Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, is establishing a foundation for lasting progress against global hunger. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition. Feed the Future efforts are driven by country-led priorities and rooted in partnership with governments, donor organizations, the private sector, and civil society to enable long-term success. Feed the Future aims to assist millions of vulnerable women, children, and family members to escape hunger and poverty, while reaching significant numbers of children with highly effective nutrition interventions to prevent stunting and child mortality.
Over the next five years in Liberia, Feed the Future aims to help an estimated 332,000 vulnerable Liberian women, children and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty. More than 96,000 children will be reached with services to improve their nutrition and prevent stunting and child mortality. Significant numbers of additional rural populations will achieve improved income and nutritional status from strategic policy engagement and institutional investments.
To meet its objectives, Feed the Future Liberia is making core investments in three key areas:
1. Transforming Staples’ Value Chains
2. Developing Income and Diet Diversification Value Chains
The Feed the Future Strategy is focusing on counties with the highest populations, the most farmers, the largest numbers living in poverty, and the greatest potential for agriculture development: Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Montserrado, and Margibi. These counties are located along Liberia’s main economic development corridors and collectively include around 75 percent of all Liberian households. Nutrition activities are focused in Bong, Lofa and Nimba counties.
FTF investments in Core Program 3 will address selected aspects of the LASIP program for institutional development to support the value chains that are the focus of Core Program Areas 1 and 2. FTF investments in agriculture policy, advocacy support, and research will fund key institutions to carry out actionable research leading to improved land, soil, and water resource management and use and agronomic practices and more productive animal husbandry. FTF Program Area 3 activities will be integrated in the value chain support in order to expand the capacity of civil society groups to analyze and advocate for policy reforms (e.g., in regard to rice pricing and sanitary and food safety standards for food and meat processing) and to help create a more market-friendly policies and an improved trading environment for Liberian smallholders.
The Liberia FTF MYS will assist the MOA to define and implement its decentralized, demand-driven, participatory, pluralistic (i.e., engaging public, private, civil society actors), and accountable agricultural extension system. The critical role of women extension agents will be emphasized and opportunities for them to develop professionally, both in terms of education and field practice, will be supported. Program Area 3 investments will target partnerships with the public and private sectors and other development partners to: accelerate adoption of modern agronomic technologies and practices at the farm level; create effective knowledge distribution mechanisms; and build capacity of the MOA to provide specialized extension services. Revised agricultural extension curricula will provide more effective training in areas such as land use and techniques to reduce soil fertility losses, water resources management, low-cost and organic fertilizers, post-harvest loss reduction, pest management measures, participatory extension methodologies, women‘s participation in extension activities, farmer organization development, participatory rural appraisal, farmer field school methodology, and farmer-to-farmer extension. These investments will support widespread provision of high quality extension to Liberian smallholders. Core Program 3 interventions on market structure development will create opportunities to establish market information systems to support private and public decision making and invest in alternative profit sharing/contract models between change agents and farmers to ensure equitable market exchanges, based on transparent information and rational decision making behavior. These activities will provide the foundation for fair and transparent markets accessible to all Liberian smallholders.
All FTF MYS investments in Core Program 3 will be integrated to support value chain activities in transforming rice and cassava staples value chains and piloting the income and diet diversification vegetable and goat value chains. Thus, these activities to advance the enabling environment and build capacity will contribute to ensure benefits of the value chain investments reach all 142,375 households the program will work with, including the 91,120 poor households.
The Feed the Future MYS and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) activities will have the following four overarching objectives:
The FTF M&E system is designed flexibly to take into account the systems and indicators being implemented by aligned USG activities, as well as those which the GOL is developing under LASIP reflecting the Government‘s CAADP commitments. The Mission‘s newly-awarded M&E program will facilitate the coordination and collaboration work to build the FTF M&E system with appropriate linkages reflecting WOG activities that impact on the FTF Results Framework.
Collecting, managing, and reporting data to track indicators is a critical component of Liberia‘s FTF M&E activities. There are three basic levels at which data will be collected: at the national, target-county, and project-levels; the latter two being the ‗zones of influence‘ of Liberia‘s FTF program. In general, national-level data will be collected every five or every two years, depending on data source. Typically, target-county level data will be collected every two years or mid-way through the FTF program, depending on data source. Project-level data will be collected annually. Given that much of the data will be for agriculture, data collection will reflect systems, which span growing seasons across more than a single year. The centrally-funded M&E contractor, recently awarded by the Mission, will work with USAID Implementing Partners (IP), GOL, and other entities as appropriate in data collection, management, and reporting as well as in conducting baselines. These will be collective efforts reflecting the importance of data collection and baselines not only for USG priorities but also to partners and other stakeholders in the private sector and GOL.
Ensuring baseline data are available to measure changes resulting from FTF interventions and to contextually monitor the situation in Liberia is essential to the FTF program. For the eight higher-level indicators, USAID/Liberia will coordinate with the centrally-funded contractor to confirm available national-level baseline data for the poverty and agriculture sector GDP indicators. The centrally-funded contractor will lead efforts to obtain baseline data on per capita income at the target county level. Reliable data on underweight, stunted, and wasted children, as well as on underweight women, are available from Liberia‘s Comprehensive Food Security and Nutrition Survey (CFSNS), a bi-annual survey endorsed and led by GOL with World Food Program oversight. These baseline data are given in Annex C. As the indicator on women‘s empowerment is being developed, USAID/Liberia will address baseline needs for it as further information on requirements becomes available.
Gender is a cross-cutting issue in the GOL‘s agriculture sector investment plan and is integrated in the US Government‘s Liberia FTF MYS. To measure FTF gender impacts, USAID/Liberia will disaggregate data as appropriate by gendered household type or by sex and will track data for the women‘s empower index being developed as well as for women specific indicators in the RF. Annex C identifies indicators to be disaggregated by gendered household type or by sex (as well as by other characteristics). Data will be disaggregated by gendered household type for the following indicators: prevalence of poverty, per capita income, gross margin per unit of land/animal, increases in crop yields, and prevalence of households with moderate or severe hunger. There are numerous indicators which will be disaggregated by sex. These are identified in Annex C. The Liberia RF also considers women specific indicators including prevalence of underweight women, women‘s dietary diversity, and prevalence of anemia among women. It is expected that a rich picture of the extent to which the FTF program is achieving positive gender impacts will emerge via this disaggregation. And in particular, the tracking will allow USAID/Liberia to make rapid programming adjustments in this regard if necessary.
Prior to initiation of FTF MYS activities under the FED program, the Mission will initiate a pre- and post-impact evaluation process to articulate the relevant analytical framework for evaluating program impact in the target counties. Current expectations are to utilize a quasi-experimental design for the impact evaluation. However, a final determination has not been made and plans are to further discuss with the Mission‘s M&E program and others. In addition, Liberia is a non-presence, monitored member of the West Africa regional Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET). The FTF M&E activities will utilize these data on food prices, regional trade flows, market development in data frameworks for on-going assessment and monitoring of both impacts and risks.
Currently, Liberia‘s capacity to collect, process, and report data is extremely weak. While USAID/Liberia identified some sources of reliable data, notably that reported in the 2010 CFSNS, there is a paucity of agricultural and trade data available. To address this, USAID will work closely with GOL to build Liberian capacity in this area. The GOL has the primary responsibility to collect poverty, rural and agricultural statistics but the FTF M&E system will support and strengthen the GOL‘s activity in cooperation with other development partners. It will also strengthen the MOA‘s Food Security and Nutrition Unit and the Agriculture Coordination Committee to build compatible and consistent M&E systems for food security related activities. The FTF M&E system will support the capacity of critical national institutions especially the Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo Information Services (LISGIS) and the MOA to improve the reliability, timeliness, and relevance of data for which they are responsible. It will strengthen these institutions to setup management information systems to inform high-level decision-making and will encourage the involvement of these critical institutions in oversight of FTF activities using the M&E system as the focal point. Furthermore, it will carry these activities to the county level and in particular will emphasize MOA M&E capacity in Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Bassa counties.
In-line with FTF‘s global knowledge learning agenda, USAID/Liberia will engage in the following activities:
Prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding of children under six months of age (IR 7)
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