Canadian Agricultural and Rural Communities Initiative Evaluation

Prepared for the Rural Secretariat, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

Project Completion

July 2004


The objective of the three-year Canadian Agricultural Rural Communities Initiative (CARCI), launched in May 2000, was to help sustain and develop agricultural rural communities in Canada, particularly those affected by changes taking place in the agricultural sector. The initiative was developed through consultations with stakeholders, including rural community groups and representatives from industry, as well as non-governmental and municipal organizations. The initiative is administered by the Rural Secretariat at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

The $9.3 million CARCI funding was one element(?) of the $60 million Canadian Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD) programs, which focus on six priority areas, rural development being one. CARCI was established to support four types of projects, referred to as the CARCI “components.” These components included: rural coordination organizations that have an impact on rural agricultural communities; partnership projects that develop community-based partnerships to respond to rural agricultural community development issues; workshops, conferences, and seminars which allow participants to share and exchange ideas, experiences and solutions related to common rural agricultural community issues; and research related to rural agricultural communities.

Purpose of the Evaluation

The CARCI evaluation was intended to identify the challenges, lessons learned, and outcomes and outputs, as well as how the initiative relates to the experience of the earlier Canadian Rural Partnership Program (CRP). It drew on two streams of information – project and program levels. However, it was not intended to evaluate the success of individual projects, but rather the extent to which activities undertaken by the projects as a whole contributed to the CARCI program’s overall goals and objectives. The second avenue of inquiry focused on program-level concerns such as management and cost-effectiveness.


The evaluation approach included document and data base reviews, as well as a review of 75 of the 207 projects funded, or 36% of the total. Twenty key program contacts were interviewed, as well as 47 project stakeholders. Projects were selected from each of the four program components: partnerships; rural coordination organizations (RCOs); workshops, conferences and seminars (WCS); and research.


The CARCI mandate was to focus on assisting rural agricultural communities to adjust and adapt to changes underway in the agricultural sector. Thus, NEDG took an approach that would demonstrate how the overall CARCI program was working. By examining relevant data and documentation, reviewing projects funded, and interviewing program contacts and project stakeholders, NEDG was able to come up with a number of recommendations. These included recommendations which dealt with networking and partnership, sustainability, capacity building, management of change, program design, selection approval, relevance, communications, implementation, and accountability.