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April 8th, 2016
Energy • Finance

Using Rapid Results management methods in Madagascar

In 2004, after two cyclones ravaged the island, Madagascar needed to bolster its depleted stocks of rice, its staple food. It looked to the Rapid Results project management methodology, which focused on clear goals and well-defined results over a short period of time. After a successful pilot, the methods were applied to rice production throughout the country and then to initiatives across government from registering births to collecting taxes.

The initiative

The country needed to increase stocks of rice, so the president, Marc Ravalomanana, “instructed his chief of staff, Henri Roger Ranaivoson, to take steps to augment the production and import of rice”. [2] Ranaivoson looked to his contacts at the World Bank and “approached Guenter Heidenhof, team leader of the World Bank's Governance and Institutional Development Project”. [3] Heidenhof suggested a project management approach called Rapid Results, which had proved capable of overcoming “some of the obstacles often encountered in public sector management reforms”. [4]

In late 2004, the government set the parameters for a pilot project to take place in four of Madagascar's 22 regions, with the objective of increasing rice production. If the pilot were to show promising results, Rapid Results would be rolled out across the country for increasing rice production and for other government initiatives.

The challenge

In 2004, the island of Madagascar suffered two major cyclones, Cyclone Elita and Cyclone Gafila. Together, they “affected nearly a third of Madagascar's rice-producing fields and wiped out an estimated 10% of national production”. [1] This was a major problem, given the importance of rice to the nation's nutrition: “Rice is the national staple food - if a Malgache does not eat it three times a day, ‘il est malheuruex'”.

Madagascar could not import the necessary quantity of rice as the global rice price was rising and the exchange rate for Madagascar's currency was falling. Another solution needed to be found.

The public impact

The rice production element of Rapid Results was a success. “Regions that implemented Rapid Results increased average rice yields steadily from 3.75 tons per hectare in 2006 to 5.8 tons in 2009, compared with national average yields of 2.5 to 3 tons per hectare from 2005 to 2009.” [5]

This led to a widening of scope of Rapid Results. “The Rapid Results Initiative is currently in its third phase, during which it will be implemented in 21 regions of the country (out of 22).” [6]

A similar level of success was demonstrated in other areas, for example:

  • Tax collection - “regions that implemented Rapid Results collected 64% of expected taxes in 2007 and 88% in 2008, compared with national averages of 45% and 50% for the same years”. [7]
  • Birth registration - "The joint project between the Ministry of Interior and UNICEF to issue birth certificates through Rapid Results projects achieved 67% of its target in 2007 and 75% in 2008, or 64,285 and 312,436 births registered, respectively.” [8]

After a hiatus caused by a change of government, a further review of progress was conducted in 2015. “On December 14 and 17, 2015, Madagascar government held its final review of the second cycle of the Rapid Results Initiatives (RRI) ... For this 2nd cycle, eighty-two (82) RRIs have been prioritized and implemented within ministries with high achievement ratings of 87.5%.” [9] The African Development Bank is currently playing an important part in the initiative.

Stakeholder engagement

There was strong internal as well as external stakeholder support for the Rapid Results initiative. It was conceived by the president's chief of staff with help from the World Bank. Other officials from the agriculture, customs, transport and other sectors were also brought in and contributed to discussions about the rice production pilot. During this initial phase, the principal adviser was Schaffer Consulting, a private company which had developed the Rapid Results methodology.

The number of internal stakeholders increased as the rice pilot was expanded to all but one region of the country, and then as it was introduced in many other departments of government.

Political commitment

The Rapid Results initiative was supported by the president and led by his chief of staff and received strong political support from 2004 to 2009. “Although a 2009 coup d'état cut off efforts to institutionalise Rapid Results, a cadre of civil servants and partnering [NGOs] continued to use elements of the approach into 2012.” [10]

The initiative has been resumed and appears to have the support of the current government: “under the leadership of President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, the Madagascar government pledged its commitment to adopting Results Based Management as a strategy to implement its country national development plan.” [11]

Public confidence

President Ravalomanana took office in 2002 with an agenda based on "rapid and sustainable development". He had a large popular victory (his party, Tiako I Madagasikara) won by a landslide in the 2002 elections, winning 103 of the 160 parliamentary seats. However, there is no specific evidence available about the Rapid Results initiative.

Clarity of objectives

The objectives of the pilot project were clearly stated: to increase rice production in the four regions in which it was piloted. The outcome was measurable: e.g., “in Boeny region ... rice production increased from 2.5 tons per hectare to 4 tons”. [12] The provisional objectives were to roll the Rapid Results initiative throughout all the rice-producing regions and thereafter to other, relevant areas of government.

Strength of evidence

Rapid Results, the programme led Ranaivoson to increase the rice production was begun as a pilot programme in 4 regions of the country, which was then extended to 21 regions.

The management consulting firm, “Schaffer Consulting (formerly Robert H. Schaffer and Associates), … had developed the [Rapid Results] approach for private sector companies and had proposed its use in the public sector as well”. [13] They had been involved in successful World Bank projects and were recommended by the Bank for the rice production programme.

One of the Schaffer consultants worked with Ranaivoson: “via video conference, the participants spoke with Schaffer consultant Nadim Matta about the rice crisis and set the parameters for a pilot project to increase rice production.” [14] Another consultant, who had introduced Rapid Results techniques in Nicaragua, Eritrea and Sierra Leone, provided technical advice.


The involvement of the originating consultancy in the project made the Rapid Results initiative logistically feasible. It seemed to the chief of staff an appropriate response to Madagascar’s rice-growing problem. “Ranaivoson was intrigued by the idea. The programme emphasised concrete goals and tightly-defined results within a short timeframe. In place of collective responsibility, the strategy assigned specific tasks to individuals. Sharp focus, fast implementation and tangible progress took the place of ponderous planning and multiyear timelines.” [15]


There was a clear management structure, with a steering committee at its head. "To oversee the Rapid Results project on the central and local levels, officials involved in the pilot programme set up an interministerial steering committee. Ranaivoson led the committee initially; later, the president's director of good governance, Henri Rabesahala, took charge … Solohery Rakotovao, economic adviser to the deputy prime minister and general coordinator of the World Bank's governance project, served as secretary-general of the committee." [16]

The committee hired a local consultant who had previously assisted the World Bank, the UN Development Programme, the EU and the US government, to work with the main Schaffer consultant. They were assisted by a support unit, which “consisted of four staff officials: one each in charge of training, monitoring and evaluation, finance, and general administration”. [17] The methodology included “Rapid Results management tools, [which] were intended to help government officials maximize results with the resources already available to them.” [18]


Effective measurement functions are incorporated in the delivery. The local consultant, Benjamina Randrianarivelo, was responsible for monitoring the progress and outcome of every project. Moreover, the impact of the initiative was measured and also compared to the regions where the initiative was not implemented. For example, regions that implemented Rapid Results increased average rice yields steadily from 3.75 tons per hectare in 2006 to 5.8 tons in 2009, compared with national average yields of 2.5 to 3 tons per hectare from 2005 to 2009.


The President's office played a vital role in planning, implementing and promoting the initiative. “From 2005 to 2009, the role of the president's office in promoting the application of Rapid Results was one of the drivers of the method's adoption in Madagascar. The degree of top-level support, according to Malagasy consultant Benjamina Randrianarivelo, was key to the programme's success. ‘The commitment from the top level gave us leverage,' he said.” [19]

The World Bank provided support during the design phase, along with other partners. The use of the Rapid Results methodology was overseen by Schaffer consulting.

The steering committee provided the necessary coordination across the project. “While the steering committee provided guidance and monitored progress in the field, coaches worked with civil servants and elected officials to move Rapid Results projects forward on the central and local levels."  [20] For example, “in Boeny region ... local government officials, rice producers and farmers associations collaborated to increase the area under cultivation, spread more than a thousand tons of fertilizer, and introduce new farming equipment”. [21]

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