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    Interviews with IFAD Country Program Managers highlight the context of rural poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean

    Paolo Silveri is IFAD's Country Program Manager for Argentina. In this interview, he takes us to Argentina to learn about policy dialogue, the context of rural poverty in this G20 nation and how IFAD is funding new opportunities and innovative approaches for family farmers.


    IFAD's Country Program Manager for Brazil, Iván Cossio, highlights the Brazilian experience. Along the way, we learn more about the specific context of rural poverty in this emerging economy, and how investment in social equity and citizenship can help poor rural people to overcome poverty. We also learn about innovative IFAD-funded projects designed to tackle issues of climate change, knowledge management, market access and more.


    Colombia is a country with vast opportunities and myriad challenges. In this interview with IFAD's Country Program Manager for Colombia, Roberto Haudry, we learn how tapping rural talents, investing in productive resources and citizenship, and ensuring long-term rural development and risk management can work toward peace and sustainable poverty reduction.


    Take a look at the political, social and economic context that frames rural poverty in Ecuador in this interview with IFAD's Country Program Manager for Ecuador, Francisco Pichón.  There's some interesting insights on long-term solutions through IFAD funding.


    Joaquin Lozano is IFAD's Country Program Manager for Guatemala. In this interview, he underlines the innovations in private-public partnerships in Guatemala, which have allowed family farmers to access some of the world's largest markets.


    Esther Kasalu-Coffin, IFAD's Country Program Manager for Guyana, highlights IFAD's country program for Guyana, giving in-depth analysis of how IFAD funding is reaching marginalized groups, targeting interventions and working to provide lasting solutions to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty.


    In this incisive interview, IFAD Country Program Manager Marco Camagni looks at the context of rural poverty in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country, highlighting risk mitigation, the role of women, environmental stewardship and how IFAD funding is working to create new opportunities.


    In this video IFAD Country Program Manager for Nicaragua, Ladislao Rubio,  shows us how innovations in funding for rural micro-enterprise development are making a difference in Nicaragua.


    Discover the context of rural poverty in Paraguay - and the way out - with this engaging interview with Paolo Silveri, IFAD Country Program Manager for Paraguay. Along the way, you'll learn how strengthening value chains, protecting the environment and improving market access can help poor rural people in Paraguay to overcome poverty.


    In this in-depth interview, IFAD's Country Program Manager for Peru, Roberto Haudry, looks at the various mechanisms for social inclusion, citizenship and rural poverty reduction in the country, also giving an overview of IFAD's funding and how new innovative methods can work to ending rural poverty.


    Francisco Pichón, IFAD's Country Program Manager for Venezuela, highlights the political context of rural poverty reduction in Venezuela, looking at IFAD's funding portfolio, new initiatives to empower marginalized groups and the specific challenges for sustainable poverty reduction in Venezuela.


    Jesus Quintana is the Environment and Climate Specialist for IFAD's Latin America and the Caribbean Division. In this incisive interview, Jesus underlines the challenges facing the region, looking toward innovative solutions and ways in which IFAD is tackling climate change and environmental issues as part of its ongoing strategy to enable poor rural people to overcome poverty.

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    By Elwyn Grainger-Jones

    Here’s a striking juxtaposition - I spent last week with government officials from the poorest countries in the world at the Climate Investment Funds meeting in Istanbul discussing their preparedness for more storms, droughts, floods, sea level rise, and temperature extremes that climate change will bring.

    At the same time, the eastern seaboard of the United States was being brought to a standstill by ’superstorm’ Sandy.  And while this highlights how we are all in this climate change thing together, it also demonstrates how different countries and communities across the world are at vastly different levels of preparedness for climate change.

    Measuring and benchmarking preparedness for climate change is – as we discussed in Istanbul – a real headache.  But it is absolutely essential if we are to secure scarce public and private investment for climate preparedness, adaptation and resilience-building.  
    There are, however, five main measurement challenges.
    First is the unpredictability of local climate impacts.  Knowledge is amassing quickly on what climate change will mean across the world, and climate models are giving better and better global projections. Yet, the uncertainty of predicting localized climate impacts remains pretty high.
    For example, when calculating changes in rainfall for the Greater Mekong sub-region, some models show average increases in rainfall while others show average reductions. This makes estimates of the threat level to people and systems right now more of a probabilistic, rather than exact, exercise.
    Second, we live in complex systems, full of interconnections.   Measuring whether a road can withstand a storm surge is one thing, but how about whether a whole city can cope with this – with all its co-dependencies such as integrated transit systems?
    Or how about smallholder farmers who are facing floods because logging has taken place upstream? The financial crisis has galvanized more attention and attempts to benchmark systemic financial risk – the same needs to happen for climate risk.
    Our third challenge is the sheer diversity of responses needed.  Climate resilience can and should involve any number of things.  For poor rural communities, the focus of IFAD’s work, it can mean a road that isn’t washed away during the monsoon season, or better representation in water user groups, or access to public health services – the list is long.
    The breadth of responses required makes aggregating impacts a bit like adding apples to oranges.  But measurement approaches should not discourage this diversity – diverse systems such as societies, communities, and farming systems are typically more resilient to climate change.
    A problem with the original Green Revolution in agriculture was that it often encouraged a standardized approach to farming rather than tailoring it to the vastly different circumstances at the local level
    Fourth, describing climate resilience in numbers requires some ingenuity. Many aspects of resilience are not easily quantifiable, but we need numbers to compare and communicate.  How to quantify whether women are given equal access to men in getting cropping advice or disaster relief from their governments?
    Statisticians have been ingenious in finding a way to put most things in numbers, and the same is happening with climate resilience, such as through satellite-monitoring that picks up aspects of landscape resilience. But to have a complete picture these hard numbers need to be combined with other sets of data, such as household surveys and personal stories.
    Our final challenge is timing.  Climate change will continue to magnify both ‘big events’ such as Sandy, as well as low-intensity but high-frequency events, such as seasonal floods or dry spells. The problem is, we can only really know if people are becoming more resilient if we have a trend long enough to measure.
    If we plan for, say, 4-degree Celsius increases in average global temperature, we will only really know if the adaptation efforts are successful when we start reaching these temperatures.  So, we must measure some of the intermediate stepping stones needed that we think will build climate resilience.
    Most monitoring systems end up in part, relying on input measurements – for example, the number of people receiving information from a new weather information system as a proxy for whether this will actually protect them from storms.
    An old management adage says that, “You can’t manage it if you can’t measure it”.  A big effort is needed to improve how we measure climate resilience so that – alongside urgent efforts to curb emissions – we are as ready as we can be for what’s coming.

    Originally posted on AlertNet

    Elwyn Grainger-Jones is director of the Environment and Climate Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), where he is leading the design of the UN agency’s new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme.

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    Learning Route, Managing Forests, Sustaining Lives, Improving Livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Groups in the Mekong Region

    by the AIPP-PROCASUR Team

    Mekong Region government representatives and ethnic group leaders gathered today at UN House in Vientiane to attend an Expert Panel on Lao PDR experience on Community Forest Management that officially opened the Learning Route. The panel, hosted by IFAD, explored the existing linkages among the situation of Lao’s ethnic groups, new income-generating activities based on natural resources, land titling and national forestry policies.

    The Learning Route aims to disseminate the best practices and innovations in community-based Natural Resource Management carried out by ethnic groups of Lao PDR and Northern Thailand in order to promote their scaling-up at larger scale in the Mekong Region.At the same time, theRoute intends to increase awareness on the role of indigenous peoples and ethnic groups in the sustainable management of forest resources and promote their inclusion in policy making processes at national and regional level.With this purpose 25 Government officials and community representatives from Cambodia, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Thailand will be travelling during one week to learn directly from the host communities and their supporting organizations.

    Ms Stefania Dina from IFAD and Mr Samlan Pasentkhamla,
    Department of Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry at the opening of the Panel
    “The Learning Route is one of the best ways to scale-up innovations, since when people are together they can best share and strengthen their networks” Ms Stefania Dina, CPM for Lao PDR, pointed out. “The topic of this Learning Route is particularly relevant for participants from the Mekong region and of special interest for Lao PDR where the Forestry Law is currently under the process of revision”.

    The current Forest Law revision, that should be finalised in June 2013, has as the main objective to ensure sustainability and avoid deforestation and degradation of existing forest areas while, at the same time, to increase forestry to cover 70% by 2020, Ms Unna Chokkalingam from Forest Carbon Asia explained. This has clear implication for forest communities. With 49 recognized ethnic groups, Lao PDR is in fact the most ethnically diverse country of mainland in Southern Asia; many of these communities live in forest areas and base their livelihoods on forest resources. In Lao PDR, the forest land comprises about the 70% of the land, divided into 3 main state-management types: productive forest areas, protection forest area and conservation areas. These areas also comprise other management areas such as village forest; however, there is still confusion regarding land classification and land allocation responsibility.  In this sense, local stakeholders stress the need to increase local people responsibility in the management and protection of forest. To do that, the sharing of experiences at ground level can open-up opportunities for dissemination of good practices. “The final aim is to be able to scale-up innovations in the Mekong region” Stefania Dina concluded “and every one of you can be a champion in doing this after the Learning Route”.

    More information on the ongoing Learning Route on:

    Participants of the Panel

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    The Finance for Enterprise Development and Employment Creation Project (FEDEC) has been working since 2007 to contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction in Bangladesh. Thereby it focussed on providing microfinance services to micro-entrepreneurs and value chain development services to improve access to markets and build the capacity of small businesses.

    During the recent supervision mission, we have met with project staff, NGOs and beneficiaries and have seen many good examples for value chain development in Bangladesh. And while certainly all of them deserve to be shared, below are two examples: Cow rearing and prawn cultivation (the latter project has already successfully been replicated by a different NGO in another region and setting!):

    Cow rearing value chain development

    With the support of FEDEC, GRAMAUS has started the cow rearing value chain development project in March 2012. Currently about 300 households are participating in two upazillas (Mymensingh and Fulbaria). The project aims at tackling the insufficient level of knowledge and skills regarding cow rearing, raising awareness and practice of artificial insemination and increasing the low selling price of milk at the farmers’ end. As a result, GRAMAUS has developed a project that supports a complete value chain:

    Farmers at milk collection point
    1. Cow rearing/milk production

    GRAMAUS has put in place a veterinary service that offers vaccinations, testing and artificial insemination for cattle. The project’s veterinary visits up to 30 farmers every day and is furthermore available over his cell phone for any questions or concerns the farmers might have. Currently, vaccination and testing is free of charge for the farmers as they are covered by the project. After two years –when the project is completed – GRAMAUS plans to charge a minimum fee to cover their expenses and ensure the sustainability of their intervention, explains Md Abdul Khaleque, Executive Director at GRAMAUS.

    In trainings, farmers (husband and wife) learn how to diagnose diseases and to track the medical treatment of their cattle in a booklet provided by the project. Furthermore, the farmers are now also keeping record of costs and benefits. Other elements of the training included improvement measurements for cowshed and fodder. Already, these measures have improved cattle health and increased the milk production on an average of two litres of milk per cow.

    The milk collection team
    2. Milk collection

    Due to the lack of a milk processing plant, farmers had to sell their milk on the market at an unstable and often very low price. In addition, they had to travel several kilometres every day to the market which meant valuable time away from their farm.

    The project established a milk collection service. At several milk collection points, a milk collector now buys the milk from the farmers at a guaranteed price of BDT 38 per litre (market price fluctuates between BDT 20 and 45).


    The milk collector is a microentrepreneur, supported by the project, who every morning, together with his two employees, tests and collects the milk and gathers the milk at his central cooling station. Currently they are collecting a 100 litres per day and are planning to expand. At 400 litres they will start to make a profit.

    3. Milk processing

    In the afternoon, the milk is transported to a local cheese factory that sells its cream cheese to stores in Dhaka. Earlier, the owner solely bought his milk from a collection point 200 km away, as there was no local collection. According to GRAMAUS, the owner is interested in buying more milk locally and plans to extend his enterprise – taking a ME loan from GRAMAUS.

    In Comilla, farmers have been cultivating fish in their floodplains for several years now.  But cleaning out the plains in November/December in order to prepare for paddy cultivation in the next season came with a low price due to oversupply to the market, resulting in very little profit for the farmers. Two years ago, the Centre for Community Development Assistance (CCDA), therefore started to introduced fresh water prawns as a new species to be grown together with traditional fish species. The advantage of prawns is that, while being a high value product, they come with very little production costs. In fact, farmers only have to cover the costs for the juvenile as seeds. Additional fodder for the prawns is not necessary.

    Prawn cultivation in floodplains

    In the beginning, it was difficult to convince the farmers. Starting with an original set of 20 farmers, CCDA trained a total of 160 farmers on mixed fish-prawn cultivation, on water treatment, selected farmers to establish and run nurseries and established  demonstration ponds over a period of two years. At the end of this first phase, the farmers had harvested a total of 15,000 kg prawns, in addition to the traditional fish species, resulting in a net profit of Taka 7.5 million for the farmers, about BDT 47000 per farmer.

    Prawn harvesting in Comilla
    Costs and benefits are shared in proportion to land owned and investments made by each farmer under a community-managed system.  The farmers of adjoining fields in a flood plain have formed an association to manage the production. “We also meet to discuss technical issues,” said Mr Salunddia, who was selected as association head by the 22 owners of the floodplain,  “such as health condition of our fish and how we will go about marketing our produce.” The association also coordinates the marketing activities. Most of the prawns are sold at the local market, some are transported to Chittagong for the export market. Through online forums, such as sellbazar and robibazar, where farmers upload a picture of their prawns and connect with new buyers. To ensure the quality during the transport, CCDA plans to provide the farmers with training on grading and packaging.

    By generating jobs, for example in the fishing, nursery and marketing actvities, prawn cultivation also benefits households without any land in flood plains. Since the farmers now control and treat the water quality and stopped using pesticides, the production of traditional fish species went up as well, improving nutrition of the local community. Given the successful test-phase, CCDA decided to scale-up the project in a second phase. The project will now be implemented in two districts (Comilla and Brahmanbaria), involving about 400 beneficiaries.

    Hatchery construction site
    After seeing the profit made, farmers are very interested in prawn cultivation. So interested that the demand for post larvae (PL)/juveniles could not be met, told M. A. Samad, Executive Director of CCDA. Up until today, the PL had to be bought from a hatchery 300km away. In addition to the high mortality rate during transport, the supply was limited. This is, why CCDA, with the support of PKSF, has started to build its own hatchery in Daudkandi, Comilla, that it will run as a social entreprise. “With this hatchery, we will be able to provide our project participants with 4 million PL per year”, said Mr Samad. “We are also establishing 40 additional nurseries in both districts. The hatchery will enable us to not only provide our participants with better PL, but also at a lower price.”

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    ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – Addis Ababa means ‘New Flower’ in Amharic, Ethiopia’s ancient national language, and the name still seems apt despite the capital’s 21st century sprawl. New, modern buildings are under construction throughout the city, while a youthful populace fills its streets and squares. And the flower of the country’s rich culture is constantly in bloom here, from the hospitality of traditional tea ceremonies to the warm greetings of friends and strangers alike.

    Children perform for IFAD workshop participants on a field
    visit to Ethiopia’s Fentale District. © IFAD/Mark Forrest
    Beyond the fringes of Addis and a few other cities, however, Ethiopia as a whole is predominantly rural. So is the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, where more than two-thirds of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, mainly as small-scale farmers and livestock herders. That proportion may decline as young rural migrants flock to urban centres in search of opportunities they can’t find at home. Nevertheless, smallholder agriculture remains central to the lives of most people on the continent.

    Which leads to one of the biggest questions facing Africa today: To ensure their own food security and to feed a rapidly growing population – including the inhabitants of Addis and other teeming cities – how can its farmers sustainably boost their productivity in the years ahead?

    Proven approaches
    With this question in mind, coordinators from IFAD-supported projects in Ethiopia and 16 other countries in East and Southern Africa gathered in Addis this week for their annual regional workshop. The 200-plus participants convened to exchange practical knowledge and experiences. Hosted by IFAD’s country office and the Government of Ethiopia, they spent four days taking a clear-eyed look at lessons learned from working with smallholders at the grass roots.

    Regional workshop participants convene in Addis Ababa.
    © IFAD/Mark Forrest
    The workshop’s main goal was to identify and share proven development approaches that can reduce rural poverty over the long term. By bringing these approaches to scale, IFAD and its partners – beginning with farmers themselves – can plant the seeds of lasting change. As United Nations Resident Coordinator in Ethiopia Eugene Owusu said in a welcoming statement to the participants, Africa has enough untapped land and natural resources “to feed not only itself but the whole world.”

    But the discussions in Addis also confirmed that the rural poor in East and Southern still face great obstacles. Like Ethiopia itself, which is home to scores of distinct ethnic groups and languages, the region is extremely heterogeneous. It includes several of the fastest growing economies in the world, along with some of sub-Saharan Africa’s poorest and most fragile states. Rising food prices and underdeveloped markets, as well as inadequate roads and irrigation systems, pose serious challenges for smallholder households.

    ‘On the right track’
    IFAD Regional Economist Geoffrey Livingston and Regional Director Périn Saint Ange acknowledged these and other challenges in their comments at the Addis workshop. Yet both speakers found solid grounds for optimism.

    IFAD Regional Director Périn Saint Ange
    addresses workshop in Addis Ababa.
    © IFAD/Mark Forrest
    “The continent is on the right track,” Livingston said, citing strong overall economic growth and an increase in foreign direct investment in Africa. He noted that IFAD’s loan portfolio supports 55 ongoing programmes and projects in East and Southern Africa, with an average loan size of US$24 million. And for every dollar in IFAD investment, governments and other donors contribute 1.6 dollars in cofinancing. With this level of commitment, combined with effective project management, Livingston suggested, IFAD can make a real difference. “There are a lot of people depending on all of us,” he said.

    Saint Ange pointed to reforms in policy and governance that have begun to ease trade barriers in the region. At the local level, he said, poor rural people – and particularly women and youth – have gained a greater voice in making decisions about their futures. He went on to remind participants that IFAD’s regional portfolio, which now stands at US$1.3 billion, will grow to US$1.5 billion by 2015.

    In addition, Saint Ange said, up to US$100 million in grant funding will be available for innovative projects addressing the impact of climate change under IFAD’s new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme.

    “Agriculture has the greatest potential for transforming the lives of the rural poor,” he concluded.

    Beyond business as usual
    Still, there was a widely shared recognition in Addis that IFAD-supported operations must step up their efforts and results in order to achieve such a transformation. The message was clear: Overcoming regional challenges and meeting IFAD’s ambitious targets for rural poverty reduction will mean reaching well beyond business as usual.

    Shunda Wata, chairperson of a rural women's
    credit cooperative visited by workshop
    participants in Oromia, Ethiopia.
    © IFAD/Timothy Ledwith
    Saint Ange called upon project coordinators and IFAD staff in East and Southern Africa to build on successes and learn from failures by more systematically evaluating the impact of their operations. Moreover, he said, IFAD’s regional strategy requires intensified work on developing off-farm employment and rural enterprises – and on building the capacity of communities and local institutions to guide their own progress.

    “We are good at this, but we can do more and better,” Saint Ange said. “We are encouraged by the success that we are having on the ground. It is not enough, but the glass is filling quickly.”

    Moving forward
    There was no shortage of ideas in Addis about how to do more. From sessions on more rigorous project design and analysis to debates about linking agricultural research directly to ongoing projects, the participants maintained a spirited dialogue throughout the workshop.

    And that spirit extended from the meeting rooms to the field, via a series of visits to projects in the areas around Addis. The visits provided a first-hand look at rural finance, irrigation and pastoral community development projects supported by IFAD in Ethiopia, as well as direct meetings with the people served and empowered by these initiatives.

    “In Africa, the spirit of sharing is homegrown,” IFAD’s Ethiopia Country Director, Robson Mutandi, said as the workshop wrapped up yesterday. “We can never move forward if we are not open about our programmes.” Mutandi thanked everyone in attendance for engaging in an open discussion – in effect, for letting 100 flowers bloom in the ‘New Flower’ of Africa. “Let’s hope that together,” he said, “we can make this big challenge of moving rural people out of poverty a success.”

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    Communal Land Titling for sustainable bamboo forestry management in Lao PDR

    Report from the Learning Route: Managing Forests, Sustaining Lives, Improving Livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Groups in the Mekong Region

    by the AIPP-PROCASUR Team

    On the 13th and 14th of November Learning Route participants visited the communities of Napor and Huayhang in Sangthong district (Vientiane prefecture) to learn from villagers’ good practices in land use planning and bamboo forestry management.  This is the first experience of Communal Land Titles claims and official recognition to communities in Lao PDR: five villages of Ban Xor cluster had their communal land titles approved in 2011 and issued this year.

    The process is the result of the good cooperation among villagers, the district government of Sangthong and the NGO GDA, who provided technical assistance to communities in carrying out the survey of forest resources and the definition of land boundaries. Sangthong Local Government considers communal land titling as an effective way to protect the environment and bamboo resources. Today, the experience of Sangthong district is becoming a reference for other districts in Laos for the promotion of sustainable management of communal forest resources. Furthermore, the production of bamboo furniture and handicrafts has become an important source of income for food-insecure households, contributing to improve local livelihoods while at the same time preserving the natural environment.

    In Lao PDR, experiences of communal land tenure have recently emerged through the form of delegated management of specific common natural resources, such as land or forest. In this case, the State maintains ownership of the resources and delegates management to local groups for a specific period of time. In the other Asian countries, such as Cambodia and the Philippines, community management activities have demonstrated to be effective to help balancing the ecological system, enhance food security and improve communities’ income-generating activities and access to market for poor households. 

    In Lao PDR, the development of community land titles is part of objectives of the Lao’s 5-year National Socio-Economic Development Plan which aims to issue 1.5 million title deeds over the period 2011-2015. However, so far, forest land allocation has largely been limited to leases and concessions for plantation development by private enterprises. Experiences as the one in Sangthong, demonstrates the potential of building upon local communities’ knowledge and skills to reduce poverty while protecting the natural environment.

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    Shifting cultivation as a self-sufficient system. Learning from Karen people in Thailand

    Report from the Learning Route: Managing Forests, Sustaining Lives, Improving Livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Groups in the Mekong Region

    by the AIPP-PROCASUR Team

    Everything depends on us. It’s not about borrowing somebody else’s nose to breath”, is the answer of Huay Hin Lad Nai community’s chief when we ask about self-reliance.  Huay Hin Lad Nai is a Karen village located in a hilly forest between the National Forest Reservation Area and the Khun Jae National Park of Chiang Rai province, Northern Thailand. On the 17thof November, escaping from the traffic jam of Chiang Mai city, 26 people took the Route of the forest to improve their Learning.

    The first thing that called Learning Route’ participants attention was the peace of the place and the richness of its natural resources. Through the years, Huay Hin Lad Nai has become a model of self-sufficiency for other indigenous and local communities in the country. Their sustainable and self-sufficient system based on shifting cultivation, a long-term NRM practice carried out by many indigenous peoples worldwide, demonstrated to be crucial to ensure food security and to sustain indigenous culture. Being deeply embedded into the cultural context, in fact, traditional natural resource management practices have guaranteed the protection and transmission of the local spiritual and cultural patrimony over centuries. In the course of the last years, Huay Hin Lad Nai has become a “learning centre” for those people that want to improve knowledge and skills in the sustainable management of forest resources. As its representatives affirm “we offer sustainable solutions for self-sufficient people”.

    In Thai, the Karen system of shifting cultivation is called “Rai Mun Wian” (“rotating upland fields”). The Rai Mun Wian farming system focuses on upland rice cultivation combined with a multiple vegetable cropping system that ensures high biodiversity within the agricultural and fallow fields. Traditionally, the Karen shifting cultivation cycle consists of 1-2 years of cultivation, and swidden plots are circulated between different land parcels after long fallow periods. In Huay Hin Lad Nai, during one cycle, villages can collect up to 60 different varieties of crops; these, together with the 4 varies of sticky rice and the 2 of paddy rice they planted ensure food security for the whole year. Along with rice and crops, the community also produces honey and wild tea, whose sell constitute the main source of income for the families. The 10% of the families’ incomes are then invested into a community fund.

    The intimate connection between environmental, spiritual and cultural practices is key for sustainability and the community very committed to preserve their environment as well as their traditional knowledge”, Learning Route participants stressed out during the field visit. Indeed, the active participation of the community in the forestry management, the strong attachment to the territory and the inter-generational transmission of indigenous knowledge between elders and youth are among the main lessons we have learned from Huay Hin Lad Nai people.

    They share a common vision and collaborate together in such a way to make this vision tangible and real in the everyday life.  To those that recommend Huay Hin Lad Nai people to take more advantage from their natural resources in order to increase their incomes and open up to new markets, or to improve the educational system in the community, they frankly reply: “in terms of self-reliance we have enough, we can secure our food for the whole year and the whole community. In terms of education, in our perspective formal education is not necessary linked to the sustainment of our livelihoods.Degree in formal education does not necessarily equip one with the capacity to live in harmony in a community or address the issue of livelihood security. Our major objective is to build upon the new generations, though our traditional knowledge and livelihoods”.

    After spending a day walking in the forest and appreciating the excellent cuisine, we are all convinced that Huay Hin Lad Nai people are walking the right trek for self-development.

    The Route is coming to an end soon, so it´s already time for all to share our innovation plans.

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    By José Graziano da Silva and Kanayo F. Nwanze*

    Recent decades have witnessed remarkable rates of growth for many developing countries. That is good news, as high growth rates of GDP per capita are a key factor in reducing food insecurity and malnutrition.
    But economic growth alone is no guarantee of success in the fight against poverty, hunger and malnutrition, as the 2012 edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World, recently released by the Rome-based United Nations agencies, shows.

    In order for economic growth to enhance the nutrition of the neediest people, poor women and men must participate in the growth process and its benefits.

    Success stories from all developing regions make one thing clear: investment in agriculture, more than investment in any other sector, can generate economic growth that delivers large benefits to hungry and malnourished poor people. That is because most of them live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

    We have learned that smallholder farmers can be supported to benefit from higher food prices and become part of the solution to reducing price spikes and improving overall food security. Higher prices of agricultural commodities can definitely provide positive incentives for increased investment in agriculture.
    However, better policy responses and improved governance are also needed to address the effects of increased price volatility and of higher food costs for poor people, who spend a large share of their income on food.

    Major climatic events are causing severe damage to agriculture. Until we find the way to make our food system climate-resilient, the danger will remain. Practical solutions that promote sustainable intensification of food production systems, ensure strong involvement of smallholder farmers, increase their access to markets, reduce their exposure to risk, build the resilience of rural communities and preserve natural resources are urgently needed.

    We must also reduce the enormous amount of food lost or wasted throughout the food system -- which has been estimated at around one third of total production.

    There has been progress in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The global number of chronically hungry people has fallen by 130 million since 1990, and the proportion of hungry people has dropped from 18.6 percent in 1990 to 12.5 percent today.

    Still, nearly 870 million people continue to suffer from undernourishment, and the negative health consequences of micronutrient deficiencies continue to affect around two billion people.

    In a world of plenty, childhood malnutrition kills more than 2.5 million children every year, and more than 100 million children under the age of five are underweight, and therefore unable to realize their full socio-economic and human potential. This is morally unacceptable and economically foolish. Good nutrition is key to sustainable economic growth.

    While the world grapples with the burden of undernutrition, we are faced with an increasing trend towards overnutrition. A growing number of people have adopted lifestyles and diets that are conducive to being overweight and related non-communicable diseases, taxing public health systems in many countries.
    Working with national governments and the international community, our organizations are committed to developing better-integrated approaches to food security and nutrition that are both “pro-poor” and “nutrition-sensitive” by promoting positive, sustainable interactions among the agriculture, nutrition and health sectors.

    The world has the knowledge and the means to eliminate all forms of food insecurity and malnutrition. No ambition in achieving this aim is too high, which is why we welcome UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recent “Zero Hunger Challenge”.
    It’s up to all of us to rise to meet it. In the fight against hunger, the ultimate sum of all of our efforts must be zero hunger.

    *The authors are  the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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    By Raúl H. Asensio
    Over the  last two decades, young rural women have experienced many changes: not only in regard to the transformations originated in rural areas, but also due to changes in the gender and generational gaps. The objective of the Nuevas Trenzas program is to study these phenomena that affect young rural women in order to identify what opportunities may be seized and what problems must be solved by means of public policies or private initiatives so that this collective may develop integrally.

    What inequality gaps do young rural women face?
    Young rural women are a collective marked by “intertwined inequalities”, intersecting gaps that generate disadvantageous situations in relation to the others.

    • Gender gap: separates young rural women from rural men belonging to the same generation.

    • Area of residency gap: separates young rural women from their urban contemporaries.
    • Generational gap: separates young rural women from their rural mothers and grandmothers.
    • Poverty gap: within the group of young rural women, it distinguishes those who live in a poor household from those who live in a non-poor household.

    These gaps directly affect young rural women’s “ability to do”. This ability to do may be broken into the following competencies: technical competence (managing the necessary skills to do something), legal competence (existence of a legal framework that allows doing something), and subjective competence (the subject’s capability for perceiving herself with the ability to do something). This, ultimately, affects young rural women’s possibilities of having an autonomous life strategy.

    Which gaps affect young rural women?
    Young rural women (between ages 14 and 35) represent between 9.7 percent and 4 percent of the total population, and between 15.5 percent and 19.1 percent of the analyzed countries’ (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Peru) rural population. In every country where Nuevas Trenzas works, young rural women add up to a total of over 5.6 million.

    Issues that affect young rural women
    • Defeminization of rural areas: data shows that the percentage of women over the total rural population is fewer than 50 percent in almost every country analyzed. In rural areas, social and economic dynamics that expel rural women towards cities prevail, especially in the case of young women, due the persistence of institutions (mostly informal) that make it difficult for women to access key assets, as well as to the prevalence of family strategies with a strong gender bias.
    • Increase of women’s practical competence: this change is most reflected in data regarding human capital, especially in relation to access to education. In rural areas, the gender gap is no longer a problem in terms of basic education. Even if to a lesser extent, the area of residency gap in education has also diminished. Another important aspect is the progress achieved regarding the relationship with the State and other actors of the rural world: we can observe, for example, an increase in the possession of identity documents (in general, it exceeds 90 percent in the studied countries), as well as a closer relationship with the healthcare system (the percentage of birth in healthcare facilities exceeds 60 percent in all countries).
    • Decrease of the geographical gap and intensification of the generational gap: the gaps that determine the situation of young rural women are not static. An example of this is the impact of Information and Communication Technologies over the last few years: there has been a deep penetration of cellular telephones in rural households comprising young women, reaching, in some countries, near 80 percent.
    • The break point: life stories gathered over the course of the program show that there is a breaking moment in the personal trajectories of young rural women, around the ages of 18 and 22. At this point, their lives change radically mostly due to the difficulties rural women face for developing autonomous life strategies. This limitation is caused by two main motives. On one side, we find that in almost every rural space in the continent, institutional frameworks with gender biases prevail. On the other side, it is difficult for them to access professional specialization.
    • Persistence of family strategies with gender bias: interviews and life stories show that the step into couple life is often perceived by young rural women as a traumatic moment: a definitive rupture with their hopes of leading a life different than their mothers’ and grandmothers’. The result is a widespread perception of frustration. Decisions regarding couple life and family formation determine the life of rural women. In this sense, the persistence of very high rates of non-paid domestic work is a key issue.
    • Poverty gap: We observe that in almost every country, the group with lower poverty percentages corresponds to households with women between the ages of 18 and 25. These households present two characteristics: (i) presumably, most of the time, young rural women are the head of the household, and (ii) they comprise women that have been able to take advantage of the past decades’ improvements in education.

    Why is it important to focus in this collective?
    Young rural women can be key actors in rural development processes due to the following reasons:

    • Given their urban experience, their higher education and openness to new forms of communication, young rural women constitute a generation particularly sensitive to discrimination situations, for this reason they are fairly active in promoting their rights. This condition represents an exceptional opportunity to work in programs or initiatives that will help break the social legitimacy of gender discrimination practices that still exist in the rural world.

    • They represent an under-utilized capital not being seized, neither by traditional mechanisms of human capital enhancement that apply in the rural world, nor by development programs.

    • They constitute a group with great potential for building bridges between the rural world and the urban word, given that many Latin American young rural women have “urban experiences” from an early age: they go to school or to work in cities, and adopt in this process many urban patterns, habits, skills and aspirations.

    • They constitute a group with a high potential for innovation. Many of the micro-innovation experiences in the rural world have young rural women as leaders. In the measure that they do not have easy access to key assets for carrying out traditional activities, they must manage to come up with opportunities for generating income in innovative ways.

    Raúl H. Asensio is the Coordinator of the IFAD-supported Nuevas Trenzas Program. Learn more at

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    by Nicolo Berghinz

    “This is just the beginning”: this is the recurrent expression from IFAD members and IFAD-supported participants at the end of a very productive week in terms of partnering, networking and opening new spaces, opportunities and paths aiming at concretely, effectively and efficiently scaling up the best south-south and triangular cooperation practices.

    19-23 November hasn’t been a week like many others. It has been a special week. At the Expo, IFAD was represented by the Strategic Planning Division (Mr Gary Howe, Mr Cheikh Sourang, Mr Edward Heinemann, Mr Nicolo’ Berghinz, Ms Maria Luisa Saponaro), by the Asia Division (Mr Benoit Thierry), by the Policy and Technical Advisory Division (Mr Karan Sehgal) and by the Communication Division (Mrs Sophie De Vos).

    Moreover, we sponsored the participation of several IFAD-related projects, programmes and activities. Among them, representatives from PROCASUR, from the Guangxi Integrated Agriculture Development Project (Mr Weichao Chen - GIADP – eco-farming biogas development), from a Kenyan portable biogas initiative (Mr Dominic Wanjihia); other relevant and possible future partners have also been invited, like Mr Hafeez Rehman From TERI (The Energy Resources Institute).

    IFAD’s relevant contribution began right during day-1, during the High-level opening ceremony, the Leadership roundtable and the launch of major initiatives and partnerships; in particular, that contribution appeared during the Leadership roundtable, where IFAD offered its “knowledge” on the scaling up topic, asked ‘hard questions’ to the audience and opened a constructive and useful reflection/discussion among participants.

    IFAD actively participated during the various sessions and, above all, co-led and co-sponsored (with FAO and UNIDO) Solution Forum 4 on “Energy, climate change and food security” during the third day. Several planning and debriefing meetings in preparation for -and as follow up to- this Forum (and other relevant events) have been organized. The Forum has been structured with 3 successive panels, with a total of 15 participants. The discussion has been extremely rich, dynamic and interactive, with many contributions and questions from the floor. The main focus was on how to scale up successful south-south and triangular cooperation positive experiences. The 3 moderators were:

    • Mr Cheikh Sourang (IFAD) 
    • Ms Hana Mitri Shahin (Executive Director, King Hussein Foundation)
    • H.E. Xia Jingyuan, permanent representative of China to IFAD, FAO and WFP. 
    Among other participants, Mr Ye Anping (China, MoA), Mr Mpoko Bokanga (UNIDO), Mr Asai Makoto (JICA) and Mr Edward Heinemann (IFAD).

    IFAD organized also 3 exhibition-stands where IFAD engagement in SSTC, as well as its best supported practices, have been showcased to the audience, estimated in more than 1,000 global SSTC practitioners (UN agencies, governments, field projects and programmes, NGOs, private sector,etc.). Several side-events meetings (bilateral and multilateral) have been organized and have given concrete fruits.

    The Expo hasn’t just been an Expo. The meetings haven’t just been meetings. IFAD, through its proactive participation, opened new paths for its scaling up engagements through the SSTC tool. New basis for SSTC activities have been built (e.g. cooperation in China and with China), and a strong commitment on following-up the Expo (especially with Forum 4 partners and UNDP) outputs and outcomes has been taken. This is just the beginning.

    IFAD has also been protagonist, during the fourth day, of the High-Level Meeting on “Innovative approaches towards effective development”.

    IFAD’ s contribution to the Expo has been constantly recognized during the week, and this is something that we must be proud of. It is not a case if for next year’s  Expo, as well as for the forthcoming 1st Regional Arab Expo (May-June 2013), UNDP global organizers have explicitly requested for IFAD – during a bilateral side-event - an even more important and crucial role in the organizational phase, directly guiding the strategic content and the inputs of the event (e.g. co-sponsorship of the Arab Expo, co-leadership through participation in the Expo Board of Directors, participation in all meetings, fora, events and side-events through several IFAD representatives, etc.). IFAD welcomed the invitation and the kind request, and will soon have further talks with UNOSSC (in particular with its Cairo regional office) after in-house consultations with involved divisions and colleagues.

    For more information/documentation, please contact us (Mr Sourang, Mr Berghinz, Ms Saponaro) or visit the Expo website or the newly established IFAD webpage on South-South and Triangular Cooperation

    And remember…this is just the beginning.

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    Sbulelo working in her garden 

    By Lynn Kota

    Sbulelo Gamedze is full of smiles as she opens the gate and welcomes us into her beautiful garden. She has never been involved in any form of farming, before she became interested after attending trainings conducted by LUSLM (Lower Usuthu  Sustainable Land Management -GEF) Sustainable Agriculture coordinator Mr NormanMavuso on Permaculture gardening. She started attending the trainings which took place at Madlenya area, beginning in July 2012 and two months down the line she has her own beautiful permaculture garden which has already started to help her feed a family of 6 people.   So far from her garden she has harvested spinach and lettuce which takes a much shorter time to be ready for consumption. Her garden has other vegetables such as beetroot, carrots, garlic, onions and cabbages. Through attending the training she was motivated her to start a garden and what motivated her even more was the thought of saving money because if she had a garden then she won’t have to spend money buying vegetables from the markets.

     “Madlenya area is  faced with a serious issue of  shortage of water so this is the perfect way of growing vegetables because you only water the garden twice a week and your produce is very good and healthy’’ she notes. “The water that we are encouraged to use is ‘grey water’, which is water that we have already used for other purposes in the household, like washing dishes and bathing. We are then taught how to purify this water for re-use in our gardens”, she adds.

    All was not smooth as she faced some challenges in establishing her garden ”I didn't have all the necessary garden tools to start and maintain a garden but during the trainings we were encouraged to use any available tools around the house, I didn't have a fork so I used a hoe instead, I also didn't have a watering can so I used a bucket to water my garden.  For preparing liquid manure, I used an old drum, which had been lying around in the yard”.
    She continues to explain more of her challenges to us. When starting her garden she didn't put enough mulch when making the seedbed and this has resulted on her garden having too much weed.  As she lifts one of the leaves of the spinach you notice some whitish powdery stuff which she says appeared after the heavy rains we had a few weeks ago, Mr  Vusi Dlamini who is one of the LUSLM technical coordinators suspected that the spinach is infected with blight or mildew. He then encouraged her to use pesticides spray which she can actually make on her own with the aid of notes she received during the trainings.  These are natural pesticides made from a variety of plants that are known to repel pests.

    She also shares with us that she recently attended a food processing training which was  facilitated by Mr Mavuso from LUSLIM )LUSIP-GEF) and the home economics officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Shabalala from the Ministry of Agriculture. At this workshop, she learnt a lot about different healthy ways of cooking her produce. From the training she picked a few new recipes which her family enjoys a lot. Through the training she also learnt how to preserve the food through bottling, for use at a later time when the particular vegetable is not available.

    Gamedze has great plans for the future of her garden. She hopes to extend it to a larger scale for commercialization. She says this won’t be too difficult for her since she won’t be spending too much money because she will use already available resources to start and maintain her garden. She dreams of supplying stores with her good organic produce one day.  “I would encourage every member of my community  to try this kind of gardening they will not regret it just like me, I now have something to keep me busy all day when my family is out some working and some at school. Most importantly I now save a lot of money and hopefully I will make some money in the future through this practice” are her parting words.

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    by Lynn Kota

    The LUSIP-GEF Sustainable Land Management Project is empowering livestock farmers in the Lower Usuthu region  reap financial benefits through sharing technical expertise and connecting them to steady markets  

    At first impression, Thabiso Khumalo appears to be an impressionable young man who is still dependent on his parents for his livelihood. In fact, he is a resourceful 33 year old poultry farmer who has been responsible for his own livelihood since turning 18 years. His experience as a small stock farmer is relatively fresh and he attests that his engagement with the LUSIP-GEF Sustainable Land Management Project which was initiated in his community in the beginning of this year could not have come at a better time.

    Khumalo has been running a small-scale, home-based poultry business for 3 years, through it managing to earn just enough money to sustain his own livelihood and meet the operational costs of the business.

    Agricultural Productivity Sustains Livelihoods Better Than Formal Employment
     “I started keeping and then selling poultry out of a love for farming which I developed from living with my grandfather who kept goats, pigs, indigenous chickens and cattle. My High School grades did not qualify me for entry at University. I then upgraded the subjects I did not do well in and thereafter managed to enroll for a Certificate in Public Relations at Damelin College in 2001. This certificate combined with experience gained after my first job as a Conference Assistant at a local Game Lodge enabled me to be in employment on and off for four years ending in 2010 after which I Iost my job. That is when I decided I was better off committing to working full-time as a self-employed indigenous poultry farmer, instead of chasing after jobs that took most of my time but gave me little in return.”

    Khumalo explains that reaching the decision to become a full-time farmer was based on more than just his failure at formal employment.

    “I committed to becoming a farmer full-time because I realized that I actually made a better income when I was self-employed than when I was employed by companies. The jobs I got essentially enabled me to keep my other interests going instead of raising my income to the level where I could solely depend on my salary,” he shares. Khumalo goes on to explain that his working experience actually began before he entered formal employment.

    “After getting my Public Relations certificate in 2001, I tried hard but couldn’t find a job. I realized that even my high school classmates who had managed to get University degrees were in the same predicament of unemployment as I was.  So I looked at what other things I enjoy doing which have given me other skills, and that’s when I began deejaying at local clubs. At the time I was living at my grandparents place in Piggs Peak. My deejaying paid me enough to be able to start a small spaza shop in the area where I sold airtime and a few other essential groceries and was able to make a living and not burden my grandparents with my needs. I did this between 2001 and 2006 when I got my first job at Maguga Lodge and had to suspend my after-work projects because I worked late shifts. My next job which was at a guesthouse however enabled me to rekindle my other interests and that’s when I used my salary
    to purchase a few chickens from my grandfather and breed them for sale. ”

    For a year Khumalo raised the conventional mixed breed of chickens most rural Swazi homesteads keep for food and used his salary to buy chicken feed to enhance quality and productivity amongst his chickens. At Christmas time when the demand was high, he sold 50 chickens that were between4-5months old making approximately E800. It was at that time that he discovered that the specialized indigenous chicken breed, Morris, are in high demand not only amongst individuals but also in restaurants, and that the selling price of these is much higher, which meant he could earn even more. At the same time, he lost his job and decided to move to his father’s place in Siphofaneni, where the LUSIP-GEF SLM Project site office is also located.

    Indigenous Poultry Farming in Rural Areas and Associated Challenges   
    Starting his indigenous poultry farm in Siphofaneni in December 2012, Khumalo soon discovered it would be a worthwhile, albeit challenging venture.

    “I arrived here with a couple of the chickens I kept in Piggs Peak. Prior to my arrival, I had done an assessment to establish if this would be an appropriate environment to do my business. From this assessment I learnt that the climate was suitable with warm to hot temperatures throughout the year, and that though water is not easily accessible, there are means to ensure that there was enough to run a successful poultry business. Local residents would also provide a reliable market for selling my produce. On arrival, I soon learnt of other air-borne and two and four-legged threats, namely, eagles that swoop on unsuspecting chicks and uncovered eggs, as well as humans and squirrels who also steal the full-grown chickens!” he says laughing.

    The location of Khumalo’s new home however had unique benefits for countering these challenges. “Located near my home, were the offices of the Swaziland Water and Agricultural Development Enterprise (SWADE) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) Siphofaneni Rural Development Area (RDA) Office which I promptly approached to get more advice on farming indigenous chickens in the locality.  This is when I discovered the LUSIP-GEF project which is housed by SWADE and met the Livestock Coordinator in this Project, Mr Mlangeni who has been advising me on the business since.” he adds.

    LUSIP-GEF is a pilot project promoting sustainable land management practices amongst agro pastoralists in the dry Lower Usuthu region of Swaziland as a way to combat climate change and increase food security. The project is jointly funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), Government of Swaziland and the communities involved (read more in insert box).

    LUSIP-GEF Project Technical Assistance Helps Farmer Improve Agricultural Productivity
    Undeterred by the theft and other business teething challenges, in January 2012 Khumalo forged ahead on his mission to build an indigenous poultry business and purchased 4 hens and 2 cocks of special breed which brought the total to 9 hens and 3 cocks including the chickens he had arrived with from Piggs Peak. He created an 8mx4m fenced shelter installed with grass-thatched laying pens in a shaded area in his front yard to address the challenges he had so far faced. “Mr Mlangeni in the LUSIP-GEF project advised me on where I could buy the indigenous chickens at a cost I could afford, further recommending best feeds and approaches to bolster growth including mixing the feed with sand and grass to aid digestion,” he shares.

    In 3 months his chickens had grown to a brood of 27 and he was getting ready to take them to the market when disaster struck again. Disease and the winter cold hit hard on Khumalo’s stock and he lost all the chickens and chicks remaining with only three.

    “The disease outbreak struck in the space of less than one week and I was really devastated at the loss. The chickens would emit a white substance from their beaks, would shake uncontrollably and eventually die with hung heads; I had never witnessed anything like it”. Not one to back down from difficulty, with the two hens, one cock and some unhatched eggs left, Khumalo called on Mlangeni and the MOA RDA office to get technical assistance on tackling the disease outbreak.

    Livestock Coordinator in the LUSIP-GEF SLM project, Ntandoyenkosi Mlangeni states that after examining the chickens with the MoA Veterinary Officer, they deduced it was newcastle or joint disease both of which are well known poultry plagues.

     “Having been working collaboratively with Khumalo for over four months by then, it was easy to visit his home and together with the MOA RDA office organize Terramycin to help him prevent the remaining chickens and chicks from contracting and succumbing to the illness. We also recommended that Khumalo buy multivite to boost the health of the chicks and to make sure that all the chickens got the recommended medication in order to eliminate the outbreak”.

    Mlangeni explains that the LUSIP-GEF SLM Project broadly aims to promote alternative livelihoods in the target area through making community livestock production more
    efficient and sustainable, hence the support to Khumalo. “Mr Khumalo is one of the first success cases in this endeavor and we hope to assist 30 more farmers by the end of the year.”

    Project Establishes Strong Partnerships for Sustainability 
    The involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture local office in addressing Khumalo’s challenges is by no means incidental. The LUSIP-GEF SLM Project is implemented in partnership with various stakeholders from non-governmental agencies operational in the project area and several government departments under the Ministries of Agriculture, Tinkhundla and Decentralisation, Natural Resources and Energy, Economic Planning and Development, Health as well as Finance. The non-governmental partners include World Vision International, Africa Cooperative Action Trust (ACAT), International Relief Development, Women in Development and many more. The government departments involved include:

    • Veterinary services and animal nutrition, crop production, research, home economics & food security, Swaziland Dairy Board (SDB) and National Agricultural Marketing Board (NAMBOARD) all under the Ministry of Agriculture
    • Swaziland Environment Authority (SEA), Swaziland National Trust Commission (SNTC) and the Surveyor General’s under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy
    • the Decentralisation Unit within the Tinkhundla Ministry

    A Sustainable Future through Livestock Farming
    The collaboration between the LUSIP-GEF SLM Project and the MoA RDA office eventually saw Khumalo fighting off the plague and his chickens growing to 30 again in two months. He shares that this was possible from following the extensionists’ advice, as well as keeping the remaining eggs and chicks warm inside his house throughout the rest of the winter. “I had to keep the chicks inside the house and feed each one with doses of the recommended treatment in order to curb the disease spread and ensure they survived.”

    With marketing assistance from the project in May he was able to sell-off 27 chickens to a restaurant in the business hub of the country, Manzini earning E680. Khumalo used the income to extend the fencing of the shed where he breeds his chickens. “By August I hope to be having over 60 and plan to continue to extend my business. With the support I continue to get from the project and MoA I know I will make a success of this venture,” he says beaming with hope.

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    By Sun Yinhong 

    A couple in Rongpeng village use biogas to cook in their rural home in
    Dujie town, Longan county, West Guangxi, China.
    Photo: Susan Beccio/IFAD
    Access to energy is key to eradicating poverty and ensuring food security. Rural communities need energy for a variety of purposes including cooking, lighting, heating, and powering farm and other production tools and equipment.

    Globally, about one in five people lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business. In rural areas in developing countries, many people use indoor wood fires for energy, which can cause chronic respiratory diseases and increase mortality rates - not to mention the time spent in collecting firewood, a burden that falls more heavily on women and children.

    Biogas is a type of fuel produced from organic waste such as dead plant and animal material, or human and animal waste. This methane gas can be used for lighting and cooking and provides benefits to the environment, as it helps reduce deforestation by reducing the need for fuel wood. In addition, capturing methane from waste reduces the damaging effects of global warming (methane is 22 times more potent than carbon dioxide in driving climate change).

    This is good news for rural communities who can benefit from low-cost energy sources, as they do their part not to contribute further to climate change.

    In China, population pressure and growing demand for food is straining the productive capacity of the 10 percent of China’s land area that is suitable for sustained cultivation. An increasing number of livestock compete for fodder on fragile rangelands. Flood-prone areas and deteriorating irrigation systems result in waterlogging and salt contamination. Encroaching deserts threaten formerly productive land.

    An IFAD-funded project in China’s Guangxi province works with rural communities to install biogas converters. “We used to cook with wood,” said Liu Chun Xian, a farmer involved in the project. “The smoke made my eyes tear and burn and I always coughed. The children, too, were often sick…. Now that we’re cooking with biogas, things are much better.”

    Each household involved in the project built its own plant to channel waste from the domestic toilet and nearby shelters for animals, usually pigs, into a sealed tank. The waste ferments and is naturally converted into gas and compost.

    As a result of the project, living conditions and the environment have improved. Forests are protected, reducing greenhouse gas emissions through deforestation. A large amount of straw, previously burned, is now put into biogas tanks to ferment. This further reduces air pollution from smoke and helps produce high-quality organic fertilizer. In addition, the project has resulted in better sanitary conditions in the home.

    Families, especially women, save 60 work days each year by not having to collect wood and tend cooking fires. This additional time is invested in raising pigs and producing crops.

    With more time to spend improving crops, farmers in Fada, a village in the project area, increased tea production from 400 to 2,500 kilograms a day over a five-year period. Average income in the village has quadrupled to just over a dollar per day at end of the project.

    This is significant in a country where the poverty line was 26 cents per day. And as a result of the project, 56,600 tons of firewood can be saved in the project area every year, which is equivalent to the recovery of 7,470 hectares of forest.

    Another IFAD project in China supported the construction of about 63,700 biogas units for rural households in Mianyang Prefecture, Sichuan province. This was part of the post-earthquake disaster rehabilitation efforts.

    The biogas systems provide a steady source of rural energy for those affected households and reduce their spending on energy. Application of biogas slurry also helps to reduce household spending on chemical fertilizers while improving soil and reducing pesticides.

    Sun Yinhong is the IFAD country program officer based in Beijing, China. IFAD is co-organising Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day on Dec. 3, held in parallel with the climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

    Originally posted on AlertNet

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    Written by Gernot Laganda, Climate Change Adaptation Specialist at International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

    ©IFAD/Amadou Keita
    Less than a decade back, climate change adaptation was considered a white flag of surrender to a warming world. The dominant chorus was that there is only one way to address climate change, and that is reducing the greenhouse gases that drive it. Some people even argued that in the context of climate change, advocating for adaptation means advocating for a non-response: If we can adapt our way out of the problem, then what is the point in reducing greenhouse gases in the first place? At this year’s UN climate change conference in Doha, these entrenched positions have all but disappeared. People seem to have realized that the world they were born in has gone, and that they will never really recapture its climate, its seasons, the way its plants grew and its animals lived. It has started to sink in that we will be locked into a world that will be at least 2 degrees warmer than the pre-industrial average by the end of this century. A confirmed warming record of 0.8 degrees puts us almost half way there, and the temperature rise we are already committed to, based on the current amount of global greenhouse gas emissions we are emitting, is almost certain to do the rest.

    This renewed awareness of global change has been buoyed by a steady stream of scientific reports, catastrophic events and climate activism over the past few months: Satellite imagery of the lowest arctic sea ice on record have startled even the most critical climate scientist, while a new World Bank Report examining the risks of a 4 degree hotter world by the end of the Century had a similar effect on many people in the development community. This report makes it clear that 4 degrees of warming confront us with the limits of incremental adaptation; 4 degrees is the scary realm of large-scale tipping points, positive feedbacks and ‘nasty surprises’ in the climate system. Disasters such as Hurricane Sandy in the US, which have been analysed by many against the backdrop of a warming world, would multiply in scale and severity, plunging many countries over a ‘climate fiscal cliff’.

    For governments, development agencies and NGOs, the resurgence of adaptation presents a new paradigm: Pitching wide but shallow criticism at an imperfect international negotiations process is not going to make them any safer. Too many friction losses are built into the negotiation of a post-Kyoto agreement: Which time period such an agreement should cover; which type of commitments should be specified; how the burden of climate protection should be shared between developed and developing countries; and if there should be a global plan or an array of decentralized alliances. Faced with the stark realities of a warming world, many countries have started to focus on adaptation planning and financing. Rather than complaining that they are heading into a train wreck, they have started to check the location and specifications of their seat belts. 

    IFAD’s new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) is a good example of a UN agency helping countries make this transition. The programme influences a third of IFAD’s new lending, and introduces a much stronger appreciation of risk and resilience to the design and monitoring of rural development programmes. ASAP provides room for countries to scale up those tried and trusted approaches that have shown to deliver livelihood and resilience benefits to smallholder farmers: Watershed management, agroforestry, conservation agriculture, mixed crop-livestock systems, integrated coastal zone management, land restoration and disaster preparedness, to name a few. Back to back, ASAP is introducing some new ingredients which have long been overlooked: Better seasonal forecasting, access to insurance, training on risk analysis and GIS, robust infrastructure that is protected from extreme weather, and empowerment of small local institutions to engage with national policy processes.

    Programmes such as ASAP are a credible and large-scale effort to translate the urgency of climate change adaptation into an ambitious institutional programme that can achieve big leaps in climate risk management. In a time in which politicians argue that the climate crisis is every bit as real as the fiscal one, this is a very credible response.

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    By Philippe Remy

    Fishermen work in the early evening in Segou, Mali.
    Photo: Amadou Keita/IFAD
    The hunger crisis in the Sahel region and the ongoing conflict in the northern part of Mali is threatening the lives of millions in the country and across the region.

    Compounding this, a changing climate is already eroding the natural resources of poor rural people in many parts of Mali, and contributing to a situation of escalating environmental degradation, hunger and poverty.

    “When we were young, 40 or more years ago, it rained a lot more than it does now, and there was grass all year around,” says Hama Barry of Youwarou village, president of the Foulbé Wuelebé herders’ association in Mali.

    For the people living in the Sahel region of Mali, climate change is not a question of debate; it’s an undeniable reality and a pressing concern. For decades, the climate has been getting hotter and drier.

    “There were many more trees. We have seen changes taking place around us; the rain has become less abundant and the forests and grasslands are disappearing,” Barry continues. “There were two huge droughts in 1973 and 1984. That was when the trees began to die, and the floodwaters of the delta began to recede. In recent years we’ve lost many animals in the dry season, because there isn’t enough for them to eat.”

    The experience of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has shown that, similar to growing trees, adapting to a changing climate doesn’t happen overnight. It takes sustained investment so that once the roots of adaptation practices take hold in one rural community, they can continue and be shared among others and for future generations.

    And the benefits can go beyond supporting communities to prepare for a harsher climate, to include enabling rural women and men to build a better life for themselves.

    For example, the IFAD-supported Sahelian Areas Development Fund Programme, implemented in the Sahel region of central Mali, is helping to build the capacity of local communities to restore trees and vegetation and improve agricultural productivity. It aims to break the cycle of degradation and to ensure that there is enough to sustain a growing population, now and for the future.

    Planting Bourgou

    The programme has contributed to the extensive planting of bourgou, a rich native grass of the delta region, which was disappearing rapidly. So far, close to 1,500 hectares have been planted with plans for more in the near future. The programme has set up and equipped small-scale village nurseries using species adapted to local conditions and resistant to drought, such as eucalyptus. It also encourages communities to develop small market gardens and grow fruits and vegetables year-round to supplement income and sustain productivity through the seasonal cycles.

    To date, the programme has planted 2,835 meters of live hedges and 36 hectares of eucalyptus and other trees, and created and equipped 23 village nurseries in the Mopti region. It has supported the elaboration of numerous local resource management plans, from local fisheries to the management of bourgou plantations.

    The response to the programme has been enthusiastic. Communities are eager to continue learning to restore the natural environment. They recognize the need to shift their approach.

    “This kind of work is just a beginning,” says Mamadou Tiéro, the programme coordinator. “It needs to be continued and adopted throughout the region. Only a long-term impact can be considered a successful outcome.”

    Philippe Remy is the Mali country programme manager for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). IFAD is co-organising Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day on Dec. 3, held in parallel with the climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

    Originally posted on AlertNet

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    On Wednesday 5 December 2012, IFAD and the Government of Mali will be celebrating 30 years of partnership in rural development.

    The festivities will take place in the garden of the National Musem of Bamako, starting 2 pm. The celebrations will be opened by the Honourable Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Mali, Dr Yaranga Coulibaly and by the Director of the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD, Mr Ides de Willebois.

    National Museum of Bamako
    The event is an opportunity for partners and civil society to gain knowledge on IFAD activities in the country. Throughout  the afternoon, each ongoing IFAD project will be animating a stand where information can be gathered. Also, farmers from the different regions of Mali have been invited to share their experience and life stories with the public. The ambiance will be animated by music groups from the Kidal region in the North of Mali to give the event a festive touch.

    Over the past 30 years, IFAD has financed 12 development programmes in Mali with approximately 186 million dollars of its own resources and over 289 million dollars mobilised with cofinanciers such as the West African Development Bank (BOAD), the World Bank, The Belgian Fund for Food Security and others for a total of over 471 million dollars of investments.

    Following the coup of 22 March 2012, IFAD is continuing alongside the Government of Mali in its fight against food insecurity. In fact, IFAD activities in Mali are ongoing and an intermediate strategy has been agreed upon between IFAD and Mali for this transition period. Activities in the North are being ensured by a partnership with AVSF (Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières) for the distributin of agriculture inputs directly to the farmers via the Niger Rive and WHO (World Health Organisation) who is ensuring that health centres are receiving the necessary supplies to maintain regular business. (See blog article of 9 August 2012 - Promoting sustainability in a humanitarian crisis).

    As part of the imlementation of the medium term strategy, IFAD will be designig a new Youth Integation Project for approximately 30 million dollars - a strong and firm demonstation of IFAD ongoing commitment to helping Mali out of poverty.
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    Le mercredi 5 décembre 2012, le FIDA et le Gouvernement du Mali fêteront les 30 ans de partenariat pour le développement agricole.

    Musée National, Bamako
    Les festivités se dérouleront dans le jardin du Musée National à Bamako, à partir de 14h. Les célébrations seront ouvertes par Son Excellence Dr Yaranga Coulibaly, Ministre de l’Agriculture de la République du Mali et par Monsieur Ides de Willebois, Directeur de la Division Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre du FIDA.

    Cet événement est une opportunité pour les partenaires et la société civile de connaitre le FIDA et ses activités au Mali. Il sera possible de visiter les stands préparés et animés par les projets en cours d’exécution. Des paysans venant de différentes régions du Mali, ayant reçu un appui du FIDA, partageront avec nous leurs témoignages et histoires de vie. La fête sera animée par un groupe musical de la Région de Kidal, qui se trouve dans le Nord du pays.

    Lors des 30 dernières années, le FIDA a financé 12 projets et programme de développement au Mali pour un total de plus de 471 million de dollars des États-Unis. De ce montant, environ 186 million sont des fonds propres et plus de 289 millions de dollars ont été mobilisés auprès de nos partenaires principaux au Mali : la Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement, (BOAD), la Banque Mondiale et le Fonds Belge pour la Sécurité Alimentaire.

    Suite aux événements du 22 mars 2012, le FIDA continue à œuvrer aux côtés du Gouvernement du Mali dans sa lutte contre l’insécurité alimentaire. En effet, pour atténuer les effets de la crise, le FIDA et le Gouvernement du Mali ont conclu une stratégie pour affronter cette période transitoire. Dans ce cadre, des partenariats avec AVSF (Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières) pour la distribution d’intrants agricoles dans le Nord et avec OMS (Organisation Mondiale pour la Santé) pour distribuer les fournitures aux dispensaires dans le Nord afin d’en assurer leurs activités quotidiennes ont été conclus. (voir article blog du 14/08/2012)

    Aussi dans le cadre de cette stratégie, le FIDA commence la conception d’un programme d’insertion des jeunes dans les filière agricoles (pour un montant de 30 million de dollars) preuve concrète de l’engagement ferme du FIDA pour aider le Gouvernement du Mali à améliorer les conditions de vie des paysans.

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    par Aissata Cheick Sylla et Adriane Del Torto

    Ce matin, le Ministre de l’Agriculture Dr Yaranga Coulibaly a officiellement ouvert les travaux de l’atelier national de restitution de l’Évaluation Externe du Programme Pays FIDA au Mali. Pour l’occasion il avait à ses côtés deux autres membres du Gouvernement, le Ministre de l’élevage et de la Pêche, M Makan Aliou Tounkara et le Ministre de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle Dr Diallo Deidia Katara, le Commissaire à a Sécurité Alimentaire, Mr Yaya Tamboura et le Président de l’Assemblée Permanente des Chambres d’Agriculture du Mali. (APCAM) Mr Bakary Togola. Pour FIDA, le Directeur intérimaire du Bureau Externe de l’évaluation M Ashwani Muthoo et M Ides de Willebois, Directeur de la Division Afrique de l’ouest et du Centre du FIDA ont ausssi participé à l’atelier.

    Lors de son allocution, Monsieur le Ministre de l’Agriculture a signalé grand honneur pour son pays héberger cet atelier, image de qui montre à suffisance que le partenariat entre le Mali et le FIDA se porte bien. En effet, ce très riche partenariat entre dans sa 30e année d’existence en 2012. Il se dit satisfait de la détermination et de l’engagement du FIDA à accompagner le Mali dans la lutte contre la précarité et l’insécurité alimentaire. et a conclu en assurant que le Gouvernement du Mail ne ménagera aucun effort pour accompagner le FIDA dans la conception de nouveaux projets et programmes.

    Le Directeur de la Division Afrique de l’Ouest et du Centre du FIDA a salué la collaboration profonde et durable avec le Mali ainsi que l’engagement du Gouvernement, même dans sa participation active à cet atelier. Il s’est dit fier de la qualité de ce partenariat tissé au fil des 30 dernières années. Dans ce de cadre il a rappelé que le FIDA a financé 12 projets et programmes au Mali pour plus de 475 million de dollars ou environ 240 milliards de francs CFA. Le portefeuille du FIDA au Mali répond à une certaine pertinence vis-à-vis les priorités du gouvernement et s’est montré flexible dans ses interventions. Il a promis que le FIDA continuera relever les défis de la pauvreté rurale avec le Gouvernement du Mali.

    Le Directeur intérimaire a adressé l’objectif et l’importance de l’atelier de restitution de l’évaluation indépendante et a insisté sur le fait que le portefeuille du Mali est particulièrement important pour le FIDA, raison pour laquelle le Programme Pays a été évalué en 2007 et de nouveau en 2012. Il a insisté sur la pertinence de cette session de travail pour bien élaborer t les lignes directrices pour mettre en œuvre les recommandations et pour renforcer le partenariat entre le FIDA et le Mali qui est déjà indiscutable.

    Lors de l’ouverture, M Fabrizio Felloni, Evaluateur Principal a fait un exposé sur les conclusions principales de l’évaluation. Il a souligné les résultats positifs sur lesquels il faut capitaliser d’avantage et que le Mali doit partager. Ces thèmes incluent : la maîtrise d’ouvrage communale, la durabilité des infrastructures, le foncier, le genre, l’environnement et la décentralisations. Pour les futures interventions on recommande de donner plus d’importance à la géographie de la pauvreté, des risques liés aux conflits ainsi que les risques climatiques dans la région.

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    by Aissata Cheick Sylla and Adriane Del Torto

    This morning the Minister of Agriculture Dr Yaranga Coulibaly officially opened the National Roundtable workshop for the Mali Country Programme Evaluation undertaken by IFAD’s Independent Evaluation Office. To mark this special occasion, two members of Government, the Minister of Livestock and Fisheries Mr Makan Aliou Tounkara and the Minister of Employment and Vocational Training Dr Diallo Deidia Katara, the Commissioner for Food Security, Mr Yaya Tamboura and the President of the Assemblée Permanente des Chambres d’Agriculture du Mali. (APCAM) Mr Bakary Togola, the Interim director of the Independant Evaluation Office Mr Ashwani Muthoo and the Director of the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD, Mr Ides de Willebois all participated in the workshop.

    During his opening speech, His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture expressed the great honour that it is for the Government of Mali to host this important event, demonstration of the excellent partnership between IFAD and Mali, partnership that has been quite strong over the past years. In fact, this excellent partnership has now been fruitful for the past 30 years. The Minister conveyed his satisfaction with IFAD’s engagement and determination in its fight against food insecurity alongside the Republic of Mali. He concluded by guaranteeing that the Government of Mali will stop at nothing to invest in this partnership further and will accompany IFAD in designing new projects and programmes.

    The Director of the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD saluted the fruitful and sustainable collaboration between IFAD and Mali as well as the Government’s strong engagement and active participation in the workshop. He confessed being proud of the quality of the partnership built over the past 30 years. One of the reasons for the success of this partnership, he explained, is its alignment with national strategies and objectives in agriculture, as well as the flexibility of its programmes and project to integrate the view of the Republic of Mali in its rural development programmes, assuring their sustainability over the years.

    The Interim Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation addressed the objective and the importance of such a workshop. He insisted that two Country Evaluations in a five year span demonstrates the importance of the Mali Country Programme ,not only for the West and Central Africa Division, but also for IFAD as an institution. He insisted on the importance of the workshop objectives which includes setting the way forward for operations and partnership with Mali. .

    Finally, during the opening Mr Fabrizio Felloni, Senior Evaluator, made a presentation on the main conclusions of the report where he stressed the positive outcomes of the evaluation. According to the extensive study in the country, there are many positive outcomes of the Mali Country Programme needing further visibility and capitalisation. These include community investments and community driven development, sustainability of infrastructure, land tenure, gender, environment and natural resource management and decentralisation. Recommendations for improvement include giving greater importance to geographic distribution of poverty in Mali and the risks related to the occupation of the North and climate change and all related topics.

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    By Katie Taft 

    Development workshops are, generally speaking, filled with practitioners, policy makers, donors and academics mulling over a problem and – among break-out sessions and working groups – coming to a consensus on how best to approach it. These tend to be technical discussions on technical problems and, as such, they can become lifeless, without the passion and emotion that prompts the workshop in the first place.

    A workshop session in Kathmandu. ©IFAD
    A workshop held in Kathmandu, Nepal last week by the UN Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress toward the Economic Empowerment of Rural Women was far from this typical scenario. Following speeches by three Nepali women farmer leaders in the opening session, the two-day workshop remained filled with tense debates, passionate pleas and rallying cries from an audience composed mainly of rural women.

    The joint programme is a five-year initiative of UN Women, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme. It will be implemented initially in Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Nepal, Niger and Rwanda. Consultative workshops at the country level are being organized to shape the programme goals and activities, based on national priorities, including in Nepal.

    Although there have been significant improvements in Nepal’s poverty level in recent years, it is still considered a food-insecure country. Women make up 65 per cent of the labour force. And while they work more hours and produce more than their male counterparts, many rural women are hampered by less access to credit, land and services. Often, their opinions are not sought out. But at the workshop, they demanded to be heard – and given the reaction of the audience, who applauded and sometimes “whooped” in support, they were.

    Below are excerpts of the rural women’s speeches. They not only set the tone of the workshop, they set the tone for the entire joint programme.

    Raj Kumari Chaudary, Kailali district: “Empowerment can help us”
    “I am bringing my problems here – to represent  all small women farmers’ problems. We rural women have to work very hard, and although we put in so much work, we are not recognized. Women in the villages are oppressed. We cannot overcome these challenges alone. We can’t even get a decent meal. We work hard but cannot produce enough food for our families.

    Raj Kumari Chaudary says women must be heard. ©IFAD
    “We have to work all the time. When we go to the hospital, we don’t get any support. Empowerment can help us because we are in a lot of trouble. No one hears us, and because of this I say it here: We demand that we be heard.”

    Nanu Ghatani, Kavre district: “I am not afraid”
    “I lead women farmers in my district. There have been positive changes that have taken place. For example, our credit group with 600 members is able to distribute low-interest loans for farming-related equipment. If we are to complete seven steps on the ladder – we have three steps left. We have access to food, but we don’t have control. We only eat whatever remains after feeding our families. Women farmers do not get any honour. They say: you have land and you have food, but we have no control inside the house.

    “Agricultural programmes do not need to just focus on rural women’s production. We need to be entrepreneurs, and be our own businesses. If we can become business leaders, we can have more income in our hands. It’s not that we don’t give it to the men, we just want it to be equal. Women know about their children that they give birth to, but not about the plants that they grow. We must get more information about the nutritional information of the products we can grow. Women’s groups help build trust and support. I am not afraid like I was before. I am not alone.”

    Radha Kunwar, Kaski district: “Among us there is trust”
    “I am the chairwoman of the cooperative. It took us a lot of trouble to form the cooperative. They accused us of trying to spoil rural women – they didn’t trust us with the money. Now there are more than 1,000 women in the cooperative. Among us there is trust and respect. All of the women pay back their loans on time and help move us forward. They put it towards sustainable things like goat breeding. One goat costs 5,000 rupees [about US$50]. Perhaps we can give loans without interest for a year or two, so that they can build a business and they can make more income. They need to prepare for the next cropping season. When they distribute the budget for supporting rural women in the villages – women must be given a certain amount.

    Radha Kunwar calls for women's inclusion. ©IFAD
    “But still, women are kept from the process. We are still not given a priority. If we don’t demand it, they don’t give it to us. They make it difficult for us to request our part of the budget – they makes us bring letters, forms. We are happy to go through the process, but there is no monitoring of this. There is not evaluation of monitoring. We feel they should come and look at our work and encourage us, but they don’t. This will help encourage us, and by honouring and acknowledging our work, we will be motivated to do more. We need a voice to demand it. I was a housewife, always inside the house, and now with your support I am able to come and speak here with all of you to tell you of the challenges.”

    Update: News stories
    Here are some links to news stories about the Nepal workshop on the economic empowerment of rural women. The stories include reporting on the UN joint programme, the need for women to gain greater access to agricultural technology and skills, and the imperative for them to be more involved in local development decisions.

    In English:
    United Nations in Nepal NewsInsight, Oct.-Nov. 2012 [PDF, see pg. 5]
    Kathmandu Post National Daily, 30/11/2012

    In Nepali:
    Kantipur National Daily,  30/11/2012
    Karobar National Daily, 2/12/2012

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