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  • 11/21/13--03:38: Fast Changes in DRC!

  • by Adriane Del Torto, ACPM  DRC/RC

    Map of DRC -  Maniema Province in Red

    The mission team is complete! We are all in Kindu, in the Maniema province of the Democratic Republic of The Congo (which borders with North and South Kivu) to participate in ther Interphase Review of the Integrated Development Programme in the Maniema Province, better known as PIRAM. Aside from the CPM (Rasha Omar), CPO for DRC (Franck L. Kapiamba), CPO for Congo (Richard Bouka) and myself (Adriane Del Torto, ACPM), Technical Advisor for Farmers Organisations and Markets (Roberto Longo), The Director of  the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD (WCA) Ides de Willebois has also joined the team to see what this very important project has done to help the populations of the Maniema Province in DRC.

    Needless to say, before arriving here a week ago, I was quite apprehensive: fear of unknown, how awful could this place really be? A week after my arrival, I must say, it’s much better than I could possibly imagine, my colleagues can confirm!

    Ferry at River Crossing
    Because there is only so much to see in Kindu (really just a big village) we crossed the River Congo and headed out down RN 31, a a national route rehabilitated by PIRAM through OFID financing. RN 31 is road from Kindu to Kasongo. IFAD/OFID rehabilitated 133km of this road as well as over 135km of rural feeder roads since the beginning of the project in 2011.

    So what does this mean and how does it help the projet area? Well, let me explain to you what prices are like in Kindu. One cup of rice, maybe 250g costs about 0,50 USD, one liter of fuel for vehicles can cost anywhere between 2 USD and 10 USD, a small bottle of water at a local shop is about 1 USD a large one 2,50 to 3  USD. A simple meal at the hotel can cost you anywhere between 15 and 25 USD per person. Outrageous right? How can this be? We pay less in Rome if you know where to go. It’s quite simple really. I’ve included a map, so that you can see where the Maniema Province is (the red one) and you can see that it is a landlocked province.  Literally everything that comes to Kindu is imported by train or pirogue (local type canoe carved out of a tree trunk). It’s even very difficult for farmers to bring their produce into the cities because of lack of infrastructure.

    Non rehabilitated section of RN 31 - Yes the mission got stuck and more than once!
    This is why the RN 31 is so important. Since the road has been rehabilitated, believe it or not, the actual prices I mentioned earlier have gone down from what they were before. This is because to get from Kindu to Kasongo now takes a few hours as opposed to one week.  Also,  the cost of transportation for persons has gone down from 50 USD to 20 USD, consequently the cost of transportation of merchandise has decreased from 500 USD per tonne to approximately 300 USD per tonne. As a result, our cup of rice at harvest time can go down to about 0,20 USD. The total distance between Kindu and Kasongo is approximately 240km. This has improved access to over 173 villages and the overall population of the Maniema Province.

    Warm welcome to the mission
    While in Kasongo, we were able to meet with a few farmers groups that have received project assistance, either through the distribution of certified rice seed, capacity building for their organisation and in some villages we brought direct access to spring water by building water catchments for drinking water.

     The farmers groupings that received us with song and dance expressed their desire for further capacity capacity building and the need for some tools. Now that production has increased following PIRAM’s rice seed distribution, it is difficult for the women to continue to pound rice by hand to separate from the husks. 

    The project’s big challenge in the years to come is to provide seed to over 60 000 farmers in the next few years, ensure a production of rice seed in the project area, and ensure that the surpluses of rice are sold and handled in such a way to increase farmers’ incomes.

    All this to contribute to restoring Kindu back to its ancient  glory before the conflict: that of the cereal bank of East Congo!

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    When: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 9:00 AM
    Where: Amari Watergaate Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
    Who: AFA, La Via Campesina, ANFPa, PIFON, IFAD

    Farmers’ federations from Asia-Pacific, with support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will organize the “MTCP2 Launch and Start-Up Workshop” on Nov 23-24, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. The MTCP2 Launch will be held at Amari Watergate Hotel in the morning of Nov 23 while the Start-Up Workshop will be held at First Hotel in the afternoon of Nov 23 and the whole day of Nov 24.

    The consortium of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and La Via Campesina (LVC), together with the All Nepal Peasant Federation (ANPFa) and the Pacific Island Farmers Organizations Network (PIFON), mobilized various farmers organization in 15 countries from the Asia-Pacific region, civil society organizations, governments, donor agencies and research institutions to identify areas of complementation/cooperation towards creating greater impact in unleashing the potentials of small-scale farmers to respond to poverty reduction, food security and nutrition. The start-up workshop hopes to provide opportunity for key implementers to prepare for the effective and efficient implementation of the MTCP2 project in 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

    MTCP2 or the “Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific,” a capacity building program funded by IFAD, aims to strengthen the capacities of farmers organizations in Asia and the Pacific to deliver better, improved and inclusive services to their members and to engage in effective dialogues with governments, thereby making FOs more viable, responsive and accountable to their members, more respected by their partners and with greater participation in policy-making and program implementation processes of governments and IFAD country operations. Its primary beneficiaries are smallholder farmers who are current or potential members of participating FOs. Its main participants are 150 FOs representing 20 million small-scale farming families in 25 countries in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific.

    In response to the growing clamor of FOs worldwide through the Farmers Forum processes of IFAD, and to the strong recognition of the role that small-scale women and men farmers play in poverty reduction, food security and nutrition, the first phase of the Medium Term Cooperation Program for Farmers Organizations in Asia and Pacific (MTCP1) was implemented from 2009-2012. The MTCP1 succeeded in bringing together different national and local FOs in 10 countries in Southeast and South Asia in regular dialogues among each other, well as with their governments and FAO and IFAD representatives, resulting to increased opportunities for partnership and involvement in policy making and country program processes as well as increased venues for farmer-to-farmer sharing of experiences and initiatives.

    MTCP2 hopes to strengthen the gains of MTCP1, expand the program further to other countries, and thus, make FOs effective channels for real transformation in agriculture – one that truly benefits small-scale women and men farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, and pastoralists/herders.


    The launch of this project will be graced by representatives from AFA, La Via Campesina, ANPFa, PIFON, IFAD, FAO, SDC, AsiaDHRRA, and other farmer, government, and civil society organizations.

    Journalists are invited to cover the official launching ceremony at 9:00 AM.

    For more information please contact:

    Ma. Estrella Penunia
    Secretary General | +63917-813-8698

    Marciano T. Virola Jr.
    KM Officer | +63929-558-5533

    Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
    Rm 206 Partnership Center, 59 C. Salvador St., Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City, Philippines
    Phone: (632) 436-4640 | Telefax: (632) 436-4640
    Email: | Website:


    Interested but unable to attend? Join us online!


    Follow us on Twitter through hash tag #MTCP2 or Twitter account @AsianFarmersa


    Get updates through our MTCP2 Official Launch Page


    Read background materials and blog articles, see photos, and watch videos of the event from the MTCP2 Blog

    IFAD Asia Portal

    Register and get a wealth of knowledge and information about MTCP2 and other projects at the IFAD Asia portal

    ©2013 AFA | Room 206, No. 59 C. Salvador Street, Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City, Philippines Tel/Fax: +632-436-4640 | E-mail: | Website:

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    23 November 2013, Bangkok, Thailand — Coming on the heels of the successful implementation of its pilot implementation, the second phase of the “Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific” or MTCP2, a capacity building program funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), kicked off today in an official ceremony attended by various regional and national farmer organizations, including civil society organizations, government officials, and donor organizations.

    MTCP2 aims at supporting poverty reduction in the region through strengthened capacity of rural farmers and their organizations to influence policies impacting on the livelihoods of rural poor producers. It will have four program components such as, strengthening FOs and their networks, supporting participation of FOs in policy processes, scaling up FO services and their involvement in agricultural development program, and strengthening program management and coordination.

    Phase one of the project was a pilot grant implemented by FAO in South East Asia and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in South Asia from 2009-2012 that promoted the inclusion of smallholder farmers and their organizations in policy dialogues at various levels and strengthened regional, sub-regional and national FO platforms in Asia.

    MTCP2 will build on the experiences and lessons learned from that phase and scale up the development of FOs in Asia and the Pacific region and will enhance the integration of poor smallholders, especially women and young people, through improved and inclusive services for FO members.

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    Written by Jorge Esteban Moreno and Alessia Bartolucci

    Following the success of the joint Headquarters -country CPA meeting, on 7 November 2013, The Gambia team hosted a learning event on the Country Programme Approach (CPA) at IFAD headquarters taking advantage of the presence in Rome of a Gambia delegation attending the 2nd Financial Management Forum. The Gambia delegation was led by Mod K. Ceesay, Permanent Secretary II from Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. With a room full of participants, Lamin AD Sanyang (Chairperson of the CPA and Project Director of LHDP), gave a detailed presentation on the overall, progress, achievements and lessons learned made by the team. The CPA comprises the four IFAD-financed on-going projects namely: RFP, PIWAMP, Nema and LHDP under the Ministry of Agriculture. The approach enables the creation of synergies between all projects and consolidates IFAD’s operations in the Gambia. Single project performance is no longer considered sufficient and the CPA ensures maximum impact of project implementation.

    The CPA is seen as a platform that links all the stakeholders with the different projects through a participatory and consultative process that improves the sharing of information among these actors and contributes to policy dialog at all levels of implementation. The synergies created with the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Youth and Sports, which have converged to discuss a common mission, is considered as a very important step towards increasing the positive impact of IFAD projects. The Fund is giving an example by piloting the CPA in The Gambia and is leading other donors thus working towards harmonisation.

    During the presentation Mr Sanyang highlighted how this approach has increased the efficiency in coordination, management and supervision as well as the consolidation of a single M&E Database for all projects using a procured service provider. He also described the CPA as a model which is demonstrating great impact on both project staff and beneficiaries, especially in the areas of joint planning for training and implementation. He stressed that IFAD supervisions are done at the same time for all projects, and what government appreciates most is the fact that one mission by IFAD covers the whole portfolio, addressing promptly critical issues that are common to all the projects. These missions are overall led by the Country Programme Manager including field visits, pre and final wrap up sessions and mission members provide respectively their technical support. To this end, the CPA is being widely recognized by other donors and stakeholders as a visible and practical learning platform for project design and implementation as well as contributing to increased country ownership and capacity building efforts.

    The Q&A session provided quite a lot of food for thought. Discussions allowed to highlight that IFAD is working towards a CPA in other regions but with different set-ups and arrangements adapting to the country context. Discussions also triggered a number of queries concerning trade-off in supervision missions, gaps and institutionalization. At policy level, the CPA has contributed to a stronger focus of government on Agriculture, where the resource allocation to the sector has gone up from 3% in 2011 and projected to be 12% in 2014. This was triggered by three separate field visits to CPA intervention sites by Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Youth. At institutional level, the CPA is operational at national/central level and is serving as learning anchor for reforming the Central Project Coordination Unit of MoA. As a result of all this, the Government nominated IFAD as the lead donor in the Agricultural Sector. The way forward is to cascade the approach down to the beneficiaries at field level.

    On a personal note it was inspiring to learn and interact with the Gambia delegation on how the CPA is a great example of synergistic interaction between their members to self-regulate and adapt to their landscape and context in a way that allows better efficiency or cost-time saving management that benefits the whole portfolio. Hopefully this type of interaction could be up scaled out/up in other regions as well as trickled-down to the beneficiaries. The learning event convinced us even more that this seems to be the correct approach to implement in The Gambia. From all indications, the CPA is really boosting up the projects and enhancing the governments participation and involvement in rural development and at the same time harmonizing the different donors’ approach towards development effectiveness.

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    On the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it would be easy to write a sensational blogpost with a barrage of chilling statistics and passing reference to a handful of the many high-profile cases that have been in the news over the past 12 months. Gang rape, rape as a weapon of war, domestic violence, sexual exploitation. The list could go on.

    In order to understand gender-based violence better, however, I think it helps not to look at the sensational cases. It’s a complex issue, with no easy answers. It’s vital to take on board the complexity, the cultural specificity and the sheer prevalence of violence against women and girls the world over.

    Here’s one chilling statistic: worldwide, among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.

    Violence against women takes many forms. The internationally accepted definition is found in the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women: ‘“Violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’ (Article 1).

    Because gender-based violence is such a massively complex issue, it’s true to say that there are no simple answers. And yet there are many many ways that we can make a difference. As today’s frontpage webstory points out, many of the projects IFAD supports do work to protect women against violence, or to enable women to protect themselves.

    The UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a significant day on which to celebrate the projects that have won IFAD’s first Gender Awards, because it makes the point that many different kinds of interventions can work against gender-based violence.

    Economic empowerment is key. The statistics show that women who have no form of income are more likely to suffer domestic violence. So we know that enabling women to earn a living, to get access to credit and to build up savings or take out insurance, will make them less likely to fall victim to gender-based violence.

    Education is part of empowerment, of course, enabling women to find work, express their needs, participate in their communities and make their voices heard. Making girls safe against violence and exploitation while they are in school is vital to ensuring that they stay in education and reap the benefits.

    Strength in numbers
    India: the Sukalyani Shakti Dala self-help group holds a
    meeting. The group campaigns against alcohol abuse
    that is a main cause of domestic violence.
    As in so many other fields of life, there is strength in numbers. Enabling women to form groups, for almost any purpose, creates solidarity. And this can give them the confidence and determination to challenge the perpetrators of violence and the social norms that condone coercive behaviours towards women and girls.

    To give just one example: in India, a women’s self-help group supported by the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme went from door to door in their village to campaign against the alcohol abuse that was one cause of the high rates of domestic violence. You can read more about their story and others in Trail Blazers– a book about IFAD-supported work with courageous women in India.

    IFAD supports women's groups and associations all over the world. Some of their achievements are highlighted in the recently published regional gender briefs, which also give statistics on the position of women and girls.

    A final thing to say is that violence against women is not an ‘us and them’ problem. It affects women and girls everywhere. Just a few days ago, a case emerged in my own country, the UK, of three women kept in domestic slavery for 30 years. Something that each and every one of us can do is to be aware that a colleague or a friend or a family member may need our support and our sensitivity.

    #ifadgender #gender awards

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    The President of IFAD, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, arrived in Ethiopia at the invitation of Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the UN) on the morning of 25th November. The President  is attending a two day meeting, hosted by the African Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Kofi Annan Foundation on “Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems: Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century.” The President took the first part of the day, before the AU meeting, to meet with senior officials of the Government of Ethiopia. Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, first met with the Hon. SileshiGetahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and in the afternoon, he met with the Hon. Ahmed Shide, the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, to re-affirm IFAD’s partnership with the Ethiopian Government. He was accompanied by his adviser Luis Jimminez-Micinnis, the Representative and Country Director, Robson Mutandi, and the Country Programme Officer, Abebe Zelahun. 
    This visit came on the heels of the successful negotiations in Rome, between IFAD and the Government, for a USD 85 million loan to the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, to finance the Phase III of the Pastoral Community Development Programme. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists make up nearly 15 per cent of Ethiopia's total population and are among the poorest and most vulnerable rural people in the country. The Programme, co-financed with the World Bank and Government, brings about a total investment of USD 217 million to improve pastoral communities’ livelihoods, access to basic services and capacity to cope with external shocks.  The Ethiopia Country Programme is IFAD’s largest investment in Africa.

    The President observed that the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia are a classic example of good governance and leadership. “Ethiopia’s wise investments in Agriculture, and particularly in smallholder agriculture, has brought about consistent economic growth, with a GDP that has ranged from 9 to 11 % over recent years, driven by a strong investment plan. Such strong national investment plans are key to enabling the progress of a cohesive continental agricultural policy agenda for Africa.”

    Hon. Shide emphasized that Ethiopia remains committed to inclusive development, which makes sure that everyone benefits from growth. Currently, the policy efforts of the Government of Ethiopia strive to develop the rural poor’s resilience to cope with repeated cycles of drought by ensuring every household has access to at least one water source so that they may be able to produce a continuous crop. Furthermore, the Government supports the rural poor by providing agricultural inputs, investing heavily in infrastructure to promote trade and enhance access to markets, and building rural institutions. Both Ministers reiterated their satisfaction with the level of cooperation between IFAD and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and called for even stronger ties between the two partners and increased investments into smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia.

    Hon. Sileshi Getahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Develoment, welcomes Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of IFAD.

    Hon. Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance an Economic Development, met with the President of IFAD to discuss ongoing cooperation between IFAD and the Government of Ethiopia.

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    Press release

     IFAD workshop launches the second phase of a regional cooperation programme to support 20 million farming families across Asia and the Pacific


    Farmers’ organizations in Asia and the Pacific region jump start International Year of Family Farming


    The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in collaboration with the Farmers’ Federations from Asia and the Pacific will launch the second phase of a regional Medium Term Cooperation Programme with US$14 million grant to support farmers’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific. The workshop will take place in Bangkok, Thailand on 23-24 November and will be attended by Asian Farmers’ Organizations representing 20 million small-scale farming families from 25 countries in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific.



    Worldwide, farmers’ organizations are increasingly playing an active role in reducing rural poverty, improving food security, and ensuring development opportunities for smallholder farmers. They are also front line advocates for family farming, and representing the interest of the producers and making their views and expectations known for decision making purposes.


    In 2009, the first phase of Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific focused on building and strengthening the capacities of farmers’ organizations in the region to engage in policy-making and programme implementation processes of governments and IFAD country operations to better respond to organization member needs. “The most successful element of the first phase of the programme was the creation of national platforms, which enabled farmers’ organizations to define their common priorities and to speak out as one voice to governments and decision makers,” said Benoît Thierry, IFAD Country Program manager. “Because of this, they improved their communication and policy dialogue skills on sensitive issues and are now recognized as official representatives of the farmers,” he added.


    Based on the success of the first phase, IFAD will leverage as the total amount of the grant during the period 2013 - 2017 to finance the second phase of the programme, which will provide specific support to the vulnerable poor, particularly women and youth, who represent at least 45 per cent of the participating farmers’ organizations membership. IFAD will provide $2 million from its own resources and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation will provide $3 million as cofinancing.

    The second phase of the programme will be implemented by the Asian Farmers’ Associations for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a technical regional implementation agency working in partnership with La Via Campesina (LVC) in 15 countries initially.  The programme will be extended later to reach up to 25 countries in three main sub-regions South Asia, south East Asia and China, Pacific.




    David Florentin Paqui


    Communications Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2213

    Cell: +39 335 7516406


    Benoît Thierry

    IFAD - MTCP Focal Point

    Asia and the Pacific Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2234


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    By Line Kaspersen

    It is common practice to have stakeholder workshops when projects close; to validate project completion report findings and communicate them to stakeholders. In Uganda we are trying something new; as part of the increased corporate focus on impact evaluations, a team of 4 statisticians have come to support the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme (CAIIP-1) Project Facilitation Team (PFT) to ensure high quality on the other hand. On the other hand, IFAD will be able to develop technical concept notes on how best to analyse the impact of infrastructural projects. For CAIIP-1 we will produce a vigorous impact assessment of this successful project!
    What is happening is that several different activities are on-going:

    A snapshot of how complex the impact evaluation can get.
    • A Results Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) study
    • An impact evaluation study 
    •  A Project Completion Report - PCR
    • Updating M&E databases – PFT
    Each of the first three activities above is being handled by a different consultancy firm.  Having several firms doing different things at the same time created a challenge: How can we maximise the outcome of this work with so many stakeholders on board?
    Bearing in mind that we need to indicate numbers of people pulled out of poverty, working with statisticians gives us a great opportunity to report confidently on this. In Uganda, we have linked the IFAD statisticians to the three different firms doing the RIMS, PCR and impact evaluation studies through the PFT.
    In a one day stakeholder workshop, the PFT and the three firms came together to discuss how to: 
    • Harmonize the objectives and TORs of each consultancy firm (could one firm focus on community questionnaires and one on households?)
    • Develop a common sampling methodology prior to data collection (first we need to discuss which control-groups are valid? What do we do when we don’t have a baseline?)
    • Agree on the theory of change - what exactly we mean by impact? And on who?
    • Review the available documentation and understand it well  
    The IFAD statisticians are expected to provide the following support to ensure better quality studies, which can serve as a dependable point of reference in regard to impact.
    • Technical support for data collection – developing questionnaires and training enumerators
    • Bringing in external data-sources and GIS resources
    • Specific cost-benefit analysis expertise
    • Support for coordination of the parties

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    by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, PTA and Alessandro Marini, ESA

    A participant from a mentored household
    showing her land registration certificate

    IFAD’s focus on addressing rural poverty is recognised by governments and donors as the Fund’s strategic niche. However, often we face the challenge of how to reach beyond the economically active poor to the poorer households which experience a much more profound depth of poverty – often eating less than one meal a day; sleeping on the floor of a grass-thatched, mud-walled dwelling; regularly being unwell; and withdrawing children from school. These poorer households are often unable, unaware and unwilling to access support networks and services for assistance. They have often given up on facing the challenges of life.

    Earlier this week, Lawrence Kasinga, Programme Coordinator, and Judith Ruko, Rural Sociologist, from the Programme Management Unit of the District Livelihoods Support Programme in Uganda explained how household mentoring has enabled the programme to deepen the programme’s level of engagement in addressing poverty. The success of household mentoring has been recognised by the Ministry of Local Government which is keen to promote the mainstreaming of household mentoring into local government services to scale it up in those districts that are not covered by DLSP.

    Alessandro Marini, CPM Uganda, welcomes this initiative. “I have worked as a CPM for a number of years and have struggled to find mechanisms through which we can reach out to the really poor households and allow them to benefit from the different activities and investments of the various projects that IFAD is financing. Household mentoring is enabling us to do that, and I am very committed to making increasing use of this in future activities in Uganda as the main tool of our country programme for targeting and social inclusion”.

    In DLSP, poorer households are selected by the community to participate in household mentoring. These families are normally beyond the reach of the mainstream programme activities – they do not belong to farmer groups so do not benefit from agribusiness development initiatives, they have no surplus to sell so they do not benefit from improved market access, and they self-exclude themselves from community meetings so their views are not reflected in planning activities.

    But after one or two year’s mentoring, the lives of poorer households turn around. Household sanitation and hygiene is improved, they undertake extremely modest investments (known as near-nil investments) to make use of the resources they have available – including under- or un-utilised land - and gradually household food security improves. Household members start connecting with ongoing initiatives – such as adult literacy classes - and accessing services – in particular health services. Household mentors also benefit by gaining status in the community.

    How has this profound turn around been achieved? Household mentoring comprises visits to individual households by a trained mentor over a period of one to two years. The mentor engages with all adult members of a household to support them in examining their problems together, developing a vision and identifying their own pathways out of poverty, associating with others and – eventually - becoming self-sustaining entities. The change occurs because – as a result of this process - there is a new level of trust, transparency and motivation between household members built around their common vision.
    Attention is also paid to identifying and addressing gender inequalities. As a result of engaging both with women and men in a household, joint land titling is common, women are gaining a voice both within the home and outside, and wife-beating is reducing dramatically.

    Of course, there are challenges. Some mentors - who are all volunteers - lose heart, households do not want to be mentored, while successfully mentored households are reluctant to graduate. And sceptics will argue that – while this is a great initiative on a pilot basis – it is not replicable at scale. It is true that resources are required to train the community development staff, support them while they train the mentors, and provide modest remuneration to the mentors. But the benefits are enormous, tangible and sustainable. Compared to the other programme components, the costs are negligible.

    Judith Ruko explained: “In DLSP, a network of over 600 mentors – back-stopped by District and Sub-county Community Development staff - across 13 districts has already mentored 18,000 households. We would estimate that around 60 per cent have now progressed to the point of becoming self-reliant and in a position to embark on a sustained pathway out of poverty”.

    The PTA gender and targeting desk is preparing a sourcebook on household methodologies, in which the experience in DLSP will be show-cased. See earlier blogs about the household methodologies and the writeshop:

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    by Adriane Del Torto

    West and East have joined efforts once again for an important learning event, this time providing a platform to share experiences in Monitoring and Evaluation for Francophone Countries in West and Central Africa (WCA) and East and Southern Africa (ESA).  This morning (2 December), IFAD had the honour of His Excellency Mr Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire opening the Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop held in Grand Bassam (suburb of Abidjan, Historical City of Côte d’Ivoire and UNESCO Heritage site) at the N’SA Hotel.

    In his opening statement, the Director of the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD underlined the importance of M&E for results based management to for a “ better chance at reaching development objectives” while assuring us that “there is a direct link between good management and project performance.” His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture was very proud to personally open an IFAD workshop as IFAD has always had quality activities in Côte d’Ivoire, but most importantly because “IFAD never left our sides even during the most difficult we have gone through. IFAD continued to save lives by  continuing to support agricultural production in areas where even nationals would no longer set foot.”

    In his welcoming words, Mr de Willebois underlined the importance of M&E in projects so as to better report on real impact on the field, learn from mistakes and design better agriculture development programmes, truly aimed and helping the rural poor.

    The objective of a workshop with a cross-cutting theme such as M&E is to ensure that there is a common understand of M&E, its concepts and requirements of IFAD in terms of RIMS (Results and Impact Monitoring System), by giving projects time and space to discuss and share experiences to build on to improve M&E systems, tools, reporting and in the longer term improve results and impact of development projects.

    After setting the scene with our M&E specialists and facilitators from WCA’s 3SL Grant with IED Afrique, the participants approximately 120 from some 20 countries in Sub-Saharan African (coordinators, M&E officers, CPMs, CPOs etc)  broke up into groups to discuss their logical frameworks and results chains.

    The day was filled with heated but cordial and sometimes funny debates on this apparently passionate topic. At the end of the day, it was clear, however, that concepts are not always as straight forward  as we believe and that there is plenty of room for interpretation…So we will continue discussions in the coming 4 days, with emphasis on exchanges  of experiences among practitioners .

    Do feel free to comment on this post to contribute to this discussion. You can also follow the workshop on Twitter #ifadme @adeltorto or through @IFADnews, your opinions and contributions are most welcome in the debate.

    The workshop will be running until Friday 6 December 2013. Please stay tuned for some interesting material on workshop content and discussions in the days to come.

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    by Adriane Del Torto and Roberto Longo

    The team has left the Maniema Proveince a few days ago, but I still need to talk about the farmers that live live along the RN 31 after we made it there! Luckily Roberto (Longo, Farmer Organisations Technical Advisor) joined the team to better target questions and respond to the queries of our agricultural entrepreneurs.

    But I forgot to tell you, how we get to the RN 31…. No commercial planes or crazy roads, this time it’s MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) airplanes. MONUSCO provides safe flights to major cities in DRC with a regular flight schedule.

    Check in 6 am at MONUSCO Air Terminal. Departure time: when the passengers have all checked in and the plane is ready to go. We actually took off at 7:45 am. First stop: Kisangani, 1h45 minutes flying time. The flight went well. Connecting flight from Kinsangani to Kindu: when the plane arrives from Entebbe or around 4 pm, to arrive in Kindu around 5:30 pm.

    I recall that an IFAD mission was in the Maniema Province, in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Interphase Review of PIRAM (Integrated Rural Rehabilitation Programme in the Maniema Province). Aside from working on roads (see my last bog article) PIRAM’s main component is to rehabilitate agriculture in the Province in a post conflict situation. Until now, the project is already supporting over 500 farmers organisations throughout the Maniema Province .

    Back to our farmers and their organisations in the Kasongo and Pangi production areas.  The IFAD team met a women’s group, in Kituta, who shares a community field where they tested the properties of the rice seed received from PIRAM. The women’s group received 100kg of "NERICA 4" short cycle rice, commonly known as “biscuit”  or cookie for its sweet taste.  The women decided to test this new variety which has a short cycle of 3 months (instead of 4 months like traditional varieties of rice) allowing them to cultivate the second rainy season (season B) typical to the Southern hemisphere. The first rainy season in the Maniema Province has a planting season mid-September/early October with a harvest in end of December,  January and February. The Second season or Season B plants in end of February/March to  harvest in May/June. Since traditionally the B season is not cultivated, the hungry seasons runs from June to mid-December, of course with PIRAM this trend is changing quickly and rice prices have become more stable, even though they are still cheaper right after the A season harvest in December/January. The tests have been quite positive, whereby yields have at least doubled compared to their traditional varieties and the women will be cultivating the B season next year.

    After discussing how the women are organised, the methods they used and the like, the team concluded have concluded that what keeps this association of 23 women’s groups together, is the charisma and leadership of their President as well as the bonding factor brought in by having common fields where women have more time to socialise together even if they are working.  The IFAD team asked the women what it is they would like as support for their group. Incredibly enough, what marked the women’s group from many others is that their request was Knowledge! The women asked for training to better manage their resources and to be able to acquire credit to buy a rice processing unit. This is becoming a pressing need because production is increasing and surpluses have a much higher value if already dehusked. This was really an encouraging group!

    Thanks to PIRAM, farmers have been proud to say that they have more disposable income, allowing them to buy things such as small tools for their farms, cellular phones, new cloths (pagne) to sew clothing, uniforms for children for school, small solar panels allowing them to have basic lighting and to charge their phones and in some cases, televisions and satellite antennas for international channels. Encouraging results for a programme that still has 6 years to go and that will be targeting 84 000 farmers by the end of 2019.

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    Good Morning from Grand Bassam!

    It’s been a long night. Discussions, discussions around our grilled fish and attieké in a local maquis (outdoor restaurant). There is a great ambiance even though there is a little heatwave and the generator gave up on us for a little while. The discussions were so interesting that our discussions on RIMS and success stories from Madagascar, Niger, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire were not interrupted!

    Tuesday's theme was  RIMS – the IFAD Results and Impact Monitoring System. The IFAD team gave an overview of some of the difficulties noticed in reports and upgraded some tools to make the monitoring of the RIMS indicators easier. Participants are quite pleased with the developments. In order to have better focus on RIMS, the large group split up to work on three different themes: (i) how to choose level 1 and level 2 indicators; (ii) how to count beneficiaries (men, women, households, etc) to estimate outreach (and make sure there is no double counting! and (iii) how to assess level 2 indicators. It was surprising to see how different projects perceive their work how they chose their indicators. In the group I participated in, Madagascar shared its method of weighting the number of RIMS indicators per component by the financial weight of that component.. This approach was somewhat controversial and created a lot of debate within the group.. The shortcomings of this method were discussed, such as the value of soft investments (ex. capacity building) that are key for a project sustainability. On this topic, the group agreed that a combination of methods should be used to have the best reporting system possible, stressing the necessity of choosing the few  most pertinent indicators.  

    As mentioned earlier, Niger, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal shared their experiences in M&E. Although the projects differ largely, the common ideas by the presentations from these countries are proactive solutions to M&E. For example using simple approaches, have a common understanding of indicators by both project team and stakeholders at all levels, constant discussions and involvement, sharing of information and most of all, careful planning of all activities to achieve expected results. A special thanks to these teams for some great M&E work that they were so pleased to share.

    Participants especially appreciated the sessions on how to link and follow up on Annual Work Plans and Budget and Logical Frameworks and the necessity for M&E planning not just annually (AWPB), but over the life horizon of the project, with end results in mind, to ensure that activities are thought out and planned for in a logical sequential manner throughout project implementation. 

    Group work included preparing an action plan to improve RIMS Reporting for 2013, addressing the three questions raised in the working groups and putting to practice all of the things discussed here in Grand Bassam – especially since a prize is at stake!

    Looking forward to tomorrow for the next discussions!

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    Under the cool shade of a tree by the entrance of Hanja Chefa Primary School, 10 women gather around a table, putting final touches to preparations for an exhibition of their Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative activities. The chairperson is calm and ready to receive Queen Maxima and a high level UN-delegation.

    The group of women are part of the 62 member -strong Hanja Chefa RuSACCO, formed in 2012. The Chairperson of the Rural Savings and Credit Cooperatives or RuSACCO,   tells us that “our incomes increased since we started participating in this FAO project. We were inspired and organized ourselves to form Hanja Chefa RuSACCO.” Aiming to improve their lives the group saves their earned income to start vegetable gardens or buy small ruminants, such as goats and chickens.

    All the women are beneficiaries of the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme supported Purchase from Africans to Africa project, which supports farmers in Boricha Woreda (District) to propagate Haricot bean seeds to increase farming production.  The project gives a package of seeds and fertilizers to farmers, after they received basic training on how to propagate quality seeds. Consequently, they are required to sell 30% of their harvest to multi-purpose cooperative unions, which aggregate produce from members in the region to sell it to the WFP, which then distributes food aid and supports school feeding programmes.  This develops farmers’ engagement with Cooperative Unions giving them the opportunity to pool resources together with other farmers to exploit wider markets and gain a better price for their produce. Farmers who receive seeds eventually make in-kind repayment of the 25kg seed bags, developing a local seed bank for the area.

    The women voluntarily saved Birr 15,350 (USD 812) through the sale of Haricot beans. Striving to maintain the groups’ motto “Saving for a better tomorrow” the SACCO has deposited these savings in the National Commercial Bank and started to distribute loans to their members.  So far fifteen of the women have used these loans to establish vegetable gardens and buy small ruminants. Recently, the SACCO also purchased 4,300Kg of Haricot beans, which they will sell to unions at a higher margin. 


    Queen Maxima and the UN High level representatives applauded the women’s efforts to develop their incomes while viewing their display. The delegation also had an opportunity to see how Samuel, an agent for Omo Microfinance Institute travels with a donated motorbike to remote rural areas to sensitize the community on the benefits of financial services. 

    In Ethiopia, IFAD’s support has catalyzed the financial sector providing credit lines to Microfinance Institutions and developing the capacity of Cooperative Unions and RuSACCOs. The Rural Financial Intermediary Programme (RUFIP) supports Omo MFI to expand its services through a credit loan of Birr 18 million. The MFI now reaches all Woredas within the SNNPR, with 15 branches and 163 sub-branches.  Furthermore the project provided trainings to cooperative promotion agents within implementing regions.

    Queen Maxima, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, was accompanied by senior officials from the three Rome-based UN agencies during her visit to the farmers exhibition in Boricha. Together they underlined the role that expanding financial inclusion plays in strengthening food security and to enhance access to affordable financial services for the poor. Traveling with the queen on the trip was UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and Adolfo Brizzi, Director of Policy and Technical Advisory Division and representing the President ofthe International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

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    by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Policy and Technical Advisory Division

    The International Year of Family Farming is an opportunity to reaffirm the global importance of smallholder family farming, as producers of food, as carers of the landscape, and as contributors to rural economic activity. However, to unlock the potential of family farming requires more than ensuring smallholder access to productive inputs and technologies, natural resources and land,  financial services, and an enabling policy environment. We also need to look within the family.

    Intra-household dynamics are crucial to the productive and long-term success of family farming. Farming families usually share the same living space, eat from the same pot and rely on the family to undertake most of the work. Yet there is often a disconnect between the workloads of family members, their voice in decision-making and their sharing in the benefits. And, in some parts of the world, men and women within a household even pursue separate livelihood strategies, with women typically disadvantaged in terms of access to resources, services and markets, and burdened by more onerous daily tasks.

    Consequently, what happens inside the family has substantial implications not only for individual motivation and well-being, but also for the productivity and investments of smallholder family farming. It is essential to consider the family dimension if this International Year is to generate a commitment to developing the full potential of family farms.

    How can this be done? 

    In recent years, several methodologies have been developed to work within the ‘black box’ of the household. The formation of a ‘family vision’ to which adult family members contribute – together with older children, in many cases – enables the family to conceptualize and work towards shared, time-bound goals. Households are facilitated through this visioning process in various ways, including individual home visits by a trained mentor or extension worker, or initial skills development at a group level which can then be replicated and sustained at the household level with the support of peers and trained facilitators. One of the strengths of the methodologies is that they can be adapted to local situations and household forms (such as polygamous or female-headed households).

    Household methodologies are currently being implemented by governments, development agencies – including IFAD - and NGOs. The experiences of IFAD-supported programmes in Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ghana and Malawi, and an IFAD grant-supported project led by Oxfam Novib in Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria, demonstrate that household methodologies can contribute significantly to development objectives, as well as gender equality in family and small scale farming activities.

    Transformation methodologies, such as household approaches, show that cultural norms that have existed for generations can be transformed within one or two years, simply because the benefits of collaboration are experienced so rapidly. Women begin to exercise more decision-making power and suffer less gender-based violence. Men start to take on domestic and caring tasks and share work on the land, thus freeing up women’s time and securing men many personal benefits, such as more positive relationships with their children. Decision-making regarding household income flows and expenditures becomes more transparent and starts to involve all adult- and, in some cases, child-household members.

    As a result, participants report that their livelihoods are now more sustainable and resilient, farm productivity and incomes have increased, food security is better and, simply, they are happier with themselves and other household members. Local economies have also been boosted.

    Moreover, this tool is proving very powerful in identifying and addressing gender and inter-generational inequalities, as well as health-related issues such as HIV/AIDS, by generating changes from within the household, rather than imposing them from without. Since household methodologies do not seek to empower women at the seeming expense of men, during the process of planning a household livelihood strategy all household members come to realize that working together is a win-win solution that benefits everyone.

    ‘It was a taboo for men to carry a hoe. Women carried two hoes - the husband’s and hers, and from the farm also carried water, while the man walked freely carrying nothing. Once at home, the man would wait for food, while the woman will rush to the kitchen to begin preparing food. With the household methodology, our husbands now carry hoes, can fetch water and cook. This is a transformation for the better and I am no longer burdened. Planning together has made us more united and my relationship with my husband is very good.’
    Abigael, wife in male-headed household participating in Irrigation and Rural Livelihoods Project, Malawi.

    What role is IFAD playing in promoting household methodologies in family farming?
    IFAD is one of the leading agencies innovating with household methodologies to have more effective reach among poorer households and to improve intra-household gender relations. The Fund has a critical mass of initial experience, is a catalyst for knowledge exchange on innovative methodologies related to rural development, and has a strong presence at the field level. IFAD has played a key role in promoting household methodologies and, with the support of funding from the Government of Japan, organized a workshop/writeshop in Uganda in late 2013 to develop a sourcebook on household methodologies. This brought together 25 practitioners from all over sub-Saharan Africa working on different transformative methodologies at the household and community levels.

    Special events for 2014
    Given the importance of intra-household dynamics for the sustainable development of family farming, the IFAD Gender Desk will be happy to provide technical support to regional and country level initiatives during 2014 to promote the adoption of household methodologies. Contact:

    The sourcebook will be released in the first half of 2014 and specific training activities will be organized to up-scale the adoption of these methodologies in IFAD operations.

    For further details about household methodology experiences, see the links below:
    Gender sub-site
    International Year of Family Farming

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    By Abdelhaq Hanafi

    Judging by the sheer amount of press coverage, the launch of the PRIME project in Cairo on 12 December generated a great deal of interest. PRIME stands for Promoting Rural Income through Market Enhancement, and is comprised of three components: marketing support, rural finance, and project management and coordination. The total value of the project loan is USD 71 million, and the project aims to reach 50,000 beneficiaries.

    Certainly, the project, which aims to create jobs, raise incomes, increase food security, reduce unemployment and tackle poverty in rural areas, addresses a pressing need in Egypt.

    PRIME’s kick-off, hosted by the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture, was covered by Egypt’s main television channel, which aired the story on the evening news, as well as by several other television stations, newspapers, and online media outlets.

    At the ceremonies, government officials said that PRIME project activities complement the Egyptian Government’s priorities.

    The Egyptian Minister for Agriculture and Land Reclamation, the Egyptian Minister of Local Development, and the Egyptian Minister of Supplies each underscored the government’s commitment to the development of marginalized rural areas. Special mention was made of the fact that the project is being widely implemented, across 7 Governorates: Qena, Sohag, Assiut, Minya and BeniSuef in Upper Egypt, and Kafr el Sheikh and Beheira in Delta.

    In his speech, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Egypt thanked the Egyptian Government for its commitment to help smallholder farmers improve their lives. Egypt, he noted, is one of the largest recipients of IFAD’s financial assistance in the NENA subregion. In the current funding cycle, which runs from 2013 to 2015, IFAD has allocated USD 78.8 million in Egypt. Currently, he added, IFAD is co-operating with the Government of Egypt to design new projects. These will focus on scaling up one of IFAD’s most successful projects, the West Nubaria Rural Development Project, while incorporating new and innovative ideas related to renewable energy and water management.

    Participants in the PRIME inauguration ceremonies included a roster of high-ranking Egyptian officials, including Under Secretary of State for Ministry of International Cooperation, higher-up staff from the Ministry of Agriculture as well as the First Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Agriculture in each of the seven governorates covered by the project, and government officials at the Ministry of Agriculture.
    After the opening ceremony was concluded, it was time to get down to work. Project teams attended the first session of PRIME’s start-up workshop, which dealt with issues related to project monitoring and evaluation. The second day of workshops covered monitoring and evaluation as well as finance and procurement issues. Thanks to these intensive workshops, the project teams were able to dive right in, getting acclimated to both the programme and its logistics.

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    Pro-poor Value Chain Development Project in the Maputo
    and Limpopo Corridors of Mozambique.
    ©IFAD/Clarissa Baldin
    Written by Christopher Neglia

    Stephen Twomlow is IFAD’s Regional Climate and Environmental Specialist for East and Southern Africa. He is based in Nairobi, Kenya where he provides technical support to ensure IFAD’s regional portfolio is environmentally sustainable and climate-smart - assisting in project and country strategy design towards integrating climate and environment risks and opportunities (such as climate adaptation) into early identification and design of projects and country strategies. He’s currently supporting programmatic activities in Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda.

    What countries or sub-region in East and Southern Africa do you think will be negatively affected by climate change? 

    Southern Africa will experience the worst impacts in the region. There you have arid and semi-arid areas that traverse the borders of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. The situation of water scarcity is expected to become more dire, and could surpass the threshold of what smallholder farmers can tolerate when it comes to the water needed for agricultural production.

    In general, do you think that Governments in the East and Southern Africa are finally realizing the importance of the issue? 

    At the moment I would say governments are paying lip service, but not doing anything concrete to stop the impacts of climate change. With most governments constrained by tight budgets, there is hardly any impetus to spend money on long term environment and climate issues. But I should qualify this by saying there is also a gradual realization that something needs to change.

    Do you think there is any resistance in the East and Southern Africa (ESA) division to addressing climate risks in IFAD-funded projects? 

    No, I think we have come a long way on this. Most people whom I’ve worked with are on board. The challenge I see is getting colleagues to articulate the situation, by doing the proper vulnerability assessments and using the right language when talking about climate risks. In addition, when doing project designs it is important to understand that climate change is playing out over longer time horizons, therefore the project activities need to be sustainable in order to realize adaptation in the long-term.

    Do you think there still is some resistance from the beneficiaries to adopt climate resilient practices? 

    Certainly, as many people cannot access funds without strings attached. It is up to us to show that adaptation to climate change is not an economic burden, but brings all sorts of opportunities such as linking up to value chains, learning more efficient techniques or avoiding crop losses. One important point is that climate funds should engage with communities when taking stock of the baseline environmental conditions; this process allows them to confront issues that they would otherwise simply ignore.

    What are the main environmental problems that you find endemic in different project areas? 

    Two of the most common environmental problems are deforestation for charcoal production and lack of sustainable soil fertility management. On the latter, there is a need to think about a new paradigm that aims at improved plant nutrition for greater drought tolerance. If we feed the plant to grow the roots than it is more likely to survive dry periods.

    What new IFAD-funded projects are coming in 2014 and what are their main objectives? 

    There are two projects funded by the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) that I have been closely involved with. The first is the Climate Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness support project (PASP) in Rwanda. This project will address the post-harvest sector of the CIP (crop intensification programme) crops and dairy to demonstrate pro-poor approaches in post-harvest activities under increasing climatic uncertainty. Second, there is the Wool and Mohair Programme in Lesotho that seeks to provide economic and climate resilience to the poor, food insecure, climate vulnerable livestock producers in the Mountain and Foothill Regions of the country.

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    This article first appeared in UN Kenya Newsletter, December 2013

    Workshop participates playing 'the River Climate Game’ 
    ©IFAD, 2013

    IFAD’s regional Knowledge Management and Capacity Building Forum has embarked on an innovative initiative of bringing the thematic areas of gender, land tenure and climate change together in IFAD projects towards further contributing to lifting poor rural farmers out of poverty. This is under the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), which is aimed at the integration of climate adaptation related aspects in both design and implementation of IFAD supported projects in the East and Southern Africa region.

    To kick-start this initiative, the first ever regional workshop on linking the three thematic areas was held among IFAD staff and partners such as ICRAF, FAO, WFP, UNHabitat, UNEP and CGIAR, in October 2013 in Nairobi. Climate change experts shared prevailing facts, with a specific focus on the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region. According to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), in low-income countries, climate change could increase the number of malnourished children by 9.8 per cent by 2050.

    Climate change impacts, induced by a general rise in temperatures, include an increased incidence of droughts and floods, land degradation, water scarcity and biodiversity loss. In East and Southern Africa, the effects of climate change will be compounded by the region’s high poverty levels, weak infrastructure, poor natural resources management and dependence on rainfed agriculture.

    A key highlight of the workshop was the participation by all in the “River Climate Game” developed by the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre. In an informal way, participants were able to unpack the complexities and uncertainties of climate change, especially when linked to land and gender issues. As the IFAD regional director Perin Saint-Ange said: “We have to reshape our agendas to be able to address the various cross-cutting issues of land, climate change and gender.”

    It is important to mind the gender gap in dealing with climate change and land related issues in projects, and to recognize that men and women farmers have different abilities to adapt to and mitigate climate change. “Climate change adaptation strategies for women and men may be different due to the gender differentiated access to resources; unequal voice in decision making as well as gender-based division of labour. The workshop took these issues into consideration to ensure that the design of new ASAP projects in ESA will be gender-responsive. It is also important to make agriculture attractive to the youth given their large numbers and the potential they hold for the future,” said Elizabeth Nyambura Ssendiwala, the Gender & Youth Coordinator from IFAD Nairobi.

    Additionally, land tenure security, especially women’s land rights, decentralized land administration, and equitable access to irrigation and watershed management will also have to be integrated in projects and programmes for sustainable development.

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    Jan 16, 2014
    by David Cozac

    Blog originally posted on IFPRI's blog

    Improving food security and enhancing economic development in developing countries requires a multifaceted approach—and that includes access to reliable data. In the swiftly changing Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, up-to-date information is particularly crucial for policymakers to make accurate assessments of poverty, food and nutrition security, and other development indicators.
    In early 2013, the IFPRI-led open-access database and mapping tool—Arab Spatial—was launched to support this objective. The first initiative of its kind in the MENA region, Arab Spatial compiles, synthesizes, and geographically displays data on more than 200 indicators of food security and development. It analyzes food availability, accessibility, stability, and utilization, and the resulting nutritional status of individuals. It also considers the role that crises like violent conflict and shocks like climate change play in disrupting food security, and, in contrast, the role that policies and interventions can play in improving it.
    The database allows users to customize outputs according to their needs. For example, if someone wants to determine a link between droughts and violent conflict, Arab Spatial can map only those indicators or selectively add more layers, depending on the question raised.
    Now, one year later, an upgraded version is available. Announced on January 16 at a workshop on “Enhancing resilience to conflict in Arab countries through research and Arab Spatial 2.0,” the latest version includes the following new features:
    • a gallery of downloadable pre-made graphs on Arab nations’ development and food security;
    • customized analytical tools that allow users to compare and explore data by indicators, regions, and year, and to download the results;
    • multilayer maps that dynamically track development projects geographically; and
    • simpler navigation and greater interactivity for an enhanced user experience.
    The Arab Awakening underscored a desire not only for information, but also a desire for the public to have a say in policy matters. Arab Spatial responds to that need and should be of interest to anyone concerned with food security and economic development in Arab countries. It is designed to help stimulate public debate, policy dialogue, and better decisionmaking with the objective of achieving better lives for everyone, especially the most vulnerable.

    Related IFPRI materials
    Pressroom page for "Enhancing Resilience to Conflict in Arab Countries" workshop


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    São Tomé and Príncipe, a small island positioned in the gulf of Guinea, isconsidered one of the 200 most important biodiversity hotspots in the world. Many  of its important species and their habitats are threatened. Until recently very little information was available or known about deforestation and ecosystem loss. Earth observation has proved a powerful tool to learn about the process of deforestation and to spot the  places where interventions are needed the most.

    Sao Tome and Principe hosts an extraordinary amount of endemic bird and plant species[1]for an island of its size. The island has a large protected area, the Obo National park, which covers around 35 per cent of the country's surface. Signs of deforestation in the park and its buffer zones, an environmental impact that negatively affects  local livelihoods, was a main reason for the GEF-IFAD intervention.

    Before the start of the project, greater knowledge on the specific spots of deforestation was needed. This information will continue to be beneficial in the future, when the impacts of the project need to be evaluated. The European Space Agency financed a project from IFAD preformed by Geoville, to demonstrate how IFAD could benefit from Earth observation data. The project created some interesting observations on forest coverage in São Tomé and Príncipe.

    Earth observation was not an easy task due to the climatic conditions of the island – most of the time the surface is covered in fog and clouds. Some areas could only be observed with the help of radar data, going through clouds but of a lower quality since the clouds lower the view. This data has been combined with optical data, which has a high quality but does not show what is under the clouds. These challenges made it impossible to detect illegal logging on a micro scale.

    Although the mapping was far from an easy exercise, deforestation is clearly seen in the period between 2009-2013. The deforested regions are painted red on the map to the right. Those areas where deforestation is observed are mostly near large oil palm and cacao plantations. Interestingly, these are the same locations that were given to foreign companies for operation. In addition, there are signals of a shift towards more heterogeneous and invasive crop cultivation in regions with high deforestation rates. These findings created a rich source of information on possible causes of deforestation and provide important inputs for the project.

    In the near future, earth observation has even more  potential. The European Space Agency will soon start two new satellite missions that will generate new datasets of earth observations.[2]The missions carry a range of technologies, such as radar and multi-spectral imaging instruments for land, ocean and atmospheric monitoring. The benefit of these missions is that all data can be accessed for free. This new open source information will decrease the costs of new mapping exercises.

    In addition, maps can be enriched with more precise information, as in the case of participatory mapping. These maps can include community information, such as local water stream information or land tenure systems, so they can be used for specific, local purposes. 

    The São Tomé and Príncipe project offers a good example for the practical uses of earth observation technology by  showing where deforestation has taken place, indicating likely causes of deforestation and providing a baseline for project evaluation at a later stage. Especially when one
    considers the decreasing costs of future exercises due to the free data and the possibility of additional applications to the maps, the potential of earth observations is substantial.



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