The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) undertook a remote supervision mission for the Rural Enterprises and Remittances Project (RERP) from 1 to 19 October 2020. The mission was conducted as a remote mission due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies (MoICS), Project Management Office (PMO), Helvetas Nepal, Agro-Enterprise Centre (AEC), project partners and stakeholders participated virtually for working meetings and field visits during the mission. This included 16 different virtual field visits with direct interaction and meetings with project beneficiaries of all components, local authorities, businesses and a variety of project partners.
The main task of the Supervision Mission(SM) was to perform the regular supervisory, accountability and fiduciary duties in line with IFAD’s direct supervision policies. Mission objectively followed-up on the actions and roadmap agreed during Partial Supervision Mission of March 2020 and Supervision Mission of September 2019 and provided guidance to the Project Management Office including implementing partners as appropriate.
A pre-wrap up meeting was held on 18 October with the Project Manager, PMO and implementing partners (Helvetas, AEC). The wrap-up was held on 19 October chaired by Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Secretary MoICS that reviewed and endorsed Aide Memoire and agreed actions. MoICS Secretary, during the meeting extended gratitude to the Project Manager– Shalik Ram Dahal and entire management team including IFAD mission team for the every effort made in uplifting project status amidst the difficult situation of COVID-19, pandemic. Ghimire added MoICS is highly committed in accomplishing project activities within the given time as well as to provide needed leadership roles. He further urged that projects such as RERP are of high importance for least developed countries like Nepal and requested the IFAD board to replicate and add more support for other provinces especially for Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces.
The IFAD Country Director(CD), Dr Tarek H.S. Kotb led the mission in both meetings. During the meetings CD in a positive note thanked Project Management and mission team members for the outstanding efforts made at all levels in improving the project performance. He directed the entire team to make best use of the IFAD grant support in reaching every beneficiaries and that evidence based impact needs to be reflected by the project. Further remarked on the commitment and appropriate supervisory support on behalf of IFAD to speed up implementation and improved Project performance during the project remaining period till 2022.
Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mission assessed that project performance has further improved since the previous Partial Supervision Mission and is now considered moderately satisfactory (score = 4 out of 6) compared to a rating of highly unsatisfactory. Improvements were seen in project management, across implementation of both Components 1 and 2 as well as in knowledge management, project planning monitoring and evaluation.
The Mission in overall concluded, the project is on track to achieve its Development Objectives as per the revised performance and outcome targets. The mission reflected on the strengthening of project management and leadership of the project by MoICS and the growing capacity of the project teams at all levels.
RERP was classified as a problem project since its first Supervision Mission in December 2017 which concluded that problems in the project were the results of significant issues in the original design as well as in operational aspects. With continued low performance of the project, the September 2019 mission decided to restructure the project and was approved by the IFAD President on 10 March 2020 in response to the request from the Government of Nepal. The restructuring decision cancellation amount was equivalent to 49.8% of the original IFAD financing USD 68.15 million.