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Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Specialist, Policy and Technical Advisory Division

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a workshop in London organized by Nestlé, to discuss ways in which their gender action plan for the cocoa supply chain could be strengthened. This is particularly relevant given the increasing focus on value chain projects in the IFAD portfolio and initiatives for greater engagement with the private sector.

Nestlé’s interest in gender had been triggered by Oxfam’s “Behind the Brands” campaign which challenged some of the world’s largest food and beverage firms to do more to make their agricultural production more sustainable, both socially and environmentally. The initial Oxfam report, launched in February 2013, presented data based on publicly available information that relates to the policies of 10 companies (the Big 10) on their sourcing of agricultural commodities from developing countries. The report covered seven themes: women, small scale farmers, farm workers, water, land, climate change and transparency.

With regard to gender, the Behind the Brands scorecard examines whether the policies of the Big 10 promote women’s welfare and encourage their inclusion in the food supply chain on equal terms. The scorecard also looks for policies that guarantee a discrimination-free workplace. Progress is tracked: in the 18 months since the report was launched, there has been a marked improvement across the board on the gender score, although no company has yet reached the ‘good’ category.

Distribution of performance of the Big 10 on gender scores
For many companies, the report was a wake-up call to do more in these critical areas and many have responded with positive actions.

Nestlé, the largest food and beverage company in the world, is one such company. By April 2013, two months after Oxfam’s report, Nestlé had prepared an action plan on women. This was later updated following the findings from a detailed assessment of women’s roles in Nestlé’s Cocoa Supply Chain in Cote d’Ivoire by Fair Labor Association. The plan has three main pillars: promoting equal opportunities, giving women a voice and helping increase women’s income. These are strikingly similar to IFAD’s gender policy objectives of economic empowerment, voice and decision-making, and equitable workload balance.

Actions to date by Nestlé have included gender awareness training, promotion of women’s leadership in running nurseries, support for income-generating activities, and diversification into cassava nurseries.
Motivated by a desire to improve their performance further, Nestlé organized the workshop in London, specifically to look at how to strengthen the gender dimensions of their work in the cocoa value chain in West Africa. Workshop participants represented an interesting mix drawn from the private sector, specialist cocoa organizations, NGOs, academia, and international organizations, including FAO and IFAD.

During the workshop discussions, participants urged Nestlé to go beyond the traditional approaches to gender mainstreaming and tackle the underlying causes of gender inequality by adopting gender transformative approaches. These include:
  • Developing a theory of change to underpin the action plan
  • presenting the business case – return on investment - for promoting gender equality  ─ rather than positioning it solely as a social issue
  • moving beyond activity/output indicators to outcome/impact indicators
  • engaging with men and leaders at the community level in order to create a positive environment for behaviour change
  • the need to address intra-household dynamics for gender equality
  • broadening the focus beyond the farm to other aspects of value chain development, including livelihood aspects of malnutrition
It was very exciting to witness first-hand how seriously the private sector is listening and how willing they are to go the extra mile to promote women’s empowerment and gender equality, for both business and ethical reasons. IFAD supports efforts by the private sector to become more inclusive and equitable among smallholder women and men in their supply chains.

For updates on performance, see: https://www.behindthebrands.org/

Champagne, Colombian Coffee, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Rioja wine, Darjeeling tea and Tequila are products that are deeply rooted in a given geographical and cultural environment. The unique quality and characteristics of such products depend fundamentally on their geographical origin by virtue of natural factors such as: climate, soil composition, environment, as well as traditional production techniques and know-how. They are the so-called Geographical Indications (GIs).

GIs have been recognized by policy makers in both developed and developing countries as a potential mechanism to assist (primarily) the agricultural sector by reducing supply competition for traditional products while raising their quality. As part of a grant project (SAMCERT -  Strengthening Smallholders’  Access to Markets for Certified Sustainable Products), IFAD is currently implementing a pilot initiative to support the establishment of three GIs (for cocoa, coffee, and pepper) in Sao Tome and Principe (STP). The objective is to strengthen market access for IFAD targeted producers, facilitating the development of a “trade approach” for STP agricultural products and ensuring that they are not commercialized as undifferentiated commodities, but as goods that are linked to a well-defined geographical and cultural area.
A delegation from STP visited IFAD on 25 and 26 March 2015. During the first day, a workshop was held at IFAD headquarters to share the experience in setting up GIs for cocoa, coffee and pepper. IFAD’s country programme manager for STP, Mr Andrea Serpagli, started by highlighting the fact that this is IFAD’s first experience with setting up a GI. Mr Michele Maccari, SAMCERT coordinator, presented the approach the project followed in establishing a GI. Emphasis has been put on three areas of work: communication, technical assistance and policy dialogue. Working in a participatory manner has proven to be key. Ms  Ester Olivas Caceres, GI Senior Lawyer Specialist, gave an overview of what GIs are and the different steps that have been taken to set up a GI in STP, after which Ms Antonia Dos Santos Neto, GI consultant, talked about the achievements and challenges encountered so far. Reaching common understanding amongst the involved communities has required a lot of time and effort. Finally, a representative of the “Consorzio del Parmigiano Reggiano”, a well-established Italian GI, talked about the challenges of effectively managing a GI, the long-term benefits for those directly involved and its impact on the territory it refers to.

On 26 March, the delegation visited the territories of Sabina, between Rome and Rieti, where Sabina Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) olive oil is produced. Discussions were held with the Consortium that is dedicated to the protection of PDO Sabina oil and supervision of the proper use of the PDO. The consortium is responsible for monitoring compliance with the product specification, ensuring the quality and authenticity of the product Sabina PDO and protecting, enhancing and promoting Sabina PDO olive oil through conferences, studies, participation in exhibitions, fairs and tastings. During this encounter open discussions were held on the opportunities and challenges in setting up a GI. Moreover, a possible future collaboration between the consortium and cocoa cooperatives in STP was discussed. To be continued!

 More information

Commerce équitable: acheter l’équité au supermarché?

Posted by Beate Stalsett Thursday, March 26, 2015 0 comments

Ecrit par Ndongo Samba Sylla 

Le commerce équitable est-il équitable? Peut-on rendre le monde plus équitable par la consommation solidaire?

A n’en pas douter, le commerce équitable Fairtrade/Max Havelaar (CE dans ce qui suit) a été un grand succès marketing dans les pays riches. En 2004, les ventes totales de produits CE à travers le monde s’établissaient à 830 millions d’euros. En 2013, elles avaient atteint 5,5 milliards d’euros.

Les partisans du CE tendent généralement à penser que plus de ventes au Nord implique plus d’impact socioéconomique au Sud. Malheureusement, cette façon de penser est plutôt simpliste. 

Premièrement, il faut voir que 10 à 20% seulement de ces chiffres d’affaires sont reçus par les organisations de producteurs, sous forme de recettes d’exportation.

Deuxième limite : non seulement les revenus créés par le CE sont faibles, ils sont également très mal répartis. Sur les 74 pays couverts par le CE, 10 représentent 70% des recettes d’exportation. Huit parmi ces 10 pays viennent de l’Amérique latine qui est la principale région à récolter les bénéfices du CE.

Troisième limite: le commerce équitable tend à marginaliser les pays les plus dépendants de l’exportation de produits primaires agricoles. Prenons le cas du café. L’Ethiopie et le Burundi sont les deux pays qui dépendent le plus au monde de l’exportation de café qui rapportent respectivement 34% et 26% de leurs recettes d’exportations. Malheureusement, les certifications de café CE sont inexistantes au Burundi et limitées en Ethiopie. Paradoxalement, le Mexique et le Pérou qui ne sont pas du tout dépendants du café représentent près d’un tiers des certifications de café CE. La banane et le cacao racontent la même histoire.

Ce que j’ai appelé le « biais ploutocratique » fait référence au fait que le CE marginalise les pays les plus pauvres, les producteurs les plus pauvres et les pays les plus dépendants.

Une autre manifestation de ce biais ploutocratique est que le surplus payé par les consommateurs du Nord reste dans le Nord pour l’essentiel. Dans le cas des Etats-Unis, pour chaque dollar consacré à l’achat d’un produit CE, seuls 3 cents sont transférés dans le Sud sous forme de revenus supplémentaires.

Au-delà du CE 

Thomas Jefferson a écrit: « une bonne cause souffre souvent davantage des efforts inopportuns de ses amis que des arguments de ses ennemis ». Je crois que sa citation décrit parfaitement la situation du CE.

Même si le CE fonctionnait admirablement bien, le fait est que son impact ne pourrait être que réduit. En effet, si l’on compare les recettes annuelles d’exportation des produits CE à la valeur des exportations globales annuelles du Sud vers le Nord, on obtient un rapport de 1 à 8760. Ceci pour dire que le CE fonctionne à une échelle politique et économique qui rend son impact plus que négligeable. Et qu’il faut des remèdes globaux à des problèmes globaux.

Comment rendre les relations commerciales entre le Nord et le Sud plus équilibrées?

Premièrement, les pays riches devraient arrêter leur dumping agricole.

Deuxièmement, les pays riches devraient cesser de décourager l’industrialisation des pays les plus pauvres via l’escalade tarifaire.

Troisièmement, les matières premières agricoles devraient être mieux régulées au plan international en vue de lutter contre la spéculation et de garantir des soupapes de sécurité aux producteurs.

Quatrièmement, les pays riches et les institutions financières internationales devraient cesser d’exiger une libéralisation inconditionnelle des marchés de produits agricoles (ex, les accords de partenariat économique conclus, et non encore signés, entre l’Union européenne et les pays africains).

Enfin, l’Organisation Mondiale du Commerce doit être revue dans son fonctionnement en vue qu’elle œuvre davantage pour le développement que pour les intérêts des multinationales des pays riches.

Toutes ces politiques requièrent un engagement politique fort des pays riches ainsi qu’un souci réel d’équilibrer les relations entre le Nord et le Sud. Elles supposent aussi une certaine cohérence politique.

L’ironie est qu’aujourd’hui ce sont les grands acteurs économiques accusés d’être responsables du manque d’équité du système commercial international qui sont les chantres du CE voire des « labels éthiques ». Or, les gouvernements du Nord ne font pas mieux. Dans nombre de pays européens, dans les mairies, les ministères, les parlements, le café servi est parfois labellisé CE. Ce qui est une façon de se donner bonne conscience : une solidarité low cost.

En conclusion, retenons ceci: dans un monde décent et équitable, nous ne devrions pas avoir besoin d’initiatives comme le commerce équitable. Leur seule existence témoigne de ce qui ne va pas dans le monde d’aujourd’hui. Quand l’équité peut s’acheter dans un supermarché, c’est que nous sommes très loin d’en comprendre la nature ainsi que les sacrifices qu’elle exige.

Comme apparu sur AgenceEcofin

Climate Cinema: The Sequel

Posted by Christopher Neglia Wednesday, March 25, 2015 0 comments

Water was the theme of yesterday’s Climate Cinema  event where the Environment and Climate Division (ECD), in collaboration with the Think Forward Film Festival, screened three powerful films that highlighted the 800 million people worldwide who lack access to fresh water.  

In his opening remarks, Dr. Yarolsav Mysiak touched on the increasing incidence of natural disasters as a result of climate change, with a cumulative economic impact of about USD 300 billion each year. According to Mysiak, these phenomena are undoing years’ worth of development work, thus new investments by governments and international funds should strive to conduct robust risk analyses to avoid damages to economic infrastructure and productive systems.

The first film, God is Water, documented the daily struggles of the 500,000 rural Kenyans who rely on Lake Turkana, the world's largest desert lake, for the fresh water essential to their livelihoods. Over the past 30 years, higher temperatures and changing weather patterns have contributed to the lake’s reduced water volume. But now, a new hydropower plant being built upstream in neighbouring Ethiopia is exacerbating the situation for local farmers, pastoralists and fishers who live by the lake. Those who appeared in the film predicted widespread conflict between ethnic groups when the Gibe III dam is finished construction.

The second film, Water Changes, focused on a German-Namibian research project, CuveWaters, that provided a water harvesting and drip irrigation system to a community in rural Namibia. The arid environment traditionally limits small farmers to one planting season, however introducing a relatively simple and low-cost technology meant that farmers could suddenly grow crops year round for increased income generation. The film dealt with what Mysiak described as the water-energy nexus, that is, the logistical question of providing fresh water to communities where electricity is not readily available. The project resolved this issue by an ingenuous bicycle-powered pump, which directed water from a large reservoir through a network of tubes to the farmers’ vegetable fields.

The third film on the bill, One in a Million, was an emotionally gripping journey of one man, Duncan Goose, to locate a girl he had seen in a photograph queuing by a fresh water pump. The photograph inspired Goose to found the One Foundation, and donate all of the profits to water projects in Africa. Goose’s journey spanned more than a decade and took him through the expansive slums of Kibera, in Kenya, where sanitation is a major issue leading to cholera outbreaks and other diseases.

To wrap up the quadruple feature, Recipes for Change: Vietnam, an IFAD production illustrated the issue of salinity intrusion, which affects small farmers and aqua culturists in the Mekong Delta. As sea level rise leads to more saline water travelling up the Mekong river and its tributaries, this vast crop-producing region is grappling with losses of economically important rice crops as well as fresh water shrimp, prawns and other aqua culture products. In response to this challenge, IFAD launched the Adaptation in the Mekong Delta (AMD) project in 2014, which helps finance salinity monitoring systems and support for income diversification.

The films each approached the subject of water and its inextricable link to human development in different and interesting ways, and after the lunchtime session the audience was certainly left with a lot to think about. The next climate cinema event will be held on April 20th in the Executive Dining room, where the theme will be on adaptation in agriculture.  

Written by Anja Lund Lesa and Larissa Setaro

In celebration of International Women’s Day IFAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) jointly organized an event that focused on empowerment of rural women. The celebration took place on 6 March at IFAD headquarters, and among the attendees were staff from IFAD and its partner agencies, representatives of civil society organizations and around 50 students from universities in Rome.

The theme for International Women's Day 2015 was "Empowering Women – Empowering Humanity: Picture It!" To celebrate that theme, a call went out to IFAD-funded projects asking them to submit photos from their work on women's empowerment in their countries. More than 100 photos were shared from 22 country offices around the world. See highlights here.

This year also marks the 20th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. International Women's Day was therefore a special occasion to celebrate achievements made since Beijing and to discuss remaining challenges. In light of this, the Rome-based agencies dedicated the celebration to empowering rural women to achieve food and nutrition security. The event was followed by a Gender Share Fair where a number of organizations showcased innovative practices designed to empower rural women.

The International Women's Day event at IFAD on 6 March.
©IFAD/Giulio Napolitano

 'If you invest in a rural woman, you invest in a community'

The opening speech by IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze emphasized that women are the backbone of rural societies. But unfortunately, many of them are also doing the back-breaking part of the work, and their access to productive assets and services is limited in most rural areas. Many studies have shown that rural women's economic and social empowerment leads to improvements in agricultural production, food security, nutrition, economic growth and social welfare. Their empowerment has a positive impact on themselves, their families and their communities. As Nwanze said: "If you invest in a rural woman, you invest in a community." Gender equality opens doors to entire communities, and the Beijing +20 anniversary is an opportunity to do more to recognize the role of rural women, provide them with more opportunities and better access to assets, and strengthen their voices in decision-making processes.

Significant achievements – but more needs to be done

In her statement at the event, Marcela Villarreal, Director of the Office for Partnerships, Advocacy and Capacity Development at FAO, also highlighted Beijing +20 as an occasion to reflect on what has changed in the past 20 years. On the development scene, significant progress has been achieved, she said. Millions of people are out of poverty and hunger, and development processes are now involving multiple actors, including civil society and the private sector. There is more awareness about gender inequality and the costs of not involving women in development. But many challenges remain, and rural women fare worse on all human development indicators compared to men and urban women. Rural women are still burdened with heavy domestic and care-giving workloads in most societies; in sub-Saharan Africa, women spend 40 billion hours every year to fetch water. Hence, more needs to be done to build on existing achievements. Let's not wait until Beijing +40 to see real advancement in the conditions of rural women, Villarreal said.

Field experiences

Four stories were presented in a panel discussion on nutrition, community mobilization, livestock and land. Those areas are all essential to empowering women to achieve food security and nutrition security.

Britta Schumacher, Programme Policy Officer at WFP, presented the work of REACH, which stands for ‘Renewed Efforts Against Child Hunger and under-nutrition’. A very informative video showed experiences from REACH in Bangladesh, reporting on misleading cultural messages about child feeding and diet during pregnancy – for instance, that eating less during pregnancy to ease childbirth, or that feeding infants with water and honey so that they 'talk modestly' when they grow up. In addition, the video illustrated the weak status of women within households and communities – highlighting the issue of teenage and child marriages, and women's lack of decision-making power. Through participatory approaches, REACH aims to bring women out of the household, interact and share experiences to increase their knowledge on nutritional issues. Women's knowledge about nutrition is essential for the healthy growth and development of their infants, and for the well-being of women, of the household and, ultimately, of the community as a whole, enabling them to rise out of poverty.

Woman in Niger holding a land lease contract
©FAO/ Andrea Sánchez Enciso
Andrea Sánchez Enciso, Gender and Participatory Communication Specialist at FAO, presented information on FAO-Dimitra 'listening clubs' and the Joint Programme on Rural Women's Empowerment in Niger (which involves FAO, IFAD, WFP and UN Women). The Dimitra clubs created spaces for farmers to discuss issues affecting their livelihoods, so they could collectively build a strategy in order to bring about real change. In the case presented, insecure land tenure and access to water were constraining farmers' lives, but through community mobilization they were able to obtain a 99-year land lease contract of 3 ha of arable land, in addition to drip irrigation. Such a participatory approach enhanced leadership capacities and gave participants the needed confidence to present their arguments before different actors.

Antonio Rota, Lead Technical Specialist-Livestock, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD, stressed the important role that women play in livestock (e.g. milking and carrying feed and water to animals), and how livestock programmes can be important to women's empowerment as an entry point for other development activities (e.g. education and micro-credit). Indeed, through the Family Poultry Development Programme in Afghanistan, women – mostly widows and destitute –  were provided with assets in the form of chickens, along with appropriate and gender-sensitive training. At least 75,000 women benefitted from the programme, increasing profitability by 91 per cent, and boosting egg and chicken consumption by 88.9 per cent and 67.7 per cent, respectively.

Women in Afghanistan working with poultry
©IFAD/Antonio Rota

Mino Ramaroson, Africa Regional Coordinator at the International Land Coalition, introduced two African experiences of women's networks – the National Federation of Rural Women in Madagascar and the Kilimanjaro Initiative – advocating for their rights to land and natural resources. These two examples of mobilization of rural women benefitted them by strengthening their confidence to express their needs and work together towards the recognition of their rights.

These programmes are all working towards women's empowerment, to finally picture it! And they share their successes in:

  • Creating a space for women, bringing them out of the household, interacting with other women and sharing their experiences and knowledge
  • Building capacities on specific issues (health, nutrition, livestock, land rights and taking action together), thus improving their confidence and self-esteem
  • Enhancing women's assets, allowing them to earn additional income and have a role to play in household decision-making
  • Recognizing women for their knowledge, skills, strength and contribution to the household and community.

Unlocking women's potential

In her closing remarks, Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of WFP, stressed that the Rome-based agencies need to work together to be more effective and efficient. We are serving the same population, she said, and the efficiency which donors demand is also demanded by the beneficiaries. She also emphasized that the global community will not advance if 50 per cent of the population are locked inside their homes, without influence and without having a voice. We need to unlock this potential, Cousin said. To do this, men need to stand up for gender equality, and women need to speak up to support other women.

Aprendiendo juntos a ser protagonistas del desarrollo rural

Posted by cortescarrasbal Wednesday, March 11, 2015 0 comments

Por Andrea Esquivel, Responsable del Programa Rutas de Aprendizaje en PROCASUR

Conocimiento, innovación, aprendizaje, intercambio de experiencias, participación, afecto y alegría. Todo ello estuvo presente durante los siete días de la Ruta de Aprendizaje "Estrategias e innovaciones para la inclusión de los y las jóvenes rurales como protagonistas del desarrollo de sus territorios", implementada por PROCASUR y FIDA en El Salvador la última semana del pasado mes de febrero.

La ruta, organizada con el apoyo del Ministerio de Agricultura salvadoreño, reunió a unos 40 jóvenes rurales y representantes técnicos de instituciones de desarrollo rural de  Brasil, Belice, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haití, Honduras y El Salvador. La diversidad cultural y lingüística no fue una barrera para el aprendizaje colectivo, sino elementos de convergencia y de mutuo enriquecimiento.

Pero, ¿qué es una ruta de aprendizaje?  Básicamente, las rutas de aprendizaje son una herramienta de gestión del conocimiento y desarrollo de capacidades que promueve el escalonamiento de las mejores prácticas  a favor de la erradicación de la pobreza rural.

©PROCASUR/Daniel Ferreira
Innovar y compartir son las palabras clave. Las rutas de aprendizaje capitalizan  las lecciones aprendidas en campo, promueven el aprendizaje  y permiten la difusión eficaz de información, inspirando la aplicación de métodos innovadores ya probados en la práctica en otras regiones.

Diseñadas a la medida de cada  usuario, y estructuradas en torno de objetivos específicos de aprendizaje, las Rutas promueven el intercambio de experiencias y la interacción, convirtiendo a pequeños agricultores y técnicos agrícolas locales en capacitadoras de sus pares.

Así, los participantes en la ruta de aprendizaje de El Salvador vivieron  un proceso de construcción e intercambio de conocimientos del que los y las jóvenes fueron los principales protagonistas activos y motivadores.

Durante el recorrido de la ruta, los y las participantes pudieron conocer el contexto sociocultural y político relevante en materia de juventud rural en El Salvador y en los distintos países de América Latina y el Caribe que enviaron representantes a la ruta. Los y las ruteras analizaron  en conjunto avances, desafíos y dificultades.

La fuente principal del aprendizaje han sido los actores locales. Hombres y mujeres de talento, jóvenes y técnicos, que a partir de la presentación de su experiencia acerca del camino recorrido para establecer las buenas prácticas implementadas, lograron asombrar a los visitantes y transmitir sus conocimientos de manera clara y dinámica, motivando la reflexión y la innovación.

Las experiencias anfitrionas (los proyectos MAG-PRODEMOR CENTRAL y MAG-PRODEMORO, financiados por el FIDA en El Salvador, y la ONG salvadoreña FUNDESYRAM), así como los paneles sobre las experiencias provenientes de Nicaragua (NITLAPAN y Ay qué lindo!, una de las actividades financiadas por el FIDA a través del proyecto PRODESEC), aportaron con diferentes mecanismos y estrategias que han resultado exitosas para incluir a la juventud en iniciativas de desarrollo rural, incrementando su participación y empoderamiento social y económico.

©PROCASUR/Daniel Ferreira
Las y los ruteros dialogaron con los jóvenes protagonistas de las redes territoriales de desarrollo en el occidente, el oriente y el centro de El Salvador.  Se encontraron con jóvenes emprendedores que están empujando iniciativas de negocios familiares y asociativos, que están abriendo espacios para el desarrollo de sus proyectos de vida y el acceso a activos que promueven el arraigo de los y las jóvenes en el medio rural.

Múltiples fueron igualmente los actores e instituciones que han apoyado estos procesos y que han demostrado que invertir en los jóvenes es rentable y prioritario para generar estrategias de desarrollo sostenibles, actuales y futuras.

Así, con base en estos nuevos conocimientos, buenas prácticas e innovaciones se elaboraron planes de innovación en los que cada equipo participante esbozó un camino para abrir nuevas oportunidades a losy las jóvenes en sus entornos de acción.

Ahora, tras el retorno de las y los ruteros a sus países y regiones de origen,  el desafío es sembrar los aprendizajes cosechados y abonarles para que se multipliquen y den frutos.

©PROCASUR/Daniel Ferreira
La ruta de aprendizaje culmina pero comienzan los caminos de cada participante y sus aliados para buscar replicar y ampliar la experiencia recogida. Cuentan para  para ello con nuevas energías e ideas inspiradoras, nuevos aliados.

Sobre todo, cuentan con el recuerdo vivo de aquellos jóvenes que a partir de sus voces y testimonios mostraron que es posible vencer los miedos, emprender e innovar, y que sólo es preciso una dosis de confianza y oportunidades por parte de las instituciones para que sus capacidades se activen, impactando positivamente no sólo a ellos, sino a sus familias, comunidades y territorios.

The things we take for granted

Posted by Beate Stalsett Tuesday, March 10, 2015 4 comments

Written by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, IFAD Gender team 

This year is the 20th anniversary of
the Fourth  World Conference on
Last Friday, the Rome-based UN agencies celebrated International Women’s Day in IFAD. For me, the presentations threw into sharp relief the many aspects of our daily lives that we take for granted, yet would be a dream come true for millions of rural women.

Some of the things that came to mind were:

To have …. 

The right to own assets, including land
The self-confidence to make the right decisions for our families
Easy ‘turn the tap/switch the switch’ access to water and power/energy
An influential voice in decisions in the household, including what money should be spent on
Control over my body, including how many children I want to have
A fairer sharing of unpaid tasks among the members of my family

To be free from …. 

The threat of child marriage
Harmful traditional practices, including female genital mutilation
Verbal and physical abuse, violence and rape

To be able to …. 

Continue to learn and acquire new skills
Benefit from information and communication technologies for work and play
Feed all household members well, free from cultural norms
Get health care when I need it
Earn my own income and to decide when and how to spend it or save it
Move freely and safely outside the home without being judged
Spend time with my friends and family when I want to
Live my life to my full potential

Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section below.

Innovation through Inspiration: Outcomes of the Learning Route in Nepal

By Tanya Lutvey, PROCASUR; tlutvey@procasur.org

On the last day of December’s Learning Route (LR) adventure in Nepal, “Women’s Empowerment, New Businesses and Sustainable Natural Resource Management in Nepal”, our weary-but-adrenaline-fuelled participants presented their plans for innovation within their own country contexts. In country/project groups or individually, our colleagues and friends had spent the previous days interacting with the knowledge gained from the LR and incorporating it into their own experiences on the ground. Motivated by the chance to compete for starting capital of $2500US for implementation of the plan, the presentations were a reflection of the diversity of experiences in the room. Not only this, but it was clear that all participants were inspired by the work of the host cases and had successfully applied their past week’s learning into their plans.

Our LR in Nepal was an eclectic group of development practitioners and civil society at the local, national and international levels. From farmers, to IFAD project holders, to village chief’s and gender focal points – our team shared a wealth of experiences. And when it came to the development of innovation plans, the results were equally as diverse.

Our indigenous participants from Thailand - one man from the Akha community, one Lisu woman and a female youth from the Karen tribe – collaborated together to propose an intercommunity savings group for women. According to their proposal, in addition to the provision of financial services to their members, the formation of the group would facilitate networking between their three respective ethnic groups. For Thailand, such a group is certainly an innovative idea and for PROCASUR, the outcome of network building amongst the participants is a satisfying achievement. 

Meanwhile, our local Nepali participants representing various levels of development elected to work independently and thus we had a total of four innovation plans proposed from Nepal. If these plans are carried out all the way to fruition, the learning route could potentially catalyze the following outcomes; Organic Honey Production in Surket District and an Electric Small Irrigation Plan Project, both capable of generating income quickly and setting up a strong link between public and private partnership as well as the enhancement of socio-economic condition of rural indigenous Gurungs of Ghyalshowk VDC, Gorka district, Nepal.

From the IFAD Country Office, Tajikistan, the focus was on Public- Private Partnership (PPP) in support of women led groups in order to set up sustainable export orientated women-led small business in cashmere, mohair, and wool processing and increasing their export capacities in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. While in Kenya, our participant representing the Department Of Social Development’s aim was the economic empowerment of women in Kirinyaga County. His overall goal being to empower women to maximize the use of available resources in a sustainable manner, all the while reducing fruit wastage, increasing incomes for rural women, enhancing bargaining power and maintaining better prices of products.

Given the guidelines the LR participants were given when developing their plans (timeline no longer than 15 months, and the available capital being $2500), it was invigorating to see such ingenuity and… well… innovation come out of these sessions.  As we now approach the deadline for Innovation Plan submission, we here at the PROCASUR Asia and the Pacific office wait with baited breath to see how our fellow LR adventurers have been able to develop their ideas following the close of the route.

For more insights and learning route contents please visit: http://asia.procasur.org/women-empowerment-new-business-and-sustainable-nrm-in-nepal-2014/ and watch this space for an announcement of the winners…

This article first appeared on the CCAFS & CGIAR website on Feb 11, 2015.

Written by Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku, Caroline Mwongera, Wendy Okolo, Leigh Winowiecki, Jennifer Twyman and Peter Laderach (International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT))

Institutional Mapping Exercise to identify information flows within the communities. Photo: Kelvin Shikuku and Caroline Mwongera (CIAT)
Using participatory methods, scientists are now working with farmers to understand climate impacts on farming systems and rural livelihoods and to identify locally appropriate climate-smart solutions.

Temperature and rainfall in East Africa are increasingly variable but farmers’ ingenuity and enthusiasm among researchers keeps agriculture moving in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT).

Recently, a team of researchers from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in collaboration with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) carried out a Climate Smart Agriculture Rapid Appraisal (CSA-RA) in four districts in the SAGCOT. Under a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) aiming to promote wide-scale adoption of locally appropriate CSA practices, CIAT is using the CSA-RA as a simple yet powerful tool to assess within and between district variations in farming systems, agricultural management practices, challenges for current agricultural practices, and climate vulnerability among farmers.

The CSA-RA tool comprises farmer workshops with good gender and youth representation; expert interviews, farmer interviews and farm observations. It uses village resource maps; climate calendars, historical calendars, cropping calendars and institutional mapping as part of its participatory methods.

The power of the CSA-RA is amazingly evident in the information gathered. In all the four districts, unreliability of the onset and cessation of the rains, uncertainty about the duration of the rainy season, occurrence of too much rainfall, and the long dry spells that fall within the cropping season were identified as major constraints. The associated identified impacts included: influx of pests and diseases associated with too much rainfall, water scarcity, famine, loss of livestock, and migration, especially for men who abandon their families. On average households experience 2-3 months of food deficit and in order to survive they engage in off-farm employment, small business and kiosks, sale of livestock, growing irrigated crops along valley bottoms, and remittances.

So what are the perceived constraints to adoption of CSA by farmers in the SAGCOT? Several bottlenecks were reported and as one farmer said, due to the constraints “kilimo hakina tija” which loosely translates to “the many constraints are making farming less beneficial.” Commonly mentioned barriers include: access to markets, inappropriateness of the practices for the particular landscape; social preferences, for example, some local varieties have attributes preferred over improved varieties; lack of financial capital, for example, women lack capital to purchase fruit trees such as oranges; lack of technical knowledge/assistance, for example, farmers in Mbarali lacked knowledge on budding to adopt fruit tree seedling production; land tenure, farmers in Kilolo were reluctant to practice soil improvement on rented plots; labour, for example, in Mbarali row planting is considered to be more time consuming; and accessibility of inputs.

With the numerous challenges, are there opportunities for scaling up CSA in the SAGCOT? Indeed, there is a high potential for developing and implementing locally appropriate CSA technologies across SAGCOT, including: use of information and communication technology such as short message service, workshops and seminars; mobilizing and leveraging local institutions and farmer groups; farmer-to-farmer extension; expansion through successful farmer-driven demo plots; focus on long-term resilience of farming systems that can cope with climate uncertainty and variability; and focus on soil health improvement.

Overall, the CSA-RA highlighted the challenges facing farmers in four districts across the SAGCOT and identified key next steps for identifying and implementing locally appropriate CSA practices across the region. CIAT will use the CSA-RA to inform site selection for land health surveys and intra-household gender surveys planned in the SAGCOT. In addition, the information from the CSA-RA will be used to help prioritize CSA initiatives in the SAGCOT and Tanzania. The CSA-RA manual and reports are available here.

Kelvin Mashisia Shikuku, Caroline Mwongera, Wendy Okolo, Leigh Winowiecki, Jennifer Twyman and Peter Laderach all work at CIAT on several interdisciplinary iniatives to out-scale CSA technologies in East Africa.

Climate Cinema series kicks off at IFAD

Posted by Timothy Ledwith Tuesday, March 3, 2015 0 comments

IFAD hosts the first showing of the Climate Cinema series.  ©IFAD
Written by Adam Vincent

Last week, IFAD's Environment and Climate Division hosted the first screening of its monthly Climate Cinema series at the Fund's headquarters in Rome. Organized in association with the Think Forward Film Festival and the International Centre for Climate Governance (ICCG), the event featured three short documentaries and a panel discussion with Enrica de Cian of Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM), a research institution devoted to the study of sustainable development and global governance, as well as IFAD's broadcast manager James Heer and regional climate and environment specialist Juan De Dios Mattos.

Two of the documentaries had previously been seen at the annual Think Forward festival in Venice, which showcases films about climate change and renewable energy. Currently in its fifth year, the festival is a project of ICCG and a joint initiative of FEEM and Fondazione Giorgio Cini, a research centre for climate policy design. It is open to children and helps presents information to them in a simplified way

Survival through adaptation
The first film was Biljana Garvanlieva's After The Rain (Climate Testimonials), the first-ever climate change documentary made by a Macedonian director. After the Rain opens with a quote from Charles Darwin: "It isn't the strongest of the species that survive, nor even the most intelligent, but the one most adaptable to change." The film then follows four Macedonian women farmers from diverse backgrounds as they react to the disastrous effects of climate change. In all cases, increased precipitation (and especially hail) are causing crops such as tobacco and tomatoes to rot in the ground.

A panel discussion follows the screening. ©IFAD
The second film was Bolivia: Potatoes in Peril, a short documentary produced by IFAD. It follows the work of an IFAD-supported project in one Bolivian village whose main water source had dried up. As their potato yields have fallen correspondingly, many young people have left the village in search of work. The video examines how IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme helps communities adapt to climate change. In order to create opportunities for the community to restore itself, IFAD is working with the village to construct irrigation canals and develop new irrigation techniques that can ensure the future of the potato.

The third film was Ephraim Broschkowski and Bernd Hezel's The Value of Soil. This animated short film presented land as one of "mankind's most precious assets," a non-renewable resource that is quickly being depleted. Up to this point, the film suggests, the effects of land and soil degradation have not been considered in value calculations. The result is a downward spiral: Degraded soil stores less carbon, leading to greater climate change, leading to changing water patterns, leading to further soil degradation. Continuing to focus solely on yield and disregard the effects of soil degradation, the film warns, is dangerously unstable.

Films such as these can be powerful tools for advocacy, said James Heer. They are accessible and publicize voices that the audience may not otherwise hear. Although IFAD used to prepare half-hour documentaries for BBC, it now focuses on shorter videos, Heer added, because they are more flexible and have more markets. IFAD videos have been featured on in-flight airline channels, news programmes and social media.

The Climate Cinema series will continue through June. The next installment will be on 24 March, focusing on the theme of water.