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    By Andrea Listanti

    Young participants
    Photo credit: Francesca Borgia
    On the first two days at Terra Madre Youth we made connections, we got inspired, shared knowledge and learnt from each other. The underlying theme of the third day was to put to practice our ideas. IFAD had co-organized an event focusing on young entrepreneurship and agriculture in the Superstudio Piùpurple room.

    The purpose of the event was to discuss the global challenge of feeding the world, in an era when we are faced with an increasing decline of young people's willingness to stay or start working in agriculture. We were challenged to present innovative ideas to encourage youth to return to the land and to transform rural areas.

    The speakers were young entrepreneurs, who have benefitted from IFAD-PROCASUR projects in Africa, Latin America and Asia. They presented their experience on how they had engaged in agriculture and encouraged others to follow their lead. The interactive session provided the opportunity for the audience to ask questions, share their ideas and put proposals on the table.

    Pape Samb
    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    Pape Samb, the chairperson of Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN), one of IFAD's partners, told the audience that GYIN  brings together governments, private sector and non-profit organizations to create an environment to support youth in development. 

    “Young people who decide to devote their lives to agriculture must be put in the condition of becoming entrepreneurs. They need knowledge and capital to start their businesses”, Samb said.

    A participant from Zimbabwe asked Samb this thought-provoking question: "Considering that accessing the GYIN’s online platform is essential for building capacity and in many rural areas few of us have access to the internet, how can we ensure that everybody is able to get this opportunity?"

    In answering, Samb stressed the importance of the horizontal support. “While we wait for effective infrastructure to be built in rural areas, those who have access to the internet can act as facilitators for those who do not. Moreover, the people in the city can set up a mentoring programme for their brothers and sisters living rural areas and in doing so, they can also build their capacity.”

    The moving and profound stories of rural young people who had managed to create a business for themselves and their communities underscored the importance of support and the role of donors such as IFAD in transforming rural areas and making them attractive.

    The young speakers
    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    Dhruba, from Nepal, spoke about the role of PROCASUR in the horizontal knowledge-sharing between farmers. “To build our capacity we don’t need to hire experts, because PROCASUR facilitates the horizontal exchange of know-how. It creates a knowledge base to be shared with the community, which meets our needs. Then it gathers different people from different villages to share the information. This innovative approach has led to good results. For example, in Cambodia farmers used to sow the seeds directly to the land. These farmers benefitted from a learning route and learnt from other fellow farmers in the region how to improve the sowing process by using more sophisticated tools”.

    Then it was the turn of Ambroise, from Benin. “I decided to work in the agriculture sector when I read the 2010 IFAD annual report, which said that Africa had doubled its agricultural production. I want to feed my country and Africa and I know to do so I have to address many challenges. For example, we need to learn when to sow seeds so that we have a good harvest. We need to know where to buy our seeds, how and when to use fertilizers, where and how to get access to credit." 

    "Receiving seeds when it's too late does not make us good farmers. At the same time not having the appropriate equipment, also does not make us good farmers", says Ambroise. "We got a tractor for a three-year test period, and during this time we managed to partner with the organization who provided us with it, this way the grant was renewed for another six years”, Ambroise said, and he proudly showed us a picture of his wonderful tractor.

    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    The moderator, Darlene a young lady from Cameroon, was also inspiring and engaging. Her way of encouraging the audience to interact was very powerful. She too shared her story. “I was studying engineering, when I decided to become a farmer. My parents thought I was crazy, and didn’t want me to pursue my vocation. So I graduated and started working. When I had saved enough money I resigned and I started my own rural enterprise. Some years after, when my parents saw the pictures of my farm, they told me ‘ask us anything you want!’".

    "I was invited to speak on national TV, where I showed pictures of my field. Immediately afterwards many people contacted me and told to me ‘wow, this works! I didn’t believe agriculture could be so cool!’. If we want the youth to work in agriculture, we have to bring agriculture to the them and raise awareness about the marvels of this sector", says Darlene.

    Speakers and participants
    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    The fourth testimonial was Blanca, from Peru. She spoke about access to credit for rural youth. “I started working with 14 other young companions, but initially we didn’t have enough resources to invest in our project. Fortunately my mother gave us the land where we built our farm, using the tools provided by PROCASUR. IFAD helped us obtaining access to credit. Thanks to IFAD and PROCASUR we are helping rural youth realizing their dreams”.

    After the workshop, Blanca told us she was so happy to have attended Terra Madre Youth event, and she was looking forward to participating in other Slow Food-organised events.

    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    Last but not the least, we heard Zoeliarimalala's story who comes from Madagascar. “My island is famous for its livestock. I milk my cows, and my dream has always been to produce and sell yogurt. When I started I didn’t have access to electricity nor to the internet. I began my activity by going door to door and selling them my yogurt. After two months I started selling my products in other cities and villages. But artisanal yogurts are sold everywhere in Madagascar, so there is a lot of competition among producers. I knew that if I wanted to succeed, my product needed to be different", says a proud Zoeliarimalala.  

    "I was lucky to meet a young producer of Moringa - a tropical plant. We decided to cooperate and create an innovative product that maintained the characteristics of yogurt and added the high nutritional value of Moringa. Now we are feeding two elementary schools and two middle schools. Our yogurt and Moringa is healthy and cheap and has contributed to increase food security and nutrition for the boys and girls of these schools".

    Zoeliarimalala’s story was truly emotional. It was incredible to see how a tiny girl could be so strong and determined. Listening to her, as well as to others, was a unique experience. We really got to understand what are the best practices to develop innovative ideas around food production.

    Utterly inspired, on our final day, we'll be taking all of this to the Expo. 

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    By Andrea Listanti

    Youth power
    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    At Terra Madre Youth, we spent three days learning about agriculture and food production, listening to stories from rural people from all around the world, and sharing our thoughts with each other. On the fourth and final day, we brought our energy and our passion to Expo. Expo 2015 with the theme of "Feeding the world, energy for life" was the perfect venue to spread the word on food and agriculture. As youth, we feel responsible to advocate for a change. Our message was that a new, sustainable global food production system is possible and we need to work on it together.

    In the spare minutes before the wrap-up meeting in the Auditorium, we took the opportunity to visit the Holy See pavilion. We entered a quite small and solemn square room, with images and videos on the walls and a long rectangular table in the middle. Pictures from different parts of the world showed the devastating impact of hunger, malnutrition and food waste. These pictures made a tremendous impression and made us reflect on the contradictions and inequalities of our world.

    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    Scenes of everyday life came to life when people got close to the rectangular table. A lady explained to us that the table would have lost its meaning without people. This was a profound message, as a table is where families come together to eat, it is a place where people come together to meet and interact with each other. We thought of the importance of food in this process, remembering when we had shared our lunch with our companions on the first day around a table, and we realized that if every pavilion had been like the one we were visiting, Expo would have been an even better experience.

    At the wrap-up meeting, Carlo Petrini addressing the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Paolo Gentiloni said: “you have come to the United Nations of young farmers”. Then he gave us a fascinating explanation of the word “sustainability”: “it derives from ‘sustain’, which is actually one of the pedals of the piano. If you push it with your foot while playing, the sound lasts more. We want Slow Food’s activity to be long-lasting, and we want you to do better than the founders”. At the end of his speech, Petrini endorsed Alice Waters’ proposal to organize the first ever Terra Madre event in the United States, and announced the next Indigenous Terra Madre for 3-7 November 2015 in India.

    Gentiloni was the last to take the floor. “The message of feeding the planet is extraordinarily political”, he said, and he underlined the connection between Terra Madre Youth and the COP21 Climate Conference which will be taking place in Paris in December 2015. “There’s a fil rouge linking these two events: the way we are going to feed the planet in the future depends on the way we will tackle challenges poses to agriculture”. In listening to his words, we hope that governments will also take into account the message we were trying to convey.

    Photo credit: Andrea Listanti
    At the end of the meeting, Joris Lohman, chief of the Slow Food Youth Network, led the final march. United, we "invaded" Expo grounds! We walked down the “decumano”, singing and showing our posters. And must say we felt very powerful, we thorough enjoyed the surprised look of Expo visitors.

    For many of us, being on the frontline for four days as IFAD young delegates was the best training we could have received, and we hope that IFAD  will continue to create opportunities for the young people to be more and more involved in these kind of activities in the future.

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    ROUTASIA is back in Nepal for new Learning Routes

    Partnership of the Nepal Agricultural Cooperative Central Federation, Small Farmers Cooperatives, IFAD and Procasur

    After an unfortunate hiatus due to the devastating earthquake, ROUTASIA returns to Nepal to move forward on the successful journey in partnership with NACCFL and the Small Farmers Cooperatives. The purpose of last week’s visit was to agree on the particulars of two new Learning Routes in Nepal, involving the country’s Eastern and Central regions.

    Despite rural poverty, earthquakes and political unrest, farmers in Nepal are cheerful, optimistic   

       and more dedicated than ever to work together in finding solutions for the common challenges.

    The meetings took place at NACCFL’s headquarters, in a pleasant residential area on the hills of Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, where 20 professionals gathered to discuss actions in preparation of the Learning Routes. Local Champions, replicators, cooperative managers and leaders came from Nepal’s Eastern and Central regions to meet with NACCFL’s leadership and a small team from Procasur to answer the first questions:

    Where to find strong themes for the Learning Routes?

    And how to select the Local Champions who share their solutions with specific target groups?

    Through an interactive exercise to try and sell local knowledge, the Eastern and Central regions mapped their strong points and evaluated each other’s proposals. 

    The strongest point of the SFACL Maharanijhoda, as everyone agreed, is the cooperative farming model, the first of its kind in Nepal, which already aroused the interest of the Nepali government for replication. The cooperative farming model targets lowland farmers where land pooling is possible.
    CENTRAL REGION’S PROPOSAL FOR LEARNING ROUTES (SFACL Hadikhola and Manahari)The Small Farmer Agricultural Cooperatives of Hadikhola and Manahari are both women led and chaired by young ladies. In Hadikhola, out of the cooperative’s 2100 members only 6 are male. But this alone does not make them unique in Nepal, where many cooperatives are women based. Their strongest points include integrated farming, lift irrigation, and the only social theme for indigenous groups, the cooperative involvement of the almost extinct Bankariya people. 

    Poster at NACCFL headquarters 
    showing cooperative organization structure.
    NACCFL’s three-tiered cooperative organization structure starts with the Small Farmer groups, featured on the top of the tree. Through their Village Councils (white circles), they each send one representative to an inter-group at ward level (red circles). In average, 9 wards make up a Village Development Committee (VDC, blue circle), where the wards send elected leaders to form a Cooperative Board. Since VDCs in Nepal have been gradually merging, VDC level cooperatives boast thousands of members who benefit from financial and non-financial assistance, livestock insurance, infrastructural development and women empowerment.

    “We are planning two Learning Routes, one on national level and a second one for international participants”, said Mr. Trijan Singh, Assistant Programme Manager at NACCFL. “In these parts, innovations and solutions are poorly documented and not recognized”, he said while welcoming the systematic approach of Procasur’s Learning Route methodology.

    In his rundown on the Learning Routes, Mr. Ariel Halpern, Vice-President of Procasur emphasized the recognition and access of farmers’ innovations.

     “Only 5-15% of the farmers have access to innovations and technical assistance services worldwide. But the farmers’ knowledge is available, affordable and accessible for others.”

    As an outstanding example from Latin-America, where Procasur’s Learning Routes first initiated, Mr. Halpern cited the government of Peru, which adopted a new policy for farmer-to-farmer training, and Local Champions are now recognized as service providers. 

    There is a problem worldwide with innovations being too far and widely spaced, and there is little investment in research and documentation of innovations that farmers own. To address this problem, “we need to work with Local Champions to find and promote local solutions for their wider outreach”, said Mr. Halpern.

    Q: “While the investments in Learning Routes are obvious, regarding time, effort, commitment and travel, but what are the benefits?” A: “On cooperative level, financial benefits include payment for case studies, for replication and for trainings. This is also a solution for documentation and valorization of the knowledge.
    There are also numerous technical benefits in knowledge management and identification of innovations, best practices and Local Champions as owners. The programme ultimately provides trained professionals for replication and dissemination. Also, NACCFL will be part of an international network that shares information.”

    Following an earlier Learning Route in Nepal’s northwestern region, the impact of ROUTASIA’s learning method is beyond doubt. “In 2 years we registered massive changes in Kapilvastu District, largely thanks to the comfort the farmers found in peer-to-peer learning”, explained Mr. Dhruba Regmi, Procasur’s focal point in Nepal, who worked more than 7 years with small farmer cooperatives in Nepal. “Most cooperatives are invisible, and Learning Routes offer a lot of opportunities for exposing themselves, for learning and for replication.”

    Learning Route to Rayale VDC Leasehold Forest User Groups cluster in February, 2013

    PROFILESmall Farmer Agriculture Cooperative, Maharanijhoda VDC, Jhapa District
    Eastern Region This women-only cooperative was established in 1999 within the NACCFL network, and now provides financial and non-financial services to its 1531 female members. They have been involved in a variety of agribusiness activities, such as integrated farming, seed production, milk production and marketing. The cooperatives innovative integrated farming involves 49 households who benefit from good irrigation, mechanization, collective marketing and improved production.  “We started with many types of crops and merging fragmented lands. Through the innovations we achieved higher profit and lower costs. Our cooperative just opened a seed processing center which creates higher value than only rice growing.
    – Ms. Mina Kumari Dhakal, Chairperson of SFACL Maharanijhoda

    Land fragmentation in Nepal: With 64% of households engaged in farming countrywide, land fragmentation is one of the main causes of food insecurity in Nepal.

    One of the biggest challenges for small farmers in Nepal, especially the young generation, is land fragmentation due to legal restrictions and the very common land inheritance disputes.  Land is the main family asset in Nepal that is also used as collateral for temporary loans and as a source of investment. Access to land is a symbol of wealth, status and power. 

    “Land fragmentation also drives outmigration, which is a big problem in rural areas, affecting a large portion of our youth who shift to migrant workers”, said Mr. Tirtha Raj Ojha, Manager of SFACL Maheshpur of the Eastern region. “The question is, how to bring back the people?”

    The answer lies in cooperative farming, farmer-to-farmer learning and the opportunities in Learning Routes. Many farmers, including rural youth, started to come back to the Eastern Region to invest in high value production of spices and fruits. They use land management by putting fragmented pieces together. Within the Maheshpur Small Farmer Cooperative, merged lands create high diversity and quality by letting each farmer grow one crop they are experts of.

    PROFILEThe concept of Lead Farmers
    Central Region Choosing the right farmer leaders or Local Champions is essential in planning the Learning Routes. In Makawanpur District in the Central region, the Small Farmer Agricultural Cooperatives of Hadikhola and Manahari perfected their own system for identifying “lead farmers”. Since 2 years, they have been trained 25 farmer leaders at district level to open an agriculture school. The lead farmers identify people to be trained, 20 students for one trainer.
    Into the group of these 25 lead farmers, 2 are selected from each ward. They are trained, and the top 2-3 are picked out as resource persons with leadership qualities.
     “In the final stage, lead farmers run their own field trainings but there is no emphasis on follow-up. While cooperatives and their replications are running smoothly, we welcome ROUTASIA’s assistance in sustainability.”
    – Mr. Deewakan Rupakheti, Manager of District Agricultural Federation, Makawanpur 

    With the Local Champions and their solutions identified to be featured on the Learning Routes, NACCFL, Procasur and both regions agreed that the first LR should choose the Central Region as its destination. The Route is scheduled for the end of the year.

    In the meantime, as part of the mutual agreement, participatory case studies are being prepared for the cases identified for LR exposure.

    ROUTASIA is looking forward to the next steps in its partnership with NACCFL and the Small Farmer Cooperatives towards successful Learning Routes that can bring recognition to local solutions and their owners. 

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    By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser (Gender and Social Inclusion) and Zak Bleicher (Partnership Officer)

    After lengthy deliberations and a highly consultative process, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – also known as the Global Goals - and their 169 targets have finally been approved. What will they mean for IFAD’s work to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment?

    In order to amplify the voice of rural women in the post-2015 development agenda, IFAD has partnered with the Huairou Commission– an NGO and network of grassroots women’s organizations. As part of the 12-month partnership, five grassroots women leaders who are champions of rural priorities - from Jamaica, Kenya, Nicaragua, Peru and Zimbabwe – attended three days of participatory training in New York to build up their knowledge of the SDGs, develop a collective advocacy and action plan, and learn to effectively communicate rural priorities within this new paradigm. A session led by Zak Bleicher and Clare Bishop-Sambrook focused on where IFAD’s efforts to empower rural women stand within the SDG framework. 
    From L-R: M. Crawford, translator V.Glab, trainers D.Goldenberg and V.Shivutse, H.Rodriguez, S.Chitongo and J.Nyokabi Gitau. Photo credits Huairou 
    The new agenda recognizes that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls will make a crucial contribution to progress across all the goals. It states categorically that the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if one half of humanity continues to be denied its full human rights and opportunities.
    The first two goals focus specifically on: ending poverty in all its forms (Goal 1) and achieving food security and improved nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture (Goal 2). Goal 5 aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

    In contrast with the targets for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a great many of the new Global Goal targets resonate with the lives of poor rural women. In addition, they address the three strategic objectives of IFAD’s gender policy, which focuses on:

    - economic empowerment
    - voice and participation
    - equitable workload balance and sharing in the benefits.

    The targets include the usual fundamental objectives, such as promoting women’s equal rights to economic resources – including land and other forms of property, women’s leadership in decision-making bodies, and women’s access to financial and other services.

    A focus on reducing women’s workload hits the spot
    Crucially, a few targets also address the key issue of workload and this could be hugely important for rural women. As we know, in many settings, rural women spend hours every day fetching water and fuelwood, as well as undertaking a wide range of care and domestic work around the home. Hence the targets that recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work including the promotion of shared responsibility within the household and the family; access to safe and affordable drinking water, and reliable and modern energy services for all are hitting the mark.

    Significantly, the targets are not just about strengthening women’s productive and household roles but also improving the quality of their lives. Attention is paid to eliminating all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, and eliminating all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

    How will this be achieved? 
    The agenda talks of activities that relate to IFAD’s core business …. ‘promoting development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services’.

    It talks of enhancing international support for implementing effective and targeted capacity-building to support national plans to implement all the sustainable development goals, including north-south, south-south and triangular cooperation.

    The ability to track progress from the perspective of different players is also recognized. Data should be disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics that are relevant in national contexts.

    Let’s use the post-2015 agenda to strengthen the impact of IFAD-supported activities at field level, with a strong commitment to realising the potential of rural areas through promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. As noted by the Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, “Rural women are critical to the success of almost all of the SDGs”.

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    With the 42nd Committee on World Food Security (CFS) going on this week at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, IFAD today participated in a side event, entitled Climate-Smart Agriculture and Gender — Evidence for Equitable, Food Secure and Sustainable Agriculture. Clare Bishop Sambrook, lead technical specialist for gender at IFAD led off the discussion. She posited that as climate change becomes a more pressing issue for small agricultural producers, resilient techniques will become more intentional and explicit in their business processes. This may translate into planting more fodder crops in pastoral contexts, or growing more fruit trees in tropical food systems. She said that IFAD’s gender-focused interventions are primarily concerned with addressing women’s shortage of time and voice. 

    Time. Rural women spend many hours of the day traveling to obtain firewood or water for their households. In the dry season, water may be further away, and as deforestation spreads, firewood may be difficult to find. Therefore IFAD is piloting a flexibiogas system, which generates enough energy for domestic cooking and lighting needs. The environmental dimension is that flexi biogas reduces methane emissions from livestock, and has the potential to alleviate human pressure on forest resources. The system is being piloted in a growing number of projects, thus far in Kenya, Rwanda, Mali, Cambodia and India. 

    Voice. Gender dimensions are a constraint on the development of women. Household methodologies are something that IFAD has been doing in the context of climate change and gender equality as a practical household planning exercise that promotes the contributions of women to the household and create goals to work towards.

    Dr. Martin Frick, Director of Climate, Energy and Tenure Division at FAO next discussed the need to recognize the different realities of rural men and women in the design and application of interventions, including in the area of climate-smart agriculture. When speaking about improvements in productivity, Frick argued that the solution was not always technologies. If women had the same access to resources as men, the extra output could reduce the number of hungry people in the world by 12 - 17 per cent, he said.  

    The issue of measuring women’s empowerment was raised by Vera Weill-Hallie, Chair of Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture and Natural Resource Management (WOCAN). The organization has developed a certification label, the W+ Standard, that endorses projects that create increased social and economic benefits for women participating in economic development or environment projects. In terms of climate change and gender, Weill-Hallie cautioned that more analytical work on gender and climate-smart agriculture needed to be done, and signalled that the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) submitted by countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) did not place a sufficient focus on gender. 

    The final speaker was Marc Sadler, World Bank Adviser on risks and markets in agriculture. He talked about the different adaptation methods adopted by men and women in response to climate-related risks. Indeed, gender is seen as a one of the main determinants of farmers’ choice of adaptation methods. These factors must be identified at the outset of a project if it’s gong to be able to achieve results, Sadler argued. 

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    At a Committee on World Food Security (CFS42) side event yesterday, representatives from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) had an opportunity to present the programmes of their respective agencies, as well as to explain to an engaged audience how they are working together to realize the Adaptation and Innovation Potential of Smallholder Farmers and Rural Communities. 

    Margarita Astralaga, IFAD
    Moderator Martin Frick expressed the dilemma that confronts the international community. We live in a situation where 800 million people go to bed hungry every day, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 is committed to zero hunger by 2030. While this is an enormous challenge in itself, climate change adds even more complexity. 

    “Risk has always been a dimension in agricultural development, but climate change has raised the magnitude, and altered the nature of risk,” according to Leslie Lipper of FAO’s Agriculture Development Economics Division. The costs of adapting to climate change, which can be significant, should not fall only on rural communities. That’s why FAO and WFP have both promoted safety net and cash transfer programmes that provide a basic income resilience to smallholders in some of the most food insecure regions.

    “This is critical work, but safety nets and hand outs aren’t enough,” said WFP’s Inge Breuer. Increasingly, there is a need to combine such programmes with climate risk management systems. For instance, through cash-based transfers that incentivize rural people to participate in community adaptation projects. “We have a lot of work going on to optimize food systems and see what works best in rural communities. We are thinking about how we can leverage these cash transfers to encourage new economic opportunities,” Breuer said. 

    Similarly, Margarita Astralaga, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division said that adaptation to climate change should not be done on an ad hoc basis, which may create winners and losers in rural areas; rather, adaptation investments should aim to increase the resilience of the entire food system. Astralaga brought up the work being done in the CALIP project in Bangladesh, where IFAD is partnering with local universities to enhance climate modelling for a flash flood early warning system. In this way, rural women and men living in the vulnerable Haor Delta will have access to more accurate, real-time climate information, which can afford them the ability to protect their rice crops, a vital income source.

    Finally, Beat Roosli of the World Farmers’ Organization (WFO) asserted that secure access to productive resources is a central factor when farmers’ decide whether to make adaptation investments in their farms. “In this regard, climate change and land tenure are inextricably linked,” he said. This also raised the question of farm-size, and whether it’s better to optimize productivity on each farm unit, or focus on aggregating small plots, thereby scaling up adaptation investments. “The question of farm size is secondary at first, Roosli suggested, “Farmers may have to scale up later, but first they must become more productive with the resources they have.” 

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    The 42ndCFS event is currently being held at FAO. On Tuesday 13thOctober, IFAD and CGIAR hosted a side event: Healthy diets from climate-smart food systems: Debating a climate-smart approach for a food-secure future.

    Amongst the speakers was Ska Mirriam Moteane, an award winning Lesothan chef, Hervé Saint-Macary, the deputy director of Persyst(Performance of Production and Transformation Systems ) at CIRAD. Other speakers included IFAD's Environment and Climate Division's agronomist Bertrand Reysset and University of Harvard Professor of Nutrition, Walter Willet.

    Opening the event was CGIAR Chief Executive Frank Rijsberman, who underlined the importance of bringing together the themes of agricultural production, climate change, nutrition and food security.

    ''How do we produce healthy food, and importantly, how do we produce healthy food from sustainable food systems?,'' said Rijsberman. “Unhealthy food is a key driver in pushing our planetary boundaries, and we are now risking an unstable planet.''

    The majority of agriculture investments are directed at producing staples such as cereals, and not towards vegetables and other means of diversifying a healthy diet.

    'The world is overinvested in cereals and underinvested in nutritious crops,'' added Frank Rijsberman.

    Modern agriculture can bring with it nutritional risks despite increasing real income. Under a gender perspective, commercial agriculture often  undermines the role of women in traditional agriculture.

    ”The potential to improveme diets worldwide is huge but the evidence so far suggests that as a planet we are heading down the wrong path,” said Harvard’s Walter Willet.

    The importance of knowledge for healthy diets was also highlighted. Preparing healthy food requires extra knowledge. As we now have to produce more food with less natural resources we must use a wider diversity of crops and a more intelligent approach.  Disseminating this knowledge is key.

    ''We are seeing an increase in junk and unhealthy food being introduced even in Lesotho…this has to stop,” said Chef Ska Motoeane. ” Eating nutritious meals is seen as scary, like school work, a chore, but nutritious meals can still be appetising and delicious, and people need to know this!''

    ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

    ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

    ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

    ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

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    by Marian Amaka Odenigbo

    Earlier in October, the Government of Malawi and IFAD held a training workshop in Lilongwe, Malawi to raise awareness and share experience about nutrition-sensitive development initiatives. The training brought together representatives of Ministries of Local Government, Ministry of Agriculture, colleagues from the Nutrition and HIV/AIDS department of the Ministry of Health, Department of Agriculture Extension Services, WFP, CIAT and TLC.

    The selected participants for the training sessions included the food and nutrition officers at agricultural development divisions and district levels, Agriculture Extension Development Coordinators (AEDCs) and Agriculture Extension Development Officers (AEDOs), programme staff of IFAD-funded Rural Livelihood and Economic Enhancement Programme (RLEEP) and the Sustainable Agriculture Production Programme (SAPP).

    The purpose of the workshop was to disseminate key findings of the survey conducted to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) about food to policy makers, and to train programme implementers on nutrition-sensitive interventions based on the KAP survey findings.

    Mr Bright Kumwembe, the Chief Director of the Malawi Ministry of Agriculture opened the workshop and hit the nail on the head by saying "The issue of nutrition goes beyond what we see" in his opening remarks.

    He expressed delight on IFAD efforts in addressing malnutrition in its investment programmes, highlighting that this is an equally important issue for the government of Malawi.

    Survey findings
    The KAP survey showed poor dietary diversity among rural households as well as ≥40% stunting in target districts. The high stunting rate compared to the national average was mainly because the surveyed households live in  remote rural areas.

    While this is a devastating finding, at the same time it underscores the relevance of IFAD-funded interventions and the importance of working for and with the poorest of poor and those who suffer from malnutrition.

    The survey noted a lack of knowledge vis-a-vis processing and marketing vegetables, fruits and pulses. It highlighted the need to improve processing techniques in an effort to ensure nutritious food products. The survey's key recommendation was to put in place vigorous and rigorous nutrition interventions in all the districts benefitting from the IFAD-funded RLEEP and SAPP programmes.

    During the workshop Mr Dixon Ngwende, the National Programme Director for RLEEP programme and Mr Alex Malembo, Coordinator of SAPP, shared the story of their epiphany in realizing that for development interventions to be successful they cannot exclusively be income focused and need to also take into account other aspects such as nutrition. Ngwende, once a sceptic, now is one of the better nutrition-sensitive advocates.

    This change of mind-set on nutrition was linked to the sensitization of project staff and supervision team on nutrition-sensitize agriculture during previous supervision and implementation support missions in 2014.

    To make the most of the training opportunity, participants were clustered into small working groups according to their districts and they discussed:

    • appropriate approaches for addressing the challenges of maternal and child nutrition.
    • how to leverage and learn from RLEEP and SAPP interventions to ensure better nutrition outcomes.
    • indicators and targets for nutrition friendly activities in programmes. 

    In preparing their action plan, there was a lot of optimism and conviction that communities could indeed operationalize the survey findings and use it as a benchmark for nutrition-related interventions.

    The overall enthusiasm about mainstreaming nutrition was reflected in the comments provided in the post-workshop questionnaire.

    Throughout the workshop I could not resist having a smile on my face while listening to policy makers and stakeholders advocating for nutrition with so much enthusiasm and interest.

    Participants were challenged to be the agents of change and to raise awareness about government of Malawi and IFAD-supported programmes commitment on nutrition. The onus was on workshop participants to practice what they preach as they  proceed with the implementation of nutrition-sensitive interventions to improve the livelihoods of rural communities and smallholder farmers.

    We've come a long way… We've managed to raise awareness about nutrition and we're designing and implementing more and more nutrition-smart interventions. There is more to be done, but when there is a way, there is a will!

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    Nerina Muzurovic and Audrey Nepveu de Villemarceau

    Moderator: Marcela Villarreal, Director, Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development, FAO


    Emily Mattheisen, Global Program Officer at the Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition

    Moujahed Achouri, Director, Land and Water Division, FAO

    Nicoline de Haan, Senior Researcher, CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems

    and Tarek Kotb, Country Programme Manager, Near East, North Africa and Europe Division, IFAD

    Women and water governance was the topic of the well-attended panel discussion "Water governance in the Near East and North Africa (NENA): A policy debate on tenure, equity and gender."

    Experience from The Western Sudan Resource Management Program (WSRMP), Sudan
    - 79,017 women benefited from the provision and improvement of water resources, which reduced distances of fetching domestic water (from 8 km to less than 1 km) and resulted in time savings (of 1 to 5 hours per day) that allowed women to access credit and extension services, engage in agricultural work (mainly sorghum production) and diversify sources of income. This led to 43% increase in productivity, improved availability of food, and greater food security. Women were able to spend more money on the education of their children, acquire assets, and improve household hygiene and nutrition.
    - Greater decision-making power through women's participation in water committees: women now represent 38% of water user associations' members. This was achieved by applying a quota system to ensure no less than 30% involvement of women in committees, water user associations and other local organizations.
    Held as part of the 42nd meeting of the Committee on World Food Security in Rome on 14 October 2015, the side event explored the impacts of water scarcity in NENA region, and the role institutions can play in giving women more rights to key natural resources (land and water) as well as opportunities to exercise these rights.

    NENA is the most water-stressed region in the world with 609 m3 of water available per capita per year. By 2045, this area will experience an expected water deficit of 60 per cent, owing to the combined effect of rapid population growth and climate change. What will the region look like by 2050? How can society and communities be prepared to adapt to this change? What present practices do we need to change? These were some of the key questions that emerged at the panel discussion.

    Why look at water governance through a gender lense?
    Many factors make women well-adapted to play a role in water management. As men increasingly leave degraded rural areas to look for jobs in urban centers, women are left behind. The percentage of women in the agriculture labour force has risen sharply, faster than in any other region in the world. As a result, women are affected first — and most — by water scarcity and flooding, and tend to be gravely impacted by poor water management. But women also increasingly hold the decision-making positions that were traditionally occupied by men.

    Experience from Al Dhala Community Resource Management Project (ACRMP), Yemen
    -Water supply for 13,748 households with roof rain-water harvesting (individual and group) reservoirs for drinking, domestic and irrigation uses. The construction of the reservoirs was done in a participatory way in dry mountain areas. It resulted in time savings (2 to 5 hours per day) that allowed 16,000 women to complete literacy classes (including Training of Trainer programmes for some 2,200 women in sewing, handicrafts, midwifery and other topics) and some 3,400 women to train in first aid, hygienic use of water and general health.
    -Income-generating activities. Thanks to the time saved on water collection, more attention could be given to home gardening and backyard chicken raising: they became a vital source of household nutrition and women's revenues.
    -Better resource management was achieved through 25 rangeland management groups with 125 members each (35 women and 90 men), and 10 ha rehabilitated thanks to 11 nurseries. Women were introduced to environmental actions, including nursery and tree planting techniques.

    However, the specific needs and priorities of women as farmers and agricultural water users are still not reflected enough in sector policies, legal frameworks and programmes. If women could participate on an equal basis in decision-making processes about water use and management, women's contribution to agricultural production would ultimately increase. Ultimately, we believe this would lead to better food security and nutrition as well as more sustainable management of water resources.

    Because rural women have local ecological, social and political knowledge, they can both inform and contribute significantly to solving water-scarcity problems. Hence maximizing the role of rural women in water governance and food security is essential.

    Work by FAO and others demonstrates that water access and use are not only influenced by infrastructure, rainfall and geography. In fact, social, political and economic power relations within and among countries are just as important. "For women, access to water is always mediated, either by technology or by society", said Nicoline de Haan, Senior Researcher, CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems. In the context of water scarcity, women's capacity to access water depends on a system of power relations, and existing access rights. Interventions should look into enabling women to fully engage in local development processes.
    Experience from West Noubaria Rural Development Programme (WNRDP), Egypt
    -Targeting women. Women headed-households comprised 15% of all settlers' households, and women comprised 61% of recipients of training in nutrition and health, 55% in environmental awareness, 81% in literacy, and 20% of cooperative and community training. 10,229 women were trained in agriculture and water management, and 2,729 women participated in demonstration field days.
    -Conversion of 36,000 feddans (eq. to 15,120 ha) to drip irrigation resulted in annual water savings of more than 50 million m3 in the main project area. The water savings also contributed to better natural resource management, savings in fertilizer use (40%) and reduced use of pesticides, thereby contributing to reduced pollution and improved environmental quality. Overall savings for the farming community amounted to USD 1.5 million in annual irrigation costs (electric power and labour).
    "Strengthening water governance for agriculture and food security for women" means adopting an effective problem-solving approach to develop policies and strengthen institutions that are accepted by all relevant stakeholders.

    Tarek Kotb, Country Programme Manager, Near East, North Africa and Europe Division, IFAD, presented some experiences from the field that have had a positive impact on women's empowerment, when it comes to tackling the issue of water governance and food security in the region. These projects illustrate ways in which women are taking on new roles to tackle water-related issues, including adequate management of natural resources (WSRMP, Sudan); rain-water harvesting (ACRMP, Yemen); drip irrigation (WNRDP, Egypt); and grey water management (ARMP-II, Jordan).

    Experience from Agricultural Resources Management Project (ARMP-II), Jordan
    -Greywater treatment units in backyard gardens of 800 to 4,000 m2/household enabled households to treat domestic wastewater, and use the treated water to grow vegetables in their backyard gardens. This led to 16.3% savings in water consumption and to nearly 70% less sewage effluence.
    -A total of 400 Jordanian households (3,000 people) – including 13 women-headed households received these subsidized grey water treatment units, as well as technical guidance.
    -Income increased by 72% from sales of farm products: mainly from olive trees, and in some cases from fodder and nuts.
    Overall, exchanges with the audience allowed the panel to identify the following challenges for the coming years:

    • Documentation is generally missing to understand the challenges women face, and which tools and approaches would be the most appropriate to address these. Here, research has a definite role to play.
    • Currently "women" tend to be considered as a homogenous group. Research can play an important role in correcting this idea. In fact, women constitute a diverse group. Thus they are also diverse water users, who face diverse challenges.
    • Institutional changes, including the corresponding regulatory mechanisms, are required for local institutions to include greater gender equality, so that women can better engage in multi-stakeholder processes.
    • Implementing meaningful participation processes will be essential to empower women to take on decision-making positions.
    • Climate change will create additional social tensions and imbalances for women. In particular, the increased climate variability may negatively impact their resilience capacity.
    • Responsible investments are needed to bring about sustainable changes. Elements of success that were identified relate to: building on political willingness and adequate incentives; mobilizing local champions; reaching out to the private sector; and empowering civil society to play its role.

    Read more:

    Pictures from the event

    Transforming desert land into a profitable fruit oasis

    Improving Food Security in Arab Countries - WB, IFAD, FAO 2009

    FAO - THE STATE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 2010-2011 - WOMEN IN AGRICULTURE: Closing the gender gap for development

    Near East and North Africa's Water Scarcity Initiative

    Adaptation to a Changing Climate in the Arab Countries - A Case for Adaptation Governance in Building Climate Resilience - WB 2012

    Blog on water rights: Taking the lead or imposing inequity?

    Reinforcing gender equity

    Blog on why women need indicators: Spotlight on measuring women's empowerment at the Milan Expo

    FAO Committee on Agriculture - 2014 Report on Water Governance for Food Security and Nutrition

    2015 Report of the High Level Panel of Experts on "Water for Food Security"

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    By Mia Madsen and Ahmed Subahi

    70th Anniversary of the United Nations - Khartoum (Sudan)
    At the end of October, the IFAD Country Office (ICO) in the Sudan participated in a joint United Nations (UN) celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN.

    As part of the week-long celebration, a public event was organised on 29 October at the National Museum of Sudan in Khartoum. The event included a photo exhibition, showcasing work and achievements of UN agencies in Sudan working on humanitarian and development issues, including those related to agriculture and rural development.

    The photographs presented by the Sudan ICO highlighted areas of work important to IFAD’s country programme in the Sudan, which included sustainable crop cultivation, rural finance and women’s empowerment.

    Curiosity among young people

    The Sudan has been a priority country for IFAD since 1979, and ICO staff members were delighted to see that visitors were interested in learning more about IFAD’s work in the Sudan.

    A majority of young people in attendance were curious to learn about IFAD-funded projects, and their strategic and operational approaches in the Sudan and worldwide.

    They wanted to know what IFAD stands for, why IFAD is not working in Darfur, how the funding is organised, and how IFAD and the Government of the Sudan cooperate in the implementation of projects. Representatives of IFAD’s ICO team in the Sudan were present to answer questions and distribute materials at the information booths.

    The event brought enthusiasm and excitement – owed in great part to the presence of young people from the universities, fresh graduates and UN volunteers who helped to organize the exhibition. Other attendees involved members of the diplomatic community, government officials, special guests and the general public.

    “The exhibition was extended for another day so that more visitors could attend it,” said Ahmed Subahi, IFAD's Country Programme Officer in Sudan.

    Different kind of celebrations

    Later in the evening a music concert was organised, with the popular Sudanese female Singer Nancy Ajaj and Balimbo musical band performing. In general, the event has been described as a success, with more than 2 000 visitors.

    Other joint UN70 celebration events in Khartoum included a lecture on the UN Charter at 70 held at the University of Khartoum, an official commemoration event, and a Youth Art Exhibition on the new Sustainable Development Goals. The UN agencies in Sudan also joined the global campaign to celebrate the UN Day and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations by lighting up monuments and buildings worldwide with the official blue colour of the United Nations.

    In Sudan, the famous Meroe Pyramids and the National Museum of Sudan were coloured in blue light on 24 October 2015. The global event of turning the world UN blue received wide coverage on social media using the hashtags #UNBlue and #UN70, and was shared with millions of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Flickr and more. 

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    Written by Elisa Mandelli, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

    Competition for land has never been greater. IFAD has observed that pressure on land and natural resources are increasing as a result of a rising world population, climate change, food prices volatility, declining soil fertility and the need for global food and fuel security. This has prompted many governments and development partners to increase their efforts to address land tenure and resource governance issues in developing countries. In fact, good land governance is more important than ever.

    In this challenging context, the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” (VGGT) have been endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in May 2012 with the aim to strengthen land governance by providing guidelines to governments, international development organization and other concerned stakeholders. Following on from the international mobilisation for land security, the global land donor community came together in early 2013 and recognised the need to coordinate the implementation of land governance programmes, share information on best practices among the international community, and, where applicable, join forces in international policy, advocacy and programme work. This understanding led to the creation of the Global Donor Working Group on Land (GDWGL) which was formalised in August 2013.

    As explained on the GDWGL’s website, “The Working Group aims to improve land governance and enhance transparency and coordination of its currently 24 bilateral and multilateral members with each other and with external government, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders”.  Its objectives are to improve information and lesson learning but also coordinate initiatives at the international level, highlight challenges around land governance, and agree on collective actions.

    IFAD is one of the founding member of the Group together with FAO, World Bank, the Department of International Development of United Kingdom, USAID, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other bilateral and multilateral members. IFAD is convinced that this platform represents a unique opportunity to promote Tenure Security and the interests of poor rural people at an international and cross-cutting level.

    The Working Group met first on the 14th of October as a side event of the Committee on World Food Security, and a second time the 16th of October for its 6th meeting at IFAD Headquarters in Rome to take stock of the progresses that have been made in land governance and define next steps for 2016. 

    Credit: Global Donor Platform for Rural Development / Romy Sato, 2015

    Day 1: Promoting the Voluntary Guidelines

    During the first day of the GDWGL meeting, the Group tackled the issue of the Voluntary Guidelines as the first soft-law instrument on the governance of Land Tenure that has been internationally negotiated and agreed. The participants presented practical examples of how these Guidelines have been promoted and integrated into donor supported activities. Among the different contributions, the Lead Technical Specialist in Land Tenure at IFAD, Harold Liversage, illustrated how, with a total budget  of US$ 300 million (of which US$ 159 million from IFAD), 112 loans, 14 grants, IFAD has supported projects related to the governance of Land and Natural Resources in 59 countries. Founding member and Host Organization of the International Land Coalition (ILC), IFAD considers land governance as a critical condition for poverty eradication but it addresses this issue as an integrated element of broader programmes for inclusive rural development and not as stand-alone projects.  In line with the Global Land Indicators Initiatives, IFAD attaches much importance to innovative and effective ways to “measure” the positive impacts of land governance on poverty eradication.    

    Day 2: Opportunities for a “Collective Action”

    The second day, the Group focused on the concrete opportunities linked to the objectives on the Road Map for 2014-2017. Heath Cosgrove, USAID’s Land Office Director, emphasized the need to strengthen the Roadmap with proposals for collective action : “We need to go beyond lessons sharing and engage into a collective action to drive further implementation of the VGGTs and to achieve the SDGs”. Therefore, the members split into five working groups in order to capture good ideas for feasible, concrete and collective action around five headline priorities: 
    • Strengthen land related information exchange, coordination and cooperation in priority areas;
    • Promote country partnership models to support and deepen land governance initiatives. 
    • Support private sector in order to improve land governance through their core business procedures.
    • Assist donor governments in their contribution to global land governance through coherent approaches.
    • Ensure a global coordination and impact delivery for better land governance strengthened through single open and accessible hub.
    The five working groups have identified concrete and realistic outputs and opportunities for action that ranged from the organisation of a global event for lessons sharing around land governance, the promotion of trainings on VGGT’s implementation and Land Tenure Security for Government staff and the development of land indicators.

    The GDWGL will meet again on March 2016 during the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, in Washington-DC. You can find more information on the GDWGL activities as well as the Minutes and the presentations realized during the meeting in the GDWGL’s website. Stay updated!   

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    by Marian Amaka Odenigbo

    Sensitization forum
    IFAD-funded project managers
    From 2-5 November, the Government of Zambia and IFAD's East and Southern African (ESA) division organized a workshop on the "Nexus between Nutrition and Gender" in IFAD investments.

    The purpose of the workshop that took place in Livingstone, Zambia  was to consolidate efforts towards operationalization of nutrition mainstreaming and advocacy on nutrition-sensitive agriculture with a gender lens.

    The event brought together nutrition officers at district and headquarter levels, extension workers, gender focal points and staff of IFAD-funded programmes and projects, government staff in ministries of Agriculture Fisheries and Livestock.

    Thanks to the participation and representation of IFAD-funded projects from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, representatives of UN agencies, National Food and Nutrition Commissions, NGOs, Civil Societies and other development partners, the event benefitted from a good sub-regional outlook on the above mentioned issues.

    Sharing of experiences
    Country managers of the IFAD-funded programme proudly shed light on their experiences on mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture and rural development interventions.

    Mr Kwibisa, the programme manager of Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (SAPP) in Zambia stressed the importance of ensuring that nutrition programmes invest in a wide variety of nutritious commodity as he believes this will help to raise awareness about the importance of mainstreaming nutrition in development initiatives. He indicated that investing in small-livestock, beans, groundnuts, cassava and beef has led to a dietary diversity and as a result family diets in the programme areas improved drastically.  

    According to Martin Liywalii, the programme manager of Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme (S3P) in Zambia increasing food production and productivity is necessary to have good nutrition activities. He further reiterated that provided there is an integrated approach to nutrition mainstreaming there is no "side-effect" if programme interventions are also focused to increase sales.

    His story was quite informative, as it showed that even if an investment programme may not have a nutrition focus at design, during implementation it is indeed possible to rectify this omission. What S3P did was to include nutrition-related activities during the programme mid-term review and make inclusion of nutrition compulsory for the programme implementers.

    Learning from others
    Participants expressed their zeal to acquire knowledge on the nexus of nutrition and gender issues. “The lessons that others shared at this workshop are most useful for us as they allow us to improve our efforts to mainstream nutrition in Mozambique programmes”, said Maria Arraes De Souza.

    Karen Mukuka, the assistant nutrition officer in the Zambia ministry of Agriculture was interested to learn from her Malawi counterpart how nutrition activities were coordinated among and between the various ministries.

    Working collaboratively
    The Resident Coordinator, UN-Zambia and
    the IFAD Country Director, Zambia
    The call to work together resonated fully with the workshop participants.

    Janet Rogan, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia in her remarks underscored the fact that nutrition is front and centre on the Global Goals agenda – better known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She challenged the participants to work differently, complement each other’s work and to break the “silos.” Furthermore, she asked the participants to continuously measure the impact of their development work and encouraged them to involve people so that they do not leave anyone behind.

    Bertha Muthinta, the representative from Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) in Zambia highlighted the similarity between IFAD's and INGENAES work. She called for joining hands in an effort to achieve more impact on nutrition-related investments. Similarly, Maria Dieci the representative from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) underscored the challenges of evaluation, tracking nutrition impact and scaling up nutrition actions in rural development programmes. She expressed IPA's willingness to collaborate with interested partners.

    As the event came to an end, the participants had an opportunity to do some group work on action planning for a strategic approach to mainstream nutrition and gender in their respective programmes. They were encouraged to further adapt the action plans according to their various country programmes, as doing so would translate in contributing to achieve the targets of SDG2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

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    Written by Alessandra Casano, Financing Facility for Remittances

    On 16 November, the G20 leaders gathered in Antalya (Turkey) adopted the Leaders Communiqué, in which paragraph 21 is entirely dedicated to remittances and financial inclusion.

    "21. The private sector has a strong role to play in development and poverty eradication. Through our G20 Call on Inclusive Business we stress the need of all stakeholders to work together in order to promote opportunities for low income people and communities to participate in markets as buyers, suppliers and consumers. Our G20 National Remittance Plans developed this year include concrete actions towards our commitment to reduce the global average cost of transferring remittances to five percent with a view to align with the SDGs and Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We are promoting financial inclusion by helping to open up access to payments, savings, credit and other services. We welcome the continued work on financial inclusion within the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI)."

    Download report
    During 2015, considering the work of IFAD in the field of remittances, migration and development, the GPFI commissioned a formal study to IFAD on "The Use of Remittances and Financial Inclusion", in collaboration with the World Bank, subsequently submitted to the G20 leaders gathered in Antalya. This is the first IFAD publication officially endorsed by the G20 leaders.

    In addition to the report on "The Use of Remittances and Financial Inclusion", IFAD and its Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) is mentioned in the G20 National Remittance Plans for the European Union, which also refers to the African Postal Financial Services Initiative.

    "Page 3, para. 1c.  The EU is funding through its external cooperation instruments, flagship initiatives in the field of remittances such as the Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) and the setting up of the African Institute for Remittances. The Institute set up in Nairobi, will be engaged in data collection, technical research and information sharing. The ongoing EU-funded action "African Postal Financial Services Initiative" aims at enhancing competition in the African remittances market through enabling African post offices to offer financial services."

    This mention will further facilitate IFAD's work in the field of remittances, migration and development and highlight relevance of its work at global level.

    About the GPFI: the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), officially launched on 10 December 2010 in Seoul, is an inclusive platform for all G20 countries, interested non-G20 countries and relevant stakeholders to carry forward work on financial inclusion, including implementation of the G20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan, endorsed at the G20 Summit in Seoul. Spearheading the implementation were the three key Implementing Partners: the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI),  the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). In 2012, the World Bank joined the GPFI as Implementing Partner. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) joined the GPFI as implementing partner in 2013, whereas in 2014, the Better Than Cash Alliance and IFAD also joined as implementing partners. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is the Honorary Patron of the GPFI.

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    By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser (Gender and Social Inclusion)

    Younger women? Older men? General service staff or professionals? As is often the case, it depends on the question you are asking.

    A recent analysis conducted by the PTA gender team provides some interesting insights.

    Our happiness is stable

    Each year, IFAD conducts the staff engagement index survey which picks up on six areas of our work environment. The overall index has remained pretty constant at around 75% over the last four years, with little variation at the corporate level between women and men.

    Collectively we are most comfortable with understanding the results we are expected to deliver and being held accountable for them (both rated over 90%). We are reasonably content with the level of initiative shown by our colleagues (72%) and our freedom of action without needing to go to our supervisors (68%). But we are least happy with people accepting responsibility for problems that arise in their work (57%) and directors seeking the opinions of people working in their division (63%).

    Who are we?

    Before digging deeper into the data, let us see who we are – or at least those 485 people who responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 31% were women general staff, a further 30% were international professional men, 28% were international professional women and the balance were male general service (7%) and national professional men and women (4%).

    Over 40% of the staff are aged between 46-55 years and another 10% or so are over 55 years. Among the younger age groups, there are more women aged between 25-35 years and more men under 25 years. Professional men (international and national) and general service women tend to be in the older cohort, whereas general service men tend to be younger.

    Digging deeper into the data

    Men over 55 were consistently more positive across all six indicators. The same holds true for women over 45, but their positivity is much less pronounced than for men. One of the most interesting differences was the fact that as men’s age increased they rated the consultations by their director more positively, whereas the reverse was true for women. Young men and women were both concerned about colleagues accepting responsibility for work-related problems.

    Among men, national professional officers have the greatest clarity about what they are expected to deliver (100%) and their accountability to deliver (95%). However, they have the lowest freedom to act without consulting their supervisors (55%).

    Male general service staff were least enthusiastic about their colleagues’ ability to accept responsibility for problems that arise in their work (49%) and about the level of initiative shown in their division (60%).

    There were fewer differences in the results between women professionals and women general service staff. The most notable ones were that general service women felt there was less initiative shown in their division (66%) whereas professional women were more concerned about people taking responsibilities for work-related problems (53%).

    What more needs to be done to improve our worklife in IFAD?

    Although overall staff engagement has remained relatively constant in recent years, breaking down the data like this highlights significant differences within the staff population. If we want to improve the index, we need to speak to those who are least happy. That means we need to find out more from male general service staff, younger staff, and women in all categories.

    For insights from the 2014 Global Staff Survey, contact

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    Four women groups from Mohalbari, Surail and Damoir villages in Northern Bangladesh participated in a two-day leadership and mobilization training in Dinajpur to spread the initiative of successful women-led cooperatives improving the livelihood of the rural poor. Among the 51 participants, most were landless women coming from Hindu, Muslim and indigenous communities.

    The training, organized by ALRD in partnership with SUSTAIN, is part of the project’s innovation plan that received ROUTASIA’s award of 25,000 USD last year.

    ALRD’s Innovation Plan entitled “Strengthening Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood through Access to Land and Market” was launched in July 2015, as a result of ROUTASIA’s Learning Route on women’s empowerment in Nepal’s Chitwan and Kapilvastu districts, in December 2014. With the financial award and technical assistance of IFAD-PROCASUR’s ROUTASIA programme, ALRD and SUSTAIN, its local partner in Dinajpur, are now implementing the plan in the northern region of Bangladesh, where the existing farmer groups are located.ALRD’s plan aims to secure equitable land access and control for marginalized landless communities, including farmers, indigenous peoples, religious minorities and women in particular, and to improve their livelihood through effective management of natural resources.

    Using local resources, local technology and indigenous knowledge, ALRD’s action plan integrated the People’s Initiative or “Gonoprochesta” model. This initiative promotes sustainable, small scale, family-based organic farming and rural enterprises, and provides direct access to land and market for disadvantaged communities, which in turn contribute to the country’s food security. The Gonoprochesta model empowers women by advocating their recognition at policy making level, and by enabling access to public land and to supporting services such as bank credits, agricultural inputs and technology, information and knowledge, and policy dialogue with government institutions. During the process, women are encouraged to create their own capital collectively, and to invest it in agricultural production of food and organic fertilizers.

    By transforming into People’s Cooperatives, the initiative sets a unique example to improve quality of life without external financial assistance. It also creates an alternative market for the products of small farmers and entrepreneurs united by cooperative groups, creating a wide range of employment opportunities in rural Bangladesh, particularly for women. In terms of diversification, cooperative farmers use different types of production, including agricultural cultivation (rice, vegetables, fish) and fertilizer production (earthworm compost).

    To analyze the socio-economic context in Bangladesh, the path of change and the participants’ respective roles in it, ALRD used a participatory discussion method. All participants agreed to the new vision of the People’s Initiative process promoting social and economic changes to improve their life and to protect their children’s future. They selected a name and a leader for each of their group, and they set up a work plan for the next three months. To create their initial capital, participants decided to save a handful of rice twice a day and to organize their weekly meeting on Fridays, where the saved rice is put on sale to generate financial resources for each group to be used for income generation activities. This collective way of farming enables them to use their small land as a homestead. It was also agreed that all activities would be monitored and guided by SUSTAIN, ALRD’s local partner organization. 

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    Written by Beatrice Gerli, Gender and targeting specialist, IFAD

    Forget about travelling only with hand luggage. Forget about preparing presentations on the outward flight and writing Back To Office Report on the return flight. Time on the plane becomes a major test for developing skills in child entertainment: and the actual work is yet to start. Taking a baby on duty travel is a mission within the mission. But my daughter Adelaide and I survived and I am here to tell our story.

    Field visit to the women’s cooperative “cuatros pinos” ©IFAD/B. Gerli
    In the last week of October we travelled to Guatemala city to support a regional workshop on rural women's economic empowerment. When it was suggested that I would take part I was still on maternity leave, with a blurred sense of what it would mean to be both a mother and a professional. The workshop dates coincided with the period I intended to breastfeed so I quickly figured that it was going to be either with Adelaide or not going at all.

    Why not try

    I hesitated but the encouragement of my supervisor Clare Bishop and the Country Programme Manager, Glayson Ferrari made me wonder: why not try?

    The mission’s agenda was encouraging: most of the workshop activities were in a hotel and only a one day field visit. And the country has no major health-related concerns. Perhaps the one thing that made me more enthusiastic is the fact that Glayson has a young son and immediately reassured me that he would help me find a trustworthy babysitter.

    The IFAD travel policy entitles breastfeeding mothers to take their babies with them on duty travel, up to one year of age, This in practice means that IFAD provides for their flight ticket and an extra 10% of the total daily allowance, so that extra expenses – a.k.a. a babysitter- can be covered. This is a fantastic help for those like me who want to reconcile work and personal life: breastfeeding and a mission.

    Starting the journey with new luggage. 
    And this is how it wentWe flew all the way to Guatemala, which I have to say was not the most relaxing journey of my life – nor for the poor person sitting next to us.

    Once we arrived, Glayson had found an extraordinary babysitter: she looked after the baby during the workshop days and she would call me whenever Adelaide was claiming her meal – which easily tied in with the coffee breaks.

    What made a real difference was also the help that the Guatemala team (Glayson, Klarisse, Oscar and Gabriela) and all the workshop participants gave me, together with the positive atmosphere they created. This didn’t make me feel like I was doing something out of this world, nor made me look less professional in their eyes. Quite the opposite. Many participants at the workshop, including men,  opened up and came up to me to discuss their own experience in reconciling their role of parents with their work.


    I came back to Rome, very happy about this experience.

    Duty travel with a baby is probably not something one can do too often, nor on all the missions we are asked to attend. But I just wanted to share my experience with other mother professionals and get the message out there: if you feel alright about it, if conditions allows it- one can actually do it.

    It was a beautiful adventure and - yes -   quite tiring. But I guess that is what parenthood is about.

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    It has finally arrived - the much anticipated COP21 in Paris. There is an optimistic buzz of anticipation here on the almost 18 hectare conference centre plot in northern Paris.

    World leaders have all gathered here today in the hopes of finalising a new climate deal. A climate deal that will hopefully lock the world into no more than a 2 degree rise in temperature. A deal that will help those worldwide already feeling and fighting the affects of climate change.

    Today saw 150 heads of state including the United States President Barak Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Russian President Vladimir Putin, all welcomed by French President Francois Hollande to COP21. Heads of states of countries that have previously hosted UNFCCC COP's all gave opening speeches in the plenary rooms. 

    “The word historic is often overused, but here, at this conference, it is not,” said Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister.

    “Let there be no doubt, the younger generation is watching what we do, said US President Barak Obama.

    IFAD has an exhibition space within COP21 where it will be encouraging COP attendants to sign up to IFAD's petition asking for more climate finance to be pledged to smallholder farmers from the developing world.

    As we know, smallholder farmers are on the frontline of climate change. IFAD is doing all it can to help, but hopes are high that at this historic event, the world will come together and pledge extra help and funds, so as to all end climate change together. 

    IFAD will also be promoting the work being done by its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP).

    The IFAD booth

    ASAP is the biggest climate change fund for smallholder adaptation in the world. It is focusing on new and innovative ways to adapt to the impacts of climate change, whilst preserving natural resources and yields at the same time.

    Over the coming days, IFAD will be presenting various aspects of its work with smallholder farmers at a range of events and meetings. We will be reporting from all of them over twitter and the dedicated IFAD web page, found at the following links:

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    Written by: Alessia Valentini

    195 countries and nearly 150 Heads of State and Government gathered on Monday 30th November, in Paris, for the United Nations climate change conference (COP21) to give their public support and reach a new and universal climate change agreement.

    This level of participation makes COP21 one of the largest diplomatic conferences ever organized. It has been described by Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of COP21, as “a first” for France.

    At the opening ceremony of the conference, which was webcast live around the globe, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, said that the eyes of millions of people around the world are on the governments meeting in Paris. And that this gives them the opportunity and the responsibility to finalize an agreement that enables the achievement of national climate change goals, delivers the necessary support for the developing world, and catalyses continuously increasing ambition and action by all.

    “Future generations will judge us for our actions,” said Fabius, in his opening remarks. “In a time when nations share a sense of growing urgency, let’s make COP21 the historic success the world is waiting for.”

    Barack Obama, President of the United States at COP21. Credit: A. Valentini

    Barack Obama, President of the United States, stated that no nation, large or small, wealthy or poor is immune to climate change. He noted that for all the challenges we face, the growing threat of climate change could define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other before.
    “The future is in our hands, and that future is not one of strong economies, nor is it one where fragile states can find their footing. That future is one that we have the power to change. Right here. Right now,” said Obama.

    Obama noted that America is doing its share and will reduce carbon emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. Last year, the President set a new target to reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels within tenyears from now.

    In her speech, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, described the agreement that needs to be reached at COP21 as ambitious, comprehensive and binding.

    “Today, in Paris, we have to show that what we promised in Copenhagen we will deliver,” she said, explaining that Germany is playing its role by doubling the funding for renewable energy to reduce emissions of 40 percent by 2020.

    Her closing remarks were straight to the point.

    “Billions of people are pinning their hopes on what we are doing in Paris these days. Let’s not have them lose their hope," said Merkel.

    From the statements made at the opening ceremony, world leaders seem to share a common purpose here in Paris, and this is to make the world a better place for our children and the future generations to come.

    In Obama’s words, this should be:
     “A world that is marked not by conflict, but by cooperation; and not by human suffering, but by human progress. A world that’s safer, and more prosperous, and more secure, and more free than the one that we inherited. Let’s get to work.”

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    The 1st of December was Agriculture Day at CoP21 in Paris Le Bourget.
    A number of journalists asked for interviews with IFAD today to find out if there are any new insights and innovative approaches to climate change in the agriculture sector.
    Agriculture has traditionally been a difficult topic in these negotiations due to its twin nature of being on the one hand a contributor to, and on the other hand a victim of, global warming.
    Only recently has the issue gained in prominence, mainly due to opportunities for scaling up and to reach climate change mitigation and adaptation objectives in one go.
    One of the events that were organized on agriculture day at COP21 was a high-level event to present scaleable multi-benefit initiatives in the agriculture sector.
    French Agriculture Minister Le Foll presented the new '4 per 1000' initiative to store more carbon in soils, WRI presented an initiative to reduce the 1.8 billion tonnes of global food waste per year, and IFAD’s President Kanayo F.  Nwanze showed how programmes such as ASAP (IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme) can help to reduce 80 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions solely by investing in climate adaptation for smallholder farmers.
    David Nabarro, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security, told the audience - which included dignitaries such as the King of Sweden - how he followed the birth of ASAP  and saw it develop into the leading global flagship programme for smallholder adaptation over the course of only three years.
    The general impression of this day has been very positive. Agriculture has finally made it into the consciousness of the COP as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.
    Agriculture is unlikely to feature in the main text of a global climate agreement, but it will be a building block of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of many countries and thereby an integral part of turning an agreement into practice.
    Gernot Laganda- Lead Technical Advisor

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    Recent changes in climate have had widespread impacts on humanity and ecosystems. A transformative adaptation agenda with real innovative actions is needed to accelerate action on key issues such as the water sector, food security and oceans.

    Here at COP21, the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) is hosting another of its 'Action Days'. Today's focus is on Resilience. Resilience can have many different meanings to many different people, and today, in Paris, saw a nine hour marathon debate on the subject.

    The first speaker was the president of last year’s COP20 in Lima, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Peru’s Minister of Environment. 

    "We must have resilience as a main objective whenever we engage in climate change talks’” said the Minister. “Why has it taken since 1992- to get resilience as a main talking point or objective in climate change talks?"

    He also offered up an opinion on where he believes the answer to climate change resilience lies, "Science is key, it is the only way to know!"

    Garry Conille, former Prime Minister of Haiti, stated: "Resilience cannot be built over night. You cannot just invest in resilience and then it is done. Building resilience is a journey of continuous learning and innovation".

    The second speaker was Ségolène Royal, Minister of Environment, France. Her speech was very much aimed at a discussion on water, and the many terrible problems the Earth faces in regards to water.

    "Millions lack access to drinking water. Millions die from it. And then in other areas, we have such an excess of water, rising sea levels, floods, that people are dying from that."

    The French Minister went on to say: "Resilience is about more than just adaptation or overcoming adversity, it is also about learning from that adversity and starting over. It is not just about returning to the starting point. It is about rebuilding, strengthening, powering something strong from a negative experience".

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