Ensuring Sustainability: Designing Food Programs for Results that Last

Ensuring Sustainability: Designing Food Programs for Results that Last

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This report draws from 193 evaluations across CARE between 2013-2017 to examine best of our results in sustainability. Using the categories and ideas in the Food For Peace Sustainability review, we have mapped our results against the four categories in that strategy to better understand how we are performing against those results. The examples drawn for this report feature 18 projects in 17 countries that help us better understand how sustainability works in CARE’s programs.


Financial and Market Linkages

CARE uses market systems analysis as a guiding approach to ensure that interventions are addressing systemic constraints. Through this approach we have been able to transform the lives of millions of small-scale farmers. CARE puts women producers at the heart of its initiatives, ensuring that they have access to productive resources, skills, knowledge and resources in order to improve and shape their lives. The Farmers’ Field and Business School (www.care.org/ffbs) and other market facilitation and engagement tools and practices support smallscale women producers. Projects also build on Village Savings and Loan Associations to ensure that producers have access to finances and linkages to other service providers and financial institutions.

Strengthening the Dairy Value Chain, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, works not only to create a more pro-poor market system in Bangladesh that offers advantages for the poorest dairy producers, but also to create sustainable links to markets by building business incentives. Between 2011 and 2016, the poorest dairy farmers in north-west Bangladesh went from 2% of the suppliers to BRAC Dairy – the second largest private sector company in the industry – to 55%. The rate of contaminated milk went from 25% to effectively zero because testing is faster, easier and more transparent, and  milk wasted in the system dropped by 83%. At the same time, BRAC grew its business by 32%, and is working to scale pilot models through its entire network.


Technical and Managerial Capacity

CARE institutes systematic approaches that gradually enable partners, local service deliverers and targeted participants to both adopt and maintain improved practices and tools from the project. This means ensuring local community organizations, for example, learn to manage finances, negotiate contracts, and express their needs with service providers, so they no longer require CARE’s support.

From 1998-2005, DFID funded PROSPECT in Zambia to built water systems in areas outside Lusaka. CARE worked with communities to set up water trusts owned and managed by communities, with local boards and agreements with the local government. In 2014, a post-project evaluation showed that 10 years after the project stopped supporting them, water trusts are not only working, but growing. They serve more than 120,000 people a day – 31% more than they were serving when CARE stopped working with them.


Motivating Local Actors

CARE ensures social sustainability by focusing our work on the changing the social norms that get in the way of food and nutrition security of the poorest, and by focusing on socially disadvantaged groups like girls and women. Importantly, our work fosters inclusive and accountable governance that creates structures and institutions which can  to respond to and serve these aims.

Pathways, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, supports women to transform their status and recognition by helping them access the support they require to be successful farmers, leaders, and agents of change. Evidence Importantly, Pathways also engages men and boys to support gender equality. The approach has paid off. For every $1 invested in FFBS, research shows that there is a $31 return to communities. Women’s access to services tripled.


Working Through Partners

CARE has increasingly worked with governments and other organizations to ensure that project models are successful and sustainable. When national or regional governments adopt policies and provide on-going funding for effective FNS approaches, the results are transformational.

In 2007 CARE moved from implementation to advocacy on nutrition in Peru. Working from the evidence from a USAID Food For Peace funded project, CARE convened a coalition of national and international NGOs to advocate for a National Nutrition Policy, stunting nationwide was cut in half by 2014. As a result of government investment and commitment, the long-term impact has gone from a CARE project reaching 4,000 children to a national movement reaching 600,000.


Environmental Sustainability

CARE’s programs consider environmental sustainability as a key non-negotiable principle. Working with communities and designing programs well helps preserve the healthy ecosystems and environments are necessary for the prosperity and safety of the world we live in.

CARE Tanzania’s Hillside Conservation Agriculture Project partnered with FAO’s Mitigating Climate Change in Agriculture project and ICRAF. They worked with farmers from 2008 to 2014 to promote conservation agriculture to improve food security outcomes and reduce the environmental impact of climate change. The project worked through 58 Farmers Field Schools and 37 VSLAs to teach 1,906 farmers improved practices for their fields. 84% of farmers adopted at least one practice. Farmers told us that they earned an extra $40 per year on income from their agricultural yields.  According to FAO’s projections, the project will help sequester 827,396 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s as much as taking 175,000 cars off the road in a year.


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