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18 November is Africa Statistics Day. The 2014 theme was “Open data for accountability and inclusiveness.” To commemorate the Africa Statistics Day, the Uganda Bureauof Statistics (UBOS), shared provisional results of the 10th National Population and Housing Census, 2014. The report was launched by his Excellency the Prime Minister, Hon. Eriya Kategaya.

Highlights from Uganda’s 2014 census
Uganda is now 34.9 million people, up by 10.7 million from the last census in 2002. The population is growing at 3.03% annually, and at this rate, is projected to increase to 35.0 million in 2015. The average household size is 4.9 people in rural areas, and 4.2 people in urban areas. The sex ratio (number of males per 100 females) has been declining throughout the post-independence period and is currently at 94.5 males per 100 females, down from 101.9 in 1969. The intriguing question is “what is happening to the males?” The UBOS Executive Director, Dr. Munghereza, called upon researchers to explore this question.
What are the implications of the census data?
Makerere University’s Dr. Ssekamate discussed the census results and pointed out the following:

  • The fast growth rate affects the ability to create and offer jobs 
  • Every year, around 1.5million births are added to Uganda’s population, and this needs to be taken into account during planning 
  • 10 million of the 34.9 million are still children, making the dependent population very high. Harnessing the population dividend is high priority, to reduce the high rate of dependants and grow a self-reliant population 
  • The constantly declining sex ratio should be investigated

With the census results, the National Planning Authority will now complete and release the second National Development Plan (NDP).

Open data for accountability and inclusiveness
A key note address on the day’s theme, delivered by Dr. Ham Mukasa Muliira, special presidential advisor on ICT, stressed the importance of the census in providing demographic, social and economic statistics to enable government plan optimally. Dr. Muliira underscored the importance of technology in creating expediency in handling census results. The art of collection, computing, analysing, processing, storage and dissemination of data is made easier by ICTs.
“The value of data is in holding governments accountable,” said Muliira.
Open data can freely be used, reused and redistributed by anyone, subject utmost, to the requirement to attribute and share alike. It is crucial in enhancing inclusiveness. It is characterised by availability and access, reuse and redistribution, and universal participation. Muliira further says that 
Open data improves inclusiveness by giving citizens the information they need to participate in public decision-making.
Open data promotes transparency, democratic control, and self-empowerment. It fosters efficiency and effectiveness of government services and enables innovations to thrive. These are some of the reasons why open data should be promoted.

Optimizing farmer’s contribution through better health and nutrition

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, November 19, 2014 0 comments

by Iain C. MacGillivray

For many decades the global political and development agendas have failed to give priority to hunger and undernutrition. While increasing and volatile food prices have drawn attention to the world food situation and there have been recent commitments to tackle global undernutrition and promote nutrition-sensitive investments, 805 million people remain hungry today.  A further two billion people suffer from micronutrient deficiency, or hidden hunger, impacting both individual life opportunities and collective productiveness.

It is a tragedy that one in eight women and men still go hungry, and every day 8,000 children die needlessly from conditions linked to undernutrition—a tragedy that must not be allowed to continue. The international community must ensure that food and nutrition security is at the heart of the new post-2015 sustainable development framework, and must mobilize greater efforts to end poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

In “leaving no one behind”, rural-urban inequalities must be addressed, with particular attention on small-scale agriculture, including women, indigenous peoples and family farmers. This is truly a defining moment for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) as these issues reaffirm its mandate and become center stage in the post-2015 universal agenda.

Investing in rural people is IFAD’s business. The women, men and children in developing countries that depend on smallholder agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries are the custodians of vital natural resources and biodiversity, and are central to mitigating climate change. They are also central to global food and nutrition security. Smallholder agricultural development and rural transformation need to be an integral part of the post-2015 global development agenda, if that agenda is to succeed. This new agenda is a unique opportunity to refocus policy, investments and partnerships on inclusive and sustainable rural transformation.

If the needs of rural areas are not addressed, rural-urban inequalities may only deepen, which will impact rural and urban populations alike as well as global food security. On the other hand, rural transformation and rural growth have the potential to drive inclusive sustainable development, from economic growth and employment to poverty eradication, from a healthy environment to inclusive societies, from gender equality to food and nutrition security for all.

Today, 500 million smallholder family farms in the developing world support the livelihoods of close to a third of the world’s population and are mostly managed by poor smallholders, nearly half of whom are women.  These small family farmers produce 80 per cent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, and agriculture is the largest provider of employment in many countries and regions.  In countries lacking adequate reserves of foreign exchange to import food (a problem exacerbated by the food price spikes of recent years), the contribution of family farming to domestic food supply is even more crucial. Indeed, in the many developing countries that are net food importers, increasing production on smallholder family farms can reduce vulnerability to exchange rate and other trade-related shocks.

It is both unfortunate and ironic that that those who grow the food are often those who go hungry.

Smallholder families suffer from poor quality diets and malnutrition due to inadequate consumption out of their own production. They often do not have the incomes or resources to access other sources of food.  Investing in rural people to increase smallholder productivity can help improve nutrition and health in developing countries.

Feeding a world population that will exceed 9 billion by 2050 will require the contribution of smallholder family farms. This will be possible only if there is a more integrated and comprehensive development approach to optimize agriculture’s contribution to good nutrition and make food systems nutrition sensitive. That means making sure nutrition outcomes for rural and urban people are central to planning, design and implementation of agricultural and rural investments.

IFAD is committed to making all of its country programmes and one-third of its projects nutrition sensitive in just four years. This means that IFAD country initiatives will go beyond recognizing that investment can improve nutritional status. They will now explicitly state how they contribute to improving the nutritional status of farm household members and incorporate nutrition objectives, indicators, and actions.

With its understanding of the need to engage with other sectors on nutrition, IFAD will expand and align its efforts on nutrition with existing global and national priorities and initiatives aimed at eliminating malnutrition.

IFAD supports the proposed sustainable development goal of ending hunger, promoting sustainable agriculture, and improving nutrition, as well as the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, which brings together international donors, civil society, private sector and agencies, and more than 50 developing countries, many of which are IFAD partners.

Improving nutrition will require working across many sectors, including health, education, and water and sanitation.  It will also require that agricultural investments are designed to empower women and achieve gender equality, allow women time to take care of their children and other family members, and improve their nutritional knowledge and dietary and hygiene behaviours. IFAD aims to provide countries with the financing, technical advice, policy and programme support needed to develop nutrition-sensitive agriculture.

Activities that make investments nutrition sensitive include: production, processing and storage techniques related to more nutrition-oriented value chains, such as those for biofortified nutrient-dense crops; nutrition education; behavioural change communication; homestead production; institutional and community-level capacity strengthening (particularly women’s empowerment); policy engagement (including advocacy and outreach); and analytical work and market studies specific to countries.  These efforts can create links between agriculture and nutrition by promoting economic value for producers and traders and encouraging nutritional and health value for consumers.

For IFAD, a future where healthy and well-nourished smallholder family farmers are at the centre of the agricultural, economic, environmental, and social agendas is essential for promoting equitable and sustainable development.  The Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) of this November is a chance for world leaders to demonstrate leadership with actions to arrest the scourge of hunger and malnutrition. Smallholders and agriculture cannot be left behind.

Originally published F@rmletter  - The E-magazine of the World's Farmers

Originally posted by Farming First, a global coalition for sustainable agricultural development.

In this guest post, Wafaa El Khoury, a Lead Technical Specialist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Policy and Technical Advisory Division, discusses the powerful effect that investing in rural infrastructure and institutions can have on smallholder farmers’ lives.

Smallholder farmers in the developing world face multiple constraints that they must overcome to sustainably increase their productivity, enhance their income, connect with markets and become more resilient. These constraints often involve limited access to advisory services, natural resources and agricultural inputs – including seeds, fertilisers and agro-chemicals – as well as rural finance and markets.

The absence of basic rural infrastructure, especially roads, is another limiting factor. Roads link smallholders in remote areas to supplies and markets. They are central to reducing the transaction costs of input delivery, and to facilitating rural financial systems’ outreach to remote areas.

Beyond building infrastructure, though, one of the most important ways to contribute to smallholder farmers’ productivity is by building strong rural institutions – because stronger human and institutional capacities are critical for sustainable development.

IFAD’s focus on smallholders
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency that sees investing in both rural infrastructure and rural institutions as an important part of its mandate. IFAD finances agricultural development programmes and projects globally, with a focus on smallholder farmers and rural poverty alleviation in developing countries. The aim is to empower rural people to overcome poverty, improve their food and nutrition security, and build resilience.

IFAD operates through a mix of low-interest loans and grants provided to the governments that are responsible for the implementation of these investment projects. Presently, IFAD is operating in nearly 100 countries with around 240 on-going initiatives.

Through its investments, which are often relatively small but carefully targeted, IFAD supports the construction of rural roads linking villages and farms to main roads and markets. It also invests in establishing market infrastructure – including markets, collection centres, drying and storage facilities and service hubs – as well as irrigation systems and soil and water conservation structures at the watershed, landscape and farm levels.

However, building rural institutions, starting with farmer and community groups, is the main entry point to overcome smallholder farmers’ constraints and enhance their food security and income.

Farmer, producer and community organizations
Rural institutions can improve smallholders’ livelihoods – either directly, by increasing their access to resources, services, inputs and markets, or indirectly, by empowering them with a greater voice in policy dialogue.

These institutions can adopt various forms and structures, depending on the objectives of farmers and community members. They can be community development groups and associations, common interest groups, production groups, water users’ associations, social forestry groups, land management groups, savings and credit associations (often composed of women) and labour contracting societies (also commonly composed of women working to upgrade local infrastructure).

Strong rural organizations are able to provide a full range of services to small producers, and hence play a leading role in meeting the growing demand for food on local, national and international markets. At the same time, producers or community members who work together as a group can create a critical mass of demand for agricultural inputs, and for advisory and financial services. Higher demand makes private-sector outreach into rural areas more attractive and cost-effective.

Building capacity at all levels
Still, the sustainability of smallholders’ groups, and their capacity to achieve common objectives, depend on how they develop. To succeed, they must form the following set of interdependent relationships:
  • Bonding among small producers at the grassroots level (intragroup relations).
  • Building bridges between small-producers’ groups to form apex organizations (intergroup relations).
  • Linking small-producers’ groups with apex organizations, public agencies, private-sector businesses and service providers, as well as policymakers (extra-group relations).
For strong intragroup relations, small producers must take the time to establish their groups from the base upwards, building on trust and common interests or goals. They also need proper capacity development and education in terms of technical issues, financial management, conflict resolution and social cohesion.

Depending on their maturity and level of development, small-producers’ groups may be able to federate into apex organizations, which allow them to become even more effective and independent. Based on solid intergroup relations, such organizations have great potential for providing services to their members, operating and maintaining common infrastructure and equipment, and engaging in policy dialogue.

A basis for empowerment
Smallholders’ groups and apex organizations need support at the various levels of rural institutional development. Small producers’ access to markets, for example, is often facilitated by the establishment of special multi-stakeholder platforms and inter-professional associations.

These groupings bring together producers’ organizations, buyers, extension services, local governments and various other value-chain actors. In the process, they allow smallholders to understand market needs; help buyers and processors understand farmers’ limitations and constraints; and give agricultural extension agents and the public sector information to help focus their interventions.

IFAD and its partners invest in building the capacity of rural institutions at every level. While this is a long process, it is a firm basis for the empowerment of smallholder farmers.

by Rosalie Lehel

Pastoralist use their cattle to collect water
September 29 - Dodoma. During the dry season, we can only expect a period of water scarcity and dry fields. In the Dodoma region of Tanzania the situation is particularly alarming. The arid land is too dry to be cultivated, trees are rare and more importantly, there is not absolutely a drop of water in any of the rivers.

Villages in remote areas are badly connected to the roads, without direct access to basic sanitation systems and for most part of the year they have no access to water.  This means the people and livestock living in these areas are prone to diseases.

This adverse situation not only forces  pastoralists and their livestock  to walk up to six hours a day to get to the first source of  drinking water, it also is a source of conflict between pastoralists and farmers who continuously compete for land and water. This situation is often exacerbated by the lack of inclusive village land use and climate change mitigation plans.

The IFAD-funded Water and Health component of Agricultural Sector Development Programme – Livestock (ASDP-L), thanks to the support of government of Tanzania and the Belgian Fund for Food Security (BFFS) is helping to alleviate this challenge by constructing boreholes, shallow wells, rainwater harvesting structures, and other water delivery systems. These systems are providing clean and safe water to communities and livestock. The benefits of having direct access to water allow children to have time to go to school instead of walking kilometres to fetch drinking water. It is allowing pastoralists to improve their health and sanitation systems, thus decreasing the incidence of disease.
IFAD-funded project provides clean drinking water for the cattle
in Zanka village

To keep the water source sustainable and to monitor water usage, the villagers have set up water committees. People are charged for water usage and this typically depends on the number of cattle. The community uses the water fees to pay for the maintenance of the pumps and boreholes. Thanks to this model, both the communities and Government not only contribute to the maintenance of the infrastructure, but more importantly this has created a sense of ownership, thus ensuring the sustainability of the project.

The additional funds provided by the BFFS are complementing the sectorial support of the Tanzanian Government and are helping to meet the needs of the beneficiaries, especially the pastoralists who because of their nomadic nature and lack of access to natural resources are vulnerable.

The 2015 country strategy for Tanzania will take into consideration the lessons learnt from this project, and in particular the importance of targeting pastoralists. In December 2014 Tanzania will host the Africa Regional Workshop in preparation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD. The objective of the regional workshop is to exchange knowledge and experiences on good practices on indigenous peoples’ food systems and sustainable livelihoods and identify the key challenges and opportunities faced by indigenous peoples’ food systems. The Forum will allow IFAD to  consult and have a dialogue with indigenous peoples’  representatives.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED), the IFAD Country Office in Uganda held the maiden annual COSOP/Portfolio review. The review meeting took place on 13 November 2014, hosted by the Ministry of Finance and chaired by the Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Patrick Ocailap.In attendance were representatives from development partners, farmer organisations, CBOs/NGOs, and other government ministries.

For Uganda, the 2013-18 is the first results-based COSOP. The first annual review is thus an important milestone. The review provided an opportunity to reflect on implementation progress, positive trends, and challenges, and to discuss a way forward with our key partners. The highlight of the meeting was a comment by Isaac Mpoza, Ag Director, Debt and Cash Management in the Ministry of Finance. He said,
"IFAD projects may appear to be few but the impact is tremendous."

Commissioner for Aid Liaison, Maris Wanyera (right), Ag Director Debt & Cash Mgt, Isaac Mpoza (center), and AfDB country officer, Sebastiam Okeke (left) at the joint IFAD-GoU COSOP/Portfolio review 
The Government appreciates the impact of IFAD-supported projects, specifically in these areas:
  • Impact of infrastructure development in rural areas. 
  • Public-private-producers partnerships for poverty alleviation and rural development
  • Household mentoring approach (+ grants) for social inclusion of poorest households    
  • Evidence-based policy dialogue – the case of SACCO development and Tier IV Regulation
Going forward, the pledge by Government and other partners is to continue the good practice of working closely together to identify and address challenges, for an improved portfolio.

What is this COSOP about?

The goal of the COSOP is to increase the income, improve the food security and reduce vulnerability of the rural households living in poverty. There are three strategic objectives – to sustainably increase production and productivity, enhance market access, and sustainably increase access to and use of financial services by the rural population.

What is the relationship between the COSOP and Portfolio review?

A collage of pictures from the different IFAD-supported projects in Uganda
The Government through Ministry of Finance conducts annual portfolio reviews of all development/donor organisations, to keep track of investments made and how these contribute to the NationalDevelopment Plan and Vision 2040. The IFAD portfolio in Uganda is made up of 2 closing projects, 1 start-up project, 1 project under design, and 3 ongoing projects.

The COSOP review, for IFAD, is also an annual activity, meant to assess progress in the implementation and achievement of set objectives through the performance of the projects. The review is thus an opportunity to identify what is working, what is not, and why. It is a forum to discuss strategies for enhanced performance in investing in, and bringing rural people out of poverty.

Working closely with government

Through consultations and discussions with the Ministry (which also chairs the Uganda COSOP Team – UCT), it was agreed that these two meetings be merged to build on the complementary aspects, and reduce costs in terms of time and other resources.  Due to a positive working relationship with the Ministry, and the fact that they chair the Uganda COSOP Team, this experimental merging has proved effective, efficient and successful.

The stage is now well set for future reviews, and what better way to do this than by working in close partnership with the government, development partners, farmer organisations, and local CBOs/NGOs?
A cross section of some participants at the IFAD-GoU COSOP/Portfolio review