The evaluation covered support projects for local development, decentralization, and development of rural territories in sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar carried out over the last 15 years.

This evaluation covered a panel of 23 projects involving 13 countries of sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar. Financing for the projects was granted between 2000 and 2014 by AFD and/or the FFEM to governments or NGOs.

These projects helped to guide decentralization processes and supported a holistic territorial approach to attain coordinated progress in all the factors that limit development. They dealt with governance, social infrastructure, and economic development, as well as with stakeholder capacity building and management of land and natural resources.


The evaluation focused on good practices and the methods implemented. It highlighted experiences in management of common goods and identified needs for change.

The evaluation had two objectives: (i) one of accountability by reporting on what had been achieved in the projects and under what conditions, through a quantitative and qualitative assessment; and (ii) one of learning, by identifying what could be learned in the light of changes in territorial contexts and lessons experienced “on the ground.” In addition to the evaluation of the panel projects, carried out according to the criteria of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), attention was paid to several key themes of the projects for which AFD wished a more in-depth analysis and recommendations for strategy and operational purposes. These especially included economic development; land management and natural-resources management; urban/rural links; commons; and the taking into account of situations of fragility, crisis, and conflict.


A consortium formed by IRAM, CIEDEL, and South Research carried out this qualitative evaluation. Its methodology combined: (i) desk research, especially of evaluations of existing projects; (ii) interviews in France with AFD project officers; and (iii) field visits to six countries (Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Madagascar).

A reference group chaired by an independent expert, Dr. Camilla Toulmin from IIED (UK), was formed for the follow-up and assessment of the work carried out. This group brought together representatives from the various AFD divisions concerned, the FFEM, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE), and the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD).


The relevance of the projects with regards to the needs of the target locations was satisfactory for all the sample projects. All the projects showed clear linkage with the public policies underway or being prepared. Consistency with the interventions of other donors was mixed; however, AFD, which was often very active within existing coordinating bodies, cannot be blamed for this. External consistency with the other AFD interventions in the agricultural and pastoral sphere was judged to be weak. Internal consistency was mixed, with project owners not always directly in charge of the decentralization processes, project periods that were too short, and monitoring-evaluation mechanisms that were inadequately designed.

There was good efficacity and effectiveness in the setting up of many diversified investments, the tools, and the capacity building of local stakeholders in territorial planning and fund management. Quality and maintenance of investments remained limited, and economically-oriented investments were weak. Efficiency was satisfactory overall. As for the sustainability and the impacts, the proposed actions offered the possibility of triggering dynamics leading to (i) improved control of local development through capacity building for local stakeholders in project management, (ii) their legitimacy, and (iii) evolution of the regulatory framework.


The evaluation recommended that AFD:

  • use a medium- to long-term programmatic approach (10-15 years) to support territorial development;
  • improve consistency with the other AFD interventions;
  • ensure that support goes to the management of public works, equipment, and public services achieved by the projects so that they are sustainable;
  • support natural-resource management actions on a broader (and often intermunicipal) resources scale, rather than individual and scattered actions;
  • strengthen innovative territorial governance systems adapted to circumstances;
  • continue to support capacity building—and especially territorial engineering—as a factor for sustainability and impacts;
  • establish an organization within AFD to help learn lessons from the experience.
Project start date
Project end date
1 year and 6 months
Duration of the program
Sub-Saharan Africa

Contact : Julien Calas, evaluation officer (