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    By Rahul Antao and Francesca Romana Borgia


    The Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) has for long embodied an ambition to bring together young people, from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, to contribute to shaping a better food system. The BCFN Young Earth Solutions (YES!) contest aims to achieve such a result by inviting young talented PhD and post-doc level researchers from around the world to come up with practical projects to foster a better balance between food and environmental sustainability.

    Recently BCFN hosted the 8th International Forum for Food and Nutrition, where the YES! finalists presented their proposals, in front of a collection of experts, following which two winners were announced. IFAD, being a part of the jury in the selection of projects, was invited to participate in the forum and had the opportunity to have a deeper and meaningful interaction with the finalists and the winners.

    BCFN Yes! 2017 finalists and three winners (on the left hand side of the moderator)
    This year’s winners, Joana Abou Rizk and Theresa Jeremias, focused on maternal and child nutrition among refugees and host communities in Greater Beirut, with emphasis on anaemia. The aim is to examine the underlying causes of anaemia and to improve maternal and child nutrition using sustainable nutrition education approaches to fight hidden hunger in Lebanon and post-conflict Syria. A second winner, Laura Garzoli, from the National Research Council – Institute of Ecosystem Study, focused on promoting integrated pest management strategies to enhance ecosystem services provided by bats in rice agroecosystems .

    While the 2017 YES! winners were selected for their innovative proposals in addressing some of the pertinent social and environmental issues in the food system, it should be acknowledged that the rest of the finalists also came forward with noteworthy proposals. These ranged from addressing the formal/informal seed systems, researching biogas production under cowpea cultivation; to proposals that focused geospatial mapping of using forests to support nutrition during times of drought and others that focused on the effects of third party certification programs on markets. All these shortlisted finalists had one common denominator, they all brought out a sense of positive disruption, to stir up the dust and seek to innovate in solving an array of challenges.

    The Forum also hosted break-away working session for these young voices to collaborate amongst each other and ideate on means to overcome the current burning issues of the current food system. Young participants gathered in four groups proposing solutions for food-related SDGs (#2 zero hunger, #3 good health and well-being, #4 Quality education, #10 Reduced inequalities, #11 Sustainable cities and communities, #12 Responsible consumption and production, # 13 Climate action, # 14 Life on land). This gave IFAD participants a chance to interact with a wide range of young people from grassroots’ network organisations, advocacy groups, academic institutions and BCFN YES! Alumni. IFAD also had the opportunity to sponsor the participation of two young students Tolulope D. Adika and Andres Morales, selected among those who benefitted from the 'IFAD – Universities win-win partnership' grant, approved in 2015 to present their experience and their research results at the forum.

    From left to right: Rahul Antao (IFAD consultant), Tolulope Adika, Francesca R. Borgia (IFAD consultant), Andrés Morales and Bolanle Titilola  

    Indeed, the BCFN forum served as true platform for learning, sharing, scouting ideas, strengthen partnerships and building new ones with various individuals, organisations and agencies. In bolstering our collective commitment towards achieving the SDGs, we were reminded by Sir Bob Geldof in the closing ceremony how “Easter Island remains a good reminder of how we need to think about our limited resources before we use them endlessly.” It is up to everyone to do their part - governments, the private sector, civil societies and people - before we all become Easter Islanders!

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    by Maelle Peltier
    Learning about the role of women and men through South-South exchange.



    Who is the ideal woman? Does the ideal man actually exist? These questions pursued the participants of the recent South-South exchange between projects supported by the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). The exchange, organised jointly by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), brought together participants from eight francophone ASAP projects in Africa (from Benin, Cape Verde, Chad, Djibouti, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania and Niger).

    The exchange had a dedicated gender day, facilitated by CARE International, to debate and learn about gender-related aspects. The gender day put the participants at the centre of the action, alternating between practical sessions, exercises and reflections. Emily Janoch, Deputy Director for Knowledge Management and Learning at CARE, who facilitated the gender day said:

    “Our studies show that women’s inclusion is not only crucial to equality, but is also a key component of local economy: in Bangladesh, when a study by CARE showed that women were paid half of what men were for the exact same job, their husbands were the first to fight for wage equality!”
    Through this type of perspective change, resulting from a complete analysis of men and women’s roles in their community, it is possible to evolve towards a more egalitarian society, to the benefit of all.

    The same was illustrated in the first exercise performed by the participants: when women and men separately sought to establish the typical daily agenda of a man or a woman in rural areas, some elements consistently come out in a very obvious manner, regardless of the diversity of the contexts the participants’ projects operate in. Everywhere, the rural woman wakes up earlier. Her day is burdened with countless tasks; preparing meals, providing care to children, working in the fields, fetching water or firewood, or feeding poultry and cattle. The rural man also has a busy day, but all acknowledge that he has moments of recreation or rest, and time for socializing. Studies demonstrate that on average, the day of a woman is longer by 5 hours than that of a man: time is yet another resource women have access less to than men.

    During a second exercise, accompanied by a reflection on values and norms adopted in a given community, participants tried to describe the ideal man or the ideal woman. The diversity of contexts comes together in the model men and women of the rural areas where the projects operate: the ideal rural woman is discreet, available and respectful. The ideal man, for his part, is strong, listened to and respected. He is responsible for his family. These models show the limits to changes sought by development projects. How could a woman from whom society expects discretion find the strength to speak up in public meetings? How could a man, on whose shoulder lay the responsibility for the family, manage to save face in a context where climate change leads to external shocks, making production ever more uncertain? How can one change when new behaviours go against the common values, and risk sanctions and judgment from the group? These values, projected in the model of the ideal man or woman, act as a normative straightjacket that can make individual change impossible. “With this exercise, we have understood that it is time to redefine the models of ideal men and women, and to accompany this change of perspective. The ideal woman and the ideal man should actually be identical: autonomous actors of their community’s and household’s development, and recognized as such.”

    CARE offers a clear methodology for real impact on gender related aspects: change cannot happen without an in depth diagnosis of the dynamics inherent to each specific context, each specific community. In line with this approach, the project teams that joined in the exchange tried to identify key recommendations for their own projects. Many have insisted on the importance of having a continuous reflection on gender related aspects, this dynamic being too often confined to IFAD’s annual supervision missions. As the CCAFS coordinator in Mali, Robert Zougmoré noted: “We all have a role to play in gender mainstreaming, and technicians and managers alike must act as leaders in this: it is also there that work on gender should begin”. With this day of reflection, participants acknowledge that a door has been opened, and that they feel better equipped to mainstream gender in their project. As some put it: “the road is long, we have to walk”.


    This blog was originally posted on the CCAFS website.
    Read the French version here.

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    by Maelle Peltier




    When it comes to resilience and sustainable agriculture as supported by the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the diversity of these countries quickly comes together, as revealed during a recent South-South exchange, organized by IFAD and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The exchange brought together project implementers from eight IFAD projects, co-financed by ASAP to enhance climate resilience in the eight countries, all of them at different stages of implementation (from start-up to completion).

    During the 5 days exchange, a variety of sessions took place, from technical presentations on climate-smart agriculture or weather information, to animated debates on common implementation challenges. A full day was dedicated to discussions, awareness raising and training on gender related aspects, and the workshop participants spent a day and a half around Bougouni, visiting and learning from the ASAP financed “Fostering agricultural Productivity Project” (PAPAM/ASAP) in Mali.

    Throughout the week, discussions were animated, rich, and sometimes heated, as projects were eager to share their experience, ask for advice, and compare their similarities and differences. As a participant put it: “Being put together to discuss really gives us the opportunity to realise we are not alone! Sometimes, the others have great solutions to situations that totally block us”. During the first session, each team presented their project, and the participants were mildly sceptic when considering the diversity of implementation contexts. After the Niger team had explained how they rehabilitate degraded land, the Mali team had presented the successes of biogas, the Benin team developed the issue of reducing dangerous chemical inputs in horticulture and Djibouti’s team shared their experience on coral reef protection, a participant found the words to express how this diversity comes together: "The coral reef is like the tree and the forest. If you cut the tree, if you remove the forest, the animals will not come any more, the ecosystem will fall apart”, launching a discussion on the importance of ecosystem conservation to ensure sustainable productivity in the context of climate change. The(se) discussions gave way to core themes the project teams are regularly faced with: the complexity of monitoring and evaluation; the question of mainstreaming not only gender but also environment, climate, and nutrition and the tools that can be used to do so; the matter of safeguards and how IFAD expects projects to implement them; and most of all, the stake of sustainability.

    The second day of the workshop focused on exchanges and reflexions on gender, and opened with a presentation by Dr Mathieu Ouedraogo on CCAFS’ experience in integrating gender related aspects in projects in West Africa. The rest of the day enabled participants to become actors of the reflexion through practical sessions, exercises and debates on gender related aspects, animated by Emily Janoch from Care International.

    On the third day of the workshop, the participants travelled to Bougouni, 150km South of Bamako, for three field visits presenting the experience of PAPAM/ASAP: one on biogas, the second showing how participatory mapping and the involvement of local authorities enabled to efficiently install a women managed market garden equipped with solar pumping, and the last presenting how market access was improved through participatory planning, by building a bridge connecting production areas with commercial areas. The participants were most impressed by the biodigestors, a technology that not only has added value to manure by improving its fertilizing power, but that has most of all been key to women empowerment. Thanks to biogas, the time required for the preparation of meals and washing of cooking pots has been drastically reduced, cooking is safer and easier, and women spend much less time looking for firewood. They have more time for themselves and to take care of the children, and the community has managed to reduce its impact on forest resources. Workshop participants asked many detailed questions relating to technical aspects, all of them eager to identify whether and how the experience could be replicated in their country.

    During the last day of the workshop, the projects teamed up for presentations on guaranteeing the sustainability of investments and local stakeholder engagement; scaling up through national policies, addressing start-up related issues, and integrating transversal aspects such as gender, nutrition, and climate in project implementation. The exchange was also an important avenue for science-practitioner engagement, bringing expertise from the CGIAR and national research partners to address implementation challenges, and charting out a pathway for deeper engagement with scientific partners. The exchange led to the creation and recognition of a community of practice, represented by the members of the project teams. All acknowledging the need for more exchanges with other French-speaking colleagues, also faced with the challenge of mainstreaming climate and environment in their projects.

    This blog was originally posted on the CAAFS website.
    Read the French version here.

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    By Oliver Mundy



    Eric Patrick, adaptation specialist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), presented a new innovative pilot programme in a TED-like 'Landscape Talk' at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn in December. 


    Patrick began with an analysis of three past water-harvesting projects that seemed to have failed.

    Fences to manage grazing were removed. Many of the planted trees died. Water catchment structures were not maintained.

    He talked to beneficiaries and other stakeholders to find out why. To his surprise their perception of the shortcomings were completely different to his own.

    They said that the projects were successful. It offered them employment: the youth in particular. Materials were used for livestock kraals. The projects kept land out of the hands of the politically well-connected elders.

    "Peoples' criteria for successful projects were quite different from our own," said Patrick.

    Complexity of landscapes

    Standard approaches to project design often have narrow assumptions of what success is. The reality is much more complex. Challenges such as land degradation, food insecurity and poverty are often intertwined.

    Development institutions try to understand the interactions between humans and ecosystems. They increasingly recognise that landscapes have many uses and provide the basis for food and income for many different types of stakeholders.

    Many institutions and approaches aim to improve food security, increase rural incomes and protect natural resources. But what is the best approach to achieve these multiple benefits? 

    Piloting a new programmatic approach

    IFAD is leading the new Integrated Approach Programme for Food Security (IAP); a GEF-funded multi-agency programme launched in June 2017. The programme aims to bring 10 million hectares of land, in twelve African countries, under integrated and sustainable land management.

    The programme is piloting a new approach that is innovative in terms of its structure and components. 
    The multi-agency programme focuses on dryland areas of 12 sub-Saharan African countries


    The programme’s 12 country projects are connected by a 13th project that ensures joint monitoring, the exchange of knowledge and up-scaling of best practices in all country projects.

    The three guiding principles of the IAP are Engage, Act and Track (EAT). They are reflected in the three core components of each of the 12 country projects. 

    • Engage: Bring together the right stakeholders in the right forum depending on what their interests are. 
    • Act: Identify proven practices that bring multiple benefits and up-scale these. 
    • Track: Monitor and assess the programme. 
    Programme structure: one crosscutting project links all country projects


    Most projects use the landscape approach to involve different stakeholders at different levels.  

    The programme builds on the experience of multiple agencies. It is delivered in conjunction with AGRA, Bioversity International, Conservation International, FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, the World Agroforestry Centre and the World Bank.  

    All 12 country projects will follow proven management techniques and the portfolio approach will help identify which project works in which context. 

    View Mr. Patricks entire landscape talk here




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  • 01/16/18--01:02: Article 0

  • IFAD in Sudan: putting inclusive rural transformation into practice

    by Mia Madsen (NEN) and Anja Rabezanahary (PTA)

    It was a unique experience. A total of 35 male and female staff members from four IFAD-financed projects in Sudan spent 10 days together in Wad Madani, Gezira State (22-31 October 2017) to build their knowledge and skills on the IFAD piloted Gender Action Learning System (GALS) methodology. Staff from IFAD-funded projects have a history of being inspired from peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, and have participated in several Learning Routes abroad where they have witnessed the transformative changes GALS can bring for men and women in rural areas. As a result they have adopted the methodology in their own areas of intervention and are now willing to advance the GALS implementation in Sudan, learn more about specific GALS-tools and get better control of the implementation process.


    SDP Community Development and Gender officers drawing their vision for the Unit


    In response to such demand, a GALS workshop was jointly organized by the IFAD country office, the IFAD Policy and Technical Advisory Division and the Central Coordination Unit for IFAD-funded projects in Sudan, with financial support of the Government of Norway. The ten days provided sufficient time to learn about the basic tools and principles of GALS, to understand their use at project level and to develop facilitation skills to roll out at community level. The workshop included eight days of practical exercises and two days of field work. The overall goal of the workshop was to launch a change catalyst process in rural Sudan and prepare the four projects (SUSTAIN, LMRP, SDP and BIRDP) for the advanced phase of GALS applied in areas such as agri-business, value chain development, natural resource management and inclusive rural finance.





    The leadership and social empowerment map, one the basic GALS tool

    Sudan is the first country within the IFAD Near East, North Africa, Europe Division where the GALS methodology is being piloted. It is a welcome tool to enhance economic empowerment of women in a region where women face challenges in access to economic opportunities, productive resources, land and credit and decision-making at all levels.

    Catalysing change at community level

    As part of the training participants visited some rural communities and asked them to envision their future (the first basic GALS tool). Men and women of different generations came together to draw individually and collectively their dreams. With the use of visuals and drawings, no one was left behind; each community member was guaranteed one voice, one drawing.

    The exercise created a big interest among the community members and the participants were impressed by a young girl who stood up in front of local leaders, male and female adults and children to share her dream. She wanted to become a teacher and identified that the main barrier to her dream is child marriage. 


    A girl child sharing her vision of her future with community members

    In discussions, illiteracy was identified as a main challenge for the empowerment of women and girls at community level. Imagine the results if a community decided to take action on child marriage and allow more young girls to become teachers? The community would have more literate people with better chances of increasing their individual and collective dreams.

    On the second day, participants drew the gender balance tree (another basic tool) with men, women and children to stimulate self-awareness on imbalances and identify actions to “balance the tree”.

    Mapping the road for inclusive rural transformation

    The workshop ended with a planning exercise where each project committed to implement the GALS as part of their community development and extension activities. For instance, the BIRDP project aims to empower the communities through improvement of male and female participation at individual, household and community level in the Butana area.

    How does GALS work?

    The first phase of the GALS process is designed to initiate changes of mindset and behaviour of men and women of different ages/status so that individuals, households and communities are ready for rural transformation. When people are taking actions for change, they become receptive and take the risk to be part of value chains, use formal services such as rural finance and plan for efficient use of their resources. The advanced tools can be introduced once people have started seeing results of the basic tools and once they have learned to share their ideas and dreams with others. For instance, in the development of the sorghum value chain in Sudan, the IFAD projects and beneficiaries will be able to envision the future of that crop and develop a “sorghum vision calendar”, analyse and address the specific challenges with a “sorghum challenge action tree”, involve equitably all household members with a “household sorghum tree”, and gain sustainable and inclusive market access with a “sorghum market map”. Those are just examples of the possible tools that can be introduced at a later stage of a GALS process and how they can improve quality of impacts in a value chain development effort.

    Closing ceremony of the GALS workshop, Wad Medani, 31 October 2017

    The training ended with the participants officially naming 2018 as the year for GALS in Sudan. Let us stay tuned and follow closely how the results of piloting GALS in Sudan and how it will support the projects to achieve effective inclusive rural transformation for men, women and youth.

    Read more

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    By Tiffany Minjauw

    The Smallholder Market-led Project (SMLP) in the Kingdom of Swaziland is a six-year project whose development objective is to enhance food and nutrition security and incomes among smallholder producer families through diversified agricultural production and market linkages. 

    On the 8th of January, SMLP held a training in Manzini to kick start its baseline survey through the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT). MPAT is a monitoring and evaluation tool that uses surveys to assist the design, targeting, and prioritisation efforts of a project at a local level.

    To effectively address rural poverty, it is crucial to understand the underlying causes and the constraints before appropriate interventions can be selected and administered. The priority is to help to create an enabling environment within which people can build the type of life that they choose. IFAD poverty-alleviation initiatives seeking to foster an enabling environment where upward mobility is possible, benefit greatly from measurement tools such as MPAT which provide an overview of the key sectors involved.

    Instead of defining and measuring the quality of life that the rural poor should obtain, MPAT assesses the overall environment within which people live, in order to determine whether it, and their current state of human well-being (a combination of all dimensions of livelihoods), are sufficient to allow them to seek the quality of life that they desire.




    Obtaining an overview of rural livelihoods in IFAD project implementation areas will assist project managerial, technical and M&E staff to assess the primary contraints that beneficiaries face. With this notion in mind, MPAT measures people's capacity by identifying indicators of the domains essential to an enabling environment within which people are sufficiently free from immediate needs, and thus in a position to pursue their higher needs and, ultimately, their goals. 

    How does MPAT work?

    MPAT is a free, open access tool that can be found at ifad.org/MPAT. Users can add tailored questions to the core MPAT questionnaire if they so wish, allowing MPAT to be both applicable globally (comparable across countries and continents) and locally - adapted to a particular country, project, and context. 

    The questionnaire has been programmed and digitized (on the World Bank Survey Solutions), so that users have the option to implement MPAT on paper and/or on tablets or phones. 

    MPAT within SMLP 

    SMLP has opted to conduct MPAT on tablets, as the digitalized version allows for real time data quality control and for the location of all interviewed households to be automatically geotagged by the survey software. 

    From the 8th-12th of January, a team of 8 enumerators and 2 supervisors were trained by an IFAD MPAT consultant. The teams then had the opportunity to pilot the survey in order to clarify any issues and test the tablets. SMLP's M&E officer was trained by the MPAT consultant on how to carry out remote data quality checking. 

    ©T. Minjauw - Enumerators are taught on how to ask MPAT questions, and how to record answers in particular scenarios

    ©T. Minjauw - An MPAT enumerator pilots the household survey in Mafutseni, central Swaziland 

    The MPAT data for SMLP will be collected over a period of approximately 30 days and the analysis is expected to be ready by March 2018. The data collected will provide a comprehensive overview of rural poverty in the country across 37 chiefdoms, and will assist the M&E officer in tracking changes over the course the project duration.



    ©T. Minjauw - Household members answer the MPAT questions outside their homes, or while they are carrying out their usual activities, so as to cause minimal disturbances to their day.  


    ©T. Minjauw

    ©T. Minjauw



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    by Amathe Pathe Sene, IFAD's Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for West and Central Africa speaking at the 4th German-African Agribusiness Forum in Berlin


    Irrigation in Africa has the potential to boost agricultural productivity by at least 50 percent and combining innovative methods of energy production for food production on the continent is almost crucial.

    Land, water and energy resources are central to agriculture and rural transformation. They are intrinsically linked to current global challenges of food insecurity and poverty, climate change, conflicts and migration as well as the degradation of natural resources.

    In Africa, agriculture continues to be the main source of income for the rural poor which is being eroded because of climate change. Unpredictable rain-fed agricultural systems in drylands combined with unsustainable land and water management practices; lack of access to reliable and affordable renewable energy technologies and limited skills contribute to the low performance and vulnerability of the agricultural sector. This in turn limits investment to modernize the sector.

    Most rainfed areas need to be irrigated to produce the additional food needed to feed 1.5 billion people by 2030 and reduce poverty. At the same time, agriculture must become a more attractive option to more than 330 million young Africans who are entering the labour market by 2025. This is a big challenge but also a great opportunity for all of us.

    Better land use, water management, such as trough irrigation techniques, and access to affordable renewable energy contribute to increased productivity with a longer cropping season. In turn, this reduces the chances of water scarcity or water excess, increasing household incomes, making labour savings and accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy resources.

    So what is IFAD doing?

    IFAD prioritizes the toughest work with the most disadvantaged people, those being poor rural small holder farmers, youth and women.

    IFAD's approach to land, water and energy is an integrated one. It is designed to get more income per drop of water to lift the poor out of poverty; more nutritional value per drop to fight food insecurity while strengthening smallholder farmers resilience to climate shocks.

    The so-called water and energy nexus can contribute to improving agricultural production through pumping water, primary processing, fish farming, livestock rearing, or small-scale industries, to name a few.

    IFAD considers farming at any scale as a business. Smallholders and producers must be treated as entrepreneurs and businesses need clear linkages along the value chain, from production to processing, post-harvest handling, marketing and ultimately to consumption.

    We devote significant efforts in what is commonly known as "the 4Ps" i.e. public-private-producer-partnerships, to de-risk, deliver water, energy, goods and services around the agricultural value chain and food systems.

    With its Smallholder and SME Investment Finance (SIF) Fund; complemented by the Technical Assistance Facility (TAF), IFAD promotes blended finance on water and energy sector services and goods.

    In Madagascar, IFAD is scaling up its micro-irrigation project, supporting more than 10,000 vulnerable smallholder farmers to use micro irrigation systems (MIS) and natural fertilizers to improve their productivity and food security.

    IFAD has almost 40 years of experience in providing loans and grants to support governments on programmes that focus on restoring, managing efficiently and governing natural capital (water/land); promoting crop varieties and cropping techniques to adapt to the variability of rainfall (duration, intensity, timing) and secure food production.

    Through its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), the world's largest adaptation programme for smallholder farmers, IFAD supports poor communities in building water and energy infrastructure within the catchment and agricultural value chains in Cabo Verde, Niger, Ethiopia, Benin, Mauritania.

    In many countries in Africa, we invest in dams, canals and pipe distribution networks, reservoirs, treatment plants, small hydropower installations as well as micro-irrigation schemes such as drip-irrigation for rational use of available surface water and groundwater resources (whether fresh, brackish or saline).

    We support the access and deployment of renewable energy technologies to power the agricultural value chains. In Nigeria and Rwanda, IFAD has introduced energy-efficient processing and storage technologies (e.g. solar heating, cooling, drying and energy-saving appliances), while in Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, IFAD has enhanced and diversified access to clean energy sources through the promotion of household biogas digesters, solar home systems and solar PV pumping systems.

    With the climate and environmental finance (GCF, GEF, AF), we encourage governments to invest in innovative renewable energy solutions and efficient irrigation technologies to accelerate climate resilient and low carbon agriculture development for food production on the continent.

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    By Karan Sehgal

    On 23 January 2018, IFAD held an in-house seminar that took up the issue of renewable energy and how it is addressed throughout the Fund’s development portfolio. The panel was chaired by Roshan Cooke, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia and Pacific (APR) region and Karan Sehgal, Renewable Energy Technologies Specialist.

    While IFAD has made an effort to integrate rural energy solutions into its projects as a means of powering agricultural processing and value-added activities, this has not been conducted systematically from COSOP to project implementation in most cases. Indeed, only 22 projects between 2006-2016 have included renewable energy technologies (RETs). 2014 accelerated the expansion of the renewable energy portfolio with the launch of the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), which has integrated renewable energy into 15 projects.


    The results so far demonstrate a variety of domestic and commercial applications for renewable energy in the agricultural sectors. Country Programme Managers (CPMs) on the panel shared experiences from their respective projects.


    Philippe Remy, Mali CPM showcased the fixed dome biogas systems that have been undertaken by communities as part of the ASAP-supported Fostering Agricultural Productivity Project (PAPAM). By placing the biodigesters at the centre of productive activities, communities achieve upstream benefits by utilizing animal waste as a fuel source and an organic fertilizer (a by-product of the digesters), and downstream benefits that accrue especially to women, who spend much less time cooking and collecting fuelwood. PAPAM has installed more than 500 biodigesters coupled with solar panels. The reported impacts include over 230 ha. of forests saved due to reduced demand for fuelwood, and 2.7 tonnes of CO2 emissions avoided.


    Similarly, the Post-Harvest Agribusiness Project (PASP) in Rwanda has disseminated over 310 flexibiogas systems, which have also generated jobs in installation, repair and maintenance.


    Lakshmi Moola, Nepal/Bhutan CPM spoke about the utility of grants as a tool to level the economic playing field and create incentives for private firms to view rural communities as prospective markets. Here she highlighted the ESCAP grant, which established an 18kw solar-powered system run jointly by the private sector and three communities in Tanahu district, Nepal. This public-private partnership has the advantage of ensuring sustainability of the grid, since both parties have a stake in it. The grant was also instrumental in revising the renewable energy subsidy policy of the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), a Government of Nepal institution with the objective of developing and promoting RETs in Nepal; and thereby demonstrates how grant resources can influence broader-based policy changes that create an environment conducive to private sector entrepreneurs. As a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AEPC, more than 7,500 RET units are scheduled to be installed under IFAD’s Adaptation for Smallholders in Hilly Areas (ASHA) project by July 2019.


    As the renewable energy portfolio matures, new opportunities to dovetail with government policies are emerging. For instance, the Jharkhand Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Project (JTELP) in India has partnered with the Jharkhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (JREDA), a state-owned administrative department, a research institute that has piloted more than 1,000 RETs (solar home systems, solar lanterns and improved cookstoves).


    Currently, access to electricity in rural Jharkhand ranges from 26 - 60 per cent. Through the JTELP programme, IFAD aims to bring its comparative advantage to bear through its presence on the ground and achieve a wide coverage of renewable technologies in tribal areas.

    There are many advantages to working with JREDA: they operate rigorous tendering and a competitive bidding process for installation work, IFAD can ensure its activities are streamlined with government policies, and JREDA maintain accountability for the technologies they install, ensuring the technologies will not fall into disrepair after a few years.


    While the spread of renewable energy has the potential to be transformative, there remain significant policy barriers that are not easily discounted. High fossil-fuel subsidies deter renewable energy technology companies from entering rural markets where transaction costs are high. There is a lack of fiscal incentives for existing renewable energy suppliers to come into rural areas, where market demand may be sporadic, diffuse and disorganized. Finally, knowledge and capacity among local decision-makers is often low, which impedes well-designed policy frameworks.


    Perhaps the greatest challenge are barriers in the legal system, such as lengthy bureaucratic procedures to obtain subsidies for RETs; and on the trade side, high import tariffs that impose barriers on innovative technologies.


    Moving the renewable energy agenda forward, IFAD is in the process of drafting a new renewable energy strategy. The strategy proposes a dedicated financing window in IFAD, housed within the ASAP2 fund, which would help catalyse the design and integration of renewable energy elements in IFAD projects. This would also help to align global operations with the IFAD Strategic Framework, in which it states, “farming at any scale is a business, and smallholders and producers must be treated as entrepreneurs.” We must therefore recognize the role of energy as an essential input for thriving businesses, and do more to augment the supply of rural energy. Critically, the financing window would be able to access funds specifically earmarked by governments for the scaling up of renewable energy. These funds, owing to the conditionality attached to them, are complementary in nature, and would be put toward, supporting technical assistance and diagnostics, streamlining procurement, piloting, and policy dialogue and advocacy.


    To capitalize this financing window, IFAD will seek support from a subset of interested donors that range from bilateral sources (Finnfund, AFD), Intergovernmental Organizations (IRENA), Philanthropic institutions (Global Good), and multilaterals (Green Climate Fund, African Development Bank).


    As IFAD clients diversify their production and aim for higher marginal incomes through value-added activities, there is a rapidly increasing need to address the deficit of rural energy through the Fund’s business model. This year, there will be further opportunities for in-house consultations that will ultimately guide how the new Renewable Energy Strategy is framed. The session last week offered a useful survey of what IFAD has achieved to date, identified entry points for future integration, and mobilized staff to engage with an issue that can spur job creation and economic growth in the agricultural sectors.



    Speakers:

    · Roshan Cooke, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist, ECD
    · Karan Sehgal, Renewable Energy Technologies Specialist, ECD
    · Francisco Pichon, CPM Rwanda/Tanzania, ESA
    · Lakshmi Moola, CPM Nepal/Bhutan, APR
    · Philippe Remy, CPM Mali, WCA
    · Antonio Rota, Senior Livestock Specialist, PTA
    · Wafaa El Khoury, Senior Agronomist, PTA
    · Jonathan Ndaa Agwe, Senior Rural Finance Specialist, PTA
    IFAD Toolbox on Renewable EnergyTechnologies Sources

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    A 5-day workshop on the EO4SD Agriculture and Rural Development Cluster was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 5 to 9 February. The workshop was organized under the European Space Agency (ESA) initiative for building capacity among Task Team Leaders (TTL) and implementing teams for increased uptake of Satellite Earth Observation in different stages of project cycles (planning, preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).

    The content of the workshop is composed of three blocks which address:

    • Building basic EO and GIS knowledge (theory and hands on) - 2 days
    • High level introduction of the project and services, emphasizing on their added value for project managers and TTLs - 1 day
    • In depth knowledge and hands on training related to the service generation and uptake - 2 days

    A total of 25 participants attended the workshop, including staff from the Sustainable Land Management Programme, Ethiopian Mapping Agency, Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change, and Jimma University; and 15 staff from the Federal and respective four Regional Project Coordination Management Units of the IFAD -financed Participatory Small Scale Irrigation Programme (PASDIP II).

    Day 2- Building basic EO and GIS knowledge (theory and hands on)

    Day 2- Building basic EO and GIS knowledge (theory and hands on)


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    Staff from the IFAD Country Office for Ethiopia welcomed three students from the TERI University in Delhi before their departure to the field. This was an excellent opportunity for IFAD staff to meet the students, learn about their research, and give them a critical overview of IFAD’s interventions in Ethiopia to help them familiarize with the country and shape their study.

    Through the Global Association of Master’s in Development Practice (MDP), students who are citizens of borrowing members of IFAD studying in Global South universities, have the opportunity to undertake their Masters’ programme field practice in IFAD-funded projects. This partnership allows students to gain field experience in development practice while enhancing IFAD’s impact, visibility and quality as learning institution. IFAD partners also benefit from the additional analytical work of enthusiastic students.

    Ethiopia has become a popular destination for students from the MDP programme. In 2018, four students from the TERI University in Delhi, pursuing the M.A. Sustainable Development Practice, chose to undertake their in-the-field practice in Ethiopia. One more student from the University of California, Berkeley, is expected to come to Ethiopia for a three-month field practicum between May and August.

    Endowed with a highly diverse agro-ecological environment, spanning from temperate and moist tropical highlands to hot and arid lowlands, which is matched by a diverse socio-cultural setting, Ethiopia offers a wide range of IFAD-funded interventions for students to choose from. These projects aim to endow smallholder farmers and (agro-)pastoralists with an enabling combination of the critical assets they require to enhance their productivity and resilience, including natural resources, technology, finance, institutional capacity, and access to markets.

    Once IFAD-funded projects submit a list of relevant research topics, these are displayed on the MDP Secretariat’s online platform. Students from MDP can then choose a topic of interest, submit their research application and, supported by the IFAD Country Offices, coordinate with the project staff the research work-plan and their stay in the country.

    The IFAD Country Office in Ethiopia has proactively supported the design of these studies, to ensure they are relevant to strengthening the knowledge base that will feed into lessons and project completion reviews. Particularly the extensive contact time with the projects' client communities is expected to yield important in-depth learning that can meaningfully complement specialized consultancy assignments.


    Suruchi Upadhyay & Nejarat Malikyar (TERI University Students) - middle, with Samir Rayess (KM Consultant), Ulaç Demirag (Country Director), and Frew Behabtu (Country Programme Officer)












    Ms Suruchi Upadhyay, from Nepal and Mr Nejarat Malikyar, from Afghanistan, will undertake their research on the Pastoral Community Development Programme III (PCDP III), focusing on gender and nutrition, respectively. After meeting with their field coordinator and project staff from PCDP III, they arranged the work plan to undertake field research in the area of Awash, in the Afar region.

    Guche Mekene-TERI University student – middle, with Ulaç Demirag (Country Director), Helen Teshome (Rural Finance Specialist), Dagim Kassahun (Country Programme Assistant), and Samir Rayess (KM Consultant)


    Mr Guche Mekene, from Ethiopia, will carry out research on the Rural Financial Intermediation Programme II (RUFIP II), focusing on the socio-economic impacts of the programme. His research will cover districts from the main four regions of the country: Amhara, Oromia, Tigray and Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region.

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    Republished from www.arabspatial.org
    By Margarita Astralaga, Director of the Climate and Environment Division, IFAD

    The mountainous areas of Morocco’s Central Atlas range offer ideal conditions for the cultivation of high-value fruit and nut trees, which can grow in shallow soils, on hills and slopes, and thrive in the harsh climate characteristic to the region. Nevertheless, small-scale farmers typically grow rain-fed cereal crops and legumes for their own subsistence, even though returns are low and increasingly unpredictable as a result of climate change (see figure 1, that illustrates trends of increasing temperature and diminishing rainfall, yet more frequent storms). In support of the Government’s “Plan Maroc Vert”, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is funding the Rural Development in the Mountain Zones Programme (PDRZM) to increase the profitability and resilience of small farm businesses in Sefrou and Azilal provinces and expand tree crop surfaces by more than 2,000 ha, split between apples, plums, walnuts, almonds and carob.


    In each target community, the technical package promoted by PDRZM is identified jointly by local farmers organizations, government extension services and project staff. The project’s “toolbox” contains a mix of adapted technologies. Drip irrigation, for instance, conserves diminishing water resources and is well suited for fruit trees, such as apples and plums, which maintain a high enough economic value to offset the capital costs of the system. The introduction of drip irrigation has the potential to be transformative. Landscapes that predominantly feature grain cultivation and livestock raising, may over time gradually convert to orchards in a more diversified and market-oriented production mix.

    In the Ait Sbaa Cooperative of Sefrou province, a Farmer Field School was established to train apple growers in the use of drip irrigation and rational pest-management techniques. To create additional employment, particularly for women, the project will provide a matching grant for the establishment of a refrigerated storage and fruit transformation unit. Cold storage and fruit drying give rural producers the option to hold onto their production for marketing when the prices are more favourable, which is particularly important for apples, whose farm-gate price is halved at harvest time. In Bougrinia Cooperative, also in Sefrou, an innovative plum dryer powered by crushed olive seeds has been installed, dramatically reducing both the cost of operation and the greenhouse gas emissions of the unit.


    In Sidi Ahmed Ben Driss cooperative in Azilal province, the project trained and equipped a youth group for the production of briquettes using the crushed seed and pulp that is the by-product of olive oil extraction. This simple, easily-replicable unit has created 3 permanent jobs, reduced the amount of waste from oil extraction and provides local schools – and eventually local residents – with an alternative to firewood as a fuel for heating and cooking.

    Where traditional gravity surface irrigation systems exist, the project is investing to reduce losses. In the Slilou watershed for example, nearly 9,000 m of canals are being restored and lined with concrete. To ensure sustainable and equitable management of these irrigation perimeters, the project established a total of 24 Agricultural Water Users Associations (AUEA) and supports them with training to ensure adequate operation and management of the systems.

    The project was also been able to generate “quick wins”, which is a real challenge when working with tree crops that typically require several years before entering production. In Azilal, 16,000 wild male carob trees, with limited productive potential, were grafted with female transplants, allowing for a marked increase in production within one year of the operation. Similarly, 10,000 walnut trees were pruned, fertilized and the ground immediately adjacent profiled to enhance water infiltration. It’s worth noting that the pruning of the walnut trees were initially questioned by some beneficiaries (Won’t a smaller tree give less nuts?). The project thus decided to operate in phases, allowing beneficiaries to see for themselves the benefits of the pruning on a sample of trees before it is generalized.

    By establishing a typology of profitable interventions, such as the ones described above, the project hopes to facilitate the replication of profitable and resource-efficient approaches throughout the “Plan Maroc Vert”.

    Young rural Moroccans interviewed by the Project Mid-Term Review team in November 2017 testified that, if life on the farm is about judicious resource management and business acumen – as opposed to just hard back-breaking work – then they’re ready to embark on such a journey.

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    By Enika Bushi

    The Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) is all about giving farmers the information and confidence to make informed decisions. It invites farmers to 'sit at the table' giving them insight, and a wider suite of options to help them, and all of us, succeed in achieving food security. 



    On 20 February 2018, IFAD held an in-house Climate and Environment Lecture on the PICSA approach.

    The lecture was moderated by IFAD's Stephen Twomlow and delivered by Professor Peter Dorward, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading; Roger Stern, Emeritus Professor of Applied Statistics, University of Reading and Graham Clarkson, Senior Research Fellow, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, with considerable experience of research into agricultural innovation systems in sub Saharan Africa.

    PICSA has been implemented in 14 countries to date, supporting tens of thousands of farmers to make better use of climate adaptive practices and technologies, ultimately leading to increased food security.

    IFAD has, for the first time, integrated PICSA within one of its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) funded projects on wool and mohair promotion in Lesotho (WAMPP). It is also the first time that PICSA will be orientated towards livestock farmers, rather than crop producers.

    How we do it

    PICSA’s success relies on working through extension services and NGOs and placing a particular emphasis on supporting farmers to make their own choices appropriate in their own contexts.

    It does so through the use of a range of participatory decision making tools, together with new and historical information on climate management options. Furthermore, it combines climate, crop, livestock and livelihood information with tools that farmers can use to decide the best option for them by means of new enterprises or by better managing existing enterprises.

    PICSA tries to address the challenge of climate information by focusing on two key elements: historical weather records and climate forecasting. The activities start long before the growing season when farmers are taught by experts to understand historical graphs of their region’s temperature, rainfall, and seasonal cycles.

    The first stage involves working with groups of farmers before the harvest to analyze historical climate information and to develop crop, livestock and livelihood options that suit each farmer best. This is done by using participatory tools such as resource allocation maps.

    The second stage, which takes place just before and during the planting season, involves extension staff and farmers going over the practical implications of weather forecasts on the strategies developed in the first stage. Part of the goal here is to make extension workers more comfortable working with data.

    It is clear to see that farmers are at the heart and the centre of the approach. Climate change is both a challenge and opportunity, and PICSA enables farmers to choose which livelihood options are most appropriate to their personal situation, whatever the weather.





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    By Magali Marguet and Ritik Joshi

    "We are happy now because we have a sustainable income source in the form of our home gardens and now we can afford to send out children to school" are some words from Ms Khoun, a 38 year old woman with a family of six, including three children. Ms Khoun is an active farmer. She owns a farm with three other families in Thetsaban, a village in Samouay district, Laos.


    She has been a farmer for a long time, but she only produced a small number of vegetables, most of which were to feed her family and sometimes generate a small income. Before any of the new plantation techniques were introduced, she used to plant vegetables using the traditional way. Farming rice as a major consumption crop and planting vegetables only in the non-rice planting seasons, following which Ms Khoun had three months of food shortage every year. All family members lived in a small hut and, overall, living conditions were poor.

    Ms Khoun has been a beneficiary of the Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme (FNML) since 2015. The FNML operates in five districts across three of Lao's southern provinces: Phouvong and Xansay in Attapeu Province, Ta'Oy and Samuay in Salavan Province and Dakcheung in Sekong province, which stand among the poorest districts of the country.  Development objectives are to ensure sustainable food and nutrition security and income generation for households in the target area.

    The programme will support improved techniques and practices to maximise agricultural output both for food and cash crops, while maintaining soil fertility and reducing negative environmental impact. It will promote farmer-driven innovation, based on an enhanced understanding of agro-ecological systems and of the consequences of agricultural practices and inputs on biological processes and ecosystems. Aside from supporting food security through increased agriculture production and marketing, the programme will promote improved nutrition through a combination of capacity building, development of home gardening, and improved access to water and sanitation.

    FNML's intervention supported the development of smallholder production beyond subsistence farming. Before the programme Ms Khoun's production was not able to meet the household needs all year long, but afterwards she started having a surplus. Her children went around the village to sell her vegetables and they were sold out every time. Adapting to the idea, Ms Khoun started expanding her garden area to produce more vegetables to sell in the district market and to neighbours. Progressively increasing her production allowed her to start selling wholesale at the district market and at the farm gate, catering to the demands of local restaurants and building up return customers.

    The project allowed Ms Khoun to overcome many challenges that she faced in the past when growing vegetables, due to her lack of techniques and instruments. She used to practice slash and burn cultivation, sow her seeds without any seed beds and relied solely on rain for irrigation. Now, after receiving training from field staff on the preparation of plots, developing nurseries, fencing, putting up shade net covers, irrigation system, etc., she and other villagers can use capital and labour efficiently and produce high profits in return.

    Through FNML's support she has now signed contract farming with wholesale traders. While gaining knowledge and experience on various farming models and technology through farmer to farmer study tours. She has also applied for a micro irrigation scheme under one of the programme interventions, which according to her calculations, can increase her income generation by increasing organic vegetable production. With the technical training she received from FNML's field staff on various topics, now her home garden is adapted with integrated and climate resilient crops in order to diversify food security and cater to the demands of different customers. She practices the crop rotation model religiously to maintain soil fertility and avoid erosion.


    Due to the lack of vegetable and crops in the market during the rainy season, Ms Khoun can sell her produce at good prices as she practices home gardening all year round. By selling her vegetables she can now generate around 600,000 Kips or US$ 75 per month, around US$ 900 per year. She invests her income in seeds, meat, fish, cooking ingredients for her family, sending her children to school, clothes, books and saving for emergency or medical needs. 

    Before the programme supported Ms Khoun in 2015, her family had been classified as living under poor conditions by the district authorities. A recent survey by the district authorities has elevated her household to a medium status and she has started building a new permanent house.

    With her diligence in acquiring knowledge and active participation in agricultural activities, she is now considered a "lead farmer" of FNML and trains existing and new farmer groups from her district on growing vegetables for consumption and commercialisation, production of organic fertiliser, compost, time management and collective farming models.

    Because of such perseverance her group members elected her to be the group leader of the agricultural production group (APG) from other villages. As a result, she has become more confident and can now do things independently which she considered impossible before, from operating bank accounts to getting materials for her garden.





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    Rome, 14 February 2018 – On the second day of IFAD's Governing Council 2018, the interactive session "Multilateralism – Opportunities and challenges" reflected on the prospects and role of multilateralism and multilateral institutions in realizing the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda. The session was typified by a dynamic interaction between Governors and panellists, with the use of polling technology for the first time at IFAD's Governing Council enabling the moderator, Johannes Linn, Senior Fellow at Brookings Institute, to pose several salient questions to the audience to gage opinion in the room and feed the debate.

    The panel for the event comprised:
    • Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency,
    • Martha Elena Federica Bárcena Coqui, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to Rome-based United Nations Organizations of the United Mexican States,
    • David Nabarro, Director of 4SD – Skills, Systems and Synergies for Sustainable Development, and
    • Alvaro Lario, Associate Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Controller, Financial Operations Department, IFAD.

    The world needs more, not less, multilateralism
    Despite a global context in which, as noted by Linn, "there are plenty of sceptics of multilateralism these days", the audience indicated broad agreement that more multilateral engagement is needed to address global challenges. And the perception that multilateralism generally is in a state of crises was strongly challenged by panellists. "Multilateralism has brought us enormous progress – the 2030 Agenda and the way it was negotiated represents a new paradigm and the Paris Agreement on climate change would have been unthinkable decades ago. We should not be excessively negative on a 'crisis' of the multilateral system," stated Bárcena Coqui, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to Rome-based United Nations Organizations of the United Mexican States, and panellist for the session.

    At the same time, it was acknowledged that challenges such as globalization, inequality and increasing pressures on national budgets were calling for changes in the way the multilateral system and its institutions operate. While creating unprecedented wealth, globalization, for example, is leaving many of the poorest people and countries behind. Several Governors expressed concern that not everyone is benefitting from current multilateral approaches, with many smallholder farmers for example being excluded from opportunities to access finance and export markets.  "Multilateral systems need to be adapted to find solutions," said Mayaki.

    New mindsets and new approaches to multilateralism
    Fresh ways of approaching and finding solutions to problems are needed, emphasizing partnerships and multi-stakeholder approaches. As stressed by Nabarro, this means focusing on challenges rather than the role of individual institutions. And it means prioritizing those at risk of being left behind. "Movements of multiple stakeholders for change is the key term," he suggested.

    Global solutions are needed for global problems. There was wide agreement in the room that this means more partnerships – encompassing a wider range of stakeholders – for food security and nutrition. Smallholders and their organizations must be central to these partnerships, as emphasized by Nigeria. It is crucial that multilateral systems support small farmers and extend systems to enable especially young farmers to access finance and markets.

    In this respect, IFAD is a key part of the multilateral architecture. Equally, the role of national governments is obviously crucial alongside multilateral actions. And national policies and strategies must reflect the success of individual projects from multilateral actors such as IFAD in order to scale up progress towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

    A new vision for IFAD
    As pointed out by Germany, multilateralism is expensive and the ambitions of the SDGs require new financing arrangements in order to be realized. Against a global context of high pressure on national funding, an increasing focus on co-financing and private financing was inevitable, pointed out Lario.

    The question of IFAD prudentially engaging in private capital markets to expand its capacity was put to the audience, with tentatively positive, though mixed responses from the audience. Looking to the future, as well as ensuring value for money, IFAD needs to step up its impact by focusing on key themes such as youth, gender, climate and nutrition, around which mainstreaming commitments have been made during the replenishment consultation for IFAD11. A future vision, against a reformed UN system is for IFAD to have an "more borrowing capacity...[and] a bigger impact," Lario put forward.

    Concluding the session, Linn emphasized the importance of multilateral financing institutions to leverage resources efficiently and prudentially, but also called on countries to support multilateral institutions to avoid a future scenario where the means to deal with global problems will no longer exist. Linn urged multilateral institutions to speak up for themselves and their role in addressing global problems such as hunger, poverty and climate change – a salient message on the day that the IFAD11 Consultation reached its conclusion.


    David Suttie






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    Second International Agro-Industry Investment Forum
    5 to 8 March 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    IFAD participated in the Forum’s session on Financing opportunities for the business sector, where representatives of multilateral development banks, international financial institutions and national banks highlighted the opportunities and challenges for accessing finance for investment in agro-industries and manufacturing in Ethiopia.

    From left to right: Dr Gebrehiwot Ageba, Faculty of Business and Economics, Addis Ababa University (moderator); Mr Admassu Tadesse, President and Chief Executive Officer, Trade and Development Bank; Mr Getahun Nana, President, Development Bank of Ethiopia; Dr Abdul Kamara, Country Director for Ethiopia, AfDB; Dr Ulac Demirag, Country Director for Ethiopia and South Sudan, IFAD; Dr Yohannes Ayalew, Vice-Governor, National Bank of Ethiopia; and Mr Adamou Labara, Country Manager for Ethiopia, International Finance Corporation.

    Hosted by the Government of Ethiopia and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Second International Agro-Industry Investment Forum is taking place in Addis Ababa on 5-8 March 2018. The Forum is expected to bring together around 2,000 participants from the public and private sectors, including senior officials of the Government of Ethiopia and other partner countries. The aim of the forum is to mobilize private investment in light manufacturing with a particular focus on sectors with high growth potential, namely agro-processing, textiles and garments, and leather and leather products, as well as related sectors such as packaging and renewable energy.
    Ethiopia has one of the fastest growing non-oil producing economies in the world and is increasingly becoming a major investment destination. Foreign Direct Investment rose by 46 per cent to US$3.2 billion from 2015 to 2016, driven by investments in infrastructure and manufacturing. However, the country needs greater investment to unleash the potential of the agricultural sector, which employs about 80 per cent of the population and depends upon fragile natural resources, and to achieve agricultural transformation.

    As part of the Growth and Transformation Plan, the country´s flagship development programme, the government has identified the development of labour-intensive light manufacturing and Agro-industrial Parks (AIPs) as priorities for accelerating industrialization. In this regard, AIPs are being designed as one stop shops that avail "plug and play" infrastructure and related services to national and international investors. Currently, six AIPs have started operation, and seven more are in the pipeline, in addition to five more AIPs developed by private investors. These AIPs are expected to create new opportunities for farmers to access local and international markets with incentives for smallholders to increase their productivity, resulting in incomes and employment creation along rural value chains. They have the potential to become strong drivers for rural and agricultural transformation in Ethiopia. 

    During his intervention, IFAD’s Mr Demirag stressed that the success of investments in the agribusiness sector, will depend on the performance of the respective value chains overall. In this regard, he emphasized the need to support smallholder farmers transform their subsistence low input, low output production system into well-performing business-like productive systems. He highlighted the areas in which governments and development partners should collaborate to strengthen the capacity of the farmers to deliver, including: investment in public goods, such as regulations and infrastructure; technical assistance to support producers to meet the market in terms of productivity and quality and facilitating viable commercial linkages and cooperation between the value chain actors. In addition, he pointed out specific instruments that the public sector and development partners could offer such as partial credit guarantees, insurance and matching grants on capital investments, an instrument that IFAD has piloted successfully in Ghana. Mr Demirag also noted the opportunities to strengthen the supply side, enhancing banks’ understanding of the agribusiness sector and establishing a culture of collaboration among the various actors in the value chains, based on their common and specific interests in order to reduce risks. Finally, he highlighted key policy instruments that could increase access to finance for farmers and investors along the value chains. In concluding, he stressed the need for the Government to strengthen implementation of social and environmental safeguards as to ensure the sustainability for all investments in the sector.


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    A recent studyundertaken by CARE International examines IFAD’s performance fostering gender equality and women’s empowerment, observing a selection of eight projects in the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP). The study is a reality-check on how ASAP-supported projects are translating gender mainstreaming commitments into implementation practice.


    The study highlighted a number of projects that offer demonstrable benefits for women. For example, the staff of the Adaptation to Climate Change in the Delta (AMD) project in Vietnam reported that investments in irrigation technologies have enabled women, who formerly spent half a day irrigating their fields, to complete the task in just 15 minutes.


    The Post-Harvest Support Project (PASP) in Rwanda has similarly trained 160 GALS champions (women and men) who have in turn trained another 200 women and 200 men. Participants spoke of the benefits of the experience, including improved relations with their spouse, pooling money for shared benefits within the household, and making joint decisions about household expenses. 


    The main findings and recommendations provide additional insights into how investments, capacities and processes can lead to better outcomes for women in smallholder adaptation projects. Among the findings, the study highlights the need to move beyond tracking women’s participation in project activities, and develop a more thorough understanding of what participation means in these cases. Participation may be important for women’s economic empowerment through increased access to inputs such as land and capital, but the evidence that participation necessarily leads to improved economic outcomes is anecdotal across most projects.


    In addition, the study makes the case for additional investment in staff capacity. IFAD’s Gender Marker System (a method to assess gender sensitivity of IFAD projects) advocates for applied practices such as conducting gender and power analyses to inform project design and implementation. However, gender analyses and action plans need the attention of a dedicated gender focal point on staff whose job it is to ensure that gender mainstreaming is a high priority. The study notes, ‘one danger is that when gender mainstreaming is considered everyone’s responsibility – with no specific budgets, roles, responsibilities and/or plans assigned – it will fall between the cracks of project commitments.’ It goes on to state that the most promising ASAP projects in terms of gender equity are those that have a full-time gender focal point trained in gender transformative methodologies such as Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS).


    Finally, the study points to the necessity of building capacities of local partners and institutions. Since IFAD projects are largely managed by government ministries and departments, and are strongly integrated with government strategies, sustained attention should be given to promoting the skills and capacities within the ministries that would ensure gender issues are sufficiently mainstreamed in programme activities. Critically, supporting local commitments to foster gender equity and women’s empowerment can in turn influence the political will and the overall investment in gender mainstreaming by government ministries and departments.


    All ASAP projects were found to be aware of the different practical needs of women and men. However, the study argues, more needs to be done to understand how project activities foster equitable decision-making within the household.  


    The gender assessment produced by CARE is an important critique and reflection on the organizational processes that are in place to mainstream gender concerns over the project cycle. While notable milestones have been achieved, the literature cautions that much work remains to be done to ensure that, operationally, support for gender transformative activities are embedded in climate change adaptation efforts.


    Related links




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    Innovation in development
    The world we live in today calls for joint efforts to create a more inclusive and sustainable development. We have a global commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Agriculture is at the centre of the SDGs as it is directly linked to SDG1, SDG2, SDG3, SDG5, SDG8, SDG12, SDG13 and SDG15. Farming as business is only possible if smallholder farmers have the opportunity to integrate the latest technology, innovation and outcomes of crosscutting scientific developments in agricultural research: Smart innovative systems which create jobs and income, and contribute to adaptation and mitigation of climate change impacts need to bring more science into development to bridge these two gaps. As required by SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals and as the catalyst of agricultural research for development, IFAD organized a workshop in Kenya from 21 to 22 February 2018 and brought together 80 participants from 23 institutions and 16 IFAD-EC jointly funded research projects to provide a platform to demonstrate the achievements of the projects, and to identify, discuss and pave the way forward to respond to issues facing smallholder farming communities and also for the evaluation of the 2013 EC Contribution programme. (The first workshop of these series was held in India, June 2017.

    The workshop was structured around two themes: (i) Putting research into use; application of proven agricultural technologies and innovations developed under the EU 2013 programme to impact positively on the livelihoods, nutrition and, build resilience of famers to climate change and other shocks, and (ii) Collaborative partnerships between CGIAR Centres, IFAD, the EU Delegation and Government of Kenya to catalyse utilization of research outputs for development outcomes and impact.



    Putting research into practice
    IFAD grants are expected to enhance the effectiveness of development investments. To achieve this, grant recipients and agencies implementing IFAD-funded projects need to continuously work together so that the grants can address concrete problems faced by smallholders targeted in the investment projects. 

    The EU is committed to financing agricultural research which contributes directly to development outcomes and impact per se, and enhances development investments. The goal of the EC-funded grants is to put research into use at scale in sustainable agricultural systems with large potential impacts on nutrition and resilience. 

    At the COP22 meeting in 2016, there was a fundamental paradigm shift in the relationship between agriculture and climate change. As a consequence, The European Commission will provide EUR 270 million, over the next three years (2018-2020) to foster a strong climate change focus in agriculture and food systems research for development. Also, the commitment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to match this funding with a US$ 300 million pledge over the same period (2018-2020) will boost climate change related innovations through research in agriculture in most of the developing countries. 

    Given the size of the challenge and the need for urgent action, the European Commission and IFAD have started identifying joint priority investments towards putting research into use, fostering innovation in farming and food systems, and ensuring their climate relevance under the Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) programme. The AR4D programme is currently under implementation and targets 14 countries, including Kenya, with a total budget of US$12.2 million (IFAD funded) and EUR 30.3 million (EU funded).

    The generation of scientific knowledge and applied innovations encompasses agronomy for primary production, technology for all steps of agro-processing, general organisation along the value chains, and focus on major activities to increase job creation and food security and nutrition. This effort also increases knowledge and evidence needed for policies and investment decisions. 

    Dr Malu Ndavi, IFAD; Mr Bernard Rey, EU

    The EU and IFAD recognise the significant milestones achieved in Kenya through agricultural research, including improved infrastructure for research and development, innovations in the crop, livestock and fisheries sector, natural resources management, human capacity development and institutional strengthening; policy formulation and improved crop management practices. 



    Learning from other countries 
    One of the challenges facing all projects is avoiding costly investments in research which have been successfully conducted elsewhere. EU and IFAD research investments balance upstream discovery research to generate international public goods for adaptation and replication globally. At the same time, context-specific adaptive research should tailor solutions to local farming systems, consumer preferences, and socioeconomic circumstances. Policy-related research can generate evidence to create an enabling environment for agriculture and rural development so that research complements development investments in order to maximise development outcomes and impact. 

    In this context, the Principal Secretary for Agriculture - Indian State of Uttar Pradesh noted that India and Africa have common agenda and share similarities in a number of fields. To this end, he pledged that in the framework of South-South cooperation, for instance India and IRRI will make it possible to share a number of success stories. While noting that the contexts could be different, he urged that SSA can adapt or adopt what works for it in their own specific circumstances and discard what is not relevant and learn from each other. He reiterated that as much as he is perceived to have brought with him a number of technologies, innovations and experiences to share, he has equally learned a lot regarding Africa's circumstances. For instance, he explicitly mentioned that he intends to adopt the sorghum technology that was evidenced by both ICRISAT and KCEP-CRAL video documentary

    Partnerships are key
    What are the main lessons from the workshop? The workshop participants raised a number of critical issues during the workshop and the IFAD's World Café. The World Café session was a dedicated platform for participants especially CGIAR centres to have in-depth interactions with IFAD investments portfolio in Kenya thereby creating opportunity to strengthen partnership. The workshop offered an opportunity to foster and expand South-South collaboration and initiatives between India's research institutions, namely the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and NARES as well as IFAD supported projects in Kenya, for example. Similar partnerships are being explored for instance between IRRI Asia and IRRI-AfricaRice, the emerging partnership model has important implications for IRRI-Africa Rice. 

    • The workshop recommended a follow up of specific initiatives to design workable partnership models; Providing a clear focus on the role of research (science and innovation) on various sectors (food, nutrition, and income security, NRM and environmental resilience, Policy and Institutional innovations, capacity development, among others); 
    • The workshop discussed and made proposals on workable collaborative and strategic partnerships to enhance synergies, complementarities while minimizing duplication of efforts and fostering working relationships between research, extension and private sector (Triangular relationships); 
    • Of significance, the workshop underscored the need to underpin the AR4D with Innovative Institutional, financial and technical strategies and approaches which are critical for the success of the African agricultural sector to come out of its present non-performing status and realize real transformation. For instance, adopting extension system with built incentives for farmers and agricultural sector investors can jump-start agricultural sector GDP growth.
    • Coupled with the above is the application of ICT-driven infrastructure development that would be critical for accelerated transformation; 
    • Capacity development of smallholder farmers, youth and women in agriculture was identified as imperative for investment to enhance capacities and competences of agricultural stakeholders as custodians in the transformation vision; 
    • The workshop noted that any meaningful transformation in the African agricultural sector must be matched by an equal amount of commitment. For instance, the Maputo Declaration by African Governments to allocate 10 per cent of the National Budget for Agricultural spending still remains a pipe dream except for seven countries that have attained this commitment.
    • The workshop recommended strategies to stimulate and strengthen Private sector investment by initiating incentive schemes such as direct benefit transfer (as applicable in India), the e-voucher input subsidy schemes in KCEP-CRAL as well as strengthening Private sector investment in agricultural value chain as a promising way forward.  

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    This post has been reposted from Agroforestry World




    Researchers are co-developing ways of ensuring scientific data and information is useable by the people who need it.

    We all know the basic concept of supply and demand in economics, which makes sense in most settings: the more demand for something, the more supply is needed to meet it. Put the spotlight on scientific research and the relationship between supply and demand becomes a bit skewed. The suppliers (researchers and scientists) are often completely disconnected from the demand side, which can consist of anyone from policy makers to farmers. This means that some of the best available science and evidence often never reaches the people who demand it and, if it does, it’s commonly in a format that is too complex to understand and therefore also often not useful as input into decision-making processes.

    The problem is clear. Now how do we address it? This question guided our team of geospatial (clever mappers and modellers), soil (people who really know about the brown stuff in the ground) and decision scientists (who understand how we humans interact and negotiate) at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) in developing the Earth Observation Project for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

    To boost our ‘supply’ suitcase, ICRAF partnered with the European Space Agency, which has allowed access to some of the best satellite images of the African continent, complementing data and information we collect in the field using a process known as the Land Degradation Surveillance Framework.

    Data is collected from satellite images, ground surveys and mathematical models from lots of sites around the world to better understand the state of the land and how it changes over time. In Sub-Saharan Africa, this is important because over half of the labour force is dependent on farming for their livelihoods. Understanding the ‘health’ of the land is a critical piece of evidence for any donor, project manager or policy maker, and transferring that information in the right form to the primary users of the land: farmers.

    In our case, the aim is to assist IFAD with their projects in East and Southern Africa by using our science on land health, combined with information on agricultural production and incomes, to ensure easy access and, more importantly, the skills and know-how to interpret data and evidence for planning, reporting and targeting where investments should be made.

    So how can we convert scientific, detailed information into the most accessible form for decision makers? And who exactly are they? To address the ‘how’ we aim to make data easy to access and understand through the development of ‘dashboards’. These dashboards are co-developed with end-users and consist of a collection of multiple data sources and tools, where information can be accessed and visualized in a central location (usually online).

    Developing data-access platforms has proven to be a popular and effective way of displaying data. Emerging data principles and data visualization forums stress the importance of designing for the user, ensuring ownership and sustainability. Taking into account these emerging guidelines and lessons, and using a stakeholder-engagement method developed by ICRAF’s SHARED decision hub, we have been working closely over the past six months with IFAD project teams, governments and partner organizations in Uganda and Kenya to develop customized dashboards. SHARED decision scientists introduce approaches often used in the world of marketing in this phase of the work to understand, ‘who is our end user, what do they want, and what catalyses change’?

    Engaging closely with IFAD’s country teams, we began the process of co-developing tools and dashboards for Uganda and Kenya with a ‘co-design’ training workshop at ICRAF’s Nairobi headquarters, 14–15 February 2018, in which 35 people representing IFAD projects in Uganda and Kenya participated.

    They were led through innovation sessions to discover their decision-making and planning cycles, to understand where data access and sharing could assist them in their current work and future planning, and the types of stakeholders they interact with.

    These planning sessions were complemented by a live demonstration in the field on how to collect information on soil and land health using established indicators. Participants were also introduced to IFAD’s approach to collecting information on socioeconomic data, such as education, poverty and income. Interactive sessions were held to explore existing data access dashboards developed by ICRAF.

    We then facilitated a ‘design lab’ session to understand the potential and intended users. Imagining we were in a large IT company’s design lab working on the next mobile phone, participants rolled up their creative sleeves and were taken through a dashboard design session, identifying what kind of data-access system they wanted. Individual designs were presented to country teams to develop a dashboard that would best serve the projects.


    This ‘co-design’ is something we are passionate about and proud of. Drawing on techniques, including user experience and interface designs from the outset of the project, intended end users are defining what they want and how they want to access it. We hope this will ensure that we can provide the best available science, including our niche in Earth observation satellite data and land health (soil and vegetation) information, into the hands of those who make decisions.

    We all left the workshop feeling excited about the way forward, with a clear sense of what capacities we have to build and how we could communicate quickly and effectively as we create prototypes and build our country dashboards and data systems to readily support planning, monitoring and reflection.

    Next month, we head to Southern Africa to meet our co-design teams from Lesotho and Swaziland. So, stay tuned for our next story where we reveal the first look and feel of our evolving dashboards and share key findings from both regions.

    This blog was co-authored by Leigh Winowiecki, Constance Neely, Mieke Bourne and Tor-Gunnar Vagen.


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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