[ Index ]
Assessing the added value of the LEADER approach
Questions and evaluation issues for each specific feature
In this chapter, each specific feature will be analysed following a
- 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
- the description of the processes that were activated by its
- 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
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 . 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
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
- 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
- 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-
- Did the area succeed in generating a development based on its
- 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-à-vis the area reinforced?
d) the lessons
- Should the area's delineation be modified? Why?
Project leader: Person or organisation (public or
private) seeking and eventually obtaining assistance
for a given project.