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Written by: Beatrice Gerli

Tangible impacts:  labour-saving technologies freed up women’s time
 “And then, we requested to purchase six washing machines. This was fundamental for us and the other members of my group to free up time and engage in economic opportunities. Time is everything to us”, said Oralia Ruano Lima with a smile. Oralia is one of the three beneficiaries of the UnWomen- IFAD programme “Broadening women’s economic opportunities (BEO) for Rural Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America Region Programme” that came to IFAD today to share their experiences. It was the first time she travelled abroad and together with two other young women, shared with IFAD staff how this programme has helped her.

Results of two years initiative with UN Women in Latin America
BEO is an initiative funded by IFAD through regional grant for an amount of USD 2,500,000, and a counterpart granted by UN Women of USD 320 000; implemented by UN Women. Since 2013 the organizations have worked to contribute to the economic empowerment of rural women entrepreneurs in El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua. The programme is now coming to a closure and the event organized here in Rome is aimed at drawing key lessons learned and implication for future gender work in the region, including the cooperation between Un women and IFAD.

·         The programme has developed a new comprehensive strategy for empowering women. Efforts to support women’s economic empowerment were complemented by interventions aimed at strengthening women’s leadership and participation in decision making processes. The underlying principle is that women’s engagement in economic activities goes hand in hand with self-esteem and their recognition as key actors of economic development, both in their communities and at national level.
·         Promotion of labour saving technologies. The programme promoted rural women entrepreneurship, without overburdening them, designing interventions to strike a balance between productive and reproductive activities of women – and having a washing machine did help in that.
·         women organizations and the creation of women networks was supported to enable them to overcome informality of their business, access information and markets, and eliminate their dependency on social transfers for them or other members of their families.

Scaling up and learning for IFAD operations

What’s next? These strategies of women’s economic empowerment should reach out the scope of the programme. Sharing the tools and the methodologies that were developed (labour allocation tools, comprehensive business plans, peer-to-peer learning routes) can benefit other IFAD operations in the region. And beyond, IFAD and UNwomen should engage with governments to support better policy design and implementation that can favour women’s economic empowerment. Cooperation with Ciudad Mujer en El Salvador is a good example. This government initiative supports the coordination of all institutions supporting women, as well as the delivery of related services in a coherent way: health, leadership and economic empowerment. 

By Michele Pentorieri

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni welcomes IFAD's President Kanayo F. Nwanze for the launched of the Rural Development Report 2016.
15 September 2016 - IFAD officially launched the Rural Development Report 2016 at an event hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rome, Italy.

The report, Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering inclusive rural transformation, is a rallying call to policymakers and development practitioners to focus on rural transformation as a crucial element to eliminate hunger, poverty and to build a sustainable society for all.

The report is set in the context of a rapidly changing world, with growing demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change and environmental degradation.

It provides insight into regional and country-specific challenges and historical legacies and how factors like employment, youth populations, rights to land, access to finance, gender equality and social protection influence successful interventions.

Rural development is also thought to be one of the most effective ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out in Agenda 2030. The report analyses global, regional and national pathways of rural transformation, starting from evidence collected by experts in over sixty countries.

The Italian Mister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, in opening the event, stressed the importance of Italy's cooperation in development stating: "Italy’s role is not only confined to development cooperation, but has the full potential to place the country at the center stage for the active participation of its entire economic system."
A copy of IFAD's Rural Development Report 2016.

In his opening statement, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said the report was an extremely important tool for evidence-based decision-making processes in the global fight to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Pointing to lessons from the report, Nwanze said that inclusive rural transformation is essential to sustainable development but will depend on the choices made by governments, the private sector and institutions like IFAD.

“Inclusive rural transformation can lift people out of poverty, revitalise communities and offer opportunities to all, including youth, who are the future of any nation,” Nwanze said.

Nwanze added that the report is "a vital resource to help policy-makers to make the right decision and investments to bring about inclusive rural transformation".

Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Winters noted that "75 per cent of extreme poverty is still in rural areas" and, as a consequence, "if we want to address poverty, we have to address poverty in rural areas."
Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Presenting his three key messages, he said, "Rural transformation happens as part of a broader process of structural transformation and the role of agriculture changes in that."

He added that "inclusive transformation will not happen automatically, it must be made to happen." And lastly that "fostering inclusive transformation is about making the right strategic choices for the country". 

Paul Winter's contribution was followed by a high-level panel discussion moderated by Zeinab Badawi, an award-winning broadcast journalist.

A number of international researchers, policy experts, government leaders and civil society representatives were on hand including Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of OXFAM International. Byanyima asserted that: "Smallholder farmers must be at the centre of rural transformation."

She also stressed that we need "to tackle social norms that hold women and communities back", and that we need "better infrastructure, roads communication, technology, inclusive finance that would make poor people able to find decent work in the non-farm sector."

The launch of the report is just the starting point. Several regional events have been organised by IFAD aimed at engaging various stakeholders in regional and country level policy and investment dialogues.

To learn more, browse the report online here and follow the conversation online at #ruraltransformation.

How to address the challenges faced by rural youth aged 15-17 in Mali?

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Tuesday, September 13, 2016 0 comments

By Philippe Remy and Elena Pietschmann, WCA

By supporting vocational training and microenterprise development, the Rural Youth Vocational Training Employment and Entrepreneurship Support Project (FIER) in Mali aims to facilitate rural young people's access to employment opportunities and attractive, well-paying jobs in agriculture and related enterprises. Everyone between the age of 15 and 40 living in the targeted villages is entitled to take part in the project’s activities. Young facilitators from local NGOs work with 4 groups of youth (girls 15-17; boys 15-17; young women 18-40; young men 18-40), showing them different possible professions in their rural area to help them choose their path. At the end of this 6-months process, youth under-18 have the possibility to choose among a range of education options, while young people over-18 can apply to receive the micro-credit and professional training that will help them set up their own (individual or group-based) economic activity.

The repartition of youth in 4 groups allows us to identify the specificities related to working with youth in the 15-17 age range, as well as the challenges of working with girls in particular. It is too early for talking about results or impacts, but the challenges encountered, and some of the approaches adopted, are still worth sharing:

It is proving harder to reach 15-17 years old than it is for the 18-40 age range. This is especially so if the households are required to choose one youth within the household to take part in the project’s activities. In that case, older youth are generally selected by the households. To counter this problem, FIER adopted an inclusive targeting strategy where every youth in the selected villages is entitled to benefit from the project.  
Even when the project targets every youth in the village and there is no need to choose among different young people within a household, parents tend to be reluctant to let under-18 take part in the project’s activities, preferring to keep them at home. To promote under-18 participation, the facilitators conducted door-to-door sensitization with parents.
Youth aged 15-17 tend to have greater difficulties in expressing themselves, especially in the presence of older youth. For this reason, working with separate groups of under- and over-18 proved helpful.
15-17 years old are often already running an economic activity and express interest in applying for the microcredit like the youth in the older group. However, this is not possible as minors cannot access credit. The approach used was to encourage them to open a bank account anyway and start saving in the meantime. Under-18 youth was also allowed to become part of a group-based economic activity that included over-18 youth able to access credit.
Adolescents easily get bored. It proved harder to retain 15-17 years old if the animation sessions were monotonous. The facilitators talked about the need to engage them with dynamic, participatory approaches and to develop games to share information in an interesting way. Approaches such as participatory photography or the staging of performances and sketches seem to work well.
At 15-17, youth are particularly vulnerable to migration. That is the age where both boys and girls often move to urban centers or, in the case of some regions in Mali, to do hazardous work in gold mines. This makes it harder to get them involved in the project activities, as they are often away from the village. The project also has to compete against dreams of easy money they hope to make in the city. The youth’s coming and going from the village also makes it harder to ensure continuity in the 6-months process. To counter these difficulties, it proved useful to carry out an intensive information campaign involving radio stations, local authorities, and the targeted communities so that even youth that were not present in the village could get information on the project. It also seems important to have a relatively flexible schedule of activities where youth can fit in even if they missed the first sessions.  
15-17 years old tend to be particularly impatient. The approach used was to develop a clear time plan and explain them the whole process and exactly how long each step takes.

On top of such challenges, working with 15-17 girls is particularly difficult because:

Girls – especially married girls – face restricted mobility and their families are less inclined to get them involved in a project that might require them to take a training far away from home. The approach adopted was to identify training opportunities close-by, or even mobile units that go to the villages, and to explain to the families from the start of the project that girls will not necessarily have to move.
There is a reluctance in investing in unmarried young girls, since they might move away from the village and certainly will move away from the household. Sensitization with the parents is thus especially important for girls.
The category of ‘youth’ is generally understood as referring to men. Girls become women as soon as they marry, independent of their age. They are thus often put in the over-18 group (even by some of the NGO facilitators), where they face greater difficulties to express themselves given the presence of older women.

In conclusion, some of the main lessons learned so far are:

Involving the families is crucial
To avoid the risk of households selecting older youth to take part in the project, targeting should be either very inclusive (every youth is a potential beneficiary), or very specific (e.g. only 15 to 17)
Dynamic, new activities are helpful to retain youth that might easily get bored
For girls, it is important to take their restricted mobility into account and identify training possibilities nearby

Home gardening in Kiribati brings innovation and change

Posted by Beate Stalsett Friday, September 2, 2016 0 comments

By: Josephine Reiher (Gender and Youth Officer, OIFWP ) and Monica Romano

Ata in her home garden. Credit: A. Aruee  

Life in the rural area of the outer islands of Kiribati can be challenging. A number of families who migrated to Tarawa have now returned to their home islands as a result of an increasing cost of copra. However, making a living from agriculture is difficult as families share small pieces of land and most of the youth have limited employment opportunities, also due to poor education.

The IFAD-supported Outer Island Food and Water Project (OIFWP) came into force in September 2014. Targeting the four outer islands of Abebama, Beru, North Tabiteuea and Nonouti, it promotes improved household food security and nutrition, as well as clean water through rainwater harvesting and community planning and action activities. The project aims to reach the entire population with a specific focus on women and young people.

Based on a consultative process in the  Tanimainiku village, in the island of Abemama, a Community Development Plan was formulated,  and  Community Committee was established to support activities in the village.

Ata Tangatariki, 30, is a young woman, who lives with her family in the Tanimainiku village. She lives with her parents, two married sisters with kids, and a brother who is still in high school. Ata participated in the induction meeting of the project and contributed to the design of the Community Development Plan. She was also selected as a member of the Community Committee.

To be eligible for becoming a Community Committee member a person living in the target villages is required to have a garden in his/her home, which can be used as a model to show interested people in the community how to properly grow and maintain it. The Committee established that project staff would visit the home gardens every two weeks to provide advice and help the farmers. Ata’s family grows three different gardens, which are taken care of by her father, mother and herself.

Before the project was introduced in their village, Ata’s family used to grow only banana, swamp taro and breadfruit because of limited agricultural knowledge, hence their diet was poor, and lacking important nutrients from vegetables. As a result of project-supported home gardening activities, they now grow cabbages, sweet potatos, tomatoes, pawpaw, new breadfruit types, pumpkins and kangkong (water spinach). Their dietary habits consequently changed and they now eat a greater quantity and variety of nutritious food.

Ata also tried to find other ways to support her family economically and found out that growing vegetables and fruit in the home gardens has many advantages: it helps coping with food shortages, often occurring due to undelivered cargo supplies to the Outer Islands and can also help generate additional income.

By selling her fruit and vegetables locally, Ata is able to earn about USD 1.9 for each cabbage and about USD 2.3 per kilo of sweet potatoes. She can also sell the bigger pawpaw and pumpkin for about USD 3.8 each. On average, she estimated she can earn around USD 7.5 per day from her fruits and vegetables – something the family was unable to rely on before.

Her major plan for the future is to do more to showcase her garden products to the communities across the island, and  encourage them to engage in gardening by sharing her skills and experience. She believes that a good way to attract the youngsters in farming is by organizing competitions, with some incentives for those growing the biggest or heaviest fruits and vegetables in the community. This activity has been agreed upon by the community committee and will be commenced during the World Food Day in October this year.

Ata is very proud to be involved in the Project, both as a farmer and a community leader. It has changed her view on farming, improved her family’s food security and nutrition, and  taught her new gardening and leadership skills through the help of the Community Facilitator Officers, the Agricultural Assistants and the Island Facilitators working for the project. She believes that the project has provided a major contribution to raise the profile of agriculture, especially among  young people, and brought about innovation and change in the life of rural communities.  

Participating in the community consultations, becoming a community committee member and engaging in home gardening greatly encouraged her and helped her learn an important lesson: farming can make you change your future.

Life as a young farmer in Fiji

Posted by Beate Stalsett 0 comments

By Tevita Ravumaidama, PHVA-Partners in Community Development Fiji (PCDF) and Monica Romano

Young people living in rural areas have the potential, as the farmers and producers of tomorrow, to help feed the world's growing population. But young people are increasingly abandoning agriculture and rural areas in search of better livelihoods in cities or abroad. In The Pacific island of Fiji, Joji Naikau returned to his rural hometown to invest in his farm and is showing great success.

Joji Naikau, 30, is a young man 30 living in Nadala village, Savaty district, in Ba province of Fiji. He is married with two children, and one of the beneficiaries of the Partnership in High Value Agriculture (PHVA) programme, an IFAD-supported grant targeting 13 villages and 7 settlements located in an impoverished district of Nadarivatu in the interior of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu.

The USD 500,000 grant implemented during 2012-2015 aimed at increasing the income of the 200 farmers who participated by 20 per cent from the production of high value products, through enhanced market linkages and community empowerment.

Before joining the programme, Joji was not farming to earn his livelihoods. Despite owning 1.5 hectares of land, he had no knowledge and skills on how to use it for income generation. Therefore, he moved to Fiji’s capital of Suva and started to undertake mechanical work for an engineering company.

A few years ago while he was spending Christmas time in his village, he was approached by staff working for the IFAD-supported programme, and encouraged to participate in some training activities to learn how to put his land under production and to invest in farming as a business.
Joji presented his experience at the 1st stakeholder workshop of the IFAD-funded Fiji Agricultural Partnerships Project. Credit: M. Romano

He decided to try this opportunity because he was not happy with his job in the city. With the money earned through his urban job, he was barely able to buy food and rather wanted to make some more long-term investments to improve the life and prospects of his family. 

Therefore, Joji attended various technical and business-oriented trainings offered by the programme, including on farm management (e.g. growing vegetables and fruit such as tomatoes, capsicum, English and Chinese cabbage, watermelon and zucchini); adoption of best husbandry practices; financial literacy and management; entrepreneurship and negotiating skills. 

Joji is very satisfied with his new activity and he was able to achieve amazing results which has benefitted  his whole family. Sales of vegetables and fruits enabled him to earn about USD 6,300-7,200 annually in the first two years as opposed to intermittent earnings from previous work in the city due to an unsecure job, which ranged from about USD 1,400-2,400 annually. Over the first two years of farming work, he was also able to save some USD 3,400-4,800. In contrast, while working in Suva he was unable to save, faced with considerable expenses due to high living costs in the city. 

Through his farming activities, he managed to move from a small and simple house to a new and bigger one. He is also able to meet family commitments like health fees/charges, while contributing to community water projects, school infrastructures, church activities and extended family obligations. His next plan is to save more money to pay for his children’s education.

« The world counts a billion of young people, making a billion of hopes for a better future, a billion of ideas to change the world. » (un.org)

On 12 August the world celebrated International Youth Day. The UN set a theme: The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production, and IFAD took the opportunity to ask a very fundamental question: ‘What do rural youth want?’

A group of young women and men in Madagascar answered this question as they participated in a change catalyst workshop in Tamatave from 8-13 August. The workshop represented first step in implementing the Gender Action Learning System (GALS), one of the IFAD-promoted household methodologies, for the Vocational Training and Agricultural Productivity Improvement Programme (FORMAPROD). One of the key workshop activities was to enable them to visualize what they want, analyse where they are and plan for a change.

Six days to kick off a life-long journey for change, and it all starts with a vision!

Visioning is the best way to enable youth to see their dreams and imagine a better and bright future. The first GALS tool called Road Vision Journey allowed them to draw their vision and make a yearly plan to achieving it. This tool required two full days and was crucial to start the process for change.
Our vision : Grow our sewing business and export our products 
The young participants were very happy to complete their road vision journeys. One of the young women was sharing her first impression: 
« This tool is an eye opener for us. It helps us to think about our future. » 
« I have attended several trainings and workshops, I took so many notes and it confused me. In this workshop, I only draw and it becomes so easy to understand my vision. »
A group discussion on individual and collective visions
Project staff members were also surprised by the outputs. They realized that anyone, no matter their age, young or old, can dream of a better life. According to many of them, those drawings will ease their work in accompanying the young beneficiaries :
  « With the vision tool, I will be able to better monitor youth as I know where they are heading to. »

Plus, the workshop provided to staff members an opportunity to learn : «I discovered that I can also learn as much as the young beneficiaries.” The methodology is inclusive, accessible to all, even those who are not able to read and write. Anyone, rich or poor, staff member or project beneficiary, adult or child, needs a vision to take charge of his/her life.

Involve all household, group and community members in achieving a vision

Participants then analyzed their activities, paid or unpaid, their incomes, assets and decision-making and all types of expenses within the household. They identified imbalances and changes they are willing to do to create more harmony and balance in order to achieve their vision. Through the Gender Balance Tree, the youth became more aware of how they spent their money and time:

«We spend too much money, on hairdressing, make up, mobile phones and Facebook, games, etc. We spend too much time watching TV, walking around and chatting with friends. That money and that time could be invested in working toward our vision.  »

For staff members, the tool offered an excellent approach to understand gender issues: « The gender balance tree allowed me to understand gender issues without theory. It became accessible and clear through this tool. »
Young women discussing inequalities within their households

The Leadership and Social Empowerment Map is about sharing with others to spread the changes. The principle is that everyone is a leader of change. Once you start to change, you catalyse change around you.  All participants described how they will share the methodology to their family, neighbours, colleagues, group and community members. Following the workshop, participants will be equipped to make changes at individual, household and community levels and plan it with the tool called Multilane Vision Journey.

A well appreciated methodology for staff members of FORMAPROD

As we went through the various tools, staff members understood the value that GALS methodology can add to their mandate.

« GALS offers a way to identify training needs for youth and their parents at the grassroots level, and will encourage them to be responsible of their own development. »
« Facilitation techniques are highly participative, anyone was able to interact and express their ideas. The workshop combined several methods with a lot of practice and enabled a good grasp of the methodology. The facilitation techniques are easily replicable in any rural community. Visual symbols allow a good understanding of an individual’s  own situation as well as of the others. »

Staff members in charge of advisory services to young beneficiaries
Gisele Mukabalisa, one of the GALS facilitators from Rwanda, talked of her satisfaction about the involvement of participants:
«Youth really showed a need for a vision, a dream which give them hope for a better future. When we went to the field after the workshop, we saw that they already shared with all the family and committed for change. Another key challenge will be the inequality of power relations between youth and adult/parents, and conflicts in household which prevent them from developing and gaining access on properties. Consequently, there is a need for tools to help them increase skills in entrepreneurship and access to markets. »

To me, the workshop was very insightful. I learned how gender issues can either disable or enable changes for youth, even at individual level. For instance, there are a lot of gender issues behind a school drop-out such as misunderstanding between child and parents, or just unstable and conflictual family situation.

As FORMAPROD aims to train 100,000 rural youth to modernize the rural economy, let’s wait and see in the near future how the GALS methodology will help to reach that vision.

By Anja Rabezanahary, IFAD, Junior Professional Officer, Gender and social inclusion,