“Linking knowledge to action” across East and Southern Africa

IFAD ESA Division workshop explores links between climate change, gender and land tenure projects and programmes

By Katie Taft

At the same time and more than 5000 kilometres away in a small conference room in Nairobi, Kenya,  more than 30 development practitioners from across the East and Southern Africa region gathered to do just that by looking at the linkages between climate change, land tenure and gender empowerment.

Saint-Ange speaks about  importance of linking knowledge to action
across climate change, gender and land issues. ©IFAD/Ann Turinayo
“If we tackle the issues of access to land and climate change, and build on the potential of the young men and women in a comprehensive manner and in a joint team based approach with open minds, we will be making a huge difference,” said Périn Saint-Ange, IFAD’s Director of East and Southern Africa at the opening of the regional Knowledge Management and Capacity Building Forum, 16-18 October 2013.

In addition to looking at the cross-cutting thematic areas, IFAD’s regional team in East and Southern Africa are hosting this forum to provide an opportunity to discuss the design and implementation of the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) among the country teams from Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda.

There was some question if we should have this forum in Nairobi,” Saint-Ange said, referring to the attack at a local mall several weeks ago. “Despite the difficulty that this city was exposed to and our staff felt here, we will not let this distract us and we will not run away. In fact, this has only increased our resolve to remain and work harder.”

Saint-Ange said that beyond recent upset in the city, Nairobi is a perfect location for a forum of this kind, considering that three technical staff – each in gender, land and climate change – are working out of the regional office here. He said that for a long time climate change, gender and land tenure sat in their own silos with few connections made when designing projects and programmes. But now, the experience of IFAD, and in particularly of the regional office in Nairobi, is showing that there are ways to exploit and expand upon inherent linkages between the three disciplines.

“We put a lot of pressure on governments to coordinate and to link up their work,” he said. “At IFAD we are moving towards an integrated approach, which will be crucial as we move forward into a post-2015 world.”

Nadine Gbossa, the IFAD country programme manager of Kenya, said the time is ripe for linking up the three areas when designing projects and programmes, not only in Kenya, but also across the continent.

“The challenge is even bigger for Africa due to high reliance on rain-fed agriculture, our lower capacity to resist, recover and adapt to climate change,” she said. “But we also know that Africa has the means to meet this challenge.”

Over the three-day forum, IFAD country and project staff and partners from WFP, FAO, UN-Habitat and CGIAR will hear about best practices and existing tools and instruments across all three areas, in an attempt to, according to Saint-Ange, “link knowledge to action.” At the same time, the forum will also explore ways to overcome challenges such as the complex policy landscape that differs from country to country.
The "nightmare" policy environment that Saint-Ange
says to turn into a "dream". ©IFAD

“All of our planning to now has been happening in a nightmarish kind of environment that is difficult to navigate,” Saint-Ange said, referring to one of the presentation slides on climate change and land policy. “As much as we must link gender, land and climate change when designing programmes, we have to unbundle these policy issues in order to move forward quickly where we can make dreams come true.”