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IFAD supports reframing of rural poverty for #rioplus20

Posted by Beate Stalsett Wednesday, April 25, 2012 1 comments

Written by Clarissa Baldin

©IFAD/Susan Beccio
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has provided the Reframing Rio initiative with US$100 thousand to help ensure that rural poverty and the challenges faced by poor women and men living on 500 million smallholder farms are front and centre leading up to Rio+20.

Reframing Rio is a multi-media project designed by tve, Inter Press Service (IPS) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) to enhance global awareness and mobilize efforts towards the urgent need of a sustainable world leading up to and beyond Rio+20. In addition to IFAD’s contribution the project is also supported by the EU and 9 other organizations.

The project aims to help focus public and political debate on how a green economy can contribute to poverty reduction and sustainable development. The project will make use of written media, documentaries and short films covering a range of issues related to sustainable development to engage audiences in the discussion.

By sponsoring the Reframing Rio project, IFAD is able to ensure issues that affect smallholders are included in the discussion. Rio + 20 is an opportunity to change the food and agriculture system so that smallholders in developing countries can be included.

The world’s poor rural people and especially farmers of the 500 million smallholdings play a key role as providers of food and livelihoods. Smallholders supply up to 80 per cent of the food consumed in a large part of the developing world, with much of that produced by women, and yet smallholder households are often vulnerable to health and nutrition challenges. As managers of vast areas of land and natural resources, smallholders are both victims and drivers of environmental degradation, and need support to scale up sustainable practices.

The upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) promises to be a historic milestone for global sustainable development.  IFAD is working together with partners including the Rome-Based Agencies, farmers’ associations and indigenous peoples groups to ensure that smallholders will be empowered to contribute and participate to their full potential.

More on the Reframing Rio project will be posted here soon, so keep an eye on our blog.

Find out more on IFAD’s engagement in Rio+20.

by Jeffrey A. Brez

This afternoon at the 6th Global Community-Based Adaptation conference in Hanoi, Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and IFAD shared their experience in making IFAD’s 2012-2017 strategic planning document for Vietnam climate smart. (these documents at IFAD are known as “Results Based Country Strategic Opportunities Programmes” or COSOPs). IFAD’s portfolio in Vietnam focuses on the poorest rural communities, including ethnic minorities and women headed households, and is now worth about US$257 million, with another USD100 million of investments anticipated over the 2012-2017 period.

MARD was represented by Prof. Dr. Trieu Van Hung, Director General of their Department of Science, Technology and the Environment. IFAD was represented by Roshan Cooke, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for the Asia and Pacific Region.

Dr. Trieu (click above to view his 1-minute video statement) made the point that Vietnam is expected to be among the countries hardest hit by climate change, and that the agriculture sector is one of the most vulnerable. According to the National Climate Change Strategy, from 2001-2010 “damages caused by disasters like floods, storms, flash floods, landslides, inundations, droughts and saltwater intrusion have been significant: 9500 dead and missing people; and an asset loss of about 1.5% of GDP each year.” Given that the majority of Vietnam’s poor women and men live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods – and that agriculture is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters - supporting community-based adaptation is crucial to help buffer their livelihoods.

My colleague Roshan Cooke (in the photo above) explained IFAD’s ambitious approach. The “Climate Smart COSOP,” he said, will ensure that all of the investments that IFAD supports in Vietnam are climate-smart. This will be done through, among others, the following interventions: support to the policy making process to ensure that the climate vulnerability of poor rural communities is effectively addressed through MARD’s policy frameworks; integration of climate change adaptation responses into the provincial level Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) for determining budget allocations; identification of adaptation pathways for diversification of livelihoods; and scaling up of autonomous adaptation actions that rural poor people are innovating.

Several presentations were made and the following discussion was lively. Issues raised included how to address the “surplus of rural population in farming,” how to balance focus between smallholder farming and opportunities in the rural non-farm economy (and beyond), and how to fill the knowledge gap on local level impacts of climate change in rural areas.

I have learned a tremendous amount here, through a field trip to Hoa Binh province to visit a COHED project (biogas, alternative off-farm livelihoods for women and community-based eco-tourism, disaster preparedness drills) THANK YOU TO THE COHED TEAM, and great conference sessions that included an amazing Red Cross-designed game to raise awareness about disaster risk reduction and planning THANK YOU PABLO SUAREZ and JULIE ARRIGHI, and a session to practice pitching climate change stories to journalists, led by IIED – THANK YOU MIKE SHANAHAN and DRAGONS including Pakistan's AFIA SALAM of www.speakforchange.org.

CBA6 has two more days left! Follow the LIVE WEB STREAM or enjoy the blogs and vlogs and other interactive materials - and learn and share along with the rest of us.

Find out more here about how IFAD is supporting smallholders and poor rural people in Vietnam.

Want to read the IFAD COSOP for Vietnam? You won't regret the time spent. Click here and scroll down to Vietnam 2012. Available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Most Significant Change (MSC) - SCAMPIS Guatemala

Posted by Cecina Wednesday, April 18, 2012 0 comments

In the context of the SCAMPIS Project (www.ifad.org/english/water/scampis/)  has been developed the MSC analysis to complement the quantitative M&E data collection.
During the last SCAMPIS M&E mission to Guatemala “stories” about the most significant change have been collected in the municipalities of  Moyuta, Conguaco, Chiquimula (Olopa, Camotan), San Pedro Pinula.

The story collection is one of the 4 steps identified for the SCAMPIS MSC technique. 

The process of collection have been extremely interesting and rich in terms of stories collects and people involved.

MSC first phase: Stories collection
Around 22 stories on have been collected by kids of the age between 13-16 years old. The story narrated by the project beneficiaries were about the most significant change and the challenges faced during the involvement in SCAMPIS. 

The kids have been trained, so as real “reporters” they interviewed the project stakeholders, they recorded videos and took photos.

The process in each community started with a short ice-breaking capacity building of the kids, to learn how to use the video-camera, the photo-camera and to run an interview.
The kids demonstrated great interest, even if very shy  at the beginning, some of them scared, after the first “interview trial” among us, found the exercise interesting, and going to the field, interview after interview they became quite experts: at the end of the day they were totally independent and capable of managing their own interview (without almost looking at the questionnaires). The activities lasted 1 entire day in each of 5 communities, at  the end of the day all the kids where tired, but at the same time enriched by the experience and owners of a nice diploma.

Most important lesson:
-          LEARN HOW TO ASK. The kids learned something extremely important (for the consultant unexpected): ASKING QUESTIONS. "Kids stay among kids", so usually they are not used to go to adults or old people of the village asking direct and specific questions. They understood that even if it could seem there are enormous distances between them and adults, this distances can be overcome easily.
-          KIDS CAPABILITY The kids demonstrate great capability to “be reporters” few more interviews would have been enough to insure their skills as "local reporters”
-          USE OF TECHNOLOGIES Despite the fact that the kid had never taken a photos or a videos, nor conducted interviews, it has been relatively easy for them to learn. A bit more difficult for them was to deal with the emotional aspect.
-          PRACTICAL LEARNING The kids learned a lot about doing vegetable gardens, natural pesticides, cookings, etc, and considering that they also are involved in school garden, it has been extremely useful for them.
-          At the end of the day a short brainstorming on the understanding of the interview, showed that they understood and stored the stories content.
-          The questions used have been adapted and improved day by day, but still could be improved and adapted to different context. Not all the beneficiaries are able to answer in a extensive way to the questions, and not all the kids have been able to help the farmers interviewed with additional questions (e.g. I explained then to always ask, “why”, “could you give me an example?” this helped but is not enough). This aspect has to be strengthened during the kids training. 
-          An event with the stories and videos will be organized by the educadoras to share the experience with other kids and people of the nearby communities. The material can be used to sensitize other families.
Finally, 10 additional stories have been collected (technicians, educadoras, project supervisor, project coordinator and other stakeholders) to complete the overview of the project in order to understand the most significant change also from the point of view of the strategy adopted and the organization promoting it.
The second phase will be implemented during the next SCAMPIS meeting (23rd April) at Funcafé central office by the end of April the result of the analysis will be sent to IFAD.

Additional information on SCAMPIS MSC is available upon request, write to c.ruberto@ifad.org. A short presentation will be soon organized to share the experiences and build on that. The process is part of the SCAMPIS Learning Path second phase.

Ever since I embarked on knowledge management and knowledge sharing journey, I've been struggling to find convincing metrics to assess impact of KM/KS activities. In October 2009, I wrote this blogpost: "KM search and rescue operation: Looking for intelligent and KM-enabled indicator!" and got some good feedback. But it still was not quite the convincing indicators I was looking for.

What do you I mean by convincing indicators?  I mean metrics that make sense, metrics that show progress, metrics that combine both qualitative and quantitative aspects.

I am not a great indicator fan. I believe indicators detract attention from the bigger scope. They are very much like this faceless street artist.

Nonetheless, the type of business we are in, requires that we measure our activities and show the impact we are making. And ever since when I've been trying to find convincing indicators for KM/KS related activities.

So you can imagine my excitement while reading Collaboration  by Morten T. Hansen  to come across convincing indicators to measure the impact of networks!!! Hansen's book is based on years of research. The book itself is a gem, especially the last chapter where he takes you on a personal journey and acting as coach shows you how to become a collaborative leader.

In this book, Hansen argues that the goal of collaboration is to achieve greater results. He identifies the following as barriers to collaboration:

  • not-invented here barrier
  • factors contributing to hoarding
  • search barrier
  • transfer barrier
He makes the case that no collaboration is better than bad collaboration. He argues that for collaboration to happen leaders need to unify people and to do that they:
  • must craft a compelling unifying goal that makes people commit to a cause greater than their own individual goals
  • should pair competition on the outside of the company with collaboration on the inside. People who unite to compete against a common foe are juiced up by competing and by collaborating
  • should not talk competition, but collaboration and collaboration for results
Then he goes on to explain how to build nimble networks and it is in this chapter that I had an aha moment. I finally came across a convincing way to measure the impact of networks.

Hansen starts of by saying:
  • too much networking may be distractive
  • networking is costly because it takes time and effort to nurture relationships (this is if you are serious about it and want to do it well)
  • for networks to be valuable, their benefits need to be greater than the costs
  • secret of networking is to build result-based networks based on disciplined collaboration
He then proceeds to say that networks are good for identifying opportunities to take something further and to capture value and in doing so, effective networks need to reduce the collaboration barriers mentioned above. 

Hansen provides a framework with six network rules, which I see as great indicators to measure success of KM/KS networks. The first four are used to assess the impact of network vis-a-vis identifying opportunities and the last two to capture the value of networks.
  • build outward, not inward: to overcome the not-invented barrier, networks need to build many more outward ties than inward ones. One of the indicators is to measure how much undisciplined collaboration there is. Is there too much networking, too much butterfly syndrome, jumping from one thing to another without concluding anything?
  • build diversity, not size: to overcome search barrier you need to build a network based on diversity. In networks numbers do not count. What is important is the diversity of connections. You need connections that tap into diverse things and diverse people. This is what leads to more innovative products. Hansen challenges us that when we engage in professional relationship we should ask ourselves what diversity does this new contact bring me. He then proceeds to say that disciplined collaboration means adding contacts that bring more diversity into your network. And this too is a great indicator to measure the impact of networks
  • build weak ties, not strong ones: now how counterintuitive can one get. And yet, there is so much wisdom in this statement and this too is a superb indicator. Hansen makes the point that weak ties prove to be much more helpful in networking because they form bridges to world we do not walk within. His argument is that strong ties are to worlds we know and he is very right about this. Building weak ties contributes to overcome the search barrier
  • use bridges, not familiar faces: good networking means knowing who the real bridges are and to use them. Bridges are typically long-tenured people who have worked in different places and know about a broad range of topics. A successful network needs to have enough people performing bridging role. Using bridges and not familiar faces is another tactic to overcome the search barrier
  • swarm the target; do not go it alone: Hansen's advice here is if you believe the target identified in a search may not be forthcoming, enlist the help of others to convince the target. In other words swarm the target with influencers, people who are in position to exert influence and get your contacts to work on your behalf, appeal to common good and invoke reciprocity. If you want to measure the impact of your network, you should ask yourselves, how many times you've turned to your network members and asked them to do something on your behalf and how many times they did it for you. Hansen associates this as a remedy for the hoarding barrier
  • switch to strong ties; do not rely on weak ones: he finishes of his six network rules by providing a remedy to transfer barrier and making the point that to ensure easy transfer you need strong ties between team members so that they can trust each other and transfer complicated knowledge, which in KM language translates to good old tacit knowledge

I must say, I am thrilled to have finally found convincing and sound indicators for measuring the impact of networks. I now believe it is possible to find equally good indicators for other KM/KS aspects. The dilemma is whether anyone old person do so, or whether we need another Morten Hansen with years of research experience to come up with equally convincing indicators.

Bets are open!!! And I would love to hear your views and feedback on these indicators.

Empowering Indigenous Peoples’ Voices at #rioplus20

Posted by Beate Stalsett Thursday, April 12, 2012 5 comments

Written by Clarissa Baldin

In April 2012, IFAD approved a grant to support Indigenous peoples’ (IPs) full and effective participation in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). The grant will help provide 100,000 USD for several activities related to the Conference. Preparatory meetings of indigenous peoples’ representatives at regional level will serve to consolidate their perspectives and concerns for inclusion in the Rio +20 discussion text. These will also serve to assess and report on how indigenous peoples have implemented sustainable development in their own communities over the past 20 years. The reports and best practices produced will be consolidated into a book, to be completed by June 2012.

The grant will also support the establishment and functioning of the Secretariat of the Global Coordination Committee of Indigenous Peoples in Rio de Janeiro. The Secretariat will, among other things, coordinate the activities planned in Rio de Janeiro, the arrival of indigenous participants and theirs participation to influence the Third Prep-com.

Finally, IFAD’s grant will support participation of indigenous peoples’ representatives at the Indigenous Peoples Global Conference (IPGC) to be held in Rio de Janeiro from June 16-19, just prior to the Rio+20 Conference itself. The IPGC conference will cover four themes: a) the right to land and legal security; b) impact of extractive industries on the good living of indigenous peoples; c) food sovereignty and the right to food; and d) development with culture and identity.

Indigenous peoples and their traditional knowledge are key in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources. When traditional forms of resource management collapse, the environment suffers, putting the livelihoods of indigenous peoples at risk and pushing them into poverty and undermining our global pursuit for a sustainable future. Traditional indigenous lands and territories contain some 80 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity - but they still represent 15 per cent of those living in poverty.

Enabling indigenous peoples to actively participate in major international fora allows them to advocate and shape outcomes that both preserve their cultural heritage and protect the environment. IFAD has over 30 years of experience working with indigenous and tribal peoples and ethnic minorities, and will continue to support theirs engagement in the global sustainable development dialogue through the Rio+20 process.

IFAD values indigenous peoples’ knowledge, culture and practices when designing investment projects. Based on its experience on the ground, IFAD has learned that best results are achieved when programmes and projects build on indigenous peoples culture and identity. IFAD believes that one of the most effective ways to enable indigenous peoples to overcome poverty is to support and ensure that they are the co-creators and co-managers of development initiatives – and that’s why we’ve made indigenous peoples full and effective participation in Rio+20 our commitment.

Find out more on IFAD’s work with Indigenous Peoples’, and read other featured stories here on our blog.

More about IFAD and Rio + 20.

Please note: IFAD supports indigenous peoples participation at Rio+20 through the Global Steering Committee established in Manaus in August 2011. The Committee was established by indigenous peoples' leaders to have a coordinated presence in RIO. See the agreement Moving Towards Rio+20 for additional information. IFAD’s direct contact is the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, represented in the Steering Committee.

Por Paolo Silveri

Han pasado 10 años desde el inicio del Proyecto Uruguay Rural: los primeros
cinco caracterizados por una implementación lenta e incierta, mientras
que en los otros cinco el Proyecto supo dar una vuelta de 180 grados,
logrando un largo período de acción económica y social muy intensa. El
PUR, en un contexto político favorable, supo poner en la atención de las
políticas y de las instituciones públicas el tema de la pobreza y del desarrollo
rural, cuando más de una voz en el país minimizaba la existencia
misma de un problema de pobreza en el campo. El Proyecto propuso y
aplicó herramientas y metodologías innovadoras, considerando como eje
central de su labor las personas, con sus aspiraciones, sus estrategias,
sus recursos humanos, sus organizaciones, su capacidad productiva. Y ha
tomado ese camino con mucha determinación y claridad, tanto estratégica
como operativa.

Los proyectos empiezan, se desarrollan y terminan. Lo importante es lo que
queda al final y, en el caso del PUR, queda mucho. Los resultados y las metas
físicas están en este y en otros informes, además de ser visibles en
los ingresos y en la capitalización de las fincas y casas de los pequeños
productores y pobres rurales que han participado en el Proyecto. Algunos
intangibles, como el apoyo para la creación de la Dirección General de Desarrollo
Rural en el MGAP y las Mesas de Desarrollo Rural en los departamentos
de todo el país, así como las muchas organizaciones locales de productores
fortalecidas, también están a la vista y, para el Fondo Internacional de
Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), son logros extremadamente relevantes, pues representan
un espacio totalmente novedoso en el panorama institucional
para el sector y una plataforma que permitirá continuar en el proceso de
desarrollo rural y de políticas públicas que lo sostengan en el tiempo.

La implementación del PUR ha sido marcada por una capacidad novedosa
y fructífera de obtener lo mejor posible del encuentro entre una agencia
financiera internacional (el FIDA) y la institucionalidad nacional (el MGAP y
el Ministerio de Economía); entre la intervención del Estado y las expectativas
de la sociedad civil; y del encuentro entre las oportunidades del
mercado, la tecnología, las inversiones con las personas, que han sido el
norte permanente en la orientación de las actividades del PUR.
El equipo del PUR supo hablar y escuchar a los hombres y a las mujeres
del campo. Ha propuesto, ha polemizado y ha mediado, siempre buscando
una solución que acompañara las aspiraciones de los pequeños productores
y los pobres rurales. Y en la mayoría de los casos lo ha logrado. Las
visitas de campo del FIDA han relevado con frecuencia el testimonio directo
de pequeños productores y productoras que, antes de mencionar las
mejoras en la productividad y en las condiciones de vida en sus familias
y comunidades, afirmaban que el PUR les había "escuchado y devuelto una

Un equipo joven, con la mayoría de los funcionarios y técnicos con menos
de 30 años, una combinación de agrónomos con especialistas de las Ciencias
Sociales, el compromiso personal, las ganas de analizar, de aprender
y de discutir sin cansancio, ha generado un ambiente de trabajo y un tejido
de relaciones con los pequeños productores y pobres rurales basados en
el respeto mutuo y en la profesionalidad con compromiso. Cuando se cometieron
errores, se debieron a exceso de entusiasmo, de ganas de hacer,
de confianza y optimismo, y al principio a la inexperiencia; pero nunca a la
falta de compromiso, de dedicación o de interés. Existe ahora una masa
critica de profesionales jóvenes que han acumulado una importante experiencia
en el desarrollo rural, que esperamos el país sepa aprovechar.
Los logros físicos han sido fundamentales para permitir el logro de los
resultados intangibles, y viceversa. Sin embargo, quizás el mayor aporte
del PUR al Uruguay ha sido definir un camino para que las políticas públicas
logren apoyar y acompañar eficazmente las estrategias y las aspiraciones
de los pequeños productores y pobres rurales, para ayudarles a salir ellos
mismos de sus condiciones de pobreza.

Desde el FIDA, reconocemos que, con ganas, profesionalidad y compromiso,
el PUR ha logrado resultados importantes y sostenibles. El haber podido
acompañar este proceso ha sido para mí un privilegio y una verdadera
satisfacción profesional y personal. Espero que esta experiencia sirva de
impulso para que el país siga creciendo en la identificación, formulación y
actuación de políticas públicas con los hombres y las mujeres del campo,
y no solo para ellos.

Paolo Silveri

Gerente de Programas / División de América Latina y el Caribe.
Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola

Leer más

Proyecto Uruguay Rural – Informe de cierre Evaluación de resultados y percepciones de los involucrados


Proyecto Paraguay Inclusivo

Posted by Greg Benchwick 0 comments

Junta Ejecutiva del FIDA aprueba nuevo préstamo para proyecto de US$25.8 millones para el desarrollo rural en Paraguay
Proyecto Paraguay Inclusivo busca disminuir la pobreza extrema y fortalecer las economías rurales

La Junta Ejecutiva del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA) aprobó en su reunión de abril un nuevo proyecto de 25.8 millones de dólares estadounidenses para la reducción de la pobreza en Paraguay y el fortalecimiento de las economías rurales.

El Proyecto de Inclusión de la Agricultura Familiar en las Cadenas de Valor (Paraguay Inclusivo), llegará a más de 70 000 personas pobres en la zona este del país, y generará beneficios indirectos para 50 000 personas más.

“El objetivo principal del proyecto es la creación de alianzas público-privadas que facilitarán a las organizaciones de los pequeños agricultores un mejor acceso a asistencia técnica especializada y al mercado de finanza rural, y un acceso preferencial a los mercados de venta a través de las agro-industrias. De esta manera se mejorará la condición de vida y la seguridad alimentaria para los beneficiarios del proyecto”, afirmó Paolo Silveri, Gerente de Programa de País del FIDA en Paraguay. El proyecto pretende también generar 8 000 nuevos puestos de trabajo.

Paraguay es un país de ingresos medios y su economía creció 14,5 por ciento en 2010. Sin embargo, en el campo paraguayo 1,3 millones son pobres y aproximadamente 60 por ciento de este grupo son considerados extremadamente pobres. Los pueblos indígenas tienen una tasa de mortalidad tres veces más alta que el promedio nacional, mientras que la malnutrición infantil en estas comunidades es dos veces más alta que el promedio nacional. El Proyecto Paraguay Inclusivo dispondrá también de un fondo de micro-capitalización para pueblos originarios y otras comunidades que viven en condición de pobreza extrema.

“Los factores principales en la pobreza rural en Paraguay son la dificultad de acceso a mercados y al crédito, el deterioro de los recursos naturales, la escasez de organizaciones sociales, activos productivos y tecnologías, y la falta de acceso a tierras rentables y servicios públicos”, afirmó Silveri. “El Proyecto Paraguay Inclusivo apunta a generar alianzas que remuevan esos obstáculos de acceso para más de 14 000 familias campesinas pobres”.

El proyecto de cinco años será ejecutado por el Ministerio de Agricultura de Paraguay. Una contribución financiera de 10 millones de dólares estadounidenses viene del FIDA, con 3,5 millones de dólares estadounidenses en contrapartida nacional y 12,3 millones de dólares estadounidenses del sector privado y de los beneficiarios del proyecto.

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This week from 3-4 April I had the opportunity to join thirty-one selected individuals from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who met in Cairo to discuss the sustainability of networking activities in the Near East and North Africa region. At the crossroads between East and West, networking is nothing new in the region. The exchange of goods, technology and ideas between cultures has been going on for centuries. But starting in 2005, IFAD and the International Centre for Rural Development, (IDRC) joined hands to use networking to improve the performance of their agriculture and rural development projects in a programme called the Knowledge Access in Rural Interconnected Areas Network, or KariaNet. The KariaNet approach, including collaborative research and capacity building, takes a page from a similar initiative between IFAD and IDRC in Asia and the Pacific called Knowledge Networking for Rual Asia/Pacific, or ENRAP.

But KariaNet, like ENRAP, is a development project. And stakeholders have been clear from the start that the external investments projects bring won’t last forever. So this week’s meeting focussed on what to do when this external financing comes to an end in 2013. To focus on this topic KariaNet commissioned a study by specialists in the field of networking and knowledge sharing, Heather Creech from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and Ziad Moussa from the American University of Beirut to look at the options for KariaNet’s future.

Stakeholders at the workshop were asked to evaluate the options set out in the study and come to a consensus about what they want to do between now late 2013 to secure future collaboration. While the study was referred to as the Devolution Study, what clearly captured the imagination of the network was not the devolution of network management and support responsibilities but rather the evolution of knowledge sharing and networking.

Virtually unanimous in their determination to carry on and improve knowledge sharing – irrespective of financial support they may or not receive from IDRC and IFAD in the future - the group concluded that what made sense to them was to focus on networking at the national level. Interestingly, this fit with the conclusions of the IFAD evaluation of ENRAP after Phase II and led IFAD to design ENRAP’s final phase focussing its support on improved networking amongst IFAD country programme partners.

As much as KariaNet participants are thirsty for new ideas from abroad, their priority is to build on the immediate benefits already experienced from knowledge sharing with colleagues working in the same agro-ecosystems with similar means of production, speaking the same language, and collaborating with the same ministries. In the ideal scenario they would also like to link to one another through an international or regional organisation to serve as a secretariat.

Though not discussed, it is interesting to note that results framework of the IFAD Strategy for Knowledge Management calls for just such participant driven regional networks, integrated with IFAD’s IT platform and linked to other thematic networks. In the region, KariaNet participants are themselves already linked or members of thematic networks like the Virtual Extension and Research Communication Network (VERCON) hosted by FAO or groups like the Association of Agricultural Research Institutes in Near East and North Africa (AARANINA).

In the implementation of the KariaNet and ENRAP programmes, IDRC has helped stakeholders to test and document a range of approaches to knowledge sharing through both capacity building and network facilitation. Over the years innovations introduced have ranged from participatory mapping, to writeshops, videography, systematisation, online discussion groups, learning alliances and learning routes. KS/KM amongst partners that have been mobilised by IDRC and IFAD in these efforts have included ICIMOD, FAO, ILEIA, ICARDA, and PROCASUR. Some are also working with IFAD stakeholders in Africa and Latin America. As networking and knowledge sharing improve within both regions, network members will be better able to share across regions.

Thanks to the initiative taken by Elaine Reinke at IFAD and her colleagues Hammou Laamrani and Layal Dandache at IDRC we could compare notes on past experiences between the two networks. An unintended outcome, was that by sharing experiences we were building the kinds of relationships and trust that makes a foundation for future networking between the networks. Connecting regional networks to make up a global community of networks amongst IFAD stakeholders once seemed quite remote. The prospects of that happening have just improved.

Climate-smart agriculture: Not just for big farms anymore

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1 comments

by President Paul Kagame and Kanayo F. Nwanze

Without the support of the world's small farmers, climate talks such as those set for the Rio+20 Summit can never translate fully into climate action, This is why, as the focus shifts to building a global green economy, Governments, other policymakers and the business community from developed as well as emerging economies must recognize the inextricable linkages between climate change, the environment and food security – and, critically, bring smallholder agriculture into discussion.

Every day, smallholder farmers in developing countries confront the real world consequences of climate change and are often first to fall prey to fickle global markets or increasingly extreme weather events.

Yet smallholders cannot be ignored when it comes to climate change solutions:  the world’s half billion small farms  provide up to 80 percent of the food in  in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia.

Can we really count on these farmers, many of them desperately poor, to take a leading role in addressing the twin challenges of food security and environmental sustainability?  Can they produce more food while protecting the natural environment?

We believe the answer is a resounding yes.  Real world experience shows that they can.

Critical to success is adopting environmentally sustainable techniques that preserve and enhance the soil and ground water.

Examples include terracing to prevent soil loss and degradation through erosion and flooding; minimal or zero tillage, crop rotation and the application of manure, compost or mulching, to improve soil structure and fertility; and agro forestry systems that integrate trees with crops and livestock to produce more in sustainable ways.

The recent experience in Rwanda signals hope that increased agricultural output and environmental protection really can go hand-in-hand.

In Ngororero district in the country's southwest, for  example, an IFAD-backed project has seen Rwandan farmers increase crop yields by up to 300 per cent through improved methods, including using better seeds, good planting technologies and applying fertilizer at the optimal time.

On a larger scale, farmers across Rwanda are increasing the use of manure instead of chemical fertilizers that produce greenhouse gases. In some areas of the country, smallholders are now terracing their land and using other natural techniques to improve the water-holding potential of the soil, improving soil quality and increasing their output.

And while these approaches have proliferated during the past five years, Rwanda has quadrupled its agricultural production.  Today it is now a food-secure nation – remarkable progress in just a few years.

Importantly, Rwanda’s efforts to promote climate-smart agriculture are supported by a wider policy and investment framework that seeks to ensure that every farmer, however small, has access to improved seeds, technical know-how and, crucially, a market opportunity for their farm output. This is an important lesson for every developing country.  If we are to ensure that smallholders can produce more food in sustainable ways their farming should be profitable.

Accordingly, scaling up environmentally sustainable farming among smallholders throughout the world will require a reshaping of national policies and the architecture of public and private investment so as to ensure that farmers can learn these techniques, see their value and employ them profitably.

The lesson is simple.  Identify the climate-smart farming practices and techniques that can boost agricultural production, get the relevant know-how to smallholders, support them as they make the transition, and create an enabling policy environment.

If we do this, – and national policies and international development initiatives support a transition to a climate-smart agriculture – we have no doubt that smallholders throughout the world will step up and do their part.

Paul Kagame is President of the Republic of Rwanda. Kanayo F. Nwanze is President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an international financial institution (IFI) and a specialized agency of the United Nations

Originally appeared in Project Syndicate

Pastoralisme durable au #Maroc

Posted by Jeffrey A Brez 0 comments

par Ilaria Firmian

La semaine dernière, j’ai accompagné sur le terrain une visite du Trésor américain au Nord Est du Maroc, qui dans le cadre d’une mission plus vaste voulait aussi voir un exemple opérationnel d’un projet du Fonds de l’Environnement Mondial. Je ne connaissais le Projet de Lutte Participative contre la Désertification et la Réduction de la Pauvreté dans les Hauts Plateaux de l’Oriental que par quelques lectures. J’ai découvert une réalité incroyablement riche en termes d’expériences positives et innovantes.

La visite de terrain a commencé par un déjeuner généreusement offert par nos hôtes à Ain Beni Mathar. Parmi les nombreux mets qui nous furent généreusement offerts, un mouton rôti entier nous a été servi !

Ce mouton symbolise à lui seul l’ histoire des Hauts Plateaux de l’Oriental!

Cette race ovine locale, le Beni Guil, est certifiée IGP («indication géographique protégée»). Le goût particulier de sa viande provient des qualités génétiques de la race mais aussi de l’herbe qui le nourrit, l’Artemisia herba-alba. Cela rends cette race très prisée dans le pays et lui donne une haute valeur marchande. Malheureusement, l’écosystème qui abrite le Beni Guil est de plus en plus en danger.

Les écosystèmes arides et semi arides des Hauts Plateaux de l’Oriental au Maroc subissent une dégradation profonde due au changement climatique (cette année est la troisième année consécutive de sècheresse et 50% de la production céréalière est déjà perdue) et aux mauvaises pratiques de gestion des terres et du cheptel.

Le projet intervient prioritairement dans la gestion durable des terres (GDT) et la gestion intégrée des ressources en eau soit à un niveau politique, en intégrant ces thématiques dans les principaux programmes et initiatives de développement local, soit directement sur le terrain par la construction de micro barrages pour approvisionner les animaux en eau, par la mise en repos des pâturages et par la fixation de dunes.

Ce projet FEM a été conçu en étroite collaboration avec la phase 1 du Projet de Développement des Parcours et de l’élevage dans l’Oriental, soutenu par le FIDA. Ce projet a constitué une base solide pour une intervention consistante sur financement du FEM, et a fourni un cadre institutionnel solide. De plus, il a permis la promotion d’actions innovantes, en particulier la création de coopératives (associations de gestion des pâturages) impliquées dans la totalité des activités du projet, facilitant un haut degré de participation et d’appropriation par les communautés rurales. Une simple visite sur le projet montre le rôle central joué par les éleveurs dans la vie du projet.

Des approches particulièrement innovantes en termes de GDT sont aussi testées, comme par exemple l’utilisation de la charrue Vallerani (un brevet italien) qui permet de créer dans le sol un système de micro-bassins et de sacs enterrés pour recueillir l'eau de pluie et des éléments fertilisants. Ceci favorise la restauration des pâturages dégradés grâce à une meilleure germination et croissance des plantes endogènes mais aussi par la transplantation d'espèces nouvelles préparées en pépinières.

Une autre innovation est l’utilisation dans le processus d’afforestation du produit Zander, un produit biologique provenant de sédiments lacustres, qui contient un éventail de nutriments et hormones de croissance des plantes naturelles stimulant l ’enracinement des plantes et réduisant significativement les besoins en eau.

Le projet a financé aussi l’achat de stations agro-météorologiques automatiques, qui collectent les données nécessaires pour mettre en place un système d’alerte précoce à la sécheresse.

Enfin, pour diminuer la pression sur la terre, le projet promeut des activités génératrices de revenus dont bénéficient principalment les femmes, y compris des circuits d’écotourisme qui suivent le mode de vie des pasteurs nomades.

Ainsi on verra bientôt des touristes parcourir les plateaux, dormir sous la tente, garder des moutons et manger leur délicieuse viande rôtie! et la boucle sera bouclée!

Confianza y Oportunidad en Colombia

Posted by Greg Benchwick Tuesday, April 3, 2012 0 comments

Junta Ejecutiva del FIDA aprueba nuevo préstamo para proyecto de US$70 millones para el desarrollo rural en Colombia
Proyecto de Construcción de Capacidades Empresariales Rurales – Confianza y Oportunidad busca disminuir pobreza extrema y contribuir a la paz

La Junta Ejecutiva del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA) aprobó esta semana un nuevo proyecto de 70 millones de dólares estadounidenses para la reducción de la pobreza rural en Colombia.

El Proyecto de Construcción de Capacidades Empresariales Rurales - Confianza y Oportunidad llegará a 160 000 familias en 17 departamentos: Antioquia, Arauca, Bolívar, Caquetá, Cauca, Cesar, Chocó, Córdoba, La Guajira, Magdalena, Meta, Nariño, Putumayo,  Norte de Santander, Sucre, Valle del Cauca y Tolima. La área total comprende 200 000km2, y señaliza un fuerte incremento en el apoyo de la organización especializada de las Naciones Unidas a Colombia.

“El proyecto pretende mejorar la seguridad alimentaria, facilitar acceso a los servicios financieros y comunitarios, mejorar la competitividad e ingresos de pequeños productores en la zona, y crear mecanismos para incluir esta gente en los sistemas de gobernanza”, afirmó Roberto Haudry, Gerente de Programa del País del FIDA en Colombia. “Es una oportunidad invertir en el pueblo Colombiano y tejar nuevas fabricas sociales inclusivas, sostenibles y pacificas”.

El proyecto llegará a 50 000 familias viviendo en la pobreza extrema, y se enfocará en pueblos indígenas, mujeres, comunidades afro-colombianos, jóvenes y familias afectados y desplazados por el conflicto en el país.

“Colombia es un país de ingresos medios. Sin embargo, en el campo Colombiano 7 millones son pobres, 2 millones viven en la pobreza extrema y el 13 por ciento de la población no tiene suficientes ingresos para adquirir la canasta básica de alimentos”, afirmó Haudry.

Con más de 3,6 millones de personas desplazadas internamente, Colombia es el país con mayor número de desplazados en el hemisferio occidental, según el Programa Mundial de Alimentos.

El proyecto será ejecutado por el Ministerio de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural de Colombia.  Una contribución financiera de 50 millones de dólares estadounidenses viene del FIDA, con 30 millones de dólares estadounidenses de sus recursos propios y 20 millones de dólares estadounidenses de fondos de España.

“Con el nuevo acceso a técnicas, incubadoras de empresas y activos financieros proyectamos un incremento de ingresos de 32 por ciento en la zona de intervención”, afirmó Haudry. “También pretendemos apoyar a 7 000 familias en mejorar sus activos naturales y condiciones ambientales”.

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Junta Ejecutiva del FIDA aprueba nuevo préstamo de US$47,5 millones para el desarrollo rural en México
Proyecto de Desarrollo Rural Territorial en la Región Mixteca y la Zona Mazahua busca crear empleos y disminuir la pobreza

La Junta Ejecutiva del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA) aprobó esta semana un nuevo proyecto de 47,5 millones de dólares estadounidenses para crear nuevas oportunidades para las familias más pobres de la Región Mixteca y la Zona Mazahua de México  – ubicado en los estados de Guerrero, Oaxaca y Puebla.

“El proyecto ayudará a 30 000 familias de la región a aumentar sus ingresos”, afirmó Enrique Murguía, Coordinador de Proyectos del FIDA en América Central. “También pretende crear oportunidades de empleo – especialmente para jóvenes y mujeres – y fortalecer el tejido social y las economías rurales”.

El proyecto facilitará el acceso al agua domestica para 10 000 hogares.

“Nuestra meta es mejorar la calidad de vida y apoyar las instituciones e instrumentos dedicados a la inclusión social y la paz”, dijo Murguía. “Aunque México es un país de ingresos medios – y la segunda economía más grande de América Latina – todavía tiene una alta tasa de pobreza, violencia y desigualdad”.

Alrededor del 47 por ciento de la población de México es considerada “pobre”, mientras el 18 por ciento de la población no tiene suficientes ingresos para adquirir la canasta básica de alimentos, según el Consejo Nacional de Evaluación de la Política de Desarrollo Social. En el campo mexicano hay más desigualdad y una incidencia marcada de pobreza extrema, especialmente para los pueblos indígenas.

La mayoría de los usuarios del proyecto son indígenas. El proyecto pretende mejorar su inclusión social y sus oportunidades económicas con apoyo al acceso a mercados, capacitación y mecanismos de ahorro.

“Pretendemos ver un incremento de 6,30 dólares estadounidenses de ingresos diarios para las familias usuarias del proyecto”, afirmó Murguía. “El proyecto también tiene un fuerte componente ambiental, y busca mejorar la producción agropecuaria sustentable mediante la rehabilitación de los recursos naturales, la captación de agua para riego y el consumo humano, y la adaptación de nuevas tecnologías. También es importante destacar que 5 000 hectáreas serán reforestadas en la zona”.

El proyecto de seis años de duración será ejecutado por la Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación. Una contribución financiera de 35,7 millones de dólares estadounidenses viene del FIDA – con una donación de 2 millones de dólares, 18,7 millones de dólares estadounidenses de préstamo y 14 millones de dólares estadounidenses del Fondo de Cofinanciación para la Seguridad Alimentaria Español.

El FIDA ha financiado proyectos para reducir la pobreza rural en México durante 30 años con un valor total de cerca de 150 millones de dólares estadounidenses.


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Measuring impact in rural Vietnam: IFAD tests a new approach

Posted by Timothy Ledwith Sunday, April 1, 2012 0 comments

Children walk to school in Hoang Su Phi, Viet Nam, in 2002.
Since then, the country has halved poverty overall.
Viet Nam has come a long way since its days as a net importer of food in the early 1980s. Today, following decades of robust growth, it is the world’s second largest exporter of rice. In the past 10 years alone, according to World Bank statistics, it has also halved the proportion of its population living in poverty. Yet inequities persist, especially in remote rural regions where many of the country’s ethnic minority groups live. IFAD continues to support five projects in these areas, working with smallholder farmers to reduce poverty through sustainable agricultural development.

This past week, staff and partners from the IFAD country office in Hanoi joined colleagues at headquarters in Rome by video link. They convened to discuss a newly expanded approach to monitoring and evaluating the impact of IFAD-supported projects in Viet Nam. It was the third in a series of research seminars co-sponsored by IFAD and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), which has collaborated, as well, on developing this new approach.

The discussion was not without controversy. Still, there was a tangible sense of urgency, on all sides, about stepping up IFAD’s ability to accurately measure results on the ground – not only in Viet Nam but worldwide.

Ambitious target
Thomas Elhaut, IFAD’s Director of Statistics and Studies for Development, moderated the seminar. He began by placing the Viet Nam experience in a broader context: namely, the ambitious target set during the latest replenishment of funding from IFAD member states. The target calls for lifting 80 million rural people out of poverty by 2015.

Without improved evaluation, Elhaut suggested, IFAD will not have the evidence base to design and implement projects that can help reduce poverty on such as large scale. Nor, in the end, will it have the data to credibly report on progress toward the goal of 80 million.

From Hanoi, Atsuko Toda of IFAD and Nicholas Minot of IFPRI went on to describe the approach being tested in Viet Nam and why, in their view, it may hold promise for other countries. The methodology builds upon IFAD’s existing results and impact management system, or RIMS, which has been in use since 2003. By expanding the standardized RIMS household survey, this approach – dubbed “RIMS-plus” – aims to capture more detailed data that is relevant to specific project aims. In another innovation, it uses a control group of households, located outside the target area, to better assess which results are attributable to a project.

Additional indicators
Toda noted that the expanded questionnaire goes beyond the main objectives of the RIMS survey, which were to measure household assets and child nutrition. The RIMS-plus survey, she said, collects information on many additional indicators to diagnose constraints faced by farmers, including limits on access to rural markets, extension services and credit.

Minot added that the designers of the expanded questionnaire have still kept it relatively brief compared to most other household surveys; as a result, it should not overburden either enumerators or respondents.

Regarding the control groups, Minot explained that they would be selected from populations who live near project areas and whose backgrounds and economic status are similar to those of project beneficiaries. “It helps us to adjust for changes in the standard of living outside the project area,” he said. For example, a drought in the same province where a project is under way could cause an overall drop in rural incomes, which would have to be factored into any analysis of the project’s impact.

A third participant in the video link, Nguyen Ngoc Ahn of the Hanoi-based Development and Policies Research Centre, outlined the cost implications of both the extended questionnaire and the use of control groups. The questionnaire increases the amount of time needed to complete each survey and the training needed by enumerators, he said. The control groups add 300 households to the standard RIMS sample of 900 for large projects.

Costs of customization
At this point, some sceptical voices in the audience at IFAD headquarters questioned whether the new methodology’s value justified its added expense. Specifically, they asked whether the control groups could truly mirror the beneficiary households, given the complexities of rural poverty – including gender dynamics. In addition, they wondered whether the benefits of customized household surveys (more project-specific information) outweighed the advantages of standardized questionnaires (lower cost and consistent data across multiple projects).

In response, Toda noted that some of the expenses in Viet Nam represented the one-time cost of researching and developing a new evaluation tool. And while Minot acknowledged that the control groups could not match every household parameter, he maintained that they would provide valuable comparisons with project beneficiaries nonetheless.

On the question of standardized vs. customized surveys, Minot proposed a compromise: “We can use standardized modules but let each country decide which modules are most relevant for them,” he said. Such an arrangement would allow for a degree of customization without adding excessively to costs, he said.

As the seminar wrapped up, Thomas Elhaut praised the presenters in Hanoi for advancing IFAD’s thinking on the design and analysis of agricultural projects, even as various questions remain to be resolved. To some extent, those questions will be answered as the RIMS-plus experiment proceeds in the uplands and deltas of rural Viet Nam, where smallholder farmers need the tools to build a sustainable future.

Watch the recorded webcast of the IFAD-IFPRI seminar: