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IFAD President visits Uttarakhand

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, November 30, 2009 0 comments

The last key meeting for the President in the capital New Delhi, before heading to the field, was with the Finance Secretary Ashok Chowla. The confidence the Indian government has in IFAD’s work, supporting its own anti poverty strategies, was evident.

The President was then interviewed by Doordarshan, India's national prime TV channel, where a young journalist Mark Lynn sought his views on a wide range of issues including governance, corruption and how the Indian Government will be able to tackle poverty issues compounded by climate change.

The President pointed out that while there are some 250 million people living in poverty the government has undertaken several schemes and in partnership with other bodies, including IFAD is striving to tackle the root causes of poverty. He cited the example of the Indian Government upscaling the successful programme from the North East to other regions, with a proposed $160 million from the Government, $120 million from the World Bank and IFAD’s $20 million.

We then travelled to Uttarakhand, to see first hand how our work is changing people’s lives in the Himalayan region. The Chief Minister of the state of Uttarkhand, Ramesh Pokhriyal, welcomed us personally and asked if IFAD could adopt the Himalayas and provide a 100 per cent grant to transform the area. The livelihoods of millions of people in the Indo Gangetic Plain depend on those ecosystems which are also important for the entire world.

Uttarakhand is the only place in India where there is high-altitude farming and it is home to rare species of herbs and medicinal plants not available anywhere else in the world, such as the famous 'sanjivani' life-saving herb. Myth has it that when Laxman, the brother of the Hindu God Rama, was taken ill in Sri Lanka, the sanjivani herb was taken all the way from the Himalayas to nourish him back to health.

When the Chief Minister suggested that encouraging commercial production of these herbs could provide income for local communities, the President underlined the importance of creating value chains and linkages to local markets and of sustainable strategies for the future.

The challenges this might involve became crystal clear a few hours later when we were suspended in a German helicopter at 5000 feet above the Gharwali Himalayas range, with the snow-capped mountains of the Chow Khamba looming. Below us lay incredible terraced mountain slopes and pine forests, as we headed towards Chandra Badni where two rivers meet to form the mighty Ganges. The view was a stark reminder of how remote the Jogiyana village is and what infastucture and conncting roads would mean for the villagers.

We landed at Naikheri Khal and then drove, on what were often little more than tracks, to the village of Jogiyana, to see first hand how the IFAD-funded Livelihood Improvement Project in the Himalaya was impacting people’s lives.

The Gharwali community come from various backgrounds. We had been told that women had a particularly crucial role – traditionally and within the project - but were still slightly surprised to see that at the meeting the front seats were filled by women, with bright coloured headscarves and saris, with the menfolk at back. The President thanked them all, and remarked that in some societies it would often be the other way around.

He told them how deeply impressed he was with their determination and resilience. “The community group approach which underlies so much of IFAD’s work, and the empowering force of self help groups, has been at work here” he said.

Music is a powerful and constant presence in everyday life in Jogiyana, so the welcome event and the discussions with the Self Help Groups were all punctuated by music and local dancing.

But nothing could have prepared us for The Empowerment Song, a version of the civil rights hit “We Shall Overcome” sung in Hindi. The song asks the village to recognise women’s strengths, what they are capable of doing for the wellbeing of the community and their power to deliver social and economic change, with little daily changes leading gradually to a transformation in society.

We heard about these little changes from Khosa Bhat, the Federation President, filled us in on poultry raising and organic vegetable farming, where collection centres for vegetables production and direct marketing of produce has transformed incomes for the farmers. For example, for tomatoes, where they once received 5 rupees per kilo they now get 20 rupees, and the income from citrus fruits has increased fourfold, from 50 paisa each to 2 Rupees each.

“This federation, with 747 members, made 1.32 lakh - about US$3000 - in the last season from selling soya bean and organic seeds. With more market information and better packaging they will be able to improve further,” she said.

“I now produce soya beans and sell them direct to the market, cutting out the middleman”, said Mrs Thapliyar Pratabangar. “What we need next is a soya bean processing plant,” she added.

Despite severe water scarcity, Srimiaty Parmaswari, is now cultivating mushrooms. Popsing is raising chickens – running a mother unit – and rearing about 300 birds.

“It is important that these women are making money, with IFAD’s investment. Yet in this process of empowerment they have hung on tight to their culture and its spiritual value” the President noted.

The project has increased incomes by an average of 12 per cent through interventions in poultry, dairy off-season vegetables and off-farm businesses. The project has also helped reduce migration by 9 per cent, so young people are starting to realize there is a future here for them, that agriculture is business.

We watched a group of women making candles. They recounted how they had borrowed 20,000 rupees and put in 6,000 of their own. And they are making a success of it. At the last Divali – the Hindu festival of Light – they made 11000 rupees from candle sales.

They now want to expand into scented and decorative candles, but will need new moulds and are looking to target tourists at nearby Nainital.

One of the women - Durga Devi – has two boys and two girls – who are now all at school. Since the project began, she said, people are better nourished and families are ensuring their children attend school.

At the end of the visit to Jogiyana village, the President addressed a press briefing, along with Mattia and the project officers, giving their impressions of the project. Some 15 local media asked questions ranging from migration issues to the failure of poverty reduction schemes.

Several newspapers of the region highlighted the IFAD visit, as a sign of the state government’s appreciation that a UN agency head had decided to travel to remote local communities.

By Farhana Haque Rahman and Mattia Prayer Galetti

To mark the International Day to Eliminate Violence against Women on 25 November, IFAD’s Thematic Group on Gender, colleagues from the Communication Division and the United Nations Women’s Group (UNWG) joined hands to distribute white ribbons among male and female colleagues.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global effort of men who are not afraid to speak out against men’s use of violence. Women have joined the White Ribbon Campaign to work with men as allies towards a world without violence for women, children and other men.

Jessie Mabutas, Assistant President and IFAD Focal Point for the UN Secretary-General’s Campaign “UNITE to end violence against women”, kicked off the event by handing out white
ribbons to male colleagues, from senior managers to interns.
About 275 colleagues, mostly men, signed the signature poster of the White Ribbon Campaign and took the white ribbon as a symbol. They pledged not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and to influence other men and boys not to accept violence or justify violence.

This event showed how many IFAD colleagues are interested in stopping violence against women. It proved sceptics wrong who think gender based violence is not on the agenda of IFAD. It also helped us to question our attitudes and how each one of us is influenced by stereotypes. We demonize men as perpetrators of violence or argue whether women can also be violent. Instead, it would be much more helpful to support men who have the courage to speak out against sexual harassment and violence against women, and to encourage women to reach out to men and start a dialogue.

The white ribbon helps to create positive change by influencing men not to use violence and by nourishing greater respect among women and men. It is a symbol for change in gender relations.


A little slice of IFAD history

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, November 25, 2009 0 comments

When IFAD’s President learnt that Sartaj Aziz was also in New Delhi for high-level consultations he made it a point to pay a courtesy visit to one of the founding fathers of IFAD. Aziz – a well-known development thinker – is currently Vice-Chancellor of a national university in Pakistan.

It was touching and emotional for those who had known him – Mattia and myself – to see Aziz, in his mid-70s now, fit healthy and sharp as ever.

The two men bonded quickly with Sartaj Aziz sharing with the President some human details about the creation of IFAD, and the complexities and political undercurrents they had to handle to ensure that OECD countries, including the United States, and OPEC nations were all in sync.

Sarjat Aziz, a former finance minister and foreign minister of Pakistan, regaled the President with anecdotes of his encounters with Henry Kissinger, when at one point it seemed talks were near collapse because of disagreement on some issues.

“I still recall well the night of 13 June, 1977, at the plenipotentiary conference, where some of the creators had to thrash out an agreement late at night, bringing all member states to the table with a balanced foundation document for the institution…”

The President remarked that the creators of IFAD were geniuses.

He repeated something he shared in the last Town Hall meeting – that the agreement establishing IFAD covered everything, there was not one thing that could be added or without which IFAD could not proceed in its mission.

Sarjat Aziz congratulated the President on his election. “I am delighted that it is you who has taken on mantle of the organisation that has a noble mandate.

IFAD needs you now, just as it did then, the President told Sarjaz Aziz as he said goodbye.

Farhana Haque-Rahman and Mattia Prayer-Galetti

IFAD President in India – Day Two
At their meeting in New Delhi, IFAD’s President and Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), got straight down to business.

Along with other high-level personalities, Pachauri has been invited to take part in a Plenary Panel, to be moderated by CNN’s Jim Clancy, with the network’s agreement, at IFAD’s Governing Council (GC) in February. Pachauri, a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner on behalf of the IPCC, told the IFAD delegation that he was under pressure to fulfil a conflicting commitment. IFAD’s President, however, presented a compelling argument that Pachauri’s presence would add value to the GC and so draw greater attention to the issues facing poor rural people.

In their discussions, Pachauri credited Europe with taking the lead in international efforts to combat climate change by reducing emissions, with Japan also being ambitious and North America ‘still to come on board’ but noted it is a pity we are not making headway on this,” he said.

He recognised it was important that IFAD was focusing on these issues at a meeting which gathers 165 countries, because at least a dozen countries are on the brink of becoming failed states.

‘The implications of this are that there will be many more problems of governance and in some areas where governments will collapse there will be more illegal activity, more arms more drugs, more terrorists. These societies must be helped and not just with the eradication of poverty’ he said.

IFAD’s President noted that investment in rural communities is fundamental to shape societies and stem migration. He noted that from the Sahel to the mountains of Latin America climate change will exacerbate all the issues that Pachauri had raised, pointing to the Horn of Africa as evidence of how things can spiral out of control.

Pachauri proudly treated his guests to cups of special herbal tea with the support of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) of which he is Director-General.

“They have created over 3 hectares of farm where they are growing herbal plant seedlings, which are then given to farmers in Uttarkhand, along with training in organic cultivation using bio-fertilisers and post harvest processes” he said.

The President said he was keen for closer IFAD collaboration with TERI – on adaptation related to agriculture at community level and downscaling. “I shall be at your door step when ever you want. I have the highest regard for you and your organisation and what it is doing” was Pachauri’s reply.

The two development leaders also shared views on research related to rural poverty. Pachauri suggested that what was needed was more effective research to reach the doors of the poor and noted that the CGIAR system should embrace this further.
Regarding Maharashtra - the location of the most recent IFAD-funded project - and an area heavily dependent on rain fed agriculture, Pachauri noted that downscaling was needed, communities must be involved.

Pachauri has asked oil rich countries to convert oil wealth to soil wealth and Nwanze said, as a scientist himself he relates to soil health improvement vis a vis investment in healthy soils.

The President drew Pachauri’s attention to the work of the Global Environment and Climate Change unit of IFAD, (GECC) saying we would like to learn and work together on climate change-related issues. Pachauri warned that whatever happens in Copenhagen, international organisations must move on.

Meetings with ministers

India’s Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar, impressed on the President that it was important that farmers’ incomes be increased – particularly in the current scenario which saw them grappling with climate change. He noted that IFAD’s biggest strength is innovative financing but also raised the need for greater investment to grow the dairy sector, saying he would like to see IFAD stepping in where interests converge.

The Minister encouraged IFAD to coordinate ongoing and future work also through NABARD – the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development – on the following sectors: fisheries, dairy and animal husbandry.

Thomas Elhaut, Director of the Asia and Pacific Division, pointed out that IFAD is already focusing much more on these sectors given increased incomes and consumption and the President pointed out that IFAD’s India portfolio for the period 2010-2012 will increase to $140 million.

Referring to IFAD’s highly successful project in the North East project – which is to be scaled up by the Government with support from the World Bank - the Agriculture Minister praised IFAD for the emphasis it places on institution-building to ensure the sustainability of its programmes and projects.

In his call on Krishna Tirath, Minister of Women’s and Child Development, the President drew her attention to the emphasis IFAD places on women and youth, and his desire to increase collaboration on the empowerment of landless and tribal peoples.

“Our experience shows that women-headed households are four times more productive and communities with women headed households advance faster because they invest in women and kids – they invest in the future” he told her.

The President also noted that is India is an example of best practice from a performance point of view. A round table in New Delhi bringing together project managers and partners to help formulate strategies that will be presented to IFAD’s Executive Board to set a Road Map for investment in India over the next 5 years.

Empowerment of women is a priority of the Indian Government and the President was told that a new directorate is being set up under the Prime Minister’s office. The President noted ‘we are looking to new era of dynamic partnership with an increased portfolio in the country’.

Farhana Haque-Rahman and Mattia Prayer-Galetti with the President.

IFAD President meets India project directors

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, November 23, 2009 0 comments

The first day of the visit to India by IFAD President began with a meeting with India project directors in New Delhi. It was a precious opportunity for the President to receive a full briefing on the portfolio and to hear first-hand accounts of the progress made and the challenges they face in their work. Shaheel Rafique, Implementation Support Specialist, shared his impressions from the livelihoods improvement project in the Himalayas. “The common hope of people is to do something together, to mobilise their social capital to generate economic capital” he said.

The importance of IFAD’s work in improving livelihoods was picked up by Dr S. Swarna, the director of the livelihoods project in post-Tsunami areas, where those agencies who came for emergency relief have all left, but long term issues still remain.

“We focus on risk mitigation more, because most of the marginalised peoples, such as those from the tribes, live in risky locations and need support to gear up activities toward weather risk mitigation. We organize training sessions and strengthen smallholder groups, through a participatory method, involving the people from the design stage of the project. The government can build roads and create infrastructure, but what is most important is to respond to the peoples’ needs and that is what IFAD does’’ she said.

Another pillar of IFAD’s work in India s social empowerment, and this has been particularly successful in Maharashtra. A decision-making platform – supported by the Government’s Social Security Schemes - has been established for smallholder groups to discuss and decide on issues of common concern. “Savings have increased, and with that peoples lives have improved. The literacy rate has also increased, leading to people better understanding their rights” said Judith D'Souza,Implementation Support Specialist.

There have been big steps forward in promoting the empowerment of women too, she said, giving an example which from outside might seem small, but is huge in a context where women own so little.

“Women have gained the right to own the utensils they use to work. They used to receive for their dowry utensils engraved with their husband’s name - therefore were not the owners of the utensils – now they have their name engraved on them” she said.

IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze told the India IFAD project directors that their enthusiasm and dedication were impressive. “The excitement in your voices, despite the frustrations, is encouraging” he said. He pointed out that while India with its successful projects and programmes can be a model for our work worldwide,there is a need for greater visibility within the country.

“We were challenged by India’s Secretary of Finance during the World Bank meetings in Istanbul, that we are not sufficiently visible. Our work has to be visibile, by how we transform the lives of the people we work with and for, by how we impact. We have to be innovative, creative, delegate, decentralise, breed individuals we can rely on”.

Day One concluded with a reception hosted by in-country partners the World Food Programme (WFP), where the President met Agatha Sangma, India’s Minister for Rural Development, presenting her with a compilation volume on the 30 years of IFAD’s work in India.

Sangma, who is the world’s youngest minister, welcomed the President’s visit to India and IFAD’s collaboration with WFP, at a critical moment when the country has been hard hit by climate change and is experiencing severe droughts.

She underlined that IFAD has a role in ensuring that people in rural areas get attention. Coming herself from Garo hills, the Minister noted that rural development needs to be community-based. She recognized that this is IFAD’s approach and the way forward.

The President said she represents the future of India and the hope of leadership by younger people in both developed and developing countries.

The President went on to emphasize the strong collaboration with WFP and with FAO and the many successes in India, one of the first countriesto be given a loan by IFAD, thirty years ago.

Vartika Jaini, assistant programme manager at the Sir Ratan Tata, told the President that partnership with IFAD is all about sharing knowledge, helping scale up our programmes and developing partnerships for rural poverty reduction.

“Our own Rajasthan intiatives on microfinance are now being used as examples to be replicated in the IFAD empowerment project in Western Rajasthan” she said.

Mattia Prayer Galetti and Farhana Haque-Rahman with the President in India

Classes vertes au Burundi

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, November 18, 2009 0 comments

Les visites de terrain sont aux personnels des projets et programmes et aux fonctionnaires du FIDA, ce que sont les classes vertes sont aux écoliers et collégiens. Elles sont une sortie sur le terrain des activités et permet à ceux qui les font de s’imprégner de la réalité de ce que rapports et autres notes essaient plus ou moins bien de décrire.

Depuis le 16 novembre 2009, la quasi-totalité des responsables des projets et programmes que le FIDA finance en Afrique de l’Est et Australe sont réunis à Bujumbura, Burundi, dans le cadre de l’atelier annuel sur l’exécution de ses projets et des programmes. Cet atelier est organisé par la Division de l’Afrique de l’Est et Australe. Autour du thème central de l’amélioration de la productivité agricole pour répondre aux besoins du marché, quelques 200 participants échangent sur les questions de l’accès au marché et de la durabilité d’une part et de l’intégration de l’agriculture et de l’élevage d’autre part, pour améliorer la productivité agricole. L’atelier va s’achever le 20 novembre 2009.

Après deux journées intenses de travaux, ponctuées de communications des différents responsables de projets, programmes et fonctionnaires du FIDA et dont une demie journée consacrée à des sessions parallèles sur le rôle de la femme dans la productivité agricole, l’appui juridique et l’administration des dons et des prêts ; plus d’une centaine de participants sont allés à la découverte du Burundi rural et des populations rurales pauvres bénéficiant des appuis des cinq projets en cours dans le pays.

Trois groupes, fort enthousiastes, se sont ainsi rendus dans la matinée du 18 novembre, à plus d’une centaine de kilomètres de la capitale, vers les provinces de Bujumburu Rurale, de Cibitoke et de Gitega. Ils y ont rencontrés des responsables des services d’appui technique et des bénéficiaires des projets. Ainsi dans la Province de Cibitoke, un groupe de participants a pu visiter un atelier de couture, une menuiserie et discuter avec une association de femmes impliquées dans la vente de légumes et de fruits.

Un autre groupe, après avoir eu le privilège d’admirer les collines vertigineuses qui surplombent Bujumbura, sur la route de l’est vers le Rwanda, puis vers la Tanzanie a fait sa classe verte dans la Commune de Bugendana, Province de Gitega pour y visiter des infrastructures d’irrigation et toucher du doigt la réalité d’un programme d’intégration agriculture-élevage, thème au centre des discussions de l’atelier de Bujumbura. Cette visite, longue de plus de 12 heures a donné lieu à des échanges animés entre les bénéficiaires de cet appui du Programme de relance et de développement du monde rural (PRDMR) et dont les résultats sont visibles.

Le troisième groupe s’est rendu dans la Commune de Rumonge, Province de Bujumbura Rurale, pour s’entretenir avec des agriculteurs ayant reçu des boutures de manioc résistantes à la maladie de la mosaïque du manioc, des plants de palmiers à huile et autres animaux pour l’élevage. Souhaitons qu’ils raconteront l’aventure mémorable qu’ils y ont vécue !

UN Secretary-General visits IFAD

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, November 17, 2009 0 comments

IFAD was honoured to welcome the UN Secretary-General for the second time to its new head-quarters. The motorcade of the Secretary-General pulled in to IFAD premises at 15:30. Mr Ban Ki-moon was greeted by IFAD's President. "We consider your visit a special privilege given your very busy schedule", said the President.

IFAD staff welcomed Mr Ban Ki-moon with a long warm applause as he made his way to the President's office. In his private conservation with the President, the Secretary-General reassured the President of his fullest support and recognition of the services IFAD renders to poor rural people. Before addressing IFAD staff, Mr Ban Ki-moon exchanged a few words with IFAD management team.

In his address to staff, the Secretary-General thanked staff for their warm welcome. "I was very much touched when I was entering this building and you welcoming me in such a wholehearted manner”, said the Secretary-General. He commended staff for their commitment and hard work. "I am proud of you and I hope you are proud of having me as your Secretary-General", said Mr Ban Ki-Moon.

The Secretary-General complimented IFAD President for his leadership and underscored the important role IFAD plays in eradicating hunger and poverty. He called on IFAD to "help others to unite in action against hunger and poverty".

Mr Ban Ki-moon reminded staff that food security cannot be resolved without tackling climate change. He concluded by saying that "the world is watching us and that as United Nations we are the beacon of hope".

Earlier in the day, the President delivered a speech to the World Summit on Food Security. After the Secretary-General’s visit, IFAD President held a joint press conference with the UN Secretary-General, FAO’s Director-General and WFP’s Executive Director.

Habib Ur Reman Mayar, Aid Coordinator Officer, Ministry of Finance, Afghanistan, shares some thoughts about how he would like to see Afghanistan in ten years time.
Watch the video:


Khalil Baheer, Rural Finance Specialist, Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan (MISFA), talks about opportunities of the IFAD-supported Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Programme to work with the Islamic Banking System in Afghanistan.
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Khalil Baheer also talks about a growing demand for microfinance products in rural areas of Afghanistan.
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Anthony Bennett
, Dairy and Meat Officer, Animal Production Group, FAO, talks about FAO’s role in dairy development and in the IFAD-supported Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Programme in Afghanistan.
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Working with rural women and operational implications

The situation of women in Afghanistan is not easy. Therefore, the targeting of women requires a special attention. During the first part of the day participants discussed their experiences in working with rural women and targeting.

IFAD often targets women who are the head of their family. “A woman might be responsible for the income of her family but might not be the head of the family”, said Javed Rizvi from ICARDA. Another issue brought up relates to women who are officially married but do not get the deserving treatment from their husbands. Some times, a rural man has three or four wives who he abandoned for various reasons. These women are very poor and in many microfinance programmes their participation is the highest. “It is only the community who can tell you who is really poor,” Javed pointed out.

At the beginning of their operations in Afghanistan, BRAC staff (men and women) were not allowed to see women without having permission from their village head. “Once the leaders are convinced about our programme, they let us in,” said Fazlul Hoque from BRAC-Afghanistan. It takes a lot of effort to convince village leaders about programme benefits. “We have to depend on village elders to get information,” he pointed out. To address this issue, all BRAC staff are recruited locally – from the area where their programme operates. It is convenient in terms of language and acceptability. The problem is that lack of basic education discourages women from applying for the programme.

It is a challenge to find a well-qualified female staff. ICARDA’s approach to the problem is that it identifies two women in each village who are either well-educated or have experience in working in development programmes. When going to talk to women, they are accompanied by two men so they can easily enter other villages and reach local women. However, the situation of women is very location specific in Afghanistan. “In some villages, men cannot enter a village to talk to women, only a woman,” said Javed Rizvi from ICARDA. It is therefore important to rely on female activists in each village, who are receiving a small compensation from the project. “If something happens we know,” he pointed out. Rather than depending on a single source of information, BRAC has a network of people with whom it communicates. FAO tried to recruit female activists in villages but it was a difficult experience as their salaries could not be paid after completion.

In other cases, women are not interested to work in development programmes because they want to stay in their province or their families simply do not allow them. “Programme staff should talk to as many households as possible to improve their understanding about the benefits of programme activities. It is also important for programme staff to understand the capacities of people,” said Mohammad Ibrahimi, Livestock Specialist from the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Support Programme.

To be able to reach rural women, it is necessary to respect the local culture. “In villages, ICARDA staff don’t talk about irrelevant subjects like politics but only about the programme,” added Javed Rizvi. When recruiting a local woman for a development programme, her family must be involved and her terms of reference should be discussed and agreed on with the brother and father. Working with locals is a gradual confidence building.

FAO is putting a lot of effort, time and resources to train local people. “The more our programme advances, the easier it is for us to reach other places where we haven’t been before,” said Tek Thapa from FAO, Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, FAO concentrates more on outputs rather than outcomes since it is easier and talking about politics is avoided. “Going slow is important, otherwise there are chances of failures,” added Olaf Thieme from FAO, Rome.

Financial management

Shankar Kutty had a discussion with the PCU and service providers during which they tried to ‘iron out’ some of the issues of financial management and requirements of the programme. This resulted in some need for further clarification from service providers with regard to the requirements of the Government of Afghanistan. According to the service providers, the processes of the Ministry of Finance should be strengthened to avoid the many delays in fund releases. After the discussion, Shankar proceeded by responding to questions from the services providers and the PCU. In the afternoon we were able to resume the training in loan administration and financial management of the programme with the PCU account.

Knowledge management

The day ended with presentations by Martina Spisiakova from IFAD on knowledge management (KM). Martina started by explaining the basic concepts so that everybody understands what we mean by KM and knowledge, and then by giving an overview of KM in IFAD. Martina stressed that KM should be integrated in all programme’s processes including the monitoring and evaluation (M&E). M&E creates a large amount of information and the outputs that highlight programme progress are based on M&E. This is the reason why the information generated by M&E needs to be managed so that the findings and lessons learned can be disseminated, contribute to improved processes and systems and inform strategic decision-making in the future. Martina introduced the Knowledge Value Chain Approach to explain how value can be added to the knowledge generated in the context of programme activities and how critical reflection can help to assess programme outcomes. This and much more was covered in the presentation on linking KM to M&E.

IFAD’s corporate information system (Xdesk) and the Project Life File (PLF) was also presented showing the programme staff how to upload documents directly from the field, participate in team discussions and find information. Afghanistan will be the first country for which field staff will be sharing information through the PLF. Other stakeholders will be able to view this information. The Afghanistan programme has a privilege of having a Knowledge Management Officer (KMO) – Jawaid Samadey.

Concrete suggestions were made about how the programme staff should manage information and knowledge coming out of its activities, draw lessons from successes and failure, package and disseminate them to key people. During this workshop we also worked with Jawaid and others to outline the learning agenda (e.g. documenting the experiences of working with rural women) as well as concrete steps to developing a KM approach for the programme.


Matthew Robinson, Finance Director, Microfinance Investment Support Facility Afghanistan (MISFA) talks about how microfinance works in conflict areas and related challenges.
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Fazlul Hoque, Country Programme Head, BRAC-Afghanistan, talks about women and microfinance in Afghanistan.
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On the eve of the World Summit on Food Security, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB) have reached a groundbreaking US$1.5 billion framework cofinancing agreement that will strengthen their 30-year collaboration in supporting the world’s poorest people in common member countries. The agreement – the result of talks held in Rome today between Ahmad Mohamed Ali, President of IsDB, and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD – comes at a critical moment, when the international community has recognized that agricultural development is fundamental to feeding the world’s population. Today, sustained investment in agriculture – especially smallholder agriculture – is acknowledged as the key to food security.

Using their own resources, IFAD and IsDB will jointly finance priority projects in most of the 52 common member countries under their respective three-year lending programmes for 2010-2012. The two institutions hope that this cofinancing arrangement will attract additional funding from other development partners for joint interventions. With their shared objectives in the field of agriculture and rural development, the two institutions will focus their efforts on increasing productivity, yields, processing capacities and access to markets. Microfinance, combined with capacity-building and technology transfer, will enable hundreds of thousands of project beneficiaries to undertake a multitude of microenterprises and income-generating activities. IFAD and IsDB are committed to working together to improve rural infrastructure, promote local economic development and enhance food security.

The second day of the start-up workshop for the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Programme begun with good news. Our two Afghan participants that were held at the Dubai airport have been released thanks to assistance of the United Nations Security Office in Dubai and the Afghan Embassy. Here they are – Sayed Kefayatullah (left) and Nasrullah Mohmand – tired but happy to be free again!

According to the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, Afghanistan ranked 117th out of 159 countries. Irene Li from IFAD was invited to present IFAD’s policy on fraud and corruption. Some extensive discussion followed the presentation regarding anti-corruption measures, responsibility for reporting and handling corruption cases. According to Habib Ur Reman Mayar, Coordination Officer at the Ministry of Finance and Aid, the government can reduce the likelihood of corruption with the help of donor community. “Government can only be held accountable for the sound use of funds that come though their treasury”, he said.
Given the selection of service providers such as FAO and ICARDA that both have a zero tolerance policy and stringent internal control mechanisms, we are confident that IFAD’s own anti-corruption policy will be adhered to.

Ricardo Luna, Administrative and Finance Officer from FAO shared an interesting experience of insuring the transportation of items such as seeds, tools and fertilizers to difficult locations. In the past, transporters did not have any insurance for the goods they were transporting and, in the cases where these goods would be stolen (as often happens in Afghanistan), they refused to take responsibility for the loss. To minimize risks from loss or damage of transported goods, especially in insecure provinces, last month FAO hired a transportation company that has insurance with a Dutch Insurance company. In case of accidents, the transportation company is not responsible for the damage or loss of goods.

The participants also discussed arrangements for the programme’s M&E system. Given a variety of service providers it was agreed that a common approach is needed to ensure that the programme is able to capture, monitor and report the right information. Every six months, each service provider will have to prepare a progress report which will then be consolidated by the PCU by using a common reporting format. In addition, an annual progress reports will be prepared according to a template to be developed soon by the PCU.

The rest of the day was devoted to fine-tuning the logframe and agreeing on administrative and implementation arrangements... and celebrating the birthday of Javed Rizvi from ICARDA. Happy Birthday Javed!

Interview with Abdul Latif Zahed, National Programme Coordinator

IFAD is promoting the rights of women and improving their access to social and economic opportunities. Since this is the first IFAD-supported programme in Afghanistan, do you foresee any problems or resistance from both men and women?

Watch the video:


IFAD kicks-off its first initiative in Afghanistan through a start-up workshop

Posted by Martina Spisiakova Saturday, November 14, 2009 0 comments

From today, IFAD is holding a start-up workshop for its first initiative in Afghanistan – the Rural Microfinance and Livestock Programme. The event is taking place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Twenty-two stakeholders of the programme gather together for the first time to discuss and improve their understanding of important elements of project management, implementation and IFAD’s support.

Participants include staff from the Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU), Programme’s Lead Implementation Agency – Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) – and other important partners from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), FAO, ICARDA, BRAC Afghanistan (Bangladesh), Microfinance Investment Support Facility Afghanistan (MISFA) and First Micro Finance Bank (FMFB).

The first day started with bad news about two Afghan participants being stuck in the immigration office at Dubai airport having problems with their visa. We are doing our best, including the Ambassador of Afghanistan, to get them out of the airport... :-(

Most participants are new to IFAD so it was important for them to learn how the institution works. Maria Donnat started the day by presenting IFAD’s mandate and strategic objectives.

Abdul Latif Zahed, National Programme Coordinator and Assad Zamir, General Director of the Programme Implementation and Coordination Unit, MAIL, made a presentation on the role of agriculture in the Afghan economy, in food security, livelihoods, sustainable resources and national security.

They also shared some major challenges to rural development. Assad Zamir talks about how rural people are coping in the context of conflict.


Afghanistan’s top agricultural priorities include:

  • Improved production as the first step in building a value chain.
  • Agricultural credit for farmers which is legal, simple and fair, and which benefits farmers and small/medium businesses through established financial institutions and cooperatives.
  • Irrigation and watershed management on small, medium and large scale to heal damaged land, fight erosion, floods and drought.
  • Reform, capacity-building and change management at all administrative levels.
  • Land management – the Government owns 6m hectares, but only gets US$ 1m in revenue.
  • Marketing and international trade facilitation that requires increased farm productivity and off-farm jobs.
  • Strategic grain reserves as a protection from man-made and natural disasters by securing a minimum price for crops at harvest and domestic consumer price support when needed.
  • Improved certification of seeds to ensure quality.
Tekeste Tekie, FAO Representative, Afghanistan, talks about how the situation has changed for farmers over the last few years.


An interesting feature to be implemented by the programme is the ‘Young Professional Programme’ which will identify new university graduates and offer them learning and employment opportunities. For example, young professionals will learn various technical subjects relevant to their work, help the PCU in preparing programme documents and provide support to the M&E officer in collecting, organizing and recording data.

The session on targeting stimulated a lot of extensive discussion. How do we define a poor household? There is a misperception that the less livestock families have, the poorer they are. However, in Afghanistan, the poorest rural households sometimes have 2-3 cows that enable them to survive. An extra cow represents a ‘saving’ for a family.

Women are IFAD’s important target group. Maria explained why we choose women as beneficiaries of the programme. “They are the most vulnerable segment of the population in Afghanistan,” she said. However, participants expressed their concerns about mistargeting as a major risk. “More effort should be made so that beneficiaries are identified properly”, said Abdul Latif Zahed, National Programme Coordinator.

In Bangladesh for example, BRAC uses the participatory rural appraisal by involving communities in targeting. “Community people know best who should benefit,” said Md. Fazlul Hoque, Country Head of BRAC-Afghanistan (Bangladesh). MFIs will have to define their own criteria for defining clients, keeping in mind IFAD’s target group and at the same time minimizing the risks of mistargeting.

Another issue is how to reach women in the first place. “We cannot talk to a woman without having permission from her husband, brother or father,” said Javed Rizvi, Country Manager of ICARDA-Afghanistan Programme. “We knock on woman’s door but it is the husband who opens it,” he pointed out. Men will therefore be involved in the discussions which will contribute to raising their awareness about gender issues. “Cooperation of men is very important,” added Javed. Therefore, targeting should be done without a rush and step-by-step in order to be effective.

Maria provided an overview of programme logframe, expected results, quantitative targets and implementing arrangements. Through feedback and extensive discussion, we started identifying areas that need to be fine-tuned in the logframe and implementing arrangements.

Shankar Kutty finished the day by talking about basic programme requirements for financial management and audit. Individual service providers (ICARDA, MISFA and FAO) asked many questions in relation to progress reports, audits, financial statements, budget allocations and limits of reallocations within categories, eligible expenditures and procurement from non-member countries. This was just an overview which will be covered in detail in working groups in the days to come.

Speaking to participants at the 2009 Development Marketplace (DM), it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future. There are 100 finalists from nearly 50 countries here at the World Bank in Washington, DC. They are all participating in this year’s global grant competition, which is focused on climate adaptation. These social entrepreneurs were selected from among over 1700 applicants. Taken together, their projects represent “100 ideas to save the planet and its people from the effects of a changing climate.” This may seem like quite a tall order, but among these innovators, no challenge seems too great. In fact, one wonders how the DM jurors will manage to select which 20 to 25 project proposals most deserve to be funded.

The DM, now in its ninth year, is a competitive grant program administered by the World Bank. It seeks to identify and fund innovative, early-stage development projects that can be scaled up and replicated. Competition winners receive grant funding of up to US$200,000 each to implement their projects over two years. This year’s program is funded by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Bank, among others.

The 100 finalist project proposals for the 2009 DM fall into three sub-themes: resilience of Indigenous Peoples’ communities to climate risks; climate risk management with multiple benefits; and climate adaptation and disaster risk management. Many of the finalist proposals are focused on rural areas and share IFAD’s approach to climate change, which seeks to strengthen the resilience of poor rural people.

The 100 finalist teams will be presenting their ideas to attendees and jurors over the next few days. The winners of the 2009 DM will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday, 13 November. Stay tuned for additional blog entries on some of the specific finalist proposals and their teams.

To learn more about the DM, as well as the 100 finalists and their projects, please visit the Development market website.

Recent reports indicate that the rains have failed once again across vast swathes of Eastern Africa, putting millions of people at risk. This current regional crisis is a stark reminder to all of us that the global food security crisis of 2007 and 2008, which was marked by a sharp contraction in food supplies and food price spikes, is far from over. Food prices have come down from their peaks of 2008, but they are still at historically high levels. They have become more volatile, indicating underlying uncertainties, and are showing signs of rising again.

The future of global food security is highly dependent on two important and inter-related factors. The first is the degree to which developing countries will succeed in raising agricultural productivity through technological change and effective natural resource management. The second is the degree to which the world will succeed in limiting climate change, while helping developing countries adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects.

The scale of the challenge of assuring global food security is reflected in current projections for population growth, and the accompanying projected growth in the demand for food. On current trends, the world’s population is projected to swell from 6.8 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050. Most of the growth, as can be expected, will occur in developing countries. Feeding 9.1 billion people will require that overall global food production grow by 70 per cent. Production in the developing countries will need to almost double.

The enormous burden of feeding a growing global population is made heavier by the expected adverse impact of climate change on food production. Recent studies and projections paint a dire picture. In Eastern and South Asia, climate change is expected to affect rains, increase the frequency of droughts, and raise average temperatures, threatening the availability of fresh water for agricultural production. In sub-Saharan Africa, arid and semi-arid areas are projected to increase significantly. And in Southern Africa, yields from rain-fed agriculture are expected to fall by up to 50 per cent as early as 2020.

The impact of climate change on agriculture is therefore likely to lead to a loss of stability in productivity and an overall decline in food production. Unless urgent action is taken, climate change will undoubtedly worsen global food security and dramatically increase the number of people facing hunger and malnutrition. Current estimates indicate that climate change could put an estimated 63 million more people at risk of hunger by 2020.

The international community is squaring up to these challenges and is laying the groundwork to support low-income countries in their drive to boost agricultural production. The L’Aquila Food Security Initiative represents the most important step in this regard.

Such efforts must necessarily focus on the 500 million smallholder farmers worldwide who currently support around 2 billion people, or one third of the world’s population. Increasing their productivity is essential not only to secure the food and nutrition needs of these farmers, but also of the millions of people who depend on them.

The recent global food security initiatives must be complemented by concrete steps to limit climate change if their goals are to be met. It is therefore vital that at Copenhagen negotiators indeed ‘seal a credible climate deal’. I hope that the agreement not only delivers cuts in emissions, but also recognizes the close and unique relation between food security and climate change.

In its 30 years of work, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has supported smallholder farmers with the aim of raising their productivity and their incomes, thus improving their food security. Such support has included a wide variety of interventions including agricultural research and extension; farmer field schools; farm input supply; forestry; veterinary services; support to farmers’ organizations and cooperatives; as well as support to rural finance institutions. In recent years, IFAD has expanded its programmes to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change by making available, for example, improved seeds that are more resistant to drought or to floods.

These programmes have shown the enormous potential of smallholder farmers to increase food production and follow environmentally sound practices. Smallholder farmers will undoubtedly play a major role in improving global food security. Yet, if their potential is to be realized, their efforts must be complemented by effective measures to limit the potentially devastating effects of climate change.

Kanayo F. Nwanze

About IFAD’s PresidentKanayo F. Nwanze began his term as IFAD’s fifth President on 1 April 2009. A Nigerian national, Nwanze has a strong record as an advocate and leader of change and a keen understanding of the complexity of development issues. He will be attending COP15, and will be a keynote speaker during the Agricultural and Rural Development Day on 12 December.

United Nations Climate Change Conference

Climate change solutions lie with poor communities

Posted by Roi Avena Friday, November 6, 2009 2 comments

By Robert L. Domoguen, Philippine Country Programme Management Team Member

Experts discussing their topics on agriculture and climate change at the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market (KLM) sessions this morning (21 October 2009) said that the poor are not to be blamed for this weather anomaly’s occurrence and destruction on the nation.

The poor are the least responsible, if we are searching for someone to blame for climate change. Still, they are the most vulnerable and suffer all types of hardships that are likely to emerge as a result, according to Ms. Marie Nunez of OXFAM.

Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng brought the reality of the impact of climate change into our doors. Filipinos have yet to take into account the long-term consequences of the destruction wrought by both typhoons. Another super typhoon, code named Ramil is threatening North Luzon. It will force Filipinos, most of whom are unaware of scientific adaptation strategies for coping with climate change, to search for much needed solutions.

Climate change solutions lie with poor communities

In the Philippines, the search for climate change solutions must begin with participatory planning at all levels. Farmers groups, local government units (LGUs), government agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) will need to sit together to understand and prepare actions to deal with climate change. The planning and execution of plans will also need to go beyond political boundaries. This is because the environment and consequences of climate change go beyond political boundaries, according to Mr. Eduardo Queblatin of UNDP.

Most Filipinos, especially the farmers, remain unaware of scientific adaptation strategies for coping with climate change. “However, we have braved the adversity associated with climate variability. We are responding to weather changes informally, the best way we can,” said Mr. Efren Arroyo, enterprise development coordinator of PAKISAMA. The latter is a nationwide farmers organization engaged in the promotion of organic agriculture. Arroyo said adaptations to climate change in the Philippines will need to consider farmers, fishermen and indigenous experiences in dealing with weather-related natural calamities. Strategies to cope with climate change will need to build on systems adapted to local philosophy, culture, and traditions.

The government has ratified numerous international climate change commitments including the Philippine Agenda 21. Popular participation remains a challenge to be addressed, Arroyo explained. His brief talk sought wide consultations on the government’s policy framework and for vulnerable poor communities who bear the brunt of climatic changes to be given opportunities to express themselves. There is a need to look into this information gap.

During the open forum, speakers agreed that the potential contributions from the poor communities must be sought in order to come up with an all inclusive plan. This will result in the crafting of plans and policies that are useful to and widely supported by them. When the results are dependent on the people, more effort is needed to strengthen the capacity of local people as well as to improve on their experiences and traditional knowledge in order to develop relevant techniques that can be included in national policies. -30-

Remittances, the portion of migrant workers' earnings that are sent back home to their families, have been a critical means of financial support for families in the Philippines for a few decades now. For the most part, however, these inflows have been historically hidden from plain view and are not that easy to account for. But all that is changing as the scale of migration increases and the corresponding growth in remittances gains widespread attention.

This has been elaborated by the different speakers during the talk show on “Potentials of Remittances for Micro Enterprise Development” hosted by Ariel Ayala of the Catholic Media Network at the SM Megatrade Hall 3, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines, during the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market. It was attended by some 100 participants from various migrant groups, local government units, national government agencies, the media, and NGOs.

Angela Villalba, Executive Director of Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Inc. pointed out some concerns:
  • No direct link between remittances and rural development but remittance was able to put food on the table, send children to school and other activities related to household consumption
  • There are few cases where remittances were put into micro enterprises in rural areas such as a rice center in Surigao, coco fiber processing in Davao and integrated farming in Bukidnon

Observations and insights from Mr. Benel Lagua, President & COO of the Small Business Guarantee & Finance Corporation:

  • Remittances in 2008 amounted to PhP16.4 billion and continue to grow on an annual basis.
  • The link between agriculture development and remittances has not been established, but that definitely the potential can be tapped, thus the need for real intervention and not just allow market forces to dominate.
  • Remittances coming into families in the Philippines are spent for consumption, housing, and education.
Experiences and inputs from Sana F.K. Jatta, CPM of IFAD:
  • IFAD study on remittances focuses on gender, behavior and the investments made using the money
  • Study shows that more women remitted than men
  • Remittances related to agriculture were for purchase of land and technology
The different speakers shared the same views and came up with the following suggestions and recommendations.

Ms. Villalba said that an NGO may suggest to IFAD, SBGFC, and other government agencies the promotion of social ventures supported by appropriate policies.

Mr. Lagua emphasized that remittances per se will not bring development; it is not the panacea or ultimate solution to our problems. Our migrant workers should be encouraged to invest in agriculture and the government should provide the necessary infrastructures and market opportunities as well.

Some feedback from the audience:

"The talk show was nice but the time was limited!" - Susan Perez, DAR-FAPsO.

"An informative and incisive discussion!" – Marlene Tablante, KLM-TWG

Reported by KLM3 Knowledge Facilitators:

Amor Grace B. Babaran
DARPO-IX, Zamboanga del Norte

Orlen Ocleasa
M&E Coordinator, ACDI VOCA

The case was presented on 20 October 2009 during the 3rd IFAD-Philippines Knowledge and Learning Market, Mandaluyong City. Please see the following link for the actual slide presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/vcnmciremp/climate-change-mitigation-and-adaptation-the-case-of-the-ikalahan-forest-carbon-development

Ecosystem services (ES) have tremendous importance but they are rarely valued or, worse, they are not valued at all because the environment is almost always taken for granted. Since nature has been provided for free, everyone thinks that he can take everything he wants from the environment without paying for it, thus resulting to the decline of this very precious natural resource.

To be able to address this, the concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) was born to give value and importance to nature by paying the people who are actually taking care of it. PES, according to Wunder, is a voluntary transaction wherein an ES or a land-use that is likely to secure that ES is being provided by a seller, and is being bought by a buyer if and only if the seller continuously provides the service (i.e. the concept of conditionality).

Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) is one of the most popular PES schemes. CDM is the only flexibility mechanism that involves participation of developing countries through the reforestation and afforestation of their degraded areas to act as sinks for carbon, which can result to the adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Crucial to the CDM process is the product design document (PDD), which determines if the project can qualify or not.

Kalahan, which is located in the Province of Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, has been selected by RUPES (Rewarding Upland Poor for Environmental Services they provide), as a site to pilot-test forest carbon development. The Ikalahan Ancestral Domain (IAD) is the home of Indigenous Peoples (IPs) Kalaguya and Ikahan, where they formed themselves as the Kalahan Educational Foundation (KEF) to battle out their rights of tenure to the land.

Kalahan has a great potential for forest carbon development. For instance, they already identified 900 hectares of denuded lands and grasslands, with an estimated carbon sequestration of around 90000 tCO2/20 years. Their strategy is community-based management employing forest-tree plantation and agroforestry farm development. The direct implementers would be the IP land/parcel owners themselves, and KEF would be the project proponent.

The World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) through RUPES is extending technical and financial assistance and has helped in the preparation of KEF’s Project Identification Notes (PIN) and estimated the carbon baseline of grasslands and the potential carbon sequestration of the proposed site.

The Mitsubishi UFJ Securities (MUS) offered consultancy services to help KEF in the CDM process, through the PDD preparation up to the project’s application and registration to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

There are many challenges facing KEF, which include: 1) Coming up with a PDD, 2) actual field implementation, 3) project maintenance and monitoring.
So with these challenges, can KEF do it?
According to Emma Abasolo, “Yes they can! Kalahan has a great potential for forest carbon development. With IFAD, through RUPES’ financial and technical assistance, KEF has the potential to comply and meet the requirements of carbon markets.”

By KLM 3 Social Reporters: Emma Abasolo, ICRAF and Vherna Castilla, NMCIREMP