Most of the rural poor in the Philippines belong to landless households in southern Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas. Lack of equitable access to means of production, including land, capital, irrigation, technology, information, employment opportunities, and markets, underpins this deep rural poverty. Various governments have responded to this age-old problem, which has caused continuing rural distress and unrest, with several agrarian reform programs. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported the latest of these programs, initiated in the 1980s, through the Agrarian Reform Communities Project approved in December 1998 and closed in December 2007.
The Agrarian Reform Communities Project II, approved by ADB for an original loan of $70 million in October 2008, built on the experience gained from the success and challenges of the first project. Its expected outcome was improved capabilities and well-being of poor and marginalized groups in selected communities, achieved through four outputs: (i) community-driven development, (ii) agriculture and enterprise development, (iii) sustainable rural infrastructure, and (iv) project implementation and management. At appraisal, it envisaged covering 152 agrarian reform communities (ARCs) and 11 ARC clusters in the 19 poorest provinces of southern Luzon, Mindanao, and Visayas, comprising 150,000 persons in 44,000 households. It was also to be cofinanced by the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) initially through a $30 million loan.
At completion, the project achieved/overachieved its targets in 1 of 4 intended outputs ─ organizing and capacity building of ARCs for community-driven development. Targets in agriculture and enterprise development (AED), rural infrastructure, and institutional strengthening were only partly achieved. Crop yield increases and land tenure improvement, under the AED component, fell short of targets but regional and provincial market-led agricultural value chains were established as planned. All value-adding enterprises supported by the project remained profitable and contributed positive returns to farmers’ organizations, reporting an average 71% return on investments. Project accomplishments in farm-to-market roads and small-scale irrigation were not half the targets. But the provision/installation of post-harvest facilities met targets; in addition, the project provided social infrastructure facilities such as multipurpose buildings, health centers, day care centers, classrooms, and potable water supply systems.
Project support for land titling was constrained by the refusal of some agrarian reform beneficiaries to have their lands surveyed; poor surveys on collective lands and untitled properties; complex and time-consuming inspections, verifications, and approval of surveys; documentation issues; and peace and order problems in Mindanao. Rural infrastructure performance was limited by the inability of local government units (LGUs) to meet the increased equity required by the revised national government-LGU cost sharing policy. This was despite the various initiatives undertaken the executing agency (EA) and other national agencies to assist LGUs in raising infrastructure funds.
There was insufficient data as of completion review mission to determine whether the project achieved its outcome and impact targets. The project had the DAR as executing agency. Implementing agencies included all participating municipal LGU and DAR offices at the regional and provincial le