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    Rainfall in Ethiopia is highly erratic, varying from high intensity storms in highland areas to scare fleeting rainfall in dry and semi-arid areas. Rain water and harvesting technologies are important to ensure that farmers are able to combat frequent drought, and use multiple water sources during annual droughts and intermittent dry spells. Fethia Ahmed, Junior expert in Agricultural Water Management at the IFAD Ethiopia Country office shares her experiences after attending the RAIN Foundation’s learning exchange workshop in February 2014.

    RAIN Foundation, in partnership with the Ethiopian Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Alliance, Mekelle University and Metameta, organized a five-day workshop to discuss their experiences of promoting rain water harvesting technologies from different sector to share lessons learned and best practices. It was interesting to view and learn about affordable and less labor-intensive innovations and measures that can be used to prevent destructive run off within watersheds and to rehabilitate degraded lands. The displayed water technologies all had common features; they could feasibly retain rain water, recharges ground water sources and can be used as a water source for multiple uses. The technologies were introduced to the community in a participatory manner and are highly accessible to beneficiaries because they are affordable and promote the sustainable use of water. We hope to incorporate these technologies into ongoing projects in Ethiopia.

     A Check dam built to prevent run-off from deepening the gully below

    Not limiting discussions to the classroom, we had the chance to visit various locations within Mekele region. We learned how to identify appropriate technologies and participatory methods to ensure that promoted technologies are chosen with the engagement of the community. This is important to make certain that the design suits their needs as it does not take too much effort to draw water and the source may be used for  agricultural, livestock or household water uses. The most significant lesson learned was how communities have actively implemented natural resources management practices to revive the dry lands. Community members have a vital role to maintain conserved and rehabilitated degraded lands. They are the first to experience the negative impacts of land degradation and have become acutely aware of human practices that intensify land degradation. 

    In Aguale watershed, young people in the community have been motivated to engage in soil and water conservation methods to ensure they have fertile and healthy soils to farm on in the future.  Natural resource management projects in the region have brought about significant change, as the community now encourages young people to participate in conservation practices to ensure the continuation of these practices in the future.  They now strive to ensure that everyone in the community is part of the land transformation.  Over the past 20 years, the community has revived their watershed into a lush green valley. In fact, increased water percolation has created new water sources that are now used to irrigate agricultural land.  

    A hand dug well, which uses a motor pump to life out the water to irrigate lands and for general water use
    The motor pump drawing water out of a hand dug well into an irrigation canal, which waters farms.

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    Sofía Tenorio Fenton
    In 2010, an IFAD project that aimed to improve the living conditions of poor people in forested areas of the southern and southeastern parts of Mexico was created - the Community-Based Forestry Development Project, also known as FIDA-Sur.

    Working with the Mexican Government and managed by the National Forestry Commission, the IFAD project focuses on forestry development. Currently, thanks to additional support given by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), FIDA-Sur  is also working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    The project concentrates efforts on 25 communities in the Campeche, Chiapas and Oaxaca regions. Here the most immediate threats to smallholder livelihoods are forest fires, pests, changes in land use leading to forest resource depletion and GHG emissions.

    FIDA-Sur is working to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers within the region.  

    Farmers are no strangers to long hours of hard work. They grow the food that will sustain them and their families, with the hope of producing enough excess to trade in markets.

    For them, the problem is finding out the best methods to survive with the resources they have at their disposal.  Human pressure on forest resources are exacerbating deforestation in the area, which in turn creates devastating conditions especially for those least able to adapt.

    FIDA-Sur tries to reach communities that for various reasons haven’t been able to access government assistance. Such is the case for those with no property rights or appropriate land documentation. The project prioritizes those who are more vulnerable, such as women, youth, and the landless. 

    FIDA-Sur’s support includes the supply of firewood-saving stoves, rainwater harvesting apparatus, greenhouses, agroforestry modules, community nurseries, and other activities. This is helping forest areas recover. 

    Through FIDA-Sur, people in the region areimproving their access to basic needs without damaging the surrounding environment. This means better, more sustainable forest management and better climate change mitigation.

    Woodlands play a crucial role in weather regulation. FIDA-Sur is a bright hope and a viable strategy to reduce the effects of climate change by promoting better use  and conservation of natural resources.  

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    By Stella Rwabita

    A rise from rags to riches-literally- this  is the  Republic of Korea's story. Being one of the poorest countries in Asia almost 60 years ago, Korea has made amazing  rapid transformation in its economic and development growth making it a pillar and beacon of hope in the Asian region and the world at large.

    With its Ministry of Foreign affairs announcing an earmark ofmore than 1-billion U.S. dollars for foreign aid next year,Korea plans to spend around 930-million dollars on direct bilateral aid in 2015, and about 280-million dollars in indirect aid through international organizations; 11 percent of portion targeted on agriculture and fisheries systems, reports Arirang News.

    IFAD's launch of the Asian Learning series with Korea sharing its experiences frames importance for continued knowledge sharing  and partnership in investing and reducing rural poverty. I must admit being awestruck at the incredible leap Korea has taken in reinventing itself despite the poverty it was drenched in years ago. Mr. MordasiniVice-President of IFAD ,rightly expressed this in saying: 

    "Korea's transformation from a post-war conflict stage to OECD membership in two generations is remarkable."

    Listening to the discussions, a couple of things stood out and seemed to resonate in the minds of all present:

    How did Korea get there? What did it do differently? What can be learned and applied that would fit the context of different countries dealing with more or less the same problems that the Republic of  Korea has dealt with?

    The Korean delegation humble in their response, reminded us that they are interested in teaching and learning from others. It took hard work, rising up again when they failed, and consistency in engaging communities to pull off the rapid transformation they have experienced. The delegation shared that the  Korean government recognized early enough that it had to encourage and motivate its people in order to move forward.

    Agricultural cooperatives for example were set up as early as the 1960s and the government set up a savings campaign arming households with a way of saving their earnings. Rural development Administration offices were established; and this was an extension in transfer of technologies to rural farmers through selection from various villagesthus building a cooperative and communal spirit.

    Investments were made in the public sector not only with physical infrastructure,  but  by providing education for allwhich increased the literacy rate, enabling farmers in the rural communities to be empowered and innovative in competing for government support for their projects.

    The Korean delegation admitted that access to rural finance was a challenge because of the land reform. In crossing that slippery bridge, Korea notes that overcoming that challenge brought about the green revolution and increase in production  in a short period of time. The Korean government began  a market expansion process and remained consistent in recognizing the rural markets.

    It is interesting that Korea's progress ties in with key elements of IFAD's post 2015 MDG goals as expressed by Acting Associate Vice-President of IFAD's Strategy and Knowledge Department, Gary Howe.

    Too good to be true? It does sound so. However, the  Korean delegation admitting their faults and failures was reassuring and so other member states should not feel alone. It is in the getting up again after a fall that will be the true test of progress and prosperity.

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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.

    The increase in large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors in recent years has put land rights issues and responsible agricultural investment more visibly back on the global development agenda. It has opened up important international space for discussion on how to improve land administration systems and investment in agriculture, so that the land rights and livelihoods of smallholder farmers, pastoralists and other vulnerable groups are strengthened.

    A range of stakeholders, from civil society, governments of both investing and recipient countries, and intergovernmental organizations, have expressed concerns about the possible negative impact that increased demand and competition for land and water is having on the land rights and food security of rural people in developing countries. At the same time it is recognized that if done properly, private-sector investment can play a significant role in providing much needed capital, expertize, technologies and market access for smallholder farmers and rural communities more generally. To realize these benefits it is important that smallholder farmers and rural communities more generally are centrally involved in decisions regarding the investments being made.

    One approach to increasing sustainable private-sector investment in agriculture, is to promote mutually beneficial partnerships between smallholder farmers and private-sector investors.. Such partnerships can take the form of outgrower schemes, contract farming or joint share equity schemes, with outside investors focusing mainly on providing expertise and other support in agro-processing or improved access to markets. The success of such partnerships, and the real benefits to smallholder farmers and rural communities more generally, depends on the level of ownership, voice (governance), risk-sharing and benefit-sharing between partners.

    On 24 April IFAD organised a technical workshop to share some of IFAD’s and our partner’s experiences in developing partnerships between smallholder farmers and private sector investors and in particular some of the implications for land and natural resource rights. Speakers from UNCTAD, OXFAM, the private sector-led Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, and Land Policy Initiative highlighting status and early results from the leading land and responsible agriculture investment guidelines. Namely, the Principles for Responsible Agriculture Investment (PRAI), the Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments (in Africa), an SAI’s industry aligned Farmer Self-Assessment of sustainable agriculture practices.

    During the workshop a range of business models that are being used by IFAD to structure agricultural investments in lower- and middle-income countries were showcased at the workshop. The following five experiences were presented and revealed what has worked – and what has not – in inclusive business models currently in practice: i) commercial oil palm farming in Uganda; ii) integrating smallholder farmers in Swaziland’s sugar industry; iii) building farmer’s income and safety nets while securing the local energy supply in Burkina Faso and Mali; iv) organic and Fairtrade cocoa production in São Tomé; and, v) smallholder tea production in Rwanda.

    The models fall under the umbrella of ‘contract farming’ or ‘outgrower farming’, which involves agricultural production carried out on the basis of an agreement between the buyer and farm producers. It has been used for decades but its popularity has been increasing in recent years. Under one of them, the ‘centralized model,’ a company provides support to smallholder production, purchases the crop, and then processes it, closely controlling its quality. This model is used for crops such as tobacco, cotton, sugar cane, banana, tea and rubber. Under the ‘nucleus estate’ model, the company also manages a plantation in order to supplement smallholder production and provide minimum throughput for the processing plant. This approach is mainly used for tree crops such as oil palm and rubber. If done properly, the centralized model or nucleus estate can provide a good basis for a strong partnership between smallholder farmers and investors. For example, if an investor is establishing a processing plant, his risks can be reduced he is able to secure a guaranteed minimum production output. At the same time, the company can strengthen its commitment to provide the best inputs and technical support to smallholders, as well as providing farmers with a guaranteed market. The key for the success of such models is an equitable and transparent pricing mechanism and clear agreements on quantities for the purchase of feedstock from smallholders.

    An interactive discussion better defined the key priorities and risks faced by small farmers, governments and private companies in reaching the shared objective of improving livelihoods and securing land and resource rights in agricultural investments. Some serious investors in agriculture are increasingly looking towards mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships as it makes good business sense. And many smallholder farmers are prepared to negotiate if they are properly consulted, well informed of the implications and potential risks, and see a real benefit. Governments have a key role to play in promoting responsible agricultural investment and in developing transparent, accountable and accessible land administration institutions that can recognize and defend the rights of rural communities – especially of the most vulnerable households.

    Establishing mutually beneficial partnerships are possible, but they require sustained support by a range of service providers (government, civil society, private sector), and effort and time. Particular attention needs to be given to empowering smallholder farmers and rural communities to engage on equal terms with outside investors. There is also a need to monitor the implementation of agreements to ensure that the anticipated benefits are realized. Private sector is looking for practical tools for securing the tenure rights of local communities. More work is needed to better understand free, prior and informed consent practically entails.

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    By IFAD-Nepal team

    From left to right: Naveed, Ed, Laurie,Jayashree and Trevor
    Under the new IFAD-Intel Strategic Partnership, a team of five Intel information technology and project management experts engaged in an Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) project arrived in rural Nepal this week.   The team is working as part of an eAgriculture project involving Grameen-Intel Social Business (GSIB), Intel and IFAD, which is being piloted under the IFAD-funded High Value Agriculture Program (HVAP) administered by the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture Development.  The IFAD/Intel partnership is part of a broader multi-year, multi-country effort to improve crop yields in small rural farms by enabling entrepreneurs with access to laptop or mobile computer devices to offer services to famers in which they use specialized, localized software applications for matching soil chemistry with seed selection, fertilization strategy and also guiding pest control and crop management.

    The team will be in Nepal for just over two weeks, and we'll be sharing their blog posts along the way. Day One

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    by Shenggen Fan is director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute and Kanayo F. Nwanze is president of the International Fund for Agricultural 

    Thirty years on from a famine that claimed more than a million lives, Ethiopia is making great strides towards food security. And though progress across the continent is uneven, many other African nations are adopting policies that see agricultural development as a priority, to protect smallholder farmers and other rural households from the threats of volatile food prices, conflict and climate change.

    'Resilience' is a term used in development discourse for the ability of poor communities to bounce back from shocks and stresses. Building resilience means helping these communities, as well as countries and global institutions, to prevent, anticipate and cope with such shocks. In the end, it means not just supporting recovery from crises but getting to the point where people are even better off than they were before the shocks occurred.

    In our view, there are six critical aspects of agricultural policy reform that hold important lessons to guide investment in building resilient rural communities.

    The first lesson is the need to invest in early warning systems, which help countries avoid overreliance on emergency relief when crises hit. When rains fail – as they did in 2011, leaving the Horn of Africa under threat of another famine – Ethiopia had an early warning system in place. The system not only tracked problems on the food supply side, such as rainfall and crop yields, but also monitored household nutrition levels. As a result, the country was better equipped to deliver food assistance to those who needed it most urgently.

    The second policy choice is to invest in effective social safety nets. Since 2005, Ethiopia has managed the Productive Safety Net Programme, which gives poor rural people food assistance in return for their participation in projects that develop community infrastructure, like building health-care centres and restoring degraded watersheds. The safety net has operated in tandem with other food security initiatives offering assistance to community members who are unable to participate in public works, such as the elderly. Around half a million households registered with the programme between 2008 and 2012. Such schemes can help vulnerable communities become self-sufficient and build resilience against future food crises.

    Third, it is vital for African countries to invest in agricultural research and development. In the 1960s and 1970s, Africa was a net exporter of food. Today, it is far more reliant on food aid. What changed? For one thing, many African governments slashed budgets for agricultural R&D. By contrast, other countries have upped theirs and seen significant agricultural growth and rural poverty reduction. For instance, Ghana, the only African nation that has yet achieved the first Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger, did so at least partly by doubling its agricultural R&D budget. To be effective, research on new crop and livestock varieties should go beyond just increasing yields. R&D should also help to build plant and animal tolerance against drought, heat and diseases, and to enhance nutrition.

    A fourth key area for investment entails building robust markets that focus on both production and distribution. In Ethiopia, this has meant the establishment of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange, which provides market information to over 250,000 people via SMS text messages. Similarly, Tanzania recruits 'market spies' to send current prices to remote farmers by SMS. Disseminating this information helps small farmers get fair market value for their produce. In other cases, building robust markets may mean literally building market infrastructure. In Madagascar, for example, some communities now have concrete-fortified markets that, when storms and flooding hit, can be back up and running within days.

    A fifth essential element for greater resilience in Africa is cross-country collaboration. Once an innovation has been proven, it must be shared across the continent for maximum impact. For instance, when a group of farmers from Niger saw improved traditional planting pits in Burkina Faso, they were deeply impressed by the pits' capacity to combat water run-off and gully erosion. When they got home, some of the farmers decided to create their own planting pits. Yields increased and barren land was rehabilitated. The technique is now also being used in Cape Verde.

    Finally, facilitating market links across the African continent will be critical to build resilience by boosting regional, continental and, ultimately, global trade. To this end, the African Union has renewed its commitment to build inter-country trade through the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa. The programme provides road and transport links for land-locked countries, thereby unlocking Africa's currently untapped markets.

    These are just some of the lessons that have been learned. But lessons not only have to be learned; they must also be applied in order to drive the kind of inclusive growth that can end hunger and poverty across Africa. It is up to individual African countries to take note of the agricultural policies and investments that have yielded the best results. By helping them to do so and supporting them with the right investments, we can safeguard the continent from future food disasters.

    As featured on AllAfrica

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    By Marian Amaka Odenigbo

    Last week I attended the East and Southern Africa regional implementation workshop in Livingstone, Zambia. These events provide an excellent opportunity to learn and share. One of the best parts of these events are the the field visits.

    Before going on the field visit, I attended a session on story telling. Here I am putting to practice my newly acquired skills…… As I was composing the story, I noticed that I forgot to ask the lady who I interviewed her name :( Something to remember for the next time…  Enough about me, here is the story:

    The organizers were so generous and offered us six sites to visit. As a development worker interested in nutrition, I opted to visit the Nabuyani Small Scale Irrigation Scheme which was built in 2006 to improve food and nutrition security of the local community.

    Sixty women and men farmers in the Kalomo district in the southern province of Zambia benefit from this irrigation scheme.

    Family Farm- an office
    The female beneficiary in the picture was ecstatic with her 30x50 meters farm plot and described it as “an office that generates regular income regardless of dry season, rain unavailability.” “I am always busy in my office and thanks to the project, I have managed to secure an income, become more food secure and play an active role in rural development”.

    Contribution to nutrition
    I was so happy to hear her talk about how she grows cabbage, tomato, maize, green beans, potato in her farm while her husband is busy in the fish pond. As an expert farmer she told us that she practices rotational cropping system.

    When we asked her what was the impact  of the irrigation scheme on their food consumption, she said:  “look at me, don’t I look healthy, I can afford good clothing now and can afford post-secondary education for our two daughters in the city’’.

    As a nutrition professional, I was curious to find out what was their usual household dietary pattern. She told me that they had sweet potato and  tea with milk for breakfast; lunch was Nshima (Cornmeal) and soya relish with vegetables (cabbage, tomatoes, green pepper and onions) while dinner was Nshima with groundnut relish and pumpkin leaves inclusive..
    Despite the fact that her husband had fish pond, their diet was 100% vegetarian.

    One of the many challenges facing farmers is market and food price fluctuations. This is why market price is a key factor determining the choice of crop to grow. Last year she experienced low market price for her cabbage, at the same time, she was able to contain post-harvest loss as she sun-dried the surplus cabbage cultivated.

    What still needs to be seen is the impact of improved post-harvest technique on nutritional-value of crops.

    This field visit reinforced my conviction that as development workers, we need to design and implement nutrition-sensitive intervention for food processing and create market linkage to sustain the efforts and aspiration of ensuring food and nutrition security for rural people.

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    The winners of the IFAD-Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) Animation Prize are sisters, Olga and Irina Ertahanova from Ulan-Ude in the Russian Federation.
    The competition asked students on the undergraduate animation course to capture the essence of IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).

    ASAP was launched by IFAD in 2012 to make climate and environmental finance work for smallholder farmers. A multi-year and multi-donor financing window, ASAP provides adaptation finance to scale up and integrate climate change adaptation across IFAD’s approximately US$1billion per year of new investments.

     ‘We were very intrigued when we first heard about ASAP,” said Olga and Irina. “We had many ideas about how we could represent it in animation.”

    “But we felt that the most important message was not that these rural people were receiving help, but that they were being supported in order to help themselves. We tried to convey this point in our animation, an animation that we thoroughly enjoyed working on.”

    The competition encouraged students to consider the impacts of climate change on the rural poor and how adaptation on small farms can overcome poverty and avoid crises.

    As the United Nations lead agency on agricultural development for smallholder farming, IFAD is actively looking to partner with learning and research institutions with records of excellence.

    The Arts University Bournemouth is a unique institution in the UK, offering high quality education in art, design and media across the creative industries. The University has been providing specialist education for over a century and enjoys a strong reputation, both nationally and internationally.

    The winning film was judged on the design content of the animation and quality of the idea. The narrative focused on the increasing risks to smallholders as ecosystems services become more volatile owing to climate change. The animation demonstrated the usefulness of adaptation techniques in managing these risks.

    "The fresh take of younger people on environment and sustainability issues bring invaluable insights, We have learnt a lot through this competition, especially about the power of animation to really bring home the problems faced by smallholders and solutions on offer to climate change impacts. Working with the AUB has been an exciting opportunity to collaborate with an establishment that is leading in its field,” says Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of the Environment and Climate Division at IFAD. 

    Pete Symons, the University's Course Leader for BA (Hons) Animation Production, believes this is an interesting way of involving young people with the activities of IFAD.

    "Animation has the ability to put across complex and occasionally difficult messages that sometimes cannot be so effectively expressed in other media.  As a university we felt this project brought a new dimension and challenge for our students and we feel that it is important for them to be involved in these pressing environmental issues. Being able to use animation, in a way that promotes IFAD’s extraordinary work with the world’s rural people is a great opportunity and we are proud to be involved."

    Go to the AUB website here and see their press release
    See the video here on YouTube

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    On 14th May 2014, Michael Gort, the Deputy Permanent Representative for the Embassy of Canada, to the Food and Agricultural Agencies of the U.N travelled to Ethiopia to view IFAD Country Office projects.  Recently, Canada made the fifth largest pledge to the Eighth Replenishment of IFAD funds, and provided CAD 20 mill (USD 18.41 million) towards the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP), further strengthening the IFAD – Canada partnership.

    Michael Gort's mission was to view investments and partnerships supported by  Canada’s  contributions to IFAD resources.

    We visited the Cha Cha 2, 160 hectare irrigation scheme, supported by the IFAD Participatory Small Scale Irrigation Development Programme, in Debre Berhan, 130km away from Addis Ababa. The previously underutilized communal grazing land has been transformed into lush agricultural fields growing barley, carrots, cabbage, chickpea and potatoes through the community’s action. We had an opportunity to speak with Tesfaye Eshetu, a farmer with a one hectare farm within the scheme who has been able to double his harvest thereby increasing his earning by 35,000 birr (USD1, 795) since 2012. No longer dependent on rainfall, he is now able to harvest over twice a year, and has built-up assets buying four oxen, five sheep and three milking cows. These investments have increased the amount of land he is able to plough, and with returns, he is able to meet his family’s education and financial needs.
    Tesfaye Eshetu speaks to the Mission and demonstrates field with carrots ready to be harvested
    Increased production has created new challenges for these farmers, such as their frustration at the low prices being offered for their produce by traders. With information from newspapers and radio stations these farmers are now acutely aware of the market prices. The Secretary of the water user association stated they were already organizing themselves to negotiate for fair market prices, having recently registered an irrigation cooperative last year.  Michael Gort stated “it is farmers who feed their families, their children, the Country and the Globe”, applauding their efforts to embrace irrigation technologies.
    Later we arrived at Fana Guidina Credit and saving Union, in Sheno, an hour North of Addis Ababa supported by the Rural Financial Intermediation Programme - Phase II .  Michael Gort spoke with Cooperative members who had benefited from the union’s loans, and was impressed by their commitment to save and support their households to make a difference in their lives. 
    Michael Gort and the Mission team ppose with members of Fana Guidina Credit and Savings Union, which has received support of Birr 328,000 (USD16,820) from IFAD supported Rural Financial Intermediation Programme, phase II
    Reflecting on the mission, Micheal Gort told us how the mission was helpful to understand how IFAD works on the ground. “It is good to see how things work and improvements from IFAD’s efforts. Small-holder farmers are key players and their engagement in value chains to access markets can unlock economic development and growth for Countries.” Michael also noted Canada’s continued strong support for Ethiopia’s ambitious programmes for development, stating that Ethiopia is an example of how Government leadership and ownership of development policies can lead to successful investment in the right sector, agriculture sector.


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    By Stephen Twomlow

    It’s close to forty years since Pacey and Cullis published their ground-breaking work - Rainwater Harvesting: The Collection of Rainfall and Runoff in Rural Areas.  Yet, despite this book and a host of others over the intervening years, including a recent publication by IFAD (Water Harvesting-Guidelines to Good Practice), the large majority of corrugated iron rooftops in rural Africa are not being utilised to their full potential, lacking guttering or any form of rainwater capture. The rainwater is allowed to cascade off the roof in torrents causing damage to housing foundations and the surrounding soils. 

    ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley
    Many households lack ready access to potable water, with the women of the household often spending several hours each days walking to and from the nearest water source – which is often polluted. At times they find the water sources have dried up or the pumps have failed. This is a great cause for concern in these disadvantaged communities, especially where households are headed by elderly women who are too sickly to walk long distances.

    A symbol of wealth throughout Africa is the corrugated iron sheet roof. A goal many rural households strive forWater scarcity is a reality throughout Africa. To address this, the IFAD-GEF project ‘Lower Usuthu Sustainable Land Management Project’ (LUSLM) made the management of rooftop runoff a priority and began to explore the multiple benefits offered, especially the economic empowerment of women. The project trained  women’s groups in construction of rainwater harvesting tanks using reinforced cement.

    ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley
    The tanks are made out of concrete mortar reinforced with mesh fence and placed on a slab constructed of locally available material - either stones or bricks.  The benefits from the tanks are many and include a supply of clean water for domestic use, and time freed up for more income generating activities such as home gardens and poultry keeping.

    The success stories from Swaziland are spreading across East and Southern Africa. Homestead rainwater harvesting activities are increasingly included in annual work plan and budgets of ongoing projects such as the ‘Community-based Integrated Natural Resources Management Project’ (CBINReMP) in Lake Tana Catchment, Ethiopia - and the new project designs taking place in Kenya and Uganda. 

    Sometimes answers are simple. And often South:South knowledge and experience sharing is the key to success.

    ©IFAD/Stephen Twomlow & Will Critchley

    For more information


    •           Let’s discuss - become a member of our global ‘rain4food’ community:

    •           Get informed via our rainwater Wiki

    •           Share information through our library

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    The week of 11-17 May culminated into a meeting with the President of the Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete in Dar es Salaam on Friday 16 May. The president set a casual tone for the discussions but made all the salient points regarding his vision of smallholder agriculture in Tanzania. For example, mechanisation and improved agricultural technologies, investment in research to ensure development of viable inputs for farmers, as well as a conducive policy environment that allows for responsible Public Private Partnerships that benefit smallholders.
    There were 8 board members – representatives of Finland, Angola, Nigeria, Switzerland, Indonesia, Netherlands, China, and Mexico. On the visit was also the ESA Regional Director, 2 members of the Independent Office of Evaluation, and IFAD Country Office. The visit was hosted by the IFAD Governor, Tanzania's Minister of Agriculture, Hon C. Chiza
    To set the pace of the visit, Francisco Pichon shared a presentation about IFAD work in Tanzania and the agenda for the week. On 12May, we travelled to Arusha for a discussion on regional cross-border trade for agricultural products in East Africa, with the East African Community . Kilimo Trust participated in this meeting to show how the proposed IFAD grant project will facilitate regional market access for the small scale farmers. We were taken to the Kenya-Tanzania border post of Holili, where a One-stop customs system is set to start operating soon. One-stop customs unit will reduce the amount of time spent on the road, and for agricultural produce which are perishable, this is good news.
    From Arusha, we headed to Kibaya Kiteto, to meet the Masaai cattle keepers' community who have been supported with better access to clean water. The weather was cloudy and we could not land at the pre-planned airstrip (which is close to the village we were visiting). As such, we ended up in Dodoma and had to travel for a little over three hours by road to get there. It was well worth it meeting the community members and hearing their story of how access to water has helped reduce the spread of trachoma, as well as removed the need to move every season in search for water. 
    After Katikati, it was back to Dar es Salaam, and then off to Zanzibar the next morning after a roundtable meeting with the Minister of Agricuture, State Minister for investment from the Office of the Prime Minister, and Permanent Secretaries from various ministries. In Zanzibar, we were hosted to a dinner by the second Vice President, Hon Seif Ali Idd. The following morning, we met the President of Zanzibar, HE Ali Mohammed Shein, who applauded IFAD for supporting Farmer Field Schools and said these were transforming rural subsistence farmers into commercial farmers. We then had a chance to visit the Farmer Field Schools. We visited the dairy FFS and the Cassava FFS.Farmers shared their experiences, opportunities, and challenges with members of the board.

    Back to Dar es Salaam. There was a meeting with the officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, the Office of the Prime Minister, and private sector partners to discuss different policy initiatives such as Big Results Now (BRN), and Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGGOT). These have been put in place to boost agriculture and transform rural subsistence farmers into commercial ones.
    All together, it was an unforgettable week for both the hosts and the guests, as a cross section of issues was covered – the implementation modalities of IFAD supported projects, the policy environment, and working in close collaboration with other UN agencies in country. The last meeting of the visit was with the Tanzania UN Country Team.
    You can read about the #ifadeb visit in the press on these links: 1, 2, 3, 4. We shall share details of the discussions and field visits in the next blog on the #ifadeb visit.

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    Listening to keynote speakers; Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, Kanayo F. Nwanze, the IFAD President, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of WFP and Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn, during the inauguration of the IFPRI 2020 Conference on resilience was an inspiring reminder that the rural poor are our clients, who we must work with in close partnership – they understand the local context best and must drive approaches for building resilience. Success can be achieved through a partnership approach with smallholders at the forefront, including women, and be driven by strong national leadership.  

    The IFAD President Kanayo F Nwanze drew focus on developing the resilience of the rural poor. “Investing in the resilience of smallholder farmers is investing the resilience of food systems, the resilience of communities and the strength of nations,” he said.  Outlining examples from countries that have based their economies on small holder farming such as Japan, Korea, Norway, Thailand and Vietnam, the IFAD President emphasized the need to link resilience to agriculture & nutrition.  Agriculture and rural development are essential for building resilient food and nutrition security, and he gave some hard-core facts - that there are 500 million smallholder family farms that provide for 80% of global food produce, making smallholder farmers’ key contributors to growing economies. Growth in small holder farming can drive balanced and sustainable development by transforming rural areas; particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where growth in the agriculture sector is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth generated by any other sector. 

    Kanayo F Nwanze, the IFAD President addresses the audience

    Challenging past development approaches “conceived by experts miles away” the IFAD President  emphasized that it is important that we build partnership-based approaches that elevate local knowledge to facilitate smallholder farmers to turn farming into a business by engaging in global value chains and markets for their benefit.  “Development is not something that we do for people, Development is what people do for themselves” was a statement that evoked much debate after the speech. Ertharin Cousin and the President of IFAD also brought the need for Gender equity in all stages of programming to the table. In the words of Ertharin Cousin, women are the “world’s frontline agriculture and nutrition workers,” we cannot succeed without their ownership and engagement in resilience approaches. 

    Keynote speakers PM Hailemariam Desalegn, Shenggen Fan Director General of IFPRI and Kanayo F Nwanze (from left) listen to Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director for WFP addresses recognizing the Rome Based Agencies joint approach to promoting resilience.
    All three keynote speakers commended Ethiopia for its strong national leadership that has successfully committed to build a resilient agricultural system by dedicating 15% of the GDP to agriculture to obtain their collective vision to become a middle-income economy that is green and climate resilient. Ethiopia was able to survive the 2011, Horn of Africa crisis, which was the worst drought in 60 years. This was because of its commitment to raising the productivity of smallholder farmers, strengthening agricultural marketing systems and bringing more land under irrigation, ensuring to reduce land degradation and adopt soil and water conservation measures. Ethiopia was able to mitigate the impact of the drought on the rural poor through Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme. Ethiopia is amongst various countries that have made a serious commitment to build food and nutrition resilience and building on research based policies and these ongoing successes, Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, stressed that it is possible to end hunger by 2025, and the resilience approach “can help us tackle issues that run across the entire agriculture, food, nutrition and environmental system.”

    On the side lines of the conference, the IFAD President also met with research centres that are a part of the Consortium Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIARs) to discuss ongoing partnership to increase food productivity in developing countries through the application of research-based technologies. The CGIAR centres expressed their growing relation with international organization such as IFAD, to ensure that research based policies and solutions/programmes to develop sustainable agricultural systems that are climate sensitive and develop food and nutrition security, are up scaled and implemented to create impacts to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor. 

    Kanayo F Nwanze, the IFAD President, with high level representatives from research centres forming the Consortium Group on International Agricultural Research at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia




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    By Sheila Mwanundu

    The sixth funding cycle of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is about to begin, with over 31 donor countries pledging US$4.43 billion to support programming over the next four years. Starting 1 July 2014, GEF will focus on catalysing and scaling up innovations in all its defined focal areas namely: Biological diversity, climate change, land degradation, international waters, persistent organic pollutants, ozone layer and mercury. The introduction of the three Integrated Approaches Programs is considered instrumental in keeping the GEF on the leading edge of innovation and enhancing its responsiveness to regional and global issues.

    The GEF-5 Assembly in Cancun comes at a significant moment when the international community is called upon to step-up efforts – and to do so very quickly – if the increasing impacts of environmental degradation and climate change on people and the planet are to be effectively addressed. This is of fundamental importance especially to rural people, most of whom are dependent on natural assets for their livelihoods. The situation gets more worrying by the day.

    In reflecting back over the previous GEF cycles, one cannot fail to recognise the  accumulated experience and pockets of significant success, but also much remains disturbingly unchanged. One single overwhelming cause for celebration at this GEF Assembly has been the successful replenishment particularly in this period of fiscal austerity. Today, the Russian delegate announced that they would increase their contribution by 50 per cent compared to GEF-5. However, some council members and delegates couldn’t help but note that the range of problems to be addressed deserves way more attention and resources. Concerns were raised on tackling drivers of environmental degradation, project cycle delays, time lag to first disbursement and tracking co-financing ratios.  Some  wondered where does the GEF fit in a changing climate finance landscape? Nonetheless, there is a much greater sense of urgency especially with respect to climate change. Hopefully with the support of the new GEF agencies (these will soon total 14), more opportunities to mobilize and channel innovative approaches and co-finance to countries will result in greater global environmental benefits.

    A key recognition of this is IFAD’s Environment and Natural Resource Management Policy, interlinking environmental and climate change challenges. To be effective and efficient the solutions need to be interlinked too. The bonds between the various agriculture sectors and rural poverty have become much more compelling with increased understanding of our development work in countries. Yet for the most part, global efforts to scale up innovative environmental practices and adaptation to climate change remain a challenge (the call for donors to raise the bar to measure environmental and adaptation results provides yet another test of our ability to achieve global environmental benefits). What can be done to invest more in rural people to bring about lasting and profound change to preserve ecosystems and improve livelihoods? I think IFAD should push forward its strapline to invest in rural people, support broad coalitions of committed partners and demonstrate its innovative approaches to achieve transformational behavioral change at scale - not only at the policy and community levels, but also at the level of the household.

    While the future and continued significance of GEF as an environmental champion has been assured for another four years, eyes are beginning to turn optimistically to Peru where climate finance discussions will take place later this year at the UN climate change summit in December. Watch this space.

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    By Naoufel Telahigue

    Today I spoke at the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF’s) FifthAssembly in Cancun on partnerships that scale-up innovative community approaches. I focused on the Granary of Niger, the Maradi region and its small scale farming systems. These are vital to food security across the whole country.

    Agriculture employs 95 per cent of the rural population in the region and generates about one fourth of the country’s cereal production. The region is also known for its income generating chufa sedge production. Shrinking land availability and amplified crop failures are leading to increased dependence on fragile soils that  barely meet the increased demand for cereals in particular. The increased degradation of the production landscape has triggered an outmigration flow of youth to cities and neighbouring countries. 

    The IFAD Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region (PASADEM) is committed to close this gap between supply and demand and to increase resilience of rural communities and their crucial production systems.

    The programme is anchored in the country’s priorities through the government 3N initiative (Les Nigériens Nourrissent les Nigériens) and stems from local demand and knowledge.

    PASADEM and its GEF Sustainable Land Management (SLM) investment pillar is sharing efforts with local communities to challenge harsh environmental conditions and to reverse desertification across the Maradi region. The key challenge was to engineer a small-scale cost-effective technology to fight a large scale expensive problem.

    A miraculous solution was found in the half-moon technology which was combined with some social and institutional engineering. The establishment of a regional SLM platform in Maradi has shaped the overall political framework for the intervention. It has also contributed to the creation of an efficient planning and implementation mechanism by which 18 communities were able to promote these technical solution through the cash for work mechanism on common lands.

    The initial investment is now reaching a cumulative total of 5,549 Ha of land that is totally rehabilitated in less than two years at an average unit cost of 430 US$/Ha.

    The results are spectacular  – the half-moon dominated sites are more resilient to climate and drought risks and cereal production is now possible on bare soils. Half-moons are also used as water harvesting structures and they reduce erosion and generate other environmental benefits (increased population of wild animals and carbon storage etc.). Farmers, including the younger generation are now adopting this technology in their own fields, triggering an autonomous scaling-up effort and contributing to the sustainability of the project seed funding.    

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    By Juan De Dios Roger Mattos

    Today we started the side events in which IFAD is participating. We started with the side event of Mobilizing Biodiversity Finance where IFAD’s Environment and Climate Change, Director, Elwyn Grainger-Jones participated. At this event, GEF CEO Naoko Nishii explained what GEF has been doing to mobilize resources, but also what needs to be done in the future to adapt to the negative effects of climate change. According to Mrs. Nishii, the GEF has more than 20 years of experience in channeling funds to adaptation. The GEF council adopted an adaptation strategy and it is preparing a book about that. The Minister of Energy and Environment of the Seychelles described the policies that the country is preparing for climate change adaptation, taking into consideration that the Seychelles is a small island state. He said that, 'humanity is not prepared, or ready, to adapt'.

    I also participated in the side event on Climate Change and Food Security along with the World Bank, UNIDO, FAO and UNEP. All these agencies are working to increase food security, even if it is not their principal mandate. There was a consensus among participants that targets are difficult to set because good food security is difficult to measure.

    ECD’s Sheila Mwanundu, took part in the side event Towards Gender Equality. Participants highlighted the value of mainstreaming gender throughout projects. IFAD has clear targets to include gender and inclusion in monitoring and evaluation  systems of each if its projects and it is also part of IFAD's overall monitoring system.

    Finally Elwyn spoke later at the climate finance event along with the World Bank, IDB, the African Development Bank and UNDP. He spoke about IFAD’s innovative Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme and the real benefits and innovations it is bringing  to rural communities in developing countries.

    A number of bilateral meetings were organized with the World Bank, the Ministry of Environment of Colombia, and a number of other partners.

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    by Antonella Cordone, technical adviser and coordinator for indigenous and tribal issues at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

    I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples' rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples' representatives had ever been invited to IFAD's offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do.

    Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky's name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters. Through the forum, indigenous peoples' representatives advise the world body and its member states on indigenous peoples' rights and development. A few weeks before its annual session kicked off in early May, Vicky had been named Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

    I felt a sense of pride and admiration, which I'm sure was widely shared in the crowded hall. Vicky is the first woman to be appointed to this critical and sometimes delicate role. As Special Rapporteur, she will be responsible for promoting indigenous peoples' rights through new laws, programmes and agreements between indigenous communities and national governments. She will also report on the overall human rights status of indigenous peoples in different countries.

    But even more striking than Vicky's appointment to the post was her message to the members of the Permanent Forum.

    “It is time to step out of the paradigm of victimhood," she said, "because we, indigenous peoples, can provide sustainable solutions to the world's crises. Indigenous peoples are not to be seen only as endangered victims to be protected … but also as carriers of knowledge and traditions that – far from being ancient and outdated – can offer concrete solutions to modern crises."

    For example, Vicky pointed out that climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing developing and developed countries alike. Indigenous peoples can help the world address this challenge through sustainable practices that stem from their holistic view of life, she said, adding that indigenous communities have preserved the ecosystems in which they live for millennia.

    Vicky went on to highlight another relevant challenge: preserving the biodiversity of food, which has declined as a result of industrial food production. Areas that are home to indigenous peoples also happen to host some of the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems, she noted. This is partly because biodiversity is central to indigenous land management strategies. At the same time, indigenous territories have not been subject to the intensive development and extraction of natural resources that has depleted biodiversity elsewhere.

    For indigenous peoples, food is not a commodity. Instead, it is traditionally linked to social, cultural and spiritual values, and a worldview that centres on being nourished by mother earth and nourishing her in return.

    Not surprisingly, indigenous women are often the bearers of precious knowledge on food and crop biodiversity that is passed down through the generations. This knowledge has so far been largely neglected outside of indigenous communities. Yet indigenous agricultural and environmental practices can be useful tools in building a global response to hunger and malnutrition.

    "We need to stop seeing indigenous peoples only as victims, and we need to stop regarding their knowledge as ancient, outdated, belonging merely to the past," Vicky asserted at the Permanent Forum. Of course, she was right. In fact, indigenous knowledge is truly modern when it comes to sustainable development. It is a key to the future of food production, agricultural development and environmental preservation.

    As Vicky has suggested, the world ignores the great contributions of indigenous peoples at its own peril. Protecting and respecting their rights is fundamental. Valuing their knowledge and building upon their untapped potential is equally important to us all. Thankfully, Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and millions of other indigenous women and men, are determined to make their voices heard.

    As featured on Thomas Reuters Foundation blog

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    Today we held the IFAD press conference at the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF’s) Fifth Assembly in Cancun to launch the IFAD-GEF Advantage Report: Partnering for a Sustainable World.

    With the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in the building there was strong competition for media attention.

    But after the President opened the GEF Assembly this morning the Mexican media eventually made their way across the conference centre to our press event.

    The report makes the case that higher yields and incomes, healthy ecosystems, and empowered communities are among the benefits for small farmers in developing countries from projects co-sponsored by IFAD and the GEF.

    IFAD and GEF began their partnership in 2001, working together with rural communities worldwide on poverty reduction and environmental protection.

    “The IFAD-GEF partnership creates important and lasting environmental and socioeconomic benefits,” said Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division. “These include gains in agricultural production, household income and education, as well as improved forest, land and water resources in rural communities."

    “This report shows that there is a clear IFAD-GEF Advantage: when we work together, natural resources and ecosystems are protected, and people’s lives improve,” said Sheila Mwanundu, Senior Technical Advisor for Environment at IFAD.

    Journalists were keen to understand the work that IFAD is doing with local communities in Mexico.

    Juan De Dios Mattos, IFAD’s Regional Environment and Climate Expert for Latin America explained IFAD’s work on reforestation with indigenous communities in the southern states of Mexico.

    Working with the Mexican Forestry Service (CONAFOR) more than 100 initiatives have taken off so far ranging in focus from agroforestry to tree surgeries to clean technologies such as cooking stoves.

    Click Here for a link to the IFAD-GEF Advantage press release

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    By IFAD-Nepal team

    After a successful two-week effort in Kathmandu and Surkhet valley, the Intel team is now busy writing their report in Kathmandu.

    Intel team with villagers
    From collecting user feedback on how the e-Agriculture apps look and feel to getting video testimonies and feedback on portal impact, the team was able to achieve all the objectives that they had planned. The Intel team appreciates the incredible assistance of HVAP staff and their commitment toward e-Agriculture project success.

    Intel team with the local resource providers
    The Intel team consists of five Intel information technology and project management experts engaged in an Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) project who arrived in Nepal on 9th May.  The team is working as part of an eAgriculture project involving Grameen-Intel Social Business Ltd. (GISB), Intel and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is being piloted under the IFAD-funded High Value Agriculture Program (HVAP) administered by the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture Development.  The IFAD-Intel Strategic Partnership is part of a broader multi-year, multi-country effort to improve crop yields in small rural farms by enabling entrepreneurs with access to laptop or mobile computer devices to offer services to farmers in which they use specialized, localized software applications for matching soil chemistry with seed selection, fertilizer application/recommendation and also guiding pest control and crop management. The team is heading back to their countries this week.

    From left to right: Ed, Jayashree, Laurie, Trevor and Naveed

    For a more details on their project and the day-by-day progress, please visit their blog posts at Blogspot and Tumblr.

    Read the first blog post in this series.

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    By Antonella Cordone, Technical Advisor/Coordinator on Indigenous and Tribal Issues in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division of IFAD – Reporting from the XIII Session of the UNPFII

    The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) closed its yearly two-week session last Friday, May 23. The agenda of the XIII Session of the UNPFII, included a number of important and delicate issues, from indigenous peoples' rights to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in September 2014. As Technical Advisor/Coordinator for Indigenous and Tribal Issues, I represented IFAD both in official plenary sessions and side-events. Within the UNPFII and our partners, we reaffirmed IFAD's leading role as one of the UN organizations that has enhanced its focus on indigenous peoples' issues. 

    In the official statement to the Plenary Session of the Forum, I concentrated on IFAD's strategy "to put indigenous peoples at the forefront of decision making for projects affecting their lives, and at all levels of IFAD's operations''. I also reminded that the IFAD's achievements are ''the results of genuine partnerships, based on mutual trust, with indigenous peoples and their organizations''.

    The statement was supported by a  presentation delivered on IFAD's work in Asia, during a half-a-day session on the region. I informed the audience that IFAD currently invests about 1 billion dollars in 35 ongoing projects in support of indigenous communities in Asia, where an estimated 70 percent of the world's indigenous peoples live. I also informed about the 35 small projects financed through the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF), considered as a model of community-driven development and participatory engagement. Most importantly, I stressed that these activities are carried out with the ''valuable partnership with representatives of indigenous peoples' organizations who have worked with us and the direct engagement of indigenous peoples' communities''.

    A great opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen IFAD's partnership with indigenous peoples has been the appointment of Ms Victoria-Tauli Corpuz - Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation – as Special Rapporteur on the Right of Indigenous Peoples. A Filipina activist and expert , Vicky came to IFAD for the first time 11 years ago, to attend a side event of the IFAD Governing Council on indigenous peoples' rights. 

    Since then she has been working closely with IFAD and UN organizations to bring indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work. Vicky importantly reminded that ''indigenous peoples need to step out of the paradigm of victimhood because we can provide sustainable solutions to the world's crises''.

    Equal participation and partnership between indigenous peoples, UN organizations, and governments was a much discussed theme during the Forum, in particular with reference to the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples scheduled to take place in September this year. As confirmed in our statement on the World Conference, delivered in the second week of the Permanent Forum, IFAD has been supporting indigenous peoples in the preparation of the World Conference, approving a grant of about USD 1 million in partnership with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs(IWGIA) and the Global Coordinating Group(GCG) to cover travel and accommodation of indigenous peoples' representatives to preparatory meetings, as well as follow-up and policy engagement at country level. 

    In line with several Governments and UN Agencies we called for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the preparation and participation to the World Conference. Final decision of the President of the UN General Assembly on the modalities of the World Conference are yet to be released, however we trust that indigenous peoples will fully, effectively  and equally participate in the World Conference processes.

    Alongside the formal discussions in the Plenary Sessions many side events and group meetings were organized during this XIII Session of the Permanent Forum. We were directly involved in the organization of three of them. One, led by the International Land Coalition (ILC) in cooperation with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP), SONIA Association, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and El Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI). The side event focused on Reviewing multi-source data and approaches for monitoring pressures over indigenous lands, territories and resources.

    The second, organized in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC), focused on pastoralism as a sustainable food system and practice preserving biodiversity and protecting ecosystems - countering the prejudice of pastoralism as being primitive and unproductive.

    The third, co-organized with the Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact (AIPP) and Procasur concentrated on Procasur Learning Route in the Mekong region, and in particular on forest management and engagement with government and civil society. I chaired the event, welcoming among the participant Joan Carling, recently elected Member of the Permanent Forum and winner of the ''FIMI 2014 Leadership Award''.

    Highly significant – as well as successful - was also the launch of IWGIA Yearbook "The Indigenous World'', a comprehensive update on the current situation of indigenous peoples in more than 70 articles written by indigenous and non-indigenous scholars and activists. The Yearbook also concentrates on the path towards the World Conference and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. IWGIA and its work were praised by the newly elected Special Rapporteur for the ''enduring support to the indigenous movement without ever speaking on their behalf''.

    The XIII Session of the UNPFII has, thus, not only been an important platform for discussion between UN organizations, governments and indigenous representatives, but also a crucial site to strengthen partnership with and identify the priorities of indigenous peoples in view of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and of the IFAD's Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, whose second global meeting will take place in February 2015 in conjunction with IFAD Governing Council.

    I wish to thank Zac Bleicher and Sophie Ritchie from IFAD North-America Liaison Office for their great support. A special thanks to Michela Mossetto Carini, our intern in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division who self-sponsored her travel to the UNPFII Session and actively supported me.

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    By Sheila Mwanundu

    My participation in the gender side event at the 5th Assembly of the GEF left me with the compelling message that gender equality cannot continue to be an afterthought in projects, programmes and policies. Presentations were by GEFSEC, GEF Evaluation Office, FAO, EBRD, IFAD, UNEP, WB, UNDP and AfDB.

    It was apparent that all agencies have a gender strategy and these have helped catalyse policy change and the necessary transformation impact on livelihoods and ecosystems. However, the job remains unfinished.

    I highlighted some experiences based on the completed (2004–2012) IFAD/GEF-supported Mount Kenya East Pilot Project and drew attention to: (i) successful use of participatory mapping to engage women and men in planning and managing  their natural resources; (ii) community empowerment initiatives which give women and youth greater access and voice in decision-making; (iii) introduction of time and energy saving technologies to reduce womens' workload burden; and (iv) alternative income-generating activities which have helped reduce pressure on fragile natural resources.

    The discussion centred on closing the gap between men and women with some specific recommendations: (i) cautious approach to socio-cultural aspects which hold back men and women; (ii) alternative measures to capture womens’ leadership; and (iii)  evidence-based learning for effective replication and up-scaling of innovative approaches. In addition, greater emphasis on youth empowerment is critical in ensuring that gains in education translate into economic opportunities.

    From an institutional point of view, the side event demonstrated strong collaboration between the GEF agencies in pushing forward the gender equality agenda of the Global Environment Facility.

    This event served as a platform to launch the new GEF publication: Roadmap for Gender Equality, which links to IFAD’s recent publication The Gender Advantage

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