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    Cooperative members dry coffee in São Tomé. ©IFAD/Joanne Levitan
    Written by Daniela Cuneo

    There are thousands of fine chocolate bars, all delicious and unique, but what makes some of them special? Is it the art of the chocolate makers? The quality of the cocoa beans? The technology used to transform them? The alchemy in the mix of ingredients? The packaging? Or is it the land where cocoa trees are grown?

    All the above elements contribute to a quality product, but what really makes the difference is the partnership between producers and other private and public stakeholders (also known as the four 'Ps') along the cocoa value chain – and how the 'Ps' work together to grow high-quality cocoa beans, build supply capacity and establish market linkages in a sustainable and equitable manner.

    Equolink 70% chocolate bars prove this to be the case. They are made from Fair-trade certified coconut sugar and high-quality cocoa beans produced by smallholder farmers in São Tomé and Principe who, until few years ago, were living below the poverty line. Today, their lives are much improved, thanks to distributors and consumers who believe and invest in high-quality, single-origin, equitably produced foods.

    Investing in quality to reduce poverty
    IFAD has been working in São Tomé and Principe since the early 1980s. In 2003, the Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme (PAPAFPA) was launched there to improve the incomes and living conditions of 4,500 families. The programme reached about 19,000 farmers and artisanal fishermen.

    Coffee samples at IFAD event on sourcing certified
    sustainable products from smallholders. ©IFAD
    PAPAFPA’s work and investments empowered cocoa smallholders to get organized into primary cooperatives and apex, export cooperatives, which are nowadays capable of fully complying with the high standards required to trade on international markets. Given their focus on quality and attention to environmental and social sustainability, the cooperatives have been able to obtain both Fair-trade and Organic certifications.

    Moreover, since 2012, PAPAFPA has been supported by the Strengthening Smallholders’ Access to Markets for Certified Sustainable Products (SAMCERT) initiative, funded by an IFAD grant, which works with groups of small-scale producers to identify the potential for Fair-trade, Organic and other certifications. SAMCERT is also working in São Tome and Principe to establish geographical indications used to identify products originating from a well-defined geographic area. Geographical indications represent one further step towards increasing the market competitiveness of smallholder producers, improving their livelihoods and stimulating overall development of rural areas.

    PAPAFPA has successfully established robust private-public partnerships with several European companies, which act as both partners and buyers/importers of certified products (coffee, cocoa, pepper and other spices) into the EU market. The progress made by these partnerships is notable in terms of volumes of produce exported yearly, returns generated and the overall performance of concerned producers and exporters.

    Indeed, since the beginning of 2012, CECAB, one of the four export cooperatives created under PAPAFPA, has been running its operations independently from the programme.

    Meeting market expectations 
    It is clear that many chocolate consumers are interested in more than just quality. They are always looking for new flavours and, more important, are interested in knowing where the chocolate originates and how it is produced. Increasingly, they care about the environmental and social impact of chocolate production. High quality is not enough if it implies abuse of natural and human resources.

    Equolink 70% chocolate is produced with Fair-trade
    cocoa beans and coconut sugar.  ©Equolink
    That is why the Palermo-based cooperative Scambi Sostenibili took on board a suggestion by Slow Food to use cocoa beans produced by the São Tomé cooperative CECAQ-11 for a new chocolate recipe, and to put its production in the hands of a well-known Italian chocolate maker, Domori di None. The result? Equolink 70%, the only single-origin chocolate produced exclusively with ethically certified, Fair-trade cocoa beans and coconut sugar.

    Thanks to this new recipe, the São Tomé bar was selected out of more than 700 fine chocolate bars traded on the Italian market as one of the nine finalists for the national prize Tavoletta d'Oro 2015 last month. São Tomé's entry did not win first prize but came very close and will participate in the International Chocolate Awards in London later this month.

    For cocoa smallholders of São Tomé and Principe – and for all those who invest in quality and equity – this is an impressive result. We can only hope that there will be more such achievements in the future.

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    Did you know that this year, IFAD and Indonesia celebrate 35 years of partnership? And just earlier this year, Indonesia and IFAD have signed a host country agreement, which enables IFAD to open an office in Jakarta.

    John McIntire harvested cocoa in Sidole village in Central Sulawesi. Cocoa trees need a lot of attention,
    that makes them the perfect smallholder crop. About 80% of Indonesia's
    cocoa is produced by smallholders.
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

    To discuss future collaboration, the IFAD Associate Vice-President, PMD, John McIntire, travelled to Indonesia, where he met with Government representatives, beneficiaries and development partners. Indonesia’s new government has included food security and rural development in their main priorities, creating opportunities to further strengthen collaboration and IFAD’s engagement in the country – that was the clear message from meetings with high-level government officials, including the Minister of Planning and Development, Andrinof A. Chaniago, and the Minister of Agriculture, Amran Sulaiman.

    The IFAD delegation in a meeting with the Minister of Planning and Development
    to discuss on-going and future collaborations.  
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel
    The IFAD delegation in meeting with the Minister of Agriculture. The new government has
    committed itself to self-sufficiency in maize, corn and paddy within
    the next three years. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

    Together with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Director Generals for the International Cooperation Centre, the Agency of Agricultural Extension and Human Resources Development and the Agricultural Training Centre, John McIntire travelled to Central Sulawesi to meet with beneficiaries of the Rural Empowerment and Agricultural Development (READ) Programme and to participate in the programme’s closing ceremony.

    Closing ceremony of the READ programme. The programme has supported agriculture related
    infrastructure, community empowerment and farmer capacity, resulting in
    significant increases in farmers' productivity and income. While READ completed
    its activities, the Government of Indonesia plans to scale up the approach
    in different areas of Indonesia. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

    The READ Programme worked in 5 districts of Central Sulawesi, building rural communities’ capacity and increasing agricultural productivity. The programme also piloted one of the first public-private-partnerships in the Indonesian agricultural sector. Facilitated by IFAD, the programme partnered with Mars Inc., the international chocolate company. Mars provided technical support to cocoa farmers and trained the so-called cocoa doctors, who are now operating as small businesses in the project area.

    While visiting the small village of Sidole, John McIntire met cocoa doctors, like Ahmad Darise, and other project participants to hear their stories and discuss the programme’s activities with them. Ahmad was about to give up cocoa farming because he was not earning enough to support his family. Through the READ programme, he trained as a cocoa doctor and learned new farming techniques. Now his yields have increased significantly and he serves as one of the villages knowledge hub for cocoa farmers (watch his story here). Cocoa trees need a lot of attention, which makes them the ideal crop for smallholder farmers. To further strengthen the cocoa sector in Central Sulawesi, IFAD has just launched a new collaboration with Swisscontact that will build capacity and market access of cocoa farmers.

    Given the success of READ, the Government of Indonesia has decided to scale up its model throughout the country. This next phase of READ will benefit millions of rural women and men. The Government has invited IFAD to stay engaged in the process – this reflects the strong appreciation for IFAD’s work and expectation for IFAD to further strengthen its engagement in Indonesia, particularly, once the country office has been opened. 

    John McIntire in dialogue with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture,
    one of IFAD's main partners in Indonesia. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

    John McIntire and the Chairmen of the Agency for Fiscal Policy. Based on the New Village Law,
    the Government of Indonesia is committed to transfer approx. USD 2 billion
    to villages throughout the country to strengthen rural development. Given
    IFAD's strong experience in community development, the Government
    is seeking IFAD's support in ensuring an effective utilization of these funds
    at village level, by empowering communities and building
    their capacities. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

    John McIntire meeting the Director General for Marine, Coastal and Small Islands of
    the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to discuss on-going and future operations.
    Indonesia has the second longest coastline in the world, and fisheries and coastal development
    is a key priority for the government. Currently, the Ministry is implementing the
    IFAD-supported Coastal Community Development Project. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel
    The IFAD delegation met Ahmad, who was about to give up cocoa farming.
    Then he received support through the READ Mars partnership. Today he
    works as a cocoa doctor. 
    ©IFAD/Sarah Hessel

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    Written by Francesco Farnè

    As a recent graduate in International Politics and Relations, I am always tempted to analyse facts from a geopolitical perspective.

    When I heard that the Near East and North Africa (NEN) Division was holding an event on IFAD’s operations in fragile contexts, with a particular focus on Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, as case studies, my curiosity got the better of me and I was eager to attend.

    Many questions came into my mind and I hoped the event would enlighten me. How is it possible to carry out operations and projects in contexts where collective security, as well as basic civil rights, cannot be assured and the breach of peace is a constant threat? The adjective ‘fragile’ sounded even a bit reductive on first thought.

    NEN staff from Somalia, Sudan and Yemen presenting their case studies
    ©IFAD/Francesco Farnè
    The event, organized by NEN, brought together staff from Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. During the overview, we had the opportunity to take a deeper dive into the concept of fragility. In fact it is broader than I thought - fragility refers to a series of dimensions going beyond the only political/institutional perspective I had in mind. Fragile states have indeed weak policies, institutions and governance, but this usually has logistical consequences resulting in poor infrastructure (especially in rural zones), lack of financial services, as well as low resilience to natural phenomena such as climate change, water scarcity, soil erosion etc. The main lesson I learned was that all these spheres are deeply interdependent. And it can have serious impact when setting up an operation. A general policy suggestion follows from all this: flexibility is crucial when operating in such contexts. Smart policies in fragile contexts should be agile and adaptable to sudden context changes.

    Among the case studies, the one that caught my attention the most was Somalia. Somalia is one of the least developed countries in the world. The country, where a terrible civil war took place in the '90s, is often referred to as an example of a failed state in books that deal with international law and politics. This was confirmed by Noel Harris, Programme Coordinator, Northwestern Integrated Community Development Programme (ICDP) in the Somaliland region, who gave a presentation on the challenges he and his colleagues had to face. I found out that, in addition to security and political issues, natural conditions in Somalia are also problematic. Severe droughts frequently affect the country threatening water supply and crop yields. Moreover, infrastructure was seriously damaged after the civil war, due to depopulation of villages, loss of agricultural equipment and degraded farmlands. All this contributes to make Somalia a fragile country.

    ICDP had to respond to this ever-changing environment since its  conception. It started as an emergency assistance programme during the civil war. Then it became a post-conflict rehabilitation programme. Eventually ICDP focused on integrated development intervention. Such a transition from emergency assistance to post-conflict development required a prompt and flexible response by IFAD, which produced high-profile results. Food security in the target group has been achieved since 2011, just to give an example.

    What I found so distinctive about this presentation and the whole event in general is the capacity to apply the concept of flexibility, presented in the overview, to reality. The programmes are really capable of adapting to fragile contexts and ever-changing situations with tangible results. Of course, it is possible to do even better, as emerged during the final discussion, but from my perspective, as a student used to theoretical academic concepts now understanding their application to the real world, it was impressive.

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    Written by Marian Amaka Odenigbo and Simret Habtezgi

    Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and IFAD fielded a joint-mission on portfolio alignment from 22 March – 2 April 2015. This activity was in response to the recommendation of a recent Country Programme Evaluation.
    The mission was tasked to draw-out area of complementarity of current IFAD portfolio and build synergies for enhanced overall impact of project developmental goals. This portfolio constitutes current IFAD-funded projects in Zambia:
    Smallholder Agri-business Promotion Programme (SAPP)
    Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme (S3P)
    Rural Finance Expansion Programme (RUFEP)
    Enhanced – Smallholder Livestock Investment Programme (E – SLIP)

    It was interesting to see how the effort towards this mission generated discussions and enthusiasm on accelerating nutrition mainstreaming into IFAD investments.
    Consultative meeting with beneficiaries, implementers and project staff at Luwingu main camp in Northern Province
    I was opportuned to be a member of the mission. And in order to deliver to the stipulated tasks and responsibilities, we embarked on field visits to interact and discuss with beneficiaries, implementers and staff in the provinces, districts and camps.
    For adequate spread and coverage of project locations, mission members broke up into two groups; one travelled to the Northern and the other to the Southern province. In similar vein regarding adequate coverage of nutrition issues during the field visit, I joined the group to the Northern while Simret, an intern who is supporting nutrition operations in Zambia IFAD Country Office joined the group to Southern province.

    During a consultative meeting at Kasama district in Northern provinces, the stakeholders expressed keen interest and enthusiasm for integration and operationalization of explicit nutrition activities in the implementation of IFAD funded programmes.  I was really challenged with their expression because the project documents stated the need to promote nutrition without any explicit activities to support them.

    To buttress this readiness for nutrition mainstreaming in IFAD-supported projects, Mr. Andrew Banda, the Provincial agricultural Coordinator informed the mission that field nutrition officers have recently been employed at each district to support nutrition activities in the various blocks and camps.
     Nevertheless, Rose Silyato, the Senior Agricultural Officer in Mbala district and Elizabeth Nakamanga, the nutrition officer in Northern province highlighted the lack of funding on nutrition-sensitive interventions and training needs for food and nutrition personnel.
    In the Southern province, Simret noted likewise expression from her interactions with the camp officers in Choma district and the Food and Nutrition officers.

    Attention of the mission was drawn to the selective locations of implementing Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) programme in Zambia. For instance, the Northern province has SUN implemention only in three districts (Kasama, Mbala and Kaputa) leaving out the other six districts (Kaputa, Mporokoso, Luwingu , Nsama, Kasama, Mungwi, Mbala, Mpulungu and Chilubi). This led to a recommendation to boast the SUN initiatives by leveraging nutrition mainstreaming under the portfolio alignment to target locations not covered by SUN.

    As the mission visited demonstrations plots and Farmer Field Schools, Rob Delve the agronomist in the team highlighted the need for inclusion and promotion of nutrient dense crop varieties in implementation of S3P which is being led by Zambia Agricultural Research Institute. According to Rob, the farmer demonstrations of improved released crop varieties should involve nutrient dense varieties such as;
    (i)the high iron and zinc content beans
    (ii)the newly released enhanced vitamin A content orange maize varieties
    (iii)the un-released enhanced vitamin A content orange cassava varieties.

    One of the improved beans plot visited at Senga camp, Mbala district was on Mbereshi beans which is rich in iron and zinc. However, the mission observed that the farmers’ enthusiasm was only focused on the economic value of the improved varieties. Mission therefore, recommended for advocacy on nutritional relevance of biofortified varieties in Farmer Field Schools.

    Rob(3rdleft) inspecting the demonstration plot of cassava variety at Luwingu district.

    Cassava tuber being peeled for processing after harvesting

    Using a nutrition lens in promoting synergy and aligning parallel activities of the portfolio aims to exploit comparative advantages in the various projects for enhanced developmental goal and increased impact on the reduction of malnutrition. The areas of comparative advantages identified by the mission in each projects were as follows;
    (i) Improved and nutrient dense crop varieties (S3P project)
     (ii) Availability and accessibility of safe nutritious food (E-SLIP)
     (iii) Value added nutritious product development (SAPP)
     (iv) Nutrition education via organized cooperatives and farmers’ groups (RUFEP)

    At the conclusion of this mission, action plans drawn included an urgent need for nutrition sensitization workshop targeting Nutrition Officers, project staff and programme implementers. This action will facilitate the enthusiasm and concerted effort for accelerating and operationalization of nutrition mainstreaming in IFAD portfolio.

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    Woman in the Philippines buys groceries with remittance money sent by
    a sister working abroad. ©IFAD/Joanne Levitan
    Written by Jessica Thomas

    IFAD is dedicating a day to the millions of migrant workers who make a vital contribution to the well-being of their families and communities back home. On June 16, we will celebrate the first International Day of Family Remittances.

    But why has IFAD, through its Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR), decided to commemorate this day? What is the day meant to achieve?

    Worldwide, over 247 million people live outside the countries and communities they call home. They leave their countries to look for opportunities, for jobs, for education. To some it is simply a question of survival, and they are ready to take on whatever task, at whatever pay, as long as they can send money to the families and communities left behind. The funds they send home are known as remittances.

    The individual stories of those who leave their towns and villages for foreign destinations are stories of incredible dedication and tremendous sacrifice. That is why IFAD has dedicated 16 June as a day of recognition for their commitment and sacrifice to family. It recognizes the years and decades spent in a foreign country, labouring so their children might be able to live and work in their country of origin – the heartache of living far away not only from family and friends, but from their land and their culture. To live like that is a kind of life away from life.

    Remittances are an expression of fundamental family commitment. They constitute one of the world's most direct methods of poverty alleviation.

    Plans for International Day of Family Remittances are announced at IFAD
    Governing Council session, February 2015. ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello
    The launch of the International Day of Family Remittances will take place in Milan, Italy, during the Global Forum on Remittances and Development, in the context of Expo Milano 2015. It will be a high-level event with important dignitaries and speakers.

    The United Nations General Assembly designates a number of international days to mark important aspects of human life and history. Specialized UN agencies can also proclaim these days. You may not be familiar with all the days. Some, like World Environment Day, World Water Day and International Women's Day, are better known than others. But each and every international day has been designated for a specific reason.

    Inevitably, the International Day of Family Remittances will call to mind someone we either know well or have met briefly. It will always remind me of a friend I made a few years ago through one of the many FFR programmes. Her name is Minda, a 60-year-old powerhouse full of energy and initiative. She comes from the Philippines and is a domestic worker. When she came to Italy over 30 years ago, she was supporting 26 family members back home and working seven days a week. She sent so much of her hard -earned money home to the Philippines that, in the end, she had nothing left for herself.

    Although Minda did not introduce me to the issue of migration and remittances, she brought it to another level, and the word ‘sacrifice’ took on a whole other meaning.

    For IFAD, this day will represent an invaluable opportunity to recognize the efforts of migrants, strengthen current partnerships and create new synergies. For all of us, it is a way to say thank you.

    Surely now, when you hear the date June 16, you will remember that it is not 'just another day.'

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    Written by Steve Twomlow, Lynn Kota and Norman Mavuso

    The IFAD-supported Lower Usuthu Sustainable Land Management Project (LUSLM, also known as LUSIP-GEF) walked off with four awards at the Swaziland World Water Day Awards in March. LUSLM was showered with accolades, including first place for best photograph depicting water and sustainable development, and first place for sustainable practices.

    Water is a fundamental resource, vital for human survival and ecological life,
    thus it is a key element for sustainable development. This picture shows
    a Ferro-cement rainwater harvester, it is 1,700 liters. The family is now getting
    clean water within the yard instead of walking long distances to fetch water, giving the
    girl child plenty time to do other beneficial activities, like doing school work.
    ©Norman Mavuso 

    LUSLM did not stop there though, raking in two second-place awards. These awards recognized LUSM's community outreach and awareness creation on water and sustainable development. The project was awarded for showcasing activities on the water-harvesting techniques it promotes, including rooftop cement rainwater harvesting; infield ripper farrow and basin water harvesting; and water harvesting through land rehabilitation on degraded land and dongas.

    LUSLM won the best photo award for an image of a family collecting water from their roof water harvester. For the sustainable practices award, the project was judged the best in the country in terms of community initiatives that have employed good water-management practices. These initiatives have sustained LUSLM's water-related projects, rendering them effectively operational for a long time.

    National Project Manager Lynn Kota receiving one of the World Water Day
    Awards on behalf of the LUSLM team. © Norman Mavuso 

    For awareness creation, all organizations taking part in the World Water Day Awards were judged on how they raise awareness about the importance of proper water use and management – and the underlying issues which affect water availability and distribution. For community outreach, each project was judged for ''making a mark that can never be erased.'' LUSLM did this by uplifting and empowering communities with activities such as provision of water, sanitation and food-security measures for the rural poor.

    The LUSLM Project team, in Swazi traditional attire, with the awards
    at the project offices. © Norman Mavuso

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    It’s not always headline news that our climate is changing – but it should be.

    Marco Cattaneo, editor of Le Scienze, knows that it’s hard to sell stories about long-term processes. “But we need to help everyone know what’s happening, what’s at stake,” he said. “If we’re going to feed 9 billion people by 2050, we’re going to have to revise our diet and how we produce our food.”

    Cattaneo was a member of Recipes for Change: Untold stories of food and climate adaptation, the IFAD-organized panel at the 2015 International Journalism Festivalin Perugia, Italy. He joined Jacopo Monzini, senior technical specialist in IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division, and Lars Charas, programme manager at Worldchefs, in a discussion moderated by Mauro Buonocore, Communication Officer at the Euro Mediterranean Centre on Climate Change.
    IFAD-organized panel at the International Journalism Festival. From left: Mauro Buonocore, Jacopo Monzini, Marco Cattaneo and Lars Charas. ©IFAD/Adam Vincent
    The panel’s goal was to share stories that the media are not telling when it comes to climate change. Its members spoke as international aid workers, journalists, scientists and chefs – but they all wanted to change the way we think about (and thus respond to) climate change.

    More than polar bears
    First, Monzini said, it’s important to properly understand the issue. “Climate change is not something physically material that we can attack and destroy,” he explained. “It is the result of a whole series of tiny little actions that each of us is responsible for.”

    Instead of viewing climate change as something apart from us, we need to view it as something that affects us and that we, in turn, can influence by our choices, Monzini added.

    The media, however, do not usually present this vision of climate change. Instead, Cattaneo pointed out, they focus on images like a lone polar bear adrift on floating ice. It’s an effective way to grab attention but ultimately fails to achieve any real change. “For half an hour, people feel sorry for the polar bear,” Cattaneo said, “but then everything goes back to how it was before.”

    Since we’re all responsible for climate change, Monzini said, “we’re all responsible for mitigating the effects.” One way for journalists to contribute is to help the public realize the true causes of climate change and the best ways to change them.

    Making stakes real
    Climate change is well documented, but it’s easy to ignore when it only seems to affect people on the other side of the world. As a result, there is great potential for stories that show communities in the developed world how climate change affects them.

    “You have to find issues that are close to consumers, make the issue practical,” said Charas. For example, he warned that climate change may put traditional Mexican food culture at risk, as neither beans nor corn is climate-resilient. Monzini added that climate change might seem much more relevant for Italians this year, after low rainfall contributed to an uncharacteristically small olive harvest.

    Too often, Cattaneo said, it’s difficult to find space to address climate change. But the public is concerned with what is local – which journalists should use to their advantage.

    Radical solutions
    Audience at the panel in Perugia. ©IFAD/Jessica Thomas

    The panel agreed on one force that could discourage the behaviors contributing to climate change: the market, which stories can play a pivotal role in shaping. Consumers make up the market, and informed consumers can make a difference.

    The problem, Monzini said, is that food consumers are often lazy. They limit their range of ingredients, which encourages monoculture and consequently hurts genetic diversity and resilience in the agriculture sector. Even if farmers grow traditional, organic crops, he pointed out, they are going to stop if no one buys them.

    Stories have the potential to change this behavior. By describing underutilized crops from around the globe, journalists can help create new markets for the food we need to nourish our growing world.

    Charas said he seeks to connect chefs with diverse ingredients. One potential market? Jellyfish. Overfishing has led to a proliferation of jellyfish, whose populations were once kept in check by the fish now on our plates, Charas explained. People already eat jellyfish in Korea, he noted. Adapting to new ideas and getting chefs to incorporate them could help us establish more sustainable sources of food. 

    But even if jellyfish does not take off, the panel’s point remains valid: to feed a growing world population, we’re going to have to rethink how we produce and consume food. We all play a role in ameliorating and adapting to climate change, but journalists are especially important. Our climate is changing, and journalists can make that news. 

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    Written by Rakesh Jha 

    Indigenous people with traditional musical instruments at arts and culture festival in Taksera, Nepal. ©Budha Lojin 
    Last year, an IFAD team visited Nepal's Rukum District to monitor the work of the IFAD-supported Western Uplands Poverty Alleviation Project (WUPAP). The mission included a workshop led by Antonella Cordone, IFAD's Senior Technical Specialist on Indigenous Peoples and Tribal Issues, which provided opportunities for interaction with local indigenous leaders. The team subsequently recommended that WUPAP design special activities in Rukum to help improve indigenous peoples ' livelihoods through promotion of their unique culture and traditions.

    Indigenous women wearing traditional attire at the
    festival in Taskera. ©WUPAP
    Last week, that recommendation became a reality in the form of an indigenous peoples' arts and culture festival in Taksera, initiated by WUPAP and made possible with the strong support from Local Development Officer Bharat Sarma and the hard work of the indigenous community. The Prime Minister of Nepal, Sushil Koirala, inaugurated the festival on the auspicious occasion of New Year's Day 2072 under the Nepali calendar. It ran for five days, from 14 to 18 April.

    The festival's objective was to highlight indigenous peoples' traditional dance, food, dress and identity. It also aimed to expand domestic and international tourism, with an emphasis on rural tourism. In addition, the event was designed to build awareness about sustainable biodiversity and environmental conservation. For tourists, the organizers offered information about the most significant places to visit in the surrounding area.

    Among the VIPs at the festival – besides the Prime Minister – were five members of Parliament, local leaders, the chairs of the Janjati Federation and Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal, the Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, and representatives of district line agencies. The WUPAP Project Coordinator and Senior District Coordinator participated as well.

    Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala opens the festival in Rukum District. ©Budha Lojin
    More than 25,000 visitors attended the festival's opening. They saw performances of traditional music and dance, and browsed stalls of herbal medicines, aromatic products, foods, clothing and much more. WUPAP provided about one-fifth of direct funding for the festival, with the rest provided by government, business and development partners, as well as indigenous peoples' communities themselves.

    Women in stall selling traditional wares at the Taskera arts and culture festival. ©WUPAP

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    Written by Francesco Farnè

    Si sente parlare in maniera sempre più crescente di cibo, anche grazie alla grandissima copertura mediatica che questo argomento ha trovato in tutto il mondo. Basta pensare ai numerosi programmi di cucina che hanno contribuito a rendere gli chef, una volta relegati nel buio delle cucine, vere e proprie star. Per non parlare di vocaboli come “foodie” o “gourmet” che sono entrati prepotentemente nel nostro vocabolario.

    Quello di cui si sente parlare di meno, soprattutto in Italia, nonostante l’incombenza di Expo 2015, è il cambiamento climatico, che, per quanto sia in apparenza un concetto astratto e che tendiamo a collegare a catastrofi che avvengono in luoghi remoti, ci riguarda in realtà più di quanto crediamo.
    Vi starete forse chiedendo come questo si colleghi al cibo e agli chef. La risposta si può trovare risalendo la catena del cibo dalle nostre tavole fino ai piccoli agricoltori che producono circa due terzi del cibo che consumiamo a livello globale. Essi vivono principalmente nei paesi in via di sviluppo e il cambiamento climatico è una seria minaccia per loro.

    Tavola rotonda dell'IFAD durante l'intervento di Jacopo Monzini
    ©IFAD/Francesco Farnè
    Sabato scorso ho avuto l’opportunità di recarmi a Perugia con il team del Fondo Internazionale per lo Sviluppo Agricolo (IFAD) delle Nazioni Unite in occasione del Festival Internazionale del Giornalismo. L’IFAD ha organizzato “Ricette per il cambiamento: storie inedite di cibo e cambiamenti climatici”, una tavola rotonda che ha affrontato l’argomento. L’incontro ha riunito un esponente del mondo del giornalismo scientifico come Marco Cattaneo, National Geographic Italia, lo chef Lars Charas dell’Associazione Mondiale Cuochi, e Jacopo Monzini, Specialista Senior, Clima e Ambiente dell’IFAD. Mauro Buonocore del Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici (CMCC) ha moderato l’evento.

    Gli speaker sono stati capaci fin da subito di sviluppare un dialogo coinvolgente, in grado di valorizzare e congiungere esperienze tanto diverse. Questo sottolinea quanto i loro campi professionali siano strettamente interconnessi. E come tutto questo abbia un impatto sulla nostra vita di tutti i giorni – dopotutto consumiamo tre pasti al giorno.

    Mauro Buonocore (destra) e Jacopo Monzini (sinistra)
      ascoltano le domande dal pubbico
    ©IFAD/Francesco Farnè
    Sotto questa luce è molto facile evidenziare responsabilità dirette per ognuno di noi. Come ha sottolineato Jacopo Monzini, non possiamo considerare il cambiamento climatico come un’entità esterna, che gli scienziati devono risolvere. Questo è piuttosto la conseguenza diretta delle nostre piccole azioni quotidiane. Siamo responsabili quando scegliamo i prodotti alimentari che acquistiamo per le nostre diete, quando sprechiamo energia, quando lasciamo le finestre aperte col riscaldamento accesso. Le risorse naturali sono come un conto in banca, non possiamo permetterci di trascurarle.

    Qui entrano in gioco i giornalisti, ma anche gli chef, in quanto opinion leader in grado di influenzare le scelte dei consumatori e le loro diete, così connettendoli al mondo della produzione di cibo e quindi ai piccoli produttori. Un esempio molto pratico lo ha fornito Lars Charas, che ha condiviso la sua esperienza in Corea, dove a causa dell’abbondanza di meduse, conseguenza della pesca intensiva dei loro predatori naturali, ha spinto gli chef a introdurle nelle loro cucine, con ottimi risultati sulla sostenibilità e adattamento delle diete.

    Il compito dei giornalisti, come ha ampiamente evidenziato Marco Cattaneo durante il suo intervento, è quello di informare per rendere consapevoli i consumatori. Per far questo è necessario, soprattutto in Italia, andare verso una specializzazione dei giornalisti che si occupano di tematiche scientifiche come il cambiamento climatico, attraverso un alta formazione tecnica, ma anche deontologica. È necessario, inoltre, superare le divisioni politiche che caratterizzano il dibattito pubblico nel nostro paese così da potersi concentrare maggiormente sui contenuti.

    Pubblico durante il dibattito
    ©IFAD/Francesco Farnè
    Infine resta da affrontare la questione di come raccontare al grande pubblico questa tematica. La foto di un orso polare rimasto bloccato su una lastra di ghiaccio, come hanno concordato gli speaker, è stata utile per veicolare il messaggio, ma ha d’altra parte contribuito a far sentire il pubblico “dispiaciuto, ma non responsabile”. Si sente quindi il bisogno di nuove storie.

    In questo senso un’organizzazione come l’IFAD, attraverso la sua missione globale e la sua esperienza con i piccoli agricoltori, può contribuire positivamente alla diffusione di questo messaggio, dando anche un volto umano alle conseguenze del cambiamento climatico.

    Come ha concluso Monzini, c’è un collegamento anche fra i piccoli agricoltori e una delle tematiche più dibattute in Italia, la migrazione. Bisogna considerare che molti dei migranti che si trovano a dover lasciare le loro terre sono spesso piccoli agricoltori colpiti anche dal cambiamento climatico. Questo è solo uno dei tanti spunti e stimoli che sono emersi durante l’incontro che senza dubbio ha contribuito a portare alla luce ed aprire un dibattito pubblico su tematiche troppo spesso trascurate, ma che in tantissimi modi hanno impatti su ognuno noi.

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    Climate change is increasingly effecting agricultural and fishing communities in Djibouti. The Programme to Reduce Vulnerability to Climate Change and Poverty of Coastal Rural Communities (PRAREV), supported by IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) is working within the fishing industry of Djibouti, helping rural fisherman combat the effects of climate change, and adapt to a changing environment.

    IFAD’s Ilaria Firmian recently returned from a work trip to Djibouti. She has worked for seven years in IFAD as an Environment and Climate Knowledge Officer and previously  as a Technical Adviser on Environment and Natural Resources Management, supporting the mainstreaming of environmental and social issues at policy, programme and project levels.

    ©IFAD/Ilaria Firmian
    You've just returned from Djibouti, what was it you went there for?

    I was there for the launch of the IFAD programme PRAREV providing support to the technical session on climate change, as the project has a large co-financing from ASAPIt's in fact a blending of loan and climate funds, which has been instrumental to really tackle the problems of the Country and therefore provide services to the clients. Many partners were involved including the Red Cross Climate Centre that facilitated the use of climate games . The games were a very useful tool to show how decision making in relation to climate change is quite a difficult task and how this pays out in the fisheries sector, which is the main focus of the project.

    Were there any other agencies working with IFAD on this project?

    This project has many partnerships. With WFP (World FoodProgramme)-to deliver ‘food for work’ for local communities engaged in the rehabilitation of mangroves. With the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches Djiboutien (CERD) – which is a National Research Centre. Also with Direction de l’Aménagement du Territoire et de l’Environnement (DATE) within the Ministry of Environment. Finally we are also working with FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) - for the national fisheries plan.

    What are the main problems people are facing, and how is IFAD combatting them?

    There are a lot of climate change related problems in Djibouti, with drought issues being prevalent. There have been increases in storms and floods, yet drought is still the main problem. Drought affects the traditional Djibouti livelihood, pastoralism, which is becoming less viable as climate change worsens. The project looks at improving  and making fisheries more climate-resilient, which represents an alternative livelihood. Promoting this existing but relatively small and undeveloped sector is important as it is less susceptible to drought.

    ©IFAD/Ilaria Firmian

    How did IFAD decide where needed its help the most?

    During design, in order to target the most vulnerable areas, IFAD used the ''Coastal Hazard Wheel Methodology'' which identified large stretches of the coastline facing ecosystem disruption and others exposed to gradual inundation, salt water intrusion and erosion of the coast. Based on these results, the project is mainly taking actions to restore ecosystems e.g. coral reefs and mangrove areas. Mangroves are very important as they provide protection from storms and floods and, just like coral reefs,  they are also vital for fish stocks.

    What sort of work is IFAD engaging in to combat these issues?

    The project is working to build climate-resilient infrastructures and provide renewable energy equipment, ice plants, coolers/insulated containers etc. to the fishing communities.

    PRAREV looks at the entire fisheries value chain; from the production (protection of ecosystems that are breeding grounds for fish) through to credit provision for boats and other equipment.- The project is also partnering and strengthening the capacity of existing micro finance in Djibouti (CPEC Caisse d’épargne et de crédit) to better serve the target group and help establish a national viable and sustainable microfinance system in the long term.

    The project also plans to build  small infrastructure at harbours, this would include landing piers/jetties, cold rooms and market halls, which would help the fishermen with docking and transport of goods. Djibouti's main fish market is in Djibouti town but the project will also intervene in smaller villages along the coast, to improve local markets. The programme will also fund an ice factory and tricycles for fish distribution within the peri-urban areas to strengthen women retailers’ associations.

    A project component is related to capacity building, both at the community and government level. The idea is that through this project IFAD will influence the national policies and strategies, basically forcing more attention to the potential of fisheries in terms of  adaptation to climate change and exploring other avenues of income generation.

    Could you please tell us more about these other avenues?

    Some alternative industries such as algae production will be piloted as well. There are species of indigenous algae that can be used for livestock feeding or cosmetics. With fisheries  not being a traditional sector in Djibouti, the fishing industry is still very under-developed. For instance, they are not used to drying and salting fish, a classical way of fish preservation. So there will be actions to see if there is a market for such things as salted fish.


    What's next for the project in Djibouti?

    The project is very interesting  but also very new to the country. It is just starting up and so the next step is just to take the design and make it work, taking into account new challenges such as the flow of refugees from Yemen that unfortunately, goes beyond the PRAREV's control and may negatively impact on the project performance.

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    The second ''photo-film'' of a  two-part series, "The Ground Beneath Your Feet," launched this week during Global Soil Week, where the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development's (IFAD) is highlighting the importance of soil, whilst debating the latest science and technology as well as methods for preserving this vital natural resource. 

    In Lushoto, Tanzania, a cluster of ''climate-smart villages'' supported by  Climate Change and Food Security's (CCAFS) nestle in the stunning Eastern Arc Mountains, stretching between Tanzania and Kenya. The richly diverse landscape is a biodiversity hotspot with its sloping hillsides supporting a wide range of agricultural produce - from vegetables, beans, sugarcane and cassava to agroforestry.

    But this diversity of crops takes a toll on the soils in which they are grown. Sloping land is becoming exposed to increasing rainfall, which is washing precious top soil away. Without replacing nutrients in the soil, or better management of the  soils on the steep slopes, Lushoto’s diversity will likely disappear.

    Soil health is measured through indicators such as organic carbon. In Lushoto, carbon per kilogram of soil can vary massively between 15 and 150 grams within 10 kilometers. Designed originally by the 
    World Agroforestry Centre, the Land Degradation Surveillance Frameworkhas been updated and implemented globally by CIAT and regional partners, such as IFAD's Adaption for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), to map the landscape and show variability in dynamic soil properties.

    Using this framework, a biophysical baseline of key soil and land health information across the landscape can be mapped. It can show what crops can grow, where, and how well. By pinpointing what soil type farmers have on their farms, researchers can then advise farmers on inputs and management strategies to improve soil health and overall agricultural productivity.

    Scientists are now linking soil health data with household survey data on cropping diversity, perceptions of climate change, and gender. Together with socio-economic data, it allows them to better understand and address farming system constraints. Lab tests help further identify soil nutrient quantities such as nitrogen content, building up a rich map of the soil. 

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    On April 20th IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division (ECD) hosted its third Climate Cinema.

    Speaking about the films on show was Fabio Eboli, from the Euro Mediterranean Center on Climate Change and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM). And from IFAD's ECD division there was Stephen Twomlow, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for East and Southern Africa

    The first film shown was ''Well Beyond Water'' by Andy Ross, shot in Australia in 2014. This was a personal documentary filmed by English composer and musician Andy Ross who finds himself immersed in the unlikely world of Australian sheep farmers who are dealing with a prolonged and difficult drought. Contrary to his expectations he discovers an inspiring farmer who is finding ways to adapt to the challenging climate. The farmer raises questions about the meaning of drought and points to a need for cultural change and adaptive strategies.

    Next up was Shamba Shape Up. In 2014 IFAD was one of a number of partners in Kenya's most watched agriculture TV show. Airing on Citizen TV on weekends, it’s watched by over 13 million people in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Most viewers are farmers. This makeover-style programme aims to give farmers the tools they need to improve their productivity and income. The Shape-Up team visit a different farm each week, along with experts from partner organizations who specialize in the topics to be covered in the episode. In this episode, the Shamba Shape Up team build a ''flexi biogas'' unit on a farm.

    Lastly there was ''Modern Nature'', a film by Craig D Leon from Brazil. By the year 2050, 10 billion people may populate Earth. Do we need a genetic revolution to feed the world? Modern Nature takes the viewer on a non-narrated odyssey where viewers explore the challenges that mankind faces and whether organic or GMO is the answer. Filmed in Brazil, Ecuador, the US, St. Kitts and Nevis, Modern Nature is an award-winning documentary which includes perspectives from 5 continents, including MIT philosopher Noam Chomsky, Delhi-based environmentalist Vandana Shiva, and Los Angeles street farmer Ron Finley.

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    By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist - Gender and Social Inclusion, PTA

    Women swept the board at the awards ceremony for government staff participating in the IFAD-World Bank supported Smallholder Agriculture Development Project in Lesotho. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to attend this event during a recent joint IFAD-World Bank supervision mission.

    No less would be expected in Lesotho. The country has fully closed its gender gap in several areas and tops the global rankings on educational attainment, women’s employment as legislators, senior officials and managers, and as professional and technical workers (see
    World Economic Forum’s 2014 Global Gender Gap Report).  

    The event – the first of its kind in Lesotho – was organized by the project management unit to recognize outstanding contributions to the implementation of the Agricultural Investment Plans (AIPs). The plans represent a crucial entry point to reach the rural poor and women. Activities include the preparation and implementation of community natural resource management plans, capacity building and group-based investments in agricultural enterprises. 

    To date, 47 AIPs have been prepared, representing a total investment of USD 3,424,000, benefiting about 7000 households with 21,000 participants. During the mission we visited several AIP initiatives including women’s groups running poultry and greenhouse projects, and mixed groups planting trees, constructing livestock watering points and protecting wetlands.
    The project’s field officers are based in four districts and oversee the development and implementation of the AIPs. They work closely with a range of government staff who form the AIP team and service providers, including crops and livestock, irrigation, natural resources, marketing, extension, procurement and accounts.

    Lehlohonolo Mpholle, the component head, explained the idea behind introducing the awards: “After some initial teething troubles with this component, it is important to recognise the good work that is now being done at the farm level.” Accounting for just over half of the 44 nominees, women scooped 64 percent of the awards. And staff appreciated the awards as a recognition of their commitment and professional dedication.

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    By Mamadou Mohamed TOURE
    Responsable Suivi-Evaluation PAPAM/ASAP Mali

    How to use MPAT - infographic from IFAD.
    Au Kenya du 25 au 30 avril 2015, j’ai participé à la neuvième Conférence Internationale des Communautés Basée sur l’Adaptation aux Changement Climatique (CBA9). C’est une conférence qui rassemble  habituellement différentes organisations locales, nationales et internationales, ONG, des universités,  des centres de recherche et la société civile, pour partage d’expériences et t perspectives sur l’Adaptation des Communautés aux Changement Climatique (CBA). La Conference de cette année a été organisée par entre autres par l’International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) et le Gouvernement du Kenya et a eu lieu à Nairobi.

    Le Thème de cette année est le Suivi et Evaluation  de l’Adaptation Efficace, qui touche aux thèmes suivants :

    Suivi et apprentissage sur l'efficacité de l'adaptation à différentes échelles: des communautés aux niveaux sous-national, national et global ;
    Question de genre et groupes vulnérables ;
    Exploitation de la variabilité  climatique pour faciliter l'adaptation dans les zones arides ;

    Principes et options radicales d'adaptation - des questions pour en évaluer l'efficacité ;
    Suivi et mise à l'échelle des pratiques de l'agriculture intelligente face au climat visant à améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et l'adaptation ;

    Evaluation basée sur les écosystèmes pour l'adaptation efficace ;
    Evaluation des pertes et dommages ;
    Outils et techniques de mesure efficace pour l'adaptation et la résilience ;
    Les connaissances autochtones sur l’adaptation ,

    La conférence s’est déroulée à travers  des présentations des expériences en plénière et des  travaux de groupe. Le système de suivi-évaluation des gouvernements dans le processus de CBA a été largement discuté et les conclusions tirées sont axées sur l’importance de la bonne gouvernance, le renforcement des capacités et surtout la coordination des actions CBA dans les pays.

    Des bailleurs de fonds comme la  Banque Africaine de développement ont réitéré leur entière disponibilité d’appui financier en faveur de l’Adaptation aux Changement Climatique.
    Mr. Mamadou Mohamed Touré - Responsable Suivi-Evaluation
    PAPAM/ASAP Mali presenting MPAT at CBA 9
    ©IFAD/E. Morras Dimas

    Pendant cette conférence, Marie Chanoine du FIDA Rwanda et moi-même avons fait des exposés sur certaines initiatives du FIDA visant à mieux mesurer l'adaptation aux changements climatiques.

    Plus spécifiquement, j’ai présenté The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool – MPAT , littéralement traduit en français comme l’outil d’évaluation multidimensionnelle de la pauvreté. MPAT est une initiative qui a été mise au point par le personnel du FIDA afin de simplifier le défi complexe qui consiste à mesurer la pauvreté et l’impact des interventions visant à la réduire  au niveau des ménages et du village.

    MPAT a été aussi adapté pour mesurer les progrès accomplis sur la résilience  climatique dans des projets qui intègrent le financement climat. Avec cet objectif,, une  composante supplémentaire sur les changements climatiques et l'adaptation a été ajoutée à l'outil MPAT et a été  testée dans le premier trimestre de 2015 dans le cadre du  projet PAPAM / ASAP  au Mali.

    La mise en œuvre de l’enquête MPAT dans la zone d’intervention du volet ASAP du PAPAM s’est déroulée dans la période  début février à début Avril 2015. L’approche méthodologique a concerné  les étapes suivantes :

    • formation des formateurs au sein du PAPAM et celle des agents chargés  de la saisie des données ;
    • la formation des enquêteurs et des superviseurs d’enquêteurs ;
    • Le test des questionnaires sur terrain ;
    • l’échantillonnage ;
    • la collecte des données sur le terrain ;
    • la saisie des données ;
    • l’analyse des résultats et la production du rapport.

    Cette enquête s’est déroulée dans deux régions du Mali (Kayes et Sikasso), six cercles (Bougouni, Sikasso, Yanfoîla, Kita, Keniébaet Bafoulabé) et 17 communes.
    Sur la base des   résultats de l’application de MPAT au Mali, il est prévu de l’utiliser  dans d’autres  projets financés par le FIDA

    Des nombreux acteurs ont manifesté leur intérêt vers l’outil MPAT  et ont demandé le résumé des thèmes exposés, les posters du FIDA et le rapport final du MPAT Mali pour pouvoir le reproduire dans leurs pays respectifs, notamment au Rwanda et au Vietnam.

    Mon impression, est que cette Conférence Internationale ait réellement permis aux différents acteurs gouvernementaux et non gouvernementaux de partager leurs expériences en matière d’évaluation et l’amélioration efficace de l’Adaptation. La conférence a été une grande opportunité pour le FIDA de faire connaître d’avantage ses expertises et expériences en matière d’évaluation et d’amélioration de l’Adaptation aux Changement climatique.

    La prochaine conférence est prévue pour 2016 au Bangladesh et on imagine le FIDA y jouer encore une fois un  rôle important

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    By Marie Chanoine

    I have just returned from attending the 9th International Conference on Community- Based Adaptation (CBA9). It was attended by a broad range of stakeholders besides IFAD, such as; meteorological services, national natural resources management agencies, bilateral donors, international organizations, NGOs, and the private sector. It was a perfect opportunity to meet a diverse group of people all of whom are interested in adaptation initiatives.

    IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP)is supporting the Climate Resilient Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support (PASP) project in Rwanda . The CBA9 conference was a great prospect for PASP to be involved in, allowing us to learn more on effective adaptation initiatives that can be replicated in Rwanda. Throughout the sessions, researchers and development practitioners stressed the importance of capacity building, mainstreaming adaptation measures into national policies, involving the private sector and understanding the local context (challenges and opportunities) for tailoring a project that responds to communities’ needs.

    However, I was quite surprised to see that most of the presented CBA’s initiatives focused on crop productivity and livestock while little attention is given to post-harvest losses.  Therefore, the presentation of our poster on Post-harvest and agribusiness in the PASP project was extremely appropriate to the CBA 9 theme “Measuring and Enhancing effective adaptation”.  Indeed, PASP is an ‘avant-garde’project that enhances local capacity by supporting five main commodities, from harvest to markets. It is enabling smallholder access to financial resources for investing in post-harvest climate–resilient technologies (e.g. solar dryers or cooling systems). PASP also corresponds to the existing national policy and sectorial strategies and supports national climate change adaptation priorities. Post-harvest loss causes are not limited to pests, pathogens, spoilage and damages but also by a lack of suitable storage structure and an absence of management technologies and practices. Moreover, these losses are exacerbated by climate variability and climate change effects. That is the reason why there is a tremendous need to develop and strengthen adaptation opportunities for smallholder farmers.

    How M&E is so critical for enhancing adaptation?

    In the case of the PASP project in Rwanda, ASAP funds will facilitate a better understanding of how current and future agro-meteorological conditions influences harvest and post-harvest activities and estimate current losses and critical stages of the value chain. As a result, these activities will thus ensure that rural infrastructures and related investments are resilient to the changing climatic patterns.

    PASP have only just begun to tackle these issues, however the determination of the project staff will ensure their success.

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    By Estibalitz Morras (IFAD) and Catherine Mungai (CCFAS)

    We have just returned from Nairobi, where we attended the 9th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA9). IFAD co-facilitated one session on Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) to achieve food security, increase resilience and enhance community based adaptation globally.

    ©IFAD/Estibalitz Morras

    CSA is an approach that supports the more efficient use of resources; with less food losses and promotes a shifts towards more resilient smallholder farming systems. It links a scientific approach with traditional knowledge in order to create a sustainable food-secure population and enhance local capacity to adapt to climate change. CSA also has the potential to address some of the mistakes and shortcomings of conventional social and economic development that have contributed to social inequality, poverty and environmental degradation.

    “CSA is often linked to new technologies that deliver an immediate boost to productivity or instantly show adaptation benefits – however this idea often bypasses smallholders, or has only short-term benefits,” said  Chris Henderson from Practical Action. “This is why we need to ensure CSA is relevant to Community Based Adaptation (CBA), especially to marginalized and smallholder farmers.”

    In that regard, the technologies and approaches need to be: i) accessible; ii) sustainably used and iii) innovative, building on the wealth of local, traditional and indigenous knowledge and experience. Practical Action believes in helping small-scale farmers through technology to enable poor communities to build on their skills and knowledge to produce sustainable and practical solutions.

    Integrating Local and Indigenous Knowledge

    Based on his experience working in the Mekong Delta, through the Project for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Mekong Delta (AMD), Pham Vu Bang (IFAD Vietnam) called for the recognition and respect of local knowledge and involvement of community members in planning.This is the approach applied in the ADM projects supported by the  Adaptation for Smallholder Programme (ASAP) of IFAD.

    ©IFAD/Ilaria Firmian

    Bang made the point that; to enhance the resilience capacity of rural poor communities, it is agreed that we should let vulnerable groups and communities decide the best way for them to cope with the impact of climate change. New technologies is certainly a part of the solution, but should link to indigenous knowledge and farming systems to promote biodiversity and culture.

    The importance of incorporating local knowledge into CSA was further elaborated by John Mbaria from Kenya’s Nation Media Group  who recommended the documentation and sharing of such knowledge and the integration of traditional norms and practices into local government and national policy processes.

    Lucia Zigiriza works in the ASAP-supported project  Post-Harvest and Agribusiness Support Project (PASP)” in Rwanda. She said that communities in Rwanda are involved in the planning and monitoring of land restoration, which feeds in to the National Strategy on Climate Change. Farmers are organized in cooperatives which monitor and share information. The project distributes climate information services to farmers such as weather forecasts.  PASP is also going to provide climate resilient storage facilities. Additionally the project creates access to solar driers, biogas fueled grain driers, and hermetic storage bags.

    Monitoring and Up-scaling CSA

    Monitoring CSA should not be about the rate or success of technology transfer – e.g. the uptake of new ‘adapted’ or ‘improved’ varieties. It should be about measuring the capacity of farmers and communities to identify, develop and use different agricultural practices.

    Vijayasankaran from Samaj Pragati Sahayog in India pointed out that CSA is a holistic approach that requires multi-pronged investment and a multi-disciplinary approach towards participatory research. Water is the key to enhancing resilience of production systems to climate variability and climate change. Hence, public investment in water, especially low-cost solutions which could be taken up by smallholder farmers, lies at the core of CSA. While the role of private sector investments need to be emphasised, we need to recognise that scaling up of small, scattered initiatives on CSA is not possible without incorporating these into national government programmes with substantial investments sustained over a period of time.  

    As a way forward, participants called for the up-scaling of successful climate-smart practices and services. This will entail a careful assessment of the barriers to the uptake of these practices by local vulnerable communities. Also, as mentioned by Caitlin Corner-Dolloff from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)governments, with support from non-governmental organizations, international agencies and research institutions, need to establish enabling environments, including incentives, to support community based adaptation through climate-smart agriculture. The pitfalls of existing programmes for food security and climate change resilience could be addressed by recognizing the vital role of CSA in ensuring access to and sustainable use of innovative solutions by smallholder farmers.  

    For more information please see CBA9 session interview: James Kinyangi:

    The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the panellists from the Session 11 of the 9th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation (CBA9).

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  • 05/07/15--05:42: Farms without farmers?
  • Written by Caroline Mwongera, Postdoctoral Scientist in the Soils Research Area, CIAT.

    Originally posted here

    The next generation of smallholder farms in Africa may have no one left to run them.

    A visit by a team from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in the Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya and Adjumani districts of Northern Uganda – a region that was embroiled in more than 20 years of civil war waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army – presents an alarming scenario for the years ahead.  Here we meet more than 158 farmers and are struck by the sentiments of the older farmers.

    In the Gulu, Kitgum, Nwoya and Adjumani districts of
    Northern Uganda the average age of farmers is 45.
    Credit: Stephanie Malyon / CIAT

    Young people are turning away from agriculture to drive
    motorcycle taxis. Credit: Stephanie Malyon / CIAT 
    “The youth are not interested in farming. They prefer migrating to urban centers to look for off-farm work and engage in petty trade, mainly operating boda-boda,” said one man, who has been farming all his life. Boda-boda is a term that is commonly used in East Africa to refer to motorcycle taxis.

    Separate interviews with a team of 24 local agricultural experts reveal that the average age of farmers is 45 and young people between 18 and 30 are disconnected from the farm and realities of agricultural production. For this particular region, it has negative impacts on post-conflict recovery, given the role of youth in rural community continuity and agriculture.

    Another visit to Bagamoyo, Kilolo, Kilosa and Mbarali districts within the region known as the South Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), confirms this story line. We speak to a group of 40 youths, who tell us that lack of social infrastructure and amenities lures them away from the villages.

    Saidi, a 25-year-old man, explains the pull of urban life.

    “Look at the life we are living here. We have been left behind by our peers in the cities. Life there is so much more glamorous and advanced. I would rather be struggling in the city with good paved roads, piped water and electricity.”

    Africa already faces daunting challenges in achieving food security, and these are expected to increase with the rapid surge in population. But food security cannot be achieved unless the problem of a young population less interested in agriculture is addressed by policy-makers.

    Can the entrepreneurial spirit of young people be
     harnessed to encourage them to turn to agriculture?
    Credit: Georgina Smith / CIAT
    This worrying trend is being seen across the continent. The latest Montpellier panel briefing paper Small and Growing: Entrepreneurship in African Agriculture reports on the disengagement of young people from agriculture, a sector that is often seen as outdated, unprofitable and plain hard work.

    Africa’s transformation can be realised by harnessing and enabling the entrepreneurial spirit and skills of smallholder farmers, young people and women in the rural economy, according to Agriculture for Impact.

    The CIAT projectIncreasing food security and farming system resilience in East Africa through wide-scale adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices, funded by IFAD, is promoting awareness and use of appropriate climate smart technologies in the above regions. Through demonstration trials, the project trains smallholder farmers, young people and women in particular in using site-specific climate smart technologies that will improve their farm productivity and income, with enhanced resilience to climate change, and reduction of greenhouse gases.

    Young people taking up climate smart agriculture farming will no longer be able to complain of feeling left behind.

    The UN has declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils to raise awareness of the urgent need to protect the resource that feeds and waters us. Find out how CIATs global soils research team of soil scientists, ecologists and anthropologists are working with partners to protect and restore this vital resource.

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    In Kenya, IFAD has matched an innovative new technology with an innovative new multimedia campaign. In order to raise awareness of new Flexi Biogas systems, IFAD teamed up with Emmy Award-winning Kenyan-based communication agency Well Told Story to reach young people and their families through comic strips, radio, and social media.

    The partnership was made possible by IFAD's Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation, funded by the UK Department of International Development, as part of a larger project called Making Biogas Portable: Renewable Technologies for a Greener Future. Flexi Biogas is a cheap alternative to traditional fixed-dome production systems, which gives more people access to biogas – a  clean, renewable energy made from organic household waste.

    In order to increase the project's reach, IFAD wanted to find a way to share information about the advantages of Flexi Biogas and fight the stigma biogas sometimes faces. IFAD consultant Silvia Sperandini reached out to Well Told Story, whose work she first encountered at the 2010 Agknowledge Africa Share Fair. She was fascinated by Well Told Story's multimedia approach and wanted to incorporate it into an IFAD-funded project.

    "We wanted to bring it to IFAD and pilot its impact on our development interventions because no one was working on this at a project level," Sperandini explained.

    With their comics, radio shows, and social media presence, Well Told Story reaches millions of young Kenyans each month – a huge potential audience for IFAD's message. Sperandini designed this km/communication component  and it was managed by the coordinator of the Making Biogas Portable project, Karan Sehgal under the overall supervision of Antonio Rota, Senior Lead Specialist - Livestock.

    Well Told Story worked to create a multimedia campaign highlighting the benefits of biogas in order to contribute to its adoption. By the end of the partnership, Well Told Story distributed 1.95 million comic books, aired three radio programmes on 26 FM stations, and hosted discussions on six social media pages receiving more than 80,000 views per month. Additionally, Well Told Story designed and printed hundreds of posters for display in local schools.

    Well Told Story's programmes are immensely popular with young people, and the campaign generated substantial interest, as measured by the volume of texts sent to Well Told Story requesting more information. Yet the campaign did not immediately lead to increased sales of Flexi Biogas.

    For Sehgal, however, that's ok. In his words, the goal of the campaign was  "to set the scene for the future." It can be tough to break tradition, he noted, and traditional fuel subsidies can make renewable energies like biogas less competitive. But with Well Told Story's campaign promoting both the practical and environmental benefits of biogas, young Kenyans may be more willing to adopt Flexi Biogas systems or support other clean energies in the future.

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    Written by Maria Hartl, Senior Technical Specialist - Gender and Social Equity at IFAD

    EXPO 2015: Si parla di donne

    What is the link between food security, gender equality and microfinance? Participants at the EXPO Milan workshop on “Gender, food security & microfinance“, organized by the Fondazioni Pangea Onlus and Un Raggio di Luce Onlus, explored this topic on 13 May 2015. It was the first of a series of five seminars on “Finance for food”, sponsored by the Rete Italiana di Microfinanza RITMI and the Italian Sustainable Investment Forum (FFS). The aim is to identify and highlight the best practices in financing food security and sustainable agriculture, both at national and international level.

    Panellists at the Finance for Food seminar at Expo 2015.

    In her opening remarks, Simona Lanzoni, PANGEA’s Vice-President and the moderator of the workshop, emphasized the women - food security nexus. She highlighted the importance of appropriate and context-specific ways to deliver micro-finance services to women so that they can contribute to the food security of poor families. To do so they need to be part of multiple interventions that complement each other.

    “Is there a social dimension to food security?” Sabrina Aguiari (Tulane University Food Security Summer Studies) demonstrated how the concept of food security has evolved over time, from the World Food Summit 1971 to subsequent food summits in 1996, 2002 and 2009. She dwelt in particular on the four dimensions of food and nutrition security - availability, accessibility, utilization and stability. She also underlined the shift from a focus on the household level to the individual, which helped to highlight the gender differences.

    Touching also on the right to food and the debate about food sovereignty, Aguiari emphasized the importance of a feminist perspective, in particular when considering women’s invisible and un-counted work in the care economy and in food production. In her view, women’s access to micro-finance should be seen in the context of the four dimensions of food and nutrition security. Each dimension required different financial inputs and services.

    “Can women have access to productive resources to ensure food security?” That was the opening question of microfinance expert Smita Premchander who shared good practices and challenges from Sampark, a project in Koppal district, North Karnataka (India) of which she is the General Secretary. Formal and informal groups as well as individuals started income-generating programmes, established enterprises, and carried out other gender related activities, with the support of Fondazioni Pangea Onlus.

    Women in 35 villages organized into 160 Self Help Groups (SHGs) and engaged in savings and credit activities. By regrouping 15-20 SHGs into cluster associations, they started to play an important role in designing credit systems, monitoring groups, auditing groups annually and implementing enterprise development activities. Women also registered as cooperatives. Premchander underlined the importance of savings, which enable women not only to hand out small credits to each other but also to take bigger credits on behalf of the clusters and then pass them on to members.

    Paola Ciardi, International Consultant and Nepal Country Coordinator for Fondazione Un Raggio di Luce Onlus, reported about a project in Jumla (Nepal) with a focus on microfinance, agricultural development, food security and women’s empowerment. At the request of the community, the project trained female health facilitators, built water mills and restored drinking water systems, to lighten women’s workload.

    In 2015, a special micro-credit fund for women was introduced. It includes a clause that requires husbands to sign a contract and agree to support women’s greater participation in decision-making. The project also trained 33 community gender facilitators (women and men) who monitor the project and have made commitments to promote gender equality.

    Participants at the Finance for Food seminar at Expo 2015.

    In my presentation on rural microfinance and food security, I spoke about IFAD's experiences in empowering rural women through improved access to financial products (savings, loans, insurance, remittances transfers) and improved food security. Women make up a massive 72 per cent of the 19.1 million voluntary savers in IFAD-supported operations. My main message was that access to financial services must be linked to wider sustainable development processes including access to markets, value chain development, gender equality, strengthened local economies and political stability.

    Overall, the expansion of microfinance since the 1990s has significantly increased women’s access to loans and savings, not only contributing to poverty reduction and financial sustainability, but also to a series of ‘virtuous spirals’.

    First, increasing women’s access to microfinance services can lead to their economic empowerment enabling them to access significant amounts of money in their own right for the first time. Second, increasing women’s access to microfinance can increase household wellbeing (health, education, happiness). Even where women are not directly engaged in income earning activities, channeling credit or savings options to households through women may enable them to play a more active role in decision-making at household level. Third, a combination of women's increased economic activity and increased decision-making in the household can lead to wider social and political empowerment and gender equality.

    Rural finance is key for agricultural production and food security, thus improving income, household food consumption and health. Women are important actors in agricultural production and food processing and preparation. Nutrition-sensitive agricultural programmes can channel investments into women-specific activities that have a direct impact on food and nutrition security and generate income at same time. These can include small ruminants, fishponds and aquaculture, horticulture and kitchen gardens and forestry products, just to name a few.

    In the lively debate that followed the presentations, a number of important questions were raised:

    • Why is financial literacy so important? Financial literacy is more than reading and basic maths. And it’s more than learning about financial products, interest rates and the importance of paying back on time. It is about managing one’s resources, having a vision on where to go and which goals to reach. That’s why the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) is an excellent tool to enable beneficiaries, who often are illiterate, to draw up a vision, set a trajectory and to take one step at a time. 
    • How can we reach the very poor and most vulnerable? The Sampark project particularly targeted the poorest women who also have the least capacity to be able to give free time. Therefore, such programmes call for a lot of investments, by NGOs and donors, in terms of trainings and capacity building. At the same time, when resources are scarce, they also call for sacrifices from the women themselves. This means that such programmes need to be long term and well funded, and therefore can be only limited in scale. Matching funds and guarantee schemes are additional means to ensure inclusion of the poor, but always should be accompanied by training and mentoring. 
    • Why is women’s empowerment such a long process? In the case of Sampark it took 5-10 years to reach some levels of empowerment, which are different for every woman. The ‘virtuous spirals’ of women and microfinance demonstrate how long it can take to change mentalities and perceptions – of the women themselves, of men, be they husbands, fathers or brothers; of mothers-in law and other relatives who have a say on women’s mobility and actions; of religious and political leaders; and in case of rural finance, of policy makers and stakeholders in public and private sector. 
    • Why is the link to food security and nutrition so important? Women farmers and smallholders play a key role in agricultural production through their work on the farm, in the field or in the kitchen gardens. Women are also involved in food storage, processing and preparation. Access to credit or saving schemes, combined with training, can enable women to improve their skills in all sectors related to farming and food processing. Ultimately the greater availability of nutritious food ─ not only staples such as rice, but also vegetables and protein ─ combined with women’s improved knowledge about diets and food preparation will ensure greater food security, better nutrition of the family and reduce child malnutrition. 
    Expo Milano.

    Now to the EXPO. The workshop was held at the Cascina Triulza, a building on the EXPO site which was renovated and especially designed for use by civil society organizations. It took some hurdles to reach it. Although the EXPO had opened 13 days earlier, we were the first customers for our taxi driver to ask for this destination and he promptly left us at the back entrance. The long walk to Cascina Triulza enabled us to have encounters with huge crowds of school children and visitors and provided a good glimpse of many beautiful national pavilions along the way.

    There were some challenges. Only a small group, most of them connected to the organizers, had gathered. Some EXPO visitors and school children ventured from time to time into the conference room, listened for a while and left again. Through the open windows, we could hear the truffle sellers go about their business and workers doing last minute work with their drills.

    In conclusion, it was a pity that the event was not more widely publicized and covered by livestreaming in order to attract a larger audience. Ordinary EXPO visitors seem to have other priorities. Who would pay 36 Euros for a day pass and then sit 3 hours in a workshop when there is so much to see outside, the stunning national pavilions, the enticing food stands, the colorful videos and demonstrations? How many people would venture out from the centre of Milan, spend 30 minutes on subway and walk another 30 minutes to attend a workshop, even when in possession of a free ticket? To attract EXPO visitors, on site events need to be designed differently - short, with infographics or videos, demonstrations or simulation games.

    For my part, I will definitely go back and visit the EXPO … at leisure!

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    The African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) and International Fund for Agricultural Development’s (IFAD) grant project the Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP) in East and Soutehrn Africa (ESA) wish to announce their joint Regional Rural and Agricultural Finance Thematic conference on the theme: regional experiences on knowledge sharing and networking in rural and agricultural financing”, to be held in Harare, Zimbabwe on 10-12 June 2015. The hosts of the conference include; the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, CBZ Holdings Ltd. and AgriBank Zimbabwe.

    The conference will bring together approximately 200 participants from IFAD-funded projects in ESA and West and Central Africa (WCA), AFRACA member institutions, Development partners, Agricultural Investors, regional knowledge networks, farmer organizations, and other stakeholders within and outside the continent on a platform to reflect on knowledge management practice in the rural and agricultural finance field in the last 10 years.

    The conference will focus on how knowledge sharing and networking has contributed to the development of appropriate, scalable, and sustainable rural finance systems in Africa that are needed to secure food security, improve rural livelihoods, and achieve economic growth.  It will explore the extent to which new knowledge and lessons from the new successes in rural finance are disseminated, transferred, and deployed in advancing rural finance. 

    Furthermore, it will look at the various knowledge sharing and networking models/initiatives implemented by IFAD and other partners, and what role they have played in contributing to the rural finance in the region. An important focus will also be on what challenges, lessons, and best practices has emerged oover the years in as far as knowledge sharing and networking is concerned; and how KM practice can be furhter strenghtened for the benefit of development. 
    KMP is a 10 year old project financed by IFAD. It is designed to simultenously tap inot and build its intellectual capital in advancing the field of rural finance. The partnership brings together collaboration and synergies that exists between various institutions involved in the promtion of rural finance in Africa. these include; IFAD suported programmes in ESA and West and Central Africa (WCA), AFRACA, AGRA, FAO, GIZ, CGAP and IFAD itself. This partnsership has since been institutionalised in ESA.
    The KMP grant whose Phase III comes to a close in 2015, will be sharing its 10 years of experience in the promotion of rural finance in ESA. It is expected that the inputs from this conference will be used to define a new vision and strategy for KMP's Scale-Up Phase.  
    You can make confirmation to participate in the conference online on our website

    We look forward to meeting you in Harare Zimbabwe in 10-12 June 2015. 

    Miriam Cherogony
    KMP Coordinator 

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