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Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach

Chapter 3
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature


In this chapter, each specific feature will be analysed following a standard procedure:

  • a proposed definition in order to have a common reference;

  • an outline of the motivation for its introduction in LEADER in order to clarify the objectives of its presence in a rural development programme; in this way we have the terms of reference for evaluating the results and the impact;

  • a proposal related to the main questions which will be used to evaluate each specific feature:

  • a short description of the initial situation to show the context;

  • the description of the processes that were activated by its implementation;

  • the results and impact, and the lessons learned.

To render the methodology more accessible, only those questions which are common to all stakeholders are put forward here; other questions may naturally be developed by those who wish to deepen one or other particular point.

The set of questions put forward in this chapter are mainly relevant at the local level, which is the first "building block" of the evaluation. The other levels will be studied in the following chapter.

In placing these questions, particular attention should be given to the choice of the respondent interviewed, with preference for the persons in charge of the local group. If other resources are available, complementary enquiries may be carried out among selected types of project leaders [7]. The results of these enquiries will be useful for answering the suggested questions. General briefing sessions for the groups are highly recommended to improve understanding of the questions asked and the expected answers.


3.1. The area-based approach


3.1.1 Definition

The area-based approach consists in defining a development policy starting from the current situation, strengths and weaknesses particular to an area. Under LEADER, this area is a rural territorial unit that has a certain homogeneity, is characterised by an internal social cohesion, shares a common history and tradition, and experiences a common feeling of identity. Its size can vary significantly according to context (for example, between low and high density areas) and the strategy adopted for development. The delineated area need not coincide with an existing administrative unit. The LEADER area has been indicatively defined in the Notice to Member States as an area of less than 100,000 inhabitants.


3.1.2 Motivation and expected results

The rationale behind the area-based approach is linked to the new importance given to the role of endogenous resources (rather than exogenous resources) in the promotion of sustainable development. Rural areas are different from each other: every area has its own unique and typical mix of resources which may be more effectively utilised by local players and institutions. These are best placed to know the strengths and weaknesses of the area and to have an overview of its potential. Endogenous resources may be physical, environmental, cultural, human, economic and financial, institutional and administrative. The design of development policies at the local level may turn out to be more effective and manageable as it allows for the mobilisation of these resources.

The area-based approach:

  • adds value and mobilises previously underestimated endogenous or typical resources;

  • offers better perspectives for sustainable development than policies which apply undifferentiated measures to all disadvantaged rural areas;

  • gives an overview of the area.


3.1.3 Main questions

a) the initial situation

  • Explain how the LEADER area was initially defined (criteria used, arguments for enlarging or reducing it, consideration given to the existence of endogenous resources in its delineation, correspondence or not with an administrative unit).

  • Evaluate the appropriateness of such delineation, size, social cohesion and cultural identity, critical mass of activities, rural character).

  • Was the initial delineation of the area appropriate? Why?

b) the processes

  • Did the area-based approach give a new or more effective added value to previously underestimated endogenous resources? Which ones?

c) the results and impact

The key issue here is to evaluate the potential of the area, and the strengths and weaknesses of the local resources which should have been identified in the initial area analysis. The concept of "critical mass" is useful: it refers to the capacity of the LEADER area to generate a development process that mobilises its own resources. However, what was considered a critical factor for development at one time may not necessarily remain so and vice- versa.

  • Did the area succeed in generating a development based on its own resources?

  • Were the rural innovation programme and the expected actions relevant for the area?

  • Did the programme provide an overview?

  • Did the actions increase the sense of belonging to the area and identity of the population? Was the feeling of collective responsibility vis--vis the area reinforced?

d) the lessons

  • Should the area's delineation be modified? Why?


[7] Project leader: Person or organisation (public or
private) seeking and eventually obtaining assistance
for a given project.

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