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We should all take more care of our health! And we all know that………. but we simply don’t do it! We are so busy writing e-mails, reviewing reports, analysing data, preparing Powerpoint presentations, meeting deadlines and we don’t realize how much time we spend sitting in our office chairs without moving our body!! We are so pressed for time that when we go grocery shopping we don’t pay too much attention in what we put in our shopping cart..
We think that we can compensate for everything by preparing “healthy” dishes and that may be true. But this is not the case when we buy frozen or canned vegetables
But all this has a price ……..despite the efforts, we gain weight and the shape of our bodies becomes similar to an apple or a pear, tasty fruits but not healthy bodies!!

Putting on weight is perhaps the easiest thing in life…..:

Did you know that:

• Your morning “cornetto” is the cause of gaining 6 kg body fat in a year?
• drinking 200 ml wine 3-4 times per week you gain 4.2 kg body fat in a year?
• Frozen food is a major culprit for cholesterol

When we put on weight we seriously put our health at risk. Chronic diseases such as arterial hypertension, hyperglycemia, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, hypertriglyceridemia and cancer may be caused by our bad eating habits.
With this alarm bell, we better change our lifestyle!! And it is easy to do so. So no excuses ….it’s just a question of mind-set and this is what we learned at the lunch time seminar on promoting a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and exercise.
We need to change our lifestyle! There is no need to spend hours in a gym or grow our food by ourselves. There are easier and more viable solutions such as:

  • reading carefully the labels of the food you buy ( if you cannot quite figure out what the label says contact our medical services);
  • use fresh food and not packaged or frozen one,
  • watch your portions
  • exercise – 6000 steps keeps the doctor away!!

Why should you exercise?

  • Keep body weight under control
  • Keep blood pressure under control
  • Keep blood sugar level under control
  • Keep triglycerides under control
  • Increase bone density
  • Take our mind off worries !

This was the first seminar on promoting a healthy lifestyle through good nutrition and exercise.
We look forward to many more in the future. To help us change our life style, we received a nice pedometer as a gift. I am using it to keep track of how much I walk in a day and to be in good shape!! 6.000 steps a day, will keep chronic diseases away !!!

Interested in knowing more? Read the material shared during the seminar ……….if you do your homework I am sure Kim will give you a nice pedometer!


P.S. your homework:


Posted by miriam Tuesday, March 22, 2011 1 comments

Solidarity and Trust: Key elements for improve rural livelihhod

by Maria Fernanda Arraes

For the last 9 days we have travelled to different regions of Uganda, looking for new ideas and successful experiences in rural microfinance services and products that pay attention to gender differences. Now we have arrived in Iganda district in the Nile valley.

Our last field visit to this adventure journey had the objective to learn fromthe "Kugumikiraza" and "Together we stand" groups, who are using he Village Savings and Loans method to improve their liveliood. The group welcomed us with song, theater and a poem that explained in detail their experiences, starting with the visit of the first technical staff that arrived to sensitize them about this idea.

When someone coming from Kampala told the community for the first time to "put their money together in a box", the first impression of the community was of course to suspect their savings would be stolen...today they laugh when they remember this time.

Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) is a good practice that focuses on very poor people and supports them to manage their household cash flow. Based in a communiy, VSLA can be complemened with other services from microfinance institutions, which normally focus on provinding credit for clients who already have a business activity.

After a number of meetings and trainings, the communities form their own associations. In general these groups invovle 15-30 persons, men and women, chosen by themselves. They define their objectives, adhere to standard VSLA rules, elect their officials and design their saving system. Members put their money into a fund from which they can borrow after three cycles and pay back with 10% interest, so that the fund can grow. The regular savings contributions to the group are deposite for a whole cycle and then distribted partially or totally for the individual members, who will use these saving for their own needs. Most of the groups can function independently without support from the technical staff after 12 months.

Poor women have to create their own economic activities; they need to save money to feed their families; plan for social evens such weddings, pay schools fees and uniforms; health services, etc. It was a good lesson to see how the community changes and how well they have understood the importance of saving money.

The VSLA give them the possibility to socialize an meet regularly, to be trained, to benefit from the solidarity of the community, save mone and invest. Now they appreciate the savings, even more than the loans. In both groups that we visited in Iganga we observed that the women improved their livelihood through asset accumulation, better nutrition and improved health after having participated in this initiative.

These cases showed us that beyond economic empowerment, women also go through a process of social empowerment. They became more confident, motivated and engage. As one women said: "before joining VSLA, I would not be able to stand up in front of you and reply to your questions". The relationship with their husband changed and women started to participate and become involved in decisions at the family an community level.

The communities groups still have challenges: it is time now to think how to improve their products and how to access new markets. More than the opportunity to develop income activites, this experience represents an important cultural change, different family relationship and community dynamics.


After these moving visits, we returned back to Kampala to discuss all these cases and think how we can adapt and apply the lessons in our activities related to microfinance and rural development in our countries....See you in the next post, when i will share with you some of the lessons learned and innovative ideas !!

Nourishing the Planet

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez 0 comments

By Danielle Nierenberg and Bernard Pollack of the Worldwatch Institute

Over the last 15 months, we’ve had the pleasure of meeting with hundreds of organizations in 35 countries devoted to alleviating hunger and poverty in rural communities. On Monday, 21 March 2011, that journey brought us to IFAD in Rome where we highlighted our findings from the Worldwatch Institute’s Nourishing the Planet http://www.nourishingtheplanet.org project and State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet www.worldwatch.org/sow11. The report spotlights agricultural innovations and unearths major successes in preventing food waste, building resilience to climate change, school feeding programs, and strengthening farming in cities.

IFAD has been a big part of our project from the start in 2009, serving as part of the advisory group — along with 40 other agricultural, environmental, and poverty alleviation institutions from all over the world. Additionally, the Nourishing the Planet project regularly features IFAD's work, including these recent pieces: "Connecting Farmers to Policy Makers" , "The Challenges Farmers Face" , and "Setting the Foundation to Continue to Scale Up: The Progress of Re-Greening Initiatives".

Here are three examples we shared based on our on-the-ground research across sub-Saharan Africa:

In Kibera, Nairobi, the largest slum in Kenya, more than 1,000 women farmers are growing “vertical” gardens in sacks full of dirt poked with holes, feeding their families and communities. These sacks have the potential to feed thousands of city dwellers while also providing a sustainable and easy-to-maintain source of income for urban farmers. With more than 60 percent of Africa’s population projected to live in urban areas by 2050, such methods may be crucial to creating future food security. Currently, some 33 percent of Africans live in cities, and 14 million more migrate to urban areas each year. Worldwide, some 800 million people engage in urban agriculture, producing 15–20 percent of all food.

Pastoralists in South Africa and Kenya are preserving indigenous varieties of livestock that are adapted to the heat and drought of local conditions—traits that will be crucial as climate extremes on the continent worsen. Africa has the world’s largest area of permanent pasture and the largest number of pastoralists, with 15–25 million people dependent on livestock.

Uganda’s Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) program is integrating indigenous vegetable gardens, nutrition information, and food preparation into school curriculums to teach children how to grow local crop varieties that will help combat food shortages and revitalize the country’s culinary traditions. An estimated 33 percent of African children currently face hunger and malnutrition, which could affect some 42 million children by 2025. School nutrition programs that don’t simply feed children, but also inspire and teach them to become the farmers of the future, are a huge step toward improving food security.

After presenting the State of the World 2011 findings, we had an interactive session with IFAD staff discussing our outreach and communication efforts, our hope to focus on innovations that increase the involvement of youth in agriculture, and potential ways Worldwatch and IFAD can collaborate on future publications, as well as an innovations database that will be accessible to farmers, NGOs, and policy-makers.

Thank you, IFAD staff!

For more information on Nourishing the Planet, please visit http://www.nourishingtheplanet.org/ or contact Danielle Nierenberg dnierenberg@worldwatch.org

Learning Route on Gender and Microfinance-Uganda

Posted by miriam Sunday, March 20, 2011 4 comments

Learning for empowerment !!!! by Maria Fernanda Arraes

Our third stop was in Kyarumba, Kasese District on the foothills of Ruwenzori to visit the Bukonzo Joint Cooperative Microfinance Ltd. This was an excellent case to learn about their good practices, mainly in skills development for microfinance services. We were able to see new approaches in microfinance gender sensitive services and adaptions of the products to the communities’ reality. It was clear that women have fewer resources for accessing financial products and this has always constrained them from building assets and satisfying their financial needs. There is need to tailor the products and services to meet their needs.

Bukonzo Joint Cooperative has offered products to its members that range from savings, loans and investment building on the savings made which act as collateral. The loans offered are for buying coffee cherries during coffee season, payment of children’s schoolfees and buying scholastic materials, money for small businesses and investment in these other economic activitis.

To understand the products and services as well as delivery methodology used by Bukonzo Joint Cooperative and the changes at the communiy and household livelihoods, we spend one full day with them... We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome the community gave us: traditional, joyful music performed by the friendly, ever smiling women was just the beginning. This was followed by a wonderful taste of their very own organically grown coffee.

The introduction was great, we were invited to pick a friend (one visitor, one host) in order to break the language barriers, the host taught us how to use symbols to introduce themselves. The day’s agenda in symbols was all planned by them and presented based on a picture drawn in detail with a lot of curious symbols.

Based on their experience, they told us about their main issues and their main activities, in the community, group and individual levels. They expressed the role of men and women in the economic activities, the income and outcome of these activities and many other details about their situation. They shared their vision and all the steps that they planned to achieve these ideas, all expressed through colorful and structured pictures!

This way, we could know about some women individual lifestories, and also their visions and dreams: plans of building a house, the reduction of family violence, or the opportunity for their children to receive education. We saw that they had clear ideas how to achieve these goals and the necessary steps to do it, like diversifying their economic activities, accessing new markets and becoming part of the decisions in their cooperative and in the community.

Given the high illiteracy rate among the community members, the Bokonzo Cooperative could help them to really improve their skills using the pictorial methodology. The trainers told us that the most of the trainings have focused on having women issues at the forefront, however the realization of the training focus on women is counterproductive as the men became hostile. So, they recommend that all trainings should incorporate issues of both sexes and involve all family.

The women’s abilities to express their stories and visions about life through pictures has been built up with the extension staff for 12 months. Improving the method while practicing, the Cooperative seeks to educate its members in the importance of individual and business savings. Finally, they could achieve many of these objectives through an empowerment process based on a learning process, a lot of effort, work and agriculture and small business loans to members offered by their cooperative.


Generally the women are the biggest target of microfinance institutions because the lack to financial services and because they are consider more responsible and better financial managers. This experience shows us that the microfinance products can be more adapted to the rural communities needs, gender sensitive and based in families and rural communities’ dynamics, involving men and women and given then opportunities to understand the role of each. It can permit changes in the social inequities.

If you want to know more about these issues, please joint us in this journey... we´re going to our next stop in Iganga to learn from the Farmers Association and their experience with the Village Savings Loans.

This year, in celebrating the centenary anniversary of the International Women’s Day we paid tribute to the achievements of women who for 100 years have inspired both men and women.

Over the last 100 years, women made a compelling case to achieve equality. While we’ve made great strides there is still lot to be achieved to close the gender gap on many fronts.

On Monday 8 March, on the occasion of the presentation of the“State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11: Women in agriculture – closing the gender gap for development” a joint FAO-IFAD-WFP publication, an international panel of experts discussed ways and means of closing the existing gender gap

BBC’s Zeinab Badawi moderated two lively panel discussions with:

  • Bina Agarwal, Director of the Institute of Economic Growth- University of Delhi, India;
  • Elizabeth Atananga, President de la Plateforme Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale – Cameroon ;
  • Smita Bhatnagar, Senior Coordinator, Self Employed Women’s Association – India
  • Kevin Cleaver, Associate Vice President, Programme Management Department, IFAD;
  • Hafez Ghanem, Assistant Director General FAO;
  • Arlene Mitchell, Senior Program Officer Agricultural Development’s Market Team –B&M Gates Foundation;
  • Thenjiwe Ethel Mtintso, H.E. Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa,
  • Sheila Sisulu Deputy Executive Director WFP
  • Ann Tutwiler, Deputy Director General, FAO and
  • Hans-Heinrich Wrede, H.E. Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The panel discussed the role of women in agriculture and rural economy. During the discussion, time and again, both the panelists and the passionate audience - including numerous students, reiterated how women are more:

  • innovative than men
  • creative and can make ends meet with fewer resources
  • consciousness in managing resources.
  • productive than men if they are given the access to the same productive resources as men
  • pragmatic than men

The panelists agreed that one of the reasons why the agriculture sector is under-performing is because women do not have access to the same tools and resources as men. The “State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11” reports that “more than 100 million people could be lifted out of poverty if women had the same access to productive resources as men”. One of the report’s main conclusion is that once women have access to fertilizers, seeds, land, credit, technology and education, they will give a boost to the agriculture sector and contribute to creating a vibrant and highly productive agriculture sector.

During the debate, Bina Agarwal, reminded the audience that “land is a key productive asset for women farmers but we have not moved far enough in ensuring that women have access to land”. Lack of access to land is a reality that thousands of women rural farmers are confronted with.

Elizabeth Atananga is just one of the thousands women who after years of hard working on her land (in her case 32 years), lost her rights to the land when she lost her beloved husband.

Despite the fact that millions of women in rural areas across the globe are responsible for growing, harvesting, storing, preparing food very few own the land. Why?

The whys are different from region to region, from country to country, from village to village. They may be legal or cultural. But regardless of the geographical and national peculiarities, one common element is the fact that women often times are unable to defend their rights simply because they are not aware of them!

“Food security cannot be achieved without empowering women,” said H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and “success depends on the inclusion and NOT exclusion of women” said Arlene Mitchell

The panelists unanimously agreed that women need to be empowered and to do so, the development community, governments, men and women need to translate words into action by:
  • involving women much more in the business sector
  • involving women more in decision making processes and allowing them to lead the way
  • changing men’s mentality and mind-set
  • changing laws
  • investing more in women and paving the way to grant women equitable access to the necessary resources
The participants agreed that there is no “one size fits all”, Kevin Cleaver reminded the audience that “solutions need to be tailored to the local contexts, and that solutions need funding as nothing can be done without money.”

There was agreement that all development actors, international institutions, private sector, governments and NGOs play an important role in the stride for more equity between women and men.

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State in her video message reminded the audience that “we must keep the momentum going. The International Women’s day should not be a one-time event.”

The day after the debate, IFAD President echoed Secretary Clinton’s words, reminding the participants that women’s day is not just an annual ritual. “Women are the backbone of society and this is particularly true of rural societies, where women are often responsible for farming and earning cash as well as extra chores such as gathering firewood, collecting water, washing clothing and tending to children and the elderly”, said Nwanze. “As a result, women frequently work 16 hours a day – far longer than most men”.

“At IFAD we have a duty to recognize the contributions that women make and to remove the obstacles they face, that is why we must remain focused on these issues, each and every day of the week”, reminded Nwanze.

At the IFAD event, we had the privilege of having more time with Elizabeth Atananga, a woman whose experience is helping, and will continue to help advance women’s cause. As Elizabeth said : “Les femmes doivent participer à la prise des décisions sur les sujets qui les concernent". Gender equality is the ultimate goal; empowering women and men is the way to get there.

A recent evaluation of IFAD’s performance on gender equality and women’s empowerment found that we had improved – particularly in our new projects” said the President. During the IFAD event, our colleagues gave a quick summary of the achievements of IFAD-funded activities to bridge the gender gap and create more equality between women and men. But we can do better and with the support of passionate women advocates dreams will come true

The social reporters through their work, will contribute to close the gender gap, by sharing nuggets of information and reporting live from related events. It was great to tweet together with our FAO and WFP colleagues the fervent calls for action, on the occasion of the International Women’s day. It’s amazing how through team work we can get our messages heard loud and clear in the Twittersphere Let’s join hands to achieve the common goals, of advocating for gender equality and translate these words into action!

Stay tuned and follow us on twitter. Still not a member of Twitterville? Do you think it is about time, you become a twitcitizen? Go to www.twitter.com and sign up!

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do"
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mexico Going Green

Posted by Greg Benchwick 0 comments

Emerging trends in REDD+ and other sustainable practices

When looking at the remarkably complex world of carbon offset, REDD+, sustainable forestry and natural resource management, Mexico is emerging as one of the world’s leading open-air laboratories.

After all, this is a place where the tides of revolution have become institutional realities, where large organizations like the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR) are pioneering new ways to bring REDD+ into the mainstream. It is a place with a complex and nuanced socio-economic context, where the poorest 40 per cent of the rural population live on just US$652 a year (despite a national average of nearly US$9000), and where deforestation, vulnerability to climate change and natural resource management issues are making it to the front burner of the national agenda.

With all this in mind – and with an eye on building our collective wisdom that will advance the new Community Forestry Project in the Southern States of Campeche, Chiapas and Oaxaca – we brought thought leaders from CONAFOR and the Tropical Center for Agricultural Investigation and Education (CATIE) to IFAD headquarters for a meeting tackling contemporary issues on sustainable forestry management. The goal was simple – learn from the lessons of Mexico and see if we can’t apply them elsewhere – the outcomes were far more complex.

What is a REDD+ and how do I get one?
Kicking off the meeting, Bastiaan Louman, Leader of CATIE’s Climate Change Programme, highlighted some key challenges, trends and opportunities for the implementation of REDD+ initiatives. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of clear agreement on how REDD+ should be identified, how it can be implemented on a local scale, and how something originally introduced “as a cheap way to reduce emissions” under the Stern Report some five years ago, is now becoming more nuanced and “not so cheap.”

REDD+ at a glance – “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. “REDD+” goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.” – UN REDD Program
So what are the causes of deforestation? According to Louman, money is key (isn’t it always?). First off, we can use the distance to markets as a good measuring stick for the level of forest degradation. The closer to market the greater the degradation. Or, if you are a glass-half-full kind of guy, the further from the market, the less the degradation.

Migration, access to technology (or lack thereof), land rights and cultural contexts are other key factors. And in many cases, it is a simple question of equity. “If you do not have rights to the land, you are probably not taking care of the forest,” said Bastiaan.

Another key barometer is the level of biomass in any given area. And this is where large institutions like CONAFOR come in handy. With excellent data and a sophisticated inventory of national forestry stocks, CONAFOR is able to provide the baseline data we need to ensure that our carbon-offset efforts are actually creating a positive impact – talk about finally seeing the forest for the trees.

But in the end, it’s possible that REDD+ will fail, especially if we continue to ignore local perceptions, expectations and opportunity costs. The key, says Bastiaan, is looking at other factors like off-farm employment, agricultural prices, road density and local governance for the answers.

This said, the emergence of carbon-markets could very well raise land rents, meaning we need strong organizations, simple monitoring mechanisms and integrated projects that aim at reducing transactional costs, increasing efficiencies and building local access to carbon offset markets. In the end, this will ensure that the little man doesn’t lose out.

So just how much is a forest worth?
The days of high-riding carbon cowboys (dressed in green rather than black) are gone, with carbon offsets dropping from a high of roughly US$20 per tonne to just $2 to $4 per tonne these days. Though some indicators point toward higher prices by the end of the decade, the market remains wildly unstable and needs solid regulation, says Bastiaan. We also need projects that create diverse economic activities that extend beyond the simple pay-to-keep-each-tree-standing model to one that embraces sustainable forestry and land management practices.

This is where projects like the recently signed Community Forestry Development Program come in, says Ladislao Rubio, IFAD’s Country Program Manager for Mexico. The regional context is an important outlying factor in this regards. In Mexico – remember, it’s a place that institutionalized a revolution, witnessed widespread land reform initiatives and yet continues to suffer from eye-popping inequalities – around 80 per cent of the land is held in legally-recognized communal land holdings (ejidos and comunidades). Engaging with the leadership within these communal holdings is key to protecting Mexico’s forests, creating sustainable opportunities within the green spaces, and promoting poverty reduction among the poor rural people. In the end, these are key protectors of Mexico’s biodiversity and forests.

So what is CONAFOR doing to manage Mexico’s forests and mainstream REDD+ initiatives?

Of course, there’s the US$5 million in earmarked grants from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that are set to be folded into the Community Forestry Development Program and will be a key component of Mexico’s REDD+ strategy in southern Mexico. The new funding is designed to reduce greenhouse emissions and provide project participants with the skills and resources they need to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Aside from that, it’s about strengthening conservation practices, especially within the ejidos and comunidades. According to Salvador Anta Fonseca, Manager of Community Forestry for CONAFOR, Mexico has around 8 million hectares of forests being managed through their institution, there are an additional 13 million hectares of protected areas, and some 2 million hectares of forest with some sort of payment-for-environmental-services system. They are primarily steering funds toward sustainable forest development through the national ProÁrbol program, which leverages public funds to pay for environmental services, value-chain work, education and training, technological development, and conservation and restoration.

Looking at the work of ProÁrbol, it’s easy to see the obvious overlap and synergies with the goals of REDD+. In fact, in November 2009, the Mexican government started work on their new vision for implementing REDD+ goals in Mexico. This work will include tried-and-true methodologies that look at social inclusion and sustainability, also focusing down on creating incentives (both economic and non-economic) to control deforestation and ensure better natural resource management practices in the future. This includes the strengthening of local economies, equitable distribution of benefits and opportunities, reforestation activities and the strengthening of social and productive infrastructure, and work to reduce social conflicts and illegal activities in the nation’s forest areas.

More importantly, most of this work will happen on the ejido (communal level), ensuring that the protectors of our world’s forests have an equitable stake in keeping our planet green.

Tune in with this full-length webcast of the seminar

Read More

CONAFOR PowerPoint Presentation

CATIE PowerPoint Presentation

IFAD signs US$5 million loan for ‘Community Forestry Development’ in Southern Mexico
English | Spanish



View photos from our recent mission to Mexico

Prólogo de las Memorias del Conversatorio Internacional de Mujeres en Colombia destaca como las mujeres pueden superar las condiciones de exclusión social

Los procesos de emancipación de las mujeres requieren, además de la superación de las condiciones de exclusión social y discriminación que cotidianamente deben enfrentar, la plena garantía de sus derechos humanos integrales y, para el caso de las mujeres rurales, el gobierno y control del bien más importante y sobre el cual construyen y realizan sus proyectos de vida: la tierra.

El acceso a la tierra es uno de los problemas más graves que en­frentan las mujeres rurales en el mundo. Actualmente se calcula que existen 1.6 billones de mujeres campesinas (más de la cuarta parte de la población mundial), pero sólo el 2% de la tierra es propiedad de ellas y reciben únicamente el 1% de todo el crédito para agricultura (www.rural.womens-day.org). En los países de América Latina y el Caribe, las mujeres rurales también deben enfrentar situaciones de discriminación y se enfrentan cotidianamente a condiciones de pobreza que deben superar para lograr su manutención y sobrevivencia, y la de su grupo familiar.

Los países de América Latina y el Caribe han experimentado en las últimas décadas cambios en sus marcos constitucionales y legislativos favorables para la garantía de los derechos humanos. Sin embargo, estos cambios no han implicado necesariamente una transformación de las condiciones reales en las que viven las mujeres. A pesar de estos avances normativos y legislativos la situación de las mujeres rurales aún continúa siendo preocupante. Uno de los problemas estructurales que enfrentan es la dificultad para acceder y garantizar la seguridad sobre la tenencia de las tierras. De igual forma, la garantía integral de los derechos civiles y políticos, económicos, sociales y culturales de las mujeres rurales sigue siendo una tarea pendiente de los Estados y las sociedades latinoameri­canas.

Sin embargo, las mujeres campesinas, indígenas y afrodescendien­tes, han diseñado estrategias que les han permitido transformar sus condiciones materiales de marginación y exclusión, y configurar rutas y caminos hacia la emancipación. En este proceso las mujeres han esta­do acompañadas por organizaciones no gubernamentales, organismos internacionales, centros de pensamiento e instituciones públicas. En los países de América Latina y el Caribe podemos encontrar múltiples expe­riencias que buscan estos propósitos.

Teniendo en cuenta este panorama general, El Centro de Investiga­ción y Educación Popular – CINEP – Programa por la Paz, la Coalición Internacional para el Acceso a la Tierra y el Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola – FIDA, realizaron en el mes de julio del año 2010 el Conversatorio Internacional “La mujer rural: derechos, desafíos y pers­pectivas”. En este evento participaron mujeres rurales de 10 países de la región y de 15 departamentos de Colombia.

El propósito de este evento fue enriquecer el conocimiento sobre los procesos de emancipación que protagonizan las mujeres rurales y cons­truir inventarios de instrumentos políticos y técnicos y de experiencias para apoyar las mujeres a erradicar las discriminaciones y ejercer sus derechos civiles, económicos, sociales y culturales. Para alcanzar tal fin se contó con la participación de representantes de las organizaciones de mujeres campesinas, indígenas y afrodescendientes, investigadoras de centros de pensamiento y universidades, y funcionarios de instituciones públicas.

Mujer Rural: derechos, desafíos y perspectivas

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Armando el rompecabezas en Colombia

On Wednesday, March 16, enthusiastic IFAD staff came together for a "standing-room only" presentation on a World Bank publication, "Economic Evaluation of Climate Change Adaptation Projects: Approaches for the Agricultural Sector and Beyond," by co-author Dr. Gretel Gambarelli, followed by a lively discussion. Gretel, our moderator Thomas Elhaut and others share their views below... share yours, too!

Gretel Gambarelli, Senior Climate Adaptation Officer, IUCN
I was invited by IFAD to present in a seminar on economic evaluation of climate change projects, with a focus on agriculture. My talk was based on a World Bank 2010 publication by Mike Toman and myself. My presentation

covered the specific challenges that make economic evaluation of adaptation different from more standard projects that do not incorporate climate change considerations, and introduced some state of the art methodologies - including non-economic approaches - that may help address those challenges. I was very pleased to find an interested and engaged audience, with about 40 IFAD staff from different departments following the presentation and asking lots of good questions. This is a good index that ex-ante project evaluation is regaining attention by development professionals in IFAD as a way to improve overall project design and make sure investments are truly "sustainable", i.e. bringing economic, social and environmental benefits. Since we're just starting to understand how to approach the economic evaluation of adaptation at the project level, I would encourage IFAD staff to become "pioneers" and test some of the possible approaches in real projects, so as to contribute to this important field of knowledge.

Thomas Elhaut, Director, Asia and Pacific Region, IFAD
The seminar on the “economic valuation of adaptation to climate change” was timely. It came at the time IFAD is reviewing the role of economic analysis of investment projects as a decision tool, and more importantly as a tool to support design choices early on in the process. It also underscored the rationale for reengaging in agriculture, as the new food equation makes agriculture more profitable (i.e. economically viable); but also threatened by climate change (i.e. volatility) and resource scarcity (i.e. high opportunity costs). It finally highlighted the issues related to the present value of future and intergenerational benefits versus current costs and consumption preferences (i.e. the discount rate trade-offs). The seminar reconfirmed the value of the “classic” cost-benefit analysis (CBA); and called for further work to: better define the costs of adaptation to climate change; design methods to measure the additionality of benefits and co-benefits, such as the change in behaviour of farmers; deal with uncertainty, given the inadequate probabilistic information; assess the with and without project values of land, water, etc…; elaborate a more hybrid approach to complement the CBA methodology with real option analysis, a landscape approach and ultimately a multi-criteria approach.

Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director,
Environment and Climate Division, IFAD

Would you expect standing-room only for a seminar on economic appraisal? That's what we had on Wednesday. Looking at adaptation to climate change through the lens of economic appraisal is important for IFAD since adaptation to climate change is an essential element of reducing rural poverty. Most of our projects are in areas that are already ecologically fragile hence particularly vulnerable to climate change. My "take-aways" from the seminar were: 1) climate uncertainty can be reduced as forecasting improves, but will not go away; 2) cost-benefit analysis is not always the best option for assessing adaptation (it does not necessarily tell us when to invest, and the sensitivity analysis struggles to handle adaptation parameters - luckily there are alternative or complementary approaches); 3) the time dimension is critical - what should today's value be of future adaptation to climate change, and who should make that valuation? We could have spent a week just on the final point. As we have seen, different stakeholders attribute very different values to landscapes and hence have different views on the value of preserving different aspects of landscapes in the face of climate change. Further, an important issue on climate change is inter-generational poverty - what value should we attribute to preserving landscapes for future generations? We have learnt that recognizing the interconnections across the landscape is essential to building resilience - that means we have to manage a lot more complexity in how we think about rural development. It is good to see economic analysis trying to address this.

Eloisa de Villalobos Thomann, Financial and Economic Technical Adviser, Policy & Technical Advisory Division, IFAD
As an economist who recently joined IFAD working for the Technical Advisory Division responsible for reviewing the economic and financial feasibility of project proposals, I was curious to see how these new approaches could be integrated in the way we currently analyse economic impacts of IFAD projects. It was particularly interesting to get an overview of multi-criteria methodologies as a complementary option to traditional CBA analyses in cases where environmental assimilation costs or benefits are too complicated to measure. In my view, a crucial point is to develop simple ways of applying these complex methodologies at the producers' level. However, simplification should not come at any cost: the quality of the analysis has to be ensured and the use of these particular tools clearly justified in order to achieve robust results. It was interesting for me to see the diverse reactions from the different participants of the seminar. I particularly agree with the idea expressed that these kinds of analyses should be carried out from the very beginning of the project design stage, integrating environmental impact assessment into economic analysis and the overall logframe of the project design. I thank the organizers and look forward to see and assist whoever will be brave enough to pilot these analyses!

Gretel also introduced the group to Adaptation Guidance Notes available on the World Bank's website and gave an overview presentation on IUCN. Check it out!

Learning Route on Gender and Microfinance, Uganda

Posted by miriam Thursday, March 17, 2011 0 comments

Unexpected Safari along the Route by Maria Fernanda Arraes

Mbarara District. Here we come ! After traveling southwestern direction for three hours from the capital city of Kampala, we arrived in the second stop.

The objective of our visit here is to understand the operations of the NGO Uganda Women's Effort to Support Orphans (UWESO) and its offshoot into the Success Microfinance Services (SMS) Ltd in financial services.

This case brought out a lot of questions and deeper group discussions, for examplem can an NGO providing social services based in charity at the same time operate a microfinance instituition that is more focused on economic development ? Are these services complementary or contradictory ?

The participants learned that the process to separate social and business case involves a lot of technical, institutional and financial challenges ! We realize, for example, the importance to clarify for all target groups the new institutional arrengements, to separate the management and actions of these two areas and to invest in the technical capacities of team.

The learning process from this experience was composed by different activites. We started with the institutional presentation from SMS. This was followed by the field visit in the Bushenyi rural community where we saw the SMS branch office and met their women's client group.

After the welcome speeches from the local and regional authorities, we listened to stories from the women's leaders, clients of SMS through solidarity group loan.

We also did a good discussion in smaller groups to understand in detail how the access to loans changed their life. They shared with us that this gave them an opportuniry to start or improve an economic activity and meet their household expenses.


The women group prepared a sumptuous lunch time for the participants and this was really appreciated because the rich and tasty local food. In addition to the food, they also danced and acted a play for us indicationg the benefits of microfinance. We also have the opportunity to visit their business. For example, Madam Margaret is a successful businesswoman who, with a loan, built a business premise which serves as her house, shop, another thres rooms that she rents to business neighbors and ten rooms that she rents out.

In the end of the afternoon, in order to recognize the warm reception they accorded us the Procasur team gave them certificates of recognition to each women group and to SMS for their knowledge service.

When we were on the road to our next destination of Kasese town we tought that all emotions of the day had finished but surprise, surprise: We found ourselves in a free safari as we crossed the Elisabeth II National Park and the Equator imaginary line ! This experience gave us the opportunity to see bush backsm gazelles and one of the big five: the elephants.

Our learning route is certainly a different training experience !!!

See you soon, when I come back to tell you more about our next surprises in the Ruwnzori mountain region...

Learning Route on Gender and Microfinance, Uganda

Posted by miriam Wednesday, March 16, 2011 0 comments

WELCOME ON BOARD!!! by Maria Fernanda Arraes

We have just started our Learning Route in Gender and Rural Finances - New approaches, services and products in Uganda. We would like to share with you this unique experience…Welcome on board!

We are a diverse group formed by 15 practitioners from 13 different countries, from Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Rwanda and Zambia); from Asia (china and Japan), Latin America (Colombia, Chile, and Brazil) and Europe (Belgium).

A quick assessment on my colleagues’ expectations for this journey affirmed their curiosity to learn from each other, see different and practical experiences in the field and get new information to bring back home. They are also looking forward to improve their knowledge on microfinance management including monitoring & evaluation of impacts, working with partners on different levels and improve gender and HIV issues within their programmes.

After a warm welcome by the Procasur Team coordinating this Route, we started with a first presentation on the overview of microfinance in Uganda. This was really interesting getting to know the history of the first country in Africa that started the regulation and supervision of microfinance institutions and as well the only country that has a Ministry of Microfinance. This was just the first impression and made clear, why the learning route will be taking place here!

The second part was the fair experience- exchange of institutional information by participants' focusing on the key areas of microfinance and gender issues, opportunities and challenges that our organizations currently face to improve the interventions.

In the afternoon we were introduced to the gender issues in microfinance. In group exercise, we drew pictures of how we thought an empowered woman looks like. Some of the ideas the group came up with were: “a woman thinking on her own and a voice to express herself, who has the capacity to provide education and health conditions for her family”; “someone who has access to financial and technical services for economic activities, among others”.

But the most exciting activity until now was the opportunity that we had trough our first field visit. We went to Kiboga district North West of Kampala to learn from the experience of two women’s groups supported by FINCA a deposit taking microfinance institutions regulated by Bank of Uganda using “Village Banking model”.

Other than the technical information, we were treated to the women’s artistic expressions though dance, comedy, drama, and poems performances to show us their lives before and after the participation in their village banking groups and all changes that they experienced. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience!!

And now we are preparing ourselves for the next stop: Tomorrow we will be moving on to Mbarara, southern part of Uganda to learn about interesting experiences with Uganda Women’s Effort to support Orphans (UWESO) and its offshoot the Success Microfinance Services (SMS) Ltd in financial services for people living with HIV and aids.

See you tomorrow after this next adventure!

Una agricultura más cercana a nosotros

Posted by Greg Benchwick Wednesday, March 9, 2011 0 comments

Cinco jóvenes emprendedoras de América Latina descubren el encanto del Slow Food en una Ruta de Aprendizaje en el norte de Italia

Por Rosa Valeria Cerza
¿Una agricultura que tiene como objetivo la defensa de las diferencias culturales territoriales y regionales, la utilización de la sabiduría y de los conocimientos de las comunidades locales, la protección de la biodiversidad cultivada y silvestre puede ofrecer prospectivas válidas de desarrollo aplicable también en los países más pobre del planeta?

Según Carlo Petrini, Presidente de Slow Food y los pequeños productores de la red mundial, la respuesta es sí.

En su reciente visita a Italia cinco jóvenes micro empresarias rurales han tenido la posibilidad de visitar a las varias asociaciones, consorcios y cooperativas de la red de Slow Food en una mini Ruta de Aprendizaje organizada por el FIDA en colaboración con PROCASUR.

El objetivo ha sido el desarrollo de un intercambio y aprendizaje común en aspectos como la gestión del conocimiento y de los saberes tradicionales en cuanto a comercialización y métodos de producción.

· Primer día: La ruta de aprendizaje empezó con una visita a la Universidad de Ciencias Gastronómicas de Pollenzo. Esta universidad utiliza un modelo innovador y multidisciplinario, combina estudios de humanidades y científicos con una formación sensorial y experiencias prácticas con viajes a los cincos continentes, y permite comprender los procesos de producción alimentaria artesanal e industrial al situarlos en un contexto cultural.

Lo que más impresionó a las visitantes fue el laboratorio del gusto, una estructura con monitor y herramientas para conocer el sabor y el gusto de los productos. La segunda etapa fue la visita a la Banca de Vino que es una sociedad cooperativa que nació con el objetivo de construir una memoria histórica del vino italiano, un museo en el que se pueden hacer caminos de degustación, eventos y actividad de promoción de la imagen y de la cultura enológica.

La ruta sigue con la visita al Presidio Della Razza Piemontese de ganado bovino “La Granda”. Ésta es una asociación de ganaderos que nació hace cinco años con el objetivo de crear un proyecto para la recuperación de la carne piemontese y dar más valor al consumo de carne de calidad. Como todas las producciones, ha tenido que enfrentarse con el mercado que normalmente no aprecia la calidad y no premia a los pequeños productores. Lo más relevante en esta asociación es que por primera vez ellos mismos han decidido el precio de su carne que es el resultado de un acuerdo entre carniceros y consumidores, los dos dispuestos a gastar un poco más para obtener un producto de mayor calidad.

· Segundo día: Salida a las 7:30 del agriturismo “La volpe e l’uva” y visita a la cooperativa, “Valli Unite”, ésta nació hace treinta años, cuando tres hijos de familias de tradición campesina, enamorados de la propia tierra y de su trabajo, buscaron una nueva modalidad para seguir siendo campesinos en la medida antigua en un mundo moderno en el que la gente emigra a las ciudades para trabajar en las fábricas.

Como primera etapa se visitaron las cantinas. La segunda etapa ha sido la visita a los estables de ganado y cerdos. Además en esta cooperativa se ofrece un servicio de restaurante y agriturismo para degustar los platos tradicionales de la cocina piemontesa acompañados de verduras de temporada y naturalmente del vino. Todos los ingredientes de la comida son producidos y procesados por la misma cooperativa. Por la tarde se visitó el agriturismo el “Finocchio Verde”. En esta granja, situada en las colinas de Murazzano, además de ofrecer los servicios de restaurante y alojamiento, se produce queso de cabra y vaca según la antigua tradición del lugar.

· El último día: Se visitó el supermercado Eataly y se finalizó la ruta con la demostración de la fase de comercialización de los productos. Eataly fue creado con la intención de declinar la afirmación de que los productos de calidad pueden estar disponibles sólo a unos pocos privilegiados, ya que a menudo son caros o difíciles de obtener. El objetivo de Eataly es aumentar el porcentaje de aquellos que se alimentan eligiendo productos de calidad y prestando especial atención al origen y transformación de materias primas; sin embargo la proporción de personas que asumen una actitud de este tipo, es todavía muy baja y se divide entre aquellos que poseen un alto poder adquisitivo y los pocos conocedores, que tienen en cuenta el valor de la comida sana y tradicional.

Durante la mini ruta las jóvenes han visto varias experiencias y casos concretos, escuchado entrevistas y conversaciones, preguntado sobre cualquier duda o informaciones útiles para sus casos específicos. Se han creado espacios de intercambio y reflexión para que las participantes puedan tener una visión distinta de la pequeña producción es decir, no solo las grandes cadenas comerciales funcionan sino también las pequeñas y tradicionales producciones tienen un futuro. “Nadie comprende lo que no conoce”, por tanto, hay que fortalecer las capacidades y los conocimientos para la elección de nuevos retos.