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					         Consortium for Rehabilitation and Development (CORAD)
CARE Sierra Leone (Lead Member), Catholic Relief Services, and World Vision Sierra Leone
         with the American Refugee Committee and Search for Common Ground




                                           I
                                                    ARC
                                               N T E R N A T   i O N A L




                  Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security
                        And Economic Development-
                            The LINKS Program




                                Performance Report

                Fourth USG Quarter (July 1st to September 30th, 2006)

                         Submission Date: October 31st, 2006




                        Contacts: CARE Sierra Leone (Freetown)
                              Brian Larson, Country Director
                 John Perry, LINKs Coordination & Compliance Manager
                                35 & 35A Wilkinson Road
                                       P.O. Box 744
                                  Freetown, Sierra Leone
                               Telephone: 232-22-234227/8
                                  FAX : 232-22-234280
                     E-Mail : blarson@sl.care.org jperry@sl.care.org
Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance Report FY 2006


I. TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                                                       Page
     I        Table of contents                                                                         i
     II       Glossary                                                                                  ii
     III      Introduction                                                                              4
     IV       Context monitoring/risk and assumption tracking                                           6
     V        General program performance                                                               7
     VI       Observed impact relative to program objectives                                            22
     VII      Lessons learned                                                                           25
     VIII     Coordination issues                                                                       28
     IX       Monitoring and evaluation                                                                 29
     X        Administration and operational information                                                29
     XI       Activities and targets planned for next quarter                                           29



Annex 1         Indicator Performance Tracking Table
Annex 2         Success Stories
Annex 2 a.      Success Stories
Annex 3         Finance Salone FY 06 Results




                                                              ii
II. GLOSARY
 Acronym/Abbreviation   Meaning
 AFE                    Action for Enterprise
 ARC                    American Refugee Committee
 AWP                    Annual Work Plan
 BAFCO                  Banyani Agro-Food Cooperative
 CARE                   CARE Sierra Leone
 C-BAN                  Community Biodiversity Action Network
 CCU                    Coordination and Compliance Unit
 CORAD                  Consortium for Relief and Development
 CRS                    Catholic Relief Services
 DRP                    Developmental Relief Program
 FAO                    United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization
 FFS                    Farmer Field Schools
 FY                     Fiscal Year
 GoSL                   Government of Sierra Leone
 HQ                     Headquarter
 HIV/AIDS
 IPTT                   Indicator Performance Tracking Table
 IR                     Intermediate Result
 K-TEC                  Koidu
 LINKS                  Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development
 LOA                    Life of Activity
 M&E                    Monitoring and Evaluation
 MAFS                   Maternal and Child Health
 MCT                    Making Cents Training
 MED                    Micro Enterprise Development
 MFI                    Micro Finance Institution
 MOU                    Memorandum of Understanding
 MOYS                   Ministry of Youth and Sports
 NARI                   National Agricultural Research Institutes
 NERICA                 New Rice for Africa
 NGO                    Non Governmental Organization
 NMJD                   Network Movement for Justice and Development
 ODA                    Overseas Development Assistance
 PPM&E                  Participatory Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
 SBE                    Small Business Enterprise
 SFCG                   Search for Common Ground
 SMY                    Socially Marginalized Youths
 SPO                    Special Objective
 SRI                    System of Rice Intensification
 STEP                   Skills training and Employment Promotion
 STS                    Small Transport Solution
 SUG                    Start Up Grant
 TA                     Technical Assistance
 TBD                    To be determined
 TOT                    Training of Trainers
 US                     United States
 USAID                  United States Agency for International Development
 USG                    United States Government
 VANCIL                 VANCIL Consultancy Services
 VCA                    Value Chain Analysis
 VSCG                   Voluntary Savings and Credit Group
 WV                     World Vision
Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006


III. INTRODUCTION
The Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKS) Program
facilitates more rapid integration of communities into dynamic rural economies in which inputs
flow to communities and products are more easily marketed. The program is specifically
designed to broaden the range and increase the productivity of livelihood activities at the
community level and to link productive communities more integrally into regional and national
market systems.

This annual report covers the FY 2006 period (from October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006).
During this period, the CORAD partners made substantial progress toward promoting sustainable
livelihoods and linking communities to district and national markets. Overall the program is
well on schedule with most targets for FY2006 exceeded and good progress towards the LOA
objectives.

During the Second year of implementation, CORAD’s annual targets were to establish (1) 5,350
farmers trained through Farmer Field Schools (FFS) in 178 communities, (2) establish an
average of 4 experiments per FFS, (3) distribute $ 20,100 as start-up grants for agricultural
activities, (4) train 2,984 people in making cents through voucher system, (5) train 720 people in
making cents through non-voucher system, (6) distribute 2,500 loans to clients (7) continue
working with the village savings and Literacy groups, with 1333 participants, (8) facilitate a
cumulative savings of $100 per village savings group, (9) disburse $17,000 as capital for startup
of micro enterprises (10) facilitate 800 learning dialogues on livelihood opportunity with rural
youth (11) facilitate the participation of 270 youths as members of FFS and MED, (12) disbursed
100 loans to youths for agriculture activities or micro enterprise (13) disburse $28,000 as capital
grants to socially marginalized rural youth (14) carry out a input supply analysis for each
commodity (15) carry out a market analysis for each commodity (16) identify 3 organizations for
input and output supply capacity development, (17) identify 3 manufacturers for the
development of 3 prototype small transport solutions (18) support local manufacturers to begin
manufacture of small scale transport solutions (19) establish an additional branch for Finance
Salone (20) disburse 2,500 loans (21) maintain an average portfolio at risk of less than 1% (22)
produce 48 weekly radio programs (23) produce 9 inserts for National Newspapers (24) establish
a National level agriculture market information service (25) facilitate 800 learning dialogues on
livelihood opportunity with urban and peri-urban youth (26) disburse 660 loans to urban and
peri-urban youth (27) disburse $28,000 as capital grants to socially marginalized youth and the
chiefdom or district headquarters. CORAD achieved and in most cases significantly exceeded
the set targets for 23 out of the 27 result areas listed above. Targets were partially met for result
areas 14, 16, 18 and 23 for reasons discussed under the relevant IR descriptions in the following
section. Unaccomplished targets will be carried forward to the next FY to be implemented under
the FY 2007 Annual Work Plan (AWP) submitted separately to USAID. Specific and detailed
figures for all results are presented in an Indicator Performance Tracking Table (IPTT) attached
in Annex 1.

While tremendous effort has been put in designing and pre-testing the prototypes for the small
transport solutions (STS), commercial production of the technologies has not yet commenced. As
the LINKs program now has detailed testing results for all prototypes, this information will be
used to guide a modified strategy (in FY 07 AWP) to support fabrication and supply of
appropriate STS in FY 2007.

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

The above results are specific outputs which provide immediate evidence of the progress of the
LINKs program. However, more importantly CORAD is beginning to see the impact of these
activities as individuals and communities are already expanding and replicating these activities,
having seen their benefits e.g. Village savings and Loan Associations set up by communities in
Koinadugu district without initial promotion from LINKs.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006


IV. CONTEXT MONITORING/RISK & ASSUMPTIONS TRACKING
UNAMSIL downsizing has not in anyway affected program implementation, and all regions
reported as calm with no signs of unrest. However, there was a minor incident in Kono district
where World Vision’s regional office in Koidu was vandalized by bike riders after one of its
colleagues died from a hit and run accident. Wrong information led some bike riders to believe it
was connected to WV and they vandalized the office but this was resolved with the involvement
of the local authorities, the traditional rulers and the Police. This was followed by a letter of
apology from the motor bike riders association.

There has been no regional turbulence that adversely affected the implementation during FY06.
The anticipated spill-over of unrest from Liberia’s transition and elections did not happen and
Guinea has remained calm despite speculations of political violence in that country.

The Ministry of Youth and Sport was significantly delayed in establishing an office in
Koinadugu, Kono and Kailahun districts. This delayed the program’s implementation of support
to mezzo level youth development activities. However with the approval of a budget
modification by USAID to support a detailed MOYS deployment/TA plan, budgeted CCU funds
have been allocated to support establishment of a MOYS office in each of the 3 LINKs targeted
districts. MOYS representatives are now present in all 3 headquarter towns of the 3 LINKs
districts.

In some areas the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MAFS) has low operational
capacity. Partners are cognizant of the limited resources available to MAFS and have attempted
to coordinate and assist in various ways, and efforts are on-going. This problem has not blocked
implementation on the part of the partners.

In general, local authorities have been very supportive of the work of the CORAD partners in all
districts with very good working relationships established. Regular consultations with the
Paramount Chiefs on program issues were maintained at formal and informal levels and this has
maximized support for the program.

In general there were no reports of price controls throughout the project areas. At times the
Government has tried to ban the export of some local food commodities traded across the border
to Guinea. However despite these restrictions the trade continues unabated due to the very
porous nature of the border. Smallholder producers continue to sell their products to
assemblers/brokers who then move the product through the marketing chain to the regional
markets.

Although partially foreseen, poor road conditions during the rainy season have limited access of
to some intervention areas. This has hampered the usual flow of commodities and trade, as well
as the normal implementation of training and monitoring activities, including the difficulty of
getting to training sites, holding meetings without proper shelter, getting monthly reports on
time. In some instances CORAD and participating communities have been able to improve the
situation through the implementation of road rehabilitation projects using food for work under
the DRP, and by stationing field agents within participating communities. Because the rainy
season has the same affect each year, activities are planned so that hard to reach areas are
prioritized during the dry season when they are more accessible.

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

V. GENERAL PROGRAM PERFORMANCE
This annual report covers the FY 2006 period (from October 1, 2005 to September 30, 2006).
During this period CORAD made substantial progress toward promoting sustainable livelihoods
and linking communities to district and national markets. Overall the program is well on
schedule with all except three IR targets being met and in some instances, exceed. The project is
well on its way to achieving LOA targets.
The information presented in the following sections is based on field observations, monthly
monitoring activities by each organizations internal monitoring unit and CORAD’s internal
monitoring system through the Coordination and Compliance Unit (CCU). Throughout the
reporting period monitoring visits ascertained achievement against targets as no evaluation was
planned to be undertaken, Key activities implemented and progress made towards achieving
CORAD’s targets are summarized under each IR below. A detailed Indicator Performance
Tracking Table is presented in Annex 1 (IPTT).

Objective One: Economically Active Communities: Residents in 420 rural, peri-urban amd
urban communities in 21 chiefdoms in Kono, kailahun and Koinadugu districts are
capitalizing on increased opportunities for achieving sustainable livelihoods in their
communities
After eighteen months of operations CORAD’s intervention on production and productivity in
agriculture and micro enterprises, has contributed to sustainable reintegration of target
populations into dynamic local economies. Farmers have adopted selected improved crop
varieties and management practices on their family farms and have maintained their group bank
accounts. Small business entrepreneurs are currently reinvesting returns from their business and
are also opening accounts using interest earned from loans to group members.

IR 1.1: (Farmer capacity to innovate)
The capacities of 12,500 farmers to seek out, experiment with and adapt new ideas related to
market-led agricultural production are increased.

1.1.1 Farmers completed a 4-month series of learning sessions through farmer field schools:
The target for FY06 was to ensure that 5,350 farmers completed a 4-month series of learning
sessions through Farmer Field Schools (FFS). The CORAD to exceeded this target number
through training 7,200 farmers during the period – 134% of the target.

These farmers trained were in a total of 260 farmer field school groups throughout the three
districts, 118 of which were newly formed this year.

The FFS continued to be the main vehicle of development in the rural farm sector and CORAD
field staff continued to provide facilitation and technical backstopping to the community
facilitators who drive the process and build community ownership. Training for the FFS included
improved crop husbandry and management practices, basic business training, basic methods in
field experimentation and integrated pest management methods. Training is conducted in close
collaboration with MAFS officials. Through participatory planning the farmers identify best
practices within the communities and experiment with their own practices for the purposes of

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
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increasing crop yield for livelihood security. All of the rural FFS have developed commercial
plots as groups to both generate income for future experimental activities and to replicate best
practices.

Field staff met with FFS groups and local authorities to discuss the concept of Market
Associations or Federations. Three pilot market associations have been formed and a
documentation outlining roles and responsibilities and a draft constitution has been developed
and discussed by the three pilot groups. Formation of market associations has several benefits
apart from increasing the bargaining power of poor farmers. These include (a) partnerships with
other market players active in the global food chain, (b) dissemination of information and
improved market literacy and access to markets and (c) participation in community programs and
representation to local leadership (advocacy and lobbying).

Several training courses were held during the reporting period to strengthen the capacity of field
agents and facilitators to provide support for the farmer field schools. TOT and FFS refresher
training in basic agriculture and FFS methodology were conducted every quarter of the reporting
period for a period of two weeks to provide farmer facilitators the basic subject matter exposure
so as to be able to address questions from their peers. Two intensive Training of Trainers (TOT)
courses were held during the period, one in each intervention district. A total of 13 staff
members and 59 contact farmers successfully completed these training sessions, and are better
equipped to develop the FFS curriculum fitting the day-to-day activities of inland valley swamp
rice production. Additionally, the training program also included the promotion of best practices
for cassava, plantains, cowpeas, sesame, and livestock management. Emphasis was given to the
introduction of a market-oriented approach and agro-enterprise development.

A training of trainers course was organized for both field staff and the farmer facilitators in
cocoa rehabilitation and cultivation practices. This basic training will was initiated in the last two
quarters of the reporting period and will be repeated in FY07. A training workshop in
participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) for 21 participants (10 farmer facilitators and
11 field staff) was held in which PM&E concepts were introduced. The course recognizes that
M&E needs to be more learning focused, to assist frontline staff and other stakeholders to
increase impact in a complex and rapidly changing world. Participatory approaches for planning
and M&E (PPM&E) are critical in order to focus LINKS towards client needs, to facilitate
learning amongst stakeholder groups and to develop ownership.

One hundred and twenty additional farmer trainers received TOT training from CORAD to
replicate the FFS methodology. These Farmer Facilitators were provided with support to enable
establishment of FFSs in their operational areas. The MAFS provides additional technical
support to this skill development process.

1.1.2 Farmer field schools continued to undertake experiments: The target for FY06 was that
the average number of communities who implement four experiments per farmer field school for
each agency would be 75. The CORAD consortium was able to meet and surpass it as many
farmers expressed a desire to undertake more than the target of four.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

The experiments that the FFS groups were engaged in included ideas related to groundnut
production, commercial vegetables, cassava roots and rice. The experiments established include
variations of the following main themes:
            1. Traditional and improved varieties (varietal trials)
            2. Random planting and row planting, and
            3. Planting density (different number of seedlings per hill).

See table below for sample of experiments conducted during this year

    Type of Experiment                                    Crops Studied
    Varietal Trial                                        Rice, Sweet Potato and Cassava
    Effect of intercropping on yield                      Upland rice – Nerica, farmers var.
    Effect of land preparation on yield                   Sweet Potato and Cassava
    Time of weeding on yield                              Upland rice, cassava & sweet potato
    Plant population on yield & performance               Rice, cassava, & sweet potato
    Planting methods - yield & performance                Sweet potato and cassava
    SRI on yield & performance                            IVS rice

During the period CORAD continued to promote the adoption of market-led production activities
with FFS groups and clusters. CORAD continued collaboration efforts with Njala University’s
School of Technology which has permitted the identification and validation of appropriate
technology for local level processing of cassava, oil palm, rice and groundnuts.

On farm observations revealed that farmers were practicing some of the improved management
and cultural practices demonstrated on the experimental plots. Varietal adoption among FFS
members was common among FFS members. For example, over 80 percent of the cassava and
potato planting materials currently cultivated by farmers on household and family farms are
varieties that had been tested on experimental sites. Farmers adopt only what makes sense to
them which includes the resources available to address the labor and capital demands of that
technology.

1.1.3 Capital grants were disbursed for agricultural start-up activities: The target for FY06 was
that $20,100 would be disbursed as capital grants for agricultural start up activities. Using both
USAID and UNDP funds, CORAD disbursed significantly more than this target with a total of
$31,066 being issued this year – 55% over the target figure.

These funds were distributed through a total of 127 Farmer Field Schools who received the funds
and used them for a wide variety of activities from expanding their FFS, to agro-processing
including garri processing, palm oil processing, groundnut shelling, rice threshing, soap making,
as well as trade in agriculture products. Some groups were able to establish revolving loans
between the members paying interest to their group in order to further build up the amount the
groups has as long term capital. The attached “success stories” provide some examples of how
allocation of funds has impacted on targeted beneficiaries.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

CORAD encouraged participants to procure locally. As well as ensuring that farmers use
materials they could easily access in future for both commercial production and replication, local
procurement facilitated cash flow within the communities.

Many FFS members also voluntarily save every month and after harvest of crops from their
commercial plots - usually between 1 to 2 acres. This has been a slow and difficult exercise for
farmers considering their purchasing power. Notwithstanding this, many groups now have bank
accounts with an average savings of $75 per group excluding the interest accruing from the SUG
activities.

IR 1.2: (Micro enterprise development)
5,000 micro enterprises established or significantly expanded through basic business
management training, complemented by grants (for new enterprises) or access to credit (for
existing enterprises).

Most micro enterprises in the target areas either lack competitive edge or are characterized by
low productivity levels. They generally lack entrepreneurial capacity, vision and the initiative to
drive the business to sustainable levels. Infrastructural problems as well as well as the lack of an
enabling business environment increases the attrition rate of these enterprises. CORAD targets
beneficiary groups with business skills training – Making Cents (MC) and capital to enhance the
performance, improve the resilience and competitiveness of existing and new businesses.

 1.2.1 LINKs beneficiaries participated in business training through vouchers provided by the
program: The lack of business skills among small businesses accounts for the poor performance
and lack of growth in the sub-sector. To overcome this constraint and develop the entrepreneurial
mindset of the target beneficiaries, CORAD provided business training services (Making Cents
Training) through the various agencies as well as local partners such as Network Movement for
Justice and Development (NMJD) and the Kono Women’s’ Multipurpose Cooperative, Chido
through a voucher system.

Clients who undertake MC training acquire basic skills of identifying viable economic activities
that have potential to generate income. The selected clients for the MC training ranged from
petty traders, small business traders involved in cookery, bread baking, livestock business, farm
product selling. The training was core funded by the LINKS project providing 80% of the total
costs with the beneficiaries providing 20%.

For the year the Making Cents business training was carried out for 6,435 clients including
members of FFS and those accessing Start-Up Grants. This result exceeded the target by 7% with
beneficiaries including 80% women and 70% being youth.

Based on sample personal interviews with some trained clients, among other multiple benefits,
the training has helped clients in conducting market surveys; identifying types of business and
keeping track of income and expenditure.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

1.2.2 Business training was undertaken through a non-voucher system promoted by the
program: All Making Cents Training partners are committed to hosting at least two non-voucher
trainings per months. Non-voucher trainings represent the goal of CORAD to introduce market
driven activities that contribute to business development and promote organizational
sustainability. Clients pay a cost-recovery, non-subsidized rate in Leones from 2,000 to 10,000
depending cost recovery rates/actual course content offered by local training organizations.

Strength in the marketing abilities of some organizations combined with the total market space
for fee based training have factored into the success rate of the higher number of non-voucher
trainings performed by some local organizations. Achieved numbers of 820 non-vouchers
trainings out of target of 720 indicate notable success for all participating partners for the end of
year 2 implementation.
1.2.3 Loans were disbursed to targeted clients: The CORAD supported Micro Finance
Institution Finance Salone continues its progressive increase in the number of clients receiving
loans. During the 4th quarter, 1,267 loans were disbursed across the two branches located in the
Kono and Kailahun Districts. To date for Year 3 of implementation, a total of 4,991 loans were
disbursed surpassing the target of 2500 by close to 100% with repayment rates for the Kono
branch being 100% and that for Kailahun 93%. Further details on all Finance Salone results are
presented in Annex 3.

1.2.4 Men and women continued to participate in savings groups: During the first year of
implementation 32 savings clubs were established with 1,333 participants. Realizing the huge
mobilization of savings accrued in these communities through the intervention, the CORAD
strengthened the same 32 groups to move to the second year of implementation with 1,830
persons participating in these groups by the end of FY 06 (exceeded target set by 12%).
Realizing the savings generated from communities from the first year, most FFS participants
who are also members of the VS&L acquired loans to cultivate commercial farms as a way of
adopting ideas tested through experimentation in the various FFS. Twelve new VS&L have been
since been formed including seven youth groups and five community based structures. The
community based groups have also organized their own comprehensive voluntary training in the
management of savings and loan methodology with this training being facilitated by CORAD
technical staff.

All the 32 savings clubs have commenced lending to members and the values of the individual
loans have increased from US$ 17 to US$ 100 for some savings clubs. Almost all the 32 clubs
have gone through a year of savings and have accumulated a total value of US$ 17,025, Five
Communities have replicated the village savings club methodology by establishing new clubs.
Secretaries trained in the pilot VS&L methodologies are now replicating the training to
secretaries in the newly established VS&L. Materials for training and running cost of community
VS&L are provided through a portion of collected membership funds.

1.2.5 Men and women participated in literacy groups: ARC has developed the Savings and
Literacy program to support the implementation of new and existing saving schemes activities in
LINKs operating districts. The goal of the program is to use ‘functional literacy’ as a vehicle to
facilitate the improved management of these groups and promote better business practices. The



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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

methodology1 for the program is based on the Eclectic Technique (Freirean Approach), which
involves the use of composite (problem) picture, picture code (solution picture) and words for
learning to read and write.

During the final quarter, ARC completed the development of the pre-literacy, cohesive groups
and the instructional and development manuals. Some of the materials were pre-tested during
the month of August to gauge the ability of the learner to recognize the images presented in the
materials and to evaluate the level of difficulty of the lessons when taught to the learners.
Adjustments were made to the materials to reflect the context and level of understanding of the
learners.

The first facilitators’ training of trainers course took place during the last week of September.
Three organizations participated: World Vision, CHIDO and National Movement for Justice and
Development (NMJD). A total of 85 persons took part in the training, which lasted for six days
and covered topics such as adult learning and communication. The participants also had a
chance to role play as facilitators in order to practice the teaching techniques and reinforce the
training materials. The next facilitators’ training will take place in Kabala during the second
week of October to serve the CARE sponsored savings groups.

As well as the savings and loan groups established by CARE, in anticipation of the
implementation of the Savings and Literacy training, WV worked to establish 21 groups. Total
membership of all the groups is 497 comprising of 48 percent women and 52 percent men. These
additional WV groups will begin functioning early in the next quarter.

1.2.6 Average savings accumulated per annum per savings group exceeded target: The
cumulative average savings per group/club for the 32 target VS&L groups that are currently fully
operating is US$ 377 compared to a target for FY06 of $100. Actual savings levels far exceed
the target indicating the success of the LINKs-promoted methodology and the level of
interest/determination of the groups to succeed with this activity.

1.2.7 Capital grants were disbursed for startup of micro enterprises: During the period October
05 to September 06, a total of 1,290 individuals received an equivalent of $48,479 allocated
through Small Business Enterprise groups -well over the $17,000 target. The total amount paid
out was made up of 36 percent of the LINKS SUG fund and 64 percent of the UNDP fund.

For some groups this was their second grant as they had proved their capacity and
trustworthiness during the first round. For new clients the process began with sensitization
activities conducted by project staff for potential youth and MED clients, after which interested
individuals and groups submitted applications. As part of the follow up process, CORAD
partners conducted mid-term interviews (two months after initial disbursement) and final
evaluations (two months after second disbursement) with technical support. All grantees were
interviewed and their businesses were evaluated in situ.

Initial results indicate that 20 percent of grantees changed their business from the time they
received their grant, indicating some degree of adaptability to new conditions very likely dictated

1
 DaCruz, Noel ‘Draft proposal for the Development of Savings and Literacy Curriculum for the LINKs Program.’
2006

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

by the farming season. The midterm interviews and final evaluations also made it possible to
assess the initial impact of the MCT. It was found that more than 90 percent of clients were
regularly collecting and registering data from their transactions. Some grantees were able to
develop weekly business plans to guide their investment decisions. All grantees are visited at
least once per month by CORAD field staff, and clients have acknowledged that this intense
monitoring is very useful in improving their accounting skills.

In some instances the group uses the grant to loan out to a smaller group of 2 to 3 individuals. A
small interest is charged on the loan which is paid back in 2-weekly cycles and saved in the
group’s bank account. The additional revenue is accumulated and recycled by the group or used
as a sort of mutual insurance in the event of an external shock. The fund growth over the revue

period - a total of Le2.97 million or $990, was accrued in June by the SBEs. This build up of
capital will encourage sustainable operation that will ensure continuity and resilience of the

group. There is a decline in the amount of interest collected in the months after July which is
understandable as households are under pressure for food at this time of the year.

Amid this success, however two groups are reported to have misappropriated the grants allocated
to them. The situation was been investigated and the names of defaulters were submitted to other
FFS groups and in the respective chiefdom(s). The tribal authorities and the local government
authorities have been briefed and the members of the groups are being sought for further
explanation as to reason for their action.

IR 1.3: (Livelihood opportunities for youth at the community level)
Access to viable economic activities in agriculture or micro enterprise is facilitated for 1,250
socially marginalized youth.

1.3.1 Youth completed learning dialogues related to livelihood opportunities analysis:
CORAD conducted dialogues for socially marginalized youths at the community level (villages
and small settlements) and the mezzo level district headquarter towns and large urban towns
within the district to facilitate access to viable economic activities in agriculture or micro-
enterprise. The dialogues were held in 7 communities in Kailahun District, 7 communities in
Kono district and 7 communities in Koinadugu district with a total of 1,273 youths taking part
(59% over the target of 800 youth). Overall, 43 % of the participants were female and 57% were
male.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
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1.3.2 Socially marginalized youth continued to be members of FFS: CORAD partners
supported a total of 1,345 socially marginalized youth as members of the FFSs. The youth
actively participated during project planning and significantly contributed labor during the
implementation of the FFS. The majority of these socially marginalized youth never received any
formal education as a result of the war. For those in the community this LINKS project has not
only allowed them to acquire basic farming skills but provided an opportunity for them to
contribute towards economic development. Those in the urban areas not only gained skills, but
are now realizing income through marketing of farm produce and marketing of processed goods.
The youth at mezzo level received village savings and loans training, agro-processing training,
making cents training all with the prime objective of improving business skills.

LINKS youth interventions have become a model in the district and the once regarded idle youth
are now advocating for development. The MOYS has fully agreed to participate in the process of
devolving their services to district level and work closely with the district councils in this
process.

In some areas where mining for diamonds has been the preoccupation for many youth, the
project has been attracting youths from the mines as they observed that their colleagues who are
participating in alternative (agricultural and MED activities) have a more steady income. The
youths explained that “income from farming is guaranteed unlike mining which long on hope.”

                                                            Youths participating in the
                                                            LINKs program in Mafanta,
                                                            Koinadugu district - land
                                                            preparation in readiness for
                                                            transplanting seed rice into
                                                            the inland valley swamp.




                                                               Cassava, maize and rice
                                                              Varietal trials implemented
                                                              by Mafanta Youths in Wara
                                                              Wara yagala Koinadugu
                                                              district.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
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1.3.3 Loans were disbursed to socially marginalized youths in communities for micro-
enterprise and agricultural activities: Finance Salone in its efforts to assist the youth, disbursed
loans to a total of 425 young entrepreneurs during the year. Further details on all Finance Salone
results are presented in Annex 3.

1.3.4 Capital grants were disbursed to socially marginalized youth for agricultural start up
activities: A total of 7,744 marginalized youth were approved to receive grants during the year.
Each client received a small grant to expand or strengthen their business, and each client
received the Making Cents training prior to the first disbursement. The total amount disbursed to
marginalized youth for this activity was $30,380 USD, representing 108% of the FY 2006 target.

These small start-up grants help groups gain business experience as well as build their capital
base. They were monitored for the first three months and their performance assessed to ensure
adherence to the guidelines of the in the memorandum of understanding. Each group was given
technical support and advice on setting up bank accounts and on the benefits of a revolving fund.

Objective Two: (Linking Communities to District and National Markets)
The key focus of LINKS is the sustainable reintegration of target communities into dynamic
local economies however; achieving this goal requires the existence of economic opportunities
that gainfully engage the target beneficiaries. Expansion of both off-farm and on-farm

enterprises could provide the necessary stimulus to generate employment in the farm and non
farm sectors. Linking producers to viable input and output markets is an important process in

stimulating production reducing poverty. Re-establishing flows between local markets and
regional input and output markets will contribute to USAID’s SPO 1: “Reintegration process of
war torn populations advanced”

IR 2.1: (Agricultural Input Supply and Marketing Flows)
Strategies to reestablish flows of priority agricultural inputs and marketable produce related
primarily to the production of rice, cassava, vegetables, oil palm, coffee and cocoa to and from
communities developed and implemented.

IR 2.1.1 Input supply and marketing analysis were completed for each commodity with
obstacles and leverage points (input supply): The dissemination of input supply information at
community, mezzo, micro and national levels was facilitated by Search for Common Ground
(SFCG). All field agents received training in input price data collection and FFS commenced
using a basic version of the tool to collect input price data. Farmers are slowly beginning to
understand the value of price formation and its role and importance in facilitating the exchange
process. Radio discussion programs and other traditional means of information dissemination
have enriched farmers understanding of the process. Information on availability, quantity and
location of supplies are provided through the community radios complemented by discussion
programs. CORAD has been evaluating a price analysis software developed by FAO for price
analysis and will determine its suitability and relevance to the Sierra Leone context.

Action for Enterprise (AFE), was contracted to conduct a Value Chain Analysis (VCA) of
agricultural inputs completed the analysis and identified vegetable seeds and fertilizers as the

                                                                                                          15
Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

inputs that will drive the input market and enhance the use of improved inputs in the crop sub-
sector. Given the range of agricultural inputs targeted by the program viz. rice, oil palm,
vegetables, coffee, cacao and cassava there was need to determine which input market would
make the most impact given the time frame of the LINKS program. Among the several criteria
used to prioritize the various inputs were;
            1. Potential to impact the maximum number of farmers in the target districts;
            2. Sufficient incentives for farmers to use or adopt the input;
            3. Availability of the input, and:
            4. Presence of lead-firms who could improve the commercial viability of the input
                market.
The vegetable seed and fertilizer markets were selected for further analysis because they offered
the most opportunities for the sector. For example, the fertilizer market crosses multiple
agriculture value chains and has a broad customer base of large and small farming operations.
Therefore improving this market will result in significant gains in terms of economies of scale of
operation and reduction in transactions costs for all market actors including the farmers.

The seed-rice input market was not selected because most of the market actors depend on
government and NGO contracts and more importantly, it lacked active participation of key
market actors who could improve the commercial viability of that segment of the input market.
From the focused group discussion held with farmers and market players, it emerged that farmers
were not motivated to buy improved seed rice because it was not profitable for them given the
availability of cheap imported rice.

The “Working the Value Chain” workshop was rescheduled to the end of the harvest season so
as to have a captive audience that would deliberate on the issues. The heavy rainy season was
one of the factors contributing to the postponement but discussions with key market players
about their availability was taken into consideration. The workshop will be held in the next
quarter involving all market actors including selected FFS to facilitate the linkage between
suppliers and buyers of agricultural inputs.

2.1.2 Input supply and marketing analysis completed for each commodity with obstacles and
leverage points (Marketing analysis) identified: During the period CORAD conducted sub-
sector analyses for palm oil, cacao, groundnuts, and livestock. These analyses build on the earlier
analyses completed last year. The fieldwork for the new analyses was carried out in July and
August in the three Links intervention districts and Kenema by agro-marketing staff. Each link in
the value chain was evaluated from the point of view of profit and competitiveness. Each report
includes an analysis of the interaction between farmers and traders for the relevant sub-sector, as
well as the identification of key leverage points and potential areas for intervention. Each sub-
sector report includes various strategies that can be directed at farmers and traders. Short- and
mid-term activities are suggested for implementation in FY 2007, and CORAD members will use
them in program activities that will be designed to achieve the greatest possible impact for
targeted beneficiaries.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

In April, CORAD provided training in “Rapid Market Appraisal” (RMA) to a total of 21 field
staff from CORAD agencies and local implementing partners. The workshop strengthened the
knowledge and capacity of CORAD members in conducting rapid market appraisals (RMA),
including product selection, supply chain analysis, data analysis, and the development of an
intervention proposal for potential agro-enterprises in SL. As a direct result of this workshop,
CRS identified market opportunities for sesame and designed an intervention proposal through
FFS.

Finally, CORAD field staff designed a training component on basic agro-marketing for the FFS
groups. This module is now included in the standard FFS curriculum, and is designed to help
farmers plan their agricultural activities in such a way as to take maximum advantage of
available market opportunities. CRS will make this module available to other CORAD partners
during FY 2007 Q1.


2.1.3 Organizations with capacities for input supply or marketing expanded or strengthened
(output): During the second year of implementation, training of input and output suppliers
continued after an assessment and the identification of the niches/gaps in the flow of
input/outputs to communities. The aggregated farmer field schools are presently undertaking
commercial production of much needed seed items in their respective aggregated locations. In a
focus group discussion with these farmers, it was revealed that since their economic base is
weak, they would first start with production followed with buying and supplying of the much-
needed inputs to their schools. The farmer field schools participants have been trained in FFS
principles and methodology; making cents business training, leadership roles and
responsibilities, project writing and how to source funds from either MFIs or donors.

In addition to the various trainings given to the various organizations, CARD/SL-Kono a local
NGO to play a leading role in input supply was identified. Due to the recognition CARD/SL has
gained in the district, they have been offered the contract to supply seeds to INGOs and other
local organizations. CARD/SL is also providing tractor services to CBOs and private farmers
undertaking agricultural production. Linkages have been created between Finance Salone,
Commercial bank and CARD/SL for possible funding. The wholesalers have been contacted in
Freetown for support to the smaller input suppliers in communities, initial contact meetings have
been held, and this will be followed by a dialogue meeting at community level.

In Koinadugu, the major input/output supplier is the Koinadugu Women’s Vegetable Farmers
Cooperative (KWFC). This group has been assessed and their potential to engage in improved
enterprise activities mapped out. The KWFC works with 29 women groups, each group
comprising 30 women. KWFC procures and sells agricultural inputs to these groups and they
also coordinate the transportation of vegetables for sale at the national market. CORAD has
provided this group with capacity building training and is working closely on how to develop
linkages with a wider group at both community and mezzo levels.

2.1.4 Organizations with capacities for input supply or marketing expanded or strengthened
(input):Local manufacturers of transport solutions have been identified in all the LINKS districts
and provided organizational capacity building training. Assessment of fabricated prototypes of
small scale transport technologies at Farmer Field School continued during the reporting period.

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006


Four small transport solutions (STS) prototypes were identified, developed and tested in three
districts (three-wheel motor bike, motor bike with trailer, bicycle with trailer and push cart).
Various solutions are preferred in each LINKs district depending on operating circumstances
such as the terrain, distances and economic opportunities.

The tests have highlighted weakness of the various designs and ways that they can be improved
to be made more cost effective and easier to use in the field. During the tests there were positive
examples of how this technology can be effectively used by groups including the Progressive
Women’s Group who generated an average of Le100,000 using the push cart to move loads
around Koidu town. Similarly, the Manjama Women’s FFS used the push cart on market days
only i.e. 4 days a month averaging an income of
Le140,000 per month. At a sustained level of use the
over a 12 month period, these groups would pay for
the push cart and have approximately Le800,000 to
reinvest or pay themselves. Applied in this way the
push cart has the potential to improve the lives of the
people in the rural communities who do not have the
technical know-how to manage more sophisticated
small transport systems.


The communities continue to request more cost effective low cost solutions to transport and such
information is being used to review and improve on the prototypes in order to finalize the
prototype design for production.

2.1.5 Manufacturers with capacities increased for manufacturing small scale transport
vehicles: Four models of small transport solutions have been developed (Bicycle trailer, Honda
Motorcycle trailer (3 –Wheel), Honda Motorcycle Trailer (4 wheel- hitched) and the pushcart.
These have been field-tested and recommendations made for possible amendments. The
amendments are still being considered and therefore no prototype has been recommended to any
trained local manufacturer.


2.1.6 Small-scale transportation solutions produced by manufacturers receiving
organizational development assistance: As the prototype is being improved and still to be
finalized the production of these small scale transport solutions has not yet begun.


IR 2.2: (Regional Micro-Finance Institutions)
Branches of Finance Salone established in Kono & Kailahun Districts capable of providing
financial services to at least 4500 clients.
CORAD has supported the flow of finance capital into rural districts through the establishment
of Finance Salone, micro-finance institutions (MFIs). For the LOA, two branches of Finance
Salone were to be established in two districts. Further details on all Finance Salone results are
presented in Annex 3.



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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006
2.2.1 Second branch for Finance Salone established and functioning in Kailhaun town:.
For the second Year of the program, the plan was to open an additional branch of Finance Salone
in Kailahun town. The preparations for this took longer than anticipated. However, by the end of
the third quarter of the year this branch was opened at a ceremony attended by local authorities,
USAID Sierra Leone representatives and CORAD staff.

2.2.2 Loans disbursement rate continues to be encouraging: Despite delays in the opening of
the Kailahun branch, Finance Salone was able to distribute a total of 4,991 loans- nearly double
the annual target of 2500. Finance Salone has also been successful in supporting women and
youth as both groups represented 64% and 69% respectively of the individuals receiving loans
indicated in the portfolio.

2.2.3 Average portfolio at risk remains encouraging: Each branch, has demonstrated excellent
repayments rates with Kono achieving 100% repayment and Kailahun 93%. Overall Finance
Salone had a portfolio at risk of 0.46%, with Kono branch managing to maintain it portfolio at
risk at 0% while the Kailahun branch had a portfolio at risk of 2.6%, and though higher than the
desired level, well under the industry accepted norms. (Please refer to the annex 3 ‘September
Finance Salone’ report).

IR 2.3: (Public Economic Information Systems strengthened)
Capacity established in each district and at the national level to make economic information
widely available through radio and print media.

2.3.1 Radio programs used to disseminate public economic information: under the LINKs
program CORAD has to date produced 65 regular weekly national radio programs disseminating
economic information. Each program is 30 minutes in length, and has been aired on nine radio
stations. These programs are packaged in different segments that address various topics,

including agronomic practice, constraints of vegetable farmers, upland and inland valley swamp
rice farmers, micro credit aid, agricultural market information, extension services, government
and CORAD Members efforts in improving food security, and the effects of bad roads on
farmers and farmers’ cooperatives in promoting agriculture in the three districts.

CORAD also encouraged local radio stations to produce regular weekly local programs. Within
the period under consideration, the local radios stations within the three districts produced
various programs geared towards disseminating information about micro enterprise development
within their areas (Koinadugu, Kailahun and Kono). Highlights are presented below:

        -   Radio discussion programs in Koinadugu district on the handling of finances of the
            youths’ garri production venture. It was resolved that the youths should have a bank
            account.
        -   Achievements of LINKS in Koidu town in Kono district, including challenges faced
            by World Vision.
        -   Discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture on production of Swamp rice.
        -   Two community radio discussions with stakeholders in agriculture (District director
            of Agriculture) and International NGO (World Vision). The discussions were around
            the World Food Day celebrations.
        -   Feedback gathered from communities on the small-scale transport solutions.

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
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       -
Video programming:
Over the reporting period, CORAD produced a second video focusing on the farmer field school
concept, market price information and its impact on the general listening public. The same video
also covered activities related to development of small transport solutions designed to overcome
transportation constraints of farmers. Based on the feedback from the various information
packages produced so far and also noting the USAID Mission Director’s comment, the video put
more premium on the farmer perceptions rather than the activities of the consortium itself. The
bulk of the 30 minutes of the video was dedicated to interviews with farmers to demonstrate how
the activity of the LINKS program has supported their livelihood aspirations.

As usual, the product was shared with consortium members and they have provided their
feedback. This is currently being incorporated and a final version to be produced for broadcast
on national television, policy makers and sharing with institutions and other stakeholders.

2.3.2 Agricultural and trade fairs used to disseminate public economic information:
Two LINKs supported agricultural and trade fairs were held during this reporting period, one in
Kono and the other in Koinadugu. Both were a great success, well attended by both authorities
and farmers providing an opportunity for participants to share information as well as recognize
those producers who had performed particularly well over the preceding agricultural season. A
third event of this type is planned for Kailahun early in the next FY.




Agriculture and trade fair in Kabala


2.3.3 Written inserts appeared in 5 national newspapers: CORAD facilitated the production of
three editions of the 4-page newspaper insert in collaboration with its six newspaper partners
based in Freetown. The insert targeted, amongst others, the literate and reading public in the
three-implementation districts but was also more specifically targeted at policy makers (both at
the national and local level) and the business community. The inserts are designed to raise issues
that trigger discussions but also to share success and challenges around the country. While nine
inserts were originally planned, the costs were underestimated and it was decided that color
printing would have a much greater impact when presenting especially for agricultural issues.
Due to this extra work in preparation,only three inserts were produced this year. However over
3,000 copies were produced and distributed to stakeholders in Freetown, Bo, Makeni and the
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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

targeted districts, most of which were distributed to the six partner newspapers for further
distribution through their vendors.

On the basis of the feedback received after the first edition from the readership, the insert was
improved and refined for the subsequent editions. An example of such feedback recommended
the inclusion of success stories targeting farmers themselves.

2.3.3 National-level agricultural market information service compilation: During the period
CORAD submitted a total of 14 bi-weekly price reports for national and local radio broadcasts.
These reports are collected from a total of 16 daily markets and 16 periodic markets in seven of
the 13 national districts, including Freetown. The data used in the reports corresponds to the
average for three observations per market. Additionally, agro-marketing staff participated in 14
radio discussions organized and provided summary market information for the production of
three inserts for distribution in national newspapers.

Finally, CORAD trained staff from the Planning, Evaluation, Monitoring and Statistics Division
(PEMSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFS) to conduct market surveys in Freetown.
CORAD and PEMSD have regularly collaborated in surveying wholesale (daily) markets in the
Freetown area. This activity is designed to strengthen local capacity so as to make it possible to
transfer the Market Information system (MIS) to the government by the time the LINKS project
closes.

    IR 2.4: (Livelihood opportunities for youth at the Mezzo level)
    Access to viable economic activities in agriculture or micro enterprise is facilitated for 1250
    socially marginalized youth in district or chiefdom headquarters.
2.4.1 Youths completed learning dialogues focusing on livelihood opportunities: CORAD
conducted dialogues for 1,327 marginalized youths at the mezzo level district headquarter towns
and large urban towns within the district to facilitate access to viable economic activities in
agriculture or micro- enterprises (against a target of 800). Dialogues were held in 4 communities
in Kailahun District, 4 communities in Kono district, and 5 communities in Koinadugu district.
Overall, 45 % of the participants were female and 55% were male.
2.4.2 Loans were disbursed to socially marginalized youth in Chiefdom or District
headquarters for agriculture activities or micro enterprises: Both branches in Kono and
Kailahun continue to assist the youth by providing loan capital for their enterprise activities. For
all Finance Salone branches representing the Kailahun District, 151 youth received loans while
720 youth received loans from the Kono branch. Total loans disbursed to youth under this IR for
the entire second year of implementation is 2,302.
2.4.3 Capital grants were disbursed to socially marginalized urban youth for startup of
agriculture activities or enterprises: a total of $9,500 USD was disbursed as grants to youth at
the mezzo level during the year. Each client received a small grant to expand or strengthen their
business, and each client received the Making Cents training prior to the first disbursement. This
represents 105% of the FY 2006 target.




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
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VI. OBSERVED IMPACT RELATIVE TO PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
Objective One (Economically Active Communities): Residents in 420 rural, peri-urban and
urban communities in 21 chiefdoms in Kono, Kailahun and Koinadugu Districts are
capitalizing on increased opportunities for achieving sustainable livelihoods in their
communities.

IR 1.1: The capacities of 12,500 farmers to seek out, experiment with and adapt new ideas
related to market-led agricultural production are increased.
Participating communities have experienced an increase in efficiency and quality for palm oil
extraction, garri processing, and groundnut shelling. There is general consensus that the
equipment provided by the project decreases the time previously allocated by households to
processing activities, and facilitates access to local markets, increasing economic activity at the
local level.

CORAD has been successful in the promotion of market-led production activities and the use of
appropriate agro-processing technology. Initial estimates indicate that considering the area
planted for cassava, and prices monitored during the season (one semester), on average each unit
will be able to process garri valued at approximately Le 114,583 per month. Before the LINKs
intervention project beneficiaries were not able to process garri and could only sell fresh cassava
(and only when in demand by the market). By producing and selling garri, the income of the
average member household could be increased by at least 100 percent, and in all likelihood even
more as they become more proficient. However, it should be noted that some farmers expressed
concerns about the labor required to operate the manual processing equipment, especially for
garri production. This situation will be monitored in the coming months.

By the end of the fourth quarter of FY 2006, the LINKS FFS were in the middle of the second
and last cycle of agricultural experimentation. Although farmer participants reported that the
introduction of row planting and improved varieties present several advantages, it may still be
early in the process to assume large increases in production. However, preliminary figures from
the USAID mission impact indicators survey (PIRS) indicate positive changes for three of the
main staple crops.


                  2.5

                  2.0
                                                                                       Figure 1: Area under
   Area (acres)




                  1.5                                                                  agricultural production
                                                                        PIRS survey

                  1.0                                                   Links b-line


                  0.5

                  0.0
                        Cassava    Garden      Groundnut   IVS rice
                                  Vegetables




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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

These slight changes indicate that project beneficiaries have made progress in productivity at the
farm level through experimentation of new practices in the FFS. When these results are coupled
with access to processing facilities (tailored to the real necessities of the communities),
sustainable sources of income are created. Additionally, project beneficiaries have a better
chance of increasing economic activity and food security. For example, garri has a higher
market value (per kilogram) than cassava and its storage life is longer than the fresh roots.

In order to facilitate replication of the FFS, the LINKS project has managed to facilitate training
of community facilitators and this has resulted in the establishment of 26 additional FFS by the
communities using locally available resources.

Based on the weekly radio programs, farmers in Kailahun, Koinadugu and Kono districts have
approached the correspondents expressing their appreciation of the radio programs. In one of the
weekly radio programs, a farmer who is part of the Farmer Field School (FFS) in Badala stated
that they had struggled with experimenting on the use of improved planting methods for JL24
groundnut in their plot, but by listening to the radio they were able to correct their error in the
cultivation of this crop from another FFS who had made their success public on the radio.

IR 1.2 (5,000 micro enterprises established or significantly expanded through basic
business management training, complemented by grants (for new enterprises) or access to
credit (for existing enterprises) and IR 1.3 (Access to viable economic activities in
agriculture or micro enterprise is facilitated for 1,250 socially marginalized youth).

Two milestones of the MED strategy were reached during the period. First, the completion of
the final evaluations for SUG clients, and second the implementation of a monthly monitoring
system. During the initial phase of the grants component, it became evident that close and
frequent monitoring would be necessary to ensure the proper use of the funds and to increase the
likelihood of success. Results from this process show a great improvement in how clients are
managing their businesses and their rate of growth. Some businesses diversified to unexpected
products and some groups demonstrated a high degree of initiative. For example, one group in
the East of Sierra Leone decided to pool their grants and start a soap-making business. With the
revenues and profits in just two months they saved more than the initial grant.

Preliminary figures from the USAID mission impact indicators survey also indicate positive
results from the MED interventions. An estimated 97 percent of the clients have kept their
businesses running, with sales generating average profits of Le 250,000, or 63 percent more than
the original grant disbursement. More than 90 percent of the clients indicated that they are
thinking of further expanding their businesses with loans or other sources of financing.

                          Table 5: Preliminary results from impact indicators

                                         PARAMETER                  VALUE
                               No of clients                         353
                               Average age                            32
                               % Female                               80
                               % Male                                 20
                               % of businesses still           in     97


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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006
                              operation
                              % businesses changed                19
                             Source: USAID mission impact indicators survey


This project has managed to support 5 village savings and loans groups started through
community initiatives. The secretaries of the old groups managed to train the new groups using
their own initiative and resources clearly demonstrating that the village savings and loans
methodology can easily be replicated.

Over 1000 community members have received loans for micro enterprise expansion through the
village savings and loans clubs. The 100% loan repayment rate clearly shows that the micro
enterprises activities are generating enough money to pay for the borrowed money with interest.
Village savings and loans clubs have managed to access additional money through their own
initiative from micro finance institutions facilitating expansion of micro enterprise activities

Ninty one communities have managed to pay for the making cents training clearly demonstrating
increasing demand by the communities to receive business development training.

During the dialogues, youths who had been listening to the radio and the activities of LINKS, but
had not benefited at the time expressed their satisfaction that the dialogues were finally taking
place in their localities after hearing about the successes of their colleagues in other chiefdoms.
They said: “We are now ready and want to be like the others. It is a competition and we will be
the leaders.”

Objective Two (Linking Communities to District and National Markets): Inputs to and
output flows from 420 rural, peri-urban and urban communities in 21 chiefdoms of Kono,
Kailahun and Koinadugu districts are reestablished and expanded
At this stage of project implementation, the project facilitated dialogues with potential
agriculture input and output suppliers creating opportunities for organized agricultural economic
recovery.

IR 2.1: Strategies to reestablish flows of priority agricultural inputs and marketable
produce related primarily to the production of rice, cassava, vegetables, oil palm, coffee
and cocoa to and from communities developed and implemented.

During FY 2005, CORAD completed sub-sector analyses on several crops, including cassava
and groundnut. As a result of the findings of these analyses, special efforts have been placed on
encouraging farmers to take advantage of market opportunities. For example, appropriate
technologies for processing cassava (into garri) and groundnut have been tested, improved, and
finally made available to groups through the capital grants mentioned above. Although there is
insufficient data available, it is expected that the markets in targeted areas will grow and
strengthen as a result of these interventions.

In addition, CRS completed four new/updated sub-sector analysis reports on groundnut, oil palm,
cacao and small ruminants. The analyses were conducted in all LINKS implementation districts
(plus Kenema). The analyses showed that there are important market opportunities for farmers
and small traders in these sub-sectors, and that there are methods that can be employed to take

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

better advantage of them. Each sub-sector report includes various strategies that can be directed
at farmers and traders. Short- and mid-term activities are suggested for implementation in FY
2007, and CRS, along with the other CORAD members, will use them in program activities that
will be designed to achieve the greatest possible impact for targeted beneficiaries.

Although it is too soon to measure impact, the two agricultural business fairs that were held
during the reporting period resulted in new and strengthened relationships between farmers and
traders, which should by extension result in stronger, more developed markets.

IR 2.3: Capacity established in each district and at the national level to make economic
information widely available through radio and print media.

A full year of data is already available in the MIS database. This milestone is very important for
the integration of price analysis with activity design and implementation. Data from August 05 to
August 06 is allowing CORAD partners and other users of the database to observe the annual
cycle of prices and their effects on production. It is especially important for annual crops, but
also for tree crops like palm oil. CORAD has made extensive use of the MIS database in the
study of different agricultural sub-sectors in the fourth quarter of FY 2006.

Finally, CORAD has trained staff from the Ministry of Agriculture (MAFS) to conduct market
surveys in Freetown. This added capacity to MAFS has allowed its staff to survey wholesale
(daily) markets in the Freetown area. This activity will continue in the future with the intention
of transferring responsibility for the market information system (MIS) to the government by the
time the LINKS project closes.

Through its multi media programming using radio, video and newspaper inserts, SFCG has
injected a new production format to mobilize communities into the productive sector as well as
demand proactive action from policy makers. When delivering the second newspaper insert to
Njala University College in Freetown, a lecturer commented that: “If we can have every
stakeholder working on agricultural and livelihood issues to have this kind of mindset and
passion it will improve our economy fast.”
VII. LESSONS LEARNED DURING THE REPORTING PERIOD
Farmers are ready and willing to work with their fellow farmers as facilitators. FFS encourages
farmer-to-farmer extension, emphasizing the use of community resources and promoting
experiments based on indigenous knowledge systems thus seeking and employing local solutions
to local problems. In addition to farmers being trained by their peers, the FFS has provided
socially marginalized youth a platform to be heard and demonstrate positive social skills.

Resource mobilization works where clients identify with the constraint and are empowered to
advocate for themselves.

The demand for the written inserts increased as production began. The target was policy makers,
the private sector and urban communities. The demand for the inserts at district and chiefdom
has been overwhelming.



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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

The traditional culture in Sierra Leone inhibits participation of the local communities in local
agriculture radio programs. Successful farmers are not always willing to show their success
publicly for fear of exploitation and malice.

Encouraging the local radios to devise sustainable ways to maintain the local agriculture radio
programs is a constant challenge as the local radios focus on revenue generating programs as
opposed to community programming that is free.

Agricultural fairs and shows have been absent in LINKs targeted the districts for over 20 years.
Encouraging local communities to revive, design and implement annual agriculture fairs after a
long break takes a lot of time and mobilization that is cost intensive but well worth the
investment and support provided by LINKs as evidenced by the high levels of attendance at fairs
so far held in Kabala and Koinadugu.

What is working:
The Village Savings and Loan activity has facilitated the expansion of micro enterprise activities
and loans which have been distributed to more than 1000 vulnerable rural people

The Farmer Field Schools are primarily an approach to agricultural extension emphasizing
mutual learning in groups to test technical innovations and develop appropriate solutions to local
farming conditions. CORAD successfully trained and empowered farmer facilitators – in all 102
farmers nominated from first generation FFS returned to their communities with technical
backstopping from CORAD field staff. Experience indicates that it was much easier for the
farmer facilitators to sensitize and facilitate the establishment of FFS than the field staff. For all
the farmer facilitators that were trained during FY06 each facilitator established at least 2 FFS.
Field observations indicated that farmers learn more from the farmer facilitators with language
and social connections being crucial advantages in this process.

Using the FFS, CORAD was able to integrate socially marginalized youth into their communities
and at the mezzo level, youth have been able to show their peers in the mines that farming pays.
To put it in the words of Tamba Allieu, Fiama Benga FFS “agricultural produce is a ‘diamond’
you can mine with positive outcome every time”. FFS youth are attracting their relations from
the mines to farming. The FFS has empowered Tamba and other youth participants to seek-out
new ways of increasing agricultural production and increased their bargaining power.

Through the FFS, youth are more confident and their social status improved. According to
Mariama Allieu “The FFS has increased my self-reliance, increased my economic capacity and
improved the health of my children” From the statements of participants, community
cohesiveness has improved significantly compared to immediately after the war and young and
among old, male or female, there is confidence in the way household food security has improved
through household participation in FFS.

Discussions and interactions with non-FFS members, indicates that the FFS are impacting their
communities positively by disseminating agricultural innovations in their communities, building
co-operation and social capital. Farmers are adopting some of the technology packages tried on
their experimental plots. The proportion of farmers adopting varies but what is striking is that



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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

surrounding non-FFS communities either have started their own farming groups or are
advocating for FFS groups in their communities.

The idea that weekly radio programs will stimulate interest in information in the communities,
which is essential to the economic development of their communities, is working very well. For
instance:
    1) Farmers sell their products based on informed decisions.
    The market price information segment in the weekly LINKS program focusing on livelihood
    has captured the attention of farmers in the targeted districts. Based on the prices from
    various markets in both rural and urban towns, the farmers have been able to fix and
    negotiate prices particularly to middlemen who, in the past, used high transportation cost and
    poor road conditions as reasons for offering farmers low prices for products.

    A notable example is the price of red palm oil in Kailahun (Kailahun produces some of the
    purest red oil in the country). Before the LINKS radio program on market prices, red palm oil
    was sold at same price as the adulterated red palm oil sold in the other urban centers. Now,
    the red palm oil sold in Kailahun brings higher prices for the farmers than previously because
    the farmers know the cost of red palm oil in the other areas. In the same manner, the radio
    program has also affected the price of hot pepper in these districts.

    2) Demand for Radio programs increases
    Another indication that the radio programs are working is the request by members of the
    community for the weekly national programs to be translated into local dialects - Mende,
    Mandingo and Kono. Pressure has mounted on local community radio staff to translate these
    programs so that it gets to the remotest areas and farmers. The local programs produced by
    the radio stations have started using segments from the national programs as part of their
    content.

    In a similar vein, an indication of the success of these radio programs is the request by the
    local councils to have their voices heard so that they can inform their people on the efforts
    they are taking to secure livelihoods for their district. The councils have identified focal point
    people to be on the programs.

    3) Acknowledgement by community of the role of the dialogues
    Another success acknowledged by participants at both micro and mezzo levels are the youth
    learning dialogues. The youths continue to acknowledge that the dialogues awakened their
    interest and provided opportunities in areas where they can explore their skills and develop
    their capacities. When success stories of youth participation are shared through the radio
    programs nationally, they generate interest and more youths expressed a desire to join and
    benefit from the program.

More specific examples of successes include:

            Training of farmers by farmers: Siama farmers training other farmers in the garri
            making process.
            Consistency in the price collection methodology allows detailed analysis of markets,
            and price information is being used by different organizations

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

            Collaboration with national research institutions (Njala University and St. Josephs
            Vocational Centre)
            Manually operated equipment has had great acceptance in many communities.
            Efficiency and cost / benefit ratios are encouraging.
            Finance Salone consistently performs well as measured against its program
            indicators. Increasing numbers of loans disbursed and excellent repayment rates are
            notable indicators of its ongoing success.
            The village savings and loans have achieved outstanding success in terms of
            achieving set targets and contribution towards achieving program objectives. The
            majority of the loan beneficiaries are women. All the 1,193 participants managed to
            return their loans at an average interest rate of between 10-15% and all these
            participants indicated that they managed to make a profit from the money borrowed.
            The loan repayment rate is a 100%.

These successes have been recorded/registered through:

            Training reports and photos of the training in garri and palm oil processing
            Database and sub-sector analysis survey forms
            Training reports and technical specifications for appropriate technology are available.
            Monitoring forms and record books kept through regular follow-up
            The local radio station, in collaboration with search for common ground, gathers
            information on the successes of the LINKS project.. Every Thursday, a radio program
            is aired to the public and most of the project beneficiaries participate in this radio
            discussion. SFCG also publishes the stories in the LINKS magazine periodically
            facilitating access of the success stories to a wider audience at national level.

Challenges:
One FFS refused to accept manual operated cassava processing equipment because other
development agencies were providing generator operated grinders in the same chiefdom
Manufacturing of small transport solution (STS) remains a challenge for the program and
research in improving this is still underway. Although four STS were identified, modified,
fabricated and tested, managing the process of transferring the technology has been challenging.
FFS and Youth groups have had to meet technical staff to acquire appropriate technology which
field staff at some point rejected as unacceptable by clients. The push carts have become popular
in the last quarter after being rejected by agency staff as inappropriate. One of the reasons for its
recent acceptance is the lack of trained service providers in proximate locations to support more
complex technologies. One issue being grappled with is how farmers would access the financial
capital required to acquire motorbike trailers.

Initially the grants disbursement methodology provided by ARC proved to be somewhat
cumbersome and not viable for CRS operational context. However, further refinement and
lessons learned from the first SUG round allowed made it possible to refine the process.

VIII. COORDINATION ISSUES
During the reporting period CORAD members implemented farmer exchange visits among
project locations. These visits were very much appreciated both by farmers and field staff, as


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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

they served to compare experiences and exchange ideas. This included visits as part of the
MAFS-FAO FFS steering committee.

CORAD has continued its working relationship with MAFS, Njala University, Seed
Multiplication Unit, Institute of Agricultural Research, and local partners such as The Saint
Joseph Fathers in Lunsar. These strategic alliances have facilitated access to training,
appropriate technology for agro-processing, improved seeds, and best practices in agricultural
production.

CORAD sponsored trainings including: agricultural practices for the Moringa tree, training of
trainers for Making Cents, and design of agricultural lending products.

The arrangement for hosting CORAD partner staff has been an operational challenge for
CORAD despite holding meetings and agreeing on procedures.

Changes in the management of the M&E unit led to a number of challenges in the efficient
coordination of the M&E Unit as related to collection of information for USAID mission level
indicators. A new manager will arrive early FY2007 which should resolve this issue.

District Coordination and Technical Working Committee meetings had been held on an irregular
basis but frequency has improved in the last months of the FY as result of this issue being
presented in both CCU monitoring reports and CORAD Steering Committee meetings.


IX. MONITORING & EVALUATIONS, AUDITS AND STUDIES

During the period, CORAD members implemented a rapid assessment of program level impact
indicators, including the percentage of supported businesses still in operation 1 year after start
up; the percentage of beneficiaries seeking market information; the average number of
experiments per farmer field school per annum; and, the average value of assets generated by
USAID-supported micro-enterprises. As of the closing of this reporting period, the completed
field surveys were with the CORAD M&E Unit for processing. Final data is expected to be
made available by the end of October.

X. ADMINISTRATION AND OPERATIONAL INFORMATION
Overall project implementation was smooth, with no significant interruptions due to operational
difficulties.
XI. ACTIVITIES AND TARGETS PLANNED FOR THE NEXT QUARTER
An Annual Work Plan (AWP) for FY 2007 is being submitted separately to USAID for the
period October 1st , 2006 to September 30th, 2007. This information was generated through a
planning workshop carried out over the period September 6th to 11th, 2006. Otherwise, key
activities to be implemented in the first quarter of the AWP 07 period are:

        Establish new Farmer Field Schools including tree crop FFS
        Implementation of agro-enterprise development module with FFS
        FFS and TOT training in agricultural marketing management

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Promoting Linkages for Livelihood Security and Economic Development (LINKs), 4th Quarter/Annual Performance
Report FY 2006

        Measure impact of improved production techniques and determine adoption rates.
        Complete evaluation of cassava processing technology and facilitate access to technology
        Selection of new capital grants groups
        Making Cents Training (including capital grants)
        Facilitate the literacy & numeracy introduction to project participants
        Facilitate and pilot test agric lending to clients
        Disburse startup grants to clients
        Monitoring of all MED activities
        Develop and circulate market updates to TDS for radio broadcast production
        Support PEMSD and MAFS for local capacity building
        Monitor agricultural lending activities implemented by CORAD partners
        Initiate business alliance between FFS/Market Associations and Farm Input Shops
        Capacity building to input supplier
        Capacity build 3 output marketing agents
        Launch 2 pilot Farm Input Shops in Kono and Kabala
        Finance Salone will surpass its LOA target goals and seek expansion of its portfolio.
        Continue dissemination of input price/market information in collaboration with SFCG
        Support one agriculture field show
        Disseminate 12 weekly radio programs
        Produce 3 newspaper insert
        Produce one video
        Complete final report on small transport systems
        Distribute small transport systems already approved by partner agencies
        Facilitate the manufacturing of 3 prototypes small transport solutions
        Conduct training on PPM&E for farmer facilitators




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