Naming and Faming Excellent Partnerships amongst UN Rome-Based Agencies (RBAs)

Great timing! Just when the Power of Partnerships is at centre stage of the 36th IFAD Governing Council #ifadgc – the Mozambique Country Team - the living proof of just how powerful a partnership can be, is presented the very first Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field.

Just a little bit of background on how this award came to be. In one of their regular meetings last September, the RBA Heads, José Graziano da Silva  (#FAO), Kanayo Nwanze (#IFAD) and Ertharin Cousin (#WFP) agreed to establish the Award of Excellence: Working Together in the Field to promote field-level collaboration.

Working in the Office of the President and Vice President, I know for a fact that RBA collaboration is a high priority for all three organizations at all levels. And a lot has been done so far (I keep the RBA Action Tracker!) in administrative areas, procurement, audit, security, legal, treasury, ICT, delivering joint messages and speaking with one (more powerful) voice at international summits. RBA staff continue tirelessly to work together on these and many other issues. And it’s not always smooth sailing to coordinate activities for a number of reasons, i.e. conflicting schedules, travel, staff changes, heavy workloads, etc. but in the end we manage because we know that when we work together the results of our actions are much more powerful.

As WFP's Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin said this morning, all the hard work and coordination we do here at HQ must translate in the field where the action takes place to meet the needs of the people we serve.

Today we celebrated our Mozambique Country Team who was unanimously chosen for their close collaboration, number of projects they have worked on together, the impact they have had on beneficiaries and on how innovative they have been in finding solutions.

So what has this Team done?

In 2008 RBA officers working in Mozambique, Lola Castro, WFP Country Director, Julio de Castro, FAO Country Representative and Custodio Mucavele, IFAD Country Programme Officer and Claus Reiner, IFAD Country Programme Manager started with a small pilot programme that aimed to improve production quality and reduce post-harvest losses for smallholder farmers. In three years the programme had reached 17 000 farmers with increases of up to 30% in marketable surplus.

Building on this success, the team is now jointly implementing the Programme for Accelerating Progress towards MDG1c (eradicating hunger) in Mozambique. The programme is being financed with a EUR 67 million grant from the European Union complemented by a contribution of EUR 10 million from the government of Mozambique. The programme operates in the two strategic development corridors of Beira and Nacala, covering one third of the country’s rural districts.

The team designed the programme to tackle the complex issue of food security by contributing what each agency does best. And this is how they put the pieces of the puzzle together: the main areas of intervention are clustered around pro-poor value chains and include access to inputs (mostly FAO and IFAD), good agricultural practices (mostly FAO and IFAD), fishery and aquaculture development (IFAD), rural finance (IFAD), access to markets (all 3 RBAs), reduced post-harvest losses (all 3 RBAs), infrastructure (IFAD), nutrition (all 3 RBAs) and staple food fortification (WFP).

The Mozambique Minister of Minister of Planning and Development H.E. Aiuba Cuereneia also joined us this morning at IFAD HQ in commending the team for their exemplary commitment in improving agricultural development, pro-poor value chains and agricultural markets so that farmers can become more effective and face competition.

Julio de Castro, speaking on behalf of the team inspired us all with his enthusiasm and stories. And is so doing he also revealed to us, in one simple word, the secret to the team’s success: Trust. The team has been able to communicate effectively, they count on each other and working together for them is the “natural” way of doing business.

It is impossible to describe in words the power of this success. But thanks to our colleague Joanne Levitan from IFAD’s COM Broadcast Unit, who put together a 3-minute video (notwithstanding the difficulties due to recent flooding in northern Mozambique), we can really get a sense of what RBA partnership is all about.
See video on youtube: Mozambique RBA Award.

We all congratulate Julio, Lola, Custodio and Claus for their success and wish them all the best in continuing to work together in finding solutions that benefit the people we serve together.
We also recognize that there are many other teams working together with great commitment in other countries and we look forward to knowing who the next winner is!