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Cambodia, KOICA supported Home Grown School Feeding Programme in Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang and Pursat Provinces 2020-2024: Mid-term and final evaluations
This decentralized evaluation was commissioned by the WFP Cambodia Country Office as a mid-term Evaluation for the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA)-supported Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) in Kampong Thom, Kampong Chhnang and Pursat Provinces in Cambodia from 1st January 2020 to 31st October 2024.

It was carried out in 2022. This mid-term evaluation was commissioned to assess progress toward programme indicator targets, ensure accountability, generate lessons learned, and inform course corrections for the remainder of the programme period, and was intended for both accountability and learning purposes. It focused on assessing the relevance, effectiveness, sustainability, efficiency and coherence of the programme. Key evaluation findings included :

  • Coherence: The HGSFP is closely aligned with the government’s policies and priorities, including those outlined in the Education Strategic Plan (ESP, 2019-2023) and the Rectangular Strategy IV. The HGSFP supports the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport’s policy priority to improve access to free, equitable and quality basic education and contributes to indicators in the 2030 Roadmap for Education, including net enrolment and retention rate. The staff and national government stakeholders interviewed reported that existing HGSFP coordination mechanisms and management and financing arrangements are clearly defined and understood, but still believe significant work is required to successfully implement the transition of HGSFP to national ownership.
  • Relevance: The HGSFP was highly relevant to the education and nutritional needs of the targeted communities, motivating households to enrol children in schools, as well as increase attendance and reduce the drop out, especially for boys who are under pressure to support family income generating activities, even though children not enrolled or attending schools do not benefit from school meals. The HGSFP was also relevant to the needs of local suppliers and smallholder farmers, who reported economic benefits when participating in the HGSFP, including an acceptable price paid, stable and predictable markets, and opportunities to access new markets.  
  • Effectiveness: At the time of the mid-term evaluation, the HGSFP programme achieved targets for only a few of the outcome and output indicators, primarily because of school closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to take-home rations. About 21 percent of interviewed households perceived that illness-related absence is reduced due to school meals. Benefits of the HGSFP were distributed equally among beneficiaries despite their gender, IDpoor status or other criteria. Nearly all interviewed households (97.8 percent) reported that their child receives food every day and benefited from the HGSFP (99.7 percent). Similarly, nearly all farmers reported that participation in HGSFP increased household production (98.0 percent) and 94.9 percent of suppliers reported they were interested in participating in HGSFP again. However, it was observed that students who attend schools during afternoon shifts do not receive school meals and do not benefit from the programme.
  • Efficiency: Overall, HGSFP staff and stakeholders felt that its activities, including inter-institutional structures and coordination mechanisms, had been delivered in a cost-efficient and timely way, despite the COVID-19-related challenges.  For example, local procurement of food for school meals was viewed to be a cost-efficient approach, and the local competitive bidding process was viewed to be transparent and fair. As the HGSFP transitions to national ownership, staff and stakeholders are keenly aware that stable funding and budgeting will be significant factors for success and note that budget allocations for the NHGSFP are done annually. They are conscious of the need for additional capacity development in monitoring and reporting.
  • Sustainability: There was a consensus among national and sub-national stakeholders that the sustainability of the HGSFP will depend largely on the success of the transition from external to national ownership under the NHGSFP. To support the transition, the HGSFP has invested heavily in capacity strengthening to support the government’s readiness to implement the HGSFP and ensure food quality through training and coordination activities. Both national and sub-national stakeholders expressed confidence in their ability to implement their roles under the HGSFP. However, some sub-national stakeholders, including representatives from the Provincial Offices of Education, Youth and Sport and District Offices of Education, Youth and Sport reported that they were not confident in their abilities in programme monitoring activities and requested additional training. Awareness and understanding of the transition strategy, particularly at the school and community level, was also low. The majority of national and sub-national stakeholders noted that significant work will need to be done to implement the Joint Transition Strategy, including ensuring a delineated budgets for monitoring and evaluation activities is defined.

Key recommendations from the evaluation included:

Group 1: Recommendations for the design and implementation of the KOICA-funded HGSFP

  • 1.1 Consider adopting methods to greater support improved nutrition among targeted students and households
  • 1.2 Consider providing additional capacity strengthening activities to improve stakeholder capacity for implementation of the KOICA-funded HGSFP
  • 1.3 Consider implementing other changes to programme implementation

Group 2: Recommendations to facilitate the hand-over of schools to the NHGSFP and the transition to the NHGSFP

  • 2.1 Consider ways to strengthen the capacity of sub-national and national government stakeholders to manage the hand-over of schools from the KOICA-funded HGSFP to the NHGSFP under MoEYS management in addition to measures outlined in the Joint Transition Strategy.
  • 2.2 Continue to implement the capacity strengthening activities outlined in the Joint Transition Strategy to support MoEYS and other stakeholders to manage and implement the NHGSFP.