Assessment of causes of the failure of Gikongoro Agricultural Development Project.
The Gikongoro Agricultural Development Project (GADP) was implemented in Gikongoro in 1990 and terminated in 2001. It covered 83,508 ha with 250,000 habitants and had a target group of 42,000 farm families, with an estimated total budget of U$ 31.2 million. Its objectives focused on land development, increase of farm crops, environmental conservation and protection, stores and roads construction and bank loans for small farmers. Its expected impacts included the increase of incomes, enhancement of nutritional status and the resolution of the employment problem. The project was closed without achieving these goals. On the basis of this situation, the following research questions were raised: • How and to what degree did inadequate processes of management and evaluation contribute to the GADP failure? • How and to what degree did external environmental events prevent the GADP from achieving its objectives? • How was the participatory development approach used by the GADP in the process of learning? • What were the main causes that led the GADP to fail? • What could be done and what lessons could be drawn from this experience for the benefit of ongoing and future projects operating in Rwanda? The answer to these questions required a review of literature regarding project management and evaluation principles and organizational environment. The methods used for data collection included documentation, systems thinking, observation and interviews. Thematic analysis and systems thinking were used for data analysis. The findings located the reasons for GADP failure in different problem areas. The civil war of October 1990 and the genocide of April 1994, and frequent droughts, swept away the GADP resources. The GADP failed to identify the real needs of the beneficiaries (farmers), coordinate its stakeholders’ activities, and cooperate and communicate adequately with them. This resulted in delays and budget overruns. The failure to bring together management and evaluation caused the project to be ineffective and inefficient in its management of resources. The GADP closed having made no significant positive impacts on the farmers, especially women. To prevent future potential failures, it is recommended to introduce systems thinking in Rwandan higher education programs and to develop strong partnerships between public and private role players.