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    By Marian Odenigbo, IFAD Senior Technical Specialist

    Increasingly, development partners and stakeholders are promoting awareness on nutrition mainstreaming. It was so interesting to see enthusiastic workshop participants from IFAD projects in 10 countries in the East and Southern Africa region in a quest for exploring opportunities to accelerate nutrition mainstreaming in development projects. IFAD and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security of Botswana hosted this learning and capacity building workshop in Maun, Botswana from 5-7 March 2018.

    Workshop participants hailed from different types of investment projects, ranging from natural resource management, climate-smart agriculture, irrigation, agricultural production and productivity, fisheries, livestock, agribusiness, value chain and rural finance interventions. The attendees from Botswana, as well, were drawn from various sectors, including health, agriculture and veterinary services. This workshop was a successful, structured, three-day learning event which benefited from the support of FAO and WFP under the auspice of Rome-based food and agriculture agencies (RBA) collaborative initiative.

    The overall goals of the event were to:
    • Promote a better understanding of basic nutrition knowledge and the integration of cross-cutting issues in nutrition mainstreaming in agriculture and rural development projects 
    • Create awareness of existing resources that the project staff can access to support nutrition mainstreaming in their project interventions 
    • Better define the roles and responsibilities of the nutrition focal points at project level.

    Raising awareness on nutrition
    The official opening session saw the Minister of Agriculture, the Hon. Patrick Pule Ralotsia, touching on some of the more pressing factors of nutrition situation. According to Hon. Ralotsia, “What you eat determines how far you can go”. He went further in emphasising the importance of preventing malnutrition instead of treating its consequences by stating that “Any Government that takes nutrition seriously will convert hospitals into schools”. Exponents of the Ministry of Agriculture were all in agreement that thinking in terms of agricultural production alone was not enough to solve the rampant issues of malnutrition, and that nutrition education as well as focusing on expanding dietary diversity were key factors in in solving malnutrition at the country level.

    Opening session of the workshop: Hon. Patrick Pule Ralotsia, Minister of Agriculture (3rd person from right)

    As part of the opening session, one of the project focal points, Mr Jeronimo Francisco (a nutrition expert in PRONEA Support Project, Mozambique) introduced a short video detailing the efforts on raising nutrition awareness and the promotion of nutrition sensitive interventions in Mozambique. Specifically, the video showcased the activities of extension workers on promoting good nutrition through culinary demonstrations units in the communities. 

    The workshop started with an interactive nutrition awareness session facilitated by Boitshepo "Bibi" Giyose, senior Nutrition Officer in FAO/ NEPAD. This session as asked questions about nutrition, "Is boosting agricultural production enough to solve malnutrition?" and "Is macronutrient deficiency more important than micronutrient deficiency?".

    Leveraging Rome-based agency collaboration for nutrition at country level
    The workshop involved training sessions with the support of FAO and WFP colleagues, and IFAD staff from HQ, regional and country offices. Among the topics confronted by the agencies were the multiple burdens of malnutrition at the individual, community and national levels, which was presented by Gertrude Kara, the HIV, Gender and Nutrition Officer, FAO. Mrs Pontsho Sepoloane, WFP nutrition officer, dwelt on the cost of inaction on malnutrition. IFAD’s Isabel de la Peña delved into the role of agriculture in addressing malnutrition, presenting the key features of nutrition sensitive agriculture and rural development investments. Participants were introduced to the Integrated Impact Pathways approach for nutrition mainstreaming, which analyses how project activities contribute to improving household and individual nutrition, at output, outcome and, ultimately, impact level. Emphasis was made on the multidimensional nature of malnutrition and, consequently, the importance of the convergence of interventions in food security, water, sanitation and hygiene, care practices, sustainable and climate-smart agriculture, as well as the targeting of women and female youth for maximized impact on reducing malnutrition.

    Consolidating knowledge on nutrition
    During the first group work exercise, participants identified the underlying factors of malnutrition and emphasized the importance of reducing the impact of the AIDS epidemic and improving water safety. Addressing nutrition education and local ingredient sourcing with cooking demonstrations and utilising local media such as community radio was one of the more important suggestions made. The outcomes of the first group work then fed into the second exercise, during which each of the groups constructed an integrated impact pathway to illustrate how each case study would contribute to improving nutrition among target beneficiaries. Special care was taken by the participants to find linkages with gender, youth and climate issues with the nutrition activities they suggested.

    Learning and experience sharing on nutrition mainstreaming
    In light of IFAD's current mainstreaming approach which promotes horizontal integration of the different cross-cutting themes, a panel discussion was held on issues related to nutrition nexus with climate, environment, gender, women empowerment and youth. Resource persons were drawn from the regional technical experts in gender and climate as well as representatives from an international organization and a local NGO for practical experiences on the integrated approach in project interventions. 

    Marie Clarisse Chanoine, the technical specialist in environmental and climate change adaptation in IFAD projects explained the nutrition co-benefits of climate smart initiatives and how investments in climate change adaptation and mitigation at different scales could impact on nutrition. 

    Elizabeth Ssendiwala, the IFAD Regional Gender and Youth Coordinator for the East and Southern African Region highlighted the issues on women empowerment, targeting vulnerable groups including the youth for improved nutrition. She also emphasised the importance of intersecting the focus on nutrition with that on gender issues, being sure to include nutritionally at risk groups in a multifaceted approach to project interventions. 

    Dr Amegovu Kiri Andrew, the executive director of Andre Foods International (AFI) a local NGO in Uganda shared his experiences on the promotion of good nutrition. 

    Gábor Figeczky the Head of Global Policy at IFOAM - Organics International gave his compelling insights on how the use of innovations and networking are accelerating the work on nutrition.
    The lessons and experience shared on nutrition mainstreaming was backed up by a storytelling session held by four IFAD project coordinators: Kwibisa Liywalii (E-SAPP, Zambia), Martin Liywalii (S3P, Zambia), Rakotonaivo Hary Lala (FORMAPROD, Madagascar) and Dixon Ngwende (RLEEP, Malawi). Key points were raised, such as the importance of having clear nutrition indicators and objectives, and interfacing with existing government infrastructure, including the Universities and district-level officers. Some of the major challenges faced were also pointed out- balancing commercialisation and household consumption in agribusiness, the difficulty of nutrition retrofitting, and issues with coordination among ministries. According to Dixon Ngwende, nutrition retrofitting in an ongoing project should aim at cost-effective activities, as projects were not initially designed to accommodate nutrition activities in their budget. On a complementary note, Kwibisa Liywalii pointed to the importance of running a food and nutrition survey to inform nutrition initiatives. Rakotonaivo Hary Lala and Martin Liywalii pointed to interventions that could be accommodated within such constraints, such as youth vocational training in agriculture and including small livestock production at household-level. In finalizing this session, IFAD's corporate priority on nutrition was reiterated, and an introduction was given on the available resources to foster nutrition-sensitive interventions in on-going projects.

    Learning from the field
    The workshop participants were given the opportunity to visit four sites in Maun in order to observe or explore nutrition-sensitive initiatives. They were tasked to interact with the local farmers about their activities and to apply the knowledge acquired from the workshop for an integrated approach. The participants reconvened after the field visit to brainstorm and identify key ways in which nutrition was or was not being mainstreamed in the sites, and provide suggestions for a better integrated approach for nutrition linkage with gender and climate issues.

    One of the sites showcased the efforts of an independent agribusiness producer, Nonnie Wright, who runs a 120 ha dairy farm employing four women and two men. The participants pointed out the hiring of women, diversification of products and use of hygienic practices following the country's norms and regulations for dairy production as nutrition sensitive factors, but they also identified key issues such as inadequate fodder, lack of access to finance and the poor availability of fresh water. Suggestions were made for these issues, such as rain water harvesting, planting legumes and introducing horticulture, and exploring the possibility of applying for loans from gender empowerment funds to expand the herd and mechanize the farm so as to lower the work time burden and increase productivity. 

    Sereldi Farm field visit site in Maun, Botswana – demonstration of resources on site

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    Secure access to land for poor women and men living on newly created coastal islands – known locally as “chars” – in Bangladesh is one of many benefits resulting from the Char Development and Settlement Project. Over 11,800 families have been granted land titles, and a further 2,200 are in the process of doing so.

    The 143 communities with 29,000 households in the chars are vulnerable to cyclones and storm surges, floods and drainage congestion, droughts and salinity intrusion, erosion and deteriorating ecosystems. The chars are also culturally and socially conservative, leading to profound gender inequalities that affect the well-being of women. Then there is the issue of the illegal nature of land occupation, which results in a high degree of lawlessness and the risks of loss and physical harm for char settlers, especially women.

    The land titles are registered in the names of both wife and husband, with equal ownership shares. And the wife is named first on the title, which means that if she is widowed, divorced or abandoned, the land belongs entirely to her.

    Many beneficiaries have reported that as a result of receiving titles to their land, they feel confident and secure. This security has given many of them the impetus to improve or construct new housing and to increase their livestock, poultry and agricultural activities. The land titles and training provided are strengthening women’s influence in the family and society and giving them a legal role in many decisions. For example, child marriage still takes place, based on security reasons, household poverty and the misbelief that girls who have their first period are physically ready to become a mother. As a result of the social and gender awareness that the project provided, rates of child marriage have fallen – with 93 early marriages prevented between 2012 and 2016. Legal registration of marriage has increased, and violence against women is also less common.

    Through the project support to microcredit groups, women have been able to access credit and acquire machinery, such as small irrigation pumps and rice threshers, that reduces their manual labour. They have also taken training to improve their skills in livestock, fisheries, crop production, post-harvest technology and in other money-making activities, including tailoring. About 28,239 women borrowers have been provided (205 times) with credit and a total balance of saving accumulated is BDT 111 million, with a recovery rate of 98%. Access to water for domestic use has been vastly improved, and the average distance to a safe water source has fallen from 382 to 55 meter, saving women time and energy. All the household have hygienic latrines.

    Without a doubt, land titling has been effective in helping households to escape from insecurity and social marginalization, to form assets and to improve their livelihoods. Women in particular have taken great strides, strengthening their self-confidence and organizational skills and taking on decision-making and leadership roles for the first time. Mr Bazlul Karim, Deputy Team Leader and gender focal point of the project, says, “The government has been very supportive because when landless people started getting the land, their activities started revitalizing the whole area's economy. The land is used for farming and to build houses, and it brings large positive economic consequences.”

    IFAD Gender Awards winner 2017
    The Gender Awards spotlights a programme or project in each of IFAD’s five regions that has taken an innovative, transformative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. This year’s awards celebrate operations in Bangladesh, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique.

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    Empowering disadvantaged indigenous and Afro-descendant women and men is essential to lasting peace in Colombia, which is rebuilding following 50 years of conflict. The IFAD-funded programme known as TOP supports efforts to boost the incomes and improve the working conditions of 50,000 rural families living in extreme poverty. In line with Government policy, the programme is using an inclusive strategy to overcome discriminatory practices and include women in all activities.

    “One of the most challenging issues we faced was the complete lack of associations and associative environment,” says: Lida Maria Melo, Programme Representative. “The people we worked with were not used to working together and it was very hard at the beginning, since the programme required at least 15 people per group. Also, working in remote rural areas was challenging because people had lost their trust in public institutions due to corruption and previous unsuccessful interventions from the central government. We managed to recover the credibility of the institutions, and our efforts enabled local people to regain trust in themselves, in their abilities and capacities. They felt empowered and felt the project as their own.”

    Of the 13,300 extremely poor families so far reached by TOP, 57 per cent are headed solely by women. This represents over 60 per cent of the total programme goal, which is to reach 12,500 vulnerable rural households headed by women. Incentives are also being provided for women’s participation within other targeted population groups, including young people and victims of armed conflict.

    With programme support, local associations of indigenous and Afro-descendant women have started a wide range of income-generating and post-conflict reconciliation activities, including eco-tourism, tailoring, agrifood enterprises, environmental rehabilitation and reforestation. In a vital contribution to post-conflict recovery, they are also displacing illicit crops and replacing them with food crops. “One of the success stories that impressed me the most the group El Progreso, a group of women who breed guinea pigs, which is a typical dish in Southern Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru,” says Melo. “Their association has existed for over 30 years, but it was this programme that finally made them visible and recognized publicly. It is incredible to watch them now selling their products in local markets and festivities in the local communities.”

    As participation in activities promoted by the programme increases women’s confidence and skills, they are also becoming active in areas that were previously men’s domain, including livestock raising. A group of women in Cauca Pacífico are now raising and fattening cattle for meat production. TOP has developed a knowledge management and communications strategy to ensure that it gives high visibility to women who take initiatives and drive change in their communities. Melo explains, “A well-organized campaign carried out with all the communication tools available has enabled us to ensure visibility. We engaged with key public and private actors to involve the local community and especially women, to make them visible.”

    IFAD Gender Awards winner 2017

    The Gender Awards spotlights a programme or project in each of IFAD’s five regions that has taken an innovative, transformative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. This year’s awards celebrate operations in Bangladesh, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique.

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    Market gardening, harvesting forest products and rearing small livestock are a few of the activities enabling women and young people to earn an income through this IFAD-supported project in Mauritania.

    Among the activities, a total of 88 income-generation micro-projects are benefitting over 1,500 women and 1,000 young people, who make up more than 50 per cent of the project participants. Participants receive training and inputs to enable them to increase the quantity and quality of the goods they produce.

    Ahmed Ould Amar, project coordinator, explains, “Men started migrating to other regions to find a job, and so the area started being populated mainly by women. Women are responsible for many activities inside and outside the household, and we realized that it was crucial to focus on women's main issues: their economic activities and decision-making powers.”

    With support to develop their commercial skills, women have also increased their competitiveness and their ability to negotiate with market traders. Cereal banks have been established so that they can store produce and sell when the price is right.

    In addition to contributing to household income, they are increasing their role in family decision-making. The women have grown in confidence and increased their voice and influence outside their households as well: about 40 per cent of the decision-making roles in the producer organizations are now filled by women. Amar adds, “We have financed 191 projects, and 150 of them are agriculture-related projects in which women hold a central position.”

    “We have developed solutions to allow women to easily access drinking water well inside the villages,” says Amar. Improvements in access to drinking water have made a huge difference in the daily lives of women and girls, saving them an average of five hours per day and freeing their time and energy for education, money-making activities and participation in the community.

    The project has also invested in a wide range of educational activities, including literacy training, and sensitization on gender equality and the distribution of labour.

    IFAD Gender Awards winner 2017
    The Gender Awards spotlights a programme or project in each of IFAD’s five regions that has taken an innovative, transformative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. This year’s awards celebrate operations in Bangladesh, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique.

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    Women in remote mountain villages in Morocco are making and managing their own money and gaining skills and independence through this IFAD-supported value chain project. The project started work in 2012, building on a previous project implemented between 2000 and 2011. Of the nearly 28,000 taking part, about 11,000 are women.

    The project has strengthened value chains for the primary products of the area – olives, apples, sheep and wool – enabling small farmers to increase the quantity and quality of their production and to connect with markets. Twelve cooperatives have been set up, allowing members to bulk their produce, and in this way increase their bargaining power and receive agricultural services. Six of these cooperatives are made up exclusively of women.

    The project focuses on mobilizing and training women to encourage them to participate all along the value chains, and not just at the production stage, where less money is made. “We worked with the women on strengthening their administrative and technical capacities through the partnerships that the project has forged, mainly with institutional partners, but also with partners from civil society,” says Bensassi Zaineb, Agrifood Specialist and Gender Focal Point, Provincial Department of Agriculture. “The teams that were set up are now reaping the fruits of their work, through the services they provide to agriculture and through farmer-to-farmer technology transfer, with farmers paying fees for outreach,” they explain. “Production has increased for all three value chains selected by the project: 38 per cent for olives, 28 per cent for apples and 20 per cent for sheep meat.”

    One of the realities of daily life in the mountain zones is that the women of the household always take care of feeding the livestock without benefiting from any profits on the livestock.

    Thus, the “two-sheep initiative” was created. Many of the women started by taking out a small loan through the project to buy two sheep. They then organized themselves together to build up their businesses, selling animals for the Eid Al-Adha religious festival and using the wool to make Berber carpets sold as far away as Marrakesh. Results documented by the project show that the “two-sheep initiative” has increased the incomes of participating households by as much as 60 per cent.

    “As the project went on, women wanted to diversify their income sources, so there was a beekeeping project and then an olive project, says Elmendili Abdellah, Provincial Director of Agriculture, Marrakesh. “Now we are into the environmental conservation system, so that all of the olive by-products that were being thrown away and that posed a threat to the environment are now being recycled to make soap and soft soap.”

    The project has also made an impact on a sphere that is less easy to measure. Women’s activities outside the household and their membership in producers’ associations and cooperatives have enabled them to build networks outside their districts of origin, increasing their independence and freedom of movement. “Women have become more involved in community institutions as elected representatives,” says Zaineb. “They are now present at the regional chamber of agriculture. All of this means that these women have now become part of the territory’s socio-economic fabric and are actively participating in the economic progress of their communities.”

    This is no small feat in a strongly patriarchal society. Says Abdellah, “One of the first things we did was to involve men and sensitize them around the need to have women involved in all tasks, beyond purely household tasks. In doing so, the men agreed to give up ground.”

    IFAD Gender Awards winner 2017
    The Gender Awards spotlights a programme or project in each of IFAD’s five regions that has taken an innovative, transformative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. This year’s awards celebrate operations in Bangladesh, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique.

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    Women are increasingly getting their fair share of opportunities and advantages by participating in the Rural Markets Promotion Programme in the northern region of Mozambique, where two-thirds of the rural population is poor. Although this part of the country has good agricultural potential, farms there have some of the lowest yields in southern Africa. “The environment is conducive to high production and productivity, and to a diversity of crops,” says Robson Mutandi, IFAD Country Director. So how can the small-scale farmers in the region unlock this potential to rise out of subsistence farming? The answer is two-fold: producing surpluses, and marketing the surpluses. In other words, thinking of farming as a business and not just as a means for surviving day to day.

    “The programme was designed to promote the access of small-scale farmers to the market,” explains Carla Honwana, Programme Coordinator. “So some of the activities we are doing are building the capacities of farmer organizations, rehabilitating access roads, and improving access to market information and financial services. And fortunately women’s empowerment has featured strongly since the programme was designed.”

    In order to empower smallholders and enable them to connect to markets, the programme supports 500 farmer organizations, with women making up more than 50 per cent of the membership.  Much of the support takes the form of capacity-building and awareness-raising for these farmer organizations. “The really big thing I learned was to think like a businessperson,” says Isaltina Ali Trigo, a farmer. After taking training in literacy and numeracy, Ms Isaltina was able to use her new skills to calculate her food production, cut deals with buyers and seed suppliers, and to see her income grow. “Now I teach literacy to other people in my organization,” she adds.

    The training has also translated into women increasingly taking on leadership roles. In 2012, fewer than half of the organizations had women in leadership positions, and many of the positions were secretary or treasurer, traditional roles for women. By 2016, 75 per cent of the organizations had women leaders, with some holding the role of president.

    Ms Isaltina is not alone. Many women are now able to conduct business, and read and sign contracts, without fear of being cheated by traders or their husbands. And when the women sign marketing contracts, they get benefits that include guaranteed markets, better prices and inputs on credit. In 2012, only 4 per cent of contracts were signed by women, but by 2017 this had risen to 25 per cent and average earnings per contract had increased from US$56 to US$190.

    As with many development initiatives, one of the challenges for the programme is to ensure that women’s high participation in most of the activities translates into lasting empowerment. This is often hindered by cultural traditions having to do with decision-making, power relations, women’s mobility, gender division of labour, and access to and control over assets and benefits. To address this, the programme is using the Gender Action Learning System (GALS) to empower participants to challenge entrenched gender stereotypes and renegotiate domestic chores within their own households. GALS is one the most comprehensive of the Household Methodologies that IFAD has championed to enhance gender equality and women’s empowerment, and there is a pool of trainers on this methodology in the region who are being called upon to ensure that the women can be agents of change in their community as well as within the confines of their home.

    As Ms Honwana says, “Now we not only have participation of women, but we also have women being able, side by side with men, to take decisions about what to produce, what to sell, to whom, and especially what to do with the money. It's a sort of negotiation process at family level where they discuss and decide. Both women and men decide what to do.”

    IFAD Gender Awards winner 2017
    The Gender Awards spotlights a programme or project in each of IFAD’s five regions that has taken an innovative, transformative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. This year’s awards celebrate operations in Bangladesh, Colombia, Mauritania, Morocco and Mozambique.

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    Last year brought a critical mass of women who refuse to remain silent. The “women’s movement” has been swept into the mainstream and become more diverse. Social media has become increasingly effective at mobilizing younger generations of women and girls. But what about the voices of women living in remote rural areas of developing countries?

    Journalists and development practitioners came together to discuss their roles in amplifying the voices of rural women at an IFAD sponsored panel at the 2018 International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. The panel included IFAD’s Ilaria Firmian, climate knowledge, environment and capacity development officer; journalist Megan Williams from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; journalist Thin Lei Win from Thomson Reuters Foundation; and Ugandan journalist and farmer, Caroline Namara from Radio Bushyeni.

    Moving beyond victimhood
    A theme throughout the discussion was the responsibility journalists have to find alternative ways to depict rural women. Thin Lei Win stressed how important it is to not fall into the narrative of portraying them as helpless victims of circumstance.

    "Rural women are marginalized, but they are also extremely resilient”. Women have so much more to share than their suffering, and, most often, it is their joys and their new competencies that they want to talk about.

    It is key that journalists rethink their perceptions of rural women and how they feature them. In other words, journalists must acknowledge their own bias and question whether it amplifies or suppresses the women's voices. Williams suggests that journalists use this inevitable subjectivity to their advantage by personalizing the stories in order to emphasize the dignity of rural women. She emphasizes how important it is to include “colour,” or small details that give humanity and personality to the stories of rural women. Even the most simple details can defy the stereotype.

    Shifting the power dynamic
    In addition to acknowledging subjectivity, it is also important that journalists do what they can to address the power dynamic between journalist and subject. It is their job, especially when working with rural women, to lend as much power as they can to interviewees.

    Megan Williams does this in her interviews by "shifting my script to give the women the power to take hold of the narrative and being open enough to let them direct their own story."

    On the development side, IFAD's Ilaria Firmian talks about how, when designing their projects, IFAD sticks to an approach that involves always starting with the voices of women. From planning to implementing to evaluating, the project is always tailored toward what the women thinks needs to be done. Therefore, it is important to give them the tools and resources necessary to speak up about what they want and need.

    Caroline Namara's project, Radio Bushyeni, is a perfect example of this approach. It gives the power directly to women by giving them the training and tools they need to share their knowledge and strengthen one another's voices through radio communication and technology.

    Getting men involved
    A necessary component of all development projects is a gender transformative approach. This requires installing technologies and practices that change the culture of a community in a lasting manner. For a gender-based project to be effective, men must not be excluded from activities intended to empower women.

    Win explains that when we incorporate men into the project design, "they are made to understand that this is not a zero sum game. When women gain, men gain too." Firmian agrees, saying, "there is no such thing as men’s resistance... it is just a lack of awareness.” She argues that men need only be incorporated in and educated by the projects in order to foster and gain their support.

    Namara talks about how to create what she calls "male champions’’. Her project, Radio Bushyeni, invited men to attend a training on the empowerment of women before training the women themselves to work with radio technology. She tells us that her goal was to encourage the men to support their wives and to share what they had learned with other men.

    Win, speaking directly to journalists, asked them to not see women’s stories as the domain of women journalists. Energy must be channeled toward encouraging journalists of all genders to pursue women's stories. Although empowering women is the priority, male journalists that elevate the stories of rural women must be supported as well.

    In a world where women are speaking up more and more, it is imperative that actors from all spheres of life work together to ensure no woman is left without the ability to attain her own empowerment.

    Learn more about IFAD and rural women 

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    Di Andrea Portentoso e Silvia Tallini

    In tutto il mondo, milioni di donne che vivono nelle aree rurali costituiscono il cuore dell’agricoltura e dell’economia. Molte di loro non hanno accesso all'educazione scolastica né all'informazione: ciò impedisce loro di entrare in contatto con il movimento femminista di massa divenuto popolare grazie ai social media.

    Attraverso quali strumenti è possibile dar forza alla voce delle donne che lavorano nelle aree rurali più remote del pianeta?

    Questo è stato il quesito centrale del dibattito organizzato dal Fondo Internazionale per lo Sviluppo Agricolo (IFAD) a Perugia, in occasione della dodicesima edizione del Festival Internazionale del Giornalismo.

    Il potere della tecnologia e dell'informazione può contribuire fortemente alla rottura di schemi prestabiliti - che spesso costringono la donna a farsi carico dei lavori famigliari ed extra famigliari - e al miglioramento della qualità della vita delle donne in agricoltura.

    I mezzi di comunicazione possono amplificare notevolmente la voce delle donne a livello mondiale e contribuire ad una mobilitazione delle nuove generazioni di donne nelle comunità rurali. Radio, telefoni cellulari, giornali e televisione sono strumenti fondamentali per l'acquisizione di una maggiore consapevolezza: "Attraverso uno smartphone, esse ricevono un determinato tipo di educazione a cui non potrebbero accedere altrimenti. Il telefono consente loro di utilizzare i social media per entrare in contatto con altre donne che vivono la loro stessa realtà", spiega Caroline Namara. La giornalista ugandese è autrice del progetto "Radio Bushyeni", realizzato grazie al sostegno finanziario dell'IFAD e con il quale è stato possibile raggiungere sia le comunità agricole prive di telefoni cellulari, sia le persone che non sanno leggere o scrivere.

    Fortunatamente, il cambiamento verso una diffusione della tecnologia tra le donne delle aree rurali è già in atto: “Le donne sono state a lungo private di potere, informazione ed educazione, ma adesso è arrivato il momento di parlare della loro resilienza”, dice Thin Lei Win, giornalista di Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    A tal proposito, Ilaria Firmian, della divisione che si occupa di ambiente e clima all'IFAD, aggiunge che "La tecnologia e il capitale sociale sono la combinazione ottimale per migliorare la realtà che vivono le donne in agricoltura e per creare un sentimento di fiducia e consapevolezza. È una grandiosa opportunità per supportare le donne e le giovani generazioni nell’accesso all’educazione, all’informazione e all’ottenimento di maggior potere”.

    Sono necessari un impegno e una presenza costante delle istituzioni al fine di ottenere buoni risultati in un periodo non eccessivamente lungo, come sostiene anche Megan Williams, giornalista della CBC.

    Infine, aggiunge Thin, in questo processo educativo delle donne all'utilizzo dei nuovi mezzi di comunicazione, è di fondamentale importanza che anche gli uomini siano coinvolti nei corsi di formazione relaizzati dai progetti dell’IFAD per contribuire attivamente al cambiamento.

    Come è emerso dal dibattito di Perugia, sarà proprio la tecnologia il principale strumento attraverso il quale le donne potranno dar voce ai loro bisogni ed acquisire una maggior consapevolezza, consentendo loro di partecipare più attivamente alla vita comunitaria e quindi allo sviluppo del proprio paese.

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    This is an extract of an interview of Mr Matteo Marchisio, Country Representative of IFAD in China, at CGTN America on 8 March 2018.

    1. What policies are in place to reduce poverty in China?

    Poverty reduction in China is the result of a number of successful policies and measures that complemented and supported with each other over the past 40 years. However, if I had to identify the most important, I would name four.

    First, the set-up of an inter-ministerial body (the Leading Group Office on Poverty Alleviation, LGOP) that reports directly to the State Council that oversees and coordinates poverty reduction efforts in the country. Being poverty a multidisciplinary problem, the set-up of an inter-ministerial body allowed the country to develop and implement coordinated multi-sectoral responses to poverty.

    Second, an effort to precise targeting, followed by tailored poverty reduction measures. China significantly invested in understanding and recording who the poor are, where they live, and why they are poor. Once understood who the poor are and the underlying reasons of their status of poverty, China developed specific, tailored measures for poverty reduction which specifically address the identified cause of poverty (i.e. production enhancement/industrialization of rural areas, investments in social welfare, voluntary resettlement programs, ecological compensation for preserving natural resources, provision of vocational training opportunities, etc.).

    Third, the provision of a strong financial support to implement the identified poverty reduction measures. For instance, in 2017 about RMB 200 billion (about USD 30 billion) from the Government budget were allocated to finance poverty reduction programs. In 2018, the allocation for poverty reduction has increased by about 50%, to about RMB 300 billion (about USD 50 billion). This gives the governments at different level the means to implement the identified poverty reduction measures.

    Fourth, understanding that poverty is a multi-disciplinary problem, whose root cases cuts across different sectors, the implementation of an integrated approach to poverty reduction. Such approach combined investments in infrastructure development (roads, railways, irrigation canals, etc.) with investment for social development (i.e. investments in the health and education sector) and economic development (i.e. production enhancement and "industrialization" of the rural areas).

    2. How have these measured worked so far?

    The combined efforts of these policies and measures has certainly been successful, if we consider that 40 years ago, in 1978, when Deng Xiao Ping started his reforms, there were more than 800 million people living in poverty, and today the estimated number of poor range between 32-35 million.

    3. China aims to lift over 10 million people in the rural areas out of poverty within this year. Is it likely that China will achieve this target? What more should the government to do so?

    I am convinced the target is achievable, if we consider that in 2017 about 13 million people were brought out of poverty, and in the five-year period 2013-2017 about 70 million people were brought out of poverty (that is to say about 13-14 million people per year on average).

    Considering that the closer you get to the target (i.e. no extreme poverty in 2020), the harder it becomes to achieve it, I believe a lower than pervious years' figure represents a realistic target.

    4. Which provinces and regions should be given more attention to?

    Historically, the Central and Western provinces were the poorest. Nowadays while this is still - to a certain extent - true, we are now talking more about the "remaining pockets of poverty" within provinces. These are typically remote mountainous areas.

    There are about 600 counties which are classified as "national poverty counties".

    5. What challenges still remain?

    As mentioned earlier, the closer you get to the "zero-poverty" target, the harder it becomes to reach it: the marginal costs, the marginal efforts to bring the remaining poor out of poverty is as a matter of fact increasing.

    The reason is that the remaining poor are spread out in even furtherly remote and marginal areas, with difficult physical access, limited natural or physical assets, and limited development opportunities. In addition, the remaining poor are the most vulnerable segment of society, i.e. the eldest, chronically sick or handicapped people.

    It is thus understandable that the efforts and costs for bringing these poor out of their status of poverty is higher.

    6. China has been a leading force in lifting people out of poverty. What lessons and experience can it lend to the world?

    As mentioned earlier, poverty reduction in China is the results of a number of factors. However, if I have to pick what, in my view, has been the most important factor of success in China, I would say that this was the steady and continuous strong political commitment to poverty eradication, which translated into a long-term vision which has been maintained consistently over four decades by the different leaders, a series of coherent mid-term plans which supported the long-term vision, an adequate allocation of resources to implement the plans, and a clear responsibility and accountability framework at all levels.

    This is probably the lesson that China can lend to the world: with a clear vision and strong political commitment, ending poverty is possible.

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    Par Jonky Tenou

    Le sommet Africain sur 'Climate SMART Agriculture' s'est achevé ce mercredi 16 mai 2018 à Trademark Hotel à Nairobi au Kenya.

    Premier du genre et placé sous le thème : Partenariat, Innovation et Financement pour une agriculture résiliente au climat, ce sommet a réuni plus de quatre cent participants venant de plusieurs pays d'Afrique et issus des administrations publiques, du secteur privé, des universités et centres de recherche, des média, des organisations des jeunes, de la société civiles y compris les ONG et les organisations paysannes. Les partenaires techniques et financiers bilatéraux et multilatéraux comprenant les agences Onusiennes, les institutions financières africaines et internationales y étaient également représentées.

    Pendant deux jours, les participants ont débattu des sujets d'intérêt général visant à promouvoir une agriculture africaine résiliente au climat, capable d'assurer la sécurité alimentaire pour une population africaine de plus en plus croissante. A travers les conférences publiques, les panels de discussion, les tables rondes, les études de cas, les projections vidéos et les expositions, les participants ont analysés les voies et les moyens pour la mise à échelle des innovations technologiques et financières en matière de climat pour la transformation du monde rural depuis les chaînes de production jusqu’à la commercialisation en passant par la transformation.

    Le FIDA était représenté à ce sommet par Margarita Astralaga, Directrice de la Division Environnement, Climat, Genre et Inclusion Sociale (ECG) et Yawo Jonky Tenou, Task Manager du Programme Intégré de renforcement de la durabilité et la résilience pour la sécurité alimentaire en Afrique sub-saharienne (IAP-FS).

    Margarita, paneliste du sommet, est intervenue sur le thème : "Future-proofing African Agriculture : Using climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) and other Technique to Achieve Lasting Transformation"' . Sa communication a mis l'accent sur le rôle incontournable du FIDA dans la transformation du monde rural sur le continent africain en termes de financement et d'accompagnement technique. Ce rôle important a été reconnu par tous les acteurs présents. 

    En présentant le Programme d'Adaptation des Petits Agriculteurs aux Effets des Changements Climatiques (ASAP) touchant au moins 8 millions exploitants dans 41 pays et mobilisant 305 millions de dollars, Margarita a su montrer aux participants comment le FIDA promeut la résilience aux changements climatiques à grande échelle en milieu rural.

    Margarita a également mis en exergue le partenariat entre le FIDA et le Fonds pour l'Environnement Mondial (FEM) avec un portefeuille programmatique de 32 projets dont la lutte contre les changement climatiques pour la résilience des petits producteurs en constitue la colonne vertébral et mobilise environ 161 millions de dollars. L'un des programmes phares de ce partenariat est IAP-FS couvrant 12 pays de l'Afrique Sub-saharienne. Ce programme qui envisage assurer la gestion durable de 10 millions d'hectares, réduire 10 millions de ton d'émissions des gaz à effet de serre et augmenter de 15% la diversité génétique dans le paysage productif, a été perçu comme un modèle d'approche qui intègre le partenariat, l'innovations et la gestion des connaissances.

    Margarita a aussi mis l'accent  sur le partenariat du FIDA avec le Fonds Vert pour le Climat (GCF) comme un mécanisme financier devant soutenir la mise en œuvre du cadre stratégique 2016 – 2025 du FIDA en lien avec l'agenda 2030. Ce cadre vise entre autres le renforcement la durabilité environnementale et la résilience au climat pour la préservation des activités économiques et des moyens d'existence des pauvres en milieu rural.

    Beaucoup de cas pratiques de solutions innovantes des projets du FIDA ont été présentés et fortement appréciés par l'audience. Il s’agit du Biogaz comme source d'énergie à faible cout pour les petits agriculteurs au Mali et au Rwanda; de la maitrise de l'eau aux fins d'irrigation pour 15000 fermiers au Malawi;  du développement des zones montagneuses par la production des arbres fruitiers utilisant la technique d'irrigation goutte à goutte au Maroc; de la restauration des  terres dégradées, et l'amélioration des revenus des petits producteurs suivant une approche intégrée au Nige.,

    Les questions transversales, notamment le rôle de la femme et des jeunes, l'accès aux financements, aux ressources productives et aux marchés et l’inclusion sociale sont des éléments sur lesquelles Ms Astralaga a beaucoup insisté.

    Le sommet a conclu que  la mise à l’échelle des solutions innovantes pour promouvoir une agriculture africaine résiliente au climat ne saurait effective sans l'engagement et le partenariat entre acteurs à toutes les échelles,. Le secteur public devra créer des cadres favorables et incitatifs au développement, déploiement et mise à l’échelle des innovations dans le secteur agricole. Le partenariat public-privé devra être renforcé,. Les fonds multilatéraux et bilatéraux devront servir de catalyseurs car ils ne pourront pas à eux seuls apporter la transformation souhaitée du monde rural sur le continent au regard des multiples défis.

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    By Marian Odenigbo, IFAD Senior Technical Specialist, Nutrition

    Investment projects on agriculture and rural development are increasingly focusing on improving the nutritional status of project beneficiaries. This has led to the project implementation going beyond the context of food security - the access and availability of food commodities to improved diet quality and nutrition outcomes. In IFAD, we have documented reports on influence of project interventions and testimonies on diet quality from farmers and beneficiaries involved in various investment focused-projects (such as natural resource management; crop productivity; livestock; fisheries; rural marketing; value chain; and climate-smart agriculture).

    Mrs Xantonnon, a farmer and beneficiary of Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme in Zambia, believes her life has been changed significantly since the programme launch. She said “at the start of the project life cycle, we had an unstable market where the food prices were high and unstable, but now we can see more production and market stability thanks to the project. I and other community members can boldly speak about changes in our diet and the reduction of hunger in our households.”

    We are increasingly, supporting projects and programmes in promoting the consumption of quality food and diet for good nutrition. The quality of dietary intake has significant impact on the nutritional status of rural poor farming households.

    Diet quality encompasses the consumption of safe, nutritious and diverse food commodities. In nutrition-sensitive projects, the focus is mainly to contribute and facilitate food safety, production and consumption of nutrient rich food varieties and diversified diets.

    Projects could assess and measure the contribution of nutrition–sensitive interventions on the beneficiaries’ nutrition outcomes with the use of dietary diversity indicators. There is a wide range of different indicators on dietary diversity such as Household Dietary Diversity Score; Minimum Dietary Diversity for women; Minimum Dietary Diversity for Children.

    Priority on dietary diversity for women

    Why should a project assess the dietary diversity of women rather than men?

    • Women and, in particular women of reproductive age (15-49 years) are vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies due to their physiological higher demand as compared to adult men. 
    • Women can be disadvantaged in intra-household distribution of nutritious foods and diets in the resource-poor settings - the primary targets for IFAD operations. 
    • Dietary diversity will promote micronutrient adequacy before pregnancy and during pregnancy to lactation for improved maternal nutrition and child health predominantly during the critical first 1,000-days of life. 
    • Minimum Dietary Diversity for women (MDD-W) is a diet quality indicator and a global indicator used at individual level and associated with micronutrient adequacy of diets. Whereas, the dietary diversity indicator at household level measures food access and dietary consumption pattern of the entire household members and it is used to represent the household’s socioeconomic level. 
    The IFAD Mapping of Nutrition-Sensitive Interventions in East and Southern Africa (2016) provided an insight on the data collection for dietary diversity at household verses individual levels. The findings of this mapping revealed a higher proportion of women and children groups with poor dietary diversity as compared to the household level.

    Given the IFAD corporate priority on nutrition and in reaching the most vulnerable groups, MMD-W indicator is considered feasible and meaningful for monitoring the impact of IFAD investment projects on nutrition through the impact pathway of increasing food group diversity in family diets and among the nutritionally at risk groups.

    Measuring dietary diversity

    Dietary diversity is a measure of diet quality and a simple indicator that calculates the number of different food groups consumed over a given period. Different lists of food groups are used to compute dietary diversity scores at the household level; for women of reproductive age (15-49 years); and for children (6-23 months).
    • Household Dietary Diversity (HDD) is computed with 12 food groups 
    • Minimum Dietary Diversity for women (MDD-W) is computed with 10 food groups 
    • Minimum Dietary Diversity for Children (MDD-C) is computed with 8 food groups 
    At household level, an intake of less than five food groups out of the 12 groups is classified as a poor HDD. For MDD-W and MDD-C, an intake of at least five groups out of 10 and eight food groups respectively, is rated as good dietary intake.

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    23 - 25 April 2018, Xai-Xai, Mozambique

    Vivienne Likhanga and Laura Fantini

    In late April 2018, the first ever Local Champions Fair in Africa by the PROCASUR Corporation was concluded in Xai-Xai, Mozambique.

    The cross-regional three day Local Champions Fair focused on Innovative solutions for Integrating Local Champions in Agricultural Extension and Advisory Systems. The event was organized and implemented by PROCASUR in collaboration with the Pro-poor Value Chain Development Project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL) with the Agricultural Development Fund (FDA), under the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) of Mozambique. It was co-funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the frame of the IFAD-PROCASUR Grant Programme "Strengthening Capacities and tools to scale up and disseminate Innovations"

    Participants described the cross regional knowledge-sharing event as a ground-breaking tool for knowledge sharing among peers. The event was attended by 135 persons and brought together over 70 participants - among them 25 were local champions - from 13 different project delegations. In attendance were members of different IFAD co-funded projects and development organisations, such as CARE International, from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Peru. A strong representation of national and local authorities from Mozambique actively attended and contributed to the event.

    A group photo: Opening day ~ A section of the participants of the Local Champions Fair with Mr. Higino Francisco de Marrule, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security (MASA) and Ms. Stela Pinto Novo Zeca, the Governor of Gaza Province

    Why a Learning Event on Local Champions and Extension Services?

    Agricultural extension and advisory services play a crucial role in agricultural development and can contribute to improve the welfare of small-holder farmers and people living in rural areas whose livelihoods strongly depend on agriculture. They can be organized and delivered in a variety of forms, but their ultimate aim is to increase farmers’ capacities to overcome poverty in a sustainable way. The effectiveness of the extension system in fostering capacity building, technological adoption and ultimately improved agricultural outcomes depends on many key factors, some of them are strongly contextualized and for this reason, there is not an equal solution to be adopted in all countries around the world. Among those factors, the advisory approaches and methodologies used, the ability of farmers in accessing them and in exercising their voice, and their role in formulating demands, in disseminating knowledge and in transferring technologies play an important role.

    In this framework, the main objective of the Local Champions Fair was to build a cross regional concrete platform of outstanding talents, project directors, decision-makers, technical and extension officers to analyse and to discuss collectively the opportunities to strengthen the advisory models that are based on local champions and on the Farmer-to-Farmer methodologies.

    The project delegations participating in the event shared their experiences, good practices and farmers practical solutions on the assessment, harvesting and integration of knowledge in the rural technical advisory services

    Mr Fabiao Cossa, an animal health officer and Local Champion in the Red Meat Value Chain in Chokwe, Manjague District Mozambique, receiving his certificate of recognition for his exemplary services and leadership

    Farmer to Farmer Exchanges
    The first day of the Local Champions Fair was a unique experience. The official opening session was graced by Mr. Higino Francisco de Marrule, the Minister of agriculture and food security (MASA) and Ms. Stela Pinto Novo Zeca, the Governor of Gaza Province. 

    Afterwards there was a plenary session on the role of Local Champions in extension and advisory services with a focus on existing challenges and opportunities. The panel was chaired by Custodio Mucavel, the IFAD Country Programme Officer in Mozambique and the key speakers were a senior expert, Dario Pulgar, the Director of the National Department for Extension Agriculture in MASA, Ms. Sandra Silver, the Project Director of the Sustainable Territorial Development Project (STDP) an IFAD co-funded project in Peru, Jose Salier Pasco, and the Director for land conservation from the Ministry of Agriculture in Malawi, Kefasi Kamoyo. 

    After lunch, the Fair session was opened. Each country delegation showcased their project experiences on the implementation of farmer-to-farmer rural advisory models. They shared their good practices and the farmers’ practical solutions stimulating discussion around the assessment, harvesting and integration of knowledge in rural technical advisory services. The Local Champions from the different countries participating in the event were the protagonists of the fair session.

    During the second day, the participants were divided into two groups to take part in the field visits. The participants had the opportunity to meet the PROSUL emerging farmers, the farmers promoters and the community in the field in order to learn directly by them about the role plaid of these Local Champions in mobilizing and training other farmers as well as in disseminating knowledge and in transferring technologies. The field visits focused on the interventions under the PROSUL Project whose goal is to establish improved and climate-resilient livelihoods of small farmers involved in the three target value chains (namely the horticulture value chain, the cassava value chain and the red meat value chain) in selected districts of the Maputo and Limpopo corridors in Mozambique.
    Group 1 travelled to Chókwè district at Manjangue to meet the Champions under the red meat value chain and to Gandlaze to a horticulture value chain farmer field school site. Group 2 travelled to Zavala District to see the demonstration on traditional cassava processing as done by the Vuneka Maita women's association and Mandlakazi district to learn about the farmer to farmer exchanges on cassava production and multiplication.

    Local Champions of the Vuneka Maita women's Association in Zavala, showcasing their cassava processing activities

    The exercise created a big interest among the community members and the participants were impressed by the initiatives being carried out under the PROSUL project in particular the integrated approaches on fostering sustainability and resilience that includes the farmers, extension services, IFAD project and the government working together.
    The final day of the Local Champions Fair was dedicated to the collective analysis of the lessons learnt on how to improve the farmer-to-farmer models into the projects and programmes operations. Despite the distinctness of the approaches and challenges addressed by the country/project delegations, they showed a number of common aspects, such as the focus on up-scaling (providing hierarchical support to Local Champions,) and out-scaling (facilitating farmer to farmer knowledge diffusion) good practices and tools for monitoring and assessment. There was a mutual agreement on the need to institutionalize mechanisms that motivate the Local Champions at a community level and project level.

    An entire session of the workshop was dedicated to bilateral and trilateral conversations among the country / project delegations who showed specific commonalities and specific needs to share more in depth. All the delegations strongly committed to follow up and build next steps together, to continue working together and to organize future occasion of knowledge and experience sharing, all in the name of the common aim of improving Local Champions integration into the extension and advisory services. PROCASUR will facilitate this process. 

    Plenary sessions on the lessons learnt to improve farmer to farmer models into project and programme operations
    What came out loud and clear: Highlights
    • “There’s a need of people in the community who are able to help others in terms of understanding the technologies, linking to market and in all those aspects related to the development of rural communities. Local Champions are people that can adopt technologies quicker and better than other farmers and in this way they can be used to help the government extension services in the dissemination of information and technologies thereby bringing a lot more people to benefit from extension services” ~ Custodio Mucavel, IFAD Country Programme Officer, Mozambique 
    • “A Local Champion should be a person who has a good reputation in the community and some abilities, one of them being open to learn. Such a person can be able to disseminate knowledge and transfer technologies to other farmers in the surrounding communities. Extension officers need to work with the champions at local level to replicate good practices.” ~ Daniel Mate, PROSUL Project Director
    • I am an auxiliary veterinary and I have 15 years of experience as a Local Champion specializing in providing technical assistance to community members and farmers organizations in high landscape in Perú. In 2013 my community identified me as a leader. I started off as a promoter within several project and organizations. Today I have a certification as a livestock rural extensionist and I have signed several agreements with municipalities. I thank the organizers of this international event for giving me the opportunity to share my experience with other local champions in order to share with them how we can act to develop our countries more and more. Local Champions need to be the agents of change in our communities” ~ Felicitas Quispe, President of the Asociación kamayoq Toribio Quispe, Local Champion
    • “When the farmers work with the governments, ministries and extension services, there will be conflicting interests and situations because of the presence of extractive industries which have a significant impact on the lives and the way things are done in local communities. There should awareness of the situational context in which communities operate and how they will be changed radically because of the presence of extractive industries. However the issue of the cultural dimension of development should not be ignored because Local Champions should not follow a process of imposing things on different cultures. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) the issue of indigenous people is a very important question. Extension services and projects should respect the culture of indigenous people. Because the ways and norms in which they live is completely different” ~ Dario Pulgar, Senior expert, Independent Consultant
    • “This Fair opens a space for discussion about new ways of providing agriculture extension and rural services. To have the same producers who tell us what are their capacities and their local knowledge, what are the local articulations through which they can lead the process of change is crucial in order to open new opportunities. The event showed us that rural development and rural areas around the world share common challenges, but also that each region and country has some specificities and for this reason a unique model is not viable everywhere. This event shows how it is possible to start from the local to build development” ~ Mireya Eugenia Valencia Perafan, University of Brasilia.

    Participants: From left to right, A PROSUL Local Champion with Humphrey Kimathi from the IFAD Project, Upper Tana Catchment Natural Resource Management Project (UTaNRMP) in Kenya and Marcília Rodrigues de Souza from the SEMEAR IFAD Project in Brazil, at the "Tree of knowledge"

    We would like to take this opportunity to share with you the following album with the pictures of the event. We strongly invite you to join and contribute with your thoughts and comments in the Facebook Group created for the event in order to network and to follow our discussions on the topic.

    Also visit the dedicated website page, the Procasur Africa Facebook and Twitter page for additional reading and information on the event.

    For any further information on the event you can also write to Laura Fantini (Local Champions Fair Coordinator)

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    By Marian Amaka Odenigbo, Elena Bertusi and Narciso Manhenje

    Producers in Montepuez District, Cabo Delgado Province (northern Mozambique) and members of Wapaja Hiliyale Farmer Field School are expanding their production areas, improving yields, incomes, and ensuring food security all-year-round. Since 2016, the national public extension services through the PSP project are integrating nutrition education within the Farmer Field School Groups (FFS), thus contributing to improved nutritional status of the most vulnerable groups, such as children and pregnant women.

    Mozambique loses around US$1.0 billion dollars annually due to chronic malnutrition – about 11 per cent of national GDP. The prevalence of chronic malnutrition nationally is 43 per cent and in northern provinces almost one in two children under five years of age is stunted.

    Although food production and access to food are not an issue for the northern provinces, chronic malnutrition (above 50 per cent) is prevalent in the area. Most of the population are not aware of the importance of nutrition, food preservation, healthy and nutritious diets or the importance of diversifying food groups in family diets.

    Solution to malnutrition - a simple approach
    The Government of Mozambique is stepping up efforts to address the burden of malnutrition and IFAD is supporting these government efforts through an investment project known as PRONEA Support Project (PSP) in Mozambique, an extension project with nutrition education interventions to facilitate the promotion of healthy eating and improved dietary intake among the rural farming communities and the project beneficiaries.

    Mr Robson Mutandi, IFAD country programme director in Mozambique expressed that, ''the poverty level was not going down as fast as anticipated in these communities due to the malnutrition challenges''. He also mentioned that while these communities are able to produce food, they often do not use it for their own consumption.

    The project integrated nutrition in daily operations with positive results, improving the nutritional status of vulnerable groups. ''I have learnt about nutrition through a training organized by PSP, this was a new topic for me and for the community and we are happy with the results of our actual interventions because malnutrition was a serious issue in our communities'', says the District extension officer Mr Lino Milagre, who has 30 years’ field experience.


    In addressing the malnutrition situation in these farming communities, PSP took a bold step to integrate nutrition initiatives through the existing government agriculture extension services. This approach was adopted to ensure success, continuity and sustainability on nutrition after the end of this investment project.

    The nutrition initiatives included Culinary Demonstration Units which are practical models applied by extension workers to engage farmers in the farmer field schools (FFS) on the preparation of nutritious food for their families, as well as adoption of improved food preservation techniques to avoid seasonal food waste.

    Before the intervention of PSP in this community, women and men were not aware about the best way to cook their own produce and transform it in nutritious food. The impact of the project, and in particular the training through the culinary demonstration unit had on the community, was clearly visible.

    A total of 5,000 beneficiaries are improving their dietary intake in 23 of the 42 districts covered by the project. Evidence from the field confirmed that the children are better nourished and the communities are adopting the best practices.  

    Lucia Lauterio, a farmer and mother of three children, is one of the facilitators in her community. She holds cooking demonstrations and teaches other families how to cook more nutritious and diversified diets. 

    The trained extension officers at district level are currently replicating the training in different communities. It is with a lot of enthusiasm that the rural farmers act as trainers themselves, by sharing their knowledge on nutrition with neighbouring villages and communities. 

    In particular, there was an emphasis on gender and nutrition. ''In some households all members are responsible in taking care of the children. That's why the children are happy and healthy, and we are also happy with the improved status of nutrition at community level'', said Jerónimo Francisco, PSP nutrition focal point.

    IFAD is mainstreaming nutrition in all investment projects in Mozambique because it believes that agriculture should not be dissociated from nutrition. While PSP is coming to an end in June 2018, Mozambique ICO is planning to replicate the same approach to other new projects in the country. The culinary demonstration units, and the training provided by the extension workers could also be included in projects of other countries facing similar challanges.

    Related links

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    Benjamin DK Wood is a senior evaluation specialist at 3ie. He currently manages 3ie’s replication programme.

    Michael Hamp is Lead Technical Specialist Inclusive Rural Financial Services at IFAD for more than ten years. The teams he supervises include those working on innovative agricultural insurance, remittances and investment for development and agricultural risk management in the Sustainable Production, Markets and Institutions Division.

    After 6 years, 3ie’s replication programme is finishing its fourth round of 3ie-funded replication studies. In recognition of this round’s completion, 3ie and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) recently hosted a joint engagement event, Financial services for the poor programmes – verifying evidence for policymaking. Ben (3ie) and Michael (IFAD) co-hosted the event. At the event, 3ie’s current replication researchers presented their draft results.

    The current round of 3ie-funded replication studies, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, focuses on financial services for the poor. The Gates Foundation staff selected seven studies based on recent development-related impact evaluations, which were important for their programming (more information on the programme is available here). The replication research teams for each of the seven studies presented their papers at the event in Rome.

    After the individual replication teams’ presentations, a group of experts from 3ie, IFAD, the Centre for Economic and International Studies and the Food and Agricultural Organisation formed a panel to discuss the current state of research transparency efforts. Michael gave the closing keynote address, where he summarised how replication research might fit into future IFAD-funded projects.

    The importance of emphasizing policy relevance was one of the key takeaways from the event. The event participants repeatedly challenged the replication researchers to use their studies to provide concrete recommendations for policymaking. Michael highlighted the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to many policymakers. He suggested that the replication researchers should partially motivate their studies by framing them around the SDGs that the research addresses.

    In the following conversation, we have a dialogue in which Michael shares his overall reflections on the event.

    Ben: Michael, thank you again for co-hosting the event with 3ie. I thought this blog would be a nice opportunity to summarize your insights. Would you briefly give us your main takeaways from the day?

    Michael: We should seriously consider funding and implementing more and longer-term studies for quality evidence to make decisions (i) on the types of offerings, products, services and approaches promoted through IFAD co-financed projects and programmes and (ii) the content of national policy engagement/dialogue. I also see great opportunities in pursuing more external and internal replications for enhanced evidence concerning long-term impact. Last but not least, the challenge of measuring for results and gained (rural) market/system development remain.

    Ben:As you highlighted in your presentation, IFAD is a major player in rural poverty alleviation work. Given IFAD’s large amount of programming on this topic, what kind of replication research evidence would be most helpful for you? And how would you suggest it be packaged? 

    Michael: As IFAD's Lead Technical Specialist for Inclusive Rural Financial Services, my interest is clearly focused on gaining more empirical evidence on how these investments are a means to an end regarding more food security, reduced vulnerability of rural dwellers and sustainable poverty alleviation. Additional research needs to address the levels of developing inclusive rural financial markets and systems, addressing the micro-level in terms of impact, creating an enabling market infrastructure that is ubiquitous, safe and competitive, and defining the elements necessary for a policy and regulatory framework for responsible and impactful financial inclusion. In particular, additional research addressing minor-level impacts should focus on how poor people are enabled to capture opportunities and build resilience and how financial service providers offer affordable, responsible, accessible and sustainable financial solutions for a significant number of poor people.

    Replication research is a nascent field. 3ie recently released our transparency policy, which includes a commitment to push button replicating all 3ie-funded research. At the end of your presentation, you suggested a few possible next steps for conducting replication research with IFAD. Would you mind elaborating on one or two of those ideas here? How might we integrate replication research into IFAD’s portfolio?

    Michael: In line with my two or three takeaways mentioned earlier, I would think that we could start selecting a few concept notes from IFAD's investment pipeline, usually as part of the Country Strategy Opportunity Programmes (COSOPs), with a dedicated inclusive rural financial service component. When we work on the full project design, we document the theory of change and include in the logical framework objectively verifiable indicators and means of verification. We could then build-in replication impact research through the project. Of course, we would need to make sure that we have the human and financial resources available on the ground.

    Overall, we considered the event to be a success. All seven of the replication teams presented their draft results and received comments on their work. They are all committed to incorporating the feedback they received at the event into their papers. The replication studies will be posted in 3ie’s Replication Paper Series later this year and are under consideration for a special issue. Keep your eyes out for this work in the near future!

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    By Brian Thomson

    Agriculture is one of the main land uses and rural populations predominantly depend on the sector for their livelihoods, that was the topic up for discussion at an IFAD organised event at The Global Environment Facility's 6th Assembly in Da Nang, Vietnam.

    IFAD's Roshan Cooke said that we are currently predicting that the world's population will reach 9 billion by 2050 and for that we need a 60 per cent increase in food production.

    "So far increasing food production has brought with it a heavy cost for the environment and a massive reduction in agro-biodiversity," added Cooke.

    Focusing on the energy needs of increasing food production, Professor Ralph Simms, a member of The GEF's Science and Technical Advisory Panel, explained that already 32 per cent of energy is consumed by the agro-food sector producing around 25 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases.

    "We cannot meet the targets of the Paris Agreement without the food sector playing its part," said Simms. "We need a low carbon agro-economy while also meeting food security goals….we need a circular economy."

    IFAD's Cooke responded that in order to move forward we need to show the private sector that sustainable agriculture can be profitable for both business and smallholder farmers in developing countries.

    Ms Shamiso Najira, Deputy Director of the Environmental Affairs Department for the government of Malawi explained that because biomass is the main fuel source in her country the agroforestry sector contributes 89 per cent of Malawi's greenhouse gas emissions.

    "As a country we need more engagement and incentives for working with the private sector," said Najira. "To do that we have created a window under our climate change fund for the private sector to deal with climate change issues."

    A new report, The Business Advantage, produced by The International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and IFAD studied a selection of projects under IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). A main finding was that with the right motivation from the public sector substantial investment from the private sector can be attracted.

    CIAT's Ms Le Nghiem, explained that at current levels public finance may not be adequate to meet the challenge so we must tap resources from the private sector.

    "With the right approach you can leverage money – in our four case studies USD1.00 invested by IFAD leads to USD0.80-2.90 invested by the private sector. We are learning that to be successful we need right the motivation for the private sector to engage in climate change actions."

    Demand for food, water and energy will continue to rise with a growing world population. Smallholder farmers, who produce approximately 70 per cent of the food consumed, increasingly face the challenge to enhance the productivity of the agricultural systems to meet growing needs while maintaining the sustainability of the productive landscape.

    And the challenges in productivity and over utilisation of natural resources are exacerbated by climate change.

    To meet this challenge, Mahamat Assouyout, from the African Development Bank, explained that key commodities in Africa need to be produced in a sustainable manner. He said the Bank is now focusing on a range of crops including key export commodities such as cocoa, coffee, cotton and cashew. He added that we need more investment to get business interested.

    The event focused on the role of smallholder farmers and other rural populations in ensuring effective participatory integrated land-use management, which is essential for addressing the trade-offs in land uses.

    Ms Nenenteiti Teariki, Director of Kirbati's Environment and Conservation Division said that food security is a national priority for her government.

    "Changing life styles are undermining the existing food systems as we depend more and more on imported foods," said Teariki. "We focus on too few products for our food security and we need to focus more on biodiversity."

    The event drew on experiences from IFAD in partnership with the GEF as well as research and policy oriented institutions that support countries in addressing the increasing food demand.

    IUCN's Johnathan Davies said we are only just becoming aware of how big this issue is.

    "For IUCN the important issue is biodiversity in agriculture," said Davies . "The real big issue is soil biodiversity and how it is being managed in sustainable farming systems. Soil biodiversity is the foundation of all ecosystem services for agriculture."

    IFAD invests in smallholders, supporting them to overcome the productivity challenges and promotes sustainable agriculture practices that yield environmental benefits. The event highlighted participatory approaches in integrated land-use management and showed some of the innovative agricultural practices that improve food and nutrition security, promote sustainable development and have the potential for scaling up.

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    IFAD’s Annual Report and Highlights for 2017 are out now. The report presents facts, figures, analysis and stories on the year’s results and impact around the globe, thanks to contributions from people from across the organization. This cheat sheet gives you the big numbers from the main report, plus some tasters from the stories.

    We’ve cut the AR carbon footprint this year, with 4-page Highlights and a 24-page short report that both come out in print, and the full report available on USB memory card and online. In addition to further shortening the print products (they were 12 and 64 pages respectively in 2016), we’ve given the content a radical overhaul and are using more reader-friendly infographics to present data and results.

    Here’s a snapshot of the ongoing portfolio and new approvals during the year. All the numbers are correct as at 31 December 2017.
    • 211 ongoing programmes and projects funded by IFAD in partnership with 97 countries 
    • IFAD’s investment in the ongoing portfolio: US$6.6 billion 
    • Domestic contributions and external cofinancing for the ongoing portfolio: US$8.3 billion 
    • The total ongoing Programme of Work: US$14.9 billion 
    • 32 new programmes and projects were approved in 2017 funded by loans, DSF grants and ASAP grants worth US$1,305.3 million 
    • 56 new grants were approved in 2017 worth US$61.6 million.
    The AR map in the front cover of the main report shows country offices, current and planned hubs, and regional SSTC and knowledge centres. It also gives key numbers for ongoing portfolios by region.

    At the time of publication of AR2017 (June 2018), total IFAD loan and grants approved since 1978 were worth US$19.8 billion and the programmes and projects we support were estimated to have reached about 474 million people.

    Here are the key portfolio management highlight numbers by region:

    Asia and the Pacific
    • 58 ongoing projects in 20 countries
    • US$2,201.0 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
    • New investments of US$452.1 million
    • 1 new Results-Based Country Strategic Opportunities Programme (RB-COSOP) in the Philippines
    East and Southern Africa
    • 42 ongoing projects in 17 countries
    • US$1,591.5 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
    • New investments of US$263.1 million
    Latin America and the Caribbean
    • 34 ongoing projects in 19 countries
    • US$600.6 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
    • New investments of US$82.7 million 
    • 1 new RB-COSOP for the Dominican Republic
    Near East, North Africa and Europe
    • 42 ongoing projects in 20 countries
    • US$913.2 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
    • New investments of US$266.1 million
    • 1 new RB-COSOP for Uzbekistan
    West and Central Africa
    • 35 ongoing projects in 21 countries
    • US$1,195.4 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
    • New investments of US$190.3 million
    Not just numbers

    The Annual Report is more than just numbers. It also tells the stories of some of the rural women and men IFAD invests in.

    In Afghanistan, Mrs Makai has increased the income she makes from her cows by taking part in the Community Livestock and Agriculture Project and she’s also become the leader of a self-help group.

    In Kenya, young farmer Joan Kirui is now debt-free thanks to her participation in the IFAD and EU-funded Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme, which gave her training and access to inputs through a pre-paid debit card.

    In El Salvador, young entrepreneur Roberto Martinez helped boost democratic participation and economic opportunities for young people through his leadership of the national youth network AREJURES.

    In Sudan, Abla Mohamed Safaien was selected as leader of her village development committee. She then took leadership training and now encourages other women to increase their skills and confidence and play a role in their communities through the Western Sudan Resources Management Programme.

    In Guinea, young farmer Mamadou Bah now grows potatoes on 50 hectares of land and employs eight permanent workers and more daily workers as a result of his participation in the National Programme to Support Agricultural Value Chain Actors.

    I’d like to close with a big thank you to the many people who have contributed to AR2017 – I hope you will all be happy with the end result. We’re launching the Annual Report on IFAD’s social media channels and social reporters can get the launch kit here. Use hashtag #IFADar and share your favourite quotes, facts and figures with your followers.

    Lastly, if you would like to use AR2017 graphics or infographics in presentations or other products, please write to

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    By Brian Thomson
    Everyone at the Global Environment Facility's 6th Assembly in Da Nang, Vietnam, is talking about integrated approaches; more can be done with the same resources, environmental interventions can and should have development co-benefits and vice versa. But is it really this simple?

    In this IFAD led event on Integrated Approaches, along with its partners, a number of programme and project approaches and examples were featured. These included those with GEF funding, which are currently attempting to operationalize integration.

    FAO's Thomas Hammond kicked off proceedings with a call for action.

    "We need systems, we need things that are thinking across institutional boundaries and also across sectorial boundaries," said Hammond.

    In response Annette Cowie, of the GEF's Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP), outlined a proposal to improve integration in the design of future GEF projects: 
    1. Apply systems thinking: i.e. address inter-connected environmental, social, economic, and governance challenges across sectors with an eye towards resilience and transformational change. 
    2. Develop a clear rationale and theory of change to tackle the drivers of environmental degradation through assessing assumptions and outlining causal pathways – and have a ‘Plan B’, should desired outcomes not materialize. 
    3. Assess the potential risks and vulnerabilities of the key components of the system, to measure its resilience to expected and unexpected shocks and changes, and the need for incremental adaptation or more fundamental transformational change. 
    4. Devise a logical sequence of interventions, which is responsive to changing circumstances and new learning (adaptive implementation pathways). Develop clear indicators that will be monitored to determine progress and success in achieving lasting outcomes. 
    5. Develop explicit plans and funding for good quality knowledge management including: sustainable databases; simple, useful and usable common indicators; face-to-face consultations; and building stakeholder capacity. This is essential for ‘lessons learned’, and scaling up. 
    6. Apply exemplary stakeholder engagement, including with local communities, not just government officials, from inception and design, through to project completion. This is crucial for identifying diverse needs and managing trade-offs. 
    7. Allow flexibility in project preparation to accommodate the additional transactions costs and time required to tackle complex issues through multi-agency teams. 
    In reaction to these recommendations, the World Bank's Gayatri Kanungo agreed that we have to integrate but there are trade-offs that come as part of this integration.

    "We should embrace adaptive management and not be afraid to take risks to adjust projects," said Kanungo. "We must insure there is flexibility in programming these projects with a very measurable theory of change that captures the smallest of innovations."

    Meanwhile, IFAD's Eric Patrick, coordinator of the IFAD-led Global Environment Facility funded Integrated Approach Pilot (IAP) for Food Security in sub-Saharan Africa, highlighted that to create the systems thinking called by STAP would take time.

    "In our work with the IAP for Food Security we summarized the theory of change as Engage, Act and Track - or EAT," said Patrick. "We found that this made it much easier to share knowledge across the twelve diverse projects that are part of the IAP."

    "But what's most relevant to us is stakeholder engagement – this will determine if we move from the GEF level through the country process to impact at the local level. With that in mind we mustn’t rush to programme and skip stakeholder engagement as without it the project just won't be there," added Patrick.

    Laouali Garba, of the African Development Bank, said that in the context of Africa integration is not an option it is a requirement.

    "It is far easier to get money for an environment focused project if there is a development context to it as well," said Garba. "We know that by integration we can leverage different sources of financing."

    "With most Africans still living in rural areas and depending on natural resources we have to integrate development and adaptation to climate change. Also it is very important to be innovative, we must coordinate between different multidisciplinary teams at different ministries."

    Issues which were examined at the event included different assumptions and conceptions of integration, trade-offs between scope/ambition and transaction costs, success factors; all illustrated from the work of IFAD and its partners. Overall this side event provided useful insights for the GEF7 cycle both from the presentation and through a moderated interaction with the audience.

    Blake Ratner, Executive Director of Collaborating for Resilience, we have to be able to respond to multiple goals in an integrated way also responding to the landscape perspective.

    "The typical approach to project design doesn't allow for an adaptive approach," said Ratner. "If the GEF is going to be serious about integrating this agenda in Integrated Programmes and more broadly then there needs to be a serious look at how plans can be adapted and sharing lessons learned."

    Juha Uitto, GEF IOE, cautioned that monitoring and evaluation must focus on more than just projects to also include overall programmes as well.

    Wrapping up IFAD's Roshan Cooke said that overall the session highlighted that complexity has to be embraced as we cannot fit reality to fit our needs. There is no single solution here with multiple levels of diversity and complexity at play. But he was clear that the way forward for Integrated Approach Programmes has to be done with flexibility and adaptive management.

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    By Radheeka Jirasinha

    When designing or implementing a renewable energy access project, there are several pertinent new questions that need to be asked and should keep being asked. The most important of which is why are you doing it?

    "You can do energy access and development as you know for reasons of finance, for reasons of capturing economic value, for reasons of empowerment, for reasons of gender equality, for reasons of the environment, but you can also do it for another reason – and I'm reminded of Albert Einstein's quote, that not until we create a basic standard of living for all people can we ever call ourselves civilised. So you can also do energy access as a way of humanising society and embarking on a way toward a more equitable and just world for all of us”, Professor Benjamin Sovacool.

    What Works Best? 
    The question that persists in everyday tasks and for the life of a researcher, consumes his or her world.

    In one of the latest instalments of its “Change Lecture series”, IFAD invited Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Sussex, to come to IFAD and give a talk. Sovacool and his team conducted a five-year research study which compared energy access projects across Asia. Keeping in mind that "there is no one size fits all solution or one energy access solution", the team sought to understand the structure of renewable energy access interventions, and the benefits and challenges faced in order to address the questions of what works best, what lessons can be applied across geographical regions and what lessons have been ignored or forgotten.

    The focus on small-scale renewable energy projects is due to a better Levelized Cost Of Energy (LCOE) compared to existing technologies (such as kerosene, the grid etc.), as well as the multitude of climate mitigation and adaptation benefits, and socio-economic development benefits. Utilising energy sources like wind, biomass, solar, biogas and micro-hydro systems will avoid carbon dioxide emissions, reduce deforestation, and create jobs and improve human wellbeing.

    Deciding which renewable energy access projects to concentrate on and study in depth proved a colossal task, as an initial desk review brought up 1,156 cases. An extensive eight phase selection process enabled the researchers to narrow down the focus to 10 case studies of renewable energy initiatives in Asia. The 10 case studies were made up of 6 clear cut successful stories and 4 clear failures.

    "In all of the failures, planners made the mistake of presuming they knew what technology people wanted and having extremely limited criteria”, said Sovacool. “In Papua New Guinea, you could only buy one type of solar home system, and they [the community] didn’t want it".

    The findings demonstrated that understanding different socio-cultural and political contexts is key to implementing a renewable energy project as the "specificity of the solution goes right down to the community". Policy mechanisms and business models are just as important as the technical specificities of renewable energy services. Understanding the different contexts and deciding on which renewable energy sources, carriers and services to use, creates a matrix of intricate complexity.

    However, the team found that best practices or design principles do exist in renewable energy access projects. The team identified the common barriers across technical, economic and financial, political and institutional, and social and cultural areas. They found that all countries face at least 4 barriers, whilst some countries face as many as 14 barriers. The team was able to come up with 12 principles that will lead to a successfully designed renewable energy access project, programme, intervention or policy.

    These include: i) focus on net beneficial energy access; ii) select appropriate technology and scale; iii) prioritise community commitment; iv) conduct awareness raising; v) provide after sales service; vi) emphasize income generation; vii) encourage institutional diversity; viii) focus on affordability; ix) build capacity; x) be flexible; xi) Always evaluate and monitor and; xii) find or build stakeholder support.

    The team concluded that combining the three main findings of their study: i) technology is complex and context specific, ii) business models matter, and iii) best practices exist, creates a new way of dong energy access programs.

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    By Brian Thomson

    For ten years IFAD has been working in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to combat peatland fires and haze pollution by fostering sustainable peatland management in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region in collaboration with the EU and the Global Environment Centre (GEC).

    This collaboration was the subject of an IFAD-led event at the Sixth GEF Assembly in Da Nang, Vietnam.

    Opening the event, Margarita Astralaga, Director of the Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division at IFAD said that the forests of southeast Asia are one of the most important ecosystems in the world and we need to protect them, but also help people who live there have better lives.

    "IFAD has partnered on this for around ten years with the GEF and others – and we have been building on this knowledge as we go, we have learnt what works and what doesn't," said Astralaga.

    Moderating the event, Mohamed Bakarr, Lead Environmental Specialist at the GEF said that he was excited about the strong partnership with IFAD.

    "But today we need to look at how we solve the problem and deal with what’s driving it to start with," added Bakarr.

    Annual land clearance in Indonesia and Malaysia using fire by smallholder farmers and big plantations creates a thick blanket of haze covering three million square kilometres of Southeast Asia affecting over 50 million people.

    This phenomenon has been increasing in intensity over the last ten years. In the 2015/16 El Niño event, 100,000 premature deaths, massive greenhouse gas emissions, large-scale deforestation and dramatic economic losses (over US$30 billion in Indonesia alone) were experienced.

    The ASEAN Peatland Forests Project (APFP 2009 - 2014) was IFAD's first project on sustainable peatland and haze management, and was financed from GEF4 and implemented together with the ASEAN and GEC.

    Building on that experience, IFAD developed the GEF5 Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems in Indonesia (SMPEI) project and is finalising the design of the GEF6 Integrated Management of Peatland Landscapes in Indonesia (IMPLI) project.

    IFAD has developed a GEF6 project in Malaysia titled Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems in Malaysia (SMPEM). IFAD supported IUCN with developing the Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems in Mekong Countries project.

    As a means for continuing the ASEAN regional platform developed under APFP, and for coordinating and exchanging knowledge between the country projects, IFAD approved a regional grant of US$3.5 million to the ASEAN Secretariat called Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia (MAHFSA).

    The MAHFSA project seeks to develop an estimated US$1.5 billion investment programme focusing on haze elimination and sustainable peatland management anchored in country and regional level activities.

    "There's a lot of change happening, so it’s the right moment for us to look at how to scale up actions," said IFAD's Roshan Cooke.

    Jake Brunner from IUCN reminded us that peatlands are highly valuable ecosystems for biodiversity conservation providing ecosystems services, and that there are still threats out there.

    "In some of the regions we work in plans to expand the rice production area are threatening peatlands," added Brunner.

    Meanwhile, the GEC's Faizal Parish underlined that peatlands are critical for people, water, biodiversity and carbon storage.

    "Previously people thought if it's wet drain it," said Parish. "But now we know better than that… You must have an integrated landscape approach to peatlands and stop new drainage.’’

    Parish explained that we must raise water tables to fight peatland fires. "If we get the hydrology right then nature does the work."

    The side event looked at the catalytic role GEF finances have played in leveraging a large-scale programme of work focused on making significant improvements in peatland protection and management, and haze elimination, and in helping bring together a strategic partnership between GEF, IFAD, ASEAN, EU, GIZ, IUCN and GEC.

    The event also showcased successful practices from Indonesia, Malaysia and other ASEAN countries on sustainable peatland management.

    Ms SPM Budisusanti, from the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry revealed that her country has already restored 2.5 million hectares of peatland.

    "Our latest work will focus on capacity building for sustainable peatland management," said Budisusanti. "The upcoming Sustainable Management of Peatland Ecosystems in Indonesia programme will benefit about 15,000 smallholder farmer households through peatland restoration and better integrated land management."

    Mohd. Radhi Chu bin Abdullah from the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said that in Malaysia they are developing a national action plan for peatlands that contributes to the overall ASEAN action plan.

    Mardiah Hayati, from ASEAN, said we have come a long way in building regional mechanisms to deal with transboundary pollution.

    "We must share data and knowledge," explained Hayati. "Ministers across the region meet regularly so we at ASEAN look forward to stronger partnerships and further engagement."

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    @IFAD/Rocio Chirinos. Members of the Reforesting and Stock Farmers´ Association, Nueva Chota, Lama Province

    Peru is a country of intense contrasts: Imposing peaks separate the arid coastal strip from the Amazon rainforest. The Peruvian jungle is also a region of surprising diversity: Not only in terms of landscapes, but also because of its dwellers and their resourceful spirit to find new ways to enhance their living conditions. However, poverty in rural areas is still high (44%), needing all efforts to help improve the situation of rural communities.

    IFAD has been present in Peru for more than three decades. Creativity and innovation characterize the initiatives promoted by IFAD in the country, as Saheed Adegbite, Director of IFAD´s Office of Budget and Organizational Development, could personally witness during a visit to Peru last May.

    The Sierra and Selva Alta Project, financed by IFAD and the Government of Peru, is a good example of effective, innovative approaches. The project includes technical assistance through local extension agents (talentos rurales) and competitions (concursos) for innovation and conservation of traditional knowledge encompassing gastronomy, ecotourism, organic vegetable production and trout farming, among other creative initiatives that increase income and generate employment for smallholder farmers. 

    This is the case of the Reforesting and Stock Farmers´ Association in Nueva Chota, located in the Province of Lamas, San Martin Region, which created a dairy production module in the middle of a remote forest area. Natural cheese and exotic fruit yogurts are being elaborated by 20 families, who have been trained in milk production processes and commercial strategies. The products have sanitary registry and a distribution center and store in the locality of San Roque. 

    “We are proud that we can expand our products in food fairs and be connected to markets thanks to the capacities that we have gained as part of the business plan development” explained José Fustamante, President of the Association.

    “Remarkable is the equity and social inclusion approach of the project” pointed out Saheed Adegbite,  during his visit to San Martin Region, where he verified how local leaders, women and young people are transforming their rural environment in benefit of their communities.  Through the Sierra and Selva Alta project, rural organizations can receive technology transfers and access resources for carrying out their commercial enterprises or implement territorial management plans.

    Another project that Mr. Adegbite visited was the initiative of “Healthy Households” that is benefiting 38 families in Pardo Miguel. Direct cash transfer enabled the winning farmer´s association to hire technical assistance to meet their own needs. On one side, they have improved their housing conditions trough the installation of environment-friendly stoves, and the clear demarcation of boundaries between family spaces and animal husbandry, and on the other hand they received entrepreneurial training to develop at household level small businesses, such as orchid and succulent plant nurseries.

    Through these practices that support profitable activities and strengthen local capacities, IFAD demonstrates its leadership in the promotion of rural development in Peru.

    Mr Adegbite visiting the Healthy Household Initiative, Pardo Miguel Community. ©IFAD.

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