It was carried out in 2022. The evaluation was commissioned to provide an independent assessment of the programme so far to enable WFP Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia, and cooperating partners to feed its results and learning into the remainder of this programme and future programmes, in particular, the Government-led and managed National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), and was intended for both accountability and learning purposes. It focused on assessing the relevance, effectiveness, and sustainability with a focus on steps yet to be taken to ensure a smooth handover and transition by the end of the cycle of the Local and Regional Food Aid Procurement (LRP) programme.
Key evaluation findings included :
- The LRP is relevant because it provides an avenue for WFP to support the change from a McGovern-Dole School Meals Programme modality (based on imported in-kind commodities) to the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) modality adopted by the Government, based on locally purchased food commodities. Alongside local procurement by schools (Activity 1, 2, and 4), the LRP includes an agricultural development component (Activity 3) that seeks to strengthen the Government’s capacity so that sub-national authorities are better positioned to transfer skills on improved agricultural production to farmers, specifically smallholders. These activities are relevant and appropriate to help ensure that smallholders in the LRP target provinces (and later the NHGSFP in the same areas) are trained and supported to contribute to the HGSF model, which in turn supports the local economic and agricultural development.
- One of the objectives of NHGSFP is to partner with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), but there are various obstacles that may need consideration during the remaining life of the programme. The LRP’s approach to include technical assistance for improved production is well aligned with the extension system adopted by the MAFF, but it lacks any strategic linkages to the ministry’s activities. The LRP programme is aligned with, but not embedded in, the agricultural sector’s guiding strategies. There are gaps in the institutional arrangements for direct collaboration between the two key players, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) and MAFF, because school feeding sits under the social protection framework, while food security (and MAFF) sit under a different framework. Consequently, because of its placement in the overall SFP/MoEYS education policy framework, the technical assistance contributions of the LRP programme are institutionally disconnected from both the social protection frameworks and the agricultural sector strategies.
- By mid-2022, the originally-designed LRP activities had only been operational for six months. WFP reports indicate that 46 percent of LRP indicators are on track or doing better than expected at midterm, which is a positive achievement. Some areas falling short, principally because of school closures, could improve significantly now that the LRP is operational. Although Take Home Rations were not foreseen in the programme design, 72 percent of the revised target numbers were reached, and WFP monitoring found that over 90 percent of the recipient households indicated acceptable levels of food consumption after distributions. There is considerable variation among the four activity areas under the LRP, with Activity Area 1 (cash transfers) showing the most progress towards results with 84 percent of the indicators in the results framework on track or doing better than expected. In contrast, the technical assistance indicators under Activity Areas 2, 3, and 4 had less progress.
- One consideration for effectiveness are the unintended outcomes to supply chain actors from the procurement processes. Although the LRP has an aspiration to prioritize smallholder engagement, requirements for pre-existing capital, price ceilings, and short timespans for responding to orders tends to exclude smaller suppliers from being able to fulfil contracts and leads to a procurement bias towards larger suppliers. Structural gaps within the national systems also still exist in terms of the access to market information and information management. There are also limitations around the successful procurement and utilization of fortified rice by schools for enhanced nutrition outcomes.
- The LRP is planned as a single-cycle programme in support of the school feeding activities. Given the multi-sectoral engagements of the HGSF model, the process of policy development and coordination is key to sustainability. While there has been an increase in activities across all five SABER-SF dimensions, those related to programme design and implementation have assumed the greatest prominence and some gaps exist in the national institutional infrastructure with operational implications for the LRP. Without a framework that allows for an operational intersection between MAFF and MoEYS, WFP has nevertheless played an active convening role in bringing together the agricultural and school sectors. One critical LRP success factor is that it works with strong non-government organizations extended from, and financed by, the McGovern-Dole programme.
Seven recommendations from the evaluation are:
- If there are unspent funds, request a no-cost extension of the current LRP to utilize these, combined with a new activity including a cash transfer component from other donors, which would strengthen smallholder linkages and local government cash transfer processes for procurement.
- WFP should support the MoEYS to undertake a systematic review of the national school meals implementation in schools handed over since 2019.
- WFP, in collaboration with the MoEYS and National Social Protection Council (NSPC), should conduct a systematic adjustment to the LRP procurement processes to identify what is feasible and possible within the existing Government situation and resourcing.
- WFP, in collaboration with the MoEYS, MAFF, and NSPC, should ensure that the formalization of the sub-decree for school feeding does support the development of a mechanism or framework to allow for MAFF and MoEYS to intersect more naturally, to replace the current convening role played by WFP.
- WFP, in consultation with MAFF, MOEYS and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, should seek to conduct a gender analysis to integrate increased gender sensitivity into local and regional procurement processes for school meals in HGSF and NHGSFP schools to allow for the increased participation of smallholder women as suppliers.
- WFP should seek to review and fill its current staffing gaps and consider the necessity of expanding its staffing profiles in preparation for a focus on the country capacity strengthening elements of the programme.
WFP, together with USDA and in consultation with MAFF, MoEYS and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, should seek to integrate and visibilize the LRP contributions to gender in the next McGovern-Dole programme cycle by improving gender visibility in the Results Framework.