2003 - IFAD

ifad.org

2003 - IFAD

Box 4: Main Conclusions about Impact on Human Assets

• Direct investment in improving human assets was a minor component of most projects.

• Some 60% of the projects reported high or substantial impact on human assets.

• Impact was very positive in three of the four projects that aimed to improve domestic water

supplies, and for most of the training interventions.

• Impact on primary-school attendance was noted not only due to direct investment in educational

facilities but also indirectly through reduction of children’s workload.

• The impact on women’s workload was mixed. Some projects contributed to a reduction in

workload. Others contributed to an increase in workload.

• HIV/AIDS was not treated as a cross-cutting issue in any of the projects or the evaluations.

Building poor people’s collective capacity (their social capital) is

essential for poverty reduction. Strengthening local-level organizations

and institutions and promoting gender equality increase poor

people’s capacity to exploit potential economic opportunities and to

develop stronger links to markets and external partners. A strong capital

base will empower poor people and enable them to interact more

equitably and knowledgeably with those wielding social power and

to negotiate more effectively to improve their livelihoods. In the

absence of strong social capital, investment in human and physical

assets will fail to deliver sustainable benefits.

Although absorbing a relatively minor part of project costs (an

average of 10%), building social capital is increasingly being recognized

as a key activity for IFAD-supported projects. For these projects

at least, project performance has been strongest in this impact area.

Some 70% of the evaluations report substantial impact overall.

The greatest successes relate to local organizations and institutions

established and/or supported by the projects. In Guinea,

Nepal and Venezuela, the establishment of successful grass-roots

organizations has increased social confidence and cohesion,

encouraged the participation of women, and contributed to a profound

change in attitudes among rural communities. In Lebanon,

more than 1 000 women have experienced improved livelihoods

and empowerment as a result of women’s cooperatives. Most significantly

for this post-conflict region, these cooperatives have had

real benefits in terms of social cohesion.

Not all experiences have been so positive. In the Benin project,

the major investment in new institutions has only had a modest

impact on social cohesion, mutual help, gender relations and solidarity

– given the existence of similar institutions prior to the project

– and the sustainability of these new institutions is highly variable.

Local empowerment has not been helped by an operational rather

than strategic approach to participation: beneficiaries have been

involved in identifying needs, and in implementing activities, but

have been involved much less in developing strategies and solutions.

In Ghana, over 80% of the 9 800 groups formed under the project

were nonfunctional or had disintegrated at the time of evaluation.

These groups, whose purpose had been to facilitate the dissemination

of new technology, were not structured for sustainability and

thus did not contribute to social capital and empowerment.

SOCIAL CAPITAL AND PEOPLE’S

EMPOWERMENT

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