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Policy engagement is key, but… how to assess its impact?

Posted by cortescarrasbal Monday, June 29, 2015 0 comments


By Tomás Rosada, IFAD’s Regional Economist for LAC and Ed Heinemann, Lead Technical Specialist – Policy in PTA.

Policies have an impact on every dimension of poor rural people's lives. They shape economic opportunities, provide a ladder for people to climb out of poverty or can prevent them to make it to that ladder.

For IFAD, policy engagement is a core part of our business. It is the only way to create the conditions for larger numbers of rural people to move out of poverty, above and beyond the impact of individual projects.

IFAD-funded projects and programmes are increasingly becoming laboratories to test new ways of tackling rural poverty. When lessons and learning from our investment activities are scaled up and incorporated into policy framework at a national level, the projects achieve their ultimate goal and targets.

Policy engagement happens in many different ways:

  • Supporting the creation and strengthening of public institutions working on rural development policies and rural people’s organizations
  • Promoting fora for sharing experiences and concerns between governments, rural people and private sector players
  • Operationalizing policy programmes at local, regional and national levels.

It is hard to tell when a change in policy will have a positive impact on the lives of rural people, and it is even more difficult to assess the overall contribution policy engagement. Yet answering these questions is key if we want to be able to assess our performance in this field.

Policy engagement: A central part of development work

Some days ago, IFAD hosted the event Assessing the Impact of Policy Engagement. This gathering provided a unique opportunity for IFAD and its partners to reflect on these questions.

IFAD’s Senior Policy Technical Specialist Lauren Phillips, – set the scene: "for IFAD, policy engagement is the process by which IFAD, and IFAD-supported projects and grants, work with governments and other national actors to create, reform, implement or monitor policies.

"The final goal is to influence policy (the combination of laws, regulations, institutional approaches and practices) and to shape it in a way that allows poor rural people to overcome poverty", said Phillips.

John Young, Head of the Research and Policy in Development Programme at ODI ©IFAD
John Young is Head of the Research and Policy in Development Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a well-known British think tank. For him, policy engagement is a “central part” of international development work.

“Outright policy change is rare and the causes that lead to it are often unique and rarely able to be replicated.”

However, a number of frameworks and approaches can help to overcome conceptual and technical difficulties when it comes to assessing the impact of policy engagement. All of them involve developing a theory of change: a logical model or roadmap of how one envisages policy changes.

“The earlier and clearer you have your theory of change, the easier it is to check it against delivery.”

Review what works and what doesn’t

Ignacia Fernández, Lead Researcher at the Latin-American Centre for Rural Development (RIMISP), talked about a successful experience of policy engagement in four countries of Latin America. The IFAD-funded project Knowledge for Change has allowed RIMISP to set up Rural Dialogue Groups (GDR) in Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador.

The GDRs are fora where representatives of these countries’ authorities and smallholder organizations discuss how to create a political environment for poor people to overcome poverty. They have facilitated the adoption of policies in favour of family farming in the areas of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change and agricultural innovation.

Susana Márquez and Ignacia Fernández, first and second on the left ©IFAD
After three years of experience, RIMISP was able to set up an evaluation strategy for GDRs based on a model called steps of influence. Its aim is to identify which actors contribute to policy changes -and how.

“This has allowed us to learn more and better about which mechanisms led to positive outcomes and which mechanisms failed and have to be redesigned.”

Susana Márquez, Planning and Strategy Manager at the Unit for Rural Change (UCAR), Argentina’s national branch of the Specialized Meeting on Family Farming (REAF) illustrated some of their achievements of this policy dialogue body of the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR, the free trade area formed up by Argentina, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela).

REAF has functioned as a political forum for representatives of family farmers’ organizations, academia, civil society and policy-makers from MERCOSUR countries to discuss public policies targeting family farming. REAF policy recommendations have been implemented at a national level, including both pro-family-farming legislation and financial support programmes.

Márquez made clear that REAF “has no crystal ball. Yet we know now some approaches work and some do not.”

And what does work? “The adoption of a strict methodology, the definition of clear but broad objectives and, above all, flexibility. To create policy engagement you have to be flexible, trusted by both governments and civil society.”

National strategies to define policy engagement targets

Óscar García, director of IFAD's Independent Office of Evaluation pointed to the Results-Based Country Strategies (COSOPs) as an essential pillar to build on policy engagement.

“The COSOP preparation process is where IFAD and governments agree on how they can collaborate to promote rural development. To evaluate what that collaboration brings about is impossible if we don’t know what we want to achieve.”

Left to right: Edward Heinemann, Óscar García, Paolo Silveri and Lisandro Martín ©IFAD
He also shared a proposed framework for evaluating policy engagement – one that recognises the complex policy cycle and the need to distinguish between policy dialogue, adoption, implementation and outcomes.

Lisandro Martín, IFAD’s Senior Portfolio Manager, reminded us of the strong correlation that exists between good policies and good project outcomes. “Thus, it is critical for IFAD to have a specific focus on policy engagement as part of its self-assessment system.”

Martín underscored that COSOPs are the natural space to capture policy engagement objectives and activities, but “we need to be conceptually clear as to what can be attributed to IFAD’s policy engagement and the outcomes and impact to which it contributes.”

As we closed this half-day event, the following lessons emerged: First, there is no single right method to assess the impact of policy dialogue. Second, and more importantly, every path starts by knowing where you want to go. Otherwise, is impossible to know whether you have arrived or not.


You can consult the summaries of some of the presentations made at the learning event Assessing the Impact of Policy Engagement:

Remittances for development: progress and way forward

Posted by Beate Stalsett Friday, June 26, 2015 0 comments

By Pedro De Vasconcelos, Manager of the IFAD Financing Facility for Remittances

How can we maximize the development impact of remittances?

This was the key question of the fifth Global Forum on Remittances and Development, which ended in Milan last Friday after four days of substantive dialogue and debates. More than 400 participants attended from 88 countries around the world.

In 2014, global remittances to developing countries reached US$436 billion, exceeding official development assistance by at least three times. The forum focused on how to leverage these funds for social and economic development in recipient countries. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the funds received could be invested in productive activities and small businesses.

While today there is greater appreciation of remittances by governments and the international community than ever before, there are still many barriers that prevent remittances from meeting their development potential.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD's President, opens the Global Forum on Remittances and Development.
©IFAD
The forum started with the warm-hearted observance of the first International Day for Family Remittances. 

In his opening, IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze reminded the audience that remittances are the largest poverty alleviation mechanism adopted by millions of migrant workers around the world in benefit of their families back home.

In her keynote address, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, speaking in her role as the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, also acknowledged the importance of remittances. "We should never forget that to millions of families in developing countries remittances represent their only hope for building a better future", she said.

Enabling environment to transfer remittances

Participants rallied around the need for more proportionate regulations and a more enabling regulatory environment for remittances. In particular, payments systems should be more integrated and adapted for transfers of small amounts of money.

The issue of de-risking was much discussed and will remain an area for future work. Money transfer operators and companies present at the forum called for the opening of a dialogue with regulators. De-risking is the closing of bank accounts of money transfer operators, which they need to operate, by banks due to perceived legal, regulatory sanctions and anti-money laundering/countering of financing terror measures.

Unleashing the potential of new technologies 

There was a wide consensus on the promise of technology to provide cheaper, more efficient and far-reaching remittances.

The use of mobile and online technologies has led to a transformation of the landscape for domestic remittances in many countries, for example in Kenya. Their use in cross-border transactions, however, remains limited and is hampered by the lack of international interoperability of mobile systems and of regulation harmonization between countries. The value of international remittances sent through mobile phones accounted for less than 2 percent ($10 billion) of global remittance flows ($542 billion) in 2013, according to the World Bank.

H.M. Queen Máxima of the Netherlands delivering her keynote speech at the opening of the Global Forum
©IFAD

Ensuring impact on development: financial inclusion is key

Public-private-people partnerships and dialogue with migrants and recipient families were the leitmotiv when discussing concretely how remittances can harness development locally.
The private sector is very key in that respect. By providing access first to savings accounts and then loans and insurance, banks and money transfer operators can offer millions of people the possibility to invest, develop their activities and start small businesses. Currently only about 10 per cent of rural people in developing countries have access to even the most basic financial services.

Participants discussed how to go beyond pilot activities and take proven models and scale them up to maximize development. The IFAD Financing Facility for Remittances is launching a call for proposals to that effect. Guidelines will be published in September 2015.

Costs can be further reduced

While progress has been made to reduce transfer costs in recent years, more should and can be achieved through increased competition and the introduction of new technologies. With a global average of about 8 percent, costs remain too high and are much higher in many places, for example in Africa.

Next steps

It was agreed that joint efforts need to be pursued to reduce transfer costs, to increase the use of new technologies and to improve financial inclusion. Particular attention also should be paid to the role remittances can play in the post-2015 development agenda and their contribution to the sustainable development goals.

The next global forum will take place in New York in 2017 to assess progress towards the goals related to remittances.

First awards for excellence in remittances and social and economic development

The forum closed with a ceremony to recognize practices that make a real difference to migrants and their families.

The FFR gave four awards for efforts to help leverage remittances for development. Awardees were: WorldRemit, the world’s largest mobile-centric money transfer service; Mame Khary Diene, CEO of Bioessence and a successful diaspora entrepreneur; the Central Bank of the Philippines which set up a Economic and Financial Learning Programme one component of which targets overseas Filipinos and remittance-recipient families; and the non-profit Asociación Mexicana de Uniones de Crédito del Sector Social (AMUCSS), a network of rural financial institutions and micro banks.



IFAD Annual Report 2014: Cheat sheet

Posted by Hazel Bedford Thursday, June 25, 2015 0 comments

Find out more about the annual report 2014 on
IFAD's website.
I’ve been writing an Annual Report cheat sheet for a couple of years now and people tell me they find it useful. So here’s the potted version of AR2014 key facts and figures.

These are the big numbers, correct as at 31 December 2014:
  • 224 ongoing programmes and projects with an IFAD investment of US$5.4 billion and a total value of US$12.3 billion 
  • 26 new programmes and projects approved in 2014 with loans, DSF grants and ASAP grants worth US$713.4 million 
  • 64 new grants approved in 2013 worth US$51 million 
  • The target for IFAD10 was agreed at US$1.44 billion. 
At the time of publication (June 2015), total IFAD loan and grants approved since 1978 were worth nearly US$16.6 billion and the programmes and projects we support had reached about 445 million people.

If you want the details behind those figures, or more information on the various types of cofinancing, disbursements or repayments – take a look at Table 2, IFAD at a glance, on page 48.

Here's the breakdown of the numbers region by region.

West and Central Africa
  • 47 ongoing projects in 22 countries 
  • US$1,076.5 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio 
  • 6 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$157.8 million 

East and Southern Africa
  • 43 ongoing projects in 17 countries 
  • US$1,212.9 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio 
  • 4 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$94.9 million 

Asia and the Pacific
  • 56 ongoing projects in 20 countries 
  • US$1,752.8 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio 
  • 8 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$269.5 million 

Latin America and the Caribbean
  • 42 ongoing projects in 21 countries 
  • US$617.4 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio
  • 1 new project for a total IFAD investment of US$4.0 million 

Near East, North Africa and Europe
  • 36 ongoing projects in 18 countries and Gaza and the West Bank 
  • US$698.2 million invested by IFAD in the region’s ongoing portfolio 
  • 7 new programmes and projects for a total IFAD investment of US$187.3 million 

Not just numbers 

The Annual Report isn’t just about numbers, however. It’s also about issues, strategies and stories. The Programme of Work chapter gives an overview of the current main priorities in each region and key areas of work with results. Pie charts for each region show 1978-2014 investments and disbursements by lending terms.

2014 was a busy year for IFAD on the international policy dialogue and advocacy front. The Major Initiatives and New Programmes chapter gives our main messages and achievements in areas such as the post-2015 agenda, nutrition, indigenous people and work with young people.

If you're interested in the details of all the new programmes and projects, all newly approved programmes, projects and large grants are summarized on the AR CD-ROM. We also give a link to projects in the pipeline page if you want to keep ahead of the game.

To see which countries we’re working in and where we have country offices, take a look at the map. And last but not least, read the stories from the field in the Programme of Work chapter and learn about our work on the ground.

Don’t forget, if you want more than this one-page cheat sheet, there are plenty of other options.

If you’re the kind of person who reads big fat tomes, you’ll want the full 174-page report (which includes a wealth of information and detail, including all new programmes, the Financial Statements and more). If you prefer something more succinct, try the 64-page print report. It has all the key info, the pictures, the stories and the graphics.

Shorter still are the Annual Report Highlights at just 12 pages, but still including stories and pictures. 

I’d like to close with a big thank you to the many people who have contributed to AR2014.

It’s a team as big as a film crew: the focal points who provide the info – coordinating input from their own colleagues, including CPMs and regional economists – and give feedback and guidance during drafting, those who write their own sections, the people who give us the numbers, directors who give support and clearance, the production teams in the four languages, the production coordinator, the editor, the photo editor, the sub-editor, the translators, the in-house and external designers, the editorial assistant, the proofreaders and the webteam. Everyone has contributed a huge amount and I hope you will all be happy with the end result.

As usual, we’re launching the Annual Report on social media. If you want to join the conversation, take a look at our Facebook page and follow us on twitter with the hashtag #ifadar. Please tweet your favourite quotes and facts and figures to your followers.

Come and go around the world with Calle 13 and PROCASUR.

Posted by Ariel Halpern Tuesday, June 23, 2015 0 comments

find yourself in the others,
learn that we are equal
and distinct at the same time
that´s the adventure of life,
here are the smiles
of those that open new paths


What feels to be freed of territorial and cultural boundaries and make from the world our learning ground?
How to trace a path to happiness that starts with listening and learning from our own people?
Outstanding rural women and men, farmers, artisans, weavers, indigenous people, local authorities and youth leaders from across the south are our inspiration. Thank you all for sharing a life of efforts, for showing us the way that, from the grassroots to the top, we can change this world for better.
PROCASUR proudly present this Video inspired by thousands of local champions and the poetry and music of Calle 13, a talented young music band of Puerto Rico that interprets our journey very well.

Enjoy the smiles and the rhythms, and start walking differently. Today.

Share it, comment it.

With all our appreciation: La vuelta al mundo. 
Please click here for the video: https://vimeo.com/114770883

https://vimeo.com/114770883

by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser, Gender and Social Inclusion, Policy and Technical Advisory Division

Accurate evaluation of results and impact has become a top priority for IFAD and our partners over recent years but in the field of gender equality there is still a long way to go. To measure women’s empowerment in a meaningful way, data have to be not only disaggregated by sex but also to reflect the reality of women’s lives. 
In May, the Rome-based agencies participated in an Expo event organized by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation focusing on “Measuring the empowerment of rural women”. The event was opened by a think-piece on the key issues and challenges of measuring rural women’s empowerment by Marco Zupi from Centre for International Political Studies. Other panellists were from ACRA-CCS Foundation and AIDOS.

On behalf of IFAD, I reported on the Fund’s special interest in this topic in recent years, both at the global and corporate levels.

At the global level, we have contributed substantially to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) discussions around rural women’s empowerment. The need for active engagement drew on the experience from 2012 when the RBAs, together with UN Women and other agencies, set out to report on the progress of rural women against the eight MDGs.

However, there were challenges. Many of the data were not disaggregated by sex, yet alone by rural-urban dimensions – hence the information available was patchy and incomplete. More importantly, many of the indicators did not resonate with the lives of rural women.

© Alessandra Gabero
Women farmers are major producers of food and yet their efforts are regularly hampered by their lack of access to productive resources, inputs, technologies, services and markets. And it is about more than just the role of women as economic actors. We also want to know if there have been improvements in the quality of their lives, in terms of nutrition, health, gender-based violence and the use of harmful traditional practices.


This lack of valid, useful data spurred us on to play a more active role in ensuring that the new SDGs would reflect more meaningful change from the perspective of rural women, with a focus on economic empowerment, decision-making and voice, workloads and quality of life. We were active in the drafting of proposed indicators for SDG2 on Hunger, food security and nutrition, sustainable agriculture. We also ensured that rural women’s perspective was reflected in SDG5 on Gender equality and women’s empowerment.

At the corporate level, there are gaps in the data we regularly collect from the field. We are good at collecting sex-disaggregated data at the activity and output level: in terms of the number of women and men trained, who are savers or borrowers, or are members or leaders of various groups, etc. However, we lose the gender perspective as we progress to project outcomes and final impacts.

The gender team in PTA has been working with PMD Front office and SKD to fill this gap. We have adapted the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), which was launched in 2012 by IFPRI, USAID Feed the Future and OPHI. The index measures women’s empowerment in five domains, which can be grouped to tie in with the three strategic objectives of IFAD’s policy on gender equality and women’s empowerment (see figure below).

WEAI Dimensions of Empowerment
WEAI Indicators
Objectives  of
IFAD’S Gender Policy
PRODUCTION
1. Input in productive decisions
Economic empowerment
2. Autonomy in production
RESOURCES
3. Ownership of assets
4. Purchase, sale, or transfer of assets
5. Access to and decisions on credit
INCOME
6. Control over use of income
LEADERSHIP
7. Group member
Decision-making and representation
8. Speaking in public
TIME
9. Workload
Equitable workloads balance
10. Leisure

We have undertaken statistical analysis on various WEAI datasets to experiment with fewer indicators, fewer questions per indicator and the introduction of additional questions to capture dimensions of empowerment relevant to IFAD’s work. These revised questionnaires are being piloted in some ongoing impact assessments, the updates to the Results and Impact Management System (RIMS) and a NEN grant.

And why is there so much attention on indicators? A lot of work has already been done yet there is a great deal still to do in the area of indicators for women’s empowerment. This is because it is vital to find out the extent to which IFAD-supported projects contribution to gender equality and the empowerment of women. This is significant as an end it its own right. 

However, perhaps of more interest to an international financial institution such as IFAD and our drive towards evidence-based investments and policy dialogue, is the crucial link between women’s empowerment and improved, deeper and more sustainable project outcomes and impacts.

A special event will be held later in the year to discuss IFAD’s adaptations to the WEAI.

IFAD Lead Agency on New GEF Programme to Tackle Food Security

Posted by Ricci Symons Tuesday, June 16, 2015 0 comments

IFAD utilises many partnerships to ensure that it can achieve its goal of empowering rural smallholder farmers to achieve food security. Here we talk to Estibalitz Morras Dimas, IFAD's Environment and Climate Division's Portfolio Officer about a new IFAD undertaking.

Can you explain briefly the relationship between IFAD and the Global Environment Facility (GEF)?

For more than 15 years IFAD has been one of the executing agencies of the GEF. The GEF is a partnership for international cooperation where 183 countries work together with international institutions, civil society organizations and the private sector, to address global environmental issues. Together IFAD and GEF are working together in 42 countries, with a total portfolio of US$ 253 million.

What is IAP?

The Integrated Approach Program (IAP) is a new way of using GEF funds. For the next four years, IFAD will seek to produce multiple environmental benefits by working with a broad range of organizations and sectors. Currently there are three new "pilot" programmes addressing global commodities, sustainable cities and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa (led by IFAD).

In the case of the Integrated Approach for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, the GEF wants the management of natural capital - land, soil, water, vegetation and genetic resources - to be a priority in the transformation of the agriculture sector for food security. This program will support twelve countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda) targeting agro-ecological systems where the need to enhance food security is linked directly to opportunities for generating global environmental benefits.

IAP aims to promote the sustainable management and resilience of ecosystems and their different services (land, water, biodiversity, forests) as a means to address food insecurity. At the same time, it addresses various barriers (policy, institutional and knowledge) to emphasize a shift toward safeguarding the natural capital that underpins its sustainability and resilience for food security in the long term.

The programme will adopt a three-pronged approach that:

1) Engages stakeholders across the public and private sectors, and across environment and agriculture to foster collective action and coherent policies,

2) Acts to scale up, diversify and adapt practices for a large-scale transformation of agro-ecosystems, and

3) Tracks impacts on ecosystems services and resilience to assess progress and enable more informed decision-making on agriculture and food security  on many levels.

Why is IFAD the lead agency for coordination of IAP Food Security?

IFAD throughout its African portfolio of projects promotes a "multiple-benefit" approach, building food security and climate resilience, through managing competing land-use systems at the landscape level while at the same time reducing poverty, enhancing biodiversity, increasing yields and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. IFAD is thus well placed to leverage support from its investment portfolio on natural resources management in Africa to scale up investments in integrated approaches for sustainability and to lead IAP-Food Security. Overall coordination of IAP Food Security will be the responsibility of IFAD, in its capacity as the lead GEF agency for the programme, and the GEF Secretariat.

Other GEF Agencies participating in IAP Food Security will be UNEP, FAO, UNDP, World Bank, Conservation International and UNIDO.

What is the next step for IAP?

The 48th GEF Council recently approved in June 2015 $116 million Program for Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total GEF financing of $106.5 million will be supplemented by $805.36 million co-financed from the governments, development agencies, foundations, international organizations, and the private sector

The detailed country design documents will start in the following weeks. It's expected that IAP Food Security will start its implementation around the last quarter of 2016.
 
For more information on IAP, click here

By Viateur Karangwa

Simplified post harvest technologies at household level
Harvest seasons in Rwanda may be followed almost immediately by new planting seasons giving rise to two issues: 1) farmers may have to divide their time between harvesting old crops and preparing for planting new ones, and 2) the weather may be wet at harvest times predisposing harvested crops to moisture related quality deterioration.

To contend with the compressed cropping season, the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) has enacted a set of programmes to reduce post-harvest losses. Among them, the Climate Resilient Post harvest and Agri-business Support Project (PASP) has prioritized connecting business operators with financing institutions and creating awareness on climate risk management.

PASP has identified training, coaching and close follow up with farmers as an entry point before constructing post-harvest infrastructure. Stakeholders continue to discuss how they can coordinate their efforts to ensure PASP achieves its targets.

Following training sessions held on 24th December 2014, and continued coaching from PASP technical staff and agronomists from sector and district levels, farmers in Murama sector (Ngoma district), pledged to monitor each other to reduce the practice of drying beans on the floor, which exposes the crop to moisture and deterioration.

After the introduction of these disciplinary measures and improved post-harvest practices, members of the KOREMU farmers’ cooperative were able to go from 211 tons to 411 tons of produce sold to national markets.