Knowledge for a sustainable world

Valerie Nelson

The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) recently completed an evaluation of the Comic Relief Trade Programme, examining its impact on smallholder producers in Africa. As well as assessing the impact of the programme, the evaluation also identifies the key factors supporting positive impacts and the effectiveness of the Comic Relief approach.

The study was conducted by Valerie Nelson, Adrienne Martin and Fedra Vanhuyse from NRI and Sally Smith from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and has been well received by the Comic Relief trustees.

Comic Relief has provided funding of £21,780,932 for their Trade Programme since 2004. A range of projects have been supported with the aim of building the capacity of smallholders, their organisations and that of service providers, and seeking to create more equitable relationships along the supply chain and strengthening smallholder involvement in dialogue on trade related issues. The evaluation found many positive impacts, particularly arising from the first two of these outputs; capacity building and equitable supply chain relationships.

A number of recommendations are made in the evaluation report, aimed at informing Comic Relief's future programme strategy on trade, which is currently under review. The authors propose a greater focus on inclusive trade for development and suggest that this is an area of international development in which Comic Relief can add value.

To support inclusive trade for development and scaling up, the creation of a stronger learning function located in Africa is recommended. Increasing emphasis on gender awareness and capacity building by Comic Relief and partners is also recommended, as is the possibility of piloting programmatic funding with key partners, including direct funding for African partners.

Various learning questions are outlined for future consideration by Comic Relief, relating to strategies for effective advocacy in trade and for achieving inclusive trade, building climate change adaptive capacity amongst partners and promoting gender mainstreaming in trade projects.

The evaluation report can be downloaded HERE.