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Can I Cash in and Cash out here?

Posted by Jessica Thomas Friday, August 22, 2014 3 comments

What is better than cash you may ask? Electronic payments of course! Easy question, easy answer, anything else you need to know?

Actually, there is a lot more to it than that and that's why the Rural Finance Thematic Group and the Better than Cash Alliance held a seminar at IFAD on 21 August.
"Empowering people through electronic payments" . Tidhar Wald, from BTC walked the participants through an interesting presentation on why the alliance is convincing Governments, the development community and the private sector to shift their payments from cash to electronic – paving the way to expand financial inclusion and help people in poverty grow assets. Digitizing payments can create lasting benefits for people, communities and economies such as: cost savings, transparency, security, financial inclusion and access to new markets. Today, more than half the adult population – 2.5 billion – are excluded from the formal financial sector.

It seems that there is no question as to the efficiency that this shift would lead to, in fact,  a stimulating discussion took place on the pros and cons of this shift and how challenging it will really be to replace a cash economy  – 'cash is the way people think' …'a cash element will always remain' …'we have a long way to go to make services available to the local people ' these were just some of the comments made.

Andean tribal people, Cusco Region, Peru, beneficiaries of a financial graduation programme by the government.
©IFAD/Michal Hamp


Although there are challenges, there are benefits too... Governments can save up to 75% when making payments electronically rather than in cash, on what? Corruption, theft, insurance costs, less middlemen – all these and other factors drastically increase savings as the costs incurred with cash no longer exist.

Mainly BTC aims to see donors committing to implement electronic payment solutions instead of cash. Another aim is for improved economic security for millions of low-income and poor people, enabling them to use bank or electronic accounts to build savings and assets via innovative payment technologies.

IFAD has been invited to become a member of the Better than Cash Alliance and the process to reach a decision has started. Current partners of the Alliance are:  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MasterCard, Citi, The Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Visa Inc., and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) as the Secretariat of the Alliance.

In fact, IFAD is already using electronic payments so what would our actual role be? To showcase IFAD’s leadership in its process to accelerate digitization of payments and jointly promote greater use of secure, sound electronic payments in the world.

Did you know? Another reason not to use cash - cash is unhygenic and 94% of all paper bills are contaminated - with drugs and dangerous germs!

By Vivienne Likhanga

“Communities must be part and parcel of natural resources management (NRM) for it to succeed” Mr. Paul Njuguna, Land and Environment Coordinator.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with Procasur Africa, CARE  (relief agency) in Kenya and the Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), organized a learning route titled “Natural Resource Management and Climate Change Adaptation best practices: The Experience in Kenya,” that took place between the 7th and the 13th of July 2014. Seventeen participants from various IFAD-supported projects, implementing partners and civil society organizations in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Lesotho and Kenya all met together on an 8-day journey across the districts and rural communities of Kenya.

A Learning Route is an experience that transforms its participants, leading them to become agents of change in their own organizations. It is a capacity-building procedure with a proven track record of successfully combining local knowledge and experiences. The Learning Route is based on the idea that successful solutions to existing problems are already present within rural areas, and that those solutions might be adapted and spread to other contexts. This journey gets participants to understand these changes through peer learning, discussing directly with rural communities who are the promoters of the identified best practices and successful innovations.

Everyone was excited to hit the road on the learning route bus and visit these three cases:
1.       Upper Tana Natural Resources Management Project (UTaNRMP): The IFAD project addresses the key link between poverty and natural resources degradation from an Integrated Participatory Approach involving local communities. The project intervention focuses on livelihood improvement activities, which result in better management of the environment.
2.       The Cgiar Research Program on Climate Change & Food Security (CCAFS), and Dryland Agriculture in Wote, Makueni County:  This project has dedicated learning sites aimed at understanding the interactions, synergies and trade-offs between climate change and agriculture in ASAL areas. The intervention is based on an integrated approach and shows how community resilience to climate change is greatly increased through localizing weather information and disseminating this in a timely manner to farmers so that they can make informed decisions on what to plant and when.
3.       The Community of Balich and the Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), developed by CARE Kenya in the Garissa region: Through a community-based adaptation process, ALP has been working in partnership with the local communities in Garissa since 2011 to support the development and implementation of their own responses to climate change and adaptation strategies.

After visiting the field, participants of the Learning Route worked on how to take home the lessons learned during the training. Top on the list was the need for the involvement of local communities in climate change adaptation strategies. This would help to alleviate poverty and improve livelihoods through new income generation activities.

Ms. Beth Mburu, a PHD Researcher on Climate Change Adaptation and food Security indirectly working with smallholders farmers previously engaged with IFAD said; “The learning route was very rich! My main take home lesson is on Community empowerment. We have to engage the community in the development and implementation of climate change adaptation solutions, so that when the project lifetime ends there’s an element that will keep the project together. Sharing information at local levels in a manner that is understandable in the local context in a timely manner is important for decision making. Linking community members who are influential in the community also leads to success in the uptake of projects. At the same time, other partners must come on board too to ensure the success and sustainability of climate smart strategies.” (For more on her interview, we invite you to please watch this short 4 minute video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biNj3e3ofSY)

During the learning route the participants developed their ideas into a concrete Action Plan, which will outline how they intend to bring new products, services or processes into their projects and organizations. The best three Action Plans will be prized with a starting capital of USD 2,500.

For more details on the learning route training and additional reading on the specifics of the Learning Route, we invite you to visit our website at the following link: http://africa.procasur.org/en/learning-routes/upcoming-learning-routes/113-113.

Other Useful links:

1.       Presentations (on SlideShare application)

·         Please click here for another blog on the learning route

2.       YouTube Videos:

For further information, please contact:

Ariel Halpern: ahalpern@procasur.org, phone: +56-02-3416367
ValentinaSauve:  vsauve@procasur.org, phone: +254 (0) 706046742
Vivienne Likhanga: vlikhanga@procasur.org, phone: +254(020) 2716036

By Susan Beccio

 A coastline household in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. This village was hit hard by the tsunami in 2004. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

This week I visited some of the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, India that were heavily effected by the tsunami ten years ago. Although the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is not a relief organisation, through it's work in investing in poor rural communities, the fund provides plenty of relief to poor households. The Post-Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme for the Coastal Communities of Tamil Nadu (PTSLP) is no exception. The project has been working with people living along the coast and surrounding areas to enhance their livelihoods since 2007.  

Leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen’s group talk about the tsunami at the fishing society headquarters in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India.  ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Though the people from this area had never experienced a tsunami before they "knew something different was happening with the sea, so they ran to the mountains", said the leaders of the Kurumpanai fishermen's group in unison. Many fishermen in the village lost their nets and boats and none of the fishermen in the area were able to work for the next five months.

Fishermen repair their nets in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

The project provided loans to fishing groups to buy improved boats and fishermen received fishing nets, ice boxes and cutting knives. Boatyards, landing docks and wholesale fish markets were also built, and cement reefs were installed offshore to act as a buffer and protect the shoreline from erratic sea levels.

The new wholesale fish market building is near completion in Kurumpanai village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Traditionally, fishermen arrive with their catch and sell it to retail buyers right on the beach. The fishing groups have installed a more orderly and transparent practise of auctioning fish on the landing dock. Women retailers play an active part in bidding for fish and estimating their profits for the day. 

Auctioneer hawks fish to retail buyers in Kanyakumari village, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Women, who buy fish wholesale and sell in the local market, received training on fish handling - though not all of the practises have been easily adopted.  Maria Roni, 56, secretary of the Kayakumari fish society explains that though “the women know better, they mix the fresh fish with sand because then people think it is fresh, if they put ice, people think the fish is frozen."

Women sell fish at the Erulapapuram market, 3 kilometers from the coastline. Nagercoil, Tamil Nadu, India. ©IFAD/Susan Beccio

Beyond fish and fishing, the project also helped the most vulnerable members of the coastal communities develop skills and start small businesses to generate household income. In the next photo blogpost, I will share some of these stories. 

Remembering our friend and colleague, Simone Camilli

Posted by Timothy Ledwith Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3 comments

Simone on assignment in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, March 2014.
By James Heer

ROME – Many of you have probably heard or read about Simone Camilli's tragic death in Gaza on Wednesday. Simone, 35, was working for the Associated Press at the time and was killed when Gaza police engineers attempted to disable an unexploded bomb.

Although Simone had been working on contracts for AP since 2005, for three to five months each year between 2009 and 2013 he came to Rome and worked as a consultant in the broadcast unit of the IFAD Communications Division. He was a true team player who integrated seamlessly into the division each time he returned to us.

Simone was a highly skilled editor and cameraman as well as an aspiring documentary filmmaker. He had been based in Jerusalem for several years. Working with IFAD gave him an opportunity to spend more time in his hometown, Rome, but also to explore more of the issues he felt passionately about – namely, telling the stories of those who were less fortunate than he was.

During the time he worked for IFAD, Simone edited dozens of short documentaries filmed at IFAD project sites around the world. He produced his own video stories as well, travelling to both the Philippines and Sri Lanka to cover issues related to remittance flows in rural areas. Simone also worked on many internal productions, the most legendary being the first 'Men in Black' video for an Asia-Pacific Regional Division staff retreat. The comedic short was a far cry from the PowerPoints and flip charts that usually characterize such meetings, and it reflected Simone's well-honed sense of fun.

In fact, despite all he accomplished at IFAD, what people who crossed paths with him here are most likely to remember are his smile and good humour. He was quite simply a good and decent human being, a pleasure to be around and a pleasure to work with. In January 2014, Simone, his life partner Ylva and young daughter Nour moved from Jerusalem to Beirut, where he continued to take on assignments for AP. Although he had spent the last few summers back in Rome working at IFAD, this year he decided against it. He said it was just too hard being separated for months at time from his daughter.

Those of us at IFAD who knew Simone will miss him deeply. Our sincere condolences go to his family and his many friends around the world.

The curtains came down on the Sixth South-South Cooperation Workshop in Maputo Mozambique on 8 August 2014.  

In his closing remarks on behalf of IFAD, Mr Cheik Sourang - Strategy and Knowledge Management in IFAD, recognised the presence of his IFAD colleagues:  Sun Yinhong - China, Robson Mutandi - Ethiopia, Haingo Rakotondratsima - Madagascar, and Ahmed Subahi - Sudan. He hoped the workshop was a worthwhile experience for all the participants. He mentioned that triangular south-south cooperation involves the government, private sector, and producers in a public private producer partnership which IFAD is championing. He mentioned that the SSC intervention for IFAD is being championed at three levels: (i) at country level, SSC is being linked to the country level engagement and knowledge management; (ii) at corporate level, IFAD is exploring opportunities and additional funding instruments such as trust funds for the south-south agenda to complement the grants and loans programmes; and (iii) at the global level, IFAD has facilitated policy discussion on the scaling up agenda to meet the MDGs, etc. He thanked Mozambique and China for sharing experiences. He indicated that the best of SSC is yet to come. He mentioned that IFAD will undertake a survey to get feedback from participants on ways to improve the SSC. 

In his closing remarks, Mr Antonio Limbāo - Vice Minister of Agriculture, Mozambique on behalf of Minister of Planning and development, expressed his appreciation by saying,  “as we come to the end of the sixth SSC workshop, it was a pleasure to host you in Mozambique to discuss the SSC experience together”. He believed that the SSC in agricultural development and especially in the rice technology transfer in Mozambique is contributing to poverty reduction and increase of revenue to the farmers. The workshop was an opportunity to share experiences on other Chinese interventions in other African countries and the linkage with IFAD.  In Mozambique the SSC initiatives is linked to the government strategies especially in rural development and poverty reduction. The technological transfer can be of value to African countries to address the challenges facing the small holder farmers. On behalf of the government of Mozambique and Gaza province that facilitated this international workshop he wished the participants safe travel to their respective countries.
China-Moz SSC eggplant demo at technical centre
In his closing remarks, Mr Zhang Zhengwei - Representative of China in IFAD Executive Board thanked the co-host Mozambique, IFAD and China Poverty Reduction Centre for organizing this important workshop. He indicated that China will always support SSC. He mentioned that China started SSC though bilateral channels but is now exploring multilateral channels through agencies like IFAD. He agreed with the need to address country’s real demand and therefore ownership is an important ingredient in the success of the SSC.  China will continue to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the SSC. The idea by IFAD to hold the 6th workshop in Africa was a big step for China, but there is still room for further innovation, for example, combine enterprise promotion and agricultural development. He mentioned that the workshop approach of thematic discussions and field visits was a good approach and will continue to be used. China is willing to share its own experience but as a new developed country it shares similar challenges as developing countries. Therefore there is room to learn from each other. He indicated that IFAD’s uniqueness can play a profound role in promoting SSC. He wished the participants safe return to their countries and declared the Sixth South-South Cooperation workshop officially closed.
Feedback from Participants

  • Participants were impressed with the rice technology transfer programme as demand driven given the shortfall of the domestic supply of rice. The Chinese in the SSC tried to solve  it by aligning it to  Mozambique existing agricultural policy programme
  • The rice technologies transfer focuses on  food security and inclusiveness in that it involves the young agroprenuers extension workers, and private sector partners
  • The importance of the multiservice extension centre  in training and learning as well as technology demonstration
  • Participants appreciated the SSC practical learning approach rather than theoretical approaches  and felt it   should be replicated in Africa for the benefit of farmers
  • One striking problem rural-urban migration where the young are leaving the old in the rural area to do agriculture. China  addressed these issues through policies
  • Participants highlighted the need to introduce knowledge management into the SSC to enable the documentation and a repository of the knowledge generated which is important for skills transfer for the benefit of the scientist and farmers
  • There is need for a cultural centre to address the cross cultural issues and language barriers for the smooth transfer of the technologies.