The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana (EKN Ghana) commissioned SEO Amsterdam Economics to conduct the final evaluation of the Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP). SWAPP was implemented by Solidaridad West Africa (SWA) in four countries: Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. EKN Accra funded the programme and managed the evaluation, which was conducted by SEO and its partner MDF Training & Consultancy, with fieldwork carried out by MDF West Africa in late 2021. This evaluation was conducted simultaneously with SEO’s evaluation of CORIP and HortiFresh.

Key findings:

  • The design of SWAPP was relevant to the West African oil palm sector.
  • The access to finance approach was initially not aligned with sector needs, but SWAPP had some success with setting up Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs).
  • SWAPP has not (yet) delivered on its expected outcomes.
  • SWAPP contributed to improving oil palm productivity and incomes, but farmers still have a long way to go.
  • The Rural Service Centres (RSC) model has not (yet) shown to work for the oil palm sector.
  • The effectiveness of the access to finance component was mixed.
  • The effectiveness of the skills for development component in generating jobs for youth was also limited.
  • SWAPP was successful at including women and youth, but gender roles continue to limit their possibilities.
  • The Roundtable Table on Sustainable Palm Oil component was not effective in certifying farmers or mills.
  • SWAPP helped put oil palm on the policy agenda.
  • While SWAPP efficiently produced outputs, outcome efficiency was low.
  • One of the SWAPP interventions most likely to be sustainable is the setting up of VSLAs.
  • The largest sustainability challenge relates to the role of women and youth in oil palm.
  • The Theory of Change (ToC) and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) system of SWAPP were overly complex.