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Leaving no one behind in West and Central Africa

Posted by Roxanna Samii Saturday, May 31, 2014 1 comments

By Khadidja Doucoure, Regional Gender Coordinator and Steven Jonckheere, Knowledge Management Officer for IFAD in West and Central Africa.

IFAD works in some of the most remote and environmentally fragile locations, and often with particularly marginalized and disenfranchised populations. The Fund is committed to reaching rural young people, who will migrate in search of opportunity unless we make agriculture an attractive and profitable enterprise. IFAD also is targeting women – who make up almost 50 per cent of the agricultural labour force in sub- Saharan Africa - and other vulnerable groups.

In West and Central Africa high fertility and declining mortality rates are resulting in an increasingly young population with a current median age of less than 18 years. The region is also experiencing the highest rates of urbanization in sub- Saharan Africa, with over half of the population expected to be in cities by 2020 as compared to 2030 for SSA as a whole.  While the attention of policy makers has increasingly focused on the status of youth given concerns regarding employment generation, women remain central actors in both economic activities, particularly in agriculture, as well as managing household welfare.  Although women are expected to expand their role in the labour force in West and Central Africa, there remain significant differences in boys’ and girls’ school enrolment rates, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels, and the legal rights of women to property remain tenuous in many countries which follow customary rights. Moreover, the prevalence of violent civil conflicts discriminates against women and youth and weakens their ability to be fully engaged in productive activities.

Significant progress has been made over the last years IFAD-supported projects in the region in implementing their targeting approaches and promoting gender equality and the inclusion of young people. However, these advances in gender equality are still fragile in some countries, as overall economic and social progress is hindered by political and social instability. In a context with social and economic inequalities, women and young people continue to be more vulnerable and have less opportunities to participate in and benefit from economic activities. In addition, at project level more attention needs to go to monitoring and documenting the results of these efforts, especially to see what is happening at household level. Having a good targeting strategy from the onset of a project is key for success.

The West and Central Africa Division of IFAD,  under the leadership of the Regional Gender Coordinator Ms Khadidja Doucoure, therefore sponsored a two-day workshop on the theme “Targeting, gender and youth inclusion” in Kinshasa from 10 to 11 May 2014. The aim this event was to help gender focal points develop a capacity to improve the poverty-reducing performances of their projects by using methodologies and analytical tools that focus on targeting, gender and youth inclusion. More than 70 people participated from 36 projects, mainly gender focal points and monitoring and evaluation officers.

During the workshop a wide range of experiences were shared by project representatives. The Agricultural Value Chains Support Project in Senegal, the Ruwanmu Small-Scale Irrigation Project in Niger, the Pastoral Water and Resource Management Project in Sahelian Areas in Chad and the Support to Agricultural Development and Marketing Project from Ivory Coast showcased some best practices with regards to implementing targeting strategies. Furthermore, the Agricultural Commodity Chain Support Project in Burkina Faso, the Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region in Niger, the Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme in Sierra Leone and the Northern Rural Growth Programme in Ghana talked about how they are addressing gender inequalities and discrimination by focusing on areas which can empower women economically and socially, including access to land, water, education, training, markets and financial services. Finally, to understand how the engagement of the rural youth in IFAD’s operations can be improved, experiences were shared from the National Programme to Support Agricultural Value Chain Actors in Guinea, the Rural Enterprises Programme in Ghana, the Agricultural Value Chains Support Project in Senegal, the Livestock and Horticulture Development Project in Gambia and the Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme - Niger Delta in Nigeria.

While the first part of the workshop focused on the sharing of good practices, during the second one emphasis was put on the operational side. First, discussions were held on how projects are being assessed with regards to their performance on targeting and women empowerment. Secondly, methodologies and analytical tools that focus on targeting, gender and youth inclusion were presented for different types of projects (value chain, rural finance, enterprise development and natural resource management). Finally, an interactive discussion highlighted the importance of using monitoring and evaluation systems to track a project's performance related to targeting, gender and youth inclusion in monitoring and evaluation systems. Consistent collection and analysis of gender and age disaggregated data and information is important to systematically identify and address gender issues and disparities. Routinely data collection and analysis allow project managers to make adjustments to improve projects based on feedback about the results being achieved.

The participants worked out an action plan at project, national and regional level. The three main axes are:

  • capacity development; 
  • improvement of project implementation modalities to better take into account issues of targeting, gender and youth inclusion; and
  • setting up mechanisms for sharing experiences amongst projects. 
IFAD sees tremendous untapped potential in smallholder agriculture in West and Central Africa, and especially among some of its target groups, such as women and youth. They have the capacity to lift themselves and others out of hunger and poverty, if given the chance. It has therefore committed itself to work closely with the various projects and to provide any support required to turn the action plan into reality. Please contact Regional Gender Coordinator, Ms Khadidja Doucoure, for more information: k.doucoure@ifad.org

By Sheila Mwanundu

My participation in the gender side event at the 5th Assembly of the GEF left me with the compelling message that gender equality cannot continue to be an afterthought in projects, programmes and policies. Presentations were by GEFSEC, GEF Evaluation Office, FAO, EBRD, IFAD, UNEP, WB, UNDP and AfDB.

It was apparent that all agencies have a gender strategy and these have helped catalyse policy change and the necessary transformation impact on livelihoods and ecosystems. However, the job remains unfinished.

I highlighted some experiences based on the completed (2004–2012) IFAD/GEF-supported Mount Kenya East Pilot Project and drew attention to: (i) successful use of participatory mapping to engage women and men in planning and managing  their natural resources; (ii) community empowerment initiatives which give women and youth greater access and voice in decision-making; (iii) introduction of time and energy saving technologies to reduce womens' workload burden; and (iv) alternative income-generating activities which have helped reduce pressure on fragile natural resources.

The discussion centred on closing the gap between men and women with some specific recommendations: (i) cautious approach to socio-cultural aspects which hold back men and women; (ii) alternative measures to capture womens’ leadership; and (iii)  evidence-based learning for effective replication and up-scaling of innovative approaches. In addition, greater emphasis on youth empowerment is critical in ensuring that gains in education translate into economic opportunities.

From an institutional point of view, the side event demonstrated strong collaboration between the GEF agencies in pushing forward the gender equality agenda of the Global Environment Facility.

This event served as a platform to launch the new GEF publication: Roadmap for Gender Equality, which links to IFAD’s recent publication The Gender Advantage

By Antonella Cordone, Technical Advisor/Coordinator on Indigenous and Tribal Issues in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division of IFAD – Reporting from the XIII Session of the UNPFII

The United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) closed its yearly two-week session last Friday, May 23. The agenda of the XIII Session of the UNPFII, included a number of important and delicate issues, from indigenous peoples' rights to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples to be held in September 2014. As Technical Advisor/Coordinator for Indigenous and Tribal Issues, I represented IFAD both in official plenary sessions and side-events. Within the UNPFII and our partners, we reaffirmed IFAD's leading role as one of the UN organizations that has enhanced its focus on indigenous peoples' issues. 

In the official statement to the Plenary Session of the Forum, I concentrated on IFAD's strategy "to put indigenous peoples at the forefront of decision making for projects affecting their lives, and at all levels of IFAD's operations''. I also reminded that the IFAD's achievements are ''the results of genuine partnerships, based on mutual trust, with indigenous peoples and their organizations''.

The statement was supported by a  presentation delivered on IFAD's work in Asia, during a half-a-day session on the region. I informed the audience that IFAD currently invests about 1 billion dollars in 35 ongoing projects in support of indigenous communities in Asia, where an estimated 70 percent of the world's indigenous peoples live. I also informed about the 35 small projects financed through the Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF), considered as a model of community-driven development and participatory engagement. Most importantly, I stressed that these activities are carried out with the ''valuable partnership with representatives of indigenous peoples' organizations who have worked with us and the direct engagement of indigenous peoples' communities''.

A great opportunity to reaffirm and strengthen IFAD's partnership with indigenous peoples has been the appointment of Ms Victoria-Tauli Corpuz - Executive Director of Tebtebba Foundation – as Special Rapporteur on the Right of Indigenous Peoples. A Filipina activist and expert , Vicky came to IFAD for the first time 11 years ago, to attend a side event of the IFAD Governing Council on indigenous peoples' rights. 

Since then she has been working closely with IFAD and UN organizations to bring indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work. Vicky importantly reminded that ''indigenous peoples need to step out of the paradigm of victimhood because we can provide sustainable solutions to the world's crises''.

Equal participation and partnership between indigenous peoples, UN organizations, and governments was a much discussed theme during the Forum, in particular with reference to the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples scheduled to take place in September this year. As confirmed in our statement on the World Conference, delivered in the second week of the Permanent Forum, IFAD has been supporting indigenous peoples in the preparation of the World Conference, approving a grant of about USD 1 million in partnership with the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) and the Global Coordinating Group (GCG) to cover travel and accommodation of indigenous peoples' representatives to preparatory meetings, as well as follow-up and policy engagement at country level. 

In line with several Governments and UN Agencies we called for the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in the preparation and participation to the World Conference. Final decision of the President of the UN General Assembly on the modalities of the World Conference are yet to be released, however we trust that indigenous peoples will fully, effectively  and equally participate in the World Conference processes.

Alongside the formal discussions in the Plenary Sessions many side events and group meetings were organized during this XIII Session of the Permanent Forum. We were directly involved in the organization of three of them. One, led by the International Land Coalition (ILC) in cooperation with Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Ogiek Peoples Development Programme (OPDP), SONIA Association, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and El Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas (CADPI). The side event focused on Reviewing multi-source data and approaches for monitoring pressures over indigenous lands, territories and resources.

The second, organized in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUNC), focused on pastoralism as a sustainable food system and practice preserving biodiversity and protecting ecosystems - countering the prejudice of pastoralism as being primitive and unproductive.

The third, co-organized with the Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact (AIPP) and Procasur concentrated on Procasur Learning Route in the Mekong region, and in particular on forest management and engagement with government and civil society. I chaired the event, welcoming among the participant Joan Carling, recently elected Member of the Permanent Forum and winner of the ''FIMI 2014 Leadership Award''.

Highly significant – as well as successful - was also the launch of IWGIA Yearbook "The Indigenous World'', a comprehensive update on the current situation of indigenous peoples in more than 70 articles written by indigenous and non-indigenous scholars and activists. The Yearbook also concentrates on the path towards the World Conference and the Post 2015 Development Agenda. IWGIA and its work were praised by the newly elected Special Rapporteur for the ''enduring support to the indigenous movement without ever speaking on their behalf''.

The XIII Session of the UNPFII has, thus, not only been an important platform for discussion between UN organizations, governments and indigenous representatives, but also a crucial site to strengthen partnership with and identify the priorities of indigenous peoples in view of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples and of the IFAD's Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, whose second global meeting will take place in February 2015 in conjunction with IFAD Governing Council.

I wish to thank Zac Bleicher and Sophie Ritchie from IFAD North-America Liaison Office for their great support. A special thanks to Michela Mossetto Carini, our intern in the Policy and Technical Advisory Division who self-sponsored her travel to the UNPFII Session and actively supported me.

By IFAD-Nepal team

After a successful two-week effort in Kathmandu and Surkhet valley, the Intel team is now busy writing their report in Kathmandu.

Intel team with villagers
From collecting user feedback on how the e-Agriculture apps look and feel to getting video testimonies and feedback on portal impact, the team was able to achieve all the objectives that they had planned. The Intel team appreciates the incredible assistance of HVAP staff and their commitment toward e-Agriculture project success.

Intel team with the local resource providers
The Intel team consists of five Intel information technology and project management experts engaged in an Intel Education Service Corps (IESC) project who arrived in Nepal on 9th May.  The team is working as part of an eAgriculture project involving Grameen-Intel Social Business Ltd. (GISB), Intel and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which is being piloted under the IFAD-funded High Value Agriculture Program (HVAP) administered by the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture Development.  The IFAD-Intel Strategic Partnership is part of a broader multi-year, multi-country effort to improve crop yields in small rural farms by enabling entrepreneurs with access to laptop or mobile computer devices to offer services to farmers in which they use specialized, localized software applications for matching soil chemistry with seed selection, fertilizer application/recommendation and also guiding pest control and crop management. The team is heading back to their countries this week.

From left to right: Ed, Jayashree, Laurie, Trevor and Naveed

For a more details on their project and the day-by-day progress, please visit their blog posts at Blogspot and Tumblr.

Read the first blog post in this series.

Today we held the IFAD press conference at the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF’s) Fifth Assembly in Cancun to launch the IFAD-GEF Advantage Report: Partnering for a Sustainable World.

With the President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, in the building there was strong competition for media attention.

But after the President opened the GEF Assembly this morning the Mexican media eventually made their way across the conference centre to our press event.

The report makes the case that higher yields and incomes, healthy ecosystems, and empowered communities are among the benefits for small farmers in developing countries from projects co-sponsored by IFAD and the GEF.

IFAD and GEF began their partnership in 2001, working together with rural communities worldwide on poverty reduction and environmental protection.

“The IFAD-GEF partnership creates important and lasting environmental and socioeconomic benefits,” said Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division. “These include gains in agricultural production, household income and education, as well as improved forest, land and water resources in rural communities."

“This report shows that there is a clear IFAD-GEF Advantage: when we work together, natural resources and ecosystems are protected, and people’s lives improve,” said Sheila Mwanundu, Senior Technical Advisor for Environment at IFAD.

Journalists were keen to understand the work that IFAD is doing with local communities in Mexico.

Juan De Dios Mattos, IFAD’s Regional Environment and Climate Expert for Latin America explained IFAD’s work on reforestation with indigenous communities in the southern states of Mexico.

Working with the Mexican Forestry Service (CONAFOR) more than 100 initiatives have taken off so far ranging in focus from agroforestry to tree surgeries to clean technologies such as cooking stoves.

Click Here for a link to the IFAD-GEF Advantage press release

by Antonella Cordone, technical adviser and coordinator for indigenous and tribal issues at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)

I first met Victoria Tauli-Corpuz 11 years ago in Rome. An indigenous Filipina activist, Vicky was attending a meeting on indigenous peoples' rights at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations rural development agency where I work. In fact, it was the first time indigenous peoples' representatives had ever been invited to IFAD's offices on the outskirts of the Eternal City. Since then, IFAD and the UN system as a whole have made progress on bringing indigenous issues and priorities into the mainstream of our work – though we still have plenty more to do.

Flash forward to New York this spring, when I heard Vicky's name called by the chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the General Assembly hall at UN headquarters. Through the forum, indigenous peoples' representatives advise the world body and its member states on indigenous peoples' rights and development. A few weeks before its annual session kicked off in early May, Vicky had been named Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

I felt a sense of pride and admiration, which I'm sure was widely shared in the crowded hall. Vicky is the first woman to be appointed to this critical and sometimes delicate role. As Special Rapporteur, she will be responsible for promoting indigenous peoples' rights through new laws, programmes and agreements between indigenous communities and national governments. She will also report on the overall human rights status of indigenous peoples in different countries.

But even more striking than Vicky's appointment to the post was her message to the members of the Permanent Forum.

“It is time to step out of the paradigm of victimhood," she said, "because we, indigenous peoples, can provide sustainable solutions to the world's crises. Indigenous peoples are not to be seen only as endangered victims to be protected … but also as carriers of knowledge and traditions that – far from being ancient and outdated – can offer concrete solutions to modern crises."

For example, Vicky pointed out that climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing developing and developed countries alike. Indigenous peoples can help the world address this challenge through sustainable practices that stem from their holistic view of life, she said, adding that indigenous communities have preserved the ecosystems in which they live for millennia.

Vicky went on to highlight another relevant challenge: preserving the biodiversity of food, which has declined as a result of industrial food production. Areas that are home to indigenous peoples also happen to host some of the planet's most biodiverse ecosystems, she noted. This is partly because biodiversity is central to indigenous land management strategies. At the same time, indigenous territories have not been subject to the intensive development and extraction of natural resources that has depleted biodiversity elsewhere.

For indigenous peoples, food is not a commodity. Instead, it is traditionally linked to social, cultural and spiritual values, and a worldview that centres on being nourished by mother earth and nourishing her in return.

Not surprisingly, indigenous women are often the bearers of precious knowledge on food and crop biodiversity that is passed down through the generations. This knowledge has so far been largely neglected outside of indigenous communities. Yet indigenous agricultural and environmental practices can be useful tools in building a global response to hunger and malnutrition.

"We need to stop seeing indigenous peoples only as victims, and we need to stop regarding their knowledge as ancient, outdated, belonging merely to the past," Vicky asserted at the Permanent Forum. Of course, she was right. In fact, indigenous knowledge is truly modern when it comes to sustainable development. It is a key to the future of food production, agricultural development and environmental preservation.

As Vicky has suggested, the world ignores the great contributions of indigenous peoples at its own peril. Protecting and respecting their rights is fundamental. Valuing their knowledge and building upon their untapped potential is equally important to us all. Thankfully, Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and millions of other indigenous women and men, are determined to make their voices heard.

As featured on Thomas Reuters Foundation blog

By Juan De Dios Roger Mattos

Today we started the side events in which IFAD is participating. We started with the side event of Mobilizing Biodiversity Finance where IFAD’s Environment and Climate Change, Director, Elwyn Grainger-Jones participated. At this event, GEF CEO Naoko Nishii explained what GEF has been doing to mobilize resources, but also what needs to be done in the future to adapt to the negative effects of climate change. According to Mrs. Nishii, the GEF has more than 20 years of experience in channeling funds to adaptation. The GEF council adopted an adaptation strategy and it is preparing a book about that. The Minister of Energy and Environment of the Seychelles described the policies that the country is preparing for climate change adaptation, taking into consideration that the Seychelles is a small island state. He said that, 'humanity is not prepared, or ready, to adapt'.

I also participated in the side event on Climate Change and Food Security along with the World Bank, UNIDO, FAO and UNEP. All these agencies are working to increase food security, even if it is not their principal mandate. There was a consensus among participants that targets are difficult to set because good food security is difficult to measure.

ECD’s Sheila Mwanundu, took part in the side event Towards Gender Equality. Participants highlighted the value of mainstreaming gender throughout projects. IFAD has clear targets to include gender and inclusion in monitoring and evaluation  systems of each if its projects and it is also part of IFAD's overall monitoring system.

Finally Elwyn spoke later at the climate finance event along with the World Bank, IDB, the African Development Bank and UNDP. He spoke about IFAD’s innovative Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme and the real benefits and innovations it is bringing  to rural communities in developing countries.

A number of bilateral meetings were organized with the World Bank, the Ministry of Environment of Colombia, and a number of other partners.

By Naoufel Telahigue

Today I spoke at the Global Environment Facility’s (GEF’s) FifthAssembly in Cancun on partnerships that scale-up innovative community approaches. I focused on the Granary of Niger, the Maradi region and its small scale farming systems. These are vital to food security across the whole country.

Agriculture employs 95 per cent of the rural population in the region and generates about one fourth of the country’s cereal production. The region is also known for its income generating chufa sedge production. Shrinking land availability and amplified crop failures are leading to increased dependence on fragile soils that  barely meet the increased demand for cereals in particular. The increased degradation of the production landscape has triggered an outmigration flow of youth to cities and neighbouring countries. 

The IFAD Food Security and Development Support Project in the Maradi Region (PASADEM) is committed to close this gap between supply and demand and to increase resilience of rural communities and their crucial production systems.

The programme is anchored in the country’s priorities through the government 3N initiative (Les Nigériens Nourrissent les Nigériens) and stems from local demand and knowledge.
PASADEM and its GEF Sustainable Land Management (SLM) investment pillar is sharing efforts with local communities to challenge harsh environmental conditions and to reverse desertification across the Maradi region. The key challenge was to engineer a small-scale cost-effective technology to fight a large scale expensive problem.

A miraculous solution was found in the half-moon technology which was combined with some social and institutional engineering. The establishment of a regional SLM platform in Maradi has shaped the overall political framework for the intervention. It has also contributed to the creation of an efficient planning and implementation mechanism by which 18 communities were able to promote these technical solution through the cash for work mechanism on common lands.

The initial investment is now reaching a cumulative total of 5,549 Ha of land that is totally rehabilitated in less than two years at an average unit cost of 430 US$/Ha.

The results are spectacular  – the half-moon dominated sites are more resilient to climate and drought risks and cereal production is now possible on bare soils. Half-moons are also used as water harvesting structures and they reduce erosion and generate other environmental benefits (increased population of wild animals and carbon storage etc.). Farmers, including the younger generation are now adopting this technology in their own fields, triggering an autonomous scaling-up effort and contributing to the sustainability of the project seed funding.    

There’s hope, despite the worries

Posted by Ricci Symons Monday, May 26, 2014 0 comments

By Sheila Mwanundu

The sixth funding cycle of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is about to begin, with over 31 donor countries pledging US$4.43 billion to support programming over the next four years. Starting 1 July 2014, GEF will focus on catalysing and scaling up innovations in all its defined focal areas namely: Biological diversity, climate change, land degradation, international waters, persistent organic pollutants, ozone layer and mercury. The introduction of the three Integrated Approaches Programs is considered instrumental in keeping the GEF on the leading edge of innovation and enhancing its responsiveness to regional and global issues.

The GEF-5 Assembly in Cancun comes at a significant moment when the international community is called upon to step-up efforts – and to do so very quickly – if the increasing impacts of environmental degradation and climate change on people and the planet are to be effectively addressed. This is of fundamental importance especially to rural people, most of whom are dependent on natural assets for their livelihoods. The situation gets more worrying by the day.

In reflecting back over the previous GEF cycles, one cannot fail to recognise the  accumulated experience and pockets of significant success, but also much remains disturbingly unchanged. One single overwhelming cause for celebration at this GEF Assembly has been the successful replenishment particularly in this period of fiscal austerity. Today, the Russian delegate announced that they would increase their contribution by 50 per cent compared to GEF-5. However, some council members and delegates couldn’t help but note that the range of problems to be addressed deserves way more attention and resources. Concerns were raised on tackling drivers of environmental degradation, project cycle delays, time lag to first disbursement and tracking co-financing ratios.  Some  wondered where does the GEF fit in a changing climate finance landscape? Nonetheless, there is a much greater sense of urgency especially with respect to climate change. Hopefully with the support of the new GEF agencies (these will soon total 14), more opportunities to mobilize and channel innovative approaches and co-finance to countries will result in greater global environmental benefits.

A key recognition of this is IFAD’s Environment and Natural Resource Management Policy, interlinking environmental and climate change challenges. To be effective and efficient the solutions need to be interlinked too. The bonds between the various agriculture sectors and rural poverty have become much more compelling with increased understanding of our development work in countries. Yet for the most part, global efforts to scale up innovative environmental practices and adaptation to climate change remain a challenge (the call for donors to raise the bar to measure environmental and adaptation results provides yet another test of our ability to achieve global environmental benefits). What can be done to invest more in rural people to bring about lasting and profound change to preserve ecosystems and improve livelihoods? I think IFAD should push forward its strapline to invest in rural people, support broad coalitions of committed partners and demonstrate its innovative approaches to achieve transformational behavioral change at scale - not only at the policy and community levels, but also at the level of the household.

While the future and continued significance of GEF as an environmental champion has been assured for another four years, eyes are beginning to turn optimistically to Peru where climate finance discussions will take place later this year at the UN climate change summit in December. Watch this space.

Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI   
Listening to keynote speakers; Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, Kanayo F. Nwanze, the IFAD President, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of WFP and Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn, during the inauguration of the IFPRI 2020 Conference on resilience was an inspiring reminder that the rural poor are our clients, who we must work with in close partnership – they understand the local context best and must drive approaches for building resilience. Success can be achieved through a partnership approach with smallholders at the forefront, including women, and be driven by strong national leadership.  
The IFAD President Kanayo F Nwanze drew focus on developing the resilience of the rural poor. “Investing in the resilience of smallholder farmers is investing the resilience of food systems, the resilience of communities and the strength of nations,” he said.  Outlining examples from countries that have based their economies on small holder farming such as Japan, Korea, Norway, Thailand and Vietnam, the IFAD President emphasized the need to link resilience to agriculture & nutrition.  Agriculture and rural development are essential for building resilient food and nutrition security, and he gave some hard-core facts - that there are 500 million smallholder family farms that provide for 80% of global food produce, making smallholder farmers’ key contributors to growing economies. Growth in small holder farming can drive balanced and sustainable development by transforming rural areas; particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, where growth in the agriculture sector is 11 times more effective in reducing poverty than growth generated by any other sector. 

Challenging past development approaches “conceived by experts miles away” the IFAD President  emphasized that it is important that we build partnership-based approaches that elevate local knowledge to facilitate smallholder farmers to turn farming into a business by engaging in global value chains and markets for their benefit.  “Development is not something that we do for people, Development is what people do for themselves” was a statement that evoked much debate after the speech. Ertharin Cousin and the President of IFAD also brought the need for Gender equity in all stages of programming to the table. In the words of Ertharin Cousin, women are the “world’s frontline agriculture and nutrition workers,” we cannot succeed without their ownership and engagement in resilience approaches. 

All three keynote speakers commended Ethiopia for its strong national leadership that has successfully committed to build a resilient agricultural system by dedicating 15% of the GDP to agriculture to obtain their collective vision to become a middle-income economy that is green and climate resilient. Ethiopia was able to survive the 2011, Horn of Africa crisis, which was the worst drought in 60 years. This was because of its commitment to raising the productivity of smallholder farmers, strengthening agricultural marketing systems and bringing more land under irrigation, ensuring to reduce land degradation and adopt soil and water conservation measures. Ethiopia was able to mitigate the impact of the drought on the rural poor through Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme. Ethiopia is amongst various countries that have made a serious commitment to build food and nutrition resilience and building on research based policies and these ongoing successes, Shenggen Fan, Director General of IFPRI, stressed that it is possible to end hunger by 2025, and the resilience approach “can help us tackle issues that run across the entire agriculture, food, nutrition and environmental system.”

On the side lines of the conference, the IFAD President also met with research centres that are a part of the Consortium Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIARs) to discuss ongoing partnership to increase food productivity in developing countries through the application of research-based technologies. The CGIAR centres expressed their growing relation with international organization such as IFAD, to ensure that research based policies and solutions/programmes to develop sustainable agricultural systems that are climate sensitive and develop food and nutrition security, are up scaled and implemented to create impacts to improve the livelihoods of the rural poor. 


Kanayo F Nwanze, the IFAD President, with high level representatives from research centres forming the Consortium Group on International Agricultural Research at the ILRI campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia