French Red Cross
International Relations & Operations Division
Terms of References
-- Final Evaluation Mission --
Food Security & Nutrition Project - Laos (2010-2014)
Name of organization representative: French Red Cross
Project Title: Support to vulnerable households’ food security and nutrition in Xienghone and Hongsa Districts. EuropeAid (DCI-FOOD/2009/217-235)
Location of operations / activities: Xienghone (XH) and Hongsa (HS) districts (Sayaboury Province)
Name of Evaluator: …………………………………………
ToR date: 12th August 2014
Mission Date: October 2014 (with 5 days off; see indicative chronogram below)
The Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a country of 236 800 km2, located in the heart of the Indochinese Peninsula, without access to the sea and in which mountains represents the 2 / 3 of its area. These geographic conditions restrict the possibilities of trade development and infrastructure. With one of the lowest densities in Asia (24 persons/km2), its population (6.3 million inhabitants) is mainly rural (73%). The need for more farmland and social services increased by an annual growth rate of population 2.3% (145 000 person-years).
Despite recent development efforts, Laos remains one of the poorest countries of the region (138th/187). 34% of its population lives below the poverty line, especially in rural areas. A 2001 study defines poverty by the lack of rice and livestock, this poverty is exacerbated by the lack of land and irrigation, diseases affecting cattle, and low health declining productivity of the population. Strong economic and social disparities reinforce the split urban / rural divide and the majority ethnic group of many ethnic minorities (Hmong, Khamou, Akka, Kha, Lavet ...) among the 49 ethnic groups calling Laos.
To fight against this situation, the Government decided in 1996 to establish a National Strategy for Poverty Eradication (SNEP). Confirmed in 2001, it defines the areas of intervention in the 47 districts in extreme poverty. External assistance is essential to achieve these goals, both in terms of financial support that technical assistance.
According to WFP, Sayabouri Province has a rate of population in situation of food insecurity of 0 to 11%. However, this “average” doesn’t make the distinction between the southern part of the province, which is a large irrigated plain area, and the northern part, which is a mountainous area much closer to Bokeo and Oudomxai provinces (which respectively have 32-41% and 12-21% of food insecure households) in term of agro-ecological profile and ethnic composition of the population.
This distinction appears more clearly in the Socio-Economic Atlas of the Lao PDR , in which the northern districts of Hongsa and Xienghone are respectively classified as “poor” and “poor and as high priority”, whereas the 5 southern districts of the province are classified as not poor.
The vulnerability status of Hongsa and Xienghone Districts is also underlined by the French Red Cross malnutrition screenings carried out in 2008 and 2009 (weigh, size, age, respectively 198 and 137 children screened, from 0 to 59 months). In both districts, and according to WHO standards, the chronic malnutrition is high (58%) for the 24-59 months children, the acute malnutrition are high (15%) for the 0-24 month’s children and the weigh insufficiency is moderate to high.
a- Food availability
The rice production balance at district level is neutral, which means that theoretically, the two target districts produce enough rice for the consumption needs of the population. However, there are important differences between large irrigated plains, which have a surplus production exported in other regions, and mountainous areas, which are showing a deficit. At household level, 35 to 50% of the households suffer an average of 3 months shortage in their rice stocks coming from their own production, even in plains area where some households don’t access to irrigated lowlands and have a reduced access to uplands due to higher population density and lower upland availability. In mountainous areas, rice production is limited by land allocations undertaken by the DAFO (District Agriculture and Forestry Office), which have reduced upland rice areas to a rotation with a 3 years fallow period, with a consequent loss of fertility and decrease of yields compared to the traditional 7 years fallow period.
Vegetable production shows a deficit, as many households don’t produce vegetables in dry season, mainly due to the lack of access to lands located close to a source of water. In general, vegetable production is only for self-consumption. The deficit is partly counterbalanced by Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP) gathering, but this resource tends to decrease, especially in plains areas where it is exposed to an intense pressure.
Fruit production shows a deficit, as a few households own fruit trees.
Proteins are available through animal breeding, fishing and fish pounds. However, animal breeding which is widely spread within households is mainly undertaken as a saving strategy used in case of crisis, disease, rice shortage and ceremonies. The main source of protein is therefore the fish, which is highly available in villages situated along the Mekong river, and secondly in villages that have individual or community fishponds. In the remaining villages, there is no availability of fish. The main constraints for animal breeding are the prevalence of diseases and the lack of efficiency of the vaccination system, which doesn’t reach sufficiently the villages more distant from the district capitals.
b- Food Access
It is generally ensured by households’ own production, for all food items. Households move very few to markets and the majority of them never do it. As far as rice is concerned, the already mentioned 35 to 50% of the households have to resort to rice purchase in their own village. 15 to 25%11 of households don’t succeed in accessing rice all along the year because of a lack of monetary income, and remain on NTFPs, in particular tubers, when they finish consuming their rice stock. The other food items that are usually purchased are salt, pepper, and meat. As far as meat is concerned, very few households purchase and consume it, from once a month to once a week for the wealthiest households.
15 to 25% of households don’t have any monetary income, 20 to 25% perceive incomes only enough for rice purchasing during their stock shortage. The remaining 50 to 60% perceive income sufficient to buy food and non food items. Incomes are generated through cash crops (corn, job tear, sesame, more recently rubber and jatropha), selling animals (poultries, pigs, cows and buffalos), selling working hand and handicraft with NTFPs. Animal breeding is carried out as a saving strategy and households usually don’t consume their meat. The 15 to 25% more vulnerable households don’t possess animals. Selling animals, working hand, and handicraft play a very important role in food access when rice production has been affected by the two major threats, rain shortage and pests occur. According to WFP , Sayabouri Province is one of the three Lao Provinces that have the highest rate of vulnerability to drought, with more than 40% of the non chronically food insecure households at risk to become food insecure.
c- Food Use
Prevalence of water diseases is expected to be reduced in the two districts since the Lao Red Cross and the French Red Cross and the GTZ-IFAD projects are equipping the majority of the villages with clean water. The Lao Red Cross and the French Red Cross Health Community programme have also carried out activities of access to sanitation, hygiene education, and health. However, diets, which show a chronic lack of protein and fat intakes, and traditional knowledge for pregnant and breast feeding women, constitute important constraints for food security and nutrition in the area.
Description of current Food Security project
The Food Security and Nutrition project’s (2010-2014) aim is to contribute towards the improvement of the food security and nutrition status for the most vulnerable households of 25 villages located in Xienghone and Hongsa districts.
These two districts, located in the northern part of Sayabouri Province, are located in a large mountainous area. Their most vulnerable households suffer chronic food insecurity, with low food production, low income generation and inappropriate dietary practices. Their fragile livelihoods are exposed to threats such as the decrease of upland rice yields and production, the decrease in availability of traditional gathering resources, the exposure to pest damage and irregular rainfall. The project aims to allow these households to develop more sustainable livelihoods and to acquire the capacity to cope with the threats they are facing.
Please see Annex 1 & 2 for Food Security project details.
In 2012, a complementary FRC project (Europe Aid) titled “Secure Water to Secure Food and Nutrition” (Food Technology – “FT”) started in the same target region and simultaneously to a similar action in northern Cambodia (FRC and Cambodian Red Cross). In complement to the ongoing Food Security project in Laos, French Red Cross with Lao Red Cross society aim at improving food security and nutrition of the vulnerable families by improving the access to technologies and knowledge in natural resources management through this FT project. In order to achieve such a goal, collaboration is to be set up with the Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Cambodian Red Cross, for sharing tools, expertise and experiences, thus completing a multilevel ‘technological transfer’.
In Laos, the two projects, Food Security and Food Technology, form the Food Security Program.
2. Objectives and expected results from the evaluation
General objectives of the evaluation:
Started in September 2010 under a EuropeAid funding, the Food Security project will end in October 2014 (thanks to 4-months No-Cost Extension, granted by Delegation of European Union in June 2014). This final evaluation aims to:
- Assess the implementation process and general achievement of project’ specific objectives and expected results. Make a specific analysis on sustainability expected;
- Assess the main external factors that impacted activities implementation and relevance;
- Define the main lessons learnt and perspectives for further Food Security based interventions in the area (relevance of activities that may be replicated for instance).
Expected results of the evaluation:
The mission will provide a clear and argued analysis of the following aspects of the project:
- Methodological approach and implementation strategy of each component of the project: relevance criteria (how the activities implemented took into consideration the humanitarian needs and beneficiaries’ expectations);
- How the results and activities developed by project team have permit to reach the specific objective of the project: effectiveness criteria;
- Implementation of activities and project management: Have the means and resources of the project been used in a proper way to reach expected results: efficiency criteria;
- Ownership of the beneficiaries: to what extend results of the project are prone to be continued and/or replicated by the end of project implementation: sustainability criteria;
- To what extend the general objective of the project is to be reached: project impact.
Such detailed analysis would be completed by recommendations on Food Security and Nutrition driven actions that can be carried out in the area as a continuation strategy.
Scope of the evaluation and specific focuses
The evaluation will be driven by the following themes, which define the general scope:
- Evaluation of the project according to the usual criterions (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, impact). To be addressed for all accomplishments (soft and hard) of the project;
- Review of the methodology used for each component of the project (including planning of implementation, partnerships with local authorities, involvement of beneficiaries, villages/households targeting, use of operational means);
- Progressive adaptation of the project to a changing environment: adaptation of methodology and activities, relevance of amending tools (towards EU) to adapt the logical framework and description of the Action, ability of FRC to monitor the context evolution;
- Capitalization: evaluate the level of technical capitalization of the activities (both successes and mistakes), provide recommendations to FRC for further capitalization on strengths of the Action;
- Lessons learnt: develop clear and concise operational and strategic lessons learnt regarding the kinds of activities implemented, specific approaches, monitoring tools;
- Recommendations for extending food security and/or nutrition driven interventions: taking into account the accomplishments of this project and the present needs, how can activities relying on those two topics can be extended in the area?
In addition to that, one specific focus is to be particularly studied by the evaluation: small livestock support.
Small livestock (poultry) support has been one of the most complicated components to implement. Within the framework of a multi-component project, focus on proper support at both village and households’ level for livestock production has been a challenge. Consequently, FRC has adapted several times its strategy for this component according to local capacities (breeding technics and veterinary practices), live animals procurement, local authorities’ ability to further support a veterinary network.
The evaluator will review each activity implemented for this component with a special focus on:
- Elaboration of messages and extension of livestock management knowledge at the scale of the community (especially for veterinary care);
- Training of Village Veterinary Workers (VVW);
- Inputs and means support to those VVW, settlement of a strategy for commercial veterinary care activity (revolving funds);
- Dependence to existing veterinary products supply chain through local technical authorities;
- Relevance of poultry distribution at the village scale, procurement and supply issues/risks, quality control;
- Balance between soft and hard activities;
- Analysis of economic potential gain from development of small livestock activities (indicator R4I2).
Such review will be completed by an analysis of timing of implementation and means of verification of project logframe indicators (cf. annex).
• Provide clear and concise conclusions: Provide clear conclusions on each type of support and implementation, type of beneficiaries, methods and tools.
• Draw lessons and provide operational and strategic realistic recommendations for the continuation/adaptation of FRC food security strategy in Laos. Specific care should be taken on lessons learnt that can be used for improving the implementation of technical support through the existing EU funded Food Technology project (till February 2015)
3. The evaluator
The French Red Cross attaches great importance to the evaluation of its humanitarian activities to the beneficiaries not only because of the large financial sums being implemented but also because of its ongoing concern to improve the efficiency of its international operations and judicious use of funds intended for them. The evaluator should exercise common sense and independence of decision throughout the mission, whether on site or in developing the report. It must provide a direct and clear answer to all the points contained in the terms of reference while avoiding the use of a theoretical or academic language.
The evaluation will be led by one consultant expert in the field of Agriculture and Rural Development with a strong experience in Livestock management/Veterinary systems.
The consultant will be accompanied by:
- One FRC liaison officer. This person will be appointed by FRC to facilitate the mission and act as translator if necessary.
- A representative of the CRL on all or part of the mission to strengthen the ownership of the project and capitalize the information collected for the benefit of the national structure.
- Technical partners of the project (DAFO and LWU mostly) are likely to accompany the evaluator during field sessions as required by procedures agreed upon for activities implementation.
The consultant will be autonomous in its travel to Laos (at least Luang Prabang). However, due to particular context and security conditions, the transportation of the consultant (field visits and transport from Luang Prabang to project operation areas in 2 districts) and translation service will be organized by FRC, that will support directly related costs.
Supervision and collaboration
The evaluation team will closely work with the following FRC staff:
- The Food Security Coordinator, who’ll be the focal point for the evaluator on the field
- The Food Security District Officer(s) – all activities
- The Small Business Officers – IGA/Nutrition
In addition to the support from FRC team, the evaluator will have the opportunity to interact with the partners involved in the project decision and implementation (See Annex 2).
The consultant will be responsible for overseeing the evaluation mission.
He/She presents an expertise in Agriculture, Rural Development and strong prior experience in South East Asia. He/She also presents skills in small livestock and community veterinary systems in order to carry out a special analysis of the Result R4 (Small Livestock support) of the project and its associated issues. Indeed he/she will provide a critical look at the technical implementation of result R4 in order to provide an opinion on the possibility to replicate such activities when relevant.
Background in Agriculture, Rural Development, Small livestock support
At least 10 years of working experience in rural development projects, with at least 3 years in the SEA region. (experience in Laos in an asset)
Good knowledge of tools and methodology for village-scale economy development and community veterinary system.
Proven experience in evaluation studies compulsory
Fluent in English compulsory (additional French & Lao is an asset)
Strong reporting skills.
Knowledge of other Red Cross Movement Food security and nutrition projects is an asset.
The consultant will provide 24 working days. The evaluation is expected to start on 6th of October 2014.
The evaluation will start with a briefing in Hongsa, will comprise 15 days site visits in the district of Hongsa & Xienghone (Sayaboury Province), and a debriefing back in Vientiane (See chronogram below).