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Cambodia, USDA McGovern Dole WFP School Feeding: mid-term evaluation
This decentralized evaluation was commissioned by the World Food Programme (WFP) Cambodia Country Office as the midterm evaluation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) McGovern-Dole support to the WFP School Feeding activities in Cambodia (under Project Agreement number: FFE-442-2019-013-00) and covering the period 01 November 2019 to 30 October 2023.

It was carried out in 2022. The evaluation was commissioned to feed into learning on future school feeding (SF) programmes and identify immediate lessons learned that can inform current programming, and was intended for both accountability and learning purposes. It focused on assessing the relevance, effectiveness and sustainability of the school meals programme.

Key evaluation findings included:

  • The school meals programme activities support the Government’s capacity building needs and are integrated into the Joint School Feeding Transition Strategy. The programme appropriately prioritizes schools in areas with high poverty and low education outcomes. The repurposing of the activities to support the distribution of take home rations was relevant to the Government’s emergency response approach to support the vulnerable populations, targeted via the official ID Poor system.
  • Positive changes compared to the baseline was observed. At the national and sub-national levels there is more clarity and structure related to the school meals programme and school feeding committees have been established at all levels (school, commune, district, and province). A significant percentage (65 percent) of results framework indicators are on track to meet or exceed targets by the end of the cycle.
  • Over-achievements were most common regarding trainings and literacy materials. The number of meals provided is only at 15 percent of end of cycle target, due to the school closures. Although THRs were not foreseen in the programme design, 72 percent of the revised target numbers were reached, and WFP monitoring found that over 95 percent of the recipient households reported acceptable levels of food consumption after distributions.
  • Sustainability, according to the SABER-School Feeding dimensions, implies the presence of a sufficient policy framework, the institutional systems established for management of the programme, and adequate resourcing. Development of policies and institutional systems, as well as community engagement are in progress to different degrees. A sub-decree – necessary for cross-sectoral programmes – is expected to be approved within the next few months, and a school feeding policy is also in its final stages of development. Public sector resourcing and accurate costing still require more attention. While there has been an increase in activities across all five dimensions of capacity strengthening, those related to programme design and implementation have assumed the greatest prominence.
  • Given the contributions of the Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) model to social protection, the process of HGSF policy development and coordination within the social protection frameworks is key to sustainability and is naturally situated within social protection under the National Social Protection Council. The transition process was positively influenced by high-level supporters for school feeding in the Government. While their engagement is very important, it does indicate the system is not yet strong enough to function without them. There are gaps within the NHGSF Programme after transition in terms of information management, sub-national capacity for transition management of existing sub-national structures, and long-term resourcing of the NHGSF.

Seven recommendations from the evaluation are:

  1. WFP should support the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to undertake a systematic review of the national school meals implementation in schools handed over since 2019.
  2. WFP, in collaboration with the MoEYS and National Social Protection Council (NSPC), should conduct a systematic adjustment to the school meal programme processes to identify what is feasible and possible within the existing Government policies, strategies, and resourcing.
  3. WFP, in collaboration with the MoEYS and NSPC, should support the development of a framework to strengthen the institutionalization of the NHGSFP.
  4. WFP, in collaboration with the MoEYS and NSPC, should construct and use a structured and transparent tool to assess subnational system readiness for transition.
  5. 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.
  6. WFP, in consultation with the MoEYS and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, should seek to conduct a gender analysis to integrate increased gender sensitivity into the next programme cycle programming.
  7. WFP, together with USDA and in consultation with the MoEYS and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, should seek to integrate and visibilize the McGovern-Dole contributions to gender by improving gender visibility in the results framework during the next cycle.