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  • 08/29/13--02:18: Berkeley - Three weeks to go

  • Hi everybody! This is the first post regarding my forthcoming special leave to Berkeley. Fyi, I still need to get familiar with the blog reporting system but I committed to Henock (whom I want to thank for his constant support and advice) to report on this experience. I am told I am a pioneer and I am eager to do my best to pave the way for similar experiences by other colleagues in different Universities around the world.

    Three weeks from now I will be going. Everything is ready except a minor detail, the accommodation. I am told not to worry but still….Anyhow, I started working on the Bspace, i.e. the Berkeley web space that enables each instructor to interact with her/his participants (it seems there are no teachers nor students at Berkeley…). I also started receiving feedback regarding their experiences and expectations. Extremely happy to see their desire to get hands-on experience on development matters. This is indeed the rationale of my invitation there. I think this is enough as a
    first post. Let me see how it works now. Stay tuned! Mattia

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    IFAD and PROCASUR have once again organized another successful Learning Route (LR). Uganda’s IFAD supported project, Vegetable Oil Development Project (VODP), was one of the host cases for the LR, together with Star Café and Kawacom, from 19 – 26 August 2013. Participants came from Laos, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Swaziland, South Africa, Mozambique, Mali, the Gambia, Uganda and Rome.
    LR participants on a visit to the oil palm nucleus estate View Point
    On the first day, we had an induction workshop in Entebbe. We visited Bugala Island in Lake Victoria, home of the first phase of VODP, and later moved on to Kapchorwa in Eastern Uganda where we visited Star Café and Kawacom, both coffee organizations. So, in addition to the learning experiences, participants enjoyed the scenic views of the beautiful Kalangala and the beautiful Sipi falls, and the mountainous terrain in Kapchorwa.
    I have participated in a LR route before but this was one of a kind. One could say there was too much to learn in too short a time and yet usually, an activity of eight days seems really long! First of all, the topics for discussion such as ‘promoting responsible investment in agriculture’, ‘Land Policy in Uganda’, ‘the role of farmers’ organisations’, ‘ensuring natural resource rights’ and the aspects of ‘value sharing between business partners’ for all the three cases, was captivating and eye-opening.

    The LR organisation – selecting the relevant cases and supporting them to prepare appropriately, organizing the logistical aspects as well as securing the relevant discussants for the thematic panels made participants get an opportunity to learn a lot from dialogues, discussions and analyses of cases. We also had group sessions with animated discussions of visited cases, implications of what was shared by the farmers and the organizations they work with, and whether the models were inclusive or not.
    For the IFAD Country Office, our main objectives were to learn more about how to organize effective learning/exchange visits in the projects, and explore other ways of strengthening the PPP model under VODP to be upscaled in the second phase, as well as learn from practitioners from other countries. We are looking forward to sharing the lessons learned with all projects.
    A key characteristic of the agricultural sector in Uganda, it that it is made up of small-scale farmers; who produce mostly for home consumption, on plots of less than one acre. Partnering with private sector investors is an opportunity for farmers to become part of the market economy; a successful partnership doesn’t compromise the rights of either party.
    So far, we have stories in the local media in Uganda covering the Kapchorwa part of the LR  -

    Esparence Musirimu from Burundi admires the quality of fresh fruits
    "I am carrying this home so I can show it to Hamed Haidara, the IFAD country director, Burundi"

    Watch this space for the photo blogs for all the three cases visited...

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    As earlier shared (link), during this LR, we visited three cases, focusing on two different business models: Nucleus estate and out grower model (VODP), and Contract Farming (Star Café &Kabeywa United Coffee Farmers Group; Kawacom).
    We also got presentations from Kakira Sugar (nucleus estate and out grower scheme), and Kayonza Tea Growers (contract farming), although we were unable to visit them.

    Each of the cases was analyzed on aspects of Ownership, Voice, Risk and Reward.

    Case 1
    Vegetable Oil Development Project, Kalangala (implemented under a public private partnership arrangement). There is a farmers' Trust, the Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust (KOPGT) which links the farmers to the private sector Oil Palm Uganda Limited (OPUL). KOPGT supports farmers to produce quality fruits, access inputs, financing and the market, as well as supporting the farmer structures  under the farmers' association. Farmers are paid through the bank on a monthly based, based on the prevailing price and how much they have produced.

    Mr. Chin shows off some crude palm oil from the mill

    Some LR participants at the palm oil mill.
    This is where the out growers sell their fresh fruit bunches
    A fresh fruit bunch

    One of the farmers from Beta West Block sharing with the LR how they benefit from the PPP
    The farmers are organized in blocks, and units under the farmers association and the Kalangala Oil Palm Growers Trust

    LR participants pay close attention to Mr Chin (Private sector) as he explains how they work with the farmers

    Case 2
    Star Café, Kapchorwa 
    Under Star Café the Kabeywa United Coffee Farmers' Group (KUCFG) accesses market for their produce and get some trainings. KUCFG has 365 members (100 of these are women) who are all small scale coffee farmers in Kapchorwa District. Star Café collects the coffee from the farmers and pays them later.
    A KUCFG farmer's garden - they encouraged to inter-crop for food security.

    One of the farmers keeps cattle on zero grazing, for food security and nutrition

    The SIPI falls, one of the amazing sights of Kapchorwa

    LR participants meet with Star Café and the  KUCFG

    Case 3
    Kawacom (U) Ltd, Kapchorwa
    Kawacom is a subsidiary of the international commodity trading house Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation, and is known as the biggest exporter of organic coffee. It works directly with individual farmers by signing contracts with them. The company currently works with about 8500 farmers growing Arabica coffee. Kawacom pays farmers cash upon delivery of the coffee to the wet mill or agreed upon collection points.
    Farmer Omar welcomes the LR to his home

    PROCASUR's Diana at Omar's farm

    It is slippery! Careful as you walk down into the farm lest...

    Omar and his wife explain what they have learned about mixed farming, organic farming and farm maintenace

    Omar and the Wife receive a certificate of recognition from one of the LR Participants

    A copy of the contract that Omar and his wife have signed with Kawacom

    Breath-taking sights of Kapchorwa

    Inacio of Mozambique, presenting a certificate to Kawacom representative

    IFAD's Line appreciates a model farmer with a certificate

    Time for a hike to the Sipi falls! LR can be fun!

    And, finally, All work and no play...?!

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    I must admit that I did not expect so many queries and questions to my first post. The two most FAQs were: “What are you going to do? “ and “What did you do to get there?”. Regarding the first question (the second will be dealt with the next post) I have a learning agenda composed of teaching (“the most effective form of learning”), attending selected courses (held by Alain de Janvry, Olivier de Schutter, Miguel Altieri) and working on my own research related to agriculture, nutrition and health.

    Prof. Lynn Huntsinger, Chair of the Division of Society and Environment, within the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management (ESPM) who invited me as Visiting Scholar requested me to teach an interactive reading seminar for graduate students based on real-life experience.  Let me share with you the course description and some of the replies I received from the students/participants who have enrolled (18 at the moment). This will give you a sense of their experience and expectations from the course. Do you think I will be able to meet them? I will keep you posted. Ciao

    Course Description: ESPM 290 SEM 006 Fa13

    Topic: Implementing and assessing internationally funded development projects: theory and application

    The interactive reading seminar will meet for 2-hours once per week for six weeks (from 23 September to 28 October). The purpose is to help graduate students bridge the gap between development theory and its application by sharing the challenges that arise from: i) the implementation of projects and programs supported by an international financing institution like IFAD; and ii) the assessment of their impact. Hence, students will be exposed to specific projects supported by IFAD that have been completed and evaluated. Since the mandate of IFAD is to focus on fighting rural poverty, the seminar will cover a range of topics regarding: i) sectoral/sub-sectoral domains such as rural development, natural resource management, and micro-finance; ii) vulnerable social groups such as indigenous people, marginal farmers, women and youth; and iii) key development processes such as targeting, empowerment, participatory planning and monitoring and evaluation. Finally, the seminar will be an opportunity to exchange views on some of the fundamental questions of development and international cooperation (why, how and for whom), its current situation and future perspectives, with reference to the work of different authors like Amartya Sen, Edgar Morin, Dave Snowden and Serge Latouche.


    Dear participants, greetings from Rome! 

    Let me first thank you for having selected this course.

    I have prepared few questions listed below so that I can know a bit more about you before the beginning of the course and, above all, do my best to address as much as possible your interests and expectations.

    1.            Your academic experience: what have you studied so far? 

    2.            Your work experience: in particular, have you got already any field experience? (you can send me your CV if you want)

    3.            Your contribution to the course: Is there anything you have worked, or are working on, that you want to share during the course?

    4.            Your plans: what is your next academic target and how this course fits with it?

    5.            Your expectations regarding the course: are there any specific topics you would like to be covered?

    Finally, let me stress the point that the main purpose of this seminar if to bridge your studies with some real-life experience. Hence, I don’t plan to engage in any formal teaching but I can promise that I will share with you whatever I find thought provoking. I also promise that I will be available for follow-up discussions over coffee if needed. I very much look forward to interacting with you.

    Kindest regards

    Mattia Prayer Galletti

    Senior Evaluation Officer

    Independent Office of Evaluation

    Tel. +39 06 5459 2294

    Skype: mattia.ifad

    "I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy."

    — Rabindranath Tagore

    Here are two replies:

    Hello Mattia,

    I'll answer your questions in order.

    1) What have I studied?     I am a first-year doctoral student in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management here at Berkeley (I'm Lynn Huntsinger's advisee), so have no experience here yet. I am currently enrolled in "Political Ecology" and in "Sociology of Forests and Wildlands," as well as a required seminar for my cohort.  Prior to Berkeley, I have a self-taught M.A. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Social Ecology. My coursework for the program had four foci: climate change; energy security (both global and specific to the U.S., mostly focusing on peak oil); alternative food movements (agroecology, organics, etc.); and green urban design and planning.  My undergraduate work mostly focused on conservation biology. During my undergraduate years I spent six months in Namibia, four in Ecuador, and two in British Columbia working on and studying conservation issues.

    2) My work experience is quite varied, and also atypical of a doctoral student. Rather than trying to explain, I'm attaching a CV. Not listed there is a recent temporary field research technician position at Oregon State University setting up research sites for a long-term forestry study.

    3) Is there anything you want to share during the course?        My most relevant experience for this course is the two years my wife and I spent in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps. We were working in the environmental sector, living in an illegal village in the middle of Bale Mountains National Park. While our village had fairly minimal direct impact from development projects, we certainly witnessed many other instances of development in various forms around the country. Given how much aid and development money is spent in Ethiopia, it might be helpful to have the viewpoint of someone who saw how it was used and how it worked/didn't work first-hand.

    4) What is your next academic goal, and how does this course fit that goal?      I am pursuing a Ph.D. in a field with which I have very little experience. My research goal is to examine how international (mostly) development practices affect the land use and land management practices of nomadic pastoralists. I do not have a geographic region selected yet due to lack of the necessary contacts, but China and/or Mongolia currently seem promising. Following my degree I intend to advocate for better land rights for nomads, and for a more appropriate application of development funds/efforts so as to maintain as high degree of autonomy among those groups as possible. For example, the forced settlement of nomads by governments around the world is a primary concern, as are large-scale development projects (e.g. dams, agricultural land grabs) that result in physical displacement of nomadic groups from traditionally occupied lands.

    5) My hope for this course is to gain a better understanding of the process by which development grant applications (i.e. future projects) are evaluated and judged. Why do some projects get funded and not others? What attributes of the prospective project site are considered when evaluating a grant proposal? How are effects to the local population (target and non-target) determined and weighed?  As an advocate for an indigenous group, how would someone fight for or against a development proposal being funded? How can the funding process be improved to better respond to the relevant ethics, ecology, and cultural issues of a particular project area?

    Thanks for asking for input, Mattia. I'm very much looking forward to the class.



    Hello there! A pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is Pierce Gordon, a MS/PhD student here at Berkeley in the Energy and Resources Group. I'm glad you asked these questions to find out a bit more about me. So, here goes!

    1.            Your academic experience: what have you studied so far? 

    I have undergraduate bachelor's degrees in Applied Physics and Aerospace Engineering, through a dual-degree engineering program between Morehouse College and the University of Michigan. I am currently in my second year of my Master's program here at Berkeley, on a track towards a PhD.

    2.            Your work experience: in particular, have you got already any field experience? (you can send me your CV if you want)

    My CV is attached.

    3.            Your contribution to the course: Is there anything you have worked, or are working on, that you want to share during the course?

    To be quite honest, my experience in international development is relatively thin. I do have a few I'd like to speak on, however:

    The project which lit my fire in international assistance you can see on my CV; it was the HelpNSBEHelpHaiti program. In the spirit of the Haitian 2010 earthquake, a year later I orchestrated a campus-wide fundraising initiative which raised over $2,000 for a working water pump in Croix-Marchaterre, Haiti.

    I also became a part of the Human Needs Project in my first year of graduate study, in the hopes that it would turn into breeding ground for dissertation research. I acted as a consultant for a small energy grid for a developing co-op which aimed to serve many of the needs of a large stake of Kenyan residents in Kibera, Nairobi, a well-known slum.

    As someone who has built my current experience upon being a critic of inequitable systems, and a trained scholar, I'm here to learn from other's experiences, and can't wait to hear about the other development opportunities that you and the other registered students have experienced.

    4.            Your plans: what is your next academic target and how this course fits with it?

    My next academic target is the Masters, followed by the PhD.

    My research interests include human-centered design practices for tangible technologies for the multidimensionally poor. Many design projects instilled by NGOs, multinational corporations, governmental institutions, Bretton Woods Institutions, and academic breeding grounds currently use interdisciplinary methods like never before. However, many previous forays into the fields by technological designers have created failures which are diverse, yet related. I intend to research the processes through which powerful entities create these technologies, the actors and fields included, and how multiple variables in design contribute to technology success.

    I love having the opportunity to hear about current trends, opportunities, and causes for alarm concerning the community from individuals who make a career about the work, and what are important fields of interest to research and become an activist for.

    5.            Your expectations regarding the course: are there any specific topics you would like to be covered?

    I'd love to learn about:

    The place, and relationship between disparate actors in the development community,

    the design and implementation of projects, through history, and today (differences, similarities, etc).

    personal advice for the development community about what is actually keeping us back from solving many problems,

    and the place of certain intervention technologies (ICTs, water cleansing, sanitation, energy, cooking, lighting, health) that are helping communities out of poverty.

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    Women from a remote village in Orissa State, India. ©IFAD
    By Antonella Cordone

    ORISSA, India – Greetings from Orissa, where the Joint Supervision Mission for the Orissa Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme (OTELP) is finalizing its work.

    This IFAD-funded project started in 2009 in seven districts in Orissa, and is being implemented in about 1,000 remote villages. These are conflict areas where the opposition Naxal movement is strong, but the project has not been threatened, as this is a project of and by the people. The communities that OTELP supports are composed mainly of tribal peoples: Soura, LanjaSoura, Konda, Kutia Kondha, Paraja, Bonda, Bhumija and Koya. Through various land reforms, they have lost their forest lands – their natural habitat and resources – and, as consequence, have been impoverished.

    This IFAD-funded project with the Government of Orissa is not only reaching very remote areas to improve the livelihoods of the poor tribal peoples; it is also reaching out to the poorest and most vulnerable, including the landless and widows. Some 30,000 landless people have been identified in the project area, and about 15,000 pattas (land titles) have been secured so far in approximately 450 villages.

    Rights of access
    Land titles traditionally have been assigned to the head of the family, hence to men, but the project detected this inequality and adjusted its approach to include both the wife and husband in each title certificate. Single women and widows, too, are now receiving title to their plots of land.

    Village women in Orissa. ©IFAD
    Central to identity of indigenous and tribal peoples is their relationship to ancestral territories and resources, which form the basis of their livelihoods. To support that relationship, OTELP is helping tribal peoples secure their rights of access to communal forest land through the Forest Right Act.

    The process of applying for access to forest land in this area is quite cumbersome and time-consuming, particularly for the majority of tribal people who are illiterate. Non-governmental organizations that are implementing the project provide legal support to villagers as they apply to use and manage forest resources in ancestral territories from which they have been alienated for so long.

    Duti’s story
    Many aspects of OTELP’s work are illustrated by the experience of Duti, a young man in the project area.

    When he was a boy, Duti’s otherwise normal life took a different turn when he suddenly lost his father. His mother, a housewife, was forced to become a daily wage labourer to feed her children. Without a title to the land on which they resided, Duti’s mother, now 60, recalls living in fear and uncertainty. “Every night if there was a commotion outside, I used to think: Where shall I go with these kids if I am asked to vacate?” she says.

    Duti and his family outside their home. ©IFAD
    In time, Duti joined his mother as wage labourer while transitioning from childhood to youth. Later on, he married, and his mother took ill. With an ailing mother and a pregnant wife, what he earned could hardly give them two square meals a day.

    ‘Now we can plan for our future’ 
    But a big change occurred in April 2012, when Duti and his wife Pulmi received a patta to homestead a small plot of land. The micro plot provided enough space to build a house, a kitchen garden for growing vegetables, and a backyard for poultry.

    Duti’s family has expanded their daily menu – with rice, dal and vegetables, eggs and occasionally even mushrooms. With a roof over his head, Duti now has access to electricity from a solar panel provided through a government convergence scheme. In addition, the patta has helped him get a certificate that enabled his five-year-old son to receive free education in the government primary school.

    “I never imagined that we would ever have a plot of our own,” says an Duti’s mother, clearly elated.

    “Earlier, we used to live for a day,” Duti adds. “Now we can plan for our future.”

    Thanks to the great OTELP team for their warm hospitality during our stay.

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    Some Highlights from the Uganda Country Programme Management Team (CPMT) Meeting 4 – 6 September 2013

    We recently held our CPMT in Masindi District, Western Uganda. The CPMT focused on the Household Mentoring methodologies, implemented by District Livelihoods Support Programme. This is because other projects have been requesting for an opportunity to learn about household mentoring, and had requested that this CPMT be convened for that purpose.

    Participants included staff from the projects, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Agriculture – the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA) Secretariat, Uganda Cooperative Alliance (UCA), Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), Uganda National Agro Dealers Association (UNADA), and Masindi District Local Government.
    Some of the participants of the CPMT in Masindi
    Why CPMTs?

    A CPMT is a forum for sharing knowledge, experiences and lessons learned among projects in Uganda.   The CPMT meetings have been organized to handle different thematic areas as the projects deem needful
     For this CPMT, the objectives included;    Sharing experiences, lessons learned and impact of House Hold mentoring, discussing opportunities of sustainability and scaling up, as well as providing feedback to projects towards enhanced performance.
    Building onto the lessons learned from the Learning Route Methodology, we prepared in advance for the field work by dividing the participants into four groups, each to look at a different aspect, and then report back to the plenary, as follows: Effectiveness of implementation arrangements; Relevance of intervention in relation to community needs; Impact of interventions; and Lessons learned, key innovations
    Over all, the field work was successful and the plenary presentations and discussions were very animated as people shared what they observed in the field, what they learned and what they thought was replicable.

    We also shared something on project performance in regard to the Project Status Reports and how we can ensure improved rating through effective management and implementation.

    In the last session of the CPMT, an evaluation of the whole meeting was made by participants, and suggestions for improvement made. In their own words, the participants said that they loved
    Sharing experiences and field visit with time to interact with beneficiaries to understand the implementation approach and impacts on ground. Presentations were relevant, and so was the representation of other stakeholders.

    Overall, the objectives of the CPMT were attained, and for the next one, we shall aim at Inviting some of the other partners we did not invite this time round, hold status meetings with each project prior to CPMT, and provide more detailed guidance on what we expect of project presentations and review them in advance to make sure they stay focused on the topic

    Here is the CPMT in photos!
    Farmers' groups have been supported with ox-ploughs to increase area of land tilled
    under DLSP enterprise grants

    CPMT visits a female headed poor mentored household

    After being mentored, the lady in the second pic above has now started building a better shelter for herself!
    (visible impact of household mentoring)

    Under the infrastructure component, this is one of the roads that has been opened up
    to enable rural farmers gain access to markets

    Mr, & Mrs. Byalero, have been mentored since 2010. Here, they
    are showing off the crops they have been able to plant by working together as a family.

    With the household mentor, Julius (in black shirt), and the Community development Officer, Irene
    (spotting a baby bump),  in Kijunjubwa Sub county
    A lady shows of her land certificate to the Commissioner Aide Liaison (Ministry of Finance), Maris Wanyera
    (left). Land registration ensures security of land tenure for poor rural households

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    Providing a platform for Stakeholders to come together

    By Line Kaspersen, IFAD Uganda County Office

    Effectiveness and efficiency of decentralised project implementation requires that we are all on the same page, and working towards the same objectives. Usually, the challenge is in finding a proper coordination mechanism to bring all actors on board. To address this need, the Vegetable Oil Development Project – Phase 2 held a start-up workshop for the oil seeds component in Lira, Northern Uganda, 11 - 12 September. In this workshop, millers, researchers, district local government officials, representatives from financial institutions, and organisations of service providers, together with the project management unit came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities along the oil crops value chain, and the positioning of VODP2 in addressing some of them. The component promotes, through a value chain approach, the production and marketing of sunflower, soya bean, ground nuts and sesame at smallholder level, and works with the private sector to integrate famers into the markets.

    About 29 districts were represented by over 100 participants - the future oil seeds champions! The overarching theme was “poverty alleviation” which led to critical questions from an active audience. For example, one participant wanted to know why as a country Uganda continues to export grains when we have a trade balance deficit. Uganda acts as a bread basket for the region, providing huge potential for earning of foreign exchange and better prices for the farmers. Strong inclusive markets are a win-win situation.

    Mr Charles Twikirize, the District Production Officer from Mbale, Eastern Uganda,
    asks for answers. Such forums serve as knowledge sharing events.
    VODP2 Project Manager, Ms Connie Masaba,  
    explains the high level development objectives of the project

    The Component was officially launched by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Hon. Zerubabel Nyiira. He appreciated the targeted support of smallholders and further highlighted the strengths of the project of contributing to wealth for the nation, and wealth at farmer level which enables each individual to overcome poverty and transform individual livelihoods. According to the minister,

    There are three critical elements and these include seed, land and knowledge. And farmers need to embrace agriculture as a business not a default option

    LC5 vice-chairperson of Lira appreciates the support to smallholder farmers:
    “Small trees make the forest thick. Large trees can never do that".
    The afternoon consisted of working group sessions. Each group discussed 4 indicators of the logical framework in detail; objectives of increased production versus productivity; linkages to research or how to monitor the work of service providers were raised.

    These discussions contributed to ownership of the project at district level, where we all agreed during the wrap-up session that timely communication through the appropriate channels will help us achieve impact!

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    Informal Seminar Meeting shows the importance of upscaling climate proof concepts within the rural agricultural development agenda

    Climate change imposes  stress on the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, as their low availability and access to capital makes it difficult for them to properly deal with environmental pressure. The large impacts that climate change has and will have in the future pressures us to rethink the way of our investment. IFAD has set up the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) which aims to increase the resilience of small farmers against the impacts of climate change. An informal seminar, which was held at the 17th of September, informed country representatives about the urgency of the programme and the objectives of ASAP.

    ASAP was launched in 2012, with a project in Mozambique currently running, and projects in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Djibouti and Mali to be starting  soon. Another nine projects are in the design process and will be implemented over the next two years.

    One of the main objectives of the programme is to get climate finance to smallholders: most climate funds are now directed towards mitigation efforts, and even if they are spent on adaptation, the funding barely reaches small holders in low income countries. Besides, smallholders are very often not taking part in the climate debate. ASAP will make an effort to alter this situation. The second objective is to mainstream climate change awareness across all IFAD’s work. This will be considered successful once climate change is part of our risk and results management and when, for example, our economic analysis includes the costs of climate change. By creating mechanisms for direct finance and the mainstreaming in other investment programmes, ASAP is contributing to increasing smallholders’ resilience to climate risks.
    Biogas installation Mali
    The programme considers how smallholder farmers are affected by climate change in several ways. It aims to support farmers in reducing the losses caused by an increased variable climate, by for example financing early warning systems or creating knowledge about crop variety. But it is also taking advantage of new opportunities. When temperatures rise certain regions which have not been available for agriculture until now, such as high altitude regions, could become accessible for agriculture usage. Thus IFAD will responds to both the negative and positive impacts of climate change. In addition, ASAP, is focused on the upscaling of existing practices and technologies and the supporting of new, innovative approaches. An example of upscaling is agroforestry and watershed management, whereas early warning investments are new innovative approaches which are to be implemented and further explored.

    ASAP strengthens  vulnerable links in the value chains as is the case of Bangladesh, where it is financing submersible road infrastructure to withstand  extreme weather events. Climate change affects all stages of  the value chain: from farmer to consumer. Therefore IFAD has created a programme which considers all those aspects in order to protect smallholders against the complex impacts of climate change.

    One third of all IFAD's projects will have an ASAP component. They are funded by donor money received from Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Sweden. However, the funding needs are enormous. In many regions a critical number  of smallholders are threatened by the effects of climate change. In order to garner much-needed additional resources, we must demonstrate our effectiveness in reducing climate risks.


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    “Grow what you eat, eat what you grow”, the self-reliant farming motto

    Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC

    Thai rural development programs are implemented based on King Bhumibol Adulyadej ideas on economic development summarized in the so-called ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’. Those principles are the base of the New Theory Agriculture, focused on generating self-reliance in three levels: the household, the community and the nation. Household self-reliance means a self-sustaining farm warrantying self-consumption based on a water pond, a field for crops to sell, and a house.

    Hence, the farmer has access to markets while safely faces contingencies. “Grow what you eat, eat what you grow. Make what you use, use what you make.” But, beyond a very respected royal philosophy, Thai public policies for rural development support a national network of Local Scholars, or “Pratch Chao Bann”, who manage and develop Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in order to down-streaming the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Among many other public and private services at village, sub district and district levels that looking for citizen empowerment through self-management of the financial, natural and cultural resources of the Nation.

    Participants of the Learning Route “Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC,” had a first hand experience of the protagonist role of several wise women and men devoted to share their knowledge and improve the livelihoods of poor farmers all over Thailand.

    Sometimes their motivation is farmer debt relief, like Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang—leader of the Wang Nam Keaw District CLC—did in order to change their fellow farmers’ mind-set enabling them to address their poverty core causes through Buddhist principles.

    Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan, Local Scholar at the
    MOA Life Science and Art Institute
    In other cases, the effort to improve farmers’ lifestyle based on mind, body and spirit integration linking natural, organic agriculture with beauty and health—following Japanese Mokichi Okada’s philosophical and spiritual teachings—becomes a Life Science and Art Institute like the one Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan manages in the Thai province of Lopburi.

    Regarding the CLCs, “one of the main lessons from this Learning Route—highlighted Ms. Alessandra Richter, High Commission of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation High Commission, to the participants—is that the Thai State trusts the farmer’s practical knowledge, their know-how, to the point of multiplying it as a public policy.”

    Up to US$40 million dollars are annually invested so those self-taught and self-reliant outstanding farmers can provide technical assistance for land and rural organization management to other small-scale farmers.

    Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang, leader of the Wang Nam Keaw
    Community Learning Center in Thailand
    The Prach Chao Baan Outstanding farmers “may not have academic certificates but they are multiplying their knowledge and opening ways for other people to develop”, Richter concluded.

    If you want further information on this Learning Route visit contact Mr. Ariel Halpern at And follow us during the Route trip at:

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    By Betty Tole, IFADAfrica

    The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo 2013 entered its second day yesterday, 29October 2013, featuring Solution Exchange Forums led by various UN agencies and a leadership round table. 
    IFAD Stand at the GSSD Expo

    The objective of the GSSD Expo Solution Exchange Forums is to provide a platform for interactive discussions and presentation of successful Southern development solutions taking various forms such as southern-grown solutions, south-south partnership solutions, North-South-South triangular partnership solutions, and public-private partnership solutions.

    Scheduled at the end of the day was the Solution Exchange Forum 3 on Agriculture and Food Security was led by IFAD and FAO. The solutions presented and discussed in this forum were designed to support families and societies in coping with the effects of climate change and depleting energy sources. The forum was divided into two sessions, starting with FAO and then IFAD.

    The Key Note Speaker Dennis Garitty UN Drylands Ambassador and Senior Fellow World Agro-forestry Centre said "even the poorest countries countries can add value". He mentioned south south cooperation among poor countries in west Africa that is yielding results and is being scaled up. 
    The experience was from agro-forestry work done in Niger, currently at 5 million ha. Through cross country exchange visits and policy support, the technology has spread to Mali 450,000 ha in Seno Plains, Nigeria, Ethiopia Malawi, and currently Zambia are adopting it. 

    Cheikh Sourang, the IFAD Senior Programme Manager and Focal Point, South-South and Triangular Cooperation, in the Strategy and Knowledge Department, moderated the session, which was later hailed by one of the participants as the most captivating of the day. It was one of the well attended Solution Forum. There was a call to organizers to separate the two sessions for FAO and IFAD next year. 
    Cheik Sourang moderates the IFAD Panel Session

    Dominic Wanjihia, the CEO of Biogas International Ltd. Kenya, was the first on the floor explaining how the innovative Flexi Biogas Technology that was manufactured in Kenya is expanding renewable energy sources for families in Kenya. The Flexi Biogas System is simpler and less costly to build and operate. So far, over 300 systems have been installed since 2011. IFAD is partnering with Biogas International to install nine systems on dairy farms as part of the IFAD-supported Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme in parts of the Rift Valley, in Kenya.  In Naivasha, for example, four orphanage schools are using kitchen and human waste to produce electricity for lighting and to provide Internet access. The company is seeking partners to enable scaling-up to other parts of Africa and the rest of the world.  

    Abdelkarim Sma, the IFAD Regional Economist for Near East, North Africa and Europe Division, shared on how the shift from conventional to conservation agriculture is happening in the Republic of Moldova.  The initiative adopted knowledge management as an instrument to support conservation agriculture.  As a result, there has been a significant shift with a third of the 600 trained farmers having adopted conservation farming.

    Maija Peltola, Director General of Procasur, a global organization specialized in harvesting and scaling up homegrown innovations. Their models emphasize on supporting rural development using the bottom up approach. The 18 years old organization is facilitating farmer to farmer exchanges both physically and virtually. Since 2006, they have implemented learning routes in more than 30 countries in four continents. She noted that challenges remains top down approach of many institutions.

    Liu Ke, the Associate Country Programme Officer of IFAD Asia and the Pacific Division, made a presentation on how China managed to reduce its incidence of poverty between1981 - 2005, using the Household Responsibility System, and other strategies.  He shared the lessons they have drawn from the programme key among them – the ownership model – urging countries to “remain at the driving seat” He also called for a culture of learning from mistakes, seeking home driven innovations and also learning from what others have done. Liu’s presentation drew a lot of interest from participants as was evident from their comments during the plenary session.

    In his remarks, Steve Thomlow said to achieve south-south cooperation, there is need to create development space by changing the command and control structure.  Missing links also need to be addressed. he mentioned that it was interesting that in the whole discussion, the role of the private sector in harnessing inputs, improving access to equipment, access to markets and the issue of access to a financing mechanism.
    Africa harvest Presentation Stand at GSSD

    Johannes Linn, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution brought in the aspect of focusing on learning from successes and failures in order to achieve south-south cooperation.  He said we should put in place a mechanism to drawing on lessons from monitoring and evaluation processes. 

    The last speaker, Robson Mutandi, theIFAD Country Director in Ethiopia asked the question ‘why and what are we scaling up?’ He said without credible data and information, and evidence of the models that work, scaling up will not work. He said there is need for an innovation enabled environment, that is, "the system should allow you to experiment on scaling up” said Mutandi.  He said to achieve south-south cooperation there is need for partnerships, to address the issue of limited resources.

    The session closed with comments and questions from participants. The discussions will be continued during another IFAD Partnership Forum “Scaling up Development Impact through South-South and Triangular Cooperation scheduled on Thursday, 31 October 2013.

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    By Laura Arcari

    IFAD’s first FailFaire took place at our Headquarters on 29 October 2013. The immediate question that came into my mind was why failure?  Why not talk directly about success, who wants to hear about failure?

    What are some of the words associated with success?
    Accomplishment, Good Times, Prosperity, Happiness 
    What are some of the words associated with failure?
    Punishment, Judgement, Disappointment, No income 
    What are some of the words associated to People who speak about failure?
    Courageous, Honest, Mature, Lessons Learnt

    So why a FailFaire? To kill the taboo and change the mind set on talking about failure. Create a safe place where failures can be shared and seen as stepping stones to success. Create a failure friendly organization and strengthen feedback loops for future successes.

    We all want to hear about success but we also know that success  never happens overnight. The successes that come in winning a trophy in sports, in running a profitable business, in having happy relationships, having a brilliant career or owning material assets,  are all fruits of perseverance, dedication, hard work, pain and probably some failures, trials and errors. Therefore if success and failure are two sides of the same coin then we must stop thinking that failure is for losers because failing does not mean that you are a failure. Failing at something before you succeed also helps you to appreciate your success.

    Failing is an opportunity to get something right. And the faster and earlier you face what and how you failed the sooner you will succeed. Do not linger on defensive reactions such as ignoring the failure, deny responsibility or self-fix mistakes. The risk of not facing that you failed is that you get really good at doing the wrong thing and the guaranteed failure in the end will only escalate and become uncontrollable.

    Admitting that you have failed is difficult because you put yourself in the public eye but if you fail out loud, you can reflect and share with others so that they can benefit. Failing is positive because without it, means that no innovation is taking place because we are simply replicating old successes. However, in today’s fast pace we can no longer afford to stay stale and not continue to reinvent, innovate and update or else failing will come for certain.

    Adapting for changes in failing is responsible because as my friend would quote “when you bleed you don’t swim with the sharks”.  Here is his story on how he faced a possible failure and turned it into success. In 2008 when the global economic crisis hit Italy, he wondered how long his company would survive but rather than wait for failure he made the personal sacrifice to give up his salary during the critical years and sold family property to invest in innovative research and development. It was not long before the new strategy paid off and today his company has factories in India, China and Brazil. He has also received personal acclamations from the Bocconi University as one of the top five examples of excellence for businesses in Lombardy who survived the last two years of financial and economic crisis.

    Challenge your failings when it comes upon your path and future successes will pave the road.

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    By Antonella Piccolella

    IFAD grants booth at the Expo. ©IFAD
    As government ministers, business leaders and experts gathered in Nairobi yesterday to discuss southern-grown solutions, they were greeted by drummers and dancers. With this, participants of the Global South-South Development Expo, which is held for the first time in Africa, and in the South part of the world, could see that this will be a different sort of Expo than before.

    The Expo, which is organized by the UN Office of South-South Cooperation and hosted by UNEP under the theme "Building inclusive green economies,” is a landmark event that signals a change in the development paradigm from North-South to South-South. During the opening ceremony UNEP’s Achim Steiner highlighted that “the conversation on development is no longer deposited in the North. We are starting a ‘new conversation’, a new development paradigm.”

    The Opening Ceremony was followed by the inauguration of the exhibit area in the morning. Events featured throughout the Expo's first day included the inauguration of the Expo's exhibition pavilion, which has more than 70 exhibitors in interactive booths. IFAD has a strong presence with three booths, including one that focuses on an IFAD-supported biogas project in Kenya.

    Explaining the portable biogas solution.
    Since April 2012 in Kenya, IFAD has worked in partnership with Biogas International to install nine biogas systems on small dairy farms as part of the IFAD-supported Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme in Nakuru and two systems in an orphanage school in Naivasha. As in other developing countries, women bare the greater load of family responsibilities, including spending numerous hours collecting firewood and tending to crops. Biogas International alleviates some of that burden by providing cooking fuel and large volumes of rich fertilizer, as well as freeing up the time otherwise spent collecting firewood. The technology was designed and locally produced in Kenya and was inspired by the Maasai, who are always on the move. Biogas International designed these systems so that the Maasai, instead of carrying firewood, could pack up their “energy source” quickly and efficiently to move as they needed. The technology is locally designed and manufactured, taking in to consideration the needs and capacity of local smallholder farmers.

    Many people came to learn more about the biogas solution.
    Already on the first day, the booth was crowded with many Expo participants curious about how the portable biogas solution operated. And for me, this was exciting to see as after all, this is the whole point of the Expo – to exchange resources and knowledge on development solutions that are working.

    As Wu Xiaoqing, China’s Vice-Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection, said in his opening remarks, “developing countries have much more in common than difference.”

    I am looking forward to the next few days to see if his statement rings true.

    The Global South-South Expo is held in Nairobi is from 28 October until 1 November.

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    It is a bright and sunny day as we travel to meet farmer groups in the Republic of Southern Sudan's Eastern Equatorial Province, Magwi county. On a supervision/implementation support mission for the Southern Sudan Livelihoods Development Project (SSLDP), we have had opportunities to interact with rural small scale farmers who belong to groups that they have created to work together. SSLDP is a Government of Southern Sudan project, implemented with support from IFAD and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands since 2009. The mission team divided into two groups to be able to visit the different project sites.
    Amazo Crop Production Group in Loa Payam was formed in 2008, by returnees from exile in Uganda. Their objectives were to work together to produce food for their families, sell excess produce in markets and get money to take their children to school, and pay for household necessities such as health care. Amazo means ‘we are growing’ and the group members are very optimistic that they will grow bigger and greater.
    Some members of Amazo group celebrating being together
    and receiving guests. ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo

    The group has twenty members – 17 women and 3 men. They created bylaws to govern their members’ participation and the selection of activities, overseen and managed by an elected executive committee.  They have developed impressive record keeping of group accounts, profits and details on the land they have tilled, thanks to the training received from the service providers under the SSLDP. As a group, and individually, they have been able to increase the acreage of land they cultivate. Before, each member cultivated about one acre, but now, they each cultivate four acres, planting mainly sesame, groundnuts, cassava, soya bean and sorghum. Using group savings to buy bricks, their own labour, and with support from the project, they constructed their own store to keep their harvest as they look for a good market to sell their produce. The store affords them time to sell their produce at a good price, as they cannot be coerced by middlemen to sell at an unfavorable price for fear that their goods will get spoilt. In the second season of 2012, they harvested 153 bags of groundnuts, 133 of which were sold for about USD 2945, ensuring that they kept 20 bags for seed for the next season. They also harvested 150 kgs of sesame which they sold for USD 125. They shared some of the money to take pay for their household needs, and saved the rest for future use by the group.

    Moriku tends her sesame garden. ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo
    Betty Moriku, married and a mother of 6 joined Amazo in 2008 as one of the pioneers. “I have been able to get capital to increase the stock in my shop and now I want to start doing a business of processing and selling shear nut,” says Moriku. Moriku is able to take her children, four of whom are in primary to school without a problem.

    The group also provides credit to members for an agreed interest rate, and members who have money can keep it with a treasurer and earn some interest on it. However, the main challenge that the group faces is their dependence on the good will of the treasurer as there are no other risk management mechanisms such as formal financial institutions where such groups can register and keep their savings safe. Other hurdles that the group cited were, climate change, a lack of mechanized agricultural equipment to be able to till more land in less time, and having no sure available markets. Nonetheless, they plan to increase production of the various crops by saving towards an ox plough which will enable them to plant more. They also said they would explore the option of opening an account in a financial institution to keep their money safe.

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    Scribe's wall from the morning session of IFAD's first FAILfaire. ©IFAD
    “Failure is not an option.” The traditional viewpoint of many a hard-driving manager is embodied in that pep-talk cliché. But an event held yesterday at the Rome headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development turned the cliché on its head. Throughout the day, a series of guest speakers well versed in global development and social science made the case for a more accurate truism that could be summed up as follows: “Without intelligent failure, success is not an option.”

    Known as a FAILfaire– IFAD’s first – the event reflected a growing awareness in the international development sector that failure is a natural part of doing business. While some of the leaders in this field accept the importance of learning from failures, it seems fair to say that the corporate cultures of most development organizations are still not open to the free and unfettered sharing of such experiences.

    Every speaker at the IFAD forum yesterday talked about the challenge of opening up a dialogue on failure. The three guests who brought their expertise to bear in the morning session were especially focused on this question. How, they asked, can we establish a safe space for honest conversations about incremental failures on the road to long-term, sustainable success in reducing poverty and ensuring food security?

    Obstacles to innovation
    Journalist and economist Tim Harford, the author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure and The Undercover Economist, kicked off the session by explaining why learning from failure is so difficult. He identified four main obstacles to what he termed “productive failure” – including conformity, inadequate attention to feedback, the problem of risk, and basic human psychology.

    Tim Harford explains 'productive failure'. ©Barbara Gravelli
    “Conformity is an obstacle to innovation,” Harford said, citing research (some of it humorous) that shows how people tend to mistrust their own instincts unless others challenge the conventional wisdom first. A diversity of viewpoints is therefore essential “to break the spell of conformity,” he added.

    Harford went on to say that unless the managers of any project or initiative seek out timely feedback from the ground level, they will remain unaware of small, correctable problems until they become bigger, intractable ones. And while some enterprises, such as nuclear power plants, do well to avoid innovations that might fail, Harford asserted that the risks of innovating are usually not as great as people fear. In general, these risks can be managed with a modicum of foresight and planning, he said.

    As for the pesky variable of human behaviour, Harford highlighted our common tendency to compound our failures because we avoid acknowledging them in the first place.

    Overcoming the fear of failure
    Ashley Good, founder and CEO of FailForward – a Canadian non-profit that helps organizations become more failure-friendly – echoed Harford’s arguments, reiterating the point that fear inhibits innovation, adaptation and growth. “We have an instinctive fear of failure,” Good said, since the term has multiple negative associations that are absorbed from an early age.

    Ashley Good discusses 'failing forward'. ©Barbara Gravelli
    Still, in a world marked by rapid change, it’s more important than ever to adopt flexible approaches to some of our greatest challenges. That won’t happen, Good suggested, unless organizations begin to speak openly about failures and “fail intelligently” in pursuit of workable solutions. In order to do so, she said, they must develop and implement robust strategies for using failure as a learning tool. Without sacrificing accountability, they also need to continually assess and adapt the ways in which they maintain a dialogue on failure.

    Above all, they cannot afford to shoot the messenger. “It takes a great amount of courage to speak truth to power. It isn’t always going to be good news,” Good said. “But failure conversations must be truly blameless.”

    Failing faster and smarter
    Good and the other speakers were quick to say that their goal was not to celebrate failure but, instead, to acknowledge that it is an inevitable part of any project and respond to it accordingly. Unfortunately, this is not yet the norm for most development organizations, said Aleem Walji, who directs the World Bank Innovation Labs and previously served as Head of Global Development Initiatives at Google.

    Aleem Walji addresses the urgency of
    sharing failures. ©Barbara Gravelli
    Most of the world’s poorest people live in fragile and unpredictable environments, Walji observed. Yet too often, institutions that are in the business of ending poverty focus on formulaic technical solutions that are not steeped in local complexities. To succeed, he said, these institutions have to be willing to begin with a hypothesis rather than a rigid technical fix – and then they must be willing to listen to the people who are directly affected by the project, identify failures early on, and change course quickly to correct them.

    “The greatest risk we run is getting really good at doing the wrong thing,” he said.

    In the long run, Walji concluded, it is far more responsible to “fail early, fail faster and fail forward” than to stick with preconceived ideas about what constitutes success. Otherwise, he said, “we’ll come up with the same answers as we have in the past, and we can’t continue doing business as usual.”

    * * *
    Dave Snowden, a leader in the field of knowledge management, spoke during the afternoon session of the IFAD FAILfaire. His remarks on the role of storytelling as a means of sharing and learning from failures will be the subject of a separate blogpost.

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    by Rima Alcadi

    Picture of Tim Harford, by Barbara Gravelli
    Tim Harford is an economist. Tim is also: a member of the Financial Times editorial board; a broadcaster; an award-winning speaker (see his TED-Talk); Winner of the 2006 Bastiat Prize for economic journalism; author of several books, including The Undercover Economist and Adapt; and the only economist in the world to run a problem page, called 'Dear Economist'. As of 29 October 2013, Tim is also the first speaker at IFAD’s first Fail-Faire!

    What did Tim talk to us about?

    Tim told us to make more mistakes. This is because if we do anything worthwhile doing, we will inevitably make mistakes. Therefore, we also need to learn how to manage these mistakes. He told us about Twyla Tharp’s musical “Movin' Out” - a jukebox musical featuring the songs of Billy Joel. The show was unusual: all the vocals were performed by a pianist and band while the dancers acted out the songs dialogue. It was an innovation, it was difficult to implement and it required a lot of collaboration. Tharp was working with music she was not familiar with and she was breaking down barriers. The musical was initially labelled a total and catastrophic failure – “embarrassingly naïve”, “hideous failure” were some of the adjectives used by renowned critics to describe it. Moreover, her failure was incredibly public.

    If you do not fail, you are not being innovative, you are not being creative and not doing anything new. But why is it so difficult to admit and to fix a failure? There are 4 obstacles to productive failure:

    1. Conformity. The power of seeking conformity is compelling, as humorously demonstrated by Solomon Asch back in 1950s (see Asch was fascinated by the issue of conformity. Asch concluded that people conform because they doubt themselves as everybody else is doing something else and/or because they don’t want to make a fuss and go against the crowd. And there is an enormous stake involved in agreeing with our colleagues: Asch demonstrated that we conform even when there is nothing to lose, so imagine how much harder it is not to conform when our career and self-image are on the line! What is the cure to this – how can the pressure to conform be eased? Well, it turns out that when we are not alone in disagreeing, then it becomes much simpler to voice our true opinions. A single person in the room who voices a different opinion is enough to enable us to deviate as well. Promoting diversity in opinions is thus tremendously important to create creative ideas: so one person voicing a different opinion (even if wrong!) is bringing in enormous value by breaking the spell of conformity and allowing us all to express ourselves more freely.

    2. Poor feedback loops. We can only find out if something is a good idea by providing feedback. When feedback loops are bad, it is impossible to find out if something is good or bad. Ensuring that there are good feedback loops is extremely important.

    3. Consequences. Sometimes the benefits of success may be small but the risk of failure is quite large. We don’t really want innovations in certain kinds of systems. For instance, in nuclear power plants, we don’t really want people innovating in areas that could lead to failures. We need to ensure that we take adequate stock of what are the possible consequences of failure. Most of the time we will find that the consequences are small, and it is certainly worth innovating.

    4. Our own psychology. When we invest a lot of time and energy on something, we have the tendency to carry on rather than admit we are wrong. This is referred to as the “sunk cost bias”: it implies persisting with bad decisions as a result of our irrational attachment to costs that cannot be recovered any longer. This means that we are often not willing to admit we failed and learn from our experience, so then we risk throwing good money after bad money.

    Tim talked about what it takes to fail in a complex world, and about the fact that it is “normal” for development-related activities to fail. We all acknowledged that the risks of failing are very high for us, because ultimately we are meant to support poor people overcome poverty. Tim’s point in this regard was not to invite us to fail more, but to expect to fail (as failure is inevitable) and admit when we do. Tim’s advice is: fail forward, fail faster, fail productively.

    So what happened to Twyla Tharp and her musical “Movin' Out”? Well, Tharp had to admit that the critics were right. She decoupled the criticism from her ego and turned it into constructive advice – which she followed. A few weeks later, the show was completely reconfigured and re-designed. And then she got very good reviews and the musical was labelled a great success – to everybody’s astonishment, especially the critics’. That’s how Tharp failed forward, rather than backward: she quickly learned from her failure and kept movin'.

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    By Betty Makelemu Tole

    IFAD staff, representatives of other UN agencies, partners, non-governmental organizations, community based, and private sector organizations were on 31 October 2013 united in supporting the case for scaling up impact of successful development interventions through South-South and Triangular Cooperation.  These discussions were held on the fourth day of the Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo taking place in Nairobi, Kenya on 28 October to 1 November 2013, at a Partnership Forum organized and facilitated by IFAD.  The forum “South-South Cooperation for Impact at Scale: Towards a Community of Practice and Learning Alliance” was organized with the aim to set the stage for a systematic approach to future dialogue on South-South Cooperation as a special and important case for scaling up. 
    Nadine Gbossa, Country Director and Head of Regional Office, Nairobi
    Nadine Gbossa, Country Director and Head of IFAD Regional Office in Nairobi, in her welcoming remarks highlighted the role of scaling up in facing up to the challenge of addressing the high poverty levels in rural areas, and also the value of working together to develop sustainable partnerships.

    The thrust of the session was a presentation on scaling up made by Johannes Linn, Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution in which he provided a definition of scaling up, types and linkages in scaling up and lessons for implementation. He defined scaling up as -  “about more impact by improving more people’s lives on a lasting basis… its not about individual projects, but about supporting longer term programmes of engagement and building momentum…” Types of scaling up include: expansion of services to more people in a given geographical area, horizontal, vertical and functional scaling up.  Integral to scaling up is identifying the intervention that is being scaled up; having a vision of what a scaled-up intervention might look like; identifying the drivers expected to push the scaling-up process; creating spaces for the initiative to grow such as the financial space, natural/environmental space, policy, political, cultural, partnership and learning spaces; and putting in place pathways that define the movement of the idea/innovation to scaling up as illustrated in the figure below. 
    Innovation, learning, and scaling up as an iterative processScaling Up

    During the sharing of institutional experiences on scaling up, H. Kato, JICA highlighted the challenges they have faced in scaling up: dealing with the practitioner’s mindset, and the fear of higher risks presented by scaling up, “the larger the cooperation, the more the risks,” said Kato. Liu Ke of IFAD, China highlighted the need to connect scaling up cases/lessons with regional and global scaling up initiatives  (scale the scale up), identifying new partners and opportunities for synergies, and exploring new implementation mechanisms. 

    Comments from country representatives and partners of IFAD on scaling up

    Argentina – spaces need to be expanded especially financial space and the role of the private sector in financing.  Scaling up requires human resource development, and social space - we have to focus on projects that maximize on social inclusion. 
    Development Partners Following Proceedings
    ICRAF – we need to test multiple pilots and report on failure; otherwise we end up having fraud.
    UNDP – UNDP acts as a knowledge broker, focusing on identifying scalable south solutions that are fully analyzed and demonstrated to have impact on people’s lives. The knowledge includes contractual knowledge and knowledge about pathways.
    World Bank – promotes knowledge hubs as an approach for scaling up.  They have established a community of practice on knowledge hubs focusing on how to transform organizations, engage in strategic partnerships and how to document results.
    FAO – South-South Cooperation is not an end to itself but a means to an end.  There is need for uptake of development solutions, strengthening of knowledge networks and fostering an enabling environment for South-South Cooperation. 

    UNEP – Always keep in mind that ecosystems play a role in ensuring effectiveness of scaling up to achieve long term sustainability. 
    Participants following the Scaling Up Discussions

    UN-HABITAT – To scale up, we have to balance between long-term development solutions and short term immediate needs of the citizens.

    Private sector organization in Kenya – we need to think the unthinkable and do the undoable. Scale up should be driven by entrepreneurship and making profit.

    Climate Change Knowledge Network – scaling up needs champions, people to should out for you.

    Mr. Cheikh Sourang, Senior Programme Manager and Focal Point, South-South and Triangular Cooperation at IFAD, facilitated the forum.  Mr. Yiping Zhou, the Director, UN Office for South-South Cooperation also participated in the forum. 

    The GSSD Expo 2013 draws to a close on Friday, 1st November 2013. 

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    The domino effect of the financial meltdown, speculative pressure on once ignored food markets and the global energy crisis sent food commodity prices careening in 2007. Consumers would be forced to dive deep into their pockets even as their incomes shrunk against the gargantuan demands of the international market. Yet, for West Africa, the effects were nothing new, for years the region’s citizens have battled sprinting commodities matched only by a legacy of inadequate food production.

    West Africa's risky  reliance on imported staple foods is restricting smallholder farmers from their own markets. Enabling market access is not just another form of outreach but is mitigating against a fundamental injustice. If we accept that people have a right to food security, then for producers this is inextricably linked to market security. If West Africa can improve its staple food production, then it not only saves potential billions in foreign exchange, it can dramatically improve the livelihoods of its large population of smallholder farmers.

    At the recently held CFS, Aziz Elbehri Senior Economist at the FAO, presented the preliminary findings of a five year study on how to scale up the value chains of  commonly eaten staple crops like Maize, Rice, Sorghum and Cassava in the region. The product of a joint FAO and IFAD partnership spearheaded by IFAD’s West and Central Africa Division and FAO’s Trade and Markets Division, it  builds on a previous European Union funded research on selected value chains in the region. The report  identified best practices across the region and also explored ways government and private sector could collaborate.

         West African staple crops on sale in Rome's Vittorio Emanuele Market
    Rallying the actors

    The food price crisis and its effects on national import bills was a wake up call for some of the region's governments . "There was an increased attention to staple foods...we saw national initiatives to improve maize, rice and cassava value chains,’’ said Elbehri. The staple crops study reviewed these national investment strategies and their implementation, researchers analysed how investments should be prioritised in local contexts, how to improve the competitiveness of relevant chains and more importantly, how to ensure that the potential growth that comes as a result of this scaling up is pro-poor and gender responsive. It analysed cassava value chains in Ghana and Cameroon, rice and sorghum in Mali , rice in Senegal and Maize in Burkina Faso among others.   
    Promoting a multi-actor model of partnership, including  public agencies, credit agencies, agro-industry and producers, the report stressed the importance of capacity development, particularly for producer organisations in the region.

    West African governments were also urged to provide a ‘balance of domestic policies with regional trade facilitation’ and the report suggested that the region was missing a unique opportunity to bring lucrative informal trade networks into the formal economy.

    Mamadou Sissoko, honorary president of TheNetwork of Peasant OrganizationsandProducers inWest Africa (ROPPA), who was invited to review the findings, pointed to several areas which he felt could be more widely explored by researchers.

    Sissoko said that governments and the international community must see agriculture as a ‘public good’ and that systems that allow fair pricing to farmers must be developed and easily accessible. He also stressed the need for calamity funds and access to improved technologies. A farmer himself, Sissoko then advocated for the use of animal traction which he said could increase farm production by sixty percent for many smallholders.

    Beyond reporting

    The report may prove to be a valuable asset to governments developing value chain investment strategies. Unquestionably, if this study promotes smallholder’s inclusion then it must also be accessible (at the minimum) to the region's producer organisations. If  it is to go beyond reporting then it must be transformative. The findings should be shared as widely as possible for the benefit of all the relevant stakeholders and in languages and media that can be easily understood and appreciated.
    A section on the lessons learnt from the maize value chain could become the basis of a teaching or advocacy tool for these producers. This document (and all relevant IFAD/FAO studies) should feed into a knowledge bank and be shared with partners, especially the groups that need empowering information most - producer networks.

    Through dialogue with regional partners working on staple crop value chains (such as WFP’s the Purchase for Progress initiative or federal cooperative agencies), valuable lessons learnt can be shared with the management and membership of producer organisations. This would help to sensitize regional groups to the potential bottlenecks within their value chains as well as help them create appropriate solutions.

    If West African countries are to scale up their staple crop production, then as the study noted, partnerships, knowledge sharing and an inclusion of all actors – particularly women and other marginalized groups -- is essential. IFAD must continue to partner with other UN agencies to increase global understanding of local challenges, while simultaneously ensuring that those at the grassroots remain engaged.

    7/11/2013: FAO's Trade and Markets Division indicates that plans are in place to distribute publications based on the study to producer organisations in the region. 

    Patrina Pink is an intern in the Communications Division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD. She is also completing a Masters in Human Development and Food Security. 

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    by Rima Alcadi

    Dave Snowden, seen here at IFAD’s FAILFaire,
    is the founder and chief scientific officer of Cognitive Edge,
    a research network focusing on complexity theory in sense-making.

    A great piece of advice that I offer today – if you have an hour available, don’t bother reading this blog and go directly to the real thing (click here for the complete intervention). Dave Snowden is a great speaker and his intervention is certainly worth listening to.

    Dave kicks off with the concept of naturalising sense-making: how do we make sense in the world so that we can act in it? do we know enough to act? In development, we never know enough to act with certainty and we should build on the way people have evolved to be, rather than on how we would like them to be.

    Systems thinking is different from complexity thinking. In systems thinking an ideal future state is defined and then there is an attempt to close the gap. In complexity thinking, the starting point is to describe where we are, and from there, determine what we can change. There is a fundamentally different shift in thinking – from an engineering approach to an ecological approach, whereby we manage the evolutionary potential of the present.

    There are several techniques for sharing failure, Dave tells us. We have become very good at this since we recognise that avoidance of failure is a more successful strategy than imitating success. So the brain imprints failure faster than success. Dave describes three techniques for us:

    •  Displacement. Don’t tell people to tell the story of their own failure as they will gain it. As them to tell a story to show failure. If you ask people to tell a story of how things could fail, they will revert to the truth - as it is difficult to invent such stories out of the blue.
    •  Ritual. Rituals change cognitive paths in the brain. Changing costume changes the way people think, allowing people to do/say things they wouldn’t otherwise do/say.
    •  Process. In modern organizations, there are extensive rules about what you can and cannot do. Modern organizations are dependent on their employees to break the rules in order to get the job done! Most rules are to protect organizations against prosecution and not about what they are purportedly for. Dave underscore the importance of cognitive activation: when you break a rule, you need to use heuristics and you therefore become a lot more alert and thus a lot safer. Heuristics is a dominant control mechanism used by humans for conditions of insecurity and that allow for ambiguity.

    Dave also delves into three key concepts:

    • Exaptation. Many things did not evolve for a purpose. It is not about survival of the fittest, but of the luckiest. A capability that evolved for one function exapts into another. Generalists can exapt better. Exaptation is a key process, especially in development.
    • Coherence. Coherence is neither empirically true nor a gut feeling – it is half way. We do something not because it is a good idea, but because it is coherent.
    • Complexity. Agency in human systems is more narrative-based than it is people-based. If you don’t understand the stories of a group you will not understand how they make decisions.

    Systems can be orderly, chaotic or complex-adaptive. Orderly systems are rule-based. The more bureaucratic an organization, the more people have to work in order to make the system work despite itself. So failure is disguised and when it comes it is catastrophic. A huge amount of energy is invested on managing the system and there is massive inefficiency. Chaos, on the other hand is a system in which there are no constraints and complete randomness prevails. If chaos is understood, it can be used constructively. For example, there is a “wisdom of crowds”: averaging individual assessment of many knowledgeable people can bring to greater precision. In a complex adaptive system, the constraints modify the behaviour and the behaviour modifies the constraints. So here the constraints and the behaviours are co-evolving. Once a pattern forms from the interaction, it cannot be reversed. The system is constantly evolving, constantly changing.

    In systems thinking, there are multiple drivers, and there is little or no evidence to understand what the causes are. Levels of uncertainty are very high and often, we are confusing correlation with causation. A complex adaptive systems is not causal, it is dispositional. We can measure its disposition to move in certain directions, but we cannot predict that pulling a certain lever will lead to a specific outcome.

    How do we measure success without people defining in advance what success would be? Meaning is emerging and is not objective. People interpret stories differently. We need to start democratising the process of meaning making and cannot have only a few people interpreting meaning. “Meaning” needs to become a problematic word and stories should be captured in multiple languages, recognising that once a story is transcribed, we lose the meaning.

    What are the implications?
    Dave wraps up by quoting Lincoln’s famous phrase: “As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew.” We need to deal with high levels of uncertainty. It is not about creating failure but learning from it and learning before we have it. People can be triggered into a heightened state of alert when it is more likely that failure may happen.

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  • 11/06/13--00:48: Focus on East Africa
  • Highlights from the International Symposium and Exhibition on Agricultural Development in the East Africa Community Partner States.

    The Vice President of Uganda (Chief Guest),
     H.E Edward Ssekandi,
    visits the IFAD stall at the exhibition
    A traditional dance troupe doing Ugandan dances set a celebratory mood at the high end Serena Hotel in Kampala on the first day of the International Symposium and Exhibition on Agricultural Development in the East Africa Community partner states in Kampala Uganda. The symposium organized by Kilimo Trust in partnership with the East African Community (EAC) secretariat and ASARECAfocused on the theme “Lessons from the past 50 years and prospects for the future” because all the EAC member states are around the time of celebrating 50 years of independence. The symposium and exhibition was officially opened by the Vice President of Uganda, His Excellency Edward Ssekandi, who emphasized the importance of the East African Common Market in promoting agriculture. “EAC common market is a good opportunity for building economies of scale…an opportunity that should be utilized to ensure food security,” said Ssekandi.
    Symposium partners including IFAD, BMGF, CTA and USAIDalso made statements. On behalf of the IFAD president, the Country Director for Burundi, Mr. Hamed Haidara presented a statement in which he highlighted the importance of smallholder agriculture. “There are unprecedented opportunities to create wealth and eliminate hunger by developing agriculture. And by agriculture, I mean smallholder agriculture,” said Haidara.
    Haidara Hamed, IFAD Country Director, ESA
    shares his statement
    The well organized symposium and exhibition has brought many actors in the agriculture sector together – the youth, private sector, public sector, the donor community, local and international organizations, and participants from EAC member states of Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.
    Key note speeches and papers on ‘Lessons for East Africa from Asia and Latin America’, ‘Leap-frogging Agricultural Successes into the next decade and beyond –issues and lessons from CAADP implementation’, as well as ‘Agricultural development and food security in East Africa: overview of challenges and prospects’ were shared. These accentuated the importance of investment in research and improved technologies for the agriculture sector such as a move from the hand hoe to mechanized tilling, from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation, among others, for increased production and productivity. Uma Lele, one of the speakers, noted that a decline in public investment in agriculture leads to a directly proportionate decline in investment by the private sector.
    The CAADPpresentation highlighted lessons learned from the past ten years, especially, the need to demonstrate results and impact and harnessing private sector investments in agriculture. Over all, CAADP is relevant now as it was ten years ago.
    some of the IFAD delegates at the symposium
    and Exhibition

    The afternoon session involved parallel cluster sessions on ‘Production, Productivity and Market Access’, ‘Knowledge Systems and Business Development’, and ‘Human Capital, Natural Resources and Policies’. Details from the cluster discussions will be shared on this space in due course.

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    Greetings from Berkeley. 6 weeks have gone already. Very intensive and productive time. My graduate seminar has absorbed quite a bit of energy but has been extremely rewarding. Competent and motivated students,  rich discussions, great learning, for me as well. Also interesting to explore linkages with the curriculums of other UC Berkeley courses that deal with international development. The duration of my course was extended to cover more topics. I gave additional talks at  the Master of Development Practice, the course of  Sustainable Development in Latin America and the course of Political Economy of Hunger. I also received an invitation to talk at the course of Global Poverty and Practice.  All this triggered by the tam tam made by the students. Only problem is that additional courses mean additional students… Many leave the talks eager to have follow-up conversations. Several of them inquire about internship opportunities. All this takes time. Tomorrow I am asked to speak before 100 students who want to know how UN agencies work and I know that it will not be easy to manage expectations.

    Few professors approached me enquiring why my graduate seminar seems so popular. One told me: "I am really jealous". The answer is simple: students, graduate students in particular, want to connect to real life endeavors and to what development agencies are doing. They want to know both success stories and the difficulties and failures that we experience. (In this regard last week’s FailFaire came at the most appropriate time. Well done). They want to know what are the enabling conditions that can generate results and impact and where they can make the difference. This is great!

    The preliminary conclusions I would draw are the following: i) there is an unmet demand in academies for practical experience; ii) IFAD can contribute to meet this demand by sharing its experience;  iii) there are young talents out there who are willing to make the difference and deserve an opportunity to show what they can do.  Perhaps we can discuss during a lunchtime seminar upon my return to Rome if and how this experience can be institutionalized. In the meantime, please let me know if anyone is interested to offer internship opportunities.

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