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    Workshop description

    The Near East, North Africa, and Europe Division held a 5 day Procurement Training in Marrakech, Morocco from 19-23 November 2012. It brought together 30 participants, including representatives from IFAD-Funded projects in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Yemen, and Gaza & West Bank. Project procurement officers and project staff involved in procurement, all actively participated in the training providing examples from real life experience.

    Professional procurement specialists Mr. George Jadoun and Ms. Blerina Pogace from the International Training Centre of the International Labour organization (ITC/ILO) prepared and delivered the training material in Arabic based on IFAD procedures and drawing from practical experiences in the region.

    Objectives and outcomes

    The main objective of the workshop was to provide a knowledge sharing platform and training on procurement, in the NENA countries.  More specifically, the workshop aimed to:

    • Provide an overview of the procurement process, from planning, identification of needs and methods, to the tendering process. 
    • Familiarise participants with IFAD requirements and guidelines on procurement.
    • Better understand and apply country specific procedures while offering a platform to share with the participants’ best practices in procurement

    To achieve the objectives of the workshop, the sessions were designed to be interactive with each country team expected to briefly present the issues they are facing with regards to this field. In this context, the various teams also suggested possible solutions for improvements.

    The expected outcomes of the workshop were:

    • Improved effectiveness of the functions discharged by project staff;
    • Improved implementation performance with regards to procurement;  and 
    • Resolution and clarification of recurring issues during project implementation.

    Average overall rating by participants for training relevance, effectiveness, quality of delivery and impact was 86% (this includes 100% rating for quality and relevance and 97% for objectives met, post-training application and overall satisfaction)

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    Peace is possible within our lifetime. As a matter of fact, if we want to end rural poverty, feed the world and protect our little blue planet in peril, achieving peace is not just a lofty goal… it’s a necessity.

    Nowhere is this more true than in Latin America and the Caribbean, where violence – against women, young people, poor people and the earth – is hindering development initiatives, lowering economic potential and literally pulling the fabric of societies apart one string, and one lost opportunity, at a time.

    But we can only achieve this goal by making smart investments today that will provide young people and marginalized communities with the tools they need to plant and nourish the basic seeds that will lead to a kinder, greener, smarter, more equitable future.

    If we look at the region as a whole, four basic pillars to achieving peace through sustainable rural development emerge.

    Pillars of peace
    1.    Better incomes – After all, violence stems from poverty and lack of assets. Increase your income and asset base, and you decrease violence.
    2.    Jobs – Provide alternative ways to build a better life. 
    3.    Education – It doesn’t take much training to lift a pistol. But how hard is it to build a profitable business? 
    4.    Think green – Malthus was right. We do have limited resources. Protecting our natural resource base is essential to creating a more peaceful world.

    Conflict at a glance
    Just how serious is the problem? According a recent World Bank report “Central America's spiralling wave of crime and violence is threatening the region's prosperity as countries face huge economic and human losses as a result of it.”

    “Aside from the pain and trauma inflicted upon victims, violence can cost the region up to 8 per cent of its GDP when taking into account law enforcement, citizen security and health care costs,” the Crime and Violence in Central America – A Development Challenge (2011) report argues. “This is no small change for a region that in 2010 grew around 2 per cent of GDP, while the rest of Latin America grew around 6 per cent.”

    We know that violence is primarily an urban phenomenon in Latin America. In fact, the Poverty and Inequality 2011: Latin America Report indicates that urban areas in the region are primarily facing challenges of inequality, security and economic dynamism, while rural areas show lags in access to services and basic rights such as health and education.

    But the problem of violence does not stop at the city’s edge. This lack of access to basic rights in the countryside is fuelling a rapid urbanization rate, and providing new fighters, new gang members and new thieves that fan the fires of violence in the cities.

    Conflicts over natural resources are also on the rise. In Bolivia, for instance, there are over 1000 standing conflicts between communities, businesses and international interests. Much of these conflicts are centred on water and land use, thus making it essential to build sustainable systems to manage these scarce resources, title land and weave the strand of ecological idealism into a new social fabric.

    So what are we doing about it?
    Throughout the region, we are funding peace by investing in youth, job-creating rural enterprises, training programs, market access, education and protection of Mother Earth.

    For example, the IFAD Executive Board approved in April a new US$36.5 million poverty reduction project for Peru. The project looks to nearly double rural incomes, build social inclusion, and will be key in achieving the Peruvian government’s goal of reducing poverty by 10 per cent by 2021. Additionally, the project includes a US$1.5 million IFAD grant to further public-private partnerships between local communities and mining corporations to improve water management in the highlands.

    The Executive Board also approved two new projects for Brazil in the same session. The projects will benefit over 80,000 poor rural families at a total cost of US$133 million, with US$56 million in IFAD funding. The projects focus on education as the central tool to overcoming poverty.

    We also signed an agreement in October with the Brazilian state of Paraíba for a new US$49 million social inclusion project that will work with traditionally marginalized groups like women and youth to provide them with the tools and technologies they need to build their businesses, improve household assets, reduce child malnutrition, overcome rural poverty and contribute to a sustainable natural resources management.

    In Colombia, we continue to fund innovative poverty reduction projects designed to build peace and enhance social inclusion. We recently signed a new loan agreement with the Government of Colombia for the US$69 million Trust and Opportunity Project.

    The project seeks to improve food security, ease access to financial and community services, increase incomes for small-scale producers by as much as 32 per cent, and create mechanisms to rebuild the social fabric of a country that has witnessed war and endemic violence for more than 30 years.

    In our latest edition of Rural Perspectives, we take a look at how IFAD-funded projects are seeding peace in places like Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru. These projects look directly at traditional development as a mechanism to improve the social fabric of the local communities. In the end, only strong threads can withstand the forces of violence and conflict. Only strong threads can weave the textile of peace.

    En español
    Ventana Rural | Construir la paz usando el desarrollo inteligente 

    Share it!


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    Susan Beccio, Photo Editor in IFAD’s Communications Division, is in São Tome and Principe this week, documenting IFAD-supported activities in the island nation off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. Here are some of her impressions, in words and pictures. 

    All photos ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Solar drying of cocoa beans.
    I shot the photos on this page during my visit to the Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme. Cofinanced by IFAD and the French Agency for Development, the programme began in 2003 and is ongoing. Its most successful aspect has been the revitalization of cocoa production and export in São Tome and Principe.

    More than a decade ago, cocoa producers here were suffering because of falling global prices for their exports. Many abandoned their plantations. But today, with support from IFAD and its partners, 1,800 small-scale producers have a total of about 2,400 hectares under cultivation for cocoa. They all belong to the Organic Cocoa Export Cooperative, and their cocoa is certified as organic or fair-trade for sale to the international chocolate industry. This is what a revitalized cocoa sector looks like....

    Bagging the beans: The cocoa grows well in the shade forest that was planted many years ago by the 
    Portuguese. It looks like a jungle and is full of bananas, coconuts, mangos, papaya and breadfruit. The 
    terrain is very rough and uneven, not like you would imagine a plantation to be. It is naturally organic, so 
    the local producers are able to tap into the organic and fair trade markets. 
    The weighing station: The growers have learned to make the most of their three local cocoa varieties by
    adapting sustainable breeding methods such as grafting. The farmers do what is called a ‘first drain’ to 
    eliminate a portion of the moisture and ferment the cocoa beans. Then the beans are brought to the 
    collection point in Monte Forte, where they are weighed, dried in solar driers, re-weighed and readied for 
    export to France (certified organic for chocolate) and the United Kingdom (certified fair trade for cocoa 
    powder drinks).  
    Bags ready for export: The cocoa producers here only dry and ferment the beans – they do not process
    them into cocoa powder or chocolate. But because they have teamed up in a larger cooperative and are 
    able to sell internationally, they have made a lot of headway.

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    by Tom Pesek, Partnership Officer, IFAD’s North American Liaison Office

    As we bid farewell to 2012, it’s useful to reflect on the themes that dominated international development discourse this year. There was considerable focus on inequality, climate change, the agriculture-nutrition nexus, energy, water and land. The continuing effects of the global economic crunch and fiscal austerity were impossible to ignore. The role of partnerships and the private sector was also a recurring theme. Last week, the OECD, World Bank and USAID co-sponsored an event in Washington, DC on another major issue - responding to the complex and rapidly evolving needs of fragile states and middle-income countries. As the development policy agenda for 2013 begins to take shape, it’s worth considering the findings of a new OECD report entitled Fragile States 2013: Resource flows and trends in a shifting world, which was launched at the event.

    The report highlights a number of trends that should keep policymakers awake at night. Chief among them is the report’s projection that global poverty will soon become significantly more concentrated in fragile states than it is today. Fragile states are currently home to one-third of the world’s poor. However, the OECD projects that by 2015, half of the world’s people living on less than USD 1.25 a day will be in fragile states. The report classifies 47 countries worldwide as fragile. These countries, including population giants such as India, Pakistan and Nigeria, have a collective population of 1.5 billion. In 2008, former World Bank President, Robert Zoellick observed that “fragile states are the toughest development challenge of our era.” Well, it seems this toughest of challenges is about to get even more difficult.

    The report also asserts that approximately half of world’s fragile states will likely suffer reductions in programmable aid between 2012 and 2015. ODA is the largest financial flow to the average fragile state, followed by remittances and FDI. This projected drop-off is of particular concern in countries that are already chronically “under-aided”, aid dependent or confronting slow economic growth. Although per capita ODA to fragile states grew by 46 percent between 2000 and 2010 (USD 50 billion in 2010, or 38 percent of total ODA), this trend is expected to be interrupted by the ongoing fiscal crunch in OECD countries.

    Another notable finding is that the profile of the average fragile state is beginning to change. A mere ten years ago, the majority of fragile states were low-income countries. Not anymore. Today, almost half of the world’s fragile states – 21 out of 47 – are middle-income countries, according to the report. If this shift continues, it will change the profile of the typical fragile state from low-income and highly aid-dependent, to middle-income and less aid-dependent. This is likely to further complicate efforts by development institutions to become more responsive to the needs of middle-income countries.

    Despite the report’s mostly gloomy findings, there are some glimmers of hope. While ODA to fragile states is falling in terms of overall quantity, the number of actors engaging in these states is beginning to multiply. Multi-pronged engagement (development, investment and trade) has accelerated amongst countries beyond the DAC membership, notably Brazil, China, India, South Africa and the Gulf States. There has also been growth in terms of global funds and philanthropic giving to fragile states. In addition, multilateral engagement remains an important means through which emerging countries are directly interacting with fragile states.

    Furthermore, there is already a paradigm shift underway within the development community, as demonstrated by the 2011 New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, which was one of the outcomes of the Fourth High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011 in Busan, South Korea. The initiative commits fragile states and their international partners to “do things differently” – by designing and implementing interventions with far greater consideration for the unique characteristics of fragile states; and to focus on “different things” – by building their interventions around peace-building and state-building objectives.

    As Stewart Patrick pointed out this month in the Council on Foreign Relations, there may be a critical role for the G20 to play in getting the international community to prioritize fragile states. Many G20 countries, such as Brazil, China, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey, have already been steadily increasing their engagement in fragile states. In addition to providing development assistance, G20 countries increasingly represent key trading partners and sources of FDI for fragile states. The G20 could potentially play a critical role in harmonizing global approaches to poverty reduction in fragile states, including by leveraging support and resources for the New Deal for Fragile States.

    At the event in Washington last week, Juana de Catheu, co-author of the OECD report, indicated that numerous bilateral and multilateral development institutions have begun to prioritize fragile states, choosing to fight poverty where it is most concentrated. This will require them to confront the tension between quickly delivering results versus making the long-term, context-specific commitments required to build the capacity and strengthen the resilience of fragile and conflict-affected states. Ms. De Catheu also observed that investing in fragile states is a high risk, high reward endeavor. One might also argue that the risk of not investing in fragile states is substantially higher.

    Read more: Fragile states: Working to build resilience

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  • 12/21/12--07:47: #IFAD 2012 staff awards
  • Last Friday, for the third year in a row, IFAD staff came together to celebrate the achievements of their colleagues and peers.

    IFAD's staff awards programme is inspired by Daniel Pink’s paradigm. Pink argues that “the secret to high performance and satisfaction is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world”.

    He defines these three elements as follows:
    • autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives
    • mastery, the desire to continually improve at something that matters
    • purpose, the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves.
    IFAD staff award programme  recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of colleagues who as individual or as teams ― have made outstanding contributions as:

    • Leaders
    • Designers and implementers of an innovative and/or outstanding initiative
    • Agents and facilitator of change
    What is special and what makes this awards programme different from others is the fact that the nominations come from STAFF. Colleagues nominate colleagues and reward their actions and behaviours because they have done something special.

    This year we celebrated the accomplishments of 22 colleagues.

    The celebrations started with paying tribute to a cross-departmental team award composed of Tomas Rosada, Natalia Toschi, Rajiv Sondhi, Purificacion Tola Satue, Deirdre McGrenra, Sandra Reyes, Mirka Ferrise and David Hartcher who were involved in a long and difficult negotiation process that culminated in the approval of the debt settlement agreement for the Republic of Cuba.

    You should have seen the expression on the face of our lovely ICT colleague, Fabio Mariano, when they called his name... he was in a state of shock and could not believe that they called his name. Fabio received the staff award for his work in advancing ICT's workstation management services which has drastically reduced the time needed to configure and deploy workstations at IFAD.

    Silvana Scalzo, was recognized for her initiative of developing "cooperation brief" drawing on a number of databases.

    Numerous colleagues were recognized as agents and facilitators of change and they are:

    • Clare Bishop-Sambrook, our gender technical adviser for her commitment and dedication to gender-related issues and for steering the IFAD gender policy.
    • Maria Turco, for having conceived and implemented an innovative security awareness training which benefited not only IFAD staff but expanded to the rest of the UN family.
    • Thu Hoai Nguyen, our programme assistant in Viet Nam country office for spearheading the decentralization of financial functions from HQ to the country office and implementing the financial management and disbursement pilot project system.
    • Rasha Omar, one of the most dedicated and commitment staff of IFAD, a mentor and role model for many, for the way she managed challenging country portfolio, such as Sudan and now DRC Congo.
    • Federica Cerulli Irelli, a solution finder, a wonderful young lady with great sense of humour, the very Federica who broke the mold and did one of the most innovative blogposts of our collection, for helping us become more efficient and effective in using and mobilizing funds.
    • Edward Gallagher, our budget man, someone who everyone wants as friend, for his role in bringing about major changes and improvements in our budgetary processes.
    • And finally in this category, a team of resourceful and creative ladies who came up with a number of suggestions to make current business processes more efficient: Adriana Bombardone, Aisha Nazario, Francesca Tarabella and Tina Frezza
    We finished the staff awards by paying tribute to the leadership of Paula Kim, for her role in leading and galvanizing the country office support unit. Paula, with her smooth, soft, elegant and diplomatic manner worked across department and divisions to put in place a robust support system for IFAD country offices.

    Last but not least, my own colleague, Bob Baber, the man behind the communications toolkit, who played an instrumental role in coordinating the preparation and production of the toolkit. He definitely made it happen and I must say, we take pride of this gem - a resource which provides practical communication tips  and one that is valued by our colleagues in the field and our sister organizations.

    Congratulations to each and every one of you. Happy holidays... And since it looks like the world will not be coming to an end today, check out this space next year for the 2013 staff award edition.
    Wishing you all a peaceful and prosperous 2013.

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  • 01/08/13--07:11: Back from our IMI experience
  • Written by Semina Fazelbhoy and Claudio Priori

    China country office (20-27 October 2012)
    by Semina

    Before leaving for Beijing I was apprehensive to travel alone to China-so many worries: the long flight, the arrival late evening, the language (despite the efforts I could learn only few words in Chinese before leaving) and of course worry of not answering all HR-related queries.

    All my worries were futile-because although the flight was long (Emirates) and in spite of travelling economy class, I had lots of leg-room, the food was delicious and the people sitting next to me were friendly. Upon arrival at Beijing airport I was received by a very nice Chinese UNDP driver-we of course communicated in sign language!  The hotel staff were friendly and I learned lots of new words,"你" Nihao (hello) was my first one.

    I had healthy discussions with the ICO staff and we covered several  HR topics.  In the same office compound, I met staff of WFP, UNDP and UNDSS all of whom were readily available to cover topics ranging from recruitment to security.

    The ICO staff were thrilled to receive the  country office administrative handbook and the communications toolkit.  They were enthralled to learn the usage of LMS and most of all they felt honoured that someone from HQ-HR was present in person to answer their numerous queries.  They constantly mentioned that they now feel more included as IFAD staff and less isolated!

    Beijing is a beautiful, safe, city, with wide streets and fashionable shops.  The food is light and cheap and the portions huge.  Yes, language can be a challenge, but you can get by if you learn a few key words in Chinese and speak to the young  people who are only too eager to practise their English.

    I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit China and would love to return to China someday to learn more about their language and culture.

    Ghana country office (26-30 November 2012)
    by Claudio

    Accra: Local market
    Since the establishment of IFAD country offices, I have not had the opportunity to visit on site and to better understand the way our ICOs operate. As many of my colleagues working in ADM, we often work with our ICOs colleagues but being at HQ it is not always easy to capture how we can do things differently in order to improve our collaboration to make things work better.  That’s why I applied for the IMI initiative and I am glad my proposal was selected!  Thanks to IMI, I finally had the chance to visit our Ghana country office and  the African Continent for the first time in my life.  It was a very enriching experience both professionally and personally.

    Claudio and Sarah  working together!
    Working closely with IFAD local colleagues as well as having contact with the Ghanaian residents was one of the memorable experiences that I will always remember with pleasure. The hospitality of our colleagues in Ghana was impeccable in making me feel at home.  When back in Rome, I felt a bit sad and suddenly I could understand what my colleagues meant by “MAL D’ AFRICA”

    In the office with our colleagues Ulac, Sarah and Daniel
     I cannot but over emphasize the importance for each staff member at IFAD to have the chance to visit a county in which IFAD operates and meet the colleagues who work there. These kind of opportunities put things in a different perspective and it's easier to work out  a new way of doing things! In my specific case,  I received many constructive suggestions on how to improve the  inventory management for assets assigned to our ICOs.

    We are now working on these suggestions ideas will shortly be discussed with Management.

    Keep reading the blogs to know more!!

    I am fervently looking forward to my next duty travel….


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    #IMI Country Office Immersion for Innovation– Guatemala, 1-8 December 2012

    This visit has been a valuable chance to examine the current administrative procedures and see what opportunities are available for innovation that could be repeated at other offices. Some difficulties that ICO colleagues face with procedures are due to the fact that existing IFAD administrative procedures have been created and designed to be carried out in IFAD HQ. During my mission I discussed with the ICO colleagues the new Travel Procedures that will be set up shortly, and made a list of procedures for which they have problems, or that are too costly. In this view the revision of the existing travel procedures was a good example of mutual benefit for both IFAD HQ and ICOs: a less HQ-centric approach in setting-up new procedures and redefining existing procedures will help, also in terms of time and budget savings. This kind of approach was also shared by our ICO colleagues that were enthusiastic of the idea.

    The mission was also very exciting, as Guatemala city is a city surrounded by four active volcanoes that give rise to breath-taking sunsets!

    Also the country-side is of a deep green that leaves you speechless, such as the “Cooperativa  Mujeres 4 Pinos”which is an impressive example of women cooperative.

    Started about 30 years ago, 70 women produce vegetables, collaborate with producers to identify production schemes and contract those who can meet quality and quantity targets, also fixing product prices.

    Also thanks to IFAD funding, Cooperativa MujeresCuatro Pinos is now an industry that produce, package and sells its products. Recently they started exporting their products to the United States and have achieved an annual growth rate of 50 per cent in vegetable exports over the past 4 years.

    Colleagues of ICOs were so nice that I would stay in Guatemala much more!  Hospitality is something that doesn’t make a small difference when you’re in a foreign country…

    I recommend this experience to everyone, especially to my colleagues who wish to touch with their hands the sense of our work in IFAD. IMI initiative was a great opportunity for me and I think it showed how important can be the GS contribution to make IFAD and ICO collaboration easier and effective.

    Definitely a very formative experience for me, that I am confident will be useful to IFAD too.

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    by Ertharin Cousin (Executive Director, World Food Programme), Jose Graziano da Silva (Director General, Food and Agriculture Organization , Kanayo F. Nwanze (President, International Fund for Agricultural Development) 

    The IFAD-supported Sahelian Areas Development
    Fund Programme (FODESA), is a large-scale
    natural resource management initiative,
    designed to help local populations restore damaged
    ecosystems and build resilience to a harsher climate.

    We are at a tipping point in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The world is becoming a less predictable and more threatening place for the poorest and most vulnerable.
    As we grow more interconnected, a range of complex risks, including climate change, environmental degradation, population growth, conflict,and food and fuel price volatility, are exacerbating the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. Unless we protect the world’s poorest people and empower them to adapt to change and build robust, adaptable and more prosperous livelihoods, we face a future where every shock becomes an opportunity for hunger and poverty to thrive.

    All of us engaged in the fight against hunger – governments, international organizations, non-governmental and community-based organizations, private businesses and foundations – recognize the need to shift the way we work with food insecure communities to help them become more resilient.

    The Rome-based United Nations agencies are championing this shift by aligning our policies and programmes with six core principles.

    PRINCIPLE 1: People, communities and governments must lead resilience-building for improved food security and nutrition
    Resilience-building strengthens the capacities of vulnerable households and communities to adapt to changing circumstances, manage an increasingly complex risk environment, and cope with shocks they are unable to prevent.

    Efforts to assist vulnerable groups to manage risks and build their resilience must be developed through country- and community-led efforts. Government leadership brings a more holistic approach that transcends any institutional barriers partners might have to working together. Capacity-building of local authorities and better engagement of community leaders increases the likelihood that activities will be relevant to local needs and deliver sustained gains. All efforts must focus on people, their organizations, and build on their current risk management and coping strategies.

    PRINCIPLE 2: Building resilience is beyond the capacity of any single institution
    Building resilience must be a joint effort. No single activity on its own is likely to build resilience, yet together and if taken to relevant scale, each can contribute to improved resilience overall.
    In Kenya, during the 2011 crisis, communities enrolled in programmes to build assets and reduce disaster risks were able to harvest crops,while their neighbors required emergency relief assistance. FAO, IFAD and WFP, in partnership with the Government of Kenya, are working together to replicate this successful experience on a larger scale, turning post-disaster recovery into an opportunity for building resilience.

    Through the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, Oxfam America, Swiss Re and WFP, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development, are scaling up a resilience-building approach that brings together safety nets, disaster risk reduction and micro-insurance. R4 enables cash-poor farmers to work on community-identified projects in exchange for drought insurance, reducing the potential negative impact of future disasters. Insurance also allows farmers better access to credit for livelihood investments. In Ethiopia, R4reached a major milestone in 2012 when nearly 12,000 drought-affected households received an insurance payout of over US$320,000, or US$26each. This insurance payout helped households absorb the shock, repay loans, and invest in agricultural inputs for the next season.

    PRINCIPLE 3: Planning frameworks should combine immediate relief requirements with long-term development objectives
    Better risk management and strengthened resilience are as central to the development agenda as they are to humanitarian action. 

    Building resilience means addressing the immediate causes of vulnerability,food insecurity and malnutrition, while building the capacity of people and their governments to better manage underlying risks to their lives and livelihoods. We can no longer divide development from humanitarian action.

    Better risk management and strengthened resilience are as central to the development agenda as they are to humanitarian action. They are a prerequisite for enabling vulnerable people to cultivate a new crop, start anew enterprise, or take any new action to overcome hunger and poverty. IFAD’s 2011 Rural Poverty Report affirms that “because the risks that poor rural people face today are changing and arguably increasing, improved risk management needs to become a central, cross-cutting element within the development agenda.”

    PRINCIPLE 4: Ensuring protection of the most vulnerable is crucial for sustaining development efforts
    Productive safety nets are a cost-effective way to achieve longer-term solutions to hunger and increased flexibility to manage risks.Only 20 percent of people in the world today have access to social protection. The poorest, most vulnerable and food insecure among us typically have no access to social protection or safety nets. For this reason, when disaster strikes it has a more dramatic effect on the lives and livelihoods of poor people.

    But experience in Ethiopia offers a welcome glimpse into a more hopeful future. Although Ethiopia faced a severe drought in 2011, the impact on the most food-insecure people was less severe than in similarly affect neighboring countries. The Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP), Early Warning System, bi-annual Food Security Assessment and associated Humanitarian Requirements Document(HRD) contributed to a more timely and effective response to people affected by drought. In 2011, the HRD provided relief assistance to more than 4.5 million people while the PSNP provided food and cash support to over 7 million people.

    PRINCIPLE 5: Effective risk management requires integration of enhanced monitoring and analysis into decision making
    Better monitoring and early warning will provide decision makers at all levels with the information they need to manage risks, adjust plans, and seize opportunities.Our approach begins with the vulnerable communities and continues through local, national and regional levels, helping ensure that action at every level is mutually reinforcing. This allows for better responses to shocks, but it also saves a lot of money. The World Bank estimates early warning systems save between 14 and 70 U.S. dollars per dollar invested.
    PRINCIPLE 6: Interventions must be evidence-based and focus on long-term results
    Building resilience is complex and dynamic. It requires a concentration of resources to address fundamental challenges faced by vulnerable populations. To ensure the most effective use of resources, we most rigorously evaluate the resilience-building impacts of medium- and long-term interventions on household food security and nutrition.

    Our choice of a world without hunger and poverty requires us to help vulnerable people build resilience against complex risks.

    The 2011 famine in Somalia starkly illustrated how shocks overwhelm the resiliency of the poorest or most marginalized, leading to destitution,displacement, hunger, illness, death and the breakdown of families and communities. This highlighted the inadequacy of efforts in the years prior to the crisis to build people’s resilience to future and recurrent shocks.

    Our choice of a world without hunger and poverty requires us to help vulnerable people build resilience against complex risks. We need to support their livelihood, risk management and coping strategies. We must encourage and support the leadership of the governments and people we assist so they can build their own resilience. We must work together more effectively.

    To do this, we must improve our policy and planning frameworks to combine our short-term humanitarian work with longer-term development objectives. We must change the way we grow, share and consume nutritious food. We must make concerted efforts to assist the most marginalized people through safety nets and other investments. We must bolster risk management services, including insurance for poor and vulnerable populations, to encourage investment and development of their livelihoods. And we must act on a more robust evidence base to ensure we use the limited resources that we have in the most efficient way possible.

    If we do these things, we will help build a future where periodic shocks no longer plunge people into hunger and poverty, and communities thrive where the threats of hunger and poverty once ruled.

    The Rockefeller Foundation, in their new publication, titled Rebound: Building a More Resilient World, asked leaders from various disciplines to share their lessons of what resilience means and what it requires of us. World Food Programme Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, Director-General of the Food And Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva, and International Fund for Agricultural Development President Kanayo F. Nwanze lay out six guiding principles for those fighting to end global hunger. 

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  • 01/29/13--03:08: For the Love of Land
  • by Shreya Thapa

    Sitting outside her home, Radhika Dhakal surveys the stretch of land directly below her. Verdant plumes emerge from the earth and the soil extending from the house to the main road is a patchwork of brown and green.

    ©IFAD/Rocky Prajapati
     “When we started, I didn’t think any of this would be possible,” she says in a soft, almost distant, voice.
    At 42, Radhika and her husband have their own house, and more importantly, their own land in the mountain village of Gurase in the mid-western district of Dailekh. On the six ropani (about a third of a hectare) that is registered in her name, the couple farm vegetables such as cauliflower, potato, cabbage and radish, enabling them to make between Rs 100,000 and Rs150,000 in a year. They recently bought a cow, and a few months ago, Radhika opened a small roadside stall.
    “We’ve come a long way,” she says with a satisfied smile.

    Less than a decade ago, the couple and their five children lived under very different circumstances.
    “Back then, we used to chop wood and sell it,” Radhika explains about the labor-intensive jobs with minimal pay she and her family endured in the past. “We had to work for other people, sometimes carrying supplies from Surkhet to Dailekh (approximately 24 km), which would take all day. It was very difficult. We had no income and because of that, it was nearly impossible to get a loan from anywhere. If we somehow got a loan, the interest rate would be impossibly high.”

    ©IFAD/Rocky Prajapati
    So Radhika – along with 12 other women in Gurase – took matters into her own hands by establishing the Ama Shristhi Savings and Credit Cooperative. The cooperative is a part of the Western Upland Poverty Alleviation Project supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Across 11 districts in western Nepal, the project works with the Government of Nepal to promote resilient livelihoods and offers dignity to poor and socially disadvantaged groups, especially women, Dalits, Janjatis, and as Radhika once was – the landless.

    “The cooperative didn’t have a lot of money at first. Each woman contributed Rs 20 per month,” Radhika says. “When we had a small collection, the cooperative was ready to make the first loan.”

    The system is simple: When a sizeable fund is collected, each member is at liberty to petition for a loan. Depending on the circumstances of the women, a decision is made, often based on whose need is the most urgent. Beyond loans, the coop also guides members on agricultural matters from tools to farming tips and trainings to optimizing production.

    “They were considering giving the money to another lady and I knew if I didn’t get it then, I would have to wait longer for the next opportunity.” Some of the cooperative members were hesitant to give Radhika the first loan, seeing as she had no means of earning. But she convinced them she would pay it back within two months.

    The sum she had sought was a modest Rs 2,600 but it was enough to make significant changes in her life.

    “At that time, I didn’t even have a house. We lived in a hut made from sticks. But with my first loan, I was able to make a house for my family.”

    While the house still stands strong today, the first loan laid a foundation for a better future. “After paying back my loan in full, I was able to earn the trust of the cooperative,” she says, and in doing so, she was able to take out more loans.
    ©IFAD/Rocky Prajapati

    Eight years ago, Radhika used a loan to clear the land that was part of her inheritance, “When I got the land, it was useless –mostly jungle –and you couldn’t farm on it. We didn’t even know if we could farm it and make a living out of it but we really wanted to change our lives. We know what hunger is, we suffered so much, and seeing how others were doing it, I wanted to farm, too.” 

    And she did. With the vegetables she plants and sells, Radhika is able to rely on consistent income every season. “This earning makes a huge difference. My husband has always been sickly and was never able to work or earn properly,” she explains how the vegetables dramatically changed her family’s situation.

    By having a reliable means of earning, Radhika and her family have a burden lifted from their backs—they no longer need to leave the house at 4 am only to return at 8 pm after carrying dokos of vegetables and rice between Surkhet and Dailekh. On top of having the workload eased, Radhika has earned stability for her family by being able to educate all of her children, a remarkable feat especially considering she never went to school and only recently learnt to write her name from a fellow coop member.

    “Having our own land made this all possible… from there we were able to move up,” she says.

    With a combination of her earnings and more loans, Radhika has been able to acquire a cow. Her excitement of being able to make such a purchase is almost tangible, her voice grows louder as she points to where the cow is tethered. And the same sense of fulfillment is evident when she mentions the new roadside stall she recently opened.
    ©IFAD/Rocky Prajapati
    “We’ve come a long way, but I believe we can do more, and I want to do more,” she exclaims.
    The positive impact the cooperative has had on her life and other members is undeniable, but the women aren’t looking to limit themselves. “Until now we’ve only done farming, but I would like to learn tailoring to make clothes,” Radhika says, adding, “I wouldn’t mind learning how to knit or make stools, as we don’t have any of these trades in Gurase.”

    Already quite busy, Radhika isn’t daunted by how more responsibilities would come with new ventures. She and the other women from the cooperative are eager to work together and share the workload. By learning different trades Radhika is looking out for the next generation, too. “If we can do this, then after we learn we can teach our children too,” she adds.

    Less than 10 years ago, Radhika didn’t know where her next meal would come from. Now, through the income she makes from farming, she’s in a place to look ahead. “Now after having accomplished all this, we want to do more, we can think more long-term and plan for the future,” she says.

    Originally published in República newspaper

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    A girl helps her family harvest sugarcane in Sindh
    province, Pakistan. ©IFAD/Asad Zaidi

    By Jonathan Agwe

    The Dubai Global Islamic Microfinance Forum, held in December 2012, brought together professionals, leaders and experts working in Islamic microfinance institutions, international donor organizations and development agencies from around the world. Together, they engaged in dialogue on sustainable development and poverty alleviation achieved through Islamic microfinance.

    The forum was the second international conference on this topic organized by the Al Huda Centre for Islamic Banking and Economics (CIBE) through its Centre of Excellence in Islamic Microfinance (CEIMF). The fundamental objective was to demonstrate that – in parallel with conventional microfinance – Islamic microfinance can provide support to the “unbankable” members of society.

    Participants in the Dubai forum reiterated that this instrument builds on ethical, moral and social factors to promote mutual support, equality and fairness for the benefit of the society and its members.

    Potential to target diverse markets
    According to Islam, there are three classes of Faqeir or vulnerable groups in society: (i) those who cannot earn a living, (ii) those who are financially distressed and (iii) those who capable of earning a living but lack adequate opportunities.

    Family-run shop in a rural village in Egypt.
    © IFAD/Marco Salustro
    The forum showed how these groups are differentiated. The first two classes may be served by a social security system and charity based on Islamic ways, under which alms-giving is a personal religious duty. The third category qualifies for support through Islamic microfinance. People in the third group can be helped to become creditworthy and bankable through interest-free loans that comply with Islamic law – the Sharia – rather than through charity. Islamic microfinance refrains from practices that are not compliant with Sharia, such as providing or receiving any fixed, pre-determined rate of return on financial transactions.

    The forum also underscored the concept that, for Sharia-based Islamic microfinance to reach out to the approximated 44 per cent of global microfinance clients residing in Muslim countries, the instrument has to be considered not as a niche but a service with the potential and ability to target diverse markets.

    "Islamic microfinance: Unlocking new potential to fight rural poverty" – a publication released by IFAD in December, the same month as the Dubai forum – confirmed that in recent years, Islamic microfinance has reached a rapidly growing market. The publication reiterated that Islamic microfinance offers millions of disadvantaged people, in Muslim countries and beyond, access to financial services that are premised on providing for the welfare of the population.

    Promising innovations
    IFAD’s Near East, North Africa and Europe Division has successfully launched a series of initiatives piloting the use of promising innovations and products in Islamic microfinance. To reach out to more clients in Muslim countries and beyond, IFAD is exploring ways to collaborate with like-minded institutions – for example, Al Huda CIBE/CEIMF – and develop joint initiatives promoting the principles of Sharia-compliant Islamic microfinance.

    For more information, visit the Dubai Global Islamic Microfinance Forum section on the Al Huda website.

    Jonathan Agwe is an IFAD Technical Adviser on Rural Finance in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division, Programme Management Department. He serves as IFAD’s focal point on Islamic finance. E-mail; tel: +39 0654592848. 

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    A display at the June 2012 Rio+20 conference refers to the
    global conversation on post-2015 development. ©IFAD
    By Zak Bleicher

    The “post-2015 development agenda” has become a hot topic in development circles in New York. This agenda refers to a potential framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals upon their expiration in 2015, as well as the articulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) envisioned at the Rio+20 conference last year.

    In terms of agenda-setting, 2013 is going to be a critical year. At this stage, it is reasonable to expect that the post-2015 agenda will have a far wider scope than the current MDGs, potentially incorporating peace, security and good governance, along with strengthened environmental and human rights dimensions. Through this expanded orientation – and the deeper legitimacy gained from a process of extensive consultations – the new framework will carry significant implications for the flow of resources and the alignment of international institutions and other actors in the development arena.

    Nearly the entire UN system, mobilized by the Secretary-General, is contributing to the post-2015 dialogue. Other major institutions, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, are working on the topic as well. Civil society, the private sector and academic organizations are heavily engaged too.

    All of these voices have combined to create a veritable cacophony of ideas and debates trying to answer some core questions:
    • What has and has not worked with the MDGs?
    • What issues need to be included in the post-2015 development framework, especially accounting for those that are under-represented in the MDGs? (Take a look at some interesting ideas on, a hub for dialogue about what comes after the MDGs.)
    • How can a new framework help to drive implementation, supported by partnership, accountability and finance? 
    A global conversation
    The MDG experience showed that it can take quite some time to raise awareness, get buy-in and build support and alignment for development objectives. This time around, there is a commitment by UN Member States and the Secretary-General to take advantage of the significant lead time by conducting a global conversation about post-2015 development.

    The process has evolved into a massive undertaking involving multi-stakeholder consultations at all levels – most of which will feed into a report the Secretary-General will deliver to Member States this September, containing his initial proposal. The report will be discussed at a High-level Meeting to coincide with the opening of the 68th General Assembly session. That meeting will be an important milestone and stage-setter on the path to agreeing on a new framework, likely sometime in 2015 itself.

    The core of the current process includes the following elements:
    • The Secretary-General has formed a High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015. This group, co-chaired by the Heads of Government of Indonesia, Liberia and the United Kingdom, has stated that its members plan “to focus on the elimination of poverty in all its forms and to put in place the building blocks for prosperity for all.” Their report should be released around the end of May. 
    • Within the context of the United Nations Development Group, various UN entities – including IFAD – are conducting a series of 11 global thematic consultations; supporting 66 national level consultations with ambitions to push that number to 100; and supporting regional consultations in cooperation with the UN’s regional commissions. Each of these outputs will inform both the High-level Panel and the Secretary-General’s report.
    • The UN Global Compact is conducting consultations within its network, and Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the MDGs, has launched the Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
    • Civil society organizations are able to provide input into each of these channels and are undertaking their own processes of consultation. (Vote on your own post-2015 priorities by completing a global citizens’ survey.) 
    Perhaps most important, Member States have followed up on the mandate they gave themselves at Rio +20 by forming an Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. As agreed at Rio, these goals should be “universal” in their orientation. For now, this process is on a separate track and will not deliver its recommendations until sometime in 2014. The UN system will support the Open Working Group through a UN Task Team, an inter-agency technical exercise in which IFAD is participating. It’s worth looking at the Task Team’s report from last year.

    Far-reaching impact
    There is so much involved (and it seems to keep growing) that it’s tempting to call all of this the “post-2015 industrial complex.” However, the fact remains that the results of this discussion could have massive implications for the work of all actors in the international development sphere. The outcome, should it ultimately be endorsed by Member States, would likely represent a new, far-reaching compact on global development priorities and resources. It could also have an impact on the architecture of international development, which some may seek to align with implementation of the post-2015 framework.

    No matter the precise nature of the outcome, it is sure to affect IFAD’s work. At the same time, IFAD can be an impactful voice in this conversation on behalf of its mission and core constituents. And IFAD will seek to ensure that the voices of rural people, especially smallholder farmers and, in particular, rural women and indigenous peoples, are heard and accounted for in whatever outcome is agreed.

    As noted above, IFAD is already engaged in this effort. In fact, an IFAD-wide group has been established to bring together the expertise that exists in various parts of the organization for an internal discussion. Together with colleagues in the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme, we are identifying areas where the agencies can add value to the debate by speaking in a common voice. IFAD will also participate in an FAO/WFP-convened meeting of the UN Committee on Food Security in the context of the thematic consultation on hunger and food and nutrition security.

    You, too, can contribute to the conversation in various ways. Just take a look at the actions listed on, an online platform for post-2015 awareness and action, to see where you can plug in.

    Zak Bleicher is the Partnership Officer at IFAD’s Liaison Office in New York.

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    The coastlines of Bangladesh are constantly moving. Surveys, based on satellite images, have shown that each year there is a net accretion of around 20 km2: newly formed land of about 52 km2 minus eroded land of around 32 km2. With an assumed density of 800 people per km2, this means that each year approximately 26,000 people lose their land. For many of them, the newly accreted land, or chars, as these new-emerged lands are called in Bangla, offers an alternative home. The Char Development and Settlement Project IV (CDSP IV), jointly funded by the Government of Bangladesh, IFAD and the Government of the Netherlands, works to support the women and men to build their lives on this new land.

    “The living conditions on the chars are harsh,” explained D. K. Chowdhury, who works as the technical advisor on land settlement for CDSP IV. “The land is completely inaccessible and can only be reached by boat and foot. The people living there are exposed to nature and due to the daily tides, the land gets flooded on a regular basis.There is no safe drinking water, no health service or sanitation, no agricultural inputs, no education, no legal or social structures. When occupying the land the women and men will most likely have to face the Bahini, local power groups, who take over the control in absence of any adequate administrative structures). These Bahini often press for money and take away agricultural products, livestock or other household properties.”

    “A family who loses its land by erosion loses everything. There is no legal entitlement for compensation. The newly accreted land becomes property of the government [khas land]. The only chance a family, whose land has been washed away, has, is to receive some khas land from the government, often after prolong persuasions.”

    Conducting the PTPS on Caring Char.
    Since its first phase (1994-1999), CDSP has been working to support the rural women and men occupying land on the chars to receive legal titles for these plots. The first step of this process is the production of a settlement map. During a plot-to-plot-survey (PTPS), cartographers, measure each and every plot, draw an exact map of the land by cadastral surveys and note the details on the inhabitants. The maps and the information about the families are then deposited in the Upazila [subdistrict] Land Office.

    Land settlement to the landless household are conducted by the government’s land offices according to the provisions of the Agricultural Khas Land Management and Settlement Act. In the CDSP areas, the result of the PTPS has to be published by the Upazila Land Offices and complaints against the findings can be submitted within 30 days. “In normal land settlement processes, people have to travel 30 to 40 km to the Upazila Land Office to look into the files. Under the CDSP system, public hearings are held at the village level. During these hearings, each case is called out to confirm that the family and all listed members are living on the plot. During this process other participants can object, for example if they know that an applicant owns a plot of land somewhere else, it can be mentioned to the hearing personnel. After all, only landless households are entitled to a khas land settlement. Once the hearing is concluded, the list with the identified landless households is transferred to the Upazila Land Office which prepares the official resolution of the meeting as well as the settlement record for every family, which then has to sign the Kabuliat (deed of agreement) by both the selected landless households and the landauthority. Under CDSP, the deed is registered the village level due to a special arrangement (in other cases these are done at the Upazila Offices) , which saves the families time and costs for the often difficult travel to the Upazila Office.

    Hearing on Noler Char.
    Once registered, the details of the settlement cases are entered in the land database of the CDSP. The project has developed a Land Records Management System (LRMS), which allows keeping record of every land attribution and helps preservation of the permanent records and preventing double assignments. The LRMS produces computerized Khatians(final records of right) and finally this document is handed over to the beneficiar, making them the owner of the respective plot on a permanent base, meaning that it cannot be sold.

    “Another thing that CDSP has introduced to the process, is that the wife’s name is written first in the legal document,” D. K. Chowdhury said. “As a result, the wife is legally entitled to 50 per cent of the total land. This strengthens her position in the family and gives her uninterrupted access to the land and a legal position for the women in many decision making processes, for example if the family wants to use the land as a collateral for credit, selection of crops for cultivation, etc. Also, if the husband should abuse his wife or it is proven that he is involved in illegal activities, than there will be legal steps toward him. As a result, he can even lose his share of land. This improves the gender empowerment in these backward areas.”

    Nayan Begum with her children in
     front of their house on Caring Char.
    When we visited Caring Char (one of the five chars being developed under CDSP IV) last week, we met one of the 3 teams currently conducting the PTPS. Using traditional cadastral survey methods to draw an exact maps on different segments of the 12,000 ha large char, they had just started to measure the plot of Nayan Begum, who came to Caring Char 7 years ago with her husband and children from Hatiya, a close by island. They bought a share of land from a man who had occupied a plot and even though they paid for the land they’re now living on, it doesn’t belong to them in the legal sense. “We don’t know for sure if we can stay here,” Nayan said. “But now that the settlement process has started, we are a bit more optimistic. Once we own the plot, we can finally start investing in the land.”

    Family Das on Boyer Char.
    Aleyuna Bala Das and her family have already received the title for their land. They live on Boyer Char, which has been project area under CDSP III. 15 years ago, they had to leave their home at Hatiya. “The river took most of our land, only a part of the house was left. But during high tide, everything got flooded. We couldn’t stay there.” So they decided to move to Boyer Char, where they bought some land from Bahini. The plot they received, was jungle land and not yet suitable for agriculture. They left the children with relatives; during the day, her husband would sell the wood they found on the plot and she would work as agricultural laborer for other farmers. During the night hours, they cleaned the land. “We were often afraid of the Bahini, who constantly asked for more money or took away the little we owned,” she remembered. “It was difficult, but we wanted to build a good future for the children.  And there was nowhere else to go.” It took them two years to clean the land and prepare it for agricultural production. In 2008, they received the official land title. Since then, they have exchanged the simple straw hut for a solid built house and have invested in high-yielding crops. “Before CDSP came to this area there were no roads and no markets. We had only local varieties that were often not delivering the highest output. This has changed” said her husband Sankar Chandra Das. “Also, the Bahinileft the area, so we can safely continue to build up our lives here.”

    “Under CDSP we have introduced a number of innovative activities in land management systems to ensure the titling of the land in an open, transparent and hassle free process, so that the land can be used for the welfare and economic development of the respective family on a permanent basis,” explained D. K. Chowdhury. “These can be scaled-up in other parts of the country as well.”

    CDSP IV is applying an integrated development approach, to improve the economic situation and living conditions on the Chars. In addition to the land rights activities, six implementing agencies, four NGOs and a technical assistance team work closely together to strengthen protection from climate change, build climate resilient infrastructure, provide livelihood support, such as health services and legal education, and support the establishment of field-level institutions. The current phase of the project is running until 2017 and is expected to directly benefit 28,000 households.

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    As Photo Editor and Photographer for IFAD, I have had several opportunities to travel to the field over the last 16 years. What was missing from my experience was visiting an actual IFAD country office.  This is why I was interested in participating in the country office immersion initiative. 

     I have a good understanding of how IFAD works and I have been working in the field of communication long enough to know how IFAD communicates and how the Communications Division works with the rest of the house. What I wanted to explore was how this all fits together with the country offices. How do they carry the IFAD brand in their host country? How do they communicate nationally and regionally? How do they work with IFAD headquarters? What can we offer them?  What do they need from us? And the biggest question for me was, how does it feel to work in a country office?

    I chose to visit Viet Nam because it is a country office that was established early on, and has a track record in communications. The country office staff was very welcoming but they were a bit perplexed as to what I was actually going to do in Hanoi. Because I also wanted to take some photographs and work alongside the Communications & KM Specialist, and because the Country Director and Country Programme Officer had a busy travel schedule, I ended up with a very interesting itinerary.

    I gathered photos while Lam gathered stories in the Ha Tinh province, I spent time in the office in Hanoi getting to know the staff and sharing the Communications Toolkit, and I traveled to the Mekong Delta with Henning and Tung to attend a project completion workshop for the Improving Market Participation of the Poor (IMPP) project in Tra Vinh province. There, I also worked in the field with a local knowledge management officer from the IMPP project. I got to see their knowledge share fair, attend the opening ceremony and witness how the country office staff worked with the local project and province authorities. 

    Pham Lam interviews farmers in their home in Ha Tinh province
    ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    Hong Diep Duong hops over irrigation canal in Tra Vinh province
     ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

    My trip to Viet Nam was an incredible learning experience on many levels. I feel I have a deeper understanding of what it feels like to work in a country office. I also have a wider perspective on the meaning of communication for an international development organization. This often includes the quality of human relationships that are built in the field and the necessity for each and every staff member to feel empowered enough to build these quality relationships and communicate IFADs message. The IFAD staff members in Hanoi are very good at relationship building in country. I enjoyed watching them work.

    This positive experience has given me clarity on the responsibility that we have as a division to build relationships with the ‘in country’ knowledge management and communications officers.  We can provide communication support and training to supplement the Communications Toolkit distribution, and we can begin to create helpful IFAD communication networks so that all staff, in HQ, in the country offices, and in the projects receive the necessary support to communicate at the level, style and with the tools they feel most comfortable with.

    Thank you again to Hoai, Lam, Tung and Henning for welcoming me to the IFAD country office in Hanoi, Viet Nam and including me in your real-time activities. 

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    Written by Elaine Reinke

    “My social life is very important to me”, declares Jihad Al-Hakimi, Microfinance Manager of the Economic Opportunities Fund in Yemen, grabs his wedding ring from the table and places it above my ipad. As part of this valuation exercise, participants of the Social Return on Investment (SROI) training were asked to bring a number of personal items and rank them by their value – not so easy, given that the 21 trainees had very different views about the value of their belongings.

    Considering the multiple realities of different stakeholders – that’s a core principle of SROI. Being a participatory method to assess the social, environmental, economic and other dimensions of benefits resulting from development interventions, it can be used at different stages of the project cycle: at the onset in support of planning and appraisal, during implementation for monitoring, and at completion for evaluation.

    Under IFAD’s Innovation Mainstreaming Initiative, the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division is testing SROI as a new means to generate evidence-based knowledge and learning in IFAD-funded projects. Together with Fons van der Velden and Pol de Greve from Context, International Cooperation Foundation, a Netherlands-based social business providing capacity development support to development actors and social enterprises, I travelled to North Kordofan, Sudan, for the first SROI pilot.

    This women of Elhamair community explains
    how her life changed due to the water yard.
    In the state capital El Obeid we met the male and female trainees from different projects and line ministries in Sudan and Yemen to embark on a joint learning journey over the coming 12 days. Following Context’s SROI manual, we started off with a three day classroom (yet practical) training covering the nine steps of SROI – but there went the theory. Allowing the participants to get their hands on the matter, the training has been embedded into assessing water-related activities in the IFAD-supported Western Sudan Resource Management Project.

    And off we went to the field: divided into two groups, we visited the villages of Elhamair and Sawarda to capture and understand the invested resources and benefits for the local community generated by a Hafir (open pond for rainwater harvesting) and a water yard (elevated groundwater tank) that were constructed by the project in 2011 – and the value the beneficiaries attached to these resources and benefits.

    Pol de Greve, Mohamed Y. Elnour and
    Ahmed H. S. Mohammed
    take detailed notes of resources and benefits
    connected to the water yard.
    For the group visiting the water yard in Elhamair, the first day in the community felt like a piece of cake: the training participants were impressively skilled facilitators letting the villagers tell their story of the water yard and how it changed their lives. At the end of the day, the community had developed its own theory of change and listed all resources, including their value, that were invested in the water yard. On the next day, we started understanding what Oscar Wilde meant by “some people always know the price but not the value”: the training participants teased out a list of some 43 benefits – but helping the beneficiaries to value these was a quite challenging task, especially when it came to intangible and indirect benefits such as reduced tensions among settlers and nomads, and empowerment of women through water users committees. But we made it – and the community rewarded us with a remarkable performance of traditional dance, singing and poetry.

    Back in the classroom, we jointly reflected on the lessons learned from our field work, and then rolled up our sleeves to embark on the process of verification, analysis and report-writing for both case studies. By triangulating different sources of data, the training participants calculated the total value of all invested resources versus benefits to derive the SROI ratio. It turned out that for every dollar invested, the project generated a benefit worth 1.66 dollars in case of the Hafir and 2.5 dollars for the water yard. Pretty impressive, yet a number is just number. The important part of SROI is what Pol and Fons call “narrative numeracy”, that is embedding the number into a narrative which reveals the story behind and captures those elements that are most difficult to measure. By considering the views of multiple stakeholders, developing this story is where project-based learning is happening.

    Focus group discussion with selected community
    members under a shady tree of Elhamair village.
    At closing time, participants looked back over the entire process and developed follow-up action plans in their respective project teams. They are now keen to conduct additional case studies and integrate these into project reporting, use SROI in mid-term reviews, organize SROI planning workshops at country-level and provide SROI training to government partners. Their plans and reflections fed into a debriefing with more than 20 government officials and local leaders in El Obeid, including HE the State Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources, who also opened our workshop. The discussions demonstrated profound interest among different stakeholders in using SROI as a contribution to improve results measurement at strategic level. This will also guide Pol, Fons and myself in designing the next steps in our joint innovation project: organizing a second on-the-job training in another country in the region, and pulling the threads together in a Rome-based reflection cum write shop to develop a meaningful knowledge product on IFAD’s first experience with SROI for wider dissemination. 

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    Women at a self-help group meeting in India. ©IFAD/Sangeeth Rajeesh
    ROME, Italy – When Ratnamma, a soft-spoken woman from a poor rural community in India, noted that all five of her children have been educated – two of them at university level – the audience, understandably, erupted into applause. Yet hers is just one among many, perhaps millions, of similar stories lived by women and their families in several Indian states.

    Such stories are possible because the Government of India and its international partners decided to think big. Equally important, they decided that empowering rural women to drive their own development was a key to reducing poverty.

    More about those decisions shortly. First, here’s a glimpse into Ratnamma’s story of success against the odds, which she told yesterday at IFAD headquarters in Rome.

    A family’s life transformed
    Born into a Dalit family and thus marginalized as a member of one of India’s scheduled castes, Ratnamma grew up in a remote village in the state of Andhra Pradesh. She was married at the age of 13 and raised four daughters and a son mostly on her own, gathering and selling firewood to eke out a living. Her husband, a bonded labourer, could contribute little to the household, and one of her young daughters had to work in the cotton fields to supplement their income.

    Ratnamma (second from right) joins panel discussion on
    'scaling up' at IFAD headquarters. ©IFAD
    Unable to consistently feed her children or send them to school, Ratnamma felt humiliated by discrimination and poverty. That began to change, however, when the South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme reached her village in 1995. An initiative of the United Nations Development Programme, it encouraged rural women to join self-help groups in which they could seek collective solutions to mutual problems and pool resources to help each other improve their livelihoods.

    Ratnamma was reluctant at first. Eventually she joined a group in her village. “For ten years before I joined the self-help group, I really don’t know how I lived,” she recalled. But soon after, a transformation began. The women in the group raised funds for her husband to pay the debt that had kept him bonded. Once he was free, the family’s income grew and the children were able to go to school. Ratnamma and her husband bought a small plot of land, began farming vegetables to sell at the local market and built a house – even as they repaid the loan from the self-help group.

    Meanwhile, Ratnamma’s stature in the community was also growing. In time, she became the leader of her village self-help group and then head of a federation of groups representing about 9,000 women in the area. More recently, she has served as a community resource person for other women who want to form self-help groups. In fact, there are now an estimated 1 million of these groups in India. What started as a local initiative has mushroomed into a massive and, by all accounts, effective vehicle for advancing both rural development and gender equality.

    Institutions of the poor
    And this, in turn, accounted for Ratnamma’s presence at IFAD headquarters yesterday. She was in Rome for a panel discussion about scaling up projects and programmes to significantly reduce rural poverty – that is, building upon experience in the field and taking successful innovations to the next level for greater impact. Ratnamma and the other panellists represented projects in India, Argentina and São Tomé and Príncipe. They analysed scaling up from the perspective of IFAD’s partners, including governments, the private sector and poor rural people themselves.

    A flyer at the 'scaling up' panel recounts
    Ratnamma's story. ©IFAD
    The self-help groups in India provided a case in point. The groups began in the 1990s with a relatively small investment by UNDP, as well as financing from IFAD. They grew because the Government of India and state authorities recognized how effective they could be, and made the decision to take them to scale.

    “The numbers are mind-boggling,” said Adolfo Brizzi, Director of IFAD’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division, referring to the explosive growth of the self-help groups over the past decade. But Brizzi stressed that the government had not only devoted resources to the groups; it also followed through on its vision that the groups would be driven by poor rural people. “There was a decision to build institutions of the poor, not institutions for the poor,” he added. “We have to believe in the commitment of the poor. They have more of an incentive for overcoming poverty than any government.”

    As Brizzi spoke, Ratnamma sat a few metres away, radiating quiet pride in the hard won accomplishments that have brought her so far.

    The IFAD-hosted panel discussion on scaling up generated a buzz on Twitter. See highlights below.

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    Ratnamma (second from right) joins panel discussion on
    'scaling up' at IFAD headquarters. ©IFAD

    On 6 February 2013, IFAD held a panel discussion on "Scaling up from the perspective of our partners". This event brought together representatives form India, Argentina and Sao Tome who shared their respective models of scaling up. 

    We had the honour and pleasure of having  Ratnamma - an extraordinary empowered lady.  Ratnamma's inspiring story  touched everyone's heart and soul.  Yesterday afternoon, my lovely colleague Clare Bishop Sambrook, IFAD's Senior Technical Adviser for gender, empowerment and social inclusion stopped by to share her this marvelous and moving poem.  I am sure this masterpiece will bring to life Ratnamma's story and touch your hearts and souls.
    Thank you Clare for sharing this.

    Scaling up: from a Dalit untouchable to a well-respected family in the village

    by Clare Bishop Sambrook

    The process of


    Is real

    Married at 13

    Five children by 22

    Husband trapped as a bonded labourer

    Unable to feed her family

    Unable to send her children to school

    Unable to protect the health of her daughter

    Unable to access government services

    Only able to exist at the margin

    Not only poor but also a Dalit

    Unable to walk through the village wearing shoes

    Unable to drink from a cup

    Unable to leave her head uncovered

    Unable to raise her head

    Not confident that the self-help group was for her

    Nothing to save

    Nothing to give

    A life of exclusion


    Joining the self-help group

    Became the entry point

    For life on the pathway to change

    A group loan freed her husband from bonded labour

    A campaign freed her daughter from child labour

    The self-help group federation school freed her children from a life of survival

    And her own life became one that would have been unrecognisable

    A leader of a group of 15 women

    A president of the federation of 9000 women

    A community resource person

    A business woman

    A mother of children with professional qualifications and formal employment

    But change is more than  money

    Life is also about love and affection from members

    The pleasure of gifts from her children

    And sharing this journey with other poor women.

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    By Laura Arcari

    The banner for the forum outside the conference room ©IFAD
    On 11-12 February 2013 IFAD headquarters in Rome will be opening its doors to the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. 

    The first global meeting of the Forum will bring together 29 indigenous peoples' representatives from Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean as well as other Board members and representatives from communities of national and regional indigenous peoples' organizations. 

    As of last December 2012 the IFAD Administrative Visa Section, in close collaboration with the Policy and Technical Advisory Division responsible for Indigenous and Tribal issues, have been actively networking with embassies to ensure that visas for entrance to Rome, Italy will be obtained in time to allow the participants to travel. Some of the participants may have never traveled outside their regions or have any experience with the cumbersome bureaucracy involved and our staff took the extra mile to provide a personalized service and ensure that each case was closely monitored and followed up especially from countries where the situation may be complex. In anticipation of emergencies that may possibly arise, the visa section was prepared to expect the unexpected and to be creative with alternative solutions as was the case when the political outburst in Mali prevented visas to be obtained through the Embassy of France, Italy's liaison. In conjunction, 63 additional visas were being processed for high level dignitaries and officials who will be attending the 36thSession of IFAD's Governing Council. 

    The countdown is final and planes are being boarded on their way to Rome as this article comes out. 

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    By Laura Arcari

    Men hard at work putting up the flags  ©IFAD
    The flags are up!! The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Via Paolo Di Dono Rome officially announces the 36th Governing Council. 

    A total of 169 banners are welcoming the arrival of delegates on 13-14 February. The Executive Board considered the applications for membership received from the Republic of Nauru, from Tuvalu and from the Republic of Vanuatu. The recommendations of the Board in this regard, together with the draft resolutions thereon, will be presented at the event.

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    By Monica Romano

    The opening session of the first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum concluded with all of the many present holding hands as a sign of brotherhood.

    To me it was really the real and most meaningful start, after Mr. Kevin Cleaver - our Vice-President, Programmes - had greeted the audience and welcomed the indigenous participants who are always so colourful in their wonderful traditional clothes. But what touched me deeply were the words of blessing that were said during a traditional ceremony that was held by representatives of the indigenous peoples’ communities from different regions in the room, in front of the long table were the panelists were seated.

    During this ritual, ancestors were honoured and invoked, together with “Madre Tierra” and “Corazon del Ciel”. My feelings about the meaning of those kind gestures and words were that, while there is a beautiful richness and diversity in cultures and traditions among human beings, the values of attachment to our planet where all of us live and the “devotion” to what is “above us” - whatever belief and worldview we may have – are  a common important foundation of all the efforts towards an equal and sustainable development, where the rights of all people are protected and respected. After lighting six candles – to me symbolically representing the unique light which enlightens  all the different people living on earth, our President, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, expressed the wish to achieve “harmony” and gratitude to the Mother Earth and the Creator.

    Before the ceremony, Mr. Cleaver noted with pride that 80 percent of IFAD-funded interventions support in some form indigenous peoples. Earlier on, when the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD was established at a workshop in February 2011, the Vice-President had expressed the desire and commitment for IFAD to better understand and work on how the Fund can best support indigenous peoples and their organizations.

    The firm words of our dedicated coordinator for indigenous peoples’ issues, Antonella Cordone, who is also the main conceiver, facilitator and contributor to this big event, also resounded in the room, as a video of that workshop was broadcast. She pointed out that the distinctiveness of indigenous peoples is their richness and the key to their development, including economic development, which we should build on. The same concept was reiterated by our President, highlighting that indigenous people and ethnic minorities have distinct cultures, livelihoods, and traditions as well as unique knowledge. It was also noted that unfortunately, these communities are often victims of marginalization and discrimination, lack to land, territories and resources. Indigenous people and ethnic minority groups account for 5 percent of the total global population and 15 percent of those living in poverty.

    Two indigenous women representatives seating in the panel together with President Nwanze, Mr. Cleaver, Antonella, and Mr. Adolfo Brizzi – Director of the IFAD Policy and Technical Advisory Division – briefly intervened for these introductory remarks. Ms. Myrna Cunningham, Member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), referred to “challenging times” the world has been facing and expressed the desire for the indigenous communities to continue to work with IFAD. Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Executive Director, Tebtebba Foundation, invited us to think about indigenous people not only as beneficiaries, but also as partners.

    At the invitation of Mr. Cleaver all the indigenous people representatives introduced themselves. As we are heading to the next session after a short break, the participants are now moving to a more substantive discussion. As our Associate Vice-President noted, on 13 February a representative of the indigenous peoples will present the outcome of these 2-day discussions to our Governors. Make sure you follow this event live via webcast.

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    Candles burning at the forum's opening ceremony. ©IFAD
    ROME, Italy – It probably goes without saying that most meetings at IFAD headquarters don’t begin with the ritual lighting of candles. Nor, for that matter, with thanks to the ancestors for trusting us to live in harmony Mother Earth and protect her precious natural resources. Yet that’s exactly how the first global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD started this morning.

    The opening ceremony featured representatives of various indigenous peoples from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, along with IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze and others from the Fund. But it wasn’t simply a colourful moment. Rather, it embodied the unique qualities that the world’s approximately 370 million indigenous people bring to any conversation on rural development: a deeply held belief in environmental sustainability, and the traditional knowledge required to put that belief into practice.

    As Nwanze said in his opening statement to forum participants: “You have much to share about how to live, how to work and how to cultivate in a manner that provides for future generations.”

    A global dialogue
    The forum is the culmination of two years of planning by indigenous peoples and their organizations. The seeds for the event were planted at an IFAD meeting in 2011, when indigenous peoples’ representatives called for a global dialogue about IFAD-supported operations in their territories and the organization’s compliance with its own policy on engagement with indigenous peoples.

    IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze (centre) joins forum
    participants at opening session. ©IFAD
    Since then, IFAD and its partners in indigenous communities have followed through with a series of further consultations, including regional workshops held last year in Kenya, Nicaragua and Thailand.

    Reports on the regional consultations were a key part of today’s agenda. They painted mixed picture of progress in many areas of collaboration between IFAD and indigenous peoples, and problematic gaps in others. Overall, the workshops identified urgent priorities in at least two areas: first, ensuring full participation by indigenous peoples in the design and implementation of projects financed by IFAD; and second, building the capacity of indigenous peoples’ institutions to fulfil their potential and protect their basic rights.

    Action plan and declaration 
    The imperative for indigenous peoples’ communities to consolidate their rights – especially the right to own and control ancestral lands – was an overarching theme of the day. Because many of these communities are still marginalized and exploited, poverty is a persistent problem for them. It’s also a disproportionate one. While indigenous peoples comprise roughly 5 per cent of the world’s population, they represent about 15 per cent of the poor.

    Myrna Cunningham (right) is among participants in the
    opening ceremony at the forum. ©IFAD
    In an effort to make further progress, forum participants will now synthesize their findings and discussions into an action plan and declaration, which they will present on Wednesday at the 2013 session of the Governing Council, IFAD’s primary decision-making body. They have already made it clear that they are prepared to move forward with IFAD as equal partners.

    “We come here for a dialogue, putting our knowledge on the table,” said Myrna Cunningham, an activist from Nicaragua who is a member of both the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum Steering Committee and the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “We don´t want to discuss our needs,” she added, “because people might think that we should be told what to do. We offer our knowledge so we can work together.”

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