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PM&E Worshop Banjul The Gambia - Day 4

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Monday, May 31, 2010 0 comments

While at dinner on Wednesday, we all had the pleasure of seeing ourselves on the Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS) evening news.



On Thursday morning, we resumed to our workshop with the presentation and analysis of the tools used in Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation, such as community scorecards, evaluation wheels, field force analysis, SWOT analysis. Each tool was explained, analysed and criticised by the participants.


The lively discussions brought us to the need for data transformation some cases and to discuss once again the difficulty of this exercise. Participants also agreed on the value added if the activity is undertaken properly and can truly improve the quality of results yielded by the projects. After a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of PM&E, the positive aspects of PM&E definitely outweigh the negative aspects. One of the most positive lessons to retain from these 4 days is that Monitoring and Evaluation is not the sole responsability of the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer,
but is the responsability of the entire project staff.


The afternoon was dedicated to setting up the field work to be done on Friday. A VISACA was to be visited and all stakeholders were to be involved in this preliminary process.

Unfortunately, I was not able to participate in the field work. I have asked my colleagues from the Rural Finance Project to write a little something regarding how the field work proceeded and the wrap up meeting held on Saturday morning. I hope to publish their contribution soon.

Growing the business of smallholder agriculture

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, May 27, 2010 3 comments

Transforming the lives of poor rural people

By Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD

When world leaders promised last year to mobilize US$22 billion towards developing country agriculture, their actions recognised the fact that investing in agriculture is essential if we are to meet the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty and hunger.

With only five years left to meet the first MDG targets, we still have a long way to go. In 2009, the number of hungry people in the world reached a historic high of 1.02 billion and there are still around 1.4 billion people who struggle to survive on less than US$1.25 a day. Most of these men, women and children live in the rural areas of developing countries.

In order for the US$22 billion, pledged at the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, to have its greatest possible impact on improving food security and reducing poverty, it must be directed towards creating business opportunities in the agricultural sector. Recognizing today’s and tomorrow’s farmers as entrepreneurs will go a long way in transforming the lives of poor rural people. Agriculture is a business and a powerful tool for eradicating extreme poverty and hunger But even beyond the MDGs, an investment in agriculture is a sound investment. Agriculture has driven economic growth through the centuries, from 18th century England, to 19th century Japan, to 20th century India, to Brazil, China and Viet Nam today. Gross Domestic Product growth generated by agriculture has been shown to be at least twice as effective in reducing poverty as growth in other sectors.

The transformative capacity of investments in agriculture is often underappreciated. But if one takes a snapshot of the rural landscape in large parts of the developing world, the potential for change is astounding.

Agriculture – spanning crop production, fishing, livestock, forestry and pasture – is not an urban activity, farmland exists in rural areas. In sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture provides jobs to around 60 per cent of the working population and small holder activity is the backbone of the agricultural sector. Young women and men, in particular, need to know that they have the potential to become tomorrow’s food producers, or the exodus from rural to urban areas will increase.

An investment in agriculture is therefore an investment in economic development, in rural areas, in young women and men and in food security.

For this investment to take hold, agriculture, whatever its size, must be seen as a business in order for poor rural people to transform themselves from subsistence farmers to small agribusiness entrepreneurs. But it takes the right type of investment for this to happen. Investments – whether by the international development community or developing country governments, as well as the private sector – need to be smart and targeted. Poor rural producers need: infrastructure and roads; transportation to get their products to market; irrigation and storage systems for their products; and communication and technologies to receive and share the latest information on prices. They also need access to rural financial services so that they are able to establish viable agribusinesses.

Vibrant rural economies need private sector partnerships

The right business environment, based on partnership between the public and private sector, is another essential element in creating a vibrant rural economy. Indeed, the private sector is more important than ever as a driver of economic growth in the developing world. Linking smallholder farmers to the private sector is critical to building the economies of developing countries. Additionally, partnerships with the private sector can provide essential assistance, including in leveraging investments and bringing knowledge, technology and infrastructure to rural areas in developing countries.

‘We can accelerate progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and achieving a world without poverty and hunger, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes financial sense.’
The experience of the AECF

Poor rural people, including the 2 billion who live and work on the world’s 500 million small farms, have tremendous potential to contribute to a country’s economic growth and food security. They also have much to offer the private sector – not the least of which is a sustainable supply of high-quality agricultural produce.

The experience of IFAD has shown that agriculture is a business, and our business is to make smallholder agriculture a profitable agro-enterprise. With the right support, smallholders can contribute to a vibrant rural sector, where locally-produced products and services meet growing local demand. This, in turn, can spur sustainable off-farm employment growth in services, agro-processing and small-scale manufacturing.

The challenge today is to help build the capacity of smallholders and their organizations so that they can deliver what large businesses require, and in turn to encourage businesses to adapt their models to be inclusive and supportive of small-scale agricultural producers. We can accelerate progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, and achieving a world without poverty and hunger, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it makes financial sense.

A Model for Success

On the island of São Tomé, IFAD has linked cocoa farmers with KAOKA, a French organic chocolate-maker, securing a guaranteed market for their harvest. In 2005, an IFAD-supported programme brought in the French operator to analyse the country’s cocoa sector. The study concluded that Sao Tome’s cocoa varieties could produce superior quality beans, and that traditional farming methods could be easily adapted to organic production. Farmers received technical advice and financial support from both IFAD and KAOLA to help them make the change. An international company certified that the local cocoa was organic, and the French chocolatier agreed to purchase as much organic cocoa as the farmers could supply. The farming families that took part in the programme saw their incomes rise to 8 per cent above the poverty line, on average, from 25 per cent below. In 2005, the farmers formed an export cooperative and signed a five-year contract directly with KAOKA, guaranteeing them a stable minimum price, along with a premium to be invested in social services benefiting local communities. In 2009, farmers in the eastern part of the island signed another contract with Cafedirect in the United Kingdom to provide fair trade cocoa to the United Kingdom’s hot drinks industry.



Read the article as featured in MDG review

Day 3 - Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop, Banjul, The Gambia


The 3rd day of the Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) had a particular agenda: it consisted in sort of a workshop within a workshop. The objective was to validate an M&E study undertaken for the project and was also the official opening of the workshop.

The meetings began with an official welcoming, where the acting Project Coordinator of the Rural Finance Project made an opening speech. His words were followed by an intervention by the Country Programme Manager for The Gambia and then by the welcoming of a representative of the Ministry of Agriculture who shared his views on the importance of M&E.


The rest of the day was dedicated to the presentation and critical review of the PM&E study conducted for the Rural Finance PRoject (RFP).

After a thorough presentation from one of the consultants who participated in the study to design the M&E system for RFP, the participants broke off into groups to discuss the overall valididty of the study by specifically looking at the roles identified, data collection methods, indicators identified and management of the system.


In the plenary, it was agreed that good preliminary work has been done, however, some more in debth work needs to be done on indicators (especially on 1st and 2nd level indicators) as the study is concentrated mainly on third level impact indicators.




The recommendation of the day is that the comments made on the report should be consolidated and submitted to the consultant and to WARF so that the report can be reviewed accordingly and finalised.

Tomorrow the training will continue and on Friday we are headed to the field to test what we have learned!


Remember the series of blogposts “Africa meets the new world - Procasur learning route…. Well, guess what, the “Learning Routes” have come to IFAD.

Over the last two days I had the privilege of sitting in on two brainstorming and learning and sharing events organized by our Procasur and Latin America and the Caribbean colleagues.

In the true spirit of learning route, these meetings were a great source of inspiration and a unique learning opportunity.

It is very hard to explain a learning route as these are experiential experiences. You have to live one to understand and appreciate it. I believe they are the quintessence and great embodiment of knowledge management and knowledge sharing.

You’re probably wondering what I am talking about….. If you’ve been on learning route you’ll now know the difference between learning from seeing something in action and reading about something in a report.

Learning route methodology covers the three stages of learning – that is learning before, during and after. In a way it is also a form of peer assist.

When you face a challenge and feel that someone must have already faced it and overcome it, you do not need reinvent the wheel and solve it by yourself, you can present your challenge and learn from those who have already been there and done that.

One of the extraordinary characteristics of a learning route is the fact that you learn from people… That’s right, you learn from the real experience of REAL PEOPLE. It’s that a treat….

How many times have you read a report and wondered how much of what you are reading is really grounded in reality and how much of it is written just to show that the targets and indicators have been met!

In a learning route you engage in a conversation with the actors – be it the farmer, the policy maker, the representative of the local government, the rural development worker, the artisan, the mother, the nurse. And all these people are willing and are keen to share their experience, knowledge, know-how, challenges and fears. So in a learning route you have the opportunity to bounce off ideas, hear and learn from a myriad of perspectives. You have an immense portfolio of experience and knowledge at your finger tips!

Learning routes are a great example of double learning loop and a personification of knowledge sharing in ACTION!

As you may know in a single learning loop, the emphasis is on techniques and making the technique more efficient. This means while exploring the technical side you focus on following routines and some sort of present plan. A double learning loop on the other hand, involves questioning the role of the framing and learning systems, it is more creative, reflective and reflexive. A double learning loop is about incremental learning that improves the answers, helps the learner to modify his/her mental model and allows the learner to make informed decisions in a rapidly changing and uncertain context.

In a nutshell, experiencing a learning route allows the learner to explore different solutions for a given challenge and definitely helps you clear up the cobwebs!

My take home messages

As I was listening to colleagues exchanging ideas and sharing their experience, I realized one of success elements of Procasur and the Learning routes are people managing this programme. They are PASSIONATE and COMMITED. They are proud of what they are doing and believe 300% in what they do. I wonder if the programme would be what it is today with a different set of people…. Probably it would be something different…. So this reinforced my thinking that it is the PEOPLE driving KM initiatives that make the difference!!! Kudos to Ariel, Juan Moreno, Roberto and all the others!

Perhaps my biggest wake up call was the fact that we desperately need to put in place learning routes mechanism in IFAD itself. We need to get much better in sharing and exchanging amongst ourselves and within our own four walls. We are surrounded by inspiring and knowledgeable people, yet we often resort to outside resources rather than looking inside.

We need to scout for and identify our own local talents and use them as our learning route guides.

I often hear people saying, we need to put in place incentive mechanism to encourage knowledge sharing – and I must admit so far, I’ve failed to understand what this means…. Listening to the exchange made me think, what is the incentive for the learning route local talents to share their knowledge? And if their incentive is to learn from others, isn’t that a good enough, if not a noble incentive for the rest of us?

I really felt privileged to have participated in these conversations and I sincerely hope we can institutionalize internal IFAD learning routes so that FINALLY we start breaking down the silos!!!





The Rural Finance Project/West Africa Rural Foundation Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) workshop continues. The second day of the workshop has been interactive and lively even though it coincides with two national holidays, President Jammeh's Birthday - to whom will all wish a Happy Birthday - and African Liberation Day.

Participants were able to identify the key stakeholders and actors of the projects in The Gambia (project staff, beneficiaries and their organisations, government - national and local - service providers and the like) and reflected on their roles, responsibilities, rights, relationships and return in terms of project implementation and objectives. These actors were then placed into a power versus interest matrix. Much interesting debate sprung from this analysis especially regarding the roles and responsibilities and the power relationships that were identified.

The facilitators underlined how important these exercises are and insisted on the value added for projects in design phase, as these matrices clearly map out institutional arrangements and linkages and are a valid tool for later implementation.

More specifically, the matrices, if analysis is undertaken correctly, identify key partners in project execution (high on both the interest and power scales) and those in most need of capacity building to protect their interests (those high on the interest scale but low on the power scale).

The theme of the day was the importance of having clear and simple objectives, indicators and criteria and being able to communicate those to all of the actors involved in PM&E.


We then broke up into groups and engaged in role playing to identify objectives, indicators and criteria for projects. It was becoming quite obvious at this stage that agreeing on clear and simple objectives is not an easy task, especially when this is activity is undertaken with a participatory approach, and this was only a simulation!




Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Workshop

Posted by Adriane Del Torto Monday, May 24, 2010 0 comments

Today, the FRAO/RFP Participatory M&E workshop was inaugurated in Banjul, The Gambia.


The Rural Finance Project in The Gambia (RFP) has organised with the support of the West Africa Rural Foundation FRAO/WARF a Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) training workshop in Banjul from 24 to 29 May 2010.

The objective of the workshop is to reinforce PM&E capacities of project teams and partners engaged in the implementation of IFAD funded projects in the Gambia in including VISACAS, service providers and government. Representatives of the IFAD Country Programme in The Gambia were present as well as representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Microfinance Department of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Gambian Microfinance Associations (GAWFA, NACCUG) service providers and others.


The one week workshop has been set up in a participatory manner so that participants can share their views and learn from each other under the leadership of Mr Mohamed Kebbeh and Mr Adama Ndiaye of WARF who are facilitating the workshop.

Today, participants were able to brainstorm on Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) starting from its definition moving towards its importance in project implementation and the advantages and improvements it will bring to projects in terms of results and impact.


The lively group agreed that PM&E is a fundamental aspect for project implementation, as PM&E is not just a regular data collection or research activity, instead it increases ownership of the project for its inclusive nature, it gives a sense of accountability of project results to the communities in which interventions are taking place and it could improve project overall activities and outcome.



In summary PM&E is a shared learning process based on effective team work, necessary because of the large number of participants, negotiation of interests and possibilities and flexibility as the acceptance of PM&E implies a shift in power relationships because all participants are equal in PM&E.




Finally, PM&E allows for overall better results and gives continuity and sustainability to projects beyond their official life span thanks to beneficiaries designing the system based on criterion they have chosen rather than imposed indicators.



The key steps to PM&E are summarised as follows: (i) deciding to set up a PM&E; (ii) identifying the stakeholders; (iii) defining expectations and objectives; (iv) selecting criteria and indicators; (v) deciding on the tools and methods; (vi) collecting and analysing data; (vii) implementing change and manging and maintaining the system.

How to adapt his model to the context of Gambian projects and managing the system once its in place will be discussed during the course of this training.

25 IFAD staff cycle in to work on 13th May

Posted by Sabine Pallas (ILC) Thursday, May 13, 2010 3 comments


“When you cycle to work, you reduce your carbon footprint, get healthier – and you look better!” proclaimed IFAD Associate Vice-President, Kevin Cleaver as he congratulated 25 cyclists – and one baby – who arrived together by bicycle. The cyclists, including Kevin, had converged from different areas of Rome and arrived together to make the statement that cycling to work is not only environmentally friendly, but fun and energising as well! See the pictures of our arrival.

IFAD cyclists were part of several hundred cyclists in Rome who have declared Thursday 13th May Bike to Work Day. Some of us cycle every day, others once or twice a week – so if you missed today’s opportunity to cycle together but want to start cycling, you could get in touch with one of us and we can arrange to cycle in together.

To get advice on best routes to IFAD or arrange to cycle together, you can contact the following people:

If you have a bike that needs to be repaired, there is a cooperative at FAO called CYCOM which has a repair service most Wednesdays at lunchtime: http://blog.libero.it/cycom/ is the CYCOM blog, there is a Google group you can join to be informed about the dates of the repair service.

For information on cycling in Rome, including advice on cycle paths (in Italian):
Get on your cycles, reduce your carbon footprint, get fit, and enjoy your journey into work for a change!!


Brazilian President: IFAD is ‘doing essential work’

Posted by Greg Benchwick Tuesday, May 11, 2010 0 comments



Lula addresses high-level conference on food security and South-South Cooperation in Brasilia

In this week’s Brazil-Africa Dialogue on Food Security, Fighting Hunger and Rural Development, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), along with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), are essential for food security in the developing world.

The President went on to say that IFAD is well position to help local programs ensure that smallholder farmers have access to credit and land titles. In his panoramic speech, Lula also called for increased knowledge sharing between Africa and Brazil, and a line of credit to help Latin America and Africa modernize their agricultural technology.

Technology, of course, is something that Brazil does not lack. After all, the national agricultural research institution Embrapa has some 8000 employees, more than 2000 with PhDs, and the nation invests around 1 per cent of GDP into agricultural research each year.

But aside from the technology Brazil can share with Africa – advanced crops, new seeds, better planting techniques – Lula acknowledged that with his country becoming a donor nation, Brazil has to put money into its budget to work toward food security in places like Africa.

“Tackling poverty is only possible if… we address it as a priority issue for every country,” said Lula, adding that Brazil has weathered the world economic crisis well in large part because the nation’s poor are integrated into the economic machinery. “The ability of poor people to consume – especially in the North-East of the country – helped Brazil withstand the world economic crisis.”

IFAD-funded projects in the North-East state of Bahia may also have helped smallholder farmers withstand the battering winds of the economic crisis.

“The Rural Communities Development Project targets the poorest rural municipalities of Bahia – an area where agricultural productivity is very limited,” said Josefina Stubbs, Director of IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division. “Being a semi-arid region, most smallholder farmers struggle to cultivate the land at a subsistence level and are forced to migrate to urban areas during the dry season. With this in mind, we are funding projects that aim to improve management of water resources and, of course, improve productivity and environmental stewardship.”

But IFAD’s contribution to South-South Cooperation extends well beyond the Brazilian countryside, and in her address at the conference, IFAD Vice President Yukiko Omura said that the organization is well-positioned “to serve as a key partner, mediator and facilitator for South-South Cooperation,” also noting that South-South trade has intensified in recent years.

“Brazil, along with China and India, is leading this trend as its trade volume with Africa rose from US$5 billion in 2002 to $19.9 billion in 2007,” Omura said in her address. “Part of the reason for this positive trend is the fact that the infrastructure sector has become a priority for development. We must not forget that without them, trade – and rural development – is difficult if not impossible. In the end, water, energy, roads, ports and telecommunication are essential elements to development and growth. Further, without infrastructure of any magnitude – from small feeder roads to large ports and highways, water for irrigation, energy for automation and telecommunication for access to market information – food security will not be achieved.”


The new IFAD co-financed program starts operations this week

South-South Cooperation is a wonderful concept. And in many senses, the concept that looked good on paper years ago is now becoming a reality. Just look at the trade volume between Brazil and Africa, which rose from US$5 billion in 2002 to $19.9 billion in 2007.

But without true forums for knowledge sharing, South-South cooperation may do little to truly address the needs of the rural poor. After all, while trade may increase, only by giving smallholder farmers the necessary tools and information will they truly be able to rise up from poverty.

With the idea of creating such a forum, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) decided to co-finance the Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace, a program designed to share knowledge between the two regions. And as you know, “knowledge is power.”

The program was inaugurated this week as part of the Brazil-Africa Dialogue on Food Security, Fighting Hunger and Rural Development. With an initial grant of US$500,000 from IFAD, the Innovation Marketplace will fund four to seven projects over the next two years. The projects will look for ways to share productivity-enhancing technologies, natural resource-management practices, and policy and marketing initiatives between Brazil and Africa.

And while the initial investment may seem small, with Embrapa and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) taking the lead, there is considerable knowledge and technology that can be shared through the new forum.

“South-South dialogue is a two-way process. Only by allowing for the fluid interchange of ideas, technologies and goods between the regions will we truly achieve sustainable results,” said IFAD Vice-President Yukiko Omura in her address at the Brazil-Africa Dialogue. “Brazil offers technological know-how, strong grassroots organization, proven methods to bring products to market and well-planned resource-management practices.”

“On the technological front, the experience of institutions such as Embrapa provides a unique opportunity to transfer the latest agricultural technology, including better seeds, higher yield crops, enhanced planting techniques and overall improved farming systems,” Omura added.
With portions of Africa and Brazil sharing similar ecosystems, crops and climates, it’s possible that the interchange of technologies could make a real difference.

In his address to the Brazil-Africa Dialogue, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the land used to produce biofuels in Brazil is very similar to Africa’s Savannah, but added that part of Africa’s lands should go to ensure food security, while the other portion can be used for cash crops.

Brazilian public policies – for instance one policy that requires 30 per cent of school lunch food come from local producers – could also help Africa’s smallholder farmers.

Sure, the Innovation Marketplace is not a silver bullet – the creation of forum’s like this alone will not end rural poverty – but at least it is a step in the right direction.

Building better strategies in the Andes

Posted by Greg Benchwick Monday, May 10, 2010 0 comments



With an eye on enhancing project implementation strategies and ensuring the sustainability of projects we are co-financing in the Andes, a team of consultants and staff members from IFAD’s Latin America and the Caribbean Division met with representatives from Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Venezuela in a workshop held in the rough-and-ready resort city of Atecames, Ecuador, from 3 to 7 May.

The workshop, a third in a series of events we’ve held in Nicaragua and Argentina over the past year, was a great success. Not only did we get to share new ideas with delegates from the finance, agriculture and planning ministries of these countries, but we also had the unique opportunity to meet with representatives from the very organizations that are implementing our projects on the ground.

IFAD co-finances 11 projects in the Andean region with more than US$150 million in funding. The projects run the gamut. There are projects designed to better the lives of llama ranchers in Bolivia, projects to integrate the rural and urban economies in Ecuador, and micro-enterprise programs in Colombia.


On the first day of the conference, representatives from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Finance (co-hosts of the event), our Country Program Manager for Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, Francisco Pichón, and I kicked off the discourse, as we started the hard work of finding lasting mechanisms for project implementation.

Key to program supervision and implementation is the idea of accompanying our counterparts within the region, rather than controlling their projects. As we say in Spanish “acompañar, no controlar.”


This cooperative spirit led directly into a high-level panel that included Ecuadorian Agricultural Minister, Dr. Ramon L. Espinel (right); Nelson Iván Zambrano, representative from the Ecuadorian Secretary of Planning and Development; María Elsa Viteri, Ecuador’s former Finance Minister; Madeleine Abarca, representative from the Ecuadorian Finance Ministry; and Milton Maya from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES).


While more than 85 per cent of the food consumed in Ecuador is produced by smallholder farmers, the Agricultural and Financial Ministries were concerned that the country continues to lack the infrastructure and financial backbone necessary to help these farmers create sustainable models for their small businesses. That said, with rice production up by 26 per cent, and positive glimpses that our work in the Central Corridor will yield results – despite preliminary setbacks resulting from the project being moved from the Agricultural Ministry to the MIES - we are seeing promising signs not just for Ecuador but for the sub-region in general.

We are also hoping our Ibarra-San Lorenzo Development Project will jump into action in the next few months, providing new markets and market integration for the people of the northern Ecuador.


In fact, one of the reasons we decided to hold the conference in Atecames, a small beachside hamlet about an hour south of the port city of Esmeraldas, was to actively engage with the local population, looking for cultural and economic clues that could inform the Ibarra-San Lorenzo project, as well as our other projects in the Andean region.


This region presents a unique socio-cultural challenge. The side-effects of the conflict in neighbouring Colombia are readily evident in the area: high crime, regular protests and a rather disenfranchised local population that is mainly comprised of Afro-Ecuadorians, with a small share of mestizo settlers thrown into the mix.


These are the very people we are hoping to reach. And, happily, some of our funds are already getting there, with ACUA, a regional program designed to help Latin Americans with African ancestry overcome poverty, funding cacao productions in the region. See www.programaacua.org for more details on the ACUA’s projects. (right: Wilfrido Trejo, VP FONSUAM Cocao farmers group)


And while we certainly want to keep our focus on the poor rural people of the region, it’s also important to roll up your sleeves and dive into the heady – but nonetheless necessary – topic of project implementation, and the even more difficult (and delicate) topic of sustainability.


TRENDS IN PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION & SUSTAINABILITY

Since we began our Action Plan in 2005 – and taking into account the Strategic Framework for 2007-2010 – the Atecames conference looked to build organizational efficiency, increase the impact and sustainability of our interventions, and generate concrete products and positive effects from our work.

From this very dynamic dialogue, where project directors from across the region presented the challenges and accomplishments of implementing their projects, we took a few important lessons with us.


Lesson Numero Uno: IFAD as an organization needs to bring itself closer to the people and organizations building these projects on the ground through direct supervision and systematic project implementation support.


Numero Dos: Economic, social and institutional sustainability needs to be built into the project cycle from the beginning.


Numero Tres: One of the best ways to achieve this sustainability is by engaging directly with the communities themselves to scale-up initiatives already being implemented on the ground. We also need to ensure that all key stakeholders are actively engaged in the decision-making process.


Numero Cuatro: Gender and culture are integral ingredients for a sound implementation plan.


And Numero Cinco: The only way to have sustainable results is to allow smallholder farmers to be the masters of their own destiny, bringing them into the process of project implementation – from conception to delivery – as equal partners in our collaborative effort to end rural poverty.


Castillo Valdez, President of FONSUAM


Be the change you want to see in the world

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, May 5, 2010 1 comments

There is a group of us who are attending an appreciative leadership course - known as the “Springboard”. Today's session focused on “leading change”.

We found this session so insightful that we decided to share what we learnt.

We learnt a new maxim today: “change is inevitable; growth is optional”.

We also learnt that change is difficult because it moves people out of their comfort zones. People do not resist change as much as they resist being changed. At the same time, resistance to change occurs for a reason. Thus leaders need to understand the reason and also understand that people respond to change differently, based on their personalities, histories, personal visions or perceptions of their environment. Leaders need to also understand that they cannot change people, people can only make the choice to change. Leaders do not control/manage change, they guide, shape and influence change!

Bob and Sheila - our coaches and mentors reminded us that we are continuously changing. If we do not change, we die. We also learnt to differentiate between change and transition. They are not the same thing!!!

We learnt that we need to plan for the change and support the transition. We were offered the following definitions/descriptions:

  • Change is “the point at which something starts or stops, when something that used to happen one way starts happening in another. It is the actual structural, technical, economic or demographic shift”.
  • Transition on the other hand is “the psychological process that happens on an individual and organizational level over a period before, during and after the actual change”.

The take home message was that successful change is made up of eight key components:

  • Establish a sense of urgency
  • Involve people whom the change will impact; build a guiding team
  • Create a clear vision and purpose of the initiative
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Empower others to act and hold them accountable
  • Leaders walk the talk
  • Plan for and create short-term wins; do not declare victory too early
  • Embed/institutionalize new approaches all along the process
We closed the day by further exploring what these eight components really mean. We learnt that people expect and want to know the following four Ps from their leaders:
  • Purpose: Why are we changing?
  • Plan: How are we going to do this?
  • Picture: What will the change look like?
  • Part: What is my role in this? What will it mean for me?
To conclude we learnt that leadership is about making things happen…leaders may create change by playing a central role in the actual change process, or by creating an environment in which others are empowered to act.



Thomas, Shyam, Sheila, Branka, Laura, Xenia, Antonella, Andreina, James, Tiziana, Shantanu, Bob, Roxy, Loko, Benoit, Bob, Sylvie