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    By Lorina Sthapit, Gender and M&E Junior Consultant, Nepal and PTA Gender Desk

    The 2014 Gender Awards Ceremony was organized at IFAD Headquarters in Rome on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The Awards, initiated in 2013, spotlight one programme or project per region that has used innovative approaches to address gender inequalities and empower women.

    During the event, the representatives from the winning projects in Ecuador, Pakistan, Rwanda and Yemen discussed their achievements and the challenges they faced in promoting gender equality and empowering women. The award for Sierra Leone was accepted by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Ms. Marie Jolloh. For further details about the winning projects, click hereBrochure.

    The occasion was also an opportunity to learn about household methodologies,an innovative set of approaches piloted by IFAD and partners. With the support of supplementary funds from the Government of Japan, IFAD has worked with field practitioners to consolidate experiences on household methodologies across sub-Saharan Africa into an Household Methodologies Toolkit.

    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.

    Here are the links to Storify, PhotosandVideo recordingfrom the Awards Ceremony.

    Click herefor more information on IFAD Gender Awards 2014.

    Representatives from the winning projects

    A learning event in the afternoon provided an opportunity for the project representatives to exchange their invaluable experiences and ideas among like-minded practitioners.

    The representatives from the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund(implementing partner)- Mr. Isa Qazi Azmat, ChiefExecutive Officer; Ms. Samia Liaquat, Group Head for Compliance and Quality Assurance; and Mr. Yasir Ashfaq, Group Head for Financial Services - highlighted the importance of developing project activities and products specifically suited to the needs of the rural poor women and ultra-poor households.

    PRISM is one of the flag bearers for investing in women’s access to microfinance and women-led value chains in the country. The project has supported almost 140,000 women borrowers for income generating enterprises. This is a significant achievement in a country where the number of women who benefit from microfinance loans is traditionally very low and where women-centric microfinance programmes are often questioned. PRISM has challenged those barriers and lived up to project values that “development is about changing the status quo”.

    The success of any project, they emphasized, lies in “starting small, committing to bring social transformation, learning from failures and rekindling the motivation of all staff”. Learning from one of their initial shortfalls during the baseline survey, they included several gender-related indicators in the impact survey to capture improvements in gender equality and women’s empowerment. They recognised, while challenging, it is important to do more to be able to tell women’s stories.

    Mr. Abdulla Salem Al-Dogail, Project Director and Ms. Fatima Al-Lahabi, Gender and Microfinance Specialist felt immense pride as well as a sense of responsibility when the project beneficiaries said, “you are the first ones to come to us”. Being the first to intervene in Al-Dhala, one of the poorest and most remote governorates in Yemen. They credited their dynamic and motivated team that, despite the physical and social complexity of Al-Dhala, were able to successfully implement project activities. The team conducted situational analyses and initiated various activities targeting women. They addressed women’s basic needs first by freeing their time from collecting water and firewood. They progressed to literacy classes, health and nutrition training, kitchen gardening and other income generating activities. When required, the project team divided into women-only and men-only groups to address sensitive gender-specific issues, issues that would otherwise not surface in a mixed group. These initiatives have significantly contributed to women's inclusion and the empowerment agenda in the communities.

    Another major factor contributing to their project success was using an effective communication strategy which was implemented by local women who were able to build trust with other women in the villages. Action plans were developed together with women and men from the community using participatory processes. In addition, separate training sessions for women were led by female facilitators because this gave rural women the confidence to participate more actively and to voice their concerns more comfortably.

    Mr. Janvier Gasasira, Single Project Implementation Unit (SPIU) Coordinator, and Mr. Raymond Kamwe, M&E specialist and gender focal person explained the role of community innovation centres (CIC) in devising strategies to communicate and reach out to rural women. The work of these CICs does not stop at providing technical and organizational support to small farmers, they also conduct awareness raising programmes on gender-based violence.

    KWAMP through their CICs, came up with an ingenious idea of the 'women's evenings'. It is a forum where village women meet on a regular basis to talk about any violence and other social issues that require peer counselling and/or help. Men are invited to attend. The forum has encouraged many local women to discuss and report cases of violence. A gender desk has been established at the local police station so that women who have been abused can talk to policewomen.

    Mr. Luis Heredia, Project Coordinator and Ms. Consuelo Aguinaga, Gender specialist emphasised that the success of any project lies in ensuring equal and democratic participation of women in all project activities and decision-making processes. Often it is only at the implementation stage that women’s participation is taken into consideration but to ensure that the project is inclusive of women’s special needs, it is essential to assure women’s meaningful participation from the planning stage.

    In addition, the importance of allocating sufficient resources for gender-related activities during Annual Work Plan and Budget was highlighted. This is often overlooked but project gender strategies should be reflected in the budget, reserving resources to support gender mainstreaming and women’s empowerment.

    Mr. Hubert Boirard, former country programme manager in Sierra Leone, talked about the origins of a successful project. While a sound design lays the foundation, most of a project’s success can be attributed to implementation. Flexibility at the mid-term review is crucial. For example, the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) was added by project staff during implementation because they were convinced of the positive impact it had on gender relations at the household level.

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    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:

    • 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? 

     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
    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
    Further in this workshop, we discussed the “7 key pathways” through which agriculture is thought to influence 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)
    Jody Harris, a Senior research analyst/nutritionist on A4NH in IFPRI, discussed the context specific linkages between agriculture and nutrition. She went further by stating that "quality of food and diet are key for measuring outcomes of agriculture for nutrition and health’. She also emphasised on the need for ‘do no harm’ indicator to measure the expected change in projects particularly on women’s time, care giving, programme participation.

    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.

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     by Custodio Mucavel

    “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).

    Since 2012, Tome has received support from a local INAQUA extension officer who has provided technical advice on the production cycle, timing and feeding, how to select where to locate the ponds and how to calculate the quantity of fish in each.

    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.


    PROAQUA came into force in April 2014. The field visit to Tome's fish farm offered an opportunity to assess not only the current stage of aquaculture development in the country but the potential and the challenges that will be addressed by PROAQUA. These are mainly in the areas of (i) construction of new and better quality ponds; (ii) promotion of increased productivity of fish ponds by introducing improved pond management using predominantly on-farm  resources and minimizing purchased inputs for fish feed, in addition to an initial injection of quality fingerlings to maximize production potential; (iii) adoption of a household methodology approach – which will be linked to household mentoring – in order to maximize the participation of both women and men in the project; and (iv) use of a performance-based strategy linked to providing incentives in the contracts and involvement of extension staff.

    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.

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    By Michael Hamp

    Andean tribal people who participate in the Financial Graduation Programme by PLAN Peru in Cusco. Peru is a world leader in mobile phone and agent banking. Photo Credit: Michael Hamp/IFAD
    Andean tribal people who participate in the Financial Graduation Programme by PLAN Peru in Cusco. Peru is a world leader in mobile phone and agent banking. Photo Credit: Michael Hamp/IFAD

    The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is pleased to accept an invitation to join the Better than Cash Alliance (BTCA) in our shared commitment to bringing financial access to rural communities through digital payments. We welcome this membership because we know the tremendous impact that digital payments can have on the national economies of our developing partner countries, allowing millions of rural people to gain access to the formal financial sector.
    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)

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    A keen look at the COSOP results framework

    11 – 12 December 2014, Ethiopia held a one and a half days Country Strategic Opportunities Paper (COSOP) review and M&E workshop focused on how to conduct self-evaluations and measure impact.  The IFAD Ethiopia country programme is undergoing an evaluation by the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) to review the current COSOP (2007 – 2014). The results of the annual COSOP reviews and the IOE evaluation will inform the design of a new COSOP in 2015 .

    The workshop offered a platform for project managers, coordinators, and M&E officers to discuss how best to conduct effective self-evaluations, and how to establish improved M&E systems. Haingo Rakotondratsima, the Country Programme Officer for Madagascar, shared experiences from the CAPFIDA integrated knowledge management system which establishes linkages between field level and strategic portfolio priorities at national level. He further emphasized the importance of regular data collection from the field, and having a person in charge of the central data repository, for more systematic analysis. 
    Discussing the results framework

    Self-evaluation is a continuous process through which projects keenly look at what works well, what does not, and how to improve.

    In the IFAD context, the COSOP is a strategic document, formulated in partnership with key partners and stakeholders (especially government and farmer organisations) to effectively invest in rural smallholder agriculture and bring the farmers out of poverty.

    The current country programme evaluation will focus on relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability, gender equality, innovation and scaling up of different aspects of the country loan and grant portfolio. Other aspects such as knowledge management, partnership building, and policy dialogue, will be evaluated.

    Self-evaluation by projects follows the same methodology as the overall country programme evaluation with the core elements of the assessment centering on relevance, effectiveness, and other aspects as described in the IOE evaluation manual.

    Why Self-evaluation?
    A practical self-assessment exercise was conducted. Projects split into three groups and did a self-assessment of project performance (relevance, effectiveness, and efficiency), project impact, and project sustainability, innovation and scaling up. The presentations sparked informative discussions on such aspects as impact indicators, criteria of evaluations, and how to use evaluation results to inform policy dialogue and future development initiatives. The discussions brought participants to a positive conclusion: the purpose of the self-evaluation is primarily for learning and improvement through lessons learnt. Self-evaluations are not to find fault but to identify what can be done differently for improved performance of the project.

    Bidding Haingo Farewell
    After the workshop, the ICO held a simple ceremony to appreciate Haingo's support to the country programme during his brief placement in Ethiopia. The innovative idea by IFAD HR of staff rotation seems to have worked well in this case. The exchange has served as a channel of learning between Madagascar and Ethiopia.
    Getting ready to share a farewell cake with Haingo

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    By: Perrihan Al-Riffai, Sr. Research Analyst – IFPRI and Nerina Muzurovic, Knowledge Management Officer - IFAD

    ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico

    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.”

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    By Eleonora Lago, IFAD

    Viljandi, Estonia
    From 17 to 21 November 2014, I had the pleasure to go on an interesting study tour which took place in Tallinn, Estonia. The focus of this learning journey was to explore how new technologies implemented in European Union countries can be shared and adapted in the Central and Eastern Europe countries (CEN). The project started with a contribution from the Ministry of Agriculture of Estonia to IFAD to support the former Soviet Union countries. Since 1993, IFAD has been working in CEN countries to meet an increased demand for innovative ways to address rural poverty. In concert with concerned governments, we've been replicating and scaling up best practices in a number of areas such as rural finance, creating employment opportunities and rural advisory services. The study tour organized by IFAD in collaboration with the Estonian Rural Development Foundation (RDF) brought together ten IFAD-funded project representatives from Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Moldova and Uzbekistan.

    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.

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    Written by: Khalida Bouzar, Director of the Near East, North Africa and Europe Division - IFAD

    Partnership is crucial to the way we work, here at the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). To see this, one need look no further than IFAD’s founding at the World Food Conference in 1974. Troubled by the great droughts and famines that had struck Africa and Asia, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) decided to create an institution that would tackle poverty and hunger in non-oil developing countries. Pooling resources from OPEC and OECD countries, this institution would work to counter poverty and hunger through investment in agricultural and rural development. Out of this partnership, IFAD was born.

    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.

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    Written by: Larissa Setaro

    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 flexibility

    The 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:

    • 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. 

    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.
    ©TLC/Trent Bunderson

    Immediate and delayed impacts

    When 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 experience

    The 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.

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    Written by Karan Sehgal 

    A new scientific paper in Elsevier magazine has been published investigating biogas operations run by IFAD in partnership with Biogas International (BI) in Kenya and Rwanda.  Since 2011, IFAD and BI have collaborated to test and pilot portable, low-cost biogas systems for smallholder farmers, named  the Flexi Biogas© (FBS).

    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 study highlights how FBS devices have the potential to address important and pressing issues in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia and the Pacific. Issues such as agricultural and energy difficulties related to cooking and lighting needs, climate change and household income.

    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).

    Flexi biogas system installed in Kenya 


    The project, funded by IFAD, remains in its pilot phases. However  there is a large amount of data available so some conclusions can be made. The overriding benefit is that FBS units synergise solutions to three major concerns within Kenya's rural population.

    Time collecting firewood, mostly performed by women, takes from 3-5 hours daily. This time can now be allocated to income generation opportunities and spending time with children (imparting knowledge and education).

    The use of biogas digesters produce a by-product which is a high nutrient quality organic fertilizer. This helps agricultural and food security needs but also income savings from the reduced purchase of chemical fertilizers. The use of it in Kenya has shown increased production yields and also a higher quality of vegetables.

    Due to promising results in Kenya, the project (and technology) has been replicated within an on-going IFAD project in Rwanda. Here we are implementing the Flexi Biogas systems in conjunction with small-scale drying machines (powered by biogas) for maize/bean farmers to dry their produce and therefore reduce post-harvest losses.

    Positive feedback has lead the Government of Rwanda to install 100 additional systems and mainstreamed the technology within their national programs (i.e. The Girinka or 'One Cow per Every Poor Family' programme). The Government of Rwanda intends to support the installation of another 200 Flexi biogas systems after this larger pilot phase.

    The paper concludes that because these units show such promising results, continued effort needs to be made to communicate the benefits of these systems to the target audience and support continued assistance to the purchase and use FBS. Actions such as well-targeted subsidies on renewable energy sources and the removal of subsidies for fossil-fuel based sources such as firewood, charcoal and kerosene will be powerful incentives for people to take an interest in biogas.

    There is also a YouTube video available to watch on the operations.

    [i]Taken from an IFAD Flyeron the operations.

    [ii] Rural households in Kenya/Rwanda spend about US$10-15 per month on low quality traditional biomass resources such as firewood and charcoal

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    Written by Francesco Farnè

    IFAD 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.

    ©IFAD/D. Paqui

    The group of students, led by professor William H. Meyers, Director, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) International Programs, University of Missouri, was composed of young undergraduates in varied fields of studies: Agriculture and Food Security; Natural Science; Journalism and Communications. 
     ©IFAD/D. Paqui

    The briefing session consisted in a series of presentations on IFAD's background, mission and operations. All presentations were characterised by participation and interactivity, thanks both to the competence and interest of the students, who raised several clever questions, and to the capacity of the speakers to tell their experiences in a involving way.  

    Mr. Paqui gave a general overview on IFAD, its history, goal and mandate, as well as the organizational structure. The students were not aware of many of these aspects and were immediately engrossed in the presentation. 

    Mattia Prayer Galletti, Lead Technical Specialist, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD, shared his long-time experience in IFAD, with thrilling and stimulating stories from the field, with a particular focus on India and Vietnam. 
    ©IFAD/D. Paqui

    Marian Odenigbo, Special Advisor on Nutrition ESA, IFAD, gave a presentation on Nutrition. She was able to highlight the interconnections between a financial institution such as IFAD and the issue of nutrition. Improper diets, often due to lack of knowledge, are a major threat to smallholders’ health and consequently to agricultural development. 

    This thesis was supported by the projection of a video called “India – Millet madness”. Supporting millet production in India, IFAD encourage smallholders families to have more nutrient-rich diets. As a consequence, they have more energy and less health problems, thereby more productive in their work. 

    ©IFAD/D. Paqui

    In conclusion, Richard Aiello, Manager Staff Development Unit, HRD, gave a brief overview on job opportunities and the internship programme in IFAD. As a current intern, I introduced myself to the students and shared my experience working in COM, with them. I encouraged them to apply for the programme as soon as they will be eligible.

    This has been, without a doubt a successful event and a unique opportunity for both IFAD and the MU students. For IFAD, because it was an   opportunity  to introduce our agency to  young and proactive students. And for the students, as they had a  chance to interact with eminent experts in their field of studies.

    ©IFAD/D. Paqui

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    For the past 7 years the IFAD country team in Philippines conducts annual Country Program Reviews named ACPOR. These meetings bring together loans and grants and help to synergise the various initiatives and strengthen their impact. Quaterly meetings are then monitoring the progress of the action plan.

    The International Fund for Agricultural Development-Philippines (IFAD-PH) is currently conducting its 7th Annual Country Programme Review (ACPoR) hosted by the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) at Bohol Plaza Resort, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines. The activity involves six (6) grant, three (3) loan andtwo (2) upcoming Projects/Programmes (Converge and Fishcoral) in the Philippines. The session will last from 20 to 23 January 2015 with the theme “Leveraging and Scaling Up for Strategic Rural Transformation.”

    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.

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    By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist, Gender and Social Inclusion, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD, Rome 

    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 expectations 

    There has been steady progress with the SWAP in IFAD, with an increase in the number of indicators where we meet or exceed expected performance.

    IFAD’s progress with the 15 UN-SWAP indicators, 2012-2014 

    NB. The results for 2014 are subject to confirmation by UN Women
    At the outset (the first report was in 2012), there were some quick wins. IFAD was already exceeding the performance criteria on gender mainstreaming in the Programme Management Department’s monitoring and reporting systems, programme review, organizational culture (reflecting the work of Human Resources Department (HRD) and the Ethics Office) and inter-agency coordination and peer review with the other Rome-based agencies.

    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 indicator 

    This 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.

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  • 02/06/15--03:28: Polishing the gender lenses
  • A gender learning event with Cheryl Morden and Rosemary Vargas-Lundius

    By 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.

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    Learning event on financial and non-financial services to rural youth: Egypt and Yemen case studies

    By 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
    ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

     The situation for young people in the Near East and North Africa

    The 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 challenges

    To 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 learn

    An 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 studies

    Two 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 ahead

    Moving 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.

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    byLarissa Setaro, PTA

    The second season of the Gender Breakfasts was launched on 3rd February 2015, on the intriguing topic: "Conservation Agriculture with a gender perspective". 

    Gender breakfasts create a friendly environment where everyone has the chance of learning and sharing on gender issues in various thematic areas, while enjoying delicious home-made cakes. 
    This time I wasn't there only to listen, but also to present a topic that is close to my experience in my Masters research, the impact of Conservation Agriculture (CA) on gender workload allocation. And I must say the experience was thrilling! Almost 50 people attended the session and the questions afterwards ranged from the role of CA in food security and how to take the approach to scale, to the role of public policy and the private sector.

    © CIMMYT/Patrick Wall

    CA is being promoted as one of a range of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) that has a positive impact on the resilience of farming systems affected by climate change (see previous blog post).

    This gender breakfast demonstrated the importance of placing such an agronomic practice not only in the context of the agro-ecological farming system, but also the socio-economic and livelihoods system. Switching from conventional methods of tilling the land and weeding has significant implications  on household time and workloads - particularly for women – and requires a profound shift in mindset about what represents ‘good’ land husbandry (that is, from a neatly ploughed field and no crop residues to reduced tillage and the retention of cover crops). 

    Indeed, time and labour savings can amount to 30-50 per cent of the total labour input and are mostly generated by the elimination of land preparation through ploughing or digging and, when herbicides are applied, decreased labour for weed. These results can have a great impact on women's life, providing them with the opportunity of improving their livelihoods by reducing their burden of work (see previous blog post and earlier IFAD-FAO study in Tanzania) . 

    However, for women to be able to fully benefit from the opportunities available through CA, they must have access to technical training on CA and business skills, secure land rights if they are to undertake these longer-term investments, access to CA equipment suitable for use by women and financial schemes to buy the associated equipment. 

    Moreover, the linkages between CA and the benefits on women’s workload are not so straightforward. Indeed, there is a need to assess how those savings will affect the redistribution of time and labour within the whole household. In fact, an important question to be asked is whether the reduction of an agricultural operation, such as ploughing for instance, will shift labour requirements to other labour intensive activities in the agricultural cycle or to other members of the household, i.e. does it just allow men to open larger areas of land for planting, weeding and managing by women?

    This event was an opportunity to link two spheres that often seem to belong to different worlds: technical/agronomic issues and socio-economic and gender understanding of the household. Those two perspectives must be tackled jointly in order to achieve a real adoption and scaling-up of CA, and other GAPs, that suits the needs and opportunities of all household members. 

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    From new business opportunities to women’s empowerment and sustainable natural resource management: A journey across Nepali good practices

    By Tanya Lutvey, PROCASUR;

    In December 2014, 20 participants from 9 countries, and PROCASUR's team traveled across Nepal for 8 days. With the crucial support of the  hosts - the Leasehold Forestry and Livestock Programme (LFLP), the Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF), and the Nepal Agricultural Co-operative Central Federation Ltd (NACCFL) – as well as the technical support garnered from the IFAD Gender Desk during the design, implementation and follow up of the Learning Route (LR), participants learnt of experiences in the districts of Chitwan and Kapilvastu, which are successfully generating new income-generating opportunities through women-led Private-Public Producers Partnerships (4Ps).

    The eager practitioners had the opportunity to experience how the leadership role of women in the establishment and management of 4P's including Saving and Credit Groups (SCGs), as well as the involvement of Dalit, Janajati and other socially marginalised groups, have been crucial factors in their success; these Nepali women have gained increased recognition and respect at community level, mainly through their role in household decision-making and their improved position as SCGs leaders.

    Our adventure was kicked off in Kathmandu, by WOCAN representative Dibya Gurung who gave us the ins and outs of the present situation for Nepali women ‘an invisible force to be reckoned with’. According to Ms Gurung, increased opportunities in income generation has given more opportunities for rural women in Nepal (75% of Nepali women are engaged in agricultural activities) while men’s support of women’s leadership is increasing, particularly among younger husbands and male youths providing an opportunity to encourage women’s advancement as leaders in the community and the family.

    Eight days later, after various field visits to the host communities of Bijuwa, Devitar and Khaireni Parsha, group discussions and analyses the participants were able to glean a number of meaningful lessons under three interconnected areas of learning, including; gender equality and women’s empowerment, rural institutions and natural resource management. Aside from the structured learning, participants were able to engage with ideas and strategize in an informal setting – a regular (and necessary) ingredient in the LR recipe.

    Andrew Mwaura from the Department of Social Development, Kenya, shared his learning with the group; ‘Social mobilisation has been the biggest key for the successes we have seen. They (social mobilisers) need to be the female members of the household. Even after the project is over, the social mobiliser will still be there, in the field. That is how we trigger motivation.’ Ripa Shanjida from Bangladesh added; 'if you have an educated mother you have an educated nation'.

    The Learning Route was concluded with the sharing of proposed Innovation Plans by the participants grouped by projects, country groups or individually. Each group/individual prepared an action plan based on the lessons learned from the three host cases during the eight day Learning Route journey. Of the 20 participants, 11 action plans for either women-led businesses or woman-focussed community organisations were presented on a wide range of topics including fruit preservation, organic honey production, empowering pastoralist women in decision making bodies and saving and credit groups for women. Participants were able to leave the LR with the constructive guidance necessary to finalise their plans in consultation with their own organisations. Participants had until January 15th to submit their finalised Innovation Plans in order to take part in a contest that will award the top 5 plans with $2500 USD in start-up capital. Watch this space for announcement of the winners!

    Oh, and our Learning Route was packed so full of excitement that our closing ceremony was held on the tarmac of Bijuwa Airport! In keeping with the Learning Route spirit, it was excitement down to the very last minute! For more insights and learning route contents please visit:

     More blogs on the Learning Route to come!

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    By Tanya Lutvey, PROCASUR;

    Throughout the entire learning experience in Nepal in late 2014, the 20+ participants (or “routeros”) had the opportunity to engage with various host cases who are successfully promoting women’s empowerment. We met women who were vocal leaders in their communities, who were equally participating in the implementation of their household activities and actively working against negative gender stereotypes, inequalities and exclusion faced at household and village levels.

    Parvati, for instance, a member of the Pragatishil Agriculture Cooperative in Kapilvastu District, kindly shared her story with the “routeros”. She used to live in a one-room mud house. Societal norms and expectations prevented her from fulfilling her own potential and she was unable to leave her home, show her face, work, or even talk to any strangers. Women in this community were not even able to answer the door if there was no man at home. But things have changed since the cooperative was began distributing small loans and supporting new businesses and income generation activities. Since Parvati’s engagement with the cooperative which allowed her to access a small financial loan, she now heads a house of 11 people and operates a small mustard seed oil business with support from the cooperative. A far cry from the days when she was not even able to answer the door.

    Parvati is only one of the many disadvantaged women we met, who had had had their life transformed by a women-led community based organization. Another example, being when participants visited Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperative Limited (SFACL), Khaireni Parsha, in Chitwan District allowing them another opportunity to witness how a women-led small farmer cooperative could also positively affect household dynamics. A little about SFACL Khaireni Parsha: the Agro Cooperative has a membership base of 1953 women. The female-only SFACL was established in 2004 and, operating out of its own building in Chitwan District, is currently engaging with micro-finance, banking, enterprises, youth employment, and income generating activities such as fish, piggeries, banana plantations, cow’s, organic farming, community forestry, bio-gas and community irrigation. In 2008 they even received a national award from the Small Farmers Development Bank as an example of excellent cooperative at national level.

    During our visit, the members of the Khaireni Parsha cooperative highlighted key success factors, as well as the impacts and changes they have observed in the livelihood of its members thanks to the wide range of activities and opportunities made available by the cooperative within their community. One of the major changes is empowerment of women in the area, which has catalyzed various other positive changes. The opportunity to participate and benefit from profitable economic activities and training initiatives has increased women’s self-esteem, their capacity to speak in public, and their ability to share their knowledge and sensitize their family members, which has further enhanced their decision-making role at the household level and within the community.

     All the cooperatives the LR visited - Pragatishil Agriculture Cooperative, the SFACL Khareini Parsha and Devitar Leasehold Forests Users Group -  have also prompted changes in the role of women as leaders and managers. In the case of SFACL Khareini Parsha, all of the Board’s members are women and they have improved their decision-making skills, and their capacity for working together. Often in rural development we see that there is a gap between women’s contribution to agricultural production, marketing and rural livelihoods, and their voice in making decisions that affect their communities. The Nepali experience proves that women’s presence in and the leadership roles played in some organizations women’s is a first crucial step to ensure that women have their priorities heard so that they can contribute to the development of their families and communities. Therefore the changes observed in women’s roles are not only economical, but also social and cultural. 

    On another note, one of the success factors of the LR technique is the provision of a forum whereby participants are able to think critically about implementations they visited. For example, Manop Bunyuenkun, our participant from the Akha indigenous community in Thailand, recognized the limitations of such a female-only system: "Men should be involved in the process of women's empowerment. Often men will be involved because they receive something out of it, but not because they understand or support women's empowerment." Indeed such a dynamic was evident in the familial roles of some of the loan beneficiaries we met during our journey. For example, where loans could only be facilitated through the membership of the wife, it was in fact, the husband who would be running the business, and thus maintaining control over household income.

    Like most development strategies, we can learn much from the case of Khaireni Parsha and the rest of the cooperatives for that matter. Likewise, when it comes to women’s empowerment, there is still much more we need to understand. But when it came to the parting words from the women of Khaireni Parsha, it was all very simple; "Women's empowerment is much easier done in a group, where we have support and a warm hand to hold."

    PROCASUR/IFAD: Learning Route on Women’s Empowerment, New Businesses and Sustainable Natural Resource Management. Nepal, 6-13 December 2014. For more insights and learning route contents please visit:

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     On the 12th and 13th February 2015, over 60 development practitioners from Cambodia including experts from Vietnam and Madagascar and high level stakeholders from the government joined to review the progress of the IFAD COSOP (Country Strategic Opportunities Program). The COSOP,  which structures the Country Programme and its field activities, was initiated in 2012 and has provided a range of opportunities for development partners, line ministries and various agricultural bodies to meet and assess ways to better improve the extension of services for rural populations involved in agriculture. This strategic program aims to build on lessons learned of the ongoing agricultural projects run by the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries and IFAD. 

    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:

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    The second global Indigenous People's Forum convened at IFAD last week, gathering fifty representatives of indigenous peoples' organizations from all over the world for two full days of deliberations, with a focus on traditional food systems and sustainable development. On the agenda was a presentation and plenary discussion on the key emerging findings of the Evaluation Synthesis Report on IFAD’s Engagement with Indigenous Peoples prepared by IFAD's  Independent Office of Evaluation.

    Audience and panel at plenary discussion.
    ©IFAD/ A. Vincent
    Fumiko Nakai, Evaluation Officer at the Independent Office of Evaluation, presented emerging findings from the ongoing evaluation synthesis. The main objectives of the synthesis are to generate good practices and lessons, identify key issues for reflection and make recommendations for future IFAD operations. Key areas reviewed include targeting approaches, indigenous peoples’ participation in projects and strategy development, empowerment, and support to policy engagement and advocacy.

    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

    Adolfo Brizzi, Director of the Policy and Technical Advisory Division, cited a greater response to gender issues and better data collection as two goals for IFAD's partnerships with indigenous peoples. Brizzi also challenged IFAD to further deepen this partnership. First, IFAD staff need to understand more clearly the meaning of informed consent, a prerequisite for new policies. Few other organizations have adopted such a policy, he noted, and IFAD staff need to fully understand what it entails. Brizzi also spoke to the difficulties of engaging in policy change, warning that governments can resent third-party guidance. Brizzi concluded the panel with a call to an open mind and mutual dependence, urging IFAD and its Member States to build relationships of trust in order to best carry out each project. 

    Afterwards audience and panel members milled about, continuing the discussion before breaking for lunch. A table laden with candles and food staples from around the world symbolized IFAD's relationships with indigenous peoples. 

    ©IFAD/ A. Vincent

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