Quasi-experimental Impact Evaluation (ex-post) of IFAD’s rural development projects in Kenya

Publication Details

3ie Funded Evaluation, TW4.201. A link to the completed study will appear here when available.

Juan Bonilla, Nancy McCarthy, Stanley Ng’ang’a Karanja
Sub-Saharan Africa (includes East and West Africa)
Agriculture and Rural Development
Agricultural Reform, Agricultural Extension, Agricultural Research
Gender analysis
Equity Focus
Evaluation design
Propensity Score Matching (PSM), Mixed Methods
Ongoing 3ie Funded Studies
3ie Funding Window
Agricultural Innovation Thematic Window


The study seeks to increase the income and welfare of smallholder farmers in the dairy sector of Kenya by engaging in capacity building and enhancing the organisational, managerial, and enterprising skills of farmers. 


Despite high production volumes, the dairy sector in Kenya is still dominated by smallholder farmers who rely on livestock for income and food security.  Hence, The Smallholder Dairy Commercialisation Programme (SDCP) was designed to reach 24,000 smallholder dairy farmers in nine counties. SDCP provides training to dairy farmers and aims to enhance dairy farming productivity and reduce production costs. 

Information on the impact of SDCP can provide useful insights for the design of other agricultural extension programmes for smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Research questions

  • Does SDCP improve the wellbeing of dairy farmers through improved animal management, increased production and productivity, improved efficiency, and a rise in farmer incomes and food security?
  • Are there differences in the participation in programme activities by gender of the farmer? Does the programme have differential effects by gender of the farmer?
  • How does the process by which SDCP is implemented influence the effectiveness of the programme? Given this process, how do contextual factors affect programme success?


Intervention design

Firstly, the programme provided dairy group activities by training beneficiaries on organisational, managerial, and enterprising skills to fully benefit from market-driven milk commercialisation. Further, capacity building of dairy groups was complemented by competitive access to investment grants and management and market information systems. Secondly, the programme targeted household production by aiming to enhance dairy farming productivity and reduce production costs through trainings, field days, and demonstrations. Lastly, SDCP aimed to strengthen relationships with market intermediaries by enhancing market linkages for small-scale milk producers by improving road infrastructure and conducting additional trainings to beneficiaries on milk handling practices and value addition opportunities.

Theory of change

The project identifies three main areas where barriers to improving dairy income operate: dairy group activities, household production and market intermediaries. It hypothesises that increasing net dairy income for smallholder farmers can occur through four primary channels: increasing milk production, increasing the prices received for milk sold, decreasing the costs of producing milk and decreasing the transactions costs of participation in input and output markets.  This in turn will lead to food security and increased participation by women and marginalised communities. 

Evaluation design

The evaluation will follow a quasi-experimental approach using propensity square matching. The sample of 2,500 will be split equally between 1,250 SDCP beneficiaries and 1,250 comparison farmers. Key information will be collected through a survey and the causal chain, including the underlying assumptions will be mapped out. To capture key time-invariant characteristics as well as retrospective information on dairy farming, the study will include a short filter questionnaire at the beginning of the household survey for accurate matching of households in the treatment group with households in the comparison area. 

The study will also use qualitative data to explain the quantitative findings and understand the implementation of the programme by comparing accounts of local government officials with that of dairy farmers using semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The study will also investigate the differential impacts of the programme by gender- qualitatively, through gender-specific focus groups; and quantitatively, through information collected from female farm managers.

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