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Targeting in practice- Learning by doing

Posted by Annina Lubbock Monday, March 23, 2009

On March 13, IFAD’s Technical Advisory Division organised a lunch-time seminar on “Practical experiences in targeting” delivered by Clare Bishop-Sambrook. Clare has worked as a consultant for IFAD for almost 10 years, and also for FAO, CIDA and SIDA. In recent years she has been applying IFAD’s operational framework for Targeting to different types of projects or programmes and at different phases of the project cycle. Her work has generated new learning on targeting, as well as new tools. Marian Bradley, Country Programme Manager for Malawi, and previously for Uganda and Kenya described the context in which Clare’s fieldwork was undertaken in East and Southern Africa.


Clare reminded participants up-front that targeting the poor is clearly perceived by other development actors as an IFAD trade-mark. She gave a brief overview of IFAD’s three-pronged framework for targeting:

  1. Gender-sensitive poverty and livelihood analysis.
  2. Developing the targeting strategy (using a combination of measures: geographic targeting; self-targeting through activity selection; direct targeting; capacity-building and empowerment; paying attention to procedural measures; creating and sustaining an enabling environment for targeting.
  3. Monitoring targeting performance.

During the presentation, she demonstrated the targeting tools of wealth ranking and pyramids, component analysis, a targeting strategy and a targeting matrix. She gave examples of: how IFAD was able to give a “pro-poor twist” to a large multi-donor funded irrigation project in Malawi; an actor analysis of a groundnut and Irish potato value-chains showing the different socio-economic categories involved at different nodes in the value-chain; and a similar “pyramid” applied to analysis of targeting performance in a livelihoods support project in Uganda. A targeting risk she highlighted is the tendency for women to loose out to men as value is added to their produce. She also spoke of the “household mentoring” approach used in a SIDA project in Zambia: the method increases the possibility of connecting households who might otherwise be excluded or self-exclude themselves to development opportunities.

The following are some points raised at this gathering:

  • Should we use the category “economically active poor”? Some argued that it was too broad, and that unless totally disabled all should be considered “active”; others argued that it indicates whether people can be considered as economic actors in the true sense, it reflects their degree of connectedness to markets.
  • Investing in agriculture is recognised as giving the best value for money, but not necessarily investing in the very poor. So the question is how to increase the likelihood that the very poor will benefit, whether directly (and here IFAD’s emphasis on capacity-building and empowerment are important) and indirectly, e.g through increased – and more ‘decent’- rural employment. There has to be a combination of “trickle-up”, “trickle-down” and “trickle-across”…
  • IFAD should however be careful to stay focused on its targeting mandate. IFAD’s targeting performance has been declining.
  • The targeting policy emphasises the need for ‘targeted actions’ to identify activities and services that are relevant to specific categories of people.
  • There was interest in household mentoring approach, but questions were raised as to its cost and sustainability, suggesting the need for further research. It is being piloted in a project in Uganda and possibly in Malawi.
  • The benefits of quantitative versus qualitative methods for poverty analysis were also discussed. Marian Bradley noted that for reasons of cost for project design, qualitative and participatory research is usually sufficient, which if done professionally and with proper triangulation of information generates information which is equally reliable and, in fact, often more pertinent. However, the development of the new COSOP for Uganda has been underpinned by a quantitative study of poverty in the principal agro-ecological zones in the country.

It was concluded that we need to keep sharing experience and learning about targeting. It isn’t an exact science, we have to learn by doing and keep focused on the objective, which is to benefit those who are at the bottom of the ladder. We have to be innovative in the instruments we use, and the partnerships we mobilise.

Our targeting website will soon come live where you will find case-studies, tools and guidelines. . If you have comments on this entry, experiences or lessons learned to share, please contribute to the blog!

1 Responses to Targeting in practice- Learning by doing

  1. Omer said:
  2. ... I believe we need to broaden our policies and practices on targeting ... we seem to focus excessively on direct targeting with the aim of transforming the poor into risk-taking entrepreneurs ... field reality does not convincingly demonstrate that this actually reduces poverty in a sustainable manner ... perhaps we should increase focus on creating jobs ...