End of Project Evaluation Report. Empowering Farmers to Claim their Rights and Basic Needs
Background In response to the ongoing land dispute in many parts of the country, the Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community has implemented a 3-year project called "Empowering Farmer Communities Claiming Their Rights And Basic Needs” January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2019, funded by Daikonia, DanMission, Mission Alliance and DCA/CA. The project worked with 48 communities in nine target provinces: Kandal, Takeo, Kampot,Kampong Speu, Sihanoukville, Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Tbong Khmum and Preah Vihear. The project has reached the end of its cycle by the end of December 2019. Purpose/objective The purpose of the final evaluation was to analyse the outcomes/impact, effectiveness, efficiency, relevance and sustainability of the project and inform the next phase/project period that started in 2020. Methodology The evaluation studied relevant documents of CCFC and the project, online/off line survey, interviews and consultation with 111 people (female represents 45%). The respondents are General Councils (CG), Provincial Committees (PC), Community Management Committees (CMC) (89), 11 Land Activists, 17 community members, 9 partners of Solidarity House and 13 management and staff of CCFC Secretariat. Key findings Findings indicate that, overall, the project has achieved high results in the process of strengthening community rights over land advocacy. CMCs increased their knowledge, competence, self-confidence and more self-reliance in advocacy. Despite the small number of successful families raising chickens and vegetables, they have used their income to improve their livelihoods, educate their children, improve their family health and participate in advocacy activities. As a result, very few communities have got their land back, along with land tenue, some with credentials, some with land demarcation/measurement and some with compensation. Overall, however, the results at the impact level was low. The achievement toward the impact is low, while the achievement toward outcome is high. The project is highly relevant because the project's interventions respond well to the challenges faced by its members. The project's interventions are aligned with the mission and framework of CCFC. Strategic interventions can foster the achievement toward outcomes and impact. The six main strategic interventions are highly inter-connected, and the implementation was effective. They contribute greatly to Cambodia's priority issues. The community empowerment process was effective. The project's resources were used in line with the needs of the members, CCFC’s policies and financial procedures as well as donors’ policies. Expended resources have benefitted members, while the working approach was effective. The project shows high sustainability. CMCs increased knowledge and skills in advocacy which are fundamental to bring the project's sustainability. Members increased steadily, but the membership fee was low. Gender equality has been materialized. The environmental justice has been responded. Despite just 8-year old, but CCFC has steadily strengthened its institutional capacity and quality. Being a membership-based coalition, the leadership is made up of representatives chosen from the members of the group as a whole, through a democratic election. Structure at all levels is led by representatives who are either affected by land grabbing/conflict or willing to work together. This demonstrates great ownership and cooperation for the common good, which in turn can also contribute to the community and society as a whole. Recommendations Although the project is successful, a number of obstacles, challenges, or gaps existed and affected the success of the project for both current and similar projects in the future. Based on this, the evaluation team recommends a number of points for CCFC to consider in order to foster future success: Review the message used (words, meanings and content) used by CMC, PC and Secretariat and ways in collaborations and coordination with local authorities and government institutions which encourage their support and positive responses. Conduct evidence-based research for each conflict case presenting legal claims and tenure histories in accordance with relevant legal frameworks, which influence the effectiveness of a complaint or response. Such research is also powerful contributing to the effectiveness of forum that CCFC organizes at the national level. Similarly, CCFC should arrange visits to disputed and/or successful places participated by researchers, government officials, members of the National Assembly, the Senate and civil society organizations to foster their understanding over the real case. Those findings will become as main agenda of the fora. Promote the quantity and quality of legal support to community in more appropriate ways, such as establishing a legal officer at the secretariat and/or affiliation with legal experts/team rather than just depending on the current partner organization. Such arrangement could be done in accordance with the agreed plan and MOU. This would foster the effectiveness and success of the community advocacy. Provide psychological counseling to the community in based on the needs identified, which can contribute to the success of advocacy activities (particularly) and promoting health of community people (in general). CCFC should incorporate this into the next mandate plan and identify appropriate means of implementation. Provide training from professional institutions to staff who will provide cascade courses to PCs, CMCs. Alternatively, CCFC collaborates with professional bodies to provide such assistance to members when the need from members has arisen. Encourage affected communities to increase the submission of petitions to influential institutions, such as the National Assembly, the National Senate, and share some effective and effective strategies wider with CCFC at different levels. In addition, using successful community leaders to help other communities in need is also a goodway to do. Increase knowledge of the secretariat staff in agriculture and/or connect with agricultural organizations or institutions, to provide additional training, as well as technical support to community once poultry disease occurs. Carefully review and clearly define criterion for members those the secretariat makes a request to government for health equity card, rather than just for all, to ensure that the proposal complies with the principles of the government framework. The Secretariat should carefully examine (if yet done) the environmental impact before operating a purified water sale business to avoid the negative impact on the environment as this business will use a lot of water, including groundwater. Strategically, CCFC should consider expanding its membership beyond those affected by land conflict and solely working on advocacy. Through this, CCFC can establish mechanisms for income generation that members can benefit. In this view, CCFC could facilitate the establishment of agricultural cooperatives in the target areas or linkages if communities already have agricultural cooperatives. The cooperative could be further formed as the Agriculture Cooperatives Federation, a mechanism that promotes the production and sale of agricultural products. At the same time, the CCFC must balance this social enterprise with its core advocacy activity. The Secretariat should review roles and responsibilities and make them clearer for different staff, teams as this would enhance the quality of performance. At the same time, the Secretariat should ensure that relevant institutional policies are monitored. In terms of program, it should ensure the development and implementation of monitoring and evaluation frameworks and plan to ensure the program quality. In response to the challenge in knowledge of English, three main steps that should be taken as appropriate: 1). Relevant documents should be prepared or made available in Khmer language, if needed, there should be a staff/translator responsible for translating into English for external communications, 2). Each staff required to do English self-study, or 3). The Secretariat should check the possibility supporting short-term English course to staff, with appropriate condition. In addition, the Secretariat should provide other relevant training topics to staff members, such as in-depth research, documentation, technology (ICT) and taxation. Comments from the organisation Mission Alliance:The project “Empower Farmer Communities Claiming Their Rights and Basic Needs” has been carried out from 2017 to 2019. It is a project with multiple donors (Danish Church Aid, Diakonia, Mission Alliance, Danmission, Norwegian People’s Aid and Oxfam) that come in with funds and expertise. It was planned for an external evaluation in 2019, however, this was delayed and was carried out in January 2020. The evaluation team was hired based on inputs and recommendations from each donor and the Terms of Reference was developed with inputs and requirements from the donors. For Mission Alliance the Country Office was close in the process and Head Office also was part of the process. Finally, the Head Office approved the team and the ToR. CCFC has acknowledged the findings in the Evaluation Report and all indicates that they appreciate the process that has been, and the conclusions and recommendations made by the evaluation team. Mission Alliance is also satisfied with the outcome of the evaluation. From our opinion it has been athorough study and a good presentation of the results achieved in the project. Also, the assessments of effectiveness, efficiencies, sustainability and relevance of the project seem very valid. MA is very glad for the recommendations given. They are, from our point of view, very relevant and we believe and hope that CCFC may achieve even better results with some changes and adaptations in line with these recommendations. Evaluation team had some difficulties with filling out the Digni’s Empowerment Assessment Tool, table (EAT table), and initially misunderstood the task. However, in the end the evaluation team gave their assessment which MA believes is within Digni’s requirements. The justification for the scoring is provided in the evaluation report. We would have liked this evaluation to be carried out at an earlier stage, already in first half of 2019. This would have been positive for the development of the new Project Documents. Still, since it has been a three-year project period, it would have been a bit early. There will therefore be a need to revise the Project Document and MA is following up CCFC on this. DigniDigni has used the evaluation report to analyse and document results of the project. Digni’s assessment of the project’s results are presented in Digni’s report to Norad in 2019. Digni’s assessment of the EAT score for goal 6 (Economic empowerment) of this project is that they are at level 2 (output), whereas the Evaluation Team gave it a score at level 3 (outcome). When calibrating and comparing EAT scoring practice across projects in the Digni portfolio, Digni’s assessment is that the results presented in this project are at output level when it comes to economic empowerment, rather than at outcome level. Digni in dialog with MA and emphasise the need to follow up with partner the evaluation recommendations and incorporate them, even though the project has already started a new project phase.