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- 12/17/14--07:53: _The 2014 Gender Awa...
- 12/19/14--08:45: _Do gender dynamics ...
- 12/22/14--01:57: _US Ambassador David...
- 12/23/14--01:30: _The International F...
- 12/24/14--00:41: _Ethiopia: Learning ...
- 01/14/15--00:13: _Building resilience...
- 01/14/15--01:48: _New learning routes...
- 01/15/15--08:10: _Strong partnerships...
- 01/20/15--08:40: _Conservation Agricu...
- 01/22/15--01:22: _Flexi-Biogas system...
- 01/22/15--08:12: _From Missouri to Ro...
- 01/25/15--18:42: _In Philippines: IFA...
- 02/02/15--08:07: _Learning from our s...
- 02/06/15--03:28: _Polishing the gende...
- 02/09/15--06:09: _Close Up on young r...
- 02/09/15--13:11: _Conservation Agricu...
- 02/12/15--18:37: _From new business o...
- 02/12/15--20:01: _Building Solidarity...
- 02/13/15--21:16: _In Cambodia, IFAD, ...
- 02/16/15--07:14: _Reflecting on IFAD'...
- 12/17/14--07:53: The 2014 Gender Awards and learning event
- How do gender dynamics and decision-making relate to nutrition-sensitive behavior and outcomes in agricultural development programmes?
- What is the impact of empowerment on nutrition sensitive agriculture programmes?
- Does Decision Making always leads to Empowerment? and
- How can we continuously and systematically track impact of gender participation in agricultural development on nutrition?
- 01/14/15--00:13: Building resilience to crises in the Arab world
- 01/14/15--01:48: New learning routes for Central and Eastern Europe
- 01/15/15--08:10: Strong partnerships for improved food security in the Arab world
- Farming systems, which are intimately linked to the specific agro-ecology (e.g. rainfall distribution, soil type, temperature) and in which the CA option should fit
- Farmers and their livelihoods (e.g. farm size, income, resource endowment) – the CA option should suit the adopter of the technology
- Entry points at the farm and community level (e.g. farm labour, water scarcity, erosion) on which the programme should have an impact
- Contextual factors (e.g. policy, extension services, markets) in which the whole intervention is embedded.
- 01/22/15--01:22: Flexi-Biogas systems in Kenya showing promise
- 01/22/15--08:12: From Missouri to Rome – Learning about the UN
- 02/06/15--03:28: Polishing the gender lenses
- 02/09/15--06:09: Close Up on young rural people's economic empowerment
- 02/12/15--20:01: Building Solidarity Through Women-Led Community-Based Organizations
- 02/13/15--21:16: In Cambodia, IFAD, MEF and MAFF push farmers agenda forward
- 02/16/15--07:14: Reflecting on IFAD's Engagement with Indigenous Peoples - #IFADip
By Lorina Sthapit, Gender and M&E Junior Consultant, Nepal and PTA Gender Desk
The event concluded with a statement by the Vice President about the relevance of ending violence against women for food security, poverty reduction and rural development.
Representatives from the winning projects
by Marian Amaka Odenigbo
You will all agree that it still unacceptable that today one in eight women and men still go to bed hungry and 8,000 children die daily from under nutrition despite the growing attention on gender and nutrition related issues in the agricultural development agenda. As development practitioners we seek to address issues such as:
What is paradoxical is that we actually know that gender dynamics often are closely linked to nutrition, but we don’t necessarily always know how!
These concerns were the focus of a two and half day training workshop on gender and nutrition organized by the CGIAR cross-cutting research program (CRP) on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). The event took place at Bioversity headquarters in Rome, Italy on 2-4 December 2014. Participants from different sectors shared experiences on designing, implementing, and evaluating gender research analyzing how development activities have contributed to improved nutritional outcomes. I was happy to be invited in the capacity of one of the key partners who is working on implementing nutrition-sensitive agricultural projects.
Women's empowerment has been portrayed as a driver in agricultural development and innovation especially in poor rural setting. This is reflected in IFAD’s core business of investing in rural poor with an estimate of approximately 50 per cent of women targeted in our operations.
Empowering women involves multiple aspects such as decision-making power related to income, time, labor, assets, and knowledge or preferences of female community members. This implies women taking control over their lives, setting their agenda, gaining skills, self-confidence, self-reliance.
Hazel Malapit, the coordinator of A4NH gender strategy in IFPRI, gave an overview of the Women's Empowerment in the Agriculture Index (WEAI). WEAI is an index dedicated to measuring women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector. Laurie Starr (TANGO International) and Ana Paula de la O Campos (FAO) shared experiences in using and adapting WEAI were shared in project contexts. Beatrice Gerli, a member of IFAD gender team also added that IFAD has developed an adaption of the WEAI in its work and piloted it in Guatemala.
To understand the intricacy of women's empowerment Peter Davis, a specialist in qualitative and mixed-methods research delivered a presentation on empowerment ‘as a complex topic’.
Pathways to Nutrition
These pathways were grouped into three key routes: 1) Food pro¬duction; which affects food availability, access and consumption of diverse foods and food consumption at household level; 2) Agricultural income; which influences expenditure on food, healthcare and non-food items; and 3) Women’s empowerment; which influences decision making power, caring capacity and practices, control of income and female energy expenditure.
Although these pathways are not always linear but they have become important guides for designing research and nutrition-sensitive agriculture projects. The last 3 pathways (5, 6 & 7) explicitly deal with women, but the gender role is important in each of the pathways outlined below:
As a matter of fact, empirical evidence suggests that empowering women improves nutrition for mothers, their children, and other household members and there is a close linkage between child stunting and maternal nutrition.
From a nutrition perceptive, the decision making process was viewed not just an outcome but rather underscoring the importance of joint-decision making between women and men.
Participants engaged in a brainstorming session on coming up with decision-making indicators to enhance their understanding of gender dynamic roles in agricultural interventions for nutrition and health.
Jessica Raneri, a nutrition specialist in Bioversity talked about adapting existing methodologies with a nutrition lens, thus ensuring nutrition-sensitive interventions. She proposed that we reformulate existing questions and/or integrate additional questions on nutrition from a gender perspective to address gap in current methodology.
|Gender norms integration (pink) into a vegetable and fruit project (green) in Zambia|
presented by Mwansa’s (Nutrition officer) and Steve (Gender officer)
It was quite interesting to see how gender mainstreaming can improve nutritional outcomes in Ag4NH programmes. While at the same time implementing agricultural development projects through a nutrition lens maximizes the gender norms.
This was reinforced by an exclamation made by Mwansa at the end of an interactive brainstorming exercise – please see the figure above:
“Wow! Now it’s all making a whole lot of sense, Steve!!!
To wrap up the workshop, participants were tasked to identify available and missing resources to improve work on nutrition and gender. One of the challenges identified was creating a space to continue networking opportunities to link up gender and nutrition. As a way forward, participants suggested to build a community of practice on gender and nutrition in order to continue the conversation.
This training workshop actually confirmed that integrating gender norms through a nutrition lens will increase development impact and nutritional outcomes of programmes. It was an opportunity to further our understanding of influential gender dynamics in nutrition sensitive agriculture interventions particularly for partners like IFAD where gender and nutrition are among our thematic corporate priorities.
Interested in IFAD’s commitment to making its country programmes and projects nutrition- sensitive? Read our blogpost on Optimizing farmer’s contribution through better health and nutrition.
“The fish recognise me when I approach the ponds to feed them. They swim towards me because they aren't afraid. They know I'm their best friend", explained Tome Zacarias, a farmer in Chiongo, (about 40 kms from the town of Gondola), whose farm US Ambassador Lane visited on 10 December 2014.
Tome has been nurturing his passion for fish farming since 2003 when he first started with three small ponds. He farms tilapia and currently has five fish ponds of different sizes. They form part of his integrated farming business which includes maize, vegetables, fruits and farm animals.
During the one and a half hour visit with Ambassador Lane and his delegation which included journalists from six countries and representatives of the three UN Rome-based agencies, Tome talked about what had brought him to become passionate about fish farming, including how he had sourced his first fingerlings.
He also described how he selects the site where he digs his ponds, including the farming techniques he uses to assess the soil water holding capacity. He showed how he makes the fish feed from scraps from his farm produce – pumpkin, cassava and sweat potato leaves – supplemented by corn bran provided by the extension officers from the Mozambique National Institute for Aquaculture Development (INAQUA).
Tome is one of the beneficiaries from PROAQUA – a US$ 3,4 million regional project. Limited to a designated area of four neighbouring districts – Mossurize, Sussundenga, Gondola and Gorongosa – the project zone has abundant water resources with many rivers providing considerable potential for aquaculture.
Access to markets is good, with the project districts flanking either side of the Beira Corridor. The project responds to a request from the Government Of Mozambique (GoM) for support in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Financed by the European Union as part of the GoM's "Accelerating progress towards MDG1c in Mozambique" initiative, the programme was jointly implemented in 2013 by IFAD, FAO and WFP and will conclude in 2018.
The rationale for the project is based on the following:
(i)A high priority in the GoM's development strategy, the support for aquaculture is in line with the GoM's and IFAD’s policies particularly as there has been very limited investment in the sector, specifically in Manica and Sofala;
(ii)Aquaculture represents a major and relatively untapped potential for meeting the growing demand for fish in the country;
(iii)Aquaculture also represents an important means of diversifying the farming system that can enable farmers to spread risk; and
(iv)Given that most fish farmers are poor but able to invest in fish farming at minimal cost and with limited risk, thus improving the nutritional status of poor households, is further justification for investment.
The project aims to increase consumption and sales of fish by promoting small-scale fish farming in the project districts. PROAQUA tackles two key themes: food security and commercialization. The strategy recognizes the importance of current fish ponds to household food security and nutrition.
While there is considerable potential to increase the productivity of ponds, thereby generating income for households through sale of fish, it is recognized that the level of poverty of many households in the project zone means that addressing risk aversion is a key priority. This is reflected in the approach adopted by the project.
Before visiting Tome's farm, Ambassador Lane met with the Gondola District Administrator, who presented a comprehensive overview of the district’s social and economic development, the ongoing food security and nutrition projects and programmes supported by the three UN Rome-based agencies as well as priority areas for consideration, should resources be made available in the future.
As part of the local tradition, Tome and his family offered Ambassador Lane and his entire delegation lunch prepared from their own produce including bananas and mangoes grown on the farm.
Ambassador Lane was visibly happy with the visit. He encouraged the PROAQUA managers, government representatives and extension officers to provide continued support to enterprising farmers like Tome and assist them in building capacity beyond subsistence to commercial production.
For Tome, who is considered a model farmer in the Chiongo region, hiring the labour to dig the ponds and feed the fish is one of the main challenges he faces.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IFAD works to enable rural poor people to improve their food and nutrition security, increase their incomes and strengthen their resilience. BTCA is a perfect fit for us because we are one of the world’s largest lenders supporting rural finance for poverty reduction, promoting access to a range of financial services, including savings, payments, remittances and insurance, to meet the needs of poor people, and we recognize the critical role of electronic payment systems in accessing all of these tools.
In 2013, there were 2.5 million active borrowers from IFAD-assisted microfinance institutions, 74 percent of which were women, as well as 5.5 million voluntary savers, 71 percent of which were women.
By joining BTCA, we commit to expanding these numbers by promoting electronic payments, which are a gateway to accessing other financial products like loans and savings accounts. Central to our partnerships with developing countries are IFAD’s results-based country strategic opportunities programmes (COSOP), which provide a framework for IFAD operations in a country, ensuring that they produce a positive impact on poverty. A COSOP also highlights the innovation that IFAD intends to promote in the country and how we will bring a tested innovation to scale – this is where electronic payments come in. As a BTCA member, we will encourage the use of affordable and accessible electronic payment and collection methods for low-income communities in all future rural finance projects and project components and assist partner governments to develop the infrastructure and market to support them.
We will help communicate to our partner countries the benefits of a cash-less system, including cost savings, economic development, as well as increased transparency, security and financial inclusion for more citizens who can in turn access critical financial tools. But of course, the benefits of electronic payments do not stop there.
IFAD also joins BTCA serving as implementing partners of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion under the Sub-group on Markets and Payments Systems. Here, we’re working to leverage the impact of remittances for development – particularly in rural areas – in order to promote digital financial inclusion.
At a time when global efforts are in place to maximize the development impact of remittances, it is strongly believed that digitalization of flows, combined with financial intermediation, will pave the way to an expanded remittance market and reduced transaction costs. We have seen the cost of sending money drop from 12 percent to around 8 percent over the last decade – currently at US$37 billion – due to increased competition, enhanced regulatory reform and stronger advocacy at international and national levels. Digitalization of flows, which facilitates the expansion of remittance services, particularly in rural areas, is one of the strongest enabling factors of this downward trend.
These trends, as well as commitments from our developing country partners to implement electronic payment systems, will be instrumental in reaching the post-2015 sustainable development goals on financial inclusion. By partnering with BTCA, we hope to share our experience with a global network of partners working at the frontier of innovation, and continue to grow in our mission to bring financial inclusion to rural poor communities.
As appeared on Better Than Cash Alliance (BTCA)
|A keen look at the COSOP results framework|
|Discussing the results framework|
|Getting ready to share a farewell cake with Haingo|
In a well-attended side event titled: Building Resilience to Crises in the Arab World at the 41st meeting of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in Rome, October 17th, 2014, IFPRI in collaboration with its development partners, CGIAR’s Policies, Institutions and Markets Research Program, FAO’s Regional office for the Near East, IFAD/NEN and UN-ESCWA presented the results of recent studies on food security in the Arab Region and launched the Arab Food and Nutrition Security Blog.
In the Arab World, food insecurity is not only a consequence of conflict, it is also a major cause of civil conflict, more so in Arab countries than in the rest of the world. Recent events such as the food price riots in 2007-08 and the Arab uprisings in 2010-11 seem to confirm the role of food insecurity as a catalyst to political instability and civil conflict. In short, emphasized Mohamed AwDahir, the regional food systems economist at FAO’s Near East Region, “peace is fundamental to food security, and food security is fundamental for keeping peace.”
Policies, programs, and projects that build resilience and improve food and nutrition security are likely to also reduce conflict was one of the key messages Olivier Ecker, research fellow at IFPRI, had during the session. Resilience-building policies and programs should focus on increasing the opportunity costs of conflict participation (through e.g. rural development, employment and income generation, social safety nets, human capital formation) and programs and projects that adopt a participatory, demand-driven approach and support social inclusion and cohesion (e.g. IFAD’s projects in Dhamar and Al-Dahla, Yemen) tend to be more successful in building resilience for food and nutrition security and conflict prevention.
Improving policies and interventions will require more and better information, as well as monitoring and evaluation, highlighted Khalida Bouzar, IFAD’s Director of the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division who also chaired the side event. Data availability as well as access to existing data across the Arab World is difficult leading to a limited scope for improving evidence-based decision making as well as the monitoring and evaluation of projects.
Regional interagency collaboration is emerging as a powerful mechanism to enhance institutional effectiveness and impact on the ground, including intergovernmental processes at regional and global levels. In order to improve the knowledge base for the Arab World, IFPRI, under the leadership of Clemens Breisinger, senior research fellow at IFPRI, in collaboration with development partners, IFAD, UN-ESCWA and CGIAR-PIM, helped build a knowledge platform for the Arab World known as Arab Spatial. “Arab Spatial, is the first open access interactive atlas and data repository for the Arab World”, explained Perrihan Al-Riffai, senior research analyst at IFPRI. The Arab Food and Nutrition Security Blog, co-financed by the IFAD grant on “Decreasing Vulnerability to Conflict in MENA through Rural Development” and chaired by Nadim Khouri, Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN-ESCWA aims to further inform the food and nutrition security debate through expert opinions and provide a platform to address them across the Arab World.
More regional collaboration is needed for the Arab World to build its resilience to crises. Emerging challenges, include; addressing conflicts and their regional spillover effects, trade policies, transportation and infrastructure, water and energy, research and development, and sustainable flows of direct foreign investment need to be addressed at the regional level. “Building resilience means helping people, communities, countries, and global institutions prevent, anticipate, prepare for, cope with, and recover from shocks and not only bounce back to where they were before the shocks occurred, but become even better-off.”
By Eleonora Lago, IFAD
Estonia, is one of the Baltic states and regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Apart from bordering with the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, it’s neighbors include Latvia and Russia. It is a mainly flat country with many lakes and islands and much of the land is farmed or forested. Estonia is a democratic parliamentary republic divided into fifteen counties, with its capital and largest city being Tallinn. With a population of 1.3 million, it is one of the least-populated EU member states. After its independence from Russia, the country faced development-related issues and challenges similar to the other former soviet union countries. The aim of the Estonian Study Tour was to exchange knowledge and best practices in rural finance with a view to applying them to IFAD-funded projects in other countries of the Former Soviet Union. Furthermore, the intention was to allow the participants to see first-hand how Estonia had managed to reinvigorate its agriculture sector.
During the study tour we had the opportunity to meet with specialists from RDF and to learn about the strategies adopted to promote the agriculture sector in Estonia. RDF aims to expand the availability of financial resources, support development in rural areas, disseminate relevant information about agricultural practices to improve rural livelihoods, maintain cultural traditions, support vocational education, and build the image of agriculture and rural areas with a view to improve the business environment and create better living conditions. The activities of the Foundation include lending scheme, issuing credit and debt obligation guarantees. The study tour’s goal was to explore new approaches and technologies in the rural financial sector that can be applied in other CEN countries facing similar challenges, so that they can replicate Estonia's success and good practices. We visited a number of rural enterprises and had an opportunity to interact and learn from the very people who had benefitted from the successful interventions.
|Dairy Farm - Vändra OÜ|
In visiting rural enterprises were we saw successful implementation of different agricultural technologies, the most impressive finding was in the dairy farms, which had a completely robotized system capable of milking 250 animals and produce 9300 litres of milk on an annual basis per cow. What was also impressive was the fact that the plant was manned only by two people who worked the machines.
I guess we all asked ourselves whether all or some specific aspects of this technologies implemented in EU-countries could be adopted in other CEN countries.
To increase employment rates, a semi robotized system could be adopted in countries which are more populated and the unemployment rate is very high. The machines used in Estonia run from a range of completely automatized systems to semi automatized systems where a more human intervention is required.
To improve health conditions and the wellbeing of the livestock, larger spaces could be utilized and farmers across the territory could engage and collaborate more closely on animal husbandry best practices.
With regards to the animal tagging system, the CEN countries need to improve this aspect to allow for traceability and better control of milk quality. This system in Estonia was initially implemented and financed by the government and now it is fully maintained by the smallholder producers.
|Estonian Fishing Association - Estofish|
Another interesting finding, which came out from the workshop, relates to the Estonian Fishing Association. This is a producer organization consisting of five companies operating in Estonian waters. The new refrigerating plant provides storage for up to 3200 tons of frozen fish and can freeze up to 200 tons of fish in a 24-hour period and relies on a completely automatic system. Whilst the above was already very impressive, what really caught the participants interest and my attention was the fact that before the cooperative was established, the different companies were not able to capitalize on their earnings. After finding a common agreement that allowed these different companies to collaborate with each other and to share revenues and losses, the cooperative was able to hold 48% of the historical sprat-fishing rights issued in Estonia and 43% of the Baltic herring-fishing rights.
The experience allowed IFAD-funded project staff to learn more on innovative technologies from the Estonian experience and share knowledge that could considerably contribute to the economic development of the former soviet union countries. The participants had the opportunity to learn about the difficulties faced by their neighbours and to discuss together on how to better address these in their respective countries. Estonia is now a country able to share its achievements, also thanks to the collaboration and knowledge sharing with its neighbouring countries and I think that this message was really taken on board by the participants and could be an important step towards a more effective and innovative future development plan for countries who share similar challenges and scenarios.
Since then, an increasing number of developing and transition countries have been experiencing both rising levels of prosperity and economic opportunity. As a result, co-operations between the countries of the so-called South (South-South cooperation) have emerged as a complement to the traditional North-South cooperation. Between 2005 and 2012, GDP growth rate strengthened on average to 6.1% annually in developing countries as compared to 1.2% in developed countries. International finance and trade flows, which have historically been tilted toward developed countries, are steadily rebalancing in favor of the Global South. According to the UNCTAD 2014 World Investment Report, gross flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) to developing countries reached US$ 778 billion in 2013 (or 54% of the total), exceeding FDI to developed economies.
Today, we find ourselves at another historical crossroads, as we look toward the launch of the post-2015 development agenda. Improved food security in the Arab world is definitely high on this agenda, and regional cooperation will be essential to our collective success.
Despite their diversity, the countries of the Near East and North Africa region share many similar development challenges. These include: water scarcity, natural resource management, food and nutrition security, gender disparities and high youth unemployment. Reaching rates of 28 per cent in the Near East and 29.5 per cent in North Africa, youth unemployment in these regions is the highest in the world.
The Arab region is also characterized by its dependence on food imports. Coordinated investment in rural areas is also essential, as a reduced dependence on food imports can only be achieved by strengthening regional cooperation. The issue of rural poverty is at the core of IFAD’s mission. Globally, awareness is growing that rural and urban areas are interdependent: Rural farmers feed cities, and cities provide markets, money, and services. But it is a tragic irony that many of the people who grow the food that feeds the cities go hungry themselves. Indeed, although the rural areas of developing countries provide four-fifths of the food consumed in urban centers, these same rural areas are home to three quarters of the world’s hungriest and poorest people.
Unless the development community directs its attention – and investment - to rural areas, overall sustainable development cannot be fully achieved.
Another particular challenge faced by the Arab region is that it is one of the most under-researched regions in the field of economics from 1985-2005. Access to data is difficult, which makes evidence-based decision-making challenging. A lack of data also limits the monitoring and evaluation of projects.
Here, too, we believe that partnership is part of the solution: Greater regional cooperation will enhance institutional effectiveness and impact on the ground, including intergovernmental processes at both regional and global levels.
For this reason, the Arab Spatial knowledge platform emerged as part of the IFAD-IFPRI partnership to promote open-access data and M&E tools for the Arab World. With over 150 socio-economic and biophysical indicators, the platform allows users to download, map and chart layers of these indicators for research, policy analysis, and general information.
In the Arab Region, we need to expand and scale up our efforts to build stronger partnerships in order to better the lives of all. With this newly launched Arab Food and Nutrition Security blog, it is my hope that IFAD will contribute to yet another valuable means to make our interventions on the ground more impactful in our pursuit of development effectiveness and poverty reduction.
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly referred to as a climate-smart technology based on the three principles of minimum soil disturbance, permanent organic soil cover and crop rotation. Yet there are still unanswered questions about its double role in sustainable agricultural intensification and climate change adaptation.
On 13 and 14 January, IFAD hosted a learning event on CA, with the aim of addressing the existing challenges to adoption and scaling-up, and to learn from experience. IFAD has a large portfolio of programmes implementing CA with the support of research centres such as the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) and Agricultural Research for Development (CIRAD), and NGOs such as Total Land Care (TLC). The event brought together CA experts from the different research centres and NGOs, who engaged in the debate from different angles, reporting on their expertise on the subject matter and their experience from the field.
|CA plots from CIMMYT field experiments. ©CIMMYT/ Christian Thierfelder|
|CA plots from CIMMYT field experiments. ©CIMMYT/ Christian Thierfelder|
|CA plots from CIMMYT field experiments. ©CIMMYT/ Christian Thierfelder|
Targeting of CA interventions: Need for flexibilityThe discussions held over the two days stressed the need to clarify that CA is within the bigger box of good agricultural practices (GAPs), rather than something separate. Starting from this conceptual definition, the field experiences reported in the seminar reflected the need for well targeted CA interventions if we want to obtain higher adoption and scaling-up rates. In the design phase, different factors must be taken into account to shape the appropriate CA option:
Building upon these factors, interventions must not be seen as a fixed package composed of the three principles of CA noted above. Rather, these principles should provide guidance, but may be combined, modified and adapted within the context of the good agricultural practices, in order to optimize the CA option in the targeted areas. This approach calls for greater flexibility and creativity during the design of CA interventions. In addition, it requires capacity building for extension services and farmers.
CA is no silver bullet solution, as many speakers at the learning event said, and with the knowledge we have, we are able to black out areas in which CA must not be recommended, or at least be carefully reflected as an option – specifically, areas with high rainfall and heavy clay soils.
|CA field of maize-cowpea relay.|
© TLC/Trent Bunderson
|CA field of maize integrated with Faidherbia trees.|
Immediate and delayed impactsWhen adopting CA, farmers immediately perceive a reduction of labour requirements because certain agricultural operations, such as land preparation, are eliminated. This has a potential impact on women's workload, giving them the opportunity to dedicate more time to diversifying their income activities. However, as Claire Bishop (Gender and social inclusion specialist, IFAD) explained, workload and gender issues must be further investigated to understand how labour peaks change and which member of the household will be affected.
The result of soil cover is observed from day one in increased soil moisture and water infiltration, which is crucial in areas of low rainfall. Yet yield impacts are inconsistent among field experiments. Different claims are made on how long a farmer should wait to see yield benefits, from one year to more than ten years, so land tenure issues must be carefully taken into consideration. However, we must define what we are expecting from CA: increased yields or stable yields? Evidence shows that in dry spells CA can deliver a yield, unlike conventional agriculture, which can experience an entire seasonal failure.
|A woman with her children in a CA field©CIMMYT/ Christian Thierfelder|
|Same field: on the top, runoff and standing water under conventional ridge tillage; below, excellent infiltration with no sign of runoff or loss of top under CA. ©TLC/ Trent Bunderson|
Herbicide and mechanization: Can farmers afford CA?CA has proved effective in high input systems. However, can smallholder farmers do the same? Yes, but not under the same conditions (e.g. high rate of fertilizer and expensive machinery cannot be proposed to smallholder farmers that farm on 0.1 ha land and live on less than 1 $ per day). Here again, flexibility and adaptability are required for the options proposed to smallholder farmers. Opportunities for small mechanization in CA systems exist, and depend on the creation of profitable systems such as a multi-purpose mechanisation (e.g., for transport, shelling operations and water pumping), supported by suited input/output business models. In addition, in the discussion was mentioned that in areas where farmers are already selling their services to others using animal traction, and it becomes easier for them to shift into mechanization business. In sub-Saharan Africa, CA systems are easier and more profitable when herbicide is used. However, unless this is provided or subsidized, farmers often cannot afford herbicide, and weed incidence increases, requiring more labour. In these cases, alternative affordable options should be considered for farmers.
|Locally made tool-bar-based seeder. |
©CIMMYT/ Fred Baudron
|Spraying herbicide on a CA plot to control weeds. |
©TLC/ Trent Bunderson
Learn from experienceThe event aimed at drawing lessons from field experiences in order to address IFAD's next steps in implementing CA. The points raised over the two days helped to clarify the path towards which IFAD should continue and key issues to keep in mind for CA interventions.
When it comes to CA, many factors will influence its adoption, and those factors are all interlinked. Field evidence has proven the impact of CA, but adaptive and participatory research is required. CA options proposed to farmers need to prove their feasibility, viability and profitability, besides minimising farmers' risk and assisting their adoption. For sure, IFAD must learn from the past in order to implement more carefully targeted interventions, which have higher adoptability potential. In addition, the scaling-up process needs to be facilitated by institutions and policies aligned towards the same objective, together with high-quality extension services and functioning markets.
Similar to an open-ended pillow case, the FBS consists of a plastic digester envelope housed in a greenhouse tunnel. The tunnel acts like an insulated jacket, trapping heat and keeping the temperature between 25 and 36 degrees Celsius. The combination of the tunnel and the plastic bag reduces the retention time - the time it takes for the biodegradable material to ferment - and so increases the volume and rate of gas production[i].
The paper constructs a thorough study of these FBS units through analysis of peer-reviewed papers, project documents and research interviews. It has been found that this technology can reduce energy instability[ii], reduce time spent collecting firewood and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (especially methane which is 22 times more damaging to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide).
There is also a YouTube video available to watch on the operations.
Written by Francesco FarnèIFAD hosted a group of students from the University of Missouri, USA, last Thursday for a visit to IFAD headquarters. As an Intern in the Communications division, I had the opportunity to support David Paqui, Regional Communication Officer for East and Southern Africa (ESA) and West and Central Africa, Communication Division, IFAD, in organising this event.
The activity aims to report on the achievement of the Philippines Country Programme in 2014 and the result of the 2014 Philippines-Country Strategic Operations Programme (PH-COSOP) review, and the performance of both loan and grant projects in the country; assess how the Country Programme grant and loan Projects have contributed to the achievement of the strategic objectives of the PH-COSOP and to the sectoral outcomes of the Philippines Development Plan (PDP); identify the distinct/comparative advantage of the IFAD Country Programme and Project for leveraging and for scaling up; identify the challenges, gaps and practical solutions in implementing the Country programme activities and projects of both ongoing and upcoming projects; and, prepare an action plan both for country programme and projects for implementation in 2015.
In his remarks, Mr. Benoit Thierry, the new Country Programme Manager of the Philippines, congratulated teams for their dynamism and challenged the various programmes and projects to go beyond their borders in contributing to IFAD’s mandate of supporting government policies for poverty alleviation, and revive the active yet decreasing Philippines portfolio. Impact on poverty which remain an issue in rural areas of the country and focus on smallholders will remain the key drivers of IFAD country program.
The first day highlighted the comparative advantages of IFAD which the projects and programmes appreciated. Among which were IFAD’s flexibility in terms of programing, co-financing with other financing institution, strong knowledge management and knowledge sharing, indulgence in providing capacity building and technical backstopping, and its multi-dimensional partnerships.
Likewise, Mr. Thierry further emphasized the need for clear achievable objectives for 2015 and stressed that IFAD is very interested on how the projects made an impact to the rural families and contribute to the PH-COSOP. On top of the two (2) new projects, already designed and to be negotiated before end march for IFAD approval, a new project and a new cosop will be conceptualised and designed end 2015.
Having just completed IFAD’s report on the UN system wide action plan for gender mainstreaming (UN-SWAP) for 2014, I have been reflecting on our achievements and on why the UN-SWAP works so well in IFAD.
But first: what is the UN-SWAP? The UN-SWAP was introduced for implementation across the UN in 2012 to enhance an organization’s accountability and delivery on gender objectives. The goal is for each UN entity to meet or exceed 15 performance indicators - covering both operations but also the organizational/workplace domains - by 2017 and to report on progress annually. By January 2014, 90 per cent of the 71 entities required to report, had done so.
Spearheaded by UN Women, the SWAP has generated much visibility around the challenges of gender mainstreaming and has resulted in the sharing of good practices between agencies. And what makes it particularly interesting, is that the annual report not only tracks our own performance but gives us a chance to benchmark our progress against other UN agencies and challenge ourselves to do more.
There is now talk of introducing a similar mechanism for youth and for indigenous peoples.
IFAD’s performance exceeds expectationsThere has been steady progress with the SWAP in IFAD, with an increase in the number of indicators where we meet or exceed expected performance.
NB. The results for 2014 are subject to confirmation by UN Women
In the following year, 2013, there were gains in the performance management system, with HRD’s introduction of the new competency-based framework, in which gender equality is mainstreamed into five competencies, together with respect for diversity, inclusiveness and work-life balance.
In the same year, Budget and Organizational Development (BOD) worked with the gender desk to develop two methodologies (i) to conduct an ex-ante analysis of the gender sensitivity in IFAD loans and (ii) to identify the distribution of the regular budget for gender-related activities. The latter was further refined in 2014. Focus group discussions were held with staff to determine average proportions of time spent on gender-related work for specific job families.
In 2014, there were gains in strategic planning, with the commitment to gender equality mainstreamed throughout the IFAD10 replenishment paper and tracked by Strategy and Knowledge Department staff. Knowledge generation and communication also now exceeds requirements, as a result of the Communications Division’s consistent messaging on gender equality and women’s empowerment, coupled with the knowledge sharing and outreach activities of the gender desk (website, e-newsletter, breakfasts, webinars, learning routes etc). And finally, the Audit and Oversight Office (AUO) made significant progress on integrating gender considerations to their work - especially the questionnaires for the sub-regional/country office audits – and the Quality Assurance Group worked to close the gap between the gender comments on project design and final project documentation.
In 2013 and 2014 the Independent Office of Evaluation undertook a rigorous gender analysis of all the evaluations they had conducted in each of those years. They also linked up with the other Rome-based agencies and CGIAR to hold 1.5 days training on gender and evaluation systems for their staff.
Why has the UN-SWAP worked so well in IFAD?I think there are three main reasons. First, the President and Senior Management create a very strong enabling environment supportive of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. This has resulted, for example, in an IFAD10 replenishment commitment to meet or exceed all 15 SWAP indicators by 2017.
Second, the IFAD gender policy was prepared at the same time that the details of the UN-SWAP were being finalised, which ensured the main elements of the SWAP were integrated into the policy and reporting framework.
And third, the responsiveness of colleagues. As noted above, many divisions have been really pro-active in embracing the essence of the UN-SWAP. This response is especially appreciated when it may be initially considered that gender mainstreaming does not fall naturally into their area of work, such as AUO and BOD.
And how does IFAD fare in the bigger picture?In the feedback from UN Women on our 2013 results, it was noted that IFAD’s performance continued to be better than the aggregate ratings for the United Nations system as a whole, which met/exceeded requirements in only 42 per cent of the ratings on performance indicators, compared to IFAD’s 67 per cent. Similarly IFAD also outperformed the United Nations agencies that are grouped under Funds and Programmes, which met/exceeded 54 per cent of the ratings.
What remains to be done … and the missing indicatorThis year IFAD will see the mid-term review of the gender policy to enable us to take stock of progress to date and identify further areas for action. We will also undertake a capacity assessment of staff on gender equality and women’s empowerment and capacity building, including the rollout of the e-learning course on gender and diversity. In addition, we’ll be strengthening the gender focal point system and, with HRD, implementing the staffing gender equity plan.
There are still a few areas which will need more discussion, especially with regard to establishing a financial benchmark for resource allocation in order to deliver on gender equality and women’s empowerment. Significantly, this is the only UN-SWAP indicator that is missing for IFAD.
A gender learning event with Cheryl Morden and Rosemary Vargas-LundiusBy Maria Hartl, PTA, and Anja Lund Lesa, SKD
On Wednesday 28 January 2015, IFAD's Thematic Group on Gender bid farewell to two of its most active members who retired at the end of January: Cheryl Morden (Deputy Director, Office of Partnership and Resource Mobilization & Chief, North American Liaison Office) and Rosemary Vargas-Lundius (Senior Researcher, Strategy and Knowledge Department). The Thematic Group on Gender organized a learning event to honour and celebrate their efforts and achievements in promoting gender equality and women's empowerment. Over many years, both Cheryl and Rosemary have been pillars of IFAD's Thematic Group on Gender and global gender champions at policy and operational levels. The event was dedicated to conversations and storytelling about their personal experiences, and reflections on how IFAD can engage further in supporting efforts to promote gender equality and empower rural women.
|Rosemary Vargas-Lundius, Maria Hartl and Cheryl Morden.|
The event began with two video interviews where Cheryl and Rosemary introduced themselves and reflected on their long careers in IFAD. For both women, gender equality has been a driving force throughout their careers, in and outside of IFAD. For Cheryl, the focus has always been the policy engagement and how global policy processes have influenced the work of IFAD. In this regard, IFAD's Policy on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment has been an important milestone, both for the operational work, as well as for institutional processes within IFAD. A great part of Rosemary's work has focused on field operations, and in particular on developing and introducing gender mainstreaming based on the needs of rural women and men. Working in El Salvador, a post-conflict country, IFAD was one of the first donors to implement a participatory approach, listening to the women and men and designing projects based on their needs and building capacity, not only in El Salvador, but across Latin America.
During the conversation, Cheryl and Rosemary provided insights on what has changed since they began their careers in IFAD. Both emphasized how the image of women has transformed over the years and that women are now perceived as key actors and protagonists in development programmes. The nature of IFAD's work, working with poor women and men in the rural areas, forced the organization to invest its resources in an inclusive manner and to put gender equality at the centre of the development processes. Cheryl and Rosemary also highlighted that gender equality is now part of the IFAD mandate, included in the policies and in all the operations. The role of leadership was underlined, and they both commended the current senior management for embracing gender as a central theme in everything IFAD does.
On the biggest highlights of her career, Rosemary pointed to the lessons learned from the field: "The main highlights of my career were when I was at the field, in the communities, working with the women and listening to them, to their aspirations, but also seeing how much I had to learn from them, how ignorant we were in so many things." And it was during a workshop in the field, that a project director brought attention to the issue of women's workload, and how important it is to reduce the time women spend on household chores to enable them to participate in productive activities – an issue which is now one of the strategic objectives of IFAD's Policy on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment.
Cheryl highlighted a project she was involved in while working for the International Centre for Research on Women, looking at linkages between agriculture and nutrition from a gender perspective. Besides gathering important evidence for policy making and advocacy, the project also provided a number of lessons learned on gender sensitization and how important this is in order to move forward with gender mainstreaming: "At some point, we realized that we couldn't go further on this until we made time and space for everyone, but for the men in particular, to reflect on what the implications of this gender equality was on their own lives."
Cheryl and Rosemary also provided some important insights on how IFAD can move forward regarding the work on gender equality. The issue of resources was underlined, and in particular the need for allocating more time and resources for dedicated gender focal points. The need to look at gender issues from a strategic perspective was emphasized, together with the importance of bringing gender to the advisory level of the organization. They also stressed the need for IFAD to start addressing some of the more difficult cultural aspects of gender equality and to bring the gender perspective into all aspects of the institution.
When asked what advice they would give to young professionals in IFAD, and in particular to young women, Cheryl and Rosemary agreed that it is important to stay true to yourself and to be brave. Cheryl added: "Have the courage to speak your truth. Find your voice. Always listen carefully, because you will be more effective when you speak if you have listened carefully. But speak your truth and speak up and support one another." A formalized approach to the mentoring programme was also highlighted as a way to support young professionals. Both Rosemary and Cheryl have mentored many young professionals during their careers, and it was suggested to adopt an organization-wide approach to this issue.
Commenting from the audience, Josefina Stubbs, associate vice president of IFAD, thanked Cheryl and Rosemary for their commitment and contribution to gender equality. She emphasized the responsibility of making sure that the institutional progress which has been made remains, and the responsibility of looking into how women's lives are transformed to ensure that they are economically and socially empowered.
With their passion and dedication, Cheryl and Rosemary have inspired colleagues in IFAD for years, and the Thematic Group on Gender will continue to build on their achievements, and will keep polishing the gender lenses.
Learning event on financial and non-financial services to rural youth: Egypt and Yemen case studiesBy Anja Lund Lesa, David Suttie and Omar Hammoud
As part of the NEN Close Up series, the Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia Division hosted a knowledge sharing event on rural youth and economic empowerment in the Near East and North Africa. Through a regional grant, IFAD is partnering with Making Cents International, a social enterprise based in Washington DC, and Silatech, a social initiative working to create opportunities for young people throughout the Arab world, to help increase the employment and self-employment opportunities of more than 18,000 young people of ages 15-35. Covering four countries, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, the 3-year joint programme, Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Programme, is seeking to test innovative financial and non-financial engagement tools for young rural people. The event provided an opportunity to learn from the programme and to discuss how the findings can inform IFAD's future engagement with young people in rural areas.
|Young farmers in Tunisia|
The situation for young people in the Near East and North AfricaThe Near East and North Africa region has a population of approximately 350 million people. This number is expected to reach 700 million by 2050. More than 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 30 and the region is faced with a significant gap in the youth and adult unemployment rates. The youth unemployment rate across the region is almost 30 per cent, and in some countries like Egypt and Tunisia, the rate is over 40 per cent. The declining number of jobs in the public sector underlines the need for the private sector to innovate and support pro-youth entrepreneurship and self-employment.
But access to financial services is one of the biggest constraints that young people face in the region. The Arab world has the lowest rate of financial inclusion worldwide and there is a general misconception that young people are riskier clients than adults. As a result, financial services are often not reaching young people and the size of loans for young people is 50-70 per cent of the average loan size. The size of loans for young women is even smaller, only 25-50 per cent of an average loan size. For young people living in rural areas, difficulties in accessing finance are even greater and lack of rural economic opportunities forces many young people to migrate.
Addressing the challengesTo address these challenges, five pilot projects under the programme have been designed to test different financial and non-financial services and tools for young rural women and men and to bring experiences from urban to rural areas. The pilot projects are implemented by local partners, including commercial banks, micro-finance institutions and local community development organizations, with technical support from Making Cents International and Silatech.
The five projects are testing a number of products, such as youth savings groups, enterprise lending, start-up loans for small businesses and mobile phone applications. Product also include non-financial services such as financial literacy training, coaching of young entrepreneurs, vocational and life skills training. In Morocco, mobile branches have been introduced with vans that can go into rural areas and reach young people.
What we know … and what we want to learnAn important aspect of the programme is to generate knowledge and disseminate this through different learning events and publications. What is already clear is the importance of involving young people in market research and in the development of products, listening to what they are saying about the specific services they need. Another crucial point is to have differentiated products based on gender and age groups. Young women and men have different needs and priorities and products should reflect the diversity of the target group. The gender perspective is also relevant in terms of designing approaches to reach young women and men. Across the Arab World, many young women face restrictions related to mobility and in some countries, keeping a bank account or entering into contracts requires the consent of a husband or male relative. The involvement of the community is therefore key to ensure that services reach young people, including parents, teachers and community leaders, who can support young people. And for financial services to be effective, they need to be linked to non-financial services, such as training and capacity building.
But we still need to learn more about how experiences from urban areas can be translated into a rural setting. Another aspect is the level of non-financial services needed to complement the financial services, particularly in light of the lower education levels in rural areas. And what type of technology is needed to reach rural areas at lower costs. Social media is one important pathway to communicate and reach young people in a cost effective way.
Egypt and Yemen case studiesTwo of the pilot projects in Egypt and Yemen have already provided a number of lessons learned. The project in Egypt is promoting youth savings groups and more than 7000 young people are now members of these groups, with 10-20 members in each group. Members typically save around 40 to 50 USD per year, and can borrow three times the accumulated savings. Young members are encouraged to invest in businesses and they receive training to become better entrepreneurs. An interesting aspect is that more than 70 per cent of the members are young women. The project is therefore making adjustments to increase outreach to young men.
The project in Yemen is providing services to over 6000 young rural people. Penetration of financial services to youth in Yemen is very low and only 3-4 per cent of clients are young people. Under the project, rural people have been recruited and trained to work in financial institutions and the project is partnering with rural cooperatives to deliver non-financial services to young people. Experiences from Yemen show that young people are particularly interested in bee-keeping. This is related to the fact that bee-keeping does not require land tenure, a particular challenge for many young people, and the work is less demanding in terms of physical labour.
What lies aheadMoving forward, a number of considerations needs to be addressed. First of all, how can IFAD scale up the pilot projects and link the knowledge generated from these projects to what IFAD is already doing in rural areas on creating opportunities for young people, not only in the Near East and North Africa region, but across IFAD's fields of operation? Secondly, there is a need to consider the policy environment. Can the knowledge from the projects be used for evidence-based advocacy to support the development of pro-youth policies? And finally, keeping in mind that many young people lack interest in agriculture and leave rural areas, how can these financial and non-financial products be used to inspire young rural people to invest in agro-businesses and support them in making agriculture a viable and sustainable livelihood option?
What is becoming increasingly clear is that initiatives which effectively target young rural people consistently show excellent results – in terms of sustainability, poverty reduction and community building. Clearly, investing in young people will be one of the pillars upon which the thriving rural communities of tomorrow are built.
byLarissa Setaro, PTA
© CIMMYT/Patrick Wall
Currently 3 major IFAD funded projects are underway (PADEE, RULIP and TSSD - with ADB co-financing). Drawing from decades of work in the country and taking into consideration the changing agricultural landscape, IFAD and the Royal Government of Cambodia have designed a new project: ASPIRE. This new program starts this year.
The two day workshop provided the opportunity to review progress on the ongoing projects and to set the stage for the launch of the next project.
The first day was focused on addressing partnerships, with various development partners taking part in the discussions. IFAD and the RGC repeated their will to engage other development partners to align with the ASPIRE project that will have a national reach. The second day was focused on the implementation processes and looked at the various technical challenges brought about by the scale and complexity of the new project. In the process, the various implementation partners could express their views and better prepare their action plans in a participative manner.
During the discussions, some important information was released, in particular the announcement of a new country office for IFAD and signing of an host country agreement. This will help IFAD to better support the government during the implementation of its increasingly ambitious projects.
A delegation from Phnom Penh will be going to Rome to sign the finaning agreement of the ASPIRE program and finalize the opening of the Country Office by the 5th of March 2015. The Ministry of Economy and Finance and particularly Excellency Pen Thirong, Deputy Director General of the General Department of Budget, expressed interest in the knowledge management systems proposed by IFAD, as they offer various entry points to help line ministries adopt the Standard Operating Procedures, Manuals and Guidelines of the Ministry. Experts from Vietnam offered very interesting ideas for exchange and learning from the IFAD Vietnam experience, namely the option to use of a range of instruments that can help to link the private sector and farmers together with Procasur, and international NGO based in Chiang Mai, Thailand and supporting learning routes among farmers and technicians from ASEAN countries.
The attendance of high level stakeholders such as H.E. Ty Sokhun, Secretary of State (MAFF) marked the strong level of ownership of the state in the ongoing agricultural development efforts. H.E. Ty Sokhun delivered an inspiring speech that underlined the need to address the youth and to help them see the value of their engagement in agriculture. He noted the opportunities provided by advances in the information technology sector. 'With over 20 thousand mobile devices already sold in the country, there should be new ways to better reach younger farmers and make the youth understand they have a lot of benefits to stay in the rural areas' he said. His Excellency Ros Seilava, Under Secretary of State to the Ministry of Economy and Finance made a clear plea to other development partners: 'Cambodia has recently released its national strategy for the agriculture sector. This and the aligned ASPIRE program could be triggers for development partners to better coordinate their inputs in the sector.'
Some press: http://www.phnompenhpost.com/ifad-pledge-52m-program
|Audience and panel at plenary discussion.|
©IFAD/ A. Vincent
The report found that many of IFAD's achievements stem from its comparative advantage in supporting the social and economic empowerment of indigenous peoples. Fumiko Nakai noted that on a global level, IFAD has contributed grants for capacity-building and advocated for greater indigenous involvement. On a country level, IFAD has influenced policy-making regarding land, empowerment and natural resources.
Nakai also listed several areas of potential growth in IFAD's partnerships with indigenous peoples. First, she suggested reviewing the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF), which helps finance small-scale indigenous projects. Although a powerful tool for fostering development, it could perhaps be strengthened. Some suggestions put forward were the need for good diagnostic analysis in country strategy preparation stage and project designs, the need for improved M&E at project level with disaggregated data and indicators relevant to indigenous peoples. Also, to enhance project supervision and ensure that rotating staff members working on projects fully understand the various issues that indigenous peoples face. These steps could ensure a more successful project at every phase.
|Adolfo Brizzi. ©IFAD/ A. Vincent|
|©IFAD/ A. Vincent|