opportunity of carrying out this review, and for the full co-operation and assistance we are receiving from all staff both at Headquarters and in the field.

Yours sincerely,


Dunstan S. C. Spencer
Team Leader



Progress Report

September 16, 2001

Terms of Reference

1. The evaluation is taking place some six years after the initiation of country level work under the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS). It is being undertaken both in response to the request of the Governing Bodies and to meet internal management needs and is designed with two aims, to:

    1. provide a credible accountability report on the programme, containing in-depth analysis and assessment of its continuing, relevance, effectiveness in achieving results and overall cost-effectiveness; and
    2. consolidate and enhance the knowledge basis of the programme for the future by learning from the experience to date, especially by identifying emerging key issues strengths and weaknesses.

2. The Terms of Reference cover an overall assessment of the programme, including South-South Cooperation. It includes:

3. In assessing the impact of the programme and its relevance, the Evaluation Team (ET) is giving attention to effects on food security at national, community, regional and household levels and the extent to which the SPFS approaches have impacted upon, and been taken up in other programmes.

Evaluation Arrangements and Modalities

4. A team of nine senior external consultants is undertaking the evaluation. The FAO Evaluation Service is providing operational support. The team is composed as follows: Team Leader - D.S.C. Spencer (Sierra Leone), P. Spitz (Team Leader, Asia and West Africa missions, France), F. Anderson (Australia), M. Contijoch (Mexico), A. Maziliauskas, (Lithuania), D. Norman (United States of America), M. Sala (Finland), V. S. Vyas (India), and M. Zaroug (Sudan). The team covers a wide range of expertise including agricultural economics, agronomy, animal science, farming systems, gender analysis, irrigation and water management, participatory approaches, project evaluation, and rural development.

5. The team has visited FAO Regional Offices and nine SPFS countries from Asia (Bangladesh, Cambodia, China), East and Southern Africa (Eritrea, Tanzania, Zambia), and Latin America and the Caribbean (Bolivia, Ecuador, Haiti). Approximately one week was spent in each country by groups, which normally consisted of four consultants. In each country the team held discussions with government agencies, NGOs, private sector organizations as well as donor representatives, and visited a sample of project sites where a check list of points based on the terms of reference was used to facilitate enquiries with farmers, extension agents and other project staff.

6. To assist the team in its work a general briefing note and individual country briefing notes were prepared by the Secretariat. The team has had access to a wide range of documentation from FAO, including reports of evaluations and reviews carried out by outside parties, the project plans of operation and various progress and technical reports.

7. It is planned that countries in the West Africa/Near East Region (Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal) will be visited in October 2001. Subsequently, preparation of a synthesis evaluation report will take place in November-December 2001 after which the Director-General and other FAO staff will debrief the evaluation team. Preparation of the Director-General's comments on the evaluation report's findings and recommendations for submission to the Governing Bodies through the Programme Committee is expected to take place thereafter.

Some Impressions from the Field Visits

8. The evaluation team would like to emphasise that it has not yet had the opportunity to visit projects in West Africa/Near East, where it has been informed some of the longest running and most active SPFS programmes are in operation. The evaluation team is therefore not in any position to present any conclusions at this stage. However, as a result of fieldwork to date the team has become well aware of to the following:

9. It is the hope of the evaluation team that its report, to be completed in January, will help in moving the programme forward.


Signed, Dunstan S.C. Spencer, Team Leader