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Evaluation report

1998 EGY: Impact Assessment Study of the Family Development Fund, Egypt & Management Plan 1998-2000



Author: Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development

Executive summary

Background

In 1994, UNICEF established the Family Development Fund program (FDF) in three governorates in Upper Egypt: Assiut, Sohag and Qena. The program was carried out in cooperation with four selected Community Development Associations (CDAs): two in Qena, Farshout and El-Wakf; and one in each of the other two governorates, El-Azaiza in Asiut and Dar El-Salam in Sohag. The main activity of the FDF program was providing loans to the poorest women, and sometimes men, with the purpose of improving the socio-economic conditions of low-income women and families in the target sites. In addition to financial and technical supporting training activities for CDAs staff and board of directors, UNICEF provided capital for the credit activities and funded the awareness raising activities to the beneficiaries. UNICEF also provided support for establishing water and sanitation facilities in two of the target sites.

Purpose / Objective

This is an end of program evaluation, which aims at:
- Examining to what extent the FDF program has accomplished its objectives, credibility of its approach and the competence of the credit staff in managing the program
- Evaluating and measuring the impact of the FDF program on the economic, education, health and social status of the beneficiaries and their families
- Providing recommendations on any modifications that need to be made to enhance the program's impact on the targeted women and children
- Assisting UNICEF in the dissemination of the findings

Methodology

Tools used to conduct this evaluation included questionnaires to a sample of 288 women beneficiaries in the four sites, two focus group discussions (FGD) with the beneficiaries in each of the sites and an extra FGD with a group of men beneficiaries in one of the sites. Interviews were held with both the Extension Officers and the project managers separately through FGD that took place in each site. Ten home visits were carried out in each site and 16 of the beneficiaries were interviewed in detail as "case studies" in all of the four sites. To compare beneficiaries with non-beneficiaries, a sample of 15 women who have applied or are thinking of applying for loans were interviewed through a questionnaire, and one FGD was conducted in each of the four sites. All documents and reports related to the project at the UNICEF office as well as at the target CDAs were reviewed.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The credit component of the FDF project is mainly aimed at improving the financial status of poor women. The process of loan assessment has indicated a clear positive impact on both the clientele, who are the beneficiaries, and the institutions, which are the participating CDAs.

Married, divorced and widowed women did benefit from the loans provided by the project - their housing conditions were quite improved in comparison to the non-beneficiaries. All beneficiaries owned different assets (equipment) after taking the loan, which reflected the improvement of the quality of life of the beneficiaries in comparison to non-beneficiaries. Because of the loan, beneficiaries were able to enroll their children in formal education, since fees became affordable; the level of the family nutrition increased both quantitatively and qualitatively; and a change in the social appearance was witnessed since beneficiaries could afford buying clothes.

The beneficiaries expressed great satisfaction with the financial services provided and stated that they would repeat the loan several times. This point is also evidenced by the high demand for loans in the community that has not yet been covered because of insufficient funds. Consultants witnessed an obvious level of group solidarity, since each member of the borrowers' group was aware of the nature of the other enterprises of the group members, and they consistently exchange expertise and discuss common problems encountering their enterprise.

At the CDAs level, the performance of CDAs as financial institutions in clientele outreach and selection is traced using a designated mechanism to facilitate reaching the poorest women in the community, "socio-economic profile scoring form." One of the major performance indicators of the institutions (participating CDAs) was the group formation approach, which had succeeded in forming harmonized groups having the same socio-economic characteristics and coming from the same neighborhood.

The CDAs had achieved operational sustainability and are on the way to achieving financial sustainability. The portfolio quality of the credit component is fairly good except that more effort needs to be exerted in terms of risk management and decreasing the portfolio at risk through delinquency management. The number of active loans per extension officer is constantly increasing, reaching 100 active loans per extension officer. There is room for increase since the extension officers are willing to carry a larger load. The CDAs project management team is enthusiastic and they have momentum. With more training, they will gain more skills in the technical aspect of loan management, which is an important factor in institutional sustainability.

The project was successful in building cadres (Extension Officers) capable of continuing and sustaining similar activities in the future. In fact, this project relied almost entirely on those EOs who, through their continuous effort, were able to accomplish most of the project's impact to-date.

In the area of health and empowerment, the most powerful impact was seen in certain aspects such as: the ability of beneficiaries to move more freely now, go out of their home, meet and mix with other women; of having IDs issued for them; and in introducing clean water and sanitation facilities to the houses. Less powerful impact was seen in: improved health knowledge; in having election cards issued, in their behavior towards circumcising their daughters; and in pursuing positive practices related to health and nutrition. Almost no impact was seen in areas that are strongly tied to Upper Egypt's culture, such as changing husbands' behavior to help their wives with house work.

Although education was one of the components of the project and Extension Officers were trained to conduct literacy classes in two of the four sites in November 2001, no educational activities were ever launched.

Recommendations

Specific recommendations are given in the areas of: Social Profile Component, The Extension Officers Component, Micro-Credit Component, Health & Empowerment Component and the Education Component. Most involve recommending project expansion, additional resources and training for clientele and staff.



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Report information

Date:
2002

Region:
MENA

Country:
Egypt

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Income Generation

Partners:

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
1998/001

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