How IFAD is fighting rural poverty in Kenya

Rural development projects financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) have contributed to increased productivity, incomes and food security in Kenya, a new report by the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD (IOE) has said.

Since 1979, IFAD has invested in 18 projects and programmes worth $813.3 million, $376 million of which was financed by IFAD.

“For nearly 40 years, IFAD and Kenya have worked together with small farming families to raise their production and incomes. The evaluation gives us further evidence of how these families have more access to diverse food, with higher levels of animal and vegetable proteins,” said Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President, Programme Management Department of IFAD.

“We are determined to continue supporting the government in its efforts to improve food security and nutrition for rural families, while building on lessons learned to improve the impact of our efforts.”

According to the report’s findings, IFAD has been innovative in bringing solutions around credit delivery, agro-processing and environmental management. Such interventions, while boosting agricultural productivity, have also led to higher incomes and improved food security for beneficiaries of all projects.

Also, IFAD-funded projects have achieved remarkable gender equality results, according to the report. In particular, women’s access to resources, assets and services has improved and they have gained more influence in decision-making both at home and within their communities. However, the efficiency of project implementation has been negatively affected by the devolution process – in which Kenya’s central government transferred responsibilities to regional governments – that took place during the period under evaluation.

Horticulture is extremely important to the national economy, accounting for about 33 per cent of the country’s agricultural gross domestic product and 7 per cent of national gross domestic product. The programme had a significant impact on farmers’ incomes and food security, increasing the quality and quantity of horticultural production in the country through the use of a value chain approach. For example, the farmers who benefited from the programme had higher income gains as a result of greater gross margins driven mainly by higher yields in some of the horticultural commodities that the programme promoted, such as bananas and Irish potatoes.

The evaluation makes recommendations for future collaboration between IFAD and the Kenyan government in the fight against rural poverty. One of these is to ensure that interventions build on IFAD’s comparative advantage and retain focus on selected themes and geographical areas.

“We need to strengthen policy engagement and create more space and opportunities for engaging the private sector,” said Oscar Garcia, IOE’s Director.

“The private sector is expected to contribute significant financing to drive the rural economy. To this end, IFAD will need to play a stronger brokering role between farmers’ groups and private sector partners.”

The report, therefore stresses the need for IFAD to make strengthening policies and partnerships, the centre of its new country strategy for Kenya.

Since 1978, IFAD has provided $20.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 480 million people, as it continues to empower rural people to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience.