As stated in USAID’s scope of work for the Food and Enterprise Development (FED) Impact Survey, the “objective of the impact study is to capture the magnitude of the impact of USAID/Liberia’s value-chain investments in FED on agricultural productivity and profitability, investment and earnings, and quality of life”. The evaluation has three primary goals: 1) to measure the difference in key indicators between FED beneficiaries and a comparison group of farmers, making use of standardized Feed the Future (FTF) performance indicators to the maximum extent possible; 2) to disaggregate this impact across four value chain commodities; and 3) to estimate to the extent practicable the impact of FED programming by year of initial program intervention.
The FED Impact Survey focused on five evaluation questions:
- Have beneficiary farmers applied new practices, and technologies to selected value chains?
- How much have beneficiary farmers invested (cash or equivalent in-kind) compared to the comparison group?
- What are the gross profits and productivity of beneficiary farmers compared to the comparison group?
- What are the household incomes of beneficiary farmers compared to the comparison group?
- What is the quality of life of beneficiary farmers and their families compared to the comparison group?
In 2011, USAID launched the implementation of FED, a five-year, $75 million cost plus fixed fee completion type contract under a consortium led by Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI). The objectives of the program, as stated in the contract, were to:
- Increase agricultural productivity and profitability and improve human nutrition;
- Stimulate private enterprise growth and investment; and
- Build local technical and managerial human resources to sustain and expand accomplishments achieved under objectives one and two.
The project was implemented in six counties that collectively include 75% of Liberia’s households, more than two-thirds of all farming households; and nearly 70 percent of the country’s population living below the poverty line; these six counties, which include Grand Bassa, Bong, Margibi, rural Montserrado, Lofa, and Nimba, make up the Liberia Feed the Future Zone of Influence (ZOI).
FED worked in four product value chains (rice, cassava, vegetables, and goats) in partnership with farmers, agribusinesses, non-government organizations (NGOs) and the Government of Liberia. The FED Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Annual Report estimated that the project had directly benefited at least 102,679 rural households of which approximately 60% participated in the cultivation of rice, 30% in cassava, 5% in goats, and 5% in vegetables.
In 2015, performance monitoring results reported by FED were questioned when an Independent Data Quality Review (DQR) “revealed serious deficiencies throughout the data management process, i.e., instrumentation, collection, collation, monitoring and quality checks, and how information was calculated and selected for reporting purposes.” It concluded that much of the data reported by FED, particularly on the most critical outcome/impact indicators, was of “poor quality and cannot be used for reporting or decision-making purposes.” As a result of the DQR, this impact survey was commissioned by the USAID mission in Liberia, and implemented by International Development Group LLC, to estimate the impacts of FED on beneficiary outcomes in light of unusable performance monitoring information.