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    With support from IFADAfrica and PICO Team, Uganda has had an opportunity to hold an in-country knowledge management and learning workshop. The three day workshop (3 – 5 February 2014) is going on right now in the beautiful and serene town of Jinja, right at the source of the River Nile in Eastern Uganda. The workshop aims at further enhancing the integration of knowledge management and learning in projects for improved performance and greater impact.

    As a country programme, we have been sharing on methodologies of reaching the IFAD global target of bringing 80 million people out of poverty. Line Kaspersen, our M&E focal person has done a back-of-the envelope estimation of 500,400 people taken out of poverty in Uganda from 2010-2013 – which means we still have two years to go to contribute to the target, and to support poor households in Uganda. We have also started implementing our new Results-based COSOP . At the moment, together with the project management units, we are working towards how each can concretely contribute to this figure.
    The big question is ‘How does Knowledge Management and Learning help us in achieving our overall portfolio and project goals and objectives?’ In the context of Uganda, how then does IFAD contribute to the attainment of the goals and objectives of the National Development Plan?
    So far, there is something really interesting going on at project level. Each project is sharing and showing awareness of what needs to be done to improve and contribute towards bringing a number of people out of poverty.
    What has emerged so far from the discussions is that knowledge management and learning is mostly (but not only) about;
    • Being results-oriented
    • Learning and adapting to achieve impact; with an interest in learning
    • Everyone should have an interest in learning, but more important is having an idea of what we would like to learn
    • Willingness to change, do things differently, be creative, innovative, and willingness to experiment
    • Continuous reflection on whether we are on track in achieving our targets, and
    • Ensuring that we work well in teams.
    It is also important to have continuous dialogue and negotiations both informally and formally, at personal and team level. We ought to be proactive in sharing relevant information, and know why we use certain KM&L tools.
    Project staff discussing which tools they use, which ones work,
    which ones don't, and why?
    We are now working on both KM&L process and impact indicators to show that we are actually implementing and integrating knowledge management and learning in our work. So, we are working on a ‘looking forward task’ - what we want to be reporting on by 2016.
    We shall share other highlights from the KM&L workshop in Jinja, and especially, the plans.

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    by Rima Alcadi and Shantanu Mathur

    picture: R.Alcadi/IFAD. FFS in Goromonzi, Zimbabwe
    We are all increasingly dependent on agro-biodiversity, as we struggle to adapt to the impending impacts of climate change. This is because there are varieties that have adapted to and thrived in harsh and marginal conditions and these are becoming more and more relevant as conditions become even harsher. For many poor rural communities, the conservation and sustainable use of their local landraces determines whether or not they are food secure: maintaining biodiversity is a way to enhance their resilience. In development projects implemented in various countries, including in Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa, farmers have clearly demonstrated that they care about their agro-biodiversity. For example, farmers in Zimbabwe maintain over a dozen varieties of the same crop. They do not do so in order to increase yields, necessarily. One reason they grow different varieties is to create farming system stability - to manage risks, such as pest and disease infestations, droughts and other environmental shocks. A second reason is to manage their factors of production and their cash flow, which basically means that smallholder farmers prefer to stagger the amount of labour, irrigation and other inputs required, so that it is easier for them to manage without having to revert to hiring or purchasing additional resources. Farmers are mindful of the amount of wood required for cooking or processing their crops, and they value regularity and predictability in  their cash flow, so varieties with different maturity dates are used as mixtures – making them productive even in lean periods (the so called hungry season) and creating vibrant food systems making them a perpetual and reliable source of health and nutrition. And of course, many smallholder farmers value diversity of use as well – some varieties are best for sweets, others for savoury foods, snacks, fodder, brewing - and thus the colour, texture, cooking time and even cooling time can be important traits that are considered in selecting which crops to grow.

    The fact that, globally, an estimated 75% of our plant genetic diversity has been lost since the 1900s is a matter of great concern. Moreover, the consequences of biodiversity loss are not being shared equitably across the world. The areas of richest biodiversity are in developing countries where they are relied upon by approximately 2 billion people to meet their basic needs. When farmers abandon their multiple local varieties and landraces for genetically uniform and high-yielding varieties, in the long-term they are jeopardising their resilience to climate change, food security and traditional knowledge associated with their local varieties. After even only a few seasons of neglect or drought, it can become an enormous challenge for smallholder farmers residing in marginalised areas to access good quality seeds, on time.

    Community seed fairs were conceived and promoted by a partnership among IFAD, FAO, Bioversity International and civil society organisations in Zimbabwe and Mali. In community seed fairs, several farmers meet to display their seeds,  provide farmers with the opportunity to exchange seeds as well as knowledge and experiences on the crops they grow. It is also a valuable tool for researchers to take stock of available biodiversity in a given community, and even collect varieties to conserve in the national gene banks – thereby ensuring that if the communities lose a variety, it can be recovered. Seed fairs also celebrate, recognise and reward farmers for their valuable contribution as custodians of agro-biodiversity. Often prizes, such as agricultural implements, are awarded to farmers who display the widest range of varieties, or bring rare varieties. Moreover, community seed fairs are an ideal platform on which to append other activities that can further enhance communities’ ability to improve food security and their adaptation to climate change. One of these activities is the Diversity Wheel.

    The idea of the Diversity Wheel came from the  “4 cell analysis,” a conceptual framework developed initially by the Nepalese NGO Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development (LI-BIRD), and Bioversity International. The method was conceived to assess, in a participatory way, the amount of crop diversity available in a community  and identify varieties that might be at risk of being lost. In a way, this is similar to the IUCN Red Lists, but specifically looking at cultivated species and at maintaining local agro-biodiversity on-farm. In this regard, the 4 cell analysis was conceived as a 2 by 2 matrix, where one axis refers to the number of farmers planting a specified variety (i.e., few farmers versus many farmers) and the other axis refers to the area in which the crop is grown (large area versus small area). This conceptual framework was further developed into a “5 cell analysis” as a 5th cell, referring to varieties that a community lost, was added to the existing tool in 2011, during an international conference organized by Bioversity in Germany and dedicated to neglected and underutilized species[1]. Because most traditional crops are scarcely represented in ex situ gene banks, this framework is very useful to monitor their level of genetic erosion and prevent their possible loss. Moreover, although seeds of certain varieties may be availableat a global scale, this does not necessarily mean that these seeds are accessibleto smallholder farmers in remote and marginalised communities. So communities need a preventive approach to conserving their agro-biodiversity.

    How does this work in practice? The Zimbabwean civil society organization Community Technology Development Trust (CTDT) collaborates with LI-BIRD and the two organizations exchange ideas on promoting sustainable use and conservation of local agro-biodiversity for rural development. Thanks to this collaboration, in Zimbabwe, CTDT is implementing the 5 cell analysis in the form of a “Diversity Wheels” - as an activity embedded into Community Seed Fairs in the poverty stricken districts of Tsholotsho, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP), Goromonzi and Chiredzi. This is a great strategy because several proud farmers participate in the seed fairs and they have a strong incentive to bring along their entire portfolio of seeds, in order to win the seed fair competition.  The seed varieties are selected from those displayed at the community seed fair. A facilitator then picks up one seed variety and asks the farmers: “How many of you are growing this variety?” and “Is this variety grown in a large area of land?”  The community would then decide in which segment of the Diversity Wheel the selected variety should be placed. In this exercise, farmers also discuss why certain varieties are not being grown any longer, or why they value a specific variety. They discuss whether the variety is important to them and, if it is important and it is at risk, then they reflect on how to proactively  ensure its conservation. Very valuable information on how farmers are coping with climate change also emerge from these discussions. For example, farmers in UMP highlighted that they are growing less of the traditional rice varieties and Bambara ground nut because the growing seasons are becoming shorter. In fact, they expect their traditional rice variety to disappear if current rainfall patterns persist. With regard to the white groundnut variety, 7 out of the 10 farmers who were growing this crop lost it as a result of drought.  In addition to climate change considerations, market demand and resistance to pests and diseases also play an important role in farmers’ decisions on whether to grow a crop or not: farmers grow groundnuts because there is high demand; pearl millet is attacked by birds and they prefer the low yielding but “bearded” variety, which fends birds off by pricking them. A major issue that also emerged during the Diversity Wheel exercise is naming of the varieties:  modern varieties are not given local names whereas young people are not aware of certain traditional varieties that are gradually eroding and do not feature in formal taxonomy and characterisation exercises either.

    Once the Diversity Wheel is fully populated, farmers can easily visualise how their food security and diet composition is evolving – are they growing only carbohydrates? Do the varieties they are growing have different maturity dates? Are there opportunities to learn agronomic practices from farmers who have been able to grow certain crops that have failed in other farmers’ fields?  Of course, the Diversity Wheel is very useful tool for communities to proactively manage their biodiversity for greater food security, adaptation to climate change and to promote learning – kudos to LI-BIRD, Bioversity International that have conceptualised it, to CTDT, Agritex and Zimbabwean farmers who have so ably put it into practice, and to Oxfam Novib and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for the support and funding. However, the story is a broader one – it is one of partnerships for a clear common goal, where good ideas build onto each other and are viral and travel across continents, and it is an example of a tool designed in such a way that the farmers are clearly on the driver’s seat.

    [1]Proceedings of the conference can be found at


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    By Kanayo F. Nwanze 

    IFAD is a United Nations specialized agency and an international financial institution committed to providing investments that create a route out of poverty for rural people in the developing world, most of whom are involved in agriculture. While our mandate and commitment are unchanged, the context of our work is rapidly evolving, and we are taking steps to adapt. In recent years we have created the Environment and Climate Division, the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) multi-donor trust fund, the Strategy and Knowledge Department, and new policies on gender and other issues. We are serious about tackling the problems that smallholder farmers face, and that necessitates adapting to changes in the development landscape.

    As a result, we are increasing our commitment of resources to issues related to nutrition. This may be surprising, since nutrition has been a concern of IFAD from the start and improving nutrition was embodied in the Agreement Establishing IFAD. And much has been achieved nutritionally over the course of IFAD’s existence through focusing on smallholder farmers and on women, who do most of the agricultural labour and are particularly vulnerable.

    But in spite of our achievements, we can—and need—to do more. Even small adjustments to IFAD investments to make them more nutrition-sensitive could have an impressive impact on nutrition outcomes.  Investments that are nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive can help re-shape agricultural production and the food system as a whole in ways that improve nutrition.

    We can categorize some investments as having a primarily nutritional purpose, such as biofortified staple crops or home vegetable gardens. They  improve nutrition and dietary intake and quality, though they have other benefits as well--for example, some biofortified crops may command higher prices in the market, or be more disease-resistant or adapted to micronutrient-deficient soils.

    But other actions not specifically aimed at nutrition can still affect it.  For example, higher productivity and income can increase rural people’s access to a greater variety of foods. Improved marketing and storage infrastructure can lead to lower relative prices for fruits, vegetables, fish and livestock products, making them more affordable. Empowerment of women can improve their and their families’ nutrition.  

    To eradicate malnutrition, of course, is a complex endeavor. Our work must be complemented with actions in other sectors, particularly health, education, and water and sanitation. But good nutrition still begins with food and agriculture. A food-based approach also ensures a sound foundation for nutrition throughout our life cycle. With adequate resources and knowledge, mothers can often draw on local foods to prepare an adequate diet rich in energy and micronutrients for their young children.  And with more nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems, older children and adults will be able to make the choices they need to consume a more nutritious diet – ensuring that the food they eat gives them the whole complex of macro- and micronutrients they need.

    .… good nutrition still begins with food and agriculture.  A food-based approach also ensures a sound foundation for nutrition throughout our life cycle.
    The human cost of inaction
    Improving nutrition is still a massive, unfinished agenda. In 2011, there were 165 million children with stunted growth, leading to compromised cognitive development and physical abilities. Every day more than 8,000 children die from preventable causes related to undernutrition.  We can’t let another generation be scarred by hunger and malnutrition.

    IFAD is well-positioned through its presence in countries where its investments can also support efforts to increase agriculture’s contribution to improved nutrition. Many of the countries where we work in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia will not be able to break out of poverty or sustain economic advances when so much of their population is unable to achieve the level of nutrition that is needed for a healthy and productive life.  Undernutrition is responsible for the loss of billions of dollars in productivity; it is estimated that an amount equal to 11% of GDP in Africa and Asia is lost to undernutrition every year, with productivity losses to individuals of more than 10% of lifetime earnings. This is a staggering loss  – the value of goods and services that countries in Africa and Asia could and should have produced, but didn’t, equals billions of dollars.

    More than 4 in 10 children under the age of five are undernourished in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, and about 7-15% of children in those regions are wasted (very thin). Many of these countries have prioritized nutrition and are at  the heart of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. IFAD can help to deliver progress and action to scale up nutrition in these SUN countries because we are already very active in almost all of them.

    Failure to expand, sharpen and accelerate our efforts on nutrition will impose a heavy cost in wasted opportunities.  

    There is broad  agreement that there can be no eradication of poverty without dealing with nutrition. When farm families are malnourished, they are less productive, and the children suffer long-term damage. Improving the nutrition of farming populations not only reduces the number of undernourished people, but also increases agricultural productivity and contributes to a thriving agricultural economy. Thus, nutrition is not a sideshow to our central work of combatting rural hunger and poverty; it is central and even essential to that mission.

    ….nutrition is not a sideshow to our central work of combatting rural hunger and poverty … it is central and even essential to that mission.

    Next steps 
    We have to start from the premise that agriculture needs to provide greater and more comprehensive attention to nutrition. We can build on actions we know have direct or indirect impact on nutrition, as described above.  Leveraging food supply chains to improve nutrition and scaling-up the use of biofortified staple crops -- rich in essential micronutrients -- hold much promise.

    We should focus on actions that will optimize agriculture’s contribution to the nutrition of rural people, especially women and children, while at the same time being sensitive to gender and impacts on environmental sustainability.

    If better nutrition is going to be a goal,  that goal needs to be measurable. We will be investing in project designs that incorporate nutritional considerations, and following-up with good evaluations and rigorous assessments to gather evidence that our activities are improving nutrition, especially for children under five.  IFAD’s overall results measurements framework for 2013-2015 includes chronic child malnutrition (i.e. height for age, or stunting) as one of the two anchor indicators to measure IFAD’s impact on the ground.
    IFAD is also collaborating with the CGIAR’s Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Program (A4NH), led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the new Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition to increase knowledge of which agriculture and food systems can in fact accelerate progress and have a substantial effect on nutrition.  With the assistance of  Canada, we have launched an initiative to mainstream nutrition perspectives into projects and programmes right from the start.  More recently, with support from Germany, we are developing nutrition-sensitive value chains for smallholders in middle-income countries. Partnerships and  knowledge exchange will continue to be an important part of our future work on nutrition, and I look forward to working with our members and partners to ensure that IFAD-funded programmes contribute to greater access to nutritious foods and high-quality diets for the rural poor, particularly women and children.

    As appeared on Impatient Optimist

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    by Daniela Cuneo

    Coffee is one of the most widely-consumed drinks around the world: Millions of people (and yes, I am one of those!) just can’ t think of starting their day without  a good cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the word coffee is a word borrowed from the Arabic word  “qahwah” which means “power” . Power as energy for coffee drinkers and power as ability for smallholder coffee producers of developing countries  to penetrate the markets for certified sustainable products, markets that open up opportunities to produce sustainably, cost-effectively and sell the crop at remunerative prices.
    But how can smallholder coffee producers make the most out of their crop if they don’t have a sense of the complexity of these  markets?
    Too often their  hard work does not translate into  decent incomes and the reason is very simple;  their coffee beans do not meet the standards required by the market therefore they are sold for few pennies or even worst they remain unsold!! 
    Coffee consumers are  not all the same! They have different tastes, they love different blends  and they are very demanding!. That’s why,  for coffee buyers  the big challenge is to find different and special green beans for their coffee blends and for producers is to cultivate  the right coffee beans.  But what is the relationship between coffee producers and buyers? In most cases none!
    Producers don’t know what happens to their harvest  once it leaves their countries, buyers don’t know how producers  grow and process their coffee beans and they never have the chance to talk to each other.
    But this is not what is happening to smallholder coffee producers  of developing countries who are participating in an innovative programme funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)  known as SAMCERT,  Strengthening Smallholders’  Access to Markets for Certified Sustainable Products .

    Building bridges along the coffee value chain of IFAD-funded projects: a capacity building initiative.

    Thanks  to SAMCERT , a three years partnership initiative with the Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute (ICEA ) and  the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI) ,  IFAD project representatives from Sao Tome and Principe (Genito and Nelson) , Nicaragua (Julio, Merlín, Wilmer and Denis), Dominican Republic (Maria and Rufino) and Papua New Guinea (Rose and Esther) came to Italy in December 2013 and had the opportunity for the first time ever in their life to:

    • Take a close look at Italian roasting companies  and coffee retailers

    •    Experience the magic of the roasting

    •    Enjoy the true flavour of roasted coffee beans

    •    Refine their sense of smell to ascertain the properties of the green beans !

    •    Appreciate the different qualities of the green beans

    •    Capture the key phases of the roasting process

    •    Learn how roasting is done

    •    And actually ……….do it!

    •    Understand the role that technology plays in the production  process

    •    Exchange coffee beans from IFAD-funded projects with Italian roasters

    •    Be briefed at ICEA HQ on SAMCERT objectives and the key pillars of the certification process

    •    Hear from Italian coffee buyers what kind of coffee they are looking for

    •    Participate in a coffee cupping exercise at IFAD and have their  coffee samples assessed by Italian coffee experts from Café Latino!

    To my surprise and I guess to the ones of the IFAD project representatives, the  coffee beans have a sort of “ DNA“ which unveils , though a number of tests , how the beans are grown and processed so no secrets for the coffee tasting experts! The best  beans were the beans from Nicaragua  but also the ones from the other countries had lot of strengths. In terms of weaknesses, all of them had a few and the Italian coffee experts offered technical solutions and advice to overcome them .
    As Alessio Baschieri ( Associazione Caffè Latino)” said, “there is no such thing as good coffee. There are coffees that consumers choose. The challenge consist in assessing  the qualities  of our coffee beans and  build linkages with the markets  that appreciate them. ” 

    Thanks to this initiative,  which was organized by SAMCERT and supported by “Caffe’Terzi” , “ L’albero del caffe’Caffe’Corsini, Comitato Italiano Caffe’ , “Cooperazione Italiana” ,  the  Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare (IAO) and "Associazione Caffè Latino", IFAD  project representatives went back to their countries with  a clearer understanding of the Italian market requirements, the standards they have to meet in order to penetrate in the market of certified coffee. In few hours some of them will  be in Nurnberg to participate in Biofach 2014 and they will get an opportunity to present their  beans to coffee buyers from all over the world and as a result truly put their business flair into practice. I wish them the best of success and I’ll be lucky enough to see them in action. So watch this space to find out how well they are doing! To know more follow # BioFachVivaness #ifad

    Watch the video

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    by Kanayo F. Nwanze

    It is a cliché of development discourse that it is better to teach people to fish than to give them fish to eat. While there is a core of truth in this statement, the issues have become much more complex than such simple ideas suggest.

    Today, as the international community is working to fashion a new sustainable development agenda to succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are at least 842 million children, women and men suffering from chronic hunger and many more who are poorly nourished. The world population has passed 7 billion. And climate change presents a serious challenge to growing enough food to feed this and future generations.

    Today’s world differs greatly from what the architects of the MDGs faced. There is consensus that we need not just a new set of goals, but a new way of reaching them that embraces a comprehensive approach to sustainable development, looking at the economic, social and environmental dimensions. In development parlance, a transformation has to happen.

    And that transformation has to happen in rural areas, as well as urban. For one thing, 76 percent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas. Most of them depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. If development doesn’t reach them, then development fails.

    But these rural women and men are also a powerful force: small family farms provide up to 80 percent of the food produced in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. They are also stewards of natural resources and biodiversity on which the future depends.

    And they have the potential to grow more food, feed more people, reduce poverty, create jobs and protect our natural resources – but only if we apply a transformative approach to development. Investing in rural people is essential to that approach.

    The idea of transformation is not new. Almost 40 years ago, the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition stated that “effective measures of socio-economic transformation” would be needed in order “to remove the obstacles to food production and to provide proper incentives to agricultural producers”.

    That declaration was adopted in 1974 by the World Food Conference – the same conference that provided the initial impetus for the creation of the organisation I head, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

    IFAD’s experience shows that investing in rural people and in agriculture can ensure a real return on investment in terms of food security and poverty reduction. We know that market-oriented, profitable and environmentally sustainable smallholder agriculture can spur economic growth in developing countries and lift millions out of poverty.

    In the world’s 49 least developed countries, agriculture is the backbone of the economy, accounting for 30 to 60 percent of gross domestic product and employing as much as 70 percent or more of the workforce. And smallholders in developing countries play a key role in protecting our environment, providing a wide range of environmental services that contribute to carbon sequestration and limit carbon emissions.

    Neither global food security nor poverty eradication can be achieved without rural development. The world is becoming increasingly urban, yet cities are still fed by the people working the land in rural areas. And rural areas are changing, as higher returns from agriculture attract more investment and create new opportunities. If poor farmers and fishers are excluded, they will follow a well-trodden path to over-crowded urban areas and abroad.

    More and more, the development community is realising that we cannot move forward if we continue to think of agriculture and rural areas as backward, or marginal. This change in our mindset needs to be embraced by developed and developing countries alike.

    To transform rural spaces and lives will require imaginative projects, partnerships and technologies. Yet we must be realistic.

    The future we want isn’t free, and it isn’t enough just to want it. It will have to be paid for – not just with greater investment in agriculture and rural development to ensure nutritious food for all, and not just by tearing down the barriers to accessing food, inputs or finances. It will cost us time, and a higher level of care and attention.

    Transformation means not just changing the outcome, but changing the context. It must be both ameliorative and preventive at the same time – changing the present, and opening the door to a better and more secure future. It means helping people fish today in a way that will also ensure there are fish to catch tomorrow and long into the future.

    IFAD invites you to join Adolfo Brizzi, Director of IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division, and Gerda Verburg, Chair of the Committee on World Food Security, for a  discussion on “Achieving a sustainable future for all: Rural transformation and the post-2015 agenda”.

    The event on February 18 starts at 13.30 GMT, and will be webcast at with questions and comments taken live from Twitter with the hashtags: #ifadgc and #post2015

    As featured on Thomas Reuters Foundation website

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    Preface by Federica Franco 

    2014 started off well with a successful experiment: an IFAD project being designed together with talented local young professionals. In an unprecedented initiative, four young professionals working in Malawi’s water sector participated in the design of a new rural irrigation project. While their intention was to learn, they delivered much more than that, leaving a long-lasting impression on senior government officials and IFAD country director Ms. Abla Benhammouche.

    Since June 2012, IFAD's Policy and Technical Advisory Division’s Water Unit has been implementing a small but ambitious pilot project targeting early career professionals from five countries in sub-Saharan Africa: “Filling the Inter-Generational Gap in Knowledge on Agricultural Water Management: Twinning Junior and Senior Experts”, or Jr/Sr Twinning in short. This capacity building exercise under IFAD’s Innovation Mainstreaming Initiative (IMI), was developed to prove the effectiveness of inter-generational cooperation and field-based mentoring to transfer knowledge from Senior to Junior experts, and thus to ensure the continuity and sustainability of water management in agriculture, nurturing a new wave of local experts. The project ended in October 2013, leaving behind the contagious enthusiasm of its first batch of Junior participants and a vibrant interest in the stakeholders arena.

    The four young Malawians, Eshiperancar, Marnet, Mphatso and Violet, had just finished working as IFAD junior fellows under the Jr/Sr Twinning project when the opportunity came to participate in the design mission. As such, the four spent three weeks with the mission team, taking part in all the activities on the field and in Lilongwe, working on a specific set of tasks and outputs. Their involvement in the mission was an invaluable opportunity to experience first-hand how the design of large donor funded projects works, and to prove that their contribution can really make the difference.

    The article below was written by the four Junior fellows at the end of their mission. It’s their wake up call for additional investments targeting promising young talents from the South, to make youth participation more than just a fashionable buzzword. Now it’s up to IFAD and other development actors to take their message seriously. For more information on the initiative contact Federica Franco.

    We guarantee you, invest in the youth and you are investing in the future, for the future

    Written by: Marnet Ngosi, Mphatso Malota, Eshiperancar Kampini and Violet Moyo; IFAD Junior fellows, Malawi

    More often than not, young qualified professionals are left out in development activities. In a large part, this is because of their lack of practical hands-on experience. Regrettably, they are the same people who are expected to take over from the present generation. The question we would like to pose therefore is: how can young generations take over in the near future if they are not equipped for their upcoming responsibilities? 

    If the young generations are to ensure the future of food security and the sustainable use of natural resources, one of the key areas of focus of policies and interventions should be building up their capacity and empowering them. Today, governments and institutions are designing the future of our countries, yet they’re overlooking the fact that the future will not be in their hands, but rather in those of the now young professionals who will be there to implement and reap the fruits of such decisions. Let us recognize and embrace the need to transfer critical expertise to the youth, uplift them and enhance their capacity!

    As young professionals in the water sector, we feel that the incorporation of our views and opinions under guidance of senior experts, can effectively build up our professional competency and prepare us to address the dynamic issues we will face in the future. Knowledge transfer and inter-generational cooperation strengthen our self-confidence to ably tackle future challenges, and as experienced professionals discuss problems and solutions among us, we can really think: ‘I am the future and I am going to be part of it when it will happen’.

    The IFAD Jr/Sr twinning programme was a great opportunity to showcase our potential, and to advocate the need to include us in decision making processes.  Our experience with IFAD’s mentorship programme has been fruitful and productive. Thanks to the programme, we improved our technical, analytical and writing skills, we strengthened our capacity in development research, project implementation and reporting, but also immensely benefited from the close collaboration with rural communities. We got acquainted with setting up career priorities and professional goals through the use of the Personal Development Plan and evaluations. Taking part in the IFAD design mission, we worked on our time-management skills and gained significant exposure to big donor-funded projects. 

    Overall, it has been a successful professional enhancement for us. We commend IFAD for this brilliant initiative and urge to continue investing in youth empowerment programmes, so that more young experts will be reached out to. May other organisations follow IFAD’s example and introduce similar initiatives targeting local junior professionals: only together we will be able to work towards building a better future.

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    Farmers' Forum participants fill the Italian Conference Room at IFAD headquarters. ©IFAD
    ROME, Italy – For the past two days, the largest meeting room at the headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development has been filled to capacity for the 2014 session of the Farmers’ Forum, an ongoing consultation between IFAD and organizations representing small-scale farmers and rural producers around the world.

    The forum convenes every other year for a global consultation, held in conjunction with the annual Governing Council meeting of IFAD’s member states. This year’s Governing Council begins today with a full roster of official delegations and expert panellists. But in the run-up to that meeting, smallholder farmers, foresters, pastoralists and artisanal fishers held the floor at IFAD, voicing their concerns and sharing their ideas on reducing rural poverty and boosting food security – all from a decidedly grassroots perspective.

    This year, the Farmers’ Forum took place in the context of the International Year of Family Farming, declared by the United Nations to call attention to the important role played by smallholder producers in feeding rapidly rising urban and rural populations in developing countries. The forum also coincided with preparations for IFAD’s next replenishment of funding from member states, and with the broader international effort to define a sustainable development agenda for the post-2015 era.

    Seizing opportunities
    Faced with these milestones, small-scale rural producers’ organizations certainly have their work cut out for them. As IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze put it in his opening statement at the Farmers’ Forum: “We recognize that development is not something that is done to people, but something that is done by people for themselves.”

    Representatives of small-scale producers' organizations at the forum. ©IFAD
    To advance rural development in a spirit of partnership and inclusiveness, the Farmers’ Forum featured plenary and working group sessions on issues of mutual interest to IFAD and forum participants. Topics ranged from managing small-scale fisheries and expanding market access for family farmers to strengthening women’s presence in farmers’ organizations and boosting the voice of smallholders in dialogues on agricultural policy.

    The deliberations concluded with a plenary session on a wide-ranging statement, drafted by Farmers’ Forum participants to convey their ideas and proposals to IFAD and its governing bodies. Noting that the forum was established almost a decade ago, the statement called for a joint effort to seize new opportunities that have emerged during that time. “If we do not seize them our collaboration risks stagnating,” it warned.

    “Smallholder family farming should be recognized as a pillar of local, sustainable development and a substantial guarantee for food security and peace and stability in the world,” the statement continued. “This vision has to be conceived at every level and implemented in national actions with positive effects for each community.”

    Improved collaboration
    At the plenary, forum participants went on to urge that IFAD devote additional resources, training and capacity-building to support their organizations and accelerate its efforts to:
    • Improve the image of small-scale family farming, pastoralism and artisanal fishing as formally recognized professions
    • Increase the involvement of smallholder producers’ organizations in IFAD’s country-level programmes and operational activities
    • Strengthen interaction between the Farmers’ Forum and IFAD at various levels, to facilitate more effective contributions by farmers’ organizations to IFAD initiatives on a continuing basis
    • Enhance collaboration between IFAD and farmers’ organizations in policy forums such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and initiatives such as the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme.
    The participants also called upon governments to resolve the agrarian crises in their countries by – among other measures – making effective use of IFAD financing, implementing CFS guidelines on land tenure and adopting Food and Agriculture Organization guidelines on small-scale fisheries. For their part, the small-scale producers’ organizations made commitments to pursue a common agenda; enhance their ability to engage in policy dialogue and provide services to their members; and raise the level of participation by women and young people in their respective groups, and in the Farmers’ Forum as a whole.

    Over the next two days, the recommendations from the forum will inform debates and discussions at the Governing Council, as IFAD maps its course on investing in rural people in the years to come.

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    By Maria Elena Mangiafico

    During the rich discussions at the pre-GC event “Achieving a sustainable future for all: Rural transformation and the post-2015 agenda”, like most people who followed, I was trying to visualize what rural people’s lives will look like 20 years from now.

    This feeling came on even stronger when Ambassador Gerda Verburg, Chairperson of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) said that Post 2015 goals should tell an ambitious story about where we want to be in 2030.

    So what do we want to put in the picture of the rural lives of tomorrow?

    Most of the colours we will put in it are shades of what IFAD is already doing and will continue to do more of and better.

    Let’s start by adding a more vivid shade for empowered rural people, especially women, whose voices are heard and are part of decision-making processes.

    Then go with a decisive green to represent vibrant rural economies where transaction costs are reduced so that smallholder farmers can access larger markets.

    We want colours of innovative agricultural solutions and services so that young people actually choose to stay in rural areas and make a decent living for the families. (I was touched by a story told during the Farmers’ Forum about students who were attending a training on organic agriculture in the Himalayas where the teacher asked the young students: who wants to become a doctor and several raised their hands, an engineer? and hands up, a policeman? and hands up, fireman? and hands up, until he asked who wants to be a farmer? and not one hand went up. In the future we want to see hands up.)

    How about the colour of resilience of rural households to shocks? In the future they will be able to manage the risks they face and be less exposed and vulnerable.

    Of course we need a nice shade of infrastructure as well guaranteeing good roads, hospitals, schools, water and sanitation.

    We also need to add some strokes representing access – access to financial services, to assets, to markets, to land, to natural resources, to technologies, to health care, and access to opportunities.

    And yes we want to see the grumpy faces in the background of those who thought that rurality was a synonym for backwardness and marginality.

    This may seem like a very ambitious painting but after all the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime (and yes -  it does span for well over 20 years), there is hope that it could happen.

    But it won’t be easy - it will take the most talented artists (not even Picasso could do it alone) to invest and join forces to promote rural transformation.

    If the picture doesn’t look nice in the end, it won’t count as a defeat only for rural people but we will all be defeated. Rural areas are the producers of our food, the custodians of our environment and the hope for our future.

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    ROME, Italy – Ugandan entrepreneur Andrew Rugasira told a story yesterday that spoke volumes about the importance of investing in rural people as a solution to endemic poverty and hunger. “It’s not charity,” he said. “It’s a business proposition.”

    Rugasira, CEO of the Good African Coffee company, was speaking at a panel discussion on private-sector investment in smallholder agriculture. The panel was part of the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s 2014 Governing Council session, a two-day gathering of high-level representatives from IFAD’s member countries.

    As the panel’s moderator pointed out, Good African Coffee is the first African packaging and roasting enterprise to export coffee directly to markets in the United Kingdom. And as Rugasira recalled, getting to that point has been a rewarding journey – but not an easy one. What’s more, it is a journey that corresponds with many of the key points covered at this year’s Governing Council, which focused on investing in smallholder family farmers as a vehicle for sustainable rural development.

    Transforming rural communities
    The journey began a decade ago, when Rugasira and a small team of colleagues travelled to the mountains of western Uganda in search of small-scale growers to supply them with high-quality coffee beans. At first, the team aroused little interest among farmers in the region. “We were meeting with grandmothers and their grandchildren” rather than working farmers, Rugasira said.

    Andrew Rugasira, CEO of Good African Coffee, at Governing Council panel
    on private-sector investment. ©IFAD
    Eventually, Rugasira met the widely respected headmaster of a local school and made his case for the nascent Good African Coffee brand. It was time, he asserted, for Africans to process and market their own products globally and use trade, not aid, as a model for development. The headmaster was convinced, and he spread the word.

    At the next meeting called by Rugasira and his team, 300 men and women – all smallholder farmers – turned out. The people at that meeting were among the first to join a network that has since grown to include some 14,000 Ugandan smallholders. Members of the network supply Arabica beans to Good African Coffee’s processing facility in Kampala. Besides providing its suppliers with training in good farming practices, the company has developed 17 savings and credit cooperatives in coffee-growing areas. As a result, noted Rugasira, “we’ve seen the farmers transform their communities.”

    ‘A dignified occupation’
    For IFAD, the story of the coffee growers in Uganda is further evidence that investing in rural people brings returns that transcend mere economics. Indeed, IFAD is engaged in similar efforts around the world. By providing loans and grants to train and build the capacity of small-scale producers – and to enhance their access to credit and markets – these initiatives generate lasting, positive change for some of the world’s poorest people.

    IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze speaks at the 2014 Governing Council
    meeting. ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello
    “We invest in rural people because we believe that they are part of the solution to the world’s challenges,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, speaking at the Governing Council. “We believe it because we have seen it, over and over, year after year, in the countries with whom we work and in the projects we support. Smallholder family agriculture is a business. And it can be a high-yielding, efficient and lucrative business, a dignified occupation that produces food, creates jobs, sustains families and puts countries on the road to stable, inclusive development.”

    It’s hard to argue with such aspirations. The test for IFAD will come in the years ahead, as it invests in new development projects and works to foster constructive policy dialogues with governments and other partners – all in the name of unlocking the vast potential of rural women, men and children.

    IFAD has launched a new animated video about the power of investing in rural people. Watch it here.

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    By Rima Alcadi

    The panel discussion on "Stories from the field : Investment in the transformation of rural people’s lives" involved 4 of our Country Programme Managers/Country Directors: Cristiana Sparacino, for Burkina Faso; Esther Kasalu-Coffin, for Haiti; Nigel Brett, for Bangladesh; and Nadine Gbossa, for Kenya. The panel was moderated by Kevin Cleaver, IFAD Associate Vice President for the Programme Management Department. The event was very useful for us to learn more about how IFAD-funded projects are transforming and having an impact on the lives of rural people. As highlighted by Kevin, IFAD overall is quite successful – with an 80%success rate. We can flaunt achievements in terms of positive impact on women, and on the environment. Our major challenges are working in fragile states, scaling up, ensuring that women have equal access to resources, and confronting environmental issues – particularly in the face of climate change. The stories from our Country Programme Managers/Country Directors are detailed below.

    Burkina Faso: farmers coping with climate change
    The Sahel is highly exposed to the impact of climate change and farmers in Burkina have been struggling to cope with climate change variability for decades. Because of this, they developed several agronomic practices, based on traditional land management techniques. These include soil and water conservation techniques and agro-forestry. IFAD works with farmers to improve their local techniques and support their innovations. As a result of IFAD and partners’ interventions, the phenomenon of re-greening of the Sahel is now taking place. Farmers have benefited from productivity increases in a series of nutritious, drought resistant and mainly rain-fed crops, such as sorghum, cowpea and millet. With climate change becoming more and more of an issue in the Sahel, fortunately successful agronomic practices adopted in Burkina Faso are being scaled out to other countries. What Cristiana highlighted as major ingredients contributing to success are: (a) supporting farmers’ knowledge; (b) ensuring government support; and (c) basing project design on lessons learnt from the field. Scaling out to other countries in the Sahel took place because she championed it: when she was Country Programme Manager for Mauritania, she went for a supervision mission in Burkina Faso and, when she saw farmers’ innovative agronomic practices, she promoted these in Mauritania by building these into the design of a new project.

    Haiti: forging strategic partnerships to address capacity issues
    Esther Kasalu-Coffin (photo by Suyun Kim)

    Haiti is a country where IFAD has operated for over 35 years. Rural poverty reduction in Haiti is a challenge for several reasons, includingof the fragility of key institutions. Just imagine: Haiti has experienced 10 extreme natural disasters in the past decade, amongst which the catastrophic 2010 earthquake, which shocked the entire world and devastated the country. Throughout all these hardships, public institutional capacity has suffered. Notwithstanding these difficulties, IFAD funded investment projects have directly benefited more than 500,000 people in the rural areas. Because of the erosion in capacity in public institutions, IFAD and the government of Haiti have resorted to forging strategic partnerships at the national level, for instance with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) to support the process of program management, as well as at the local level, well-established NGOs in the country, such as Welthungerhilfe. IFAD partners with the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the European Union, to build the capacity of institutions in the sector, in a comprehensive manner. The out-posting of Esther Kasalu-Coffin herself is another valuable support that IFAD management is providing to the government.

    Bangladesh: small fish = big difference
    Bangladesh is covered with floodplains and rivers, which represent a rich ecosystems for freshwater fish. The floodplains comprise 80% of the country. Fish is essential in the Bangladeshi diet, constituting the main source of proteins and micro-nutrients in poor rural households. More than 80% of the animal protein in the Bangladeshi diet comes from fish. Yet the capture fishery is often badly managed. Productive water bodies attract the attention of powerful local elites and poor rural people often find themselves excluded and unable to benefit from this essential resource. The leasing system of these water bodies was for 3 years, providing no incentive for these resources to be managed properly. As a result, water bodies were exploited mercilessly. In 2003, the Government of Bangladesh worked with IFAD to change the leasing arrangements from 3 to 10 years and explored ways to ensure that poor fishermen could benefit from the water bodies. User groups with poor fishermen, and including women, were set up and supported to benefit from the new longer leasing arrangements. The results – from the financial, social and environmental perspectives - have been tremendous, as user groups are now investing in improving the fish production habitat of their water bodies. An evaluation of the project, by World Fish Center, noted that biodiversity and fish production increased significantly. The nutritional status of children also increased (with a notable decrease in stunting). This success is now being scaled up, with the involvement of other donors (Spanish Funds and JICA). 

    Kenya: the poverty reduction business
    Nadine Gbossa (photo by Jean-Philippe Decraene)
    In Kenya, the government worked with the EU to introduce an input subsidy scheme, whereby farmers received improved seeds, fertilizers, and training on agronomic practices that led to a 150% increase in productivity. However, these excellent results were not sustainable as, without government support, farmers could not sustain the production surplus. Government of Kenya and the European Union approached IFAD to capitalize on the experience in supporting smallholders. The agreement was scaling up what works, but going beyond increasing productivity only. Productivity was understood as only one element of the equation. A value chain approach was also needed and access to financial services was a third essential element. Because IFAD recognised that smallholders needed to access the financial sector to sustain the investment in their business, IFAD brokered a partnership with Equity Bank – a leading bank when it comes to lending to small holders. Smallholder were registered, given credit cards to access inputs, provided with training in financial literacy and access to credit – not for philanthropic reasons– but because Equity Bank recognised that the programme support will mitigate risks and that the investment was good business. Banks are usually averse to investing in agriculture as it is considered a risky business. By providing better inputs (such as quality seeds, irrigation, capacity building on agronomic practices, fertilisers and so on), IFAD, the EU and the Government of Kenya are basically helping to hedge against the risks inherent in agriculture, thus making agriculture better business for Equity Bank as well as other banks!

    These 4 stories give us a taste of what are the type of challenges IFAD staff face. However, these stories above are not only stories from the field – these are also stories of successful development practitioners, who have passion for what they are doing and who are not shying away from the inevitable difficulties and challenges they face. They are also stories of leaders who work in partnerships with others to identify opportunities and achieve great goals –IFAD’s goals. Listening to our 4 colleagues, I felt that there was a lot to learn from them, and that they were quite successful development practitioners who are helping us build the reputation of IFAD as centre of excellence. I asked myself: what makes them successful? I think that it’s their unwavering commitment, persistence, resilience, and especially their ability to deal with challenges.

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    by Rima Alcadi
    Paul Polman and Nisha Pillai (photo by B. Gravelli)

    Paul Polman, is Unilever’s Chief Executive Officer. Since taking office in 2009, he has set out an ambitious vision:  by 2020, Unilever aims to incorporate 500,000 small farmers into its supply chains and to source all of its agricultural raw materials sustainably (see Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan). This centre-stage event was moderated by news anchor Nisha Pillai. They were subsequently joined by Andrew Rugasira, Merlin Preza Ramos, Bill Vorley and Laksmi Prasvita. 

    Polman is not only Unilever’s CEO: he is also Chairman of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; member of the International Business Council of the World Economic Forum; member of the Board of the UN Global Compact; member of the Board of the Consumer Goods Forum; and a Director of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, he was invited to serve on the High-Level Panel looking at the Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals and previously acted as co-chairman of the B20 group of companies reporting to the G20 on Food Security. In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, in 2012 Polman received the Atlantic Council Award for Distinguished Business Leadership and the CK Prahalad Award for Global Sustainability Leadership. We certainly have a lot to learn from him! There’s lots on Polman on the web: pictures, articles, videos. Polman has a Velcro effect on people – what he says sticks. I will provide you with some snippets of his intervention:

    ·         Business exists to solve a problem - to serve  society.

    ·         If the system doesn’t work, business will not work either. Sustainability needs to be factored into the business model and business should be part of the solution. People want greater traceability and transparency when it comes to food especially. We are in this together. There can be no business if people are too poor to buy.

    ·        Unilever is an NGO – a non-governmental organization! The only difference between Unilever and other NGOs is that our business is financially sustainable and we don’t need to ask for resources;

    ·         Our children passed the age of 5 – why do they have the right while several others don’t? We produce bar soap, it is to our advantage that it is sold. So we train people on how to lead healthier and longer lives via better hygiene. It is a win-win.

    ·         The world is long on words and short on actions. You can't talk yourself out of what you’ve behaved yourself into.

    ·         Great inequalities are worrisome

    Polman reminded us that we have still much work to do. We have major challenges to face, including mitigating and adapting to climate change, achieving food security and poverty alleviation and no company, government, NGO, or UN organization can tackle these challenges alone. To create an ecosystem that can help lift people out of poverty, we need to work in partnership. Indeed, his visit to IFAD is not only as star of this centre-stage event, but also to ratify a Memorandum of Understanding with us - this will lead to more smallholder farmers connected to markets. The partnership with IFAD would be valuable for Unilever. IFAD can help train and build the capacity of smallholder farmers, while Unilever can provide smallholder farmers with employment, access to market and the long-term guarantee of a fair price for their produce, as well as infrastructure. Reduction of poverty is important to Unilever also because smallholder farmers’ role as consumers is strengthened. This is thus putting in motion a virtual cycle that can provide benefits to all involved.

    The event was certainly further enriched with the participation of the other panellists.

    Prasvita is the Executive Director of PISAgro working with over 53,000 farmers. Under her leadership, PISAgro membership has expanded exponentially, attracting considerable private-sector investment. An important message from her is to work with smallholder farmers to ensure that they can improve productivity and quality, focusing also on postharvest. Their work consistently involves private sector partners and they pay attention to the entire supply chains (from farm to fork).

    Preza Ramos, is the Director of the PRODECOOP Fair Trade cooperative in Nicaragua. An advocate for empowering cooperatives, over the last decades she has been instrumental in building the capacity of cooperative members, implementing a robust marketing strategy, thus ensuring fair trade. She reminded us that there are several different models in place – the key is to not lose sight of the fact that  the smallholder farmer needs to sustain himself and his family, while respecting the environment.

    Rugasira, is the founder and CEO of Good African Coffee, a Uganda-based social enterprise that brings quality coffees, roasted and packed at source, to the global market. Good African Coffee works with a supply network of more than 14,000 coffee farmers in western Uganda. He highlighted that farmers are in their enterprise for business. Smallholder farmers are poor only because they lack opportunities. They lack money and resources as a result of the fact that they lack opportunities to make money. A major challenge is adding value to commodities so that smallholder farmers are not exposed to price volatility.

    Vorley is the Principal Researcher in the Sustainable Markets Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). He told us that he is a big fan of what Unilever is doing, especially because it is done in a public and transparent way. He noted that it is not only important to understand and appreciate success, but also to understand what are the main reasons for failure.

    The 10% of smallholders that are able to work with the private sector are able to do so because they are the ones with the least risk exposure: they are typically organised in cooperatives, have irrigation, enjoy access to quality seeds, adopt good agronomic practices, have access to infrastructure, etc. So if IFAD and governments can work jointly to help to provide these basic conditions, a more conducive environment will be created for the private sector to invest.

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    Je reviens du Burkina Faso où j’ai participé à l’atelier de clôture du Projet  «Les arbres des parcs agroforestiers et les moyens de subsistance: adaptation aux changements climatiques dans le Sahel ouest-africain».

    Il s’agit d’un don FIDA géré par l’ICRAF (World Agroforestry Center) et mis en œuvre au Burkina Faso, Mali et Niger par les instituts nationaux de recherche agricole en collaboration avec les équipes de quatre projets d’investissement financés par le FIDA.

    Le but général du projet était d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des communautés agricoles et pastorales pauvres vivant dans les zones d’intervention, grâce à la diversification et à la conservation des parcs agroforestiers, ainsi qu’à l’accroissement de la valeur des produits des arbres commercialisés dans le cadre d’associations communautaires.

    L’atelier de clôture a été extrêmement intense. Vingt-six présentations en l’espace de deux jours sur autant de thèmes de recherche,  portés à terme dans les trois ans passés par des chercheurs et des étudiants des universités des trois pays susmentionnés, en étroite collaboration avec les petits agriculteurs. Car l’aspect innovateur de ce don a été de travailler  selon une approche participative dans laquelle les petits agriculteurs ont été impliqués étroitement dans les programmes de recherche, en prenant eux-mêmes la responsabilité de tester des variétés de semences et des techniques agricoles dans leurs parcelles.

    Les actions du projet ont été guidées par des analyses participatives de la vulnérabilité au niveau villageois. Un outil spécifique pour conduire ce type d’analyse a été développé et adopté par les équipes de recherche dans les différents pays (Analyse Participative de la Vulnérabilité et de l’Adaptation au Changement Climatique-  APVACC -, sur la base duquel les stratégies d’adaptation des différents groups au niveau villageois ont étés identifiées.

    Un des résultats majeurs du don est la mise au point de l’approche Régénération Naturelle Assistée (RNA) qui est devenue, au moins au Niger, une source de revenus capable d’assurer la survie à long-terme des communautés. Cette approche consiste à créer, à travers l’adoption de techniques de conservation des eaux et des sols, des conditions favorables pour le développement d’espèces ligneuses. Les agriculteurs protègent et gèrent ces espèces en créant ainsi des nouveaux systèmes agro-forestiers sur des terres auparavant stériles.

    Un des facteurs à la base du succès de la RNA au Niger a été l’implication des jeunes élèves (et de leur capacité d’impliquer à leurs parents en provoquant ainsi un changement de mentalité dans la gestion du parc forestier). Les participants à l’atelier ont souligné l’importance de mettre cette pratique à l’échelle  en impliquant un nombre croissant d’écoles primaires.

    Une autre recommandation majeure est la nécessité de revisiter les législations forestières pour faciliter l’application à large échelle de la RNA.

    Plusieurs études présentées étaient axées sur la valeur économique des Produits Forestiers Non Ligneux (PFNL), principalement le karité - qui engendre en moyenne une chiffre d’affaire de 5 milliards de FCFA (plus de 10 millions de dollars) par an au Burkina Faso - mais aussi le tamarinier, le savon de balanites…. L’analyse des chaines de valeur des PFNL montre clairement le rôle très important que ces produits jouent pour l’économie des femmes et même des enfants, qui sont souvent impliqués dans la collecte des fruits en gagnant de l’argent qui peut être réinvestis en frais scolaires. 

    En conclusion de l’atelier, des prix ont été remis aux chercheurs pour l’innovation, la dissémination des résultats de la recherche, et pour le développement d’une méthodologie de recherche innovatrice relative à la séquestration du carbone.

    Tous les participants ont été d’accord sur l’importance et la valeur des résultats obtenus par ce projet, mais aussi sur la nécessité d’amplifier les efforts en terme de gestion des savoirs pour assurer que ces résultats arrivent à être disséminés à grande échelle parmi les petits agriculteurs.

    La présence des universités à l’atelier, et le fait d’avoir travaillé avec des étudiants pour faire un pont entre instituts de recherche et universités, font espérer que ce travail puisse bénéficier à une nouvelle génération d’étudiants. 

    De la même manière, grâce aux liens développés dans les trois pays avec les projets d’investissement du FIDA, la valorisation de ces résultats dans d’autres cadres est maximisé. A cet égard, ils ont déjà bénéficié à la conception de nouveaux projets d’Adaptation de l’Agriculture Paysanne aux Changement Climatique (IFAD ASAP) au Sahel.

    By: Ilaria Firmian

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    Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Senior Technical Advisor, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

    Informal viewpoint following participation in a side event on rural women during OWG8 meeting

    During the eighth meeting of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations, New York (3-7 February 2014), one and a half days were dedicated to social equity, gender equality and women’s empowerment. A side event to focus on rural women in an SDG framework was initiated by IFAD and co-organized with FAO and WFP and the support of the Permanent Missions of Mongolia and Nicaragua to the UN.

    At the OWG, many speakers affirmed gender equality as an end in itself, and called for a stand-along goal on gender equality as well as cross-cutting targets under other goals . UN Women is calling for a transformative goal, to further drive change and promote and monitor transformation in the structural determinants of gender-based inequality . The three components of the stand-alone goal are: freedom from violence; access to resources, knowledge and health; and voice, leadership and participation.

    As we move forward in the SDG debate, it is essential to ensure that the sufficient attention is paid specifically to rural women. A factsheet prepared by UN agencies in 2012 on the progress of rural women against the MDGs - including the stand-alone goal MDG3 on gender equality - had as its main finding that ‘globally, and only with a few exceptions, rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women and men for every MDG indicator for which data are available’.

    However, preparing the factsheet was frustrated by the lack of data, not only disaggregated by sex but also by rural-urban location. It also became evident that many of the 60 indicators used to track MDG progress did not resonate with the lives of rural women.

    The rural dimension of the SDGs will be crucial for addressing hunger, poverty and environmental concerns. Today, more than 70 per cent of the extreme poor live in rural areas, widespread in low income countries and as pockets of poverty in middle income countries. It is estimated that smallholder farming supports the livelihoods of approximately 2.5 billion people and feeds about 5 billion. The drive to increase productivity will be vital as the urban population continues to grow, with an estimated 70 per cent of the global population living in urban areas by 2050. And in order to realise the potential of the smallholder sector, it will be essential to address gender inequalities which currently hinder production. Women farmers are major producers of food and yet their efforts are hampered by their lack of access to productive resources, inputs, technologies, services and markets.  For a useful summary on the challenges facing rural women, watch "Who Feeds Our World?" produced by the Hunger Project.

    What stories do we want to be able to tell about the situation of rural women through the SDG indicators?
    The three objectives of the IFAD policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment provide a useful framework for identifying indicators relevant to the livelihoods of rural women. A number of indicators identified to track progress are listed below; many have already been noted by UN Women but those marked with an asterisk are new.

    SDG indicators for rural women
    Objective 1: to promote economic empowerment to enable rural women and men to have equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, profitable economic activities: 
    • Access and control over resources: land ownership, property ownership, inheritance, use of financial services, bank accounts, secondary school enrolment and completion rates, literacy rates
    • Participation in economic activities: registered businesses *, licensed traders in agricultural inputs/ produce *, female agricultural extension agents *, female veterinary officers *, gender gap in wages in agricultural/fisheries/ forestry sector *, percentage of low pay workers in agricultural / fisheries/ forestry sector *
    • Access to and control over benefits: earning and controlling own income, mobile phone ownership, use of internet
    Objective 2: to enable women and men to have equal voice and influence in rural institutions and organizations:
    • Rural producer organizations: membership*,  leadership *, leadership of federations *
    • Public institutions: seats held in local government (district and regional), national identity documentation, leadership of natural resource/community infrastructure management groups *, membership and leadership of civil society organizations active in rural areas *
    • Households:  decisions regarding large purchases, decisions regarding women’s health, decisions regarding visiting relatives, important decisions to be made jointly
    Objective 3: to achieve a more equitable balance in workloads and in the sharing of economic and social benefits between women and men:
    • Access to safe water and sanitation: time spent collecting water, proportion of population using improved source of drinking water, proportion of population use improved sanitation facility
    • Access to modern/renewable energy sources: time spent collecting firewood, access to electricity, use of modern/renewable energy sources
     But in addition to these output and outcome indicators, it is essential to track whether there is any improvement in the quality of the lives of rural women. The indicators below are targets in their own right but they are also indicative of more profound changes linked to the transformative agenda. For example, if women are able to exercise their reproductive and health rights, or if there is a reduction in harmful traditional practices - such as early marriage or female genital mutilation – or a reduction in the perception that gender-based violence is acceptable behaviour, then these are indications that there has been a significant shift in thinking and behaviour change at the household level. Similarly, improvements in nutrition indicators for women and children demonstrate that women are able to exercise more voice in the allocation of household resources and prioritise nutrition benefits.

    Quality of life indicators for rural women
    • Nutrition: anaemia in mothers, child stunting
    • Health: maternal mortality, adolescent fertility, sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevalence
    • Gender-based violence: sexual and/or physical violence, perceptions and attitudes that condone and justify violence against women and girls
    • Harmful traditional practices: female genital mutilation, early marriage

    What needs to happen next?

    As noted above, most of the indicators listed above are already in the documentation proposed by UN Women. What IFAD is bringing to the agenda is the essential need to ensure that all these data are disaggregated by rural-urban location, so that – in five years’ time – we will be able to track the progress and share the stories of rural women against the SDGs.

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    The ingredients for a climate game: a few dice, some red stones and  a handful of beans. With these simple tools, the Netherlands Red Cross team gave a great simulation yesterday of the choices smallholders face in a highly uncertain environment. “As climate scientists we realised that only spreading climate change models was not very useful to the people most affected. You need to inform people on what they can do to protect themselves from climate-related disasters. How can they deal with climate risks with incomplete information?” said Maarten van Aalst.

    The Red Cross Climate Centre has trainted many development agencies and has even worked with members of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on climate games.

    “It was interesting to see how scientists started to calculate risks and tried to include complex calculations in their decision making process” adds van Aalst.

    At IFAD’s first ever Global Staff Meeting, it was up to our staff to see if they could adapt to climate change and prevent for the impact of disasters.

    How to play? In order to make the game not overly complex, rainfall variability is considered as the only manifestation of climate change. Our biggest worry is therefore that the village we live in, part of a larger region, faces floods. There are two ways to invest our resources (represented by beans):  in development work (resulting in economic development for our own village) or in disaster risk reduction (safeguarding assets in case our village faces floods). You roll two dice to find out whether you are hit by a flood, or if your village has been spared. In the beginning of the game you can invest in an early warning system. If you opt for this, you receive a transparent cup so the number on one dice is visible. If you don’t protect your region against floods and a flood hits, you face a great loss of beans. If all your beans, run out – the price your village pays is a crisis. 

    The frustration caused by running out of beans is real! After 10 rounds, most villages did not have any more resources to invest and had to leave the future of their villages to blind chance.

    The question of how donors allocate money also came up. Are they willing to invest in advance or only after a disaster? In the  case of the game, donor money only became available when it was already too late.

    The game showed in a fun and interactive way that climate change adaptation is full of challenges and uncertainties. Even though the participants all knew that floods may have large impacts on their villages – they  wondered why invest in risk reduction, when they did not know if a disaster would actually hit their village. It was therefore quite attractive to spend money on short term benefits: you could only spend your money once. 

    “Although this game is a simplified version of reality, it has definite implications for our project portfolio,” said Gernot Laganda, ASAP coordinator at IFAD.“We see some of our investments floating away, and project budgets being spent on repair and restoration efforts, so being aware of the climate risks allows us to programme more resilient rural development projects.”

    The Red Cross game showed that decision making in relation to climate change and risk management, is quite a difficult task. Even when the will and knowledge to act is there: risks are complex to deal with in a world where money is scarce. 


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  • 02/27/14--09:24: Unraveling land indicators
  • by Harold Liversage, the regional land advisor and Steven Jonckheere,  land and natural resources associate for IFAD in East and Southern Africa

    Land is fundamental to the lives of poor rural people. It is a source of food, shelter, income and social identity. Secure access to land reduces vulnerability to hunger and poverty. But for many of the world’s poor rural people in developing countries, access is becoming more tenuous than ever. IFAD, FAO, UN-HABITAT, the International Land Coalition Secretariat, the Global Land Tools Network Secretariat and OXFAM co-organised a Workshop on Land Indicators on 21-22 February in Rome. The workshop is part of an on-going consultation to identify a set of indicators to monitor progress in land governance. The event brought together a range of stakeholders from governments, farmers’ organizations, civil society, multilateral organizations and institutions interested in food security and land issues. The need for common land indicators is greater than ever because of the monitoring demands have been, or will be, created by the post-2015 agenda, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs) and the Framework and Guidelines on land policy in Africa (F&GLPA). There is also demand for common frameworks for project monitoring and evaluation.

    Global Land Indicator Initiative
    The Global Land Indicator Initiative (GLII) was established in 2012 with the aim to support efforts to harmonize monitoring efforts around land tenure and governance. GLII seeks to derive a list of globally comparable harmonized land indicators, using existing monitoring mechanisms and data collection methods as a foundation. The Initiative is supporting global and regional frameworks such as the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance on Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGTs), agreed by 193 Member States and supported by civil society on the one hand, and the Framework and Guidelines (F&G) on land policy in Africa, a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa on the other. The Initiative intends to foster partnership, inclusiveness, consultation, evidence-based indicators, people–centred approach and sustainability.
    In September 2012, UN-Habitat, the World Bank and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), met in Naples, Italy, to discuss how to advance the harmonization of global land indicators through a multi-stakeholder consultative process. Since then two other meetings have been organised on land indicators, one in April 2013 in Washington and another in November 2013 in The Hague, with an increasing number of participating organisations.

    Concerns have been raised that the voices of civil society have not been coming out very strongly. This workshop has succeeded in broadening the participation in this initiative with a strong representation from farmers’ associations  (such as Asian Farmers’ Association, East African Farmers’ Federation and the Network of Farmers' and Agricultural Producers' Organisations of West Africa), large networks such as the FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), the International Planning Committee for Food Security (IPC) and Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) of the Committee on Food Security (CFS).

    Post-2015 agenda/Sustainable Development Goals
    Some of the participants are involved in the wider process of developing and negotiating the post-2015 agenda/Sustainable Development Goals. Indeed, it is important that momentum is maintained to ensure the inclusion of land-related targets and indicators in the final framework. Measurability is one factor that will be taken into account in finalizing the targets and indicators. Going forward, the post-2015 process to agree goals and targets will be mainly focused on intergovernmental negotiations, with the selection of the indicators also being a high-level process in which UN and other multilateral agencies will play a key role. High-level lobbying therefore needs to be taken forward by different stakeholders: intergovernmental partners, civil society organisations and supportive government representatives. Workshop participants agreed to support this process by providing key messages on why the land indicators and the targets they relate to are important, by showing that they enjoy wide support, and by showing that there are feasible mechanisms for assessment. IFAD has assigned strategic priority to participating in the global dialogue on the post-2015 development framework and will focus on four themes: i) Leveraging the rural-urban nexus for development; ii) An empowerment agenda for rural livelihoods; iii) Investing in smallholder family agriculture; and, iv) promoting resilience of poor rural households. Security of rural people’s tenure over land, property and other natural resources is the first cross cutting target area relevant for all the themes.

    Harmonizing indicators for regional, national, sub-national and project monitoring
    The initiative seeks to address these other harmonization demands in parallel. The VGGT and F&GLPA provide benchmarks and create an opportunity for governments and other actors to track and monitor progress. Indicators are relevant to monitoring and tracking of the VGGT and F&G. Monitoring strategies for the VGGT and F&GLPA need to be developed through a very inclusive process of stakeholder involvement, and for that reason should be seen as a longer-term process. CFS will monitor the implementation of the VGGT and is a globally legitimate arena in which to expand the discussion on indicators. The participation in this workshop of HE Gerda Verburg (Chair of CFS) and HE Robert Saabiti (Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the Rome-based agencies and sitting on the CFS Bureau representing the Africa Region) has therefore been very important.

    The harmonization of project monitoring indicators is also something that can be advanced in parallel. A number of different multilateral and bilateral donors support tenure and land governance-related projects and programs and employ indicator frameworks to monitor these. A key concern in such monitoring is to evaluate how projects and programs contribute to the implementation of global and regional goals and guidelines. Project monitoring can contribute to the collection of data on common global indicators so the relevant stakeholders need to be involved in the development of the latter.

    Way forward
    There was a general agreement among participants that the post 2015 discussions and the possibility of getting an indicator/set of indicators and possibly even a target on tenure security/access into the SDG framework are a unique opportunity to promote the global land agenda. This can feed into the development of M&E frameworks for tracking progress in implementing the VGGT and F&GLPA. Nevertheless, care must be given to ensure the right indicators and targets are identified which provide an incentive for good land governance. This must be done in a transparent and inclusive manner. All participants committed themselves to contribute to this effort.

    Many thanks to everyone involved in making the land indicators workshop a success.

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    Like everyone, I went to some great sessions at the Global Staff Meeting. I met new people and heard new ideas. I also learned that IFAD is pretty good at discussing its difficulties. One of the richest sessions I took part in was on opportunities and challenges for the 2014 project portfolio, which brought together portfolio advisers, CPMs, technical experts, and regional directors and economists.

    Discussion focused on two key elements that significantly affect IFAD-supported projects:
    • The implementation environment – over which we have no influence
    • Project startups – where IFAD has more control, and which are key to improving project performance.
    Many people participated in the discussion, so I’m going to simplify my task by not attributing any comments or ideas by name. If I’ve misrepresented anything or you want to own your ideas or add to them, please post a comment at the end. Also, the discussion was so rich that it’s only possible to touch on the highlights in a short blog – or at least what struck me as the highlights.

    The implementation environment

    A matrix identifying 4 different types of implementation environment in APR was presented as a basis for understanding that environment and taking decisions accordingly at design phase. It categorized countries according to the strength or weakness of their central and local governments, and the strength or weakness of their civil society, including CSOs and the private sector.

    Click on image to view full size.

    The implementation environment is something IFAD has little control over. In a nutshell: ‘we have certain things we can’t do anything about’. (And as in that well known prayer, it’s important to know the difference between the things we can change, and those we can’t.)

    The discussion that followed brought home the fact that IFAD works in a kaleidoscopic range of different environments – not all of which fit neatly into 1 of the quadrants. And because country contexts are so widely different institutionally, it’s difficult to replicate what we learn in 1 country in another.

    It was suggested that a third dimension be added to the quadrants of different implementation environments – policy space. Policy space was likened to “a little window that opens and closes” offering opportunities to improve impact and project performance. Policy space provides the opportunity for IFAD to make its projects relevant to policy-makers and this creates potential for scaling up.

    Capacity was then thrown into the mix as the cross-cutting issue influencing the implementation environments – human and technical capacity.

    It was argued that the quadrant model should be taken into account from the design stage. Because you can have an excellent idea for a project but if you choose the wrong institutional arrangements, you’ll be fighting for years.

    There were also differing views about whether we should be working only through governments, with some participants arguing that this is the way to sustainably strengthen institutional capacity. The point was made that working through NGOs or other “contractors” may not be sustainable over the long-term.

    Several people argued for more flexibility in project design so that project teams can learn by doing and adapt goals and objectives during implementation where there is a need. The case was made that because we now directly supervise nearly all of our projects, we are in a position to be more flexible.

    Project management units were another issue where country differences were extreme. Some governments appoint government staff, others insist that we recruit from the private sector – meaning that we lose the expertise when the project closes. Sometimes government PMUs are managing scores of projects and it’s difficult to get their attention.

    There was broad agreement that grant financing could be effectively used for capacity building in government institutions and outside.

    Project start-ups: maintaining momentum

    The session then focused on project start-ups and once again there was a wealth of different opinions and experiences. Some statistics show that the speed of project start-up is a determining factor in performance. Slow start-ups lose momentum and enthusiasm and you can’t get back lost time. The time lapse between project approval and entry into force – when projects have fulfilled conditions so they are able to disburse – ranges from 5 to 16 months. “That’s a lot of time wasted.”

    The time between the first and second disbursement is also a significant statistic showing how well a project is progressing. In the weakest projects it can be close to three years.

    It is also important for us to know how project managers and PMUs view our start-up procedures. Indeed, ESA is carrying out a survey to find out the leading causes of early implementation delays – asking questions like: Do we provide adequate support? Are start-up workshops adequately delivered? Is documentation clear? IFAD’s aim is to optimize support in the first 15 months of a project’s life span.

    Comments from other participants suggested that delay in start-up is not always directly linked to weak performance further down the track. This was said to be the case in LAC, where start-up delays were marked, but not necessarily related to the quality of the project.

    There was a plea for divisions to allocate more resources to improve project start-up. Delayed recruitment of staff was one example cited. Starting work with the project team in parallel with the design phase was one suggested solution.

    One intervention went to the heart of many of the issues being discussed: it is regrettable that we are starting up and closing down in countries where we’ve been working for years, with higher transaction costs every time we do it and a multiplicity of PMUs. Should we favour the country programme approach to break this cycle? The way we work now is like repeatedly constructing the first floor in a building. In addition, PMUs drain the best staff from government ministries, effectively weakening the institutions we are meant to strengthen.

    There was general agreement that it’s important to do a lot more during design, including finalizing project implementation manuals by building on what already exists. There was also a suggestion that specific funding should be identified for this work.

    Having thoroughly taken on board the message that every country context is different, I then went to the SKD session and heard that the forces of globalization are influencing what happens in every country and that commonalities are emerging. But that’s another story …

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    At a seminar with researchers from Bioversity International and IFAD staff on Monday, it was clear that supporting biodiversity in crop systems is an issue that resonates with IFAD’s work. Indeed, greater diversity of crops improves community resilience and contributes towards better food and nutrition security. However, as was noted several times, biodiversity often lacks an explicit focus in our projects and programmes.  

    Bioversity International has published that only 12 food crops, together with 5 animal species provide over 75% of the world’s food today. This tendency by governments to favour efficiency and productivity is endangering our heritage of agricultural and forest biodiversity that farmers have practiced for centuries.

    In response, Bioversity International has come up with the seeds for needs approach– a rapid means of identifying crop varieties that are locally adapted to climate and market conditions. The process involves agricultural trials with different seed varieties and subsequent analysis of farmers’ preferences. By making use of CGIAR and institutional genebanks, Bioversity can customize seeds and distribute to community seedbanks based on farmer demand.  

    But the remarkable aspect of this approach is that the seed system is entirely open source. This means that there are no individual rights holders for the varieties they distribute, instead, the seeds are openly accessible to everyone.

    “The biodiversity that we’re offering is in the public domain, open access, and therefore easy to work with, multiply, and move around as farmers identify seeds as being important to their use,” said Stephan Weise, Deputy Director General of Bioversity.

    From both a food security and a sustainability perspective, this seems to make a lot of sense. However, in the many cases where government subsidies incentivize staple crops such as rice, maize and wheat, Bioversity’s approach actually represents a vast departure from the norm.

    I asked Weise how he reacts to such policy barriers: “Policies can change if you provide the right evidence and link it to an engagement effort that allows them to be adjusted.”

    “If we do not show that there is value in doing something differently, then policies are not going to change,” he added.

    The production of minor millets in India is a case in point. These are small-seeded crops grown for food and fodder, which are rich in vitamins and nutrients. Despite the crop’s neglected status, Bioversity provided extension services to improve planting techniques and helped select higher quality seed varieties.  As a result, Indian small millet growers increased their yields by 70% and their income by 30%, all in a rural setting that is dominated by rice production.

    As an organization that energetically applies itself to the plight of smallholders, IFAD has a role to play in demonstrating that agricultural biodiversity is more resilient and sustainable than monocrop farms. Engaging with colleagues in Bioversity can certainly lead to opportunities for promoting different agroecological systems in our own project contexts.

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    by Rima Alcadi

    Picture by Shepherd Tozvireva / Oxfam Novib
    In Zimbabwe, the IFAD-funded Oxfam Novib programme called “Scaling Up Peoples' Biodiversity Management for Food Security” is working in the low rainfall and poverty stricken districts of Tsholotsho, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe (UMP), Goromonzi and Chiredzi. The programme is reaching 5,800 households, of which 60% are women. The farmers surveyed in Zimbabwe are mainly subsistence farmers who grow primarily maize (on holdings of 0.4 to 0.8 hectares), with an additional smaller area of land (below 0.4 ha), for other crops such as sorghum, pearl millet, groundnuts, cowpeas, soybeans and Bambara groundnuts.

    In all these districts, farmers report that unpredictable dry spells are more common than before, have become longer and more severe. Farmers in Zimbabwe also experienced persistent droughts, which they had never experienced before, especially in Chiredzi and Tsholotsho districts. They also noted a marked increase in the number of pests and diseases. Farmers indicated that they are concerned about changes in both the amount and the distributionof rainfall. With regard to rainfall distribution, farmers reported that rains are starting later and ending before, with intermittent dry spells in between. Temperatures are also changing. Farmers perceive these developments as a strong indication of climate change. With the rudimentary tools available to them, farmers have been recording rainfall, temperature, wind and sun – sometimes even mapping these with activities performed. Farmers recognise that they require support to adapt to these changes.

    As a result of these changes in climate, maize yields are diminishing, so farmers are keen to increase crop diversity on-farm and supplement maize with traditional crops, that are more drought tolerant and have shorter growing seasons. Indeed, smallholder farmers have demonstrated strong interest in the advanced lines of sorghum and pearl millets which were introduced by the programme. For example, farmers in Goromonzi plant maize, ground nut, and beans. The rainfall amount and distribution is poor, and is affecting their harvest. They noted that 10 to 15 years ago, there was more rainfall and longer growing seasons. In terms of rainfall distribution, plants germinate and then wilt as a result of dry spells, so farmers need to plant again.

    This is why farmers like Ms Nyarai Nekate are ensuring greater crop diversity to enhance their resilience to climate change: she is planting seven corn varieties, seven bean varieties, seven Bambara groundnut varieties, nine cowpea varieties, and eight groundnut varieties. In terms of her preferred traits, she indicates she prefers short season varieties to long season varieties in order to manage exposure to risks and adapt to climate change. She takes care in managing her seed security as well as her food security, so she doesn't run out and doesn't need to buy seeds. It is like an insurance scheme not only with regard to food, but also with regard to seed – in case farmers cannot access seeds for the hybrid maize varieties, then they have pearl millet or other traditional varieties to plant.

    So seed security is in fact a precursor to food security, and maintaining crop diversity on farm is a way to enhance both seed and food security.

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    By Harold Liversage, regional land advisor, and Steven Jonckheere, land and natural resources associate for IFAD in East and Southern Africa.

    During the 2014 Global Staff Meeting, IFAD and the Secretariat of the International Land Coalition (ILC) organised a thematic session on lessons, challenges and opportunities for IFAD to scale up its support for land tenure security and governance. The session is part of an on-going consultation to develop a strategic approach on how scaling up can be achieved in this thematic area and was moderated by Ed Heinemann (Policy Dialogue Adviser). Madiodio Niasse (Director of the ILC secretariat) gave an overview of the global context and Harold Liversage (Regional Land Adviser) focused on the important of land tenure security for IFAD and the challenges  and opportunities it faces for scaling up. Two colleagues from IFAD country offices shared their experiences, namely Pontian Muhwezi (Country Programme Officer for Uganda) and Stefania Dina (Country Programme Manager for Laos). The session was attended by a variety of people from various divisions (e.g. five regional divisions, Environment and Climate Change Division, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, Strategy and Knowledge Department, Partnership and Resource Mobilisation Office), including a significant number of colleagues from IFAD country offices.

    Global context

    Developing countries throughout the world are currently experiencing unprecedented pressures on land and natural resources; a host of factors has prompted sharp increases in demand for land, water, grassland and forested areas in developing and emerging countries. These drivers, combined with climate change and population growth, have led to increasing investments and speculation in agricultural and forestlands. While the data seems to indicate that millions of hectares of land in developing countries are being newly leased or sold, an accurate picture regarding scale and impact has been difficult to obtain, due to a widespread lack of transparency involved in such transactions.

    Most national land policy reforms undertaken in the last decade recognize the legitimacy of customary land rights. Gender equality is also now high on the policy agenda. In addition to the increasing recognition of land tenure security, there are a number of global and regional frameworks that seek to provide high‐level guidance to the nature and content of land policy processes and tenure security initiatives. The scaling up of tenure security is a key concern for these institutional and policy responses.

    IFAD and land tenure security

    IFAD uses various tools and approaches to strengthen poor rural people’s access and tenure and their ability to better manage land and natural resources, individually and collectively. These include: recognizing and documenting group rights to rangelands and grazing lands, forests and artisanal fishing waters; recognizing and documenting smallholder farmers’ land and water rights in irrigation schemes; strengthening women’s secure access to land; using geographic information systems to map land and natural resource rights, use and management; identifying best practices in securing these rights through business partnerships between smallholder farmers and investors. The tools and approaches are incorporated in broader rural development programmes.

    IFAD’s partners in this endeavour include governments, civil society organizations, development institutions and other United Nations agencies, particularly the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). IFAD is also a founding member of the International Land Coalition and hosts its secretariat. In 2008, IFAD’s Executive Board endorsed a new policy on access to land and tenure security, underscoring the importance of land issues to the organization.

    IFAD has an important role to play in scaling up support for land tenure security and governance. This will be done by documenting and sharing its experiences, piloting new approaches, engaging in evidence-based policy dialogue and forging partnerships.

    Country experiences

    In Laos, IFAD has been supporting activities to secure the land and natural resource rights of its target groups in its projects and programmes. Given the gaps that existed in the legal framework, the country team decided to engage in the revision of the land policy to ensure that the rights of IFAD’s target groups are secured. The revision of the policy is still on-going, but seems to be going in the right direction. This has been possible through the informal networks that the country team has set up, the role it plays in the national sector working group and the champions that are present at high level. In the District Livelihoods Support Programme in Uganda, IFAD has been successfully piloting the issuing of Certificates of Customary Occupancy to poorer segments of the community and strengthening the capacities of district land offices. The positive experience will now be replicated by the Government in other parts of the country.

    Successful tools and approaches to strengthen poor rural people’s access and tenure and their ability to better manage land and natural resources can also be found in other countries. While in Nepal, IFAD has been supporting the issuance of leasehold forest titles to the poorest segments of the community, in Mozambique IFAD has contributed to the development of national guidelines on community-investor partnerships. Generally, IFAD interventions almost always have an impact on the value of land. In addition, the rural-urban nexus brings new land issues into play. However, often land issues are difficult to tackle given political sensitivities and it might be more challenging to secure customary rights. It is also important to take regional differences into consideration, while looking for entry points for IFAD to engage on these issues.

    Many thanks to everybody who participated and we look forward to working with you on the development of an IFAD approach for scaling up support for land tenure security.

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    Project staff spend a great deal of their efforts to deliver procured inputs and technologies on time, racing against approaching weather season. It is not an easy task, as they have to navigate through country procurement rules and regulations, and adhere to IFAD processes and standards. They strive to ensure that tendering processes are undertaken in an open manner, and agreed contracts clearly oblige companies to deliver quality services and goods on time.

    Genet Mengistu makes a presentation on lessons learned during
    the procurement training
    From 12th - 14th March 2014, project staff from Ethiopia and South Sudan participated in a procurement training, which covered core procurement principles to ensure that processes are transparent, well justified and maintain the best value for money. The training aimed to strengthen staff member’s ability to adequately evaluate proposals and plan for tendering processes. Financial management aspects were also discussed and budgeting best practices exchanged. Useful tips and check lists were shared to strengthen budget planning.
    As project members infrequently have a chance to congregate, a monitoring evaluation session on IFAD Results and Impact Managing System annual reporting requirements, and an introduction to knowledge management with an emphasis on integrating knowledge sharing and learning activities into annual work plan project budgets, were also held.

    Robson Mutandi, Country Director and Representative to Ethiopia and South Sudan encouraged participants to share experiences from their countries, and encouraged feedback to IFAD on ongoing procurement processes. He emphasized that everyone, including IFAD staff were there to learn and improve current financial management systems.

    The training went beyond the classroom and project staff had a chance to mingle and enjoy a light moment during an evening cocktail on the second day of the training. The team was pleasantly graced by the bold voluminous voice of Kisi Masahiro, the procurement specialist conducting the workshop. He entertained the crowd with some first class opera.

    Mr. Dejene Abesha, from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development Planning & Programming Directorate, closed the training. He noted that improving the capacity of project staff to undertake financial management and due procurement processes is of paramount importance. He also appreciated that the training was held at the country level providing an opportunity to have a tailor made training programme suitable to IFAD project staff needs.


    A group photos of participants who attended the three day procurement training.

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