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by Jabu Matsebula

A picture is worth a thousand words. In the picture above - Pholile Sihlongonyane is standing in a furrow that divides her field at Makhundlu in Swaziland. The plot on her left is identical in terms of area, soil type and water availability to the plot on her right. The plots were planted on the same day.

In each plot she planted maize inter-cropped with jugo beans and cow peas.

On the left of the picture, you can actually see the size of the robust maize stalks. The stalks on the right of the picture are pretty thin.

On the left you can see the rapid development of the mealie cobs. But most strikingly, is the foliage of the jugo beans, which are robust and green. On the right, you can just about see the foliage if you closely inspect the floor behind the third maize stalk. The inter-crop is so sparse it’s hardly visible.

The picture demonstrates the difference in performance of a field cultivated using the conventional system and one where climate smart processes were applied.

The robust field on the left was cultivated using conservation agriculture practices, including soil covered with mulch. This can be seen between the row of jugo beans and maize.

Pholile is a champion for conservation agriculture practitioners in the Lower Usuthu Sustainable Land Management project area.  The project is supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented through the Swaziland Water and Development Enterprise (SWADE) and the Ministry of Agriculture. The project helps communities in rain-fed areas to develop sustainable livelihood solutions including water harvesting, conservation agriculture, enterprise development and regenerate degraded lands.

Adriana Bombardone
I have recently returned from a mission to Panama for the ‘Start-up and Implementation Support Workshop’ for the GEF-funded Sustainable Development and Climate Change Mitigation Project in the province of Veraguas. The main objective of this project is to promote sustainable rural development and environmental management in the Province of Veraguas, contributing to both poverty reduction and the improvement and conservation of natural resources (soil, water and biodiversity).
Furthermore, it will contribute to national efforts in mitigating climate change, through a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and through an increase in carbon sequestration.
The objective of the workshop was to discuss the scope, expectations and implementation arrangements of the project.

Figure 1- Area of intervention

There were themed sessions held, aimed at contributing to the strategic, administrative, financial and operational performance of the project, in collaboration with the major stakeholders involved in the project. These included  local communities, the National Environment Authority (ANAM)- implementing Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture (MIDA), the Agricultural Research Institute (IDIAP) and also the newly recruited project coordinator and administrative assistant.
In order to share experiences between IFAD-supported projects, national staff from the DECOFOS[1] project in Mexico participated in the workshop. This project is implemented by the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (CONAFOR) and it has also GEF co-financing.

Figure 2- Participatory discussions - What are the main challenges of the changes in climate pattern? - Adriana Bombardone

The mitigation expert from the CONAFOR - Mexico team explained what climate change is and the impact it would have on the production. In his explanation, he compared the world to a child ‘When a child has a temperature rise of a few degrees, they get sick, and the temperature has to come back down for them to recover. Climate change is like that for the world, and the temperature is continuing to rise, and the earth is getting more sick’. With this very simple yet clear explanation, the mitigation expert from CONAFOR managed to grasp the attention of the local communities and awoke their interest in what, so far, had seemed to them as a very vague and distant topic.

Figure 3- Participants discussing about effects of climate change - Adriana Bombardone

Implementing activities, coordinating different actors and Institutions is always challenging: during the workshop different approaches and methodologies were discussed in order to find the most successful one. Participants expressed their points of view about the effects of climate change and the benefits to the environment of sustainable farming.

In a short time, the main stakeholders of the workshop managed to reach an agreement on the next steps leading to the first disbursement of funds. The ANAM committed to provide a schedule of activities to be implemented in the short and long term.
The fruitful brainstorming session held with the local communities as well as the experience shared by the Mexico team provided useful insights for the road ahead. A motivating talk by the project staff of a similar project has proven positive and is surely an experience to be repeated.

[1] Community Forestry Development Project in Southern states: Campeche, Chiapas and Oaxaca (DECOFOS Project)

Climate Finance-Trends and Sources

Posted by Ricci Symons Thursday, April 24, 2014 0 comments

Warren Evans, world renowned expert on climate finance and a former head of the World Bank’s Environment Division, told an audience at IFAD that priorities are shifting on climate action.

The main themes of his talk were; shifting priorities, current levels of climate finance, key sources of climate finance, innovative finance and reaching an international agreement. Evans spoke about how it is now impossible to delink climate finance and development finance.

Evans spoke of a new initiative started by Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulsen and Tom Steyer. The ‘Risky Business initiative’, will culminate in a report that will spell out the likely economic impact of climate change on U.S. business1. All three men have made fortunes in various business ventures, and all three dedicated large amounts of their wealth to philanthropic purposes. Bloomberg is a recent appointee as UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon’s special envoy for cities and climate change.

There was also discussion of the ‘World Economic Forum’s (WEF) climate adaptation - seizing the challenge’, which captures some of the latest thinking in the field of climate adaptation and financing, with the goal of assisting decision-makers in the public and private sectors to gain a better understanding of the issue2. It suggested that 65 per cent of projected losses through climate impacts could be averted through investment in adaptation. This would require a change in approach, shifting the problem from public to private sector.

Evans went on to talk about the required innovation in climate finance. There is a need to secure insurance premium savings, create adaptation tax credits, guarantee loans and enhance credit and reduce vulnerability credits.

11)      http://www.forbes.com/sites/kerryadolan/2014/04/03/why-mike-bloomberg-teamed-with-former-treasury-secretary-hank-paulson-and-hedge-fund-billionaire-tom-steyer-on-a-project-called-risky-business/

22)      http://www.weforum.org/reports/climate-adaptation-seizing-challenge

By Ilaria Firmian
I have recently returned from " Parkland  Trees and Livelihoods: Adaptation to Climate Change in the West African Sahel " project completion workshop in Burkina Faso.
Funded by an IFAD grant, the project works in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It is implemented by the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) in collaboration with the national agricultural research institutes and four different IFAD funded projects in the three countries.
The main goals of the projects were to improve the livelihoods of rural communities in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger by adapting, diversifying and conserving parkland agro-forests, and diversifying revenue-generation options from parkland trees in response to climate change.

The workshop consisted of twenty-six presentations over the space of two days. They dealt with many research topics, brought forward in the past three years by researchers and students from universities in the three countries, working closely with smallholder farmers. The innovative nature of these projects lay in the approach in which small farmers were closely involved in research programs. The farmers had to take responsibility for testing seed varieties and farming techniques in their plots.

Project activities have been guided by ‘participatory vulnerability analysis’ at the village level. A specific tool to conduct this type of analysis has been developed and adopted by research teams in different countries (Participatory Analysis of Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change - APVACC -
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/downloads/publications/PDFs/OP17611.PDF1), based on which the coping strategies of different gender groups at the village level have been identified.
The project has adopted the ‘Farmer-Managed Natural Regeneration’ approach that, at least in Niger, has generated income capable of ensuring the long-term support of the communities. This approach is to create, through the adoption of soil and water conservation techniques, favorable conditions for the development of woody species. Farmers protect and manage these species and in doing so create new agro-forestry systems on previously barren land.
One of the factors behind the success of the farmer-managed natural regeneration in Niger has been the involvement of young students. Their ability to involve their parents in causing a change of mindset in the management of parkland agro-forests is invaluable. Participants at the workshop stressed the importance of increasing the scale of this practice by involving an increasing number of primary schools.
Another major recommendation was the need to revisit the forest laws to facilitate the large-scale application of farmer –managed natural regeneration.

Several of the studies presented focused on the economic value of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs), mainly Shea butter, which generates an average turnover of 5 billion FCFA (over 10 million USD) per year in Burkina Faso, but also tamarind and others.
Analysis of NTFP value chains clearly show the very important roles that these products play in the economy of women and even children, who are often involved in the collection of fruits, earning money that can be reinvested into school fees.

At the conclusion of the workshop, prizes were awarded to researchers for innovation, dissemination of research results, and the development of a methodology for innovative research on carbon sequestration.
All participants agreed on the importance and value of the results obtained by this project, but also the need to strengthen efforts in terms of knowledge management to ensure that these results are distributed widely amongst smallholder farmers.

The presence of universities at the workshop, and the involvement of students in the research activities, helped create a bridge between research institutes and universities, and hopefully this work will also benefit new generations of students.
Similarly, through links developed in the three countries where this IFAD investment project is implemented, the value of these results in other settings is maximized. In this regard, they have already influenced the design of IFAD ASAP-supported projects in the Sahel.
1) Boureima M, Abasse AT, Sotelo Montes C, Weber JC, Katkoré B, Mounkoro B, Dakouo J-M, Samaké O, Sigué H, Bationo BA, Diallo BO. 2013. Participatory analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change: a methodological guide for working with rural communities. Occasional Paper 19 – English version. Nairobi: World Agroforestry Centre. ISBN: 978-92-9059-351-5

by Rosalie Lehel

One of the key activities of the 2014 Tanzania portfolio review (1 – 3 April) in Arusha was a field visit to Monduli and Arumeru district councils. In these districts, impressive implementation progress has been made especially in building of close collaboration among key stakeholder through the People, Public and Private Partnership (PPPP). The farmers benefitting from the Kyamakata Irrigation Project in Arumeru for instance, are empowered and have gained high levels of self confidence as portrayed by their capacity to manage and account for the resources they have received, as a result of the close partnership with the district and Oikos East Africa, an NGO that promotes the protection of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources.
The portfolio review is held annually and provides an opportunity for IFAD-supported projects and the Government to share and review implementation progress of all projects.  Success stories are shared, as well as critical issues deterring project implementation, and how to address them. The COSOP review is an opportunity to ask questions, get answers and share solutions, towards improved project performance.  The objective is to improve the projects' alignment with the COSOP strategic objectives and national priorities, overcome implementation bottlenecks and ensure sustainability.

Projects such as Agricultural Services Support Programme (ASSP) & Agricultural Sector Development Programme - Livestock (ASDP-L) Zanzibar sub programmes; Health and Water Component Of ASDP-L (BFFS); Sustainable Rangeland Management Project (SRMP); Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP); Rural Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Support Programme (MUVI) and Marketing Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance Support Programme (MIVARF), shared their implementation progress, and received constructive suggestions for improvement. The discussions focused on how each project contributes to the COSOP’s Strategic Objectives. The workshop underscored the importance of result-based monitoring and evaluation through a presentation on good practices and lessons learned in Rwanda.

The Country Programme Assessment (CPA), an in-depth research document produced in preparation for the forthcoming Country Programme Evaluation (CPE) was also shared.  This document assesses the relevance, performance and emerging results of two COSOPs - 2003-2007, and 2007-2013.
The IFAD Executive Board will visit Tanzania in May 2014. We shared this news with representatives of Government and projects teams, who welcomed the initiative. The Executive Board will undertake its country visit to learn about IFAD's work in the field - the challenges and constraints faced by IFAD- supported operations, and how to improve.

At the workshop we officially welcomed the   recently out-posted Country Director, Mr. Francisco Pichon, who is providing precious guidance and direct strategic support to the country portfolio. The annual country programme activity plan was discussed and agreed upon among the projects and ICO.

Written by Marie Clarisse Chanoine

In December 2012, 10 vulnerable households (seven widowed and one orphan headed households), received flexi-biogas systems which provided them with enough gas to cook the main meal each day and having enough hot water for tea. This was a pilot phase of the IFAD-KWAMP launched in Kirehe district, Eastern Province of Rwanda.

The flexi-biogas digester blows up when full of gas.
©IFAD/Karan Sehgal

This innovative technology requires 20 to 30 kg of dung per day to produce large volumes of biogas. Any household with one cow can establish a flexi-biogas system in one day and can be producing gas to cook within 7 days. Other conventional biogas systems require major excavations and skilled artisans for construction, and take at least four months before becoming operational and require the dung from at least three cows.

A beneficiary fulfilling the flexi-biogas digester
using manure mixed with water.
©IFAD/Karan Sehgal

The flexi-biogas system is proving to be both the most affordable and accessible alternative source of energy to smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Once the flex-biogas system has been installed and initially filled with dung, providing the essential bacteria for the fermentation process, the system can run with any biodegradable matter from poultry, pig and other livestock dung to water hyacinth, kitchen waste, market waste, garden clippings, to name a few. This makes the system versatile and applicable to users with limited access to livestock dung.

The inventor, Dominic Wanjihia, stresses that the flexi-biogas system is much more than a cooking fuel solution. The excess gas can be used as a fuel source for a growing array of agro-applications, from heating chicken brooders through to generators to power chaff cutters, water pumps, and milk processing machines. Thus, the system allows farmers to improve efficiency, productivity, and quality of their farming products from small-scale farms. This is a crucial aspect considering that energy requirements at the farm level are often related to agricultural production and processing, fish farming, livestock rearing, water pumping or small-scale industries - many requiring small amounts of power (from 100w to 3kw) and yet, existing expenditures on low-quality energy sources (kerosene, firewood, charcoal and other traditional biomass sources) being too high, both in terms of cost, time and labour involved.

A well-settled flexi-biogas system.
©IFAD/Karan Sehgal
The pilot phase was so successful that the project coordinator and the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources of Rwanda (MINAGRI) have just signed a contract with Biogas International Ltd, to provide a hundred more flexi-biogas units for Kirehe district. Targeted beneficiaries will contribute up to 50% of flexi-biogas system cost.

A New Agenda for Africa

Posted by Wairimu Mburathi Thursday, April 10, 2014 0 comments

Robson Mutandi, Country Director and Representative to Ethiopia represented IFAD at the IFPRI launch of the third series of its Global Food Policy Report on 4th April 2014. The report provides insight into the major developments in food policy during 2013.

Shengen Fan, The Director General for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), opened the meeting, providing an overview of how food Security and nutrition have featured prominently within the Global agenda last year. Notably, governments and development partners have finally recognized under-nutrition as a key issue to be tackled. Amongst various efforts, the G8 launched the new alliance for food security and nutrition, and the Scaling up Nutrition program was launched by forty five countries in collaboration with the United Nations. The Millennium Development goals have been broadened to incorporate climate change, urbanization, conflict and sustainable consumption and production patterns into the development framework.

 The Director General stressed that action should be taken to prevent the future escalation of food prices by addressing factors that drove the crisis which include; weather shocks, volatile markets and animal related diseases.  Despite the stabilization of global food prices - as basic staple foods such as maize, rice and wheat have exhibited minimal volatility - the international community must not remain complacent.  ‘It is possible that Hunger and under-nutrition can be eliminated sustainably by 2025 however, governments and donors must devote sufficient resources, take policy action and invest in linking agriculture and nutrition to achieve this end,’ he said. Launching the report in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was significant as the government has successfully pursued policies and wisely invested in agriculture, with the support of development partner to build food security in the country.

Panelist representing the UN Economic Commission for Africa, African Union and ILRI engaged in an intensive discussion on what has featured in consultations to define the development agenda for Africa. African Member states made a commitment to the African Agricultural Development Partnership CAADP, ten years ago, aiming to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agriculture, agreeing to invest a minimum of 10% of their budget into the sector and to raise agricultural productivity by at least 6%. Despite these developments, agriculture continues to face significant challenges in spite of home-grown policies to advance predominantly rain-fed smallholder agriculture. In this light, African Union Member states would like to identify drivers for success and lessons learned from countries such as China, India, Brazil and Thailand that have successfully eliminated Hunger.

Boaz Keizire, the AU technical advisor for CAADP highlighted that research on Africa’s agricultural growth trends demonstrates that countries with state driven policies that focused on building infrastructure and enhancing small holders’ access to markets have been remarkably successful. Adama Coulibaly, the Chief of Food Security at the UN Economic Commission for Africa noted that the next agenda for Africa is bound to be different, as exciting socioeconomic transformations are taking place within the continent - the seven fastest growing economies are from the continent. Such positive developments have repositioned Africa as a key player on the World stage, and leaders are seeking ‘new ways to lead to the top of the mountain’ and achieve sustainable development he stated.

Ongoing discussions at the African Union show that African countries are keen to develop their agricultural value chains, to engage in the global agricultural market. However, there are risks - of becoming more vulnerable to volatile global food prices and negatively impacting the livelihoods of small holder farmers if developed supply chains do not meet global demands. Finally Continental discussions have focused on the potential benefit of foreign direct investments in agriculture. However, Governments would like to explore policies and mechanism that can be developed to ensure that it does negatively impact food self-sufficiency.

Robson Mutandi took the opportunity to hold a side-meeting with the Director General of IFPRI and discuss the forthcoming ‘IFPRI 2020 Conference’ to be held in Addis Ababa from 15th -17th May 2014. This side-meeting also briefly covered other areas of possible cooperation at country level between IFAD and IFPRI. The President of IFAD, Kanayo Nwanze, will attend the IFPRI 2020 conference and will make a keynote presentation. IFAD has worked towards reducing the rural poor's vulnerability to climatic shocks by assisting them to diversify livelihoods, improve agricultural techniques and technologies and to strengthen community-based natural resource management preparing them for risks and to cope with disasters.

Download the report.

Stakeholders gather to discuss RFSP impact and completion reports

In Kampala, Uganda, Friday 4 April was a very brightly sunny morning. IFAD and Government of Uganda, together with key partners and stakeholders have gathered for a workshop to discuss the closure reports of RFSP. The invitations said 8:15 am and the chief guest, the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Patrick Ocailap was at the venue, ready to open the workshop at 8:30am! Invited participants quickly took their seats as they walked in one by one to the rare surprise of a chief guest already in his seat!

The stakeholder workshop is a significant milestone as it is the event where the impact of the years of RFSP implementation, as well as a project completion report, are shared and stakeholders invited  to provide feedback. The firm hired to carry out the impact studies and write the completion report made a presentation in which they highlighted the achievements of the project in enhancing the outreach of financial services, usage of financial institutions, and sustainability of the supported Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs).
RFSP’s goal was to increase income, improve food security and reduce vulnerability in rural areas. The development objective was to increase the outreach and sustainability of the rural finance industry in Uganda and to improve poor rural household’s access to and utilisation of financial services. The key words are outreach, sustainability and usage of financial services.

The first phase of RFSP (2003-2007) focused on providing support to microfinance institutions through a matching grant facility for capacity building and business culture fund. In 2006, the government introduced the Rural Financial Services Strategy (RFSS) as the fourth pillar of the Prosperity for All Vision. In 2008, RFSP was refocused to solely support SACCOs. RFSP supported 735 SACCOs with operational kits and subsidies, as well as capacity building. The outreach of SACCOs has
 increased by 119% from 245,365 to 545,687 individual and group SACCO members, reaching an estimated 1.9 million households. The Share Capital in the SACCOs has increased exponentially from UGX 2billion to UGX33billion (more than 13 million dollars), while the loans given have reached UGX 96.1billion (almost 40 million USD).
One of the major challenges of the microfinance industry in Uganda, according to one of the participants, Mr Wilson Wamatsembe (Director, Business Development Services, Microfinance Support Centre), is the weak governance structures that have led to disintegration of many SACCOS as member’s funds were mismanaged. Sustainability remains a challenge, with about a third of the supported SACCOs not on the path to sustainability. A SACCO manager at the workshop  further pointed out the need for government to speed up the ‘SACCO Law’ to ensure that culprits of mismanagement of SACCO funds can be brought to book. Fortunately, one of the key results of the RFSP is the fact that with evidence based communication strategies, the project has influenced the tabling of the Tier IV regulation, which is soon to be signed into law.

Securing resource rights of artisanal fishing communities

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, April 9, 2014 0 comments

By Harold Liversage, regional land advisor, and Steven Jonckheere, land and natural resources associate for IFAD in East and Southern Africa

Over 40% of the Mozambican population lives in the coastal zone and are reliant on this zone for their livelihoods. Artisanal fishing is central to the livelihoods of most poor rural coastal communities. Most of these communities are small, isolated, poor and semi-subsistence in nature and generally combine fishing and fish marketing with subsistence agriculture. Some are seasonal, but the majority are permanent communities. Artisanal fishers include both those who mainly fish for subsistence purposes and those who link to markets. Men are mainly involved in fishing and women in gathering molluscs and bivalves but also in crop, mainly subsistence, farming. Both may be involved in the sale of fish but women tend to acquire fish for home consumption. They also provide important support services to fishers.

Overlapping interests and resource uses are often a major source of conflict along the Mozambican coastline. Competition for water, land and other resources used by artisanal fishing communities comes from migrating artisanal fishers, industrial and semi industrial fisheries, mining, gas and oil exploitation, tourism, conservation, large-scale commercial farming and forestry. While various policies and legislation provide for the recognition of artisanal fishing resource rights, in practice recognition is relatively weak. Different issues occur in the north, centre and south of the country.

The majority of conflicts between the artisanal and industrial and semi-industrial fishers are due to the competition for the same fishing grounds or common resources. The three and one mile exclusion zones for industrial and semi-industrial fishers are often not respected and enforcement is not always done effectively. The presence of trawlers close to the shore inevitably leads to conflicts because of the destruction of fishing gear. It has also sometimes harmed the substrate and fish stocks to the detriment of the sustainable use of the resource.

Furthermore, millions of dollars are currently being invested in oil exploration, predominantly along the coastal zones of the north. The development of oil and mineral industry presents both risks and new opportunities for artisanal fishing communities. Already certain large oil companies have indicated their intention to fully comply with international standards for sustainable social, environmental and economic development.

Tourism has also been encouraged by the Government of Mozambique as a means for the rapid development of the economy and marine coastal resources. As part of this process the Government has delegated the management responsibility of certain areas of the coastal zone to private tourism developers. In some instances these developers have tried to exclude artisanal fishers from certain areas but there have also been cases of mutually beneficial partnerships and co-management arrangements being established. Given the importance of coastal and marine environment for the country, several actions are being undertaken to ensure development is sustainable in this region, including the creation and strengthening of coastal and marine conservation areas. Recently there has been a shift away from excluding artisanal fishers from these areas to inclusive co-management.

In addition, Mozambique has experienced, over the past decade or more, a significant increase in investor demand for land.  It is estimated that just under half of land granted through concessions (47%) has been allocated to foreign investors. While communities have the right to delimit their lands and the Land Law requires that they are consulted prior to the granting of a land concession, community delimitation is still limited and consultations are often not adequately carried out.

Finally, logging for valuable hardwood species has had a serious impact on Mozambique's forests and local livelihoods. The country’s legal framework supports traditional uses of forest and forest resources, the harvesting of timber and non-timber forest products, and the creation of community-based forest enterprises. However, the regulatory framework tends to favour national and international companies over small and medium businesses, and rural populations tend to operate informal forest-product-based businesses and engage in unsustainable exploitation practices. This includes logging of mangrove forests for construction.

On 31 March the Government of Mozambique and IFAD launched the Strengthening Artisanal Fishers’ Resource Rights Project (Projeto de Reforҫo dos Direitos de Acesso aos Recursos pelos Pescadores Artesanais – PRODIRPA). The overall goal of PRODIRPA is to improve the livelihoods of artisanal fishing communities by strengthening their security over and management of natural resources. Key principles that will inform the project’s interventions are: (i) community empowerment in natural resource management; (ii) linking macro and local level natural management planning processes; and (iii) multi-stakeholder co-management of natural resources. PRODIRPA will complement the IFAD-supported Artisanal Fisheries Promotion Project (ProPESCA). While ProPESCA will focus on the economic development of fishing communities, PRODIRPA will provide support for strengthening artisanal fishers’ resource rights. Improving and securing artisanal fisher’s access to natural resources is central to safeguarding their livelihoods and increasing their food security.

Written by Jim Smyle and Sunae Kim, edited for the blog by Ricci Symons and Brian Johnstone Dominic  

Excursion trip boats in Ba Be Lake
©IFAD/Sunae Kim
January 2014 saw a 3 year contract renewal signed by neighbouring communities in Viet Nam, ensuring an end to the conflict between the two villages and an increase in environmentally smart and sustainable practices in the region.

Residents of Pac Ngoi, a small tourist centre in the Ba Be national park, are reaping the benefits of better relations with their upstream neighbours; the village of Ban Duong in Hoang Tri Commune.

The residents of Pac Ngoi depend upon the river and tourism for their livelihood. However, tourism revenue was slipping as concerns over pollution levels from Ban Duong have been increasing.

There are 99 households in Pac Ngoi, of which 21 have boats and 14 have guesthouses. Tourism accounts for 80 per cent of the economy with residents offering boat excursions, plus lodging and meals at the guesthouses.

Ba Be Lake ©IFAD/Sunae Kim
The residents of Pac Ngoi had often made requests to their upstream neighbours to reduce deforestation activities and waste disposal directly in to their shared water course. But they were always refused.

Back in 2012 The Global Environment Facility (GEF) working through IFAD, as the implementing agency, decided to create a ‘payment for environmental services’ (PES) project in the district, due to mounting conflict and environmental destruction. The project drew on a study group of 30 local residents to answer two questions; I) ‘why the Ba Be lake is not well maintained compared to before’, and II) ‘why the Ba Be attracts less tourists’.

Following this study it was agreed to establish a fund, paid by Pac Ngoi to the upstream communities, in exchange for forest protection and solid waste management. The fund is financed by two percent of the gross receipts from boat excursions and VND 4,000 per homestay guest.

Villagers discussing PES
©IFAD/Nguyen Minh Thy

The people of Ban Duong had been throwing animal corpses and plastic bags and bottles into the stream which alongside forest loss/degradation was causing environmental damage and loss of tourism. 

Villager making a payment to the contribution box 
©IFAD/Nguyen Minh Thy

In February 2013, the neighbouring communities entered into a one-year, pilot agreement, consisting of payment to Ban Duong in exchange for them stopping the throwing waste into the streams draining into Ba Be Lake and to reduce forest loss/degradation in their forestlands. To date two payments totalling more than VND 26 million (~ USD 1,300) have been made to the upstream community. The payments will be paid quarterly, and funds are kept in the local police station, with access only allowed when all three party representatives are present, ensuring trust in the programme.

Villagers agreeing on a PES contract ©IFAD/Nguyen Minh Thy

Find out more about IFAD operations in Vietnam.

Assess to Address: let #IFADMPAT take a clear picture for you

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, April 3, 2014 1 comments

by Valeria Smarrini

Let's say you are concerned with rural poverty alleviation. Maybe you are a government official, or you are doing research, or you just had a brilliant idea and you want to design a project. Maybe your project is already up and running, and you want to be sure it is working properly. Maybe you work in IFAD: in this case, rural poverty is something you are certainly very familiar with.

Options on how to tackle rural development are copious. To make things even more exciting, the whole background of development cooperation is entering a brand new era, as post-2015 is fast approaching and different scenarios are emerging, which focus on different actors, responsibilities, and targets at all levels of ambition.

The thing about rural poverty is that, very often, it just plain complicated. It involves many dimensions, and each and every one of them is very deeply connected to all the others. Look at this from the outside: you pull a thread somewhere and, if you don't really know what you are doing, maybe this will cause some other part of the structure to collapse. Knowing that, you don't really want to experiment when it comes to people's livelihoods.

Let's not be discouraged, though – solutions do exist, and can be found. And this is not a needle-in-a-haystack type of research. What would really be helpful here is a flashlight or, even better, a map.

IFAD happens to have launched a promising tool today, the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), which has been metaphorically described as a 'roadmap', or a 'dashboard' to better grasp the reality and dynamics of rural poverty, right at its origin: rural villages and households.

MPAT was first custom-designed in 2007, and it received feedback from international experts in various sectors of development through several round of fine-tuning. A beta version of the tool was then developed, tested with some further tweaking and training, evaluated from the European Commission, peer-reviewed by the academic community, and piloted.

The tool is really quite simple to operate. You have your survey templates at the household and village level, a fairly straightforward Excel sheet that does the maths when it's fed with raw data from the survey, and aggregate results for ten different components, spanning from basic needs, such as food security, to equality issues like gender. The idea is to see how these ten dimensions are doing and to also check whether an enabling environment is in place.
Innovation lies in the fact that the tool is based on the needs and the assets of smallholder farmers, and the dimensions it takes into account are all, undeniably, at the core of the rural development debate.
Actually, MPAT does more: it collects perceptions right in the households and villages where the effort to raise people out of poverty begins and ends.

Perceptions are subjective statements, one may argue? Yes, they are. But subjective sounds a lot more like objective when it comes out of those who are the object of the whole rural development effort. So, information obtained through this exercise may be subject to some degree of simplification, but the proxies can certainly be useful in defining priorities, which is a very honest thing to do when dealing with a complex situation. I will steal the words of Alasdair Cohen, project manager of the IFAD Management Team for 2012-2013 MPAT finalization, and say that this tool allows us to "look at qualitative data through a quantitative lens."

See how MPAT can be used as a flashlight, or a map?

And, by the way, it seems to be working. Feedback was shared during the event from colleagues from the Kenya-based NGO Nuru International and IFAD's ProPESCA project in Mozambique – and it was encouraging feedback in both cases.

I will admit I joined the event asking myself why another tool to deal with impact, and soon found myself asking "why not?". I can definitely see this at work for the development community at large, to draft roadmaps to inform decision-making and resource allocation, develop meaningful indicators, design compelling projects that go straight to the point and, last but definitely not least, claim evidence exactly where evidence is needed.

Want to find out how to assess and address the various dimensions of rural poverty? Interested in knowing how to map rural poverty and measure the impact of rural development projects?

Tune in on 3 April at 3:00pm CET to find out about IFAD’s Multidimensional Poverty Assessment tool (MPAT) - your "rural poverty dashboard".

Our journey to develop this tool for development practitioners was made possible thanks to the Innovation Mainstreaming Initiative (IMI) - a DFID-funded initiative. And we cannot be grateful enough for this generous contribution, as the IMI has allowed us to launch and mainstream numerous groundbreaking and innovative initiatives.

This morning driving to work, it occurred to me that we may be able to link MPAT, is a tool designed to help development practitioners to take a snapshot of rural poverty by collecting people's ideas, with SenseMaking, a methodology that Dave Snowden shared at the Failfaire - another IMI sponsored initiative.

So what does MPAT do? It collects project beneficiary perceptions on the following 10 components. The first six being fundamental needs and the latter four relating to rural assets, exposure and equality:

  • food and nutrition security
  • domestic water supply
  • heath and health care
  • sanitation and hygiene
  • housing, clothing and energy
  • education
  • farm assets
  • non-farm assets
  • exposure and resilience to shocks
  • gender and social equality

If you are into psychology, you can probably find similarities with Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

We at IFAD put PEOPLE at the centre of our work. So if you are an advocate of bottom-up approaches, MPAT is your tool, as it allows you to document people's perspectives both a household and village level and map these out.

You can find out more about this tool on our website. Make sure you follow us live on 3 April at 3pm CET via webcast or on Twitter by following #ifadmpat.

Hope to see many of you virtually and before signing off, check out Thomas Rath's piece on Sustainable rural development needs a roadmap.