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Scribe's wall from the morning session of IFAD's first FAILfaire. ©IFAD
“Failure is not an option.” The traditional viewpoint of many a hard-driving manager is embodied in that pep-talk cliché. But an event held yesterday at the Rome headquarters of the International Fund for Agricultural Development turned the cliché on its head. Throughout the day, a series of guest speakers well versed in global development and social science made the case for a more accurate truism that could be summed up as follows: “Without intelligent failure, success is not an option.”

Known as a FAILfaire – IFAD’s first – the event reflected a growing awareness in the international development sector that failure is a natural part of doing business. While some of the leaders in this field accept the importance of learning from failures, it seems fair to say that the corporate cultures of most development organizations are still not open to the free and unfettered sharing of such experiences.

Every speaker at the IFAD forum yesterday talked about the challenge of opening up a dialogue on failure. The three guests who brought their expertise to bear in the morning session were especially focused on this question. How, they asked, can we establish a safe space for honest conversations about incremental failures on the road to long-term, sustainable success in reducing poverty and ensuring food security?

Obstacles to innovation
Journalist and economist Tim Harford, the author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure and The Undercover Economist, kicked off the session by explaining why learning from failure is so difficult. He identified four main obstacles to what he termed “productive failure” – including conformity, inadequate attention to feedback, the problem of risk, and basic human psychology.

Tim Harford explains 'productive failure'. ©Barbara Gravelli
“Conformity is an obstacle to innovation,” Harford said, citing research (some of it humorous) that shows how people tend to mistrust their own instincts unless others challenge the conventional wisdom first. A diversity of viewpoints is therefore essential “to break the spell of conformity,” he added.

Harford went on to say that unless the managers of any project or initiative seek out timely feedback from the ground level, they will remain unaware of small, correctable problems until they become bigger, intractable ones. And while some enterprises, such as nuclear power plants, do well to avoid innovations that might fail, Harford asserted that the risks of innovating are usually not as great as people fear. In general, these risks can be managed with a modicum of foresight and planning, he said.

As for the pesky variable of human behaviour, Harford highlighted our common tendency to compound our failures because we avoid acknowledging them in the first place.

Overcoming the fear of failure
Ashley Good, founder and CEO of FailForward – a Canadian non-profit that helps organizations become more failure-friendly – echoed Harford’s arguments, reiterating the point that fear inhibits innovation, adaptation and growth. “We have an instinctive fear of failure,” Good said, since the term has multiple negative associations that are absorbed from an early age.

Ashley Good discusses 'failing forward'. ©Barbara Gravelli
Still, in a world marked by rapid change, it’s more important than ever to adopt flexible approaches to some of our greatest challenges. That won’t happen, Good suggested, unless organizations begin to speak openly about failures and “fail intelligently” in pursuit of workable solutions. In order to do so, she said, they must develop and implement robust strategies for using failure as a learning tool. Without sacrificing accountability, they also need to continually assess and adapt the ways in which they maintain a dialogue on failure.

Above all, they cannot afford to shoot the messenger. “It takes a great amount of courage to speak truth to power. It isn’t always going to be good news,” Good said. “But failure conversations must be truly blameless.”

Failing faster and smarter
Good and the other speakers were quick to say that their goal was not to celebrate failure but, instead, to acknowledge that it is an inevitable part of any project and respond to it accordingly. Unfortunately, this is not yet the norm for most development organizations, said Aleem Walji, who directs the World Bank Innovation Labs and previously served as Head of Global Development Initiatives at Google.

Aleem Walji addresses the urgency of
sharing failures. ©Barbara Gravelli
Most of the world’s poorest people live in fragile and unpredictable environments, Walji observed. Yet too often, institutions that are in the business of ending poverty focus on formulaic technical solutions that are not steeped in local complexities. To succeed, he said, these institutions have to be willing to begin with a hypothesis rather than a rigid technical fix – and then they must be willing to listen to the people who are directly affected by the project, identify failures early on, and change course quickly to correct them.

“The greatest risk we run is getting really good at doing the wrong thing,” he said.

In the long run, Walji concluded, it is far more responsible to “fail early, fail faster and fail forward” than to stick with preconceived ideas about what constitutes success. Otherwise, he said, “we’ll come up with the same answers as we have in the past, and we can’t continue doing business as usual.”

* * *
Dave Snowden, a leader in the field of knowledge management, spoke during the afternoon session of the IFAD FAILfaire. His remarks on the role of storytelling as a means of sharing and learning from failures will be the subject of a separate blogpost.

It is a bright and sunny day as we travel to meet farmer groups in the Republic of Southern Sudan's Eastern Equatorial Province, Magwi county. On a supervision/implementation support mission for the Southern Sudan Livelihoods Development Project (SSLDP), we have had opportunities to interact with rural small scale farmers who belong to groups that they have created to work together. SSLDP is a Government of Southern Sudan project, implemented with support from IFAD and the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands since 2009. The mission team divided into two groups to be able to visit the different project sites.
Amazo Crop Production Group in Loa Payam was formed in 2008, by returnees from exile in Uganda. Their objectives were to work together to produce food for their families, sell excess produce in markets and get money to take their children to school, and pay for household necessities such as health care. Amazo means ‘we are growing’ and the group members are very optimistic that they will grow bigger and greater.
Some members of Amazo group celebrating being together
and receiving guests. ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo

The group has twenty members – 17 women and 3 men. They created bylaws to govern their members’ participation and the selection of activities, overseen and managed by an elected executive committee.  They have developed impressive record keeping of group accounts, profits and details on the land they have tilled, thanks to the training received from the service providers under the SSLDP. As a group, and individually, they have been able to increase the acreage of land they cultivate. Before, each member cultivated about one acre, but now, they each cultivate four acres, planting mainly sesame, groundnuts, cassava, soya bean and sorghum. Using group savings to buy bricks, their own labour, and with support from the project, they constructed their own store to keep their harvest as they look for a good market to sell their produce. The store affords them time to sell their produce at a good price, as they cannot be coerced by middlemen to sell at an unfavorable price for fear that their goods will get spoilt. In the second season of 2012, they harvested 153 bags of groundnuts, 133 of which were sold for about USD 2945, ensuring that they kept 20 bags for seed for the next season. They also harvested 150 kgs of sesame which they sold for USD 125. They shared some of the money to take pay for their household needs, and saved the rest for future use by the group.

Moriku tends her sesame garden. ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo
Betty Moriku, married and a mother of 6 joined Amazo in 2008 as one of the pioneers. “I have been able to get capital to increase the stock in my shop and now I want to start doing a business of processing and selling shear nut,” says Moriku. Moriku is able to take her children, four of whom are in primary to school without a problem.

The group also provides credit to members for an agreed interest rate, and members who have money can keep it with a treasurer and earn some interest on it. However, the main challenge that the group faces is their dependence on the good will of the treasurer as there are no other risk management mechanisms such as formal financial institutions where such groups can register and keep their savings safe. Other hurdles that the group cited were, climate change, a lack of mechanized agricultural equipment to be able to till more land in less time, and having no sure available markets. Nonetheless, they plan to increase production of the various crops by saving towards an ox plough which will enable them to plant more. They also said they would explore the option of opening an account in a financial institution to keep their money safe.

By Antonella Piccolella

IFAD grants booth at the Expo. ©IFAD
As government ministers, business leaders and experts gathered in Nairobi yesterday to discuss southern-grown solutions, they were greeted by drummers and dancers. With this, participants of the Global South-South Development Expo, which is held for the first time in Africa, and in the South part of the world, could see that this will be a different sort of Expo than before.

The Expo, which is organized by the UN Office of South-South Cooperation and hosted by UNEP under the theme "Building inclusive green economies,” is a landmark event that signals a change in the development paradigm from North-South to South-South. During the opening ceremony UNEP’s Achim Steiner highlighted that “the conversation on development is no longer deposited in the North. We are starting a ‘new conversation’, a new development paradigm.”

The Opening Ceremony was followed by the inauguration of the exhibit area in the morning. Events featured throughout the Expo's first day included the inauguration of the Expo's exhibition pavilion, which has more than 70 exhibitors in interactive booths. IFAD has a strong presence with three booths, including one that focuses on an IFAD-supported biogas project in Kenya.

Explaining the portable biogas solution.
Since May 2012 in Kenya, IFAD has worked in partnership with Biogas International to install nine biogas systems on small dairy farms as part of the IFAD-supported Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme (SDCP)[1] in Nakuru and two systems in an orphanage school in Naivasha. As in other developing countries, women bare the greater load of family responsibilities, including spending numerous hours collecting firewood and tending to crops. Biogas International alleviates some of that burden by providing cooking fuel and large volumes of rich fertilizer, as well as freeing up the time otherwise spent collecting firewood. As Karan Sehgal explains "the technology was designed and locally produced in Kenya and was inspired by the Maasai, who are always on the move". Biogas International designed these systems so that the Maasai, instead of carrying firewood, could pack up their “energy source” quickly and efficiently to move as they needed. The technology is locally designed and manufactured, taking in to consideration the needs and capacity of local smallholder farmers.

Many people came to learn more about the biogas solution.
Already on the first day, the booth was crowded with many Expo participants curious about how the portable biogas solution operated. And for me, this was exciting to see as after all, this is the whole point of the Expo – to exchange resources and knowledge on development solutions that are working.

As Wu Xiaoqing, China’s Vice-Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection, said in his opening remarks, “developing countries have much more in common than difference.”

I am looking forward to the next few days to see if his statement rings true.

The Global South-South Expo is held in Nairobi is from 28 October until 1 November.

[1] The programme was developed as part of the DFID funded  Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation (IMI) project : Making Biogas Portable: Renewable Technologies for a Greener Future coordinated by Karan Sehgal under the supervision of Antonio Rota, IFAD’s Senior Livestock Officer.

By Laura Arcari

IFAD’s first FailFaire took place at our Headquarters on 29 October 2013. The immediate question that came into my mind was why failure?  Why not talk directly about success, who wants to hear about failure?

What are some of the words associated with success?
Accomplishment, Good Times, Prosperity, Happiness 
What are some of the words associated with failure?
Punishment, Judgement, Disappointment, No income 
What are some of the words associated to People who speak about failure?
Courageous, Honest, Mature, Lessons Learnt

So why a FailFaire? To kill the taboo and change the mind set on talking about failure. Create a safe place where failures can be shared and seen as stepping stones to success. Create a failure friendly organization and strengthen feedback loops for future successes.

We all want to hear about success but we also know that success  never happens overnight. The successes that come in winning a trophy in sports, in running a profitable business, in having happy relationships, having a brilliant career or owning material assets,  are all fruits of perseverance, dedication, hard work, pain and probably some failures, trials and errors. Therefore if success and failure are two sides of the same coin then we must stop thinking that failure is for losers because failing does not mean that you are a failure. Failing at something before you succeed also helps you to appreciate your success.

Failing is an opportunity to get something right. And the faster and earlier you face what and how you failed the sooner you will succeed. Do not linger on defensive reactions such as ignoring the failure, deny responsibility or self-fix mistakes. The risk of not facing that you failed is that you get really good at doing the wrong thing and the guaranteed failure in the end will only escalate and become uncontrollable.

Admitting that you have failed is difficult because you put yourself in the public eye but if you fail out loud, you can reflect and share with others so that they can benefit. Failing is positive because without it, means that no innovation is taking place because we are simply replicating old successes. However, in today’s fast pace we can no longer afford to stay stale and not continue to reinvent, innovate and update or else failing will come for certain.

Adapting for changes in failing is responsible because as my friend would quote “when you bleed you don’t swim with the sharks”.  Here is his story on how he faced a possible failure and turned it into success. In 2008 when the global economic crisis hit Italy, he wondered how long his company would survive but rather than wait for failure he made the personal sacrifice to give up his salary during the critical years and sold family property to invest in innovative research and development. It was not long before the new strategy paid off and today his company has factories in India, China and Brazil. He has also received personal acclamations from the Bocconi University as one of the top five examples of excellence for businesses in Lombardy who survived the last two years of financial and economic crisis.

Challenge your failings when it comes upon your path and future successes will pave the road.

By Betty Tole, IFADAfrica

The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo 2013 entered its second day yesterday, 29 October 2013, featuring Solution Exchange Forums led by various UN agencies and a leadership round table. 
IFAD Stand at the GSSD Expo

The objective of the GSSD Expo Solution Exchange Forums is to provide a platform for interactive discussions and presentation of successful Southern development solutions taking various forms such as southern-grown solutions, south-south partnership solutions, North-South-South triangular partnership solutions, and public-private partnership solutions.

Scheduled at the end of the day was the Solution Exchange Forum 3 on Agriculture and Food Security was led by IFAD and FAO. The solutions presented and discussed in this forum were designed to support families and societies in coping with the effects of climate change and depleting energy sources. The forum was divided into two sessions, starting with FAO and then IFAD.

The Key Note Speaker Dennis Garitty UN Drylands Ambassador and Senior Fellow World Agro-forestry Centre said "even the poorest countries countries can add value". He mentioned south south cooperation among poor countries in west Africa that is yielding results and is being scaled up. 
The experience was from agro-forestry work done in Niger, currently at 5 million ha. Through cross country exchange visits and policy support, the technology has spread to Mali 450,000 ha in Seno Plains, Nigeria, Ethiopia Malawi, and currently Zambia are adopting it. 

Cheikh Sourang, the IFAD Senior Programme Manager and Focal Point, South-South and Triangular Cooperation, in the Strategy and Knowledge Department, moderated the session, which was later hailed by one of the participants as the most captivating of the day. It was one of the well attended Solution Forum. There was a call to organizers to separate the two sessions for FAO and IFAD next year. 
Cheik Sourang moderates the IFAD Panel Session

Dominic Wanjihia, the CEO of Biogas International Ltd. Kenya, was the first on the floor explaining how the innovative Flexi Biogas Technology that was manufactured in Kenya is expanding renewable energy sources for families in Kenya. The Flexi Biogas System is simpler and less costly to build and operate. So far, over 300 systems have been installed since 2011. IFAD is partnering with Biogas International to install nine systems on dairy farms as part of the IFAD-supported Smallholder Dairy Commercialization Programme in parts of the Rift Valley, in Kenya.  In Naivasha, for example, four orphanage schools are using kitchen and human waste to produce electricity for lighting and to provide Internet access. The company is seeking partners to enable scaling-up to other parts of Africa and the rest of the world.  

Abdelkarim Sma, the IFAD Regional Economist for Near East, North Africa and Europe Division, shared on how the shift from conventional to conservation agriculture is happening in the Republic of Moldova.  The initiative adopted knowledge management as an instrument to support conservation agriculture.  As a result, there has been a significant shift with a third of the 600 trained farmers having adopted conservation farming.

Maija Peltola, Director General of Procasur, a global organization specialized in harvesting and scaling up homegrown innovations. Their models emphasize on supporting rural development using the bottom up approach. The 18 years old organization is facilitating farmer to farmer exchanges both physically and virtually. Since 2006, they have implemented learning routes in more than 30 countries in four continents. She noted that challenges remains top down approach of many institutions.

Liu Ke, the Associate Country Programme Officer of IFAD Asia and the Pacific Division, made a presentation on how China managed to reduce its incidence of poverty between1981 - 2005, using the Household Responsibility System, and other strategies.  He shared the lessons they have drawn from the programme key among them – the ownership model – urging countries to “remain at the driving seat” He also called for a culture of learning from mistakes, seeking home driven innovations and also learning from what others have done. Liu’s presentation drew a lot of interest from participants as was evident from their comments during the plenary session.

In his remarks, Steve Thomlow said to achieve south-south cooperation, there is need to create development space by changing the command and control structure.  Missing links also need to be addressed. he mentioned that it was interesting that in the whole discussion, the role of the private sector in harnessing inputs, improving access to equipment, access to markets and the issue of access to a financing mechanism.
Africa harvest Presentation Stand at GSSD

Johannes Linn, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution brought in the aspect of focusing on learning from successes and failures in order to achieve south-south cooperation.  He said we should put in place a mechanism to drawing on lessons from monitoring and evaluation processes. 

The last speaker, Robson Mutandi, the IFAD Country Director in Ethiopia asked the question ‘why and what are we scaling up?’ He said without credible data and information, and evidence of the models that work, scaling up will not work. He said there is need for an innovation enabled environment, that is, "the system should allow you to experiment on scaling up” said Mutandi.  He said to achieve south-south cooperation there is need for partnerships, to address the issue of limited resources.

The session closed with comments and questions from participants. The discussions will be continued during another IFAD Partnership Forum “Scaling up Development Impact through South-South and Triangular Cooperation scheduled on Thursday, 31 October 2013.

“Grow what you eat, eat what you grow”, the self-reliant farming motto
Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC

Thai rural development programs are implemented based on King Bhumibol Adulyadej ideas on economic development summarized in the so-called ‘Sufficiency Economy Philosophy’. Those principles are the base of the New Theory Agriculture, focused on generating self-reliance in three levels: the household, the community and the nation. Household self-reliance means a self-sustaining farm warrantying self-consumption based on a water pond, a field for crops to sell, and a house.

Hence, the farmer has access to markets while safely faces contingencies. “Grow what you eat, eat what you grow. Make what you use, use what you make.” But, beyond a very respected royal philosophy, Thai public policies for rural development support a national network of Local Scholars, or “Pratch Chao Bann”, who manage and develop Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in order to down-streaming the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy. Among many other public and private services at village, sub district and district levels that looking for citizen empowerment through self-management of the financial, natural and cultural resources of the Nation.

Participants of the Learning Route “Developing Rural Territories through Business and Knowledge: The Thai experience with the OTOP and CLC,” had a first hand experience of the protagonist role of several wise women and men devoted to share their knowledge and improve the livelihoods of poor farmers all over Thailand.

Sometimes their motivation is farmer debt relief, like Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang—leader of the Wang Nam Keaw District CLC—did in order to change their fellow farmers’ mind-set enabling them to address their poverty core causes through Buddhist principles.

Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan, Local Scholar at the
MOA Life Science and Art Institute
In other cases, the effort to improve farmers’ lifestyle based on mind, body and spirit integration linking natural, organic agriculture with beauty and health—following Japanese Mokichi Okada’s philosophical and spiritual teachings—becomes a Life Science and Art Institute like the one Mr. Somboon Wedsuwan manages in the Thai province of Lopburi.

Regarding the CLCs, “one of the main lessons from this Learning Route—highlighted Ms. Alessandra Richter, High Commission of the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation High Commission, to the participants—is that the Thai State trusts the farmer’s practical knowledge, their know-how, to the point of multiplying it as a public policy.”

Up to US$40 million dollars are annually invested so those self-taught and self-reliant outstanding farmers can provide technical assistance for land and rural organization management to other small-scale farmers.

Mr. Ahmnaj Maiyodklang, leader of the Wang Nam Keaw
Community Learning Center in Thailand
The Prach Chao Baan Outstanding farmers “may not have academic certificates but they are multiplying their knowledge and opening ways for other people to develop”, Richter concluded.

If you want further information on this Learning Route visit www.asia.procasur.org contact Mr. Ariel Halpern at ahalpern@procasur.org. And follow us during the Route trip at: www.facebook.com/procasur.asia

By Betty Tole
The Global South-South Development (GSSD) Expo 2013 kicked off yesterday, 28th October 2013, at the UN office in Nairobi, Kenya. Hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Expo is showcasing successful southern-grown development solutions to address the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on the theme Building Inclusive Green Economies: South-South Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication.
Ms Anne Waiguru, the Cabinet Secretary for Devolution & Planning in Kenya, officially opened the forum.  Others who gave key remarks at the opening ceremony were: Mr. Benjamin Mkapa, the Chairperson, South Center and Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania; Mr. Wu Xiaoqing, Vice-Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection, People’s Republic of China; Mr. Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN; and Mr. Achim Steiner, Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UNEP, among other key speakers.
Millicent Omugaka, AFRACA explaining role of Rural Finance.
After the opening ceremony, the delegation of high-level officials moved to the GSSD Expo 2013 Solution Exhibition pavilion where they cut a tape to inaugurate the exhibition. The exhibition is featuring more than 60 exhibitors from around the world, showcasing south-south and triangular development solutions in inclusive green economies.  Among these exhibitors are some of the IFAD funded projects and grants based in Kenya. In one booth, IFADAfrica Knowledge Management Network is showcasing its model of integrating knowledge management within the project management system; the Rural Finance Knowledge Management Partnership (KMP), exhibiting its efforts to build partnerships for sustainable development among rural finance projects; and the African Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (AFRACA) is displaying its global and regional efforts to support communities to access sustainable financial services for economic development. 
Betty Tole, IFADAfrica explains the role of Knowledge Management.

In another booth, PROCASUR is showcasing its model of sharing innovations through customized local knowledge management tools and methodologies. While the Network for Enhanced Market Access (NEMAS) is sharing its model – From lose-lose to win-win: creating wealth in the value chain through Business Development Service (BDS) Facilitation. Also sharing the exhibition space is Africa Harvest who are showing their efforts to harness modern science and technologies to help Africa achieve food security, economic well-being and sustainable development.  Separately, Biogas International Ltd. is displaying the Flexi Biogas Systems a flexible aboveground system that is simpler and less costly to build and operate.
One of the forums scheduled on the second day of the forum, 29th October 2013 from 4.00pm – 6.30pm, is the Solution Exchange Forum 3 on Agriculture and Food Security that will be led by IFAD and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  The forum will present development solutions relating to the challenges of sustainable agricultural development, food security, nutrition and management of natural resources found through actions implemented with FAO and IFAD support, in partnership with civil society institutions, UN agencies and with member countries in the South. 

At its latest Town Hall staff meeting – held on 18 October, just a few days after the International Day for Rural Women – IFAD announced its first Gender Awards for special achievements in gender equality and women’s empowerment. While the awards single out specific IFAD-supported initiatives for recognition, hundreds of other programmes and projects are also working to ensure that both women and men participate in, and benefit from, IFAD’s investments. As Kevin Cleaver, Associate Vice President for Programmes, noted at the Town Hall meeting, women now account for 49 per cent of all rural people benefiting from IFAD-financed operations.

IFAD launched the Gender Awards this year in line with its gender policy, adopted in 2012 to guide the institution’s work on closing gender gaps and improving the economic and social status of rural women. In each of the five regions where IFAD works, the award spotlights a programme or project that has taken an innovative approach to addressing gender inequalities and empowering women. The first round of awards went to operations funded by IFAD in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Ghana, Sudan and Uganda.

Following are brief profiles of the first IFAD Gender Award winners. Space does not permit detailed explanations of why each programme or project was selected, but the profiles highlight some of their innovative features.

Participants in the Sunamganj Community Based Resource
Management Project. ©IFAD
Asia and the Pacific
Sunamganj Community Based Resource Management Project, Bangladesh
This project has established labour contracting societies for the development of rural infrastructure, creating a unique opportunity for women to earn cash income. Women account for 40 per cent of the members of these societies, and their wages, work hours and benefits are equal to those of their male colleagues. Many invest their earnings in income-generating activities, which have further improved their economic and social situation. Women also comprise 75 per cent of implementation monitoring committee members, increasing their voice in community decision-making. And lessons learned from the project were taken up by the local government’s Engineering Department after the Project Director was selected to lead a team responsible for updating the department’s gender strategy.

The project team “was very proud of being selected for the award,” said Thomas Rath, former Country Programme Manager (CPM) for Bangladesh. “The award reflects what they have actively pursued in the project and as the institutional culture of the implementing agency: promoting a more gender-balanced, equitable development path.”

Family members participating in the District Livelihoods
Support Programme. ©IFAD
East and Southern Africa
District Livelihoods Support Programme, Uganda
This programme uses household mentoring to promote social inclusion and gender equality. All adult members of poor households are mentored together, enabling joint planning and priority-setting. Such family discussions ensure that not only men and women, but also adult children, have a voice in household decisions. Mentoring leads to behaviour changes such as workload redistribution and the inclusion of women and adult children, as well as men, on land registration certificates. The programme also encourages very poor households to start near-nil investments with their own available resources as a way of taking charge of their lives, and provides them with food security grants.

Alessandro Marini, CPM for Uganda, told the programme team that the Gender Award “is definitely deserved for the excellent work you have been doing with the household mentoring approach.” Lawrence Kasinga, Programme Coordinator, noted: “It is a great honour for us to be appreciated for the work we do. We promise to continue promoting the household methodologies as means of enabling the poor to come out of poverty.”

A beneficiary of the Rural Development and Modernization
Project for the Eastern Region. ©IFAD
Latin America and the Caribbean
Rural Development and Modernization Project for the Eastern Region, El Salvador
This project extends financial services to populations that usually don’t have access to them, focusing on women but not excluding men. The financial groups design their own fund management models. To close gender gaps and improve women’s quality of life, the project also supports literacy training circles; sexual health campaigns for women, men and couples; and fuel-efficient stoves, which reduce women’s time collecting wood. The project supported the formation of a women’s network, including women’s financial groups, to engage in dialogue with government (mainly at the municipal level) on securing and managing services.

“I would like to recognize the efforts made by people in the field,” said Glayson Ferrari dos Santos, CPM for El Salvador, referring to the project’s grassroots participants. “Many times we can´t see the true challenge that gender leaders face in their communities. They are trying to change years of years of a social inequality with respect to women and men.”

A celebratory moment for the Western Sudan
Resources Management Programme. ©IFAD
Near East, North Africa and Europe
Western Sudan Resources Management Programme,

Through community initiatives and saving and credit associations, this programme has empowered women in a particularly difficult context in North and South Kordofan. These self-sufficient associations have developed a strong savings culture amongst rural women, who account for more than 90 per cent of their membership. In addition, women now have more time to spend on income-generating activities, thanks to water supply facilities provided by the programme, and more husbands are expressing appreciation for their wives’ contributions to household income and well-being. This experience has enhanced women’s confidence in undertaking new economic activities, lifted their status and strengthened their participation in community development committees.

The Gender Award “motivates the project team to further action for gender empowerment,” said Sara Kouakou, Associate CPM for Sudan. “It encourages them to make additional efforts to scale up and share the results achieved, and to improve knowledge and understanding of gender issues among rural communities.” -

Women involved value addition activities in Ghana. ©IFAD
West and Central Africa
Northern Rural Growth Programme, Ghana
This programme supports the production of crops grown by women in the target area – particularly shea trees – and the inclusion of women in other male-dominated commodity chains. Two-thirds of programme participants are women, up from one quarter in 2009 and far exceeding the target level of 30 per cent. The programme has increased women’s access to land and other productive resources, and some have been able to triple their incomes thanks to direct linkages to international markets. Women are now represented on district-level value chain committees, as well. The programme has succeeded by using various innovative approaches, including the sensitization of traditional leaders and local District Assemblies about women’s participation and empowerment.

Niels Bossen, Associate CPM for Ghana, said staff members in the country office “were very proud and happy to receive the award.” He added: “The programme will continue its efforts working for more gender equality in rural Ghana.”