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Under the cool shade of a tree by the entrance of Hanja Chefa Primary School, 10 women gather around a table, putting final touches to preparations for an exhibition of their Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative activities. The chairperson is calm and ready to receive Queen Maxima and a high level UN-delegation.

The group of women are part of the 62 member -strong Hanja Chefa RuSACCO, formed in 2012. The Chairperson of the Rural Savings and Credit Cooperatives or RuSACCO,   tells us that “our incomes increased since we started participating in this FAO project. We were inspired and organized ourselves to form Hanja Chefa RuSACCO.” Aiming to improve their lives the group saves their earned income to start vegetable gardens or buy small ruminants, such as goats and chickens.

All the women are beneficiaries of the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme supported Purchase from Africans to Africa project, which supports farmers in Boricha Woreda (District) to propagate Haricot bean seeds to increase farming production.  The project gives a package of seeds and fertilizers to farmers, after they received basic training on how to propagate quality seeds. Consequently, they are required to sell 30% of their harvest to multi-purpose cooperative unions, which aggregate produce from members in the region to sell it to the WFP, which then distributes food aid and supports school feeding programmes.  This develops farmers’ engagement with Cooperative Unions giving them the opportunity to pool resources together with other farmers to exploit wider markets and gain a better price for their produce. Farmers who receive seeds eventually make in-kind repayment of the 25kg seed bags, developing a local seed bank for the area.

The women voluntarily saved Birr 15,350 (USD 812) through the sale of Haricot beans. Striving to maintain the groups’ motto “Saving for a better tomorrow” the SACCO has deposited these savings in the National Commercial Bank and started to distribute loans to their members.  So far fifteen of the women have used these loans to establish vegetable gardens and buy small ruminants. Recently, the SACCO also purchased 4,300Kg of Haricot beans, which they will sell to unions at a higher margin. 


Queen Maxima and the UN High level representatives applauded the women’s efforts to develop their incomes while viewing their display. The delegation also had an opportunity to see how Samuel, an agent for Omo Microfinance Institute travels with a donated motorbike to remote rural areas to sensitize the community on the benefits of financial services. 

In Ethiopia, IFAD’s support has catalyzed the financial sector providing credit lines to Microfinance Institutions and developing the capacity of Cooperative Unions and RuSACCOs. The Rural Financial Intermediary Programme (RUFIP) supports Omo MFI to expand its services through a credit loan of Birr 18 million. The MFI now reaches all Woredas within the SNNPR, with 15 branches and 163 sub-branches.  Furthermore the project provided trainings to cooperative promotion agents within implementing regions.

Queen Maxima, in her capacity as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, was accompanied by senior officials from the three Rome-based UN agencies during her visit to the farmers exhibition in Boricha. Together they underlined the role that expanding financial inclusion plays in strengthening food security and to enhance access to affordable financial services for the poor. Traveling with the queen on the trip was UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and Adolfo Brizzi, Director of Policy and Technical Advisory Division and representing the President ofthe International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

WCA/ESA M&E Learning Event -the discussions continue

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Thursday, December 5, 2013 0 comments

Good Morning from Grand Bassam!

It’s been a long night. Discussions, discussions around our grilled fish and attieké in a local maquis (outdoor restaurant). There is a great ambiance even though there is a little heatwave and the generator gave up on us for a little while. The discussions were so interesting that our discussions on RIMS and success stories from Madagascar, Niger, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire were not interrupted!

Tuesday's theme was  RIMS – the IFAD Results and Impact Monitoring System. The IFAD team gave an overview of some of the difficulties noticed in reports and upgraded some tools to make the monitoring of the RIMS indicators easier. Participants are quite pleased with the developments. In order to have better focus on RIMS, the large group split up to work on three different themes: (i) how to choose level 1 and level 2 indicators; (ii) how to count beneficiaries (men, women, households, etc) to estimate outreach (and make sure there is no double counting! and (iii) how to assess level 2 indicators. It was surprising to see how different projects perceive their work how they chose their indicators. In the group I participated in, Madagascar shared its method of weighting the number of RIMS indicators per component by the financial weight of that component.. This approach was somewhat controversial and created a lot of debate within the group.. The shortcomings of this method were discussed, such as the value of soft investments (ex. capacity building) that are key for a project sustainability. On this topic, the group agreed that a combination of methods should be used to have the best reporting system possible, stressing the necessity of choosing the few  most pertinent indicators.  

As mentioned earlier, Niger, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal shared their experiences in M&E. Although the projects differ largely, the common ideas by the presentations from these countries are proactive solutions to M&E. For example using simple approaches, have a common understanding of indicators by both project team and stakeholders at all levels, constant discussions and involvement, sharing of information and most of all, careful planning of all activities to achieve expected results. A special thanks to these teams for some great M&E work that they were so pleased to share.

Participants especially appreciated the sessions on how to link and follow up on Annual Work Plans and Budget and Logical Frameworks and the necessity for M&E planning not just annually (AWPB), but over the life horizon of the project, with end results in mind, to ensure that activities are thought out and planned for in a logical sequential manner throughout project implementation. 

Group work included preparing an action plan to improve RIMS Reporting for 2013, addressing the three questions raised in the working groups and putting to practice all of the things discussed here in Grand Bassam – especially since a prize is at stake!

Looking forward to tomorrow for the next discussions!

The Congo Team listens: Women Farmers make their requests

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Wednesday, December 4, 2013 0 comments

by Adriane Del Torto and Roberto Longo

The team has left the Maniema Proveince a few days ago, but I still need to talk about the farmers that live live along the RN 31 after we made it there! Luckily Roberto (Longo, Farmer Organisations Technical Advisor) joined the team to better target questions and respond to the queries of our agricultural entrepreneurs.

But I forgot to tell you, how we get to the RN 31…. No commercial planes or crazy roads, this time it’s MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) airplanes. MONUSCO provides safe flights to major cities in DRC with a regular flight schedule.
Check in 6 am at MONUSCO Air Terminal. Departure time: when the passengers have all checked in and the plane is ready to go. We actually took off at 7:45 am. First stop: Kisangani, 1h45 minutes flying time. The flight went well. Connecting flight from Kinsangani to Kindu: when the plane arrives from Entebbe or around 4 pm, to arrive in Kindu around 5:30 pm.

I recall that an IFAD mission was in the Maniema Province, in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for the Interphase Review of PIRAM (Integrated Rural Rehabilitation Programme in the Maniema Province). Aside from working on roads (see my last bog article) PIRAM’s main component is to rehabilitate agriculture in the Province in a post conflict situation. Until now, the project is already supporting over 500 farmers organisations throughout the Maniema Province .

Back to our farmers and their organisations in the Kasongo and Pangi production areas.  The IFAD team met a women’s group, in Kituta, who shares a community field where they tested the properties of the rice seed received from PIRAM. The women’s group received 100kg of "NERICA 4" short cycle rice, commonly known as “biscuit”  or cookie for its sweet taste.  The women decided to test this new variety which has a short cycle of 3 months (instead of 4 months like traditional varieties of rice) allowing them to cultivate the second rainy season (season B) typical to the Southern hemisphere. The first rainy season in the Maniema Province has a planting season mid-September/early October with a harvest in end of December,  January and February. The Second season or Season B plants in end of February/March to  harvest in May/June. Since traditionally the B season is not cultivated, the hungry seasons runs from June to mid-December, of course with PIRAM this trend is changing quickly and rice prices have become more stable, even though they are still cheaper right after the A season harvest in December/January. The tests have been quite positive, whereby yields have at least doubled compared to their traditional varieties and the women will be cultivating the B season next year.

After discussing how the women are organised, the methods they used and the like, the team concluded have concluded that what keeps this association of 23 women’s groups together, is the charisma and leadership of their President as well as the bonding factor brought in by having common fields where women have more time to socialise together even if they are working.  The IFAD team asked the women what it is they would like as support for their group. Incredibly enough, what marked the women’s group from many others is that their request was Knowledge! The women asked for training to better manage their resources and to be able to acquire credit to buy a rice processing unit. This is becoming a pressing need because production is increasing and surpluses have a much higher value if already dehusked. This was really an encouraging group!

Thanks to PIRAM, farmers have been proud to say that they have more disposable income, allowing them to buy things such as small tools for their farms, cellular phones, new cloths (pagne) to sew clothing, uniforms for children for school, small solar panels allowing them to have basic lighting and to charge their phones and in some cases, televisions and satellite antennas for international channels. Encouraging results for a programme that still has 6 years to go and that will be targeting 84 000 farmers by the end of 2019.

Monitoring and Evaluation: WCA/ESA Learning Event

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Tuesday, December 3, 2013 0 comments

by Adriane Del Torto

West and East have joined efforts once again for an important learning event, this time providing a platform to share experiences in Monitoring and Evaluation for Francophone Countries in West and Central Africa (WCA) and East and Southern Africa (ESA).  This morning (2 December), IFAD had the honour of His Excellency Mr Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire opening the Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop held in Grand Bassam (suburb of Abidjan, Historical City of Côte d’Ivoire and UNESCO Heritage site) at the N’SA Hotel.

In his opening statement, the Director of the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD underlined the importance of M&E for results based management to for a “ better chance at reaching development objectives” while assuring us that “there is a direct link between good management and project performance.” His Excellency the Minister of Agriculture was very proud to personally open an IFAD workshop as IFAD has always had quality activities in Côte d’Ivoire, but most importantly because “IFAD never left our sides even during the most difficult we have gone through. IFAD continued to save lives by  continuing to support agricultural production in areas where even nationals would no longer set foot.”

In his welcoming words, Mr de Willebois underlined the importance of M&E in projects so as to better report on real impact on the field, learn from mistakes and design better agriculture development programmes, truly aimed and helping the rural poor.

The objective of a workshop with a cross-cutting theme such as M&E is to ensure that there is a common understand of M&E, its concepts and requirements of IFAD in terms of RIMS (Results and Impact Monitoring System), by giving projects time and space to discuss and share experiences to build on to improve M&E systems, tools, reporting and in the longer term improve results and impact of development projects.

After setting the scene with our M&E specialists and facilitators from WCA’s 3SL Grant with IED Afrique, the participants approximately 120 from some 20 countries in Sub-Saharan African (coordinators, M&E officers, CPMs, CPOs etc)  broke up into groups to discuss their logical frameworks and results chains.
The day was filled with heated but cordial and sometimes funny debates on this apparently passionate topic. At the end of the day, it was clear, however, that concepts are not always as straight forward  as we believe and that there is plenty of room for interpretation…So we will continue discussions in the coming 4 days, with emphasis on exchanges  of experiences among practitioners .

Do feel free to comment on this post to contribute to this discussion. You can also follow the workshop on Twitter #ifadme @adeltorto or through @IFADnews, your opinions and contributions are most welcome in the debate.

The workshop will be running until Friday 6 December 2013. Please stay tuned for some interesting material on workshop content and discussions in the days to come.

Household mentoring as a tool for social inclusion

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, November 28, 2013 0 comments

by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, PTA and Alessandro Marini, ESA

A participant from a mentored household
showing her land registration certificate
IFAD’s focus on addressing rural poverty is recognised by governments and donors as the Fund’s strategic niche. However, often we face the challenge of how to reach beyond the economically active poor to the poorer households which experience a much more profound depth of poverty – often eating less than one meal a day; sleeping on the floor of a grass-thatched, mud-walled dwelling; regularly being unwell; and withdrawing children from school. These poorer households are often unable, unaware and unwilling to access support networks and services for assistance. They have often given up on facing the challenges of life.

Earlier this week, Lawrence Kasinga, Programme Coordinator, and Judith Ruko, Rural Sociologist, from the Programme Management Unit of the District Livelihoods Support Programme in Uganda explained how household mentoring has enabled the programme to deepen the programme’s level of engagement in addressing poverty. The success of household mentoring has been recognised by the Ministry of Local Government which is keen to promote the mainstreaming of household mentoring into local government services to scale it up in those districts that are not covered by DLSP.

Alessandro Marini, CPM Uganda, welcomes this initiative. “I have worked as a CPM for a number of years and have struggled to find mechanisms through which we can reach out to the really poor households and allow them to benefit from the different activities and investments of the various projects that IFAD is financing. Household mentoring is enabling us to do that, and I am very committed to making increasing use of this in future activities in Uganda as the main tool of our country programme for targeting and social inclusion”.

In DLSP, poorer households are selected by the community to participate in household mentoring. These families are normally beyond the reach of the mainstream programme activities – they do not belong to farmer groups so do not benefit from agribusiness development initiatives, they have no surplus to sell so they do not benefit from improved market access, and they self-exclude themselves from community meetings so their views are not reflected in planning activities.

But after one or two year’s mentoring, the lives of poorer households turn around. Household sanitation and hygiene is improved, they undertake extremely modest investments (known as near-nil investments) to make use of the resources they have available – including under- or un-utilised land - and gradually household food security improves. Household members start connecting with ongoing initiatives – such as adult literacy classes - and accessing services – in particular health services. Household mentors also benefit by gaining status in the community.

How has this profound turn around been achieved? Household mentoring comprises visits to individual households by a trained mentor over a period of one to two years. The mentor engages with all adult members of a household to support them in examining their problems together, developing a vision and identifying their own pathways out of poverty, associating with others and – eventually - becoming self-sustaining entities. The change occurs because – as a result of this process - there is a new level of trust, transparency and motivation between household members built around their common vision.
Attention is also paid to identifying and addressing gender inequalities. As a result of engaging both with women and men in a household, joint land titling is common, women are gaining a voice both within the home and outside, and wife-beating is reducing dramatically.

Of course, there are challenges. Some mentors - who are all volunteers - lose heart, households do not want to be mentored, while successfully mentored households are reluctant to graduate. And sceptics will argue that – while this is a great initiative on a pilot basis – it is not replicable at scale. It is true that resources are required to train the community development staff, support them while they train the mentors, and provide modest remuneration to the mentors. But the benefits are enormous, tangible and sustainable. Compared to the other programme components, the costs are negligible.

Judith Ruko explained: “In DLSP, a network of over 600 mentors – back-stopped by District and Sub-county Community Development staff - across 13 districts has already mentored 18,000 households. We would estimate that around 60 per cent have now progressed to the point of becoming self-reliant and in a position to embark on a sustained pathway out of poverty”.

The PTA gender and targeting desk is preparing a sourcebook on household methodologies, in which the experience in DLSP will be show-cased. See earlier blogs about the household methodologies and the writeshop:
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/2013/10/highlights-from-ifad-household.html
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/search?q=GALS
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/search?q=gender+cgiar
  • By Line Kaspersen

    It is common practice to have stakeholder workshops when projects close; to validate project completion report findings and communicate them to stakeholders. In Uganda we are trying something new; as part of the increased corporate focus on impact evaluations, a team of 4 statisticians have come to support the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme (CAIIP-1) Project Facilitation Team (PFT) to ensure high quality on the other hand. On the other hand, IFAD will be able to develop technical concept notes on how best to analyse the impact of infrastructural projects. For CAIIP-1 we will produce a vigorous impact assessment of this successful project!
    What is happening is that several different activities are on-going:

    A snapshot of how complex the impact evaluation can get.
    • A Results Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) study
    • An impact evaluation study 
    •  A Project Completion Report - PCR
    • Updating M&E databases – PFT
    Each of the first three activities above is being handled by a different consultancy firm.  Having several firms doing different things at the same time created a challenge: How can we maximise the outcome of this work with so many stakeholders on board?
    Bearing in mind that we need to indicate numbers of people pulled out of poverty, working with statisticians gives us a great opportunity to report confidently on this. In Uganda, we have linked the IFAD statisticians to the three different firms doing the RIMS, PCR and impact evaluation studies through the PFT.
    In a one day stakeholder workshop, the PFT and the three firms came together to discuss how to: 
    • Harmonize the objectives and TORs of each consultancy firm (could one firm focus on community questionnaires and one on households?)
    • Develop a common sampling methodology prior to data collection (first we need to discuss which control-groups are valid? What do we do when we don’t have a baseline?)
    • Agree on the theory of change - what exactly we mean by impact? And on who?
    • Review the available documentation and understand it well  
    The IFAD statisticians are expected to provide the following support to ensure better quality studies, which can serve as a dependable point of reference in regard to impact.
    • Technical support for data collection – developing questionnaires and training enumerators
    • Bringing in external data-sources and GIS resources
    • Specific cost-benefit analysis expertise
    • Support for coordination of the parties

    Press release
     IFAD workshop launches the second phase of a regional cooperation programme to support 20 million farming families across Asia and the Pacific

    Farmers’ organizations in Asia and the Pacific region jump start International Year of Family Farming

    The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in collaboration with the Farmers’ Federations from Asia and the Pacific will launch the second phase of a regional Medium Term Cooperation Programme with US$14 million grant to support farmers’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific. The workshop will take place in Bangkok, Thailand on 23-24 November and will be attended by Asian Farmers’ Organizations representing 20 million small-scale farming families from 25 countries in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific.

    Worldwide, farmers’ organizations are increasingly playing an active role in reducing rural poverty, improving food security, and ensuring development opportunities for smallholder farmers. They are also front line advocates for family farming, and representing the interest of the producers and making their views and expectations known for decision making purposes.

    In 2009, the first phase of Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific focused on building and strengthening the capacities of farmers’ organizations in the region to engage in policy-making and programme implementation processes of governments and IFAD country operations to better respond to organization member needs. “The most successful element of the first phase of the programme was the creation of national platforms, which enabled farmers’ organizations to define their common priorities and to speak out as one voice to governments and decision makers,” said Benoît Thierry, IFAD Country Program manager. “Because of this, they improved their communication and policy dialogue skills on sensitive issues and are now recognized as official representatives of the farmers,” he added.

    Based on the success of the first phase, IFAD will leverage as the total amount of the grant during the period 2013 - 2017 to finance the second phase of the programme, which will provide specific support to the vulnerable poor, particularly women and youth, who represent at least 45 per cent of the participating farmers’ organizations membership. IFAD will provide $2 million from its own resources and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation will provide $3 million as cofinancing.

    The second phase of the programme will be implemented by the Asian Farmers’ Associations for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a technical regional implementation agency working in partnership with La Via Campesina (LVC) in 15 countries initially.  The programme will be extended later to reach up to 25 countries in three main sub-regions South Asia, south East Asia and China, Pacific.


    David Florentin Paqui


    Communications Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2213

    Cell: +39 335 7516406

    Benoît Thierry

    IFAD - MTCP Focal Point

    Asia and the Pacific Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2234

    The President of IFAD, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, arrived in Ethiopia at the invitation of Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the UN) on the morning of 25th November. The President  is attending a two day meeting, hosted by the African Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Kofi Annan Foundation on “Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems: Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century.” 

    The President took the first part of the day, before the AU meeting, to meet with senior officials of the Government of Ethiopia. Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, first met with the Hon. Sileshi Getahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and in the afternoon, he met with the Hon. Ahmed Shide, the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, to re-affirm IFAD’s partnership with the Ethiopian Government. He was accompanied by his adviser Luis Jimminez-Micinnis, the Representative and Country Director, Robson Mutandi, and the Country Programme Officer, Abebe Zelahun. 
    This visit came on the heels of the successful negotiations in Rome, between IFAD and the Government, for a USD 85 million loan to the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, to finance the Phase III of the Pastoral Community Development Programme. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists make up nearly 15 per cent of Ethiopia's total population and are among the poorest and most vulnerable rural people in the country. The Programme, co-financed with the World Bank and Government, brings about a total investment of USD 217 million to improve pastoral communities’ livelihoods, access to basic services and capacity to cope with external shocks.  The Ethiopia Country Programme is IFAD’s largest investment in Africa.

    The President observed that the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia are a classic example of good governance and leadership. “Ethiopia’s wise investments in Agriculture, and particularly in smallholder agriculture, has brought about consistent economic growth, with a GDP that has ranged from 9 to 11 % over recent years, driven by a strong investment plan. Such strong national investment plans are key to enabling the progress of a cohesive continental agricultural policy agenda for Africa.”

    Hon. Shide emphasized that Ethiopia remains committed to inclusive development, which makes sure that everyone benefits from growth. Currently, the policy efforts of the Government of Ethiopia strive to develop the rural poor’s resilience to cope with repeated cycles of drought by ensuring every household has access to at least one water source so that they may be able to produce a continuous crop. Furthermore, the Government supports the rural poor by providing agricultural inputs, investing heavily in infrastructure to promote trade and enhance access to markets, and building rural institutions. Both Ministers reiterated their satisfaction with the level of cooperation between IFAD and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and called for even stronger ties between the two partners and increased investments into smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia.

    Hon. Sileshi Getahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Develoment, welcomes Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of IFAD.

    Hon. Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance an Economic Development, met with the President of IFAD to discuss ongoing cooperation between IFAD and the Government of Ethiopia.