Evaluation of RIPAT Start
In 2010-2011, after the termination of the first RIPAT project, the RIPAT Start project was evaluated through a broad scientific evaluation, conducted with the participation of economists, geographers, anthropologists and agricultural development specialists. The aim of the RIPAT evaluation was 1) to document the impact of the project in terms of the stated project objectives for improving food security and reducing poverty among the participating households, 2) to examine the spread of agricultural technologies, crop varieties and groups to non-participating farmers, and 3) to assess the quality, effectiveness and relevance of the initiative.
The evaluation used both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. The analysis of the effect of the project (aim 1 above) was based on a comprehensive quantitative study among approximately 2,000 households. These included both households that had participated in the RIPAT project and non-participating households that were used as a comparison/control group. The evaluations of spreading (aim 2) and of relevance and quality (aim 3) were based on qualitative evaluation tools such as interviews, participant observation, focus group discussions, workshops and document studies.
The evaluation shows that RIPAT had a positive effect on the nutrition and food security of participating families. In comparison with non-participating households, there was a significantly greater probability that households which participated in a RIPAT project would cultivate the improved crop varieties or keep the improved breeds of domestic animals that they had been offered in the project. Furthermore there was a significantly greater probability that households which participated in a RIPAT project become food-secure during the ‘hungry’ period (immediately before the next harvest), eat meat and eggs every week and have well-nourished children. There was thus a reduction of 27 percentage points in the incidence of stunting (shortness of height in relation to age) among children under five years of age in RIPAT families.
The research team suggested several possible reasons for these positive results. A reason could be that the new, flexible approach to agricultural advice in the RIPAT model gave farmers a genuine choice from among the agricultural technologies on offer this led to a greater degree of acceptance and adoption of the new agricultural technologies.. In addition, membership of a strong group contributed to increasing the farmers’ feelings of self-confidence and independence – especially among the women in the project, who achieved greater influence over how the crops produced should be used within the family and over their agricultural efforts in general. Last but not least the range of new methods and technologies was composed primarily of elements that support and even out production and consumption of food over the course of the year. In this way, fluctuations in families’ supply of food are smoothed out, resulting in a less marked ‘hungry period’ in RIPAT households.
Rural Initiatives For Participatory Agricultural Transformation (RIPAT)
Beyond the Field: Impact of Farmer Field Schools on Food Security and Poverty Alleviation