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Household mentoring as a tool for social inclusion

Posted by Roxanna Samii Thursday, November 28, 2013 0 comments

by Clare Bishop-Sambrook, PTA and Alessandro Marini, ESA

A participant from a mentored household
showing her land registration certificate
IFAD’s focus on addressing rural poverty is recognised by governments and donors as the Fund’s strategic niche. However, often we face the challenge of how to reach beyond the economically active poor to the poorer households which experience a much more profound depth of poverty – often eating less than one meal a day; sleeping on the floor of a grass-thatched, mud-walled dwelling; regularly being unwell; and withdrawing children from school. These poorer households are often unable, unaware and unwilling to access support networks and services for assistance. They have often given up on facing the challenges of life.

Earlier this week, Lawrence Kasinga, Programme Coordinator, and Judith Ruko, Rural Sociologist, from the Programme Management Unit of the District Livelihoods Support Programme in Uganda explained how household mentoring has enabled the programme to deepen the programme’s level of engagement in addressing poverty. The success of household mentoring has been recognised by the Ministry of Local Government which is keen to promote the mainstreaming of household mentoring into local government services to scale it up in those districts that are not covered by DLSP.

Alessandro Marini, CPM Uganda, welcomes this initiative. “I have worked as a CPM for a number of years and have struggled to find mechanisms through which we can reach out to the really poor households and allow them to benefit from the different activities and investments of the various projects that IFAD is financing. Household mentoring is enabling us to do that, and I am very committed to making increasing use of this in future activities in Uganda as the main tool of our country programme for targeting and social inclusion”.

In DLSP, poorer households are selected by the community to participate in household mentoring. These families are normally beyond the reach of the mainstream programme activities – they do not belong to farmer groups so do not benefit from agribusiness development initiatives, they have no surplus to sell so they do not benefit from improved market access, and they self-exclude themselves from community meetings so their views are not reflected in planning activities.

But after one or two year’s mentoring, the lives of poorer households turn around. Household sanitation and hygiene is improved, they undertake extremely modest investments (known as near-nil investments) to make use of the resources they have available – including under- or un-utilised land - and gradually household food security improves. Household members start connecting with ongoing initiatives – such as adult literacy classes - and accessing services – in particular health services. Household mentors also benefit by gaining status in the community.

How has this profound turn around been achieved? Household mentoring comprises visits to individual households by a trained mentor over a period of one to two years. The mentor engages with all adult members of a household to support them in examining their problems together, developing a vision and identifying their own pathways out of poverty, associating with others and – eventually - becoming self-sustaining entities. The change occurs because – as a result of this process - there is a new level of trust, transparency and motivation between household members built around their common vision.
Attention is also paid to identifying and addressing gender inequalities. As a result of engaging both with women and men in a household, joint land titling is common, women are gaining a voice both within the home and outside, and wife-beating is reducing dramatically.

Of course, there are challenges. Some mentors - who are all volunteers - lose heart, households do not want to be mentored, while successfully mentored households are reluctant to graduate. And sceptics will argue that – while this is a great initiative on a pilot basis – it is not replicable at scale. It is true that resources are required to train the community development staff, support them while they train the mentors, and provide modest remuneration to the mentors. But the benefits are enormous, tangible and sustainable. Compared to the other programme components, the costs are negligible.

Judith Ruko explained: “In DLSP, a network of over 600 mentors – back-stopped by District and Sub-county Community Development staff - across 13 districts has already mentored 18,000 households. We would estimate that around 60 per cent have now progressed to the point of becoming self-reliant and in a position to embark on a sustained pathway out of poverty”.

The PTA gender and targeting desk is preparing a sourcebook on household methodologies, in which the experience in DLSP will be show-cased. See earlier blogs about the household methodologies and the writeshop:
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/2013/10/highlights-from-ifad-household.html
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/search?q=GALS
  • http://ifad-un.blogspot.it/search?q=gender+cgiar
  • By Line Kaspersen

    It is common practice to have stakeholder workshops when projects close; to validate project completion report findings and communicate them to stakeholders. In Uganda we are trying something new; as part of the increased corporate focus on impact evaluations, a team of 4 statisticians have come to support the Community Agricultural Infrastructure Improvement Programme (CAIIP-1) Project Facilitation Team (PFT) to ensure high quality on the other hand. On the other hand, IFAD will be able to develop technical concept notes on how best to analyse the impact of infrastructural projects. For CAIIP-1 we will produce a vigorous impact assessment of this successful project!
    What is happening is that several different activities are on-going:

    A snapshot of how complex the impact evaluation can get.
    • A Results Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) study
    • An impact evaluation study 
    •  A Project Completion Report - PCR
    • Updating M&E databases – PFT
    Each of the first three activities above is being handled by a different consultancy firm.  Having several firms doing different things at the same time created a challenge: How can we maximise the outcome of this work with so many stakeholders on board?
    Bearing in mind that we need to indicate numbers of people pulled out of poverty, working with statisticians gives us a great opportunity to report confidently on this. In Uganda, we have linked the IFAD statisticians to the three different firms doing the RIMS, PCR and impact evaluation studies through the PFT.
    In a one day stakeholder workshop, the PFT and the three firms came together to discuss how to: 
    • Harmonize the objectives and TORs of each consultancy firm (could one firm focus on community questionnaires and one on households?)
    • Develop a common sampling methodology prior to data collection (first we need to discuss which control-groups are valid? What do we do when we don’t have a baseline?)
    • Agree on the theory of change - what exactly we mean by impact? And on who?
    • Review the available documentation and understand it well  
    The IFAD statisticians are expected to provide the following support to ensure better quality studies, which can serve as a dependable point of reference in regard to impact.
    • Technical support for data collection – developing questionnaires and training enumerators
    • Bringing in external data-sources and GIS resources
    • Specific cost-benefit analysis expertise
    • Support for coordination of the parties

    Press release
     IFAD workshop launches the second phase of a regional cooperation programme to support 20 million farming families across Asia and the Pacific

    Farmers’ organizations in Asia and the Pacific region jump start International Year of Family Farming

    The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in collaboration with the Farmers’ Federations from Asia and the Pacific will launch the second phase of a regional Medium Term Cooperation Programme with US$14 million grant to support farmers’ organizations from Asia and the Pacific. The workshop will take place in Bangkok, Thailand on 23-24 November and will be attended by Asian Farmers’ Organizations representing 20 million small-scale farming families from 25 countries in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific.

    Worldwide, farmers’ organizations are increasingly playing an active role in reducing rural poverty, improving food security, and ensuring development opportunities for smallholder farmers. They are also front line advocates for family farming, and representing the interest of the producers and making their views and expectations known for decision making purposes.

    In 2009, the first phase of Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific focused on building and strengthening the capacities of farmers’ organizations in the region to engage in policy-making and programme implementation processes of governments and IFAD country operations to better respond to organization member needs. “The most successful element of the first phase of the programme was the creation of national platforms, which enabled farmers’ organizations to define their common priorities and to speak out as one voice to governments and decision makers,” said Benoît Thierry, IFAD Country Program manager. “Because of this, they improved their communication and policy dialogue skills on sensitive issues and are now recognized as official representatives of the farmers,” he added.

    Based on the success of the first phase, IFAD will leverage as the total amount of the grant during the period 2013 - 2017 to finance the second phase of the programme, which will provide specific support to the vulnerable poor, particularly women and youth, who represent at least 45 per cent of the participating farmers’ organizations membership. IFAD will provide $2 million from its own resources and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation will provide $3 million as cofinancing.

    The second phase of the programme will be implemented by the Asian Farmers’ Associations for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA), a technical regional implementation agency working in partnership with La Via Campesina (LVC) in 15 countries initially.  The programme will be extended later to reach up to 25 countries in three main sub-regions South Asia, south East Asia and China, Pacific.


    David Florentin Paqui


    Communications Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2213

    Cell: +39 335 7516406

    Benoît Thierry

    IFAD - MTCP Focal Point

    Asia and the Pacific Division

    Tel: +39 06 5459 2234

    The President of IFAD, Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, arrived in Ethiopia at the invitation of Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the UN) on the morning of 25th November. The President  is attending a two day meeting, hosted by the African Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Kofi Annan Foundation on “Harnessing Innovation for African Agriculture and Food Systems: Meeting the Challenges and Designing for the 21st Century.” 

    The President took the first part of the day, before the AU meeting, to meet with senior officials of the Government of Ethiopia. Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, first met with the Hon. Sileshi Getahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, and in the afternoon, he met with the Hon. Ahmed Shide, the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, to re-affirm IFAD’s partnership with the Ethiopian Government. He was accompanied by his adviser Luis Jimminez-Micinnis, the Representative and Country Director, Robson Mutandi, and the Country Programme Officer, Abebe Zelahun. 
    This visit came on the heels of the successful negotiations in Rome, between IFAD and the Government, for a USD 85 million loan to the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, to finance the Phase III of the Pastoral Community Development Programme. Pastoralists and agro-pastoralists make up nearly 15 per cent of Ethiopia's total population and are among the poorest and most vulnerable rural people in the country. The Programme, co-financed with the World Bank and Government, brings about a total investment of USD 217 million to improve pastoral communities’ livelihoods, access to basic services and capacity to cope with external shocks.  The Ethiopia Country Programme is IFAD’s largest investment in Africa.

    The President observed that the efforts of the Government of Ethiopia are a classic example of good governance and leadership. “Ethiopia’s wise investments in Agriculture, and particularly in smallholder agriculture, has brought about consistent economic growth, with a GDP that has ranged from 9 to 11 % over recent years, driven by a strong investment plan. Such strong national investment plans are key to enabling the progress of a cohesive continental agricultural policy agenda for Africa.”

    Hon. Shide emphasized that Ethiopia remains committed to inclusive development, which makes sure that everyone benefits from growth. Currently, the policy efforts of the Government of Ethiopia strive to develop the rural poor’s resilience to cope with repeated cycles of drought by ensuring every household has access to at least one water source so that they may be able to produce a continuous crop. Furthermore, the Government supports the rural poor by providing agricultural inputs, investing heavily in infrastructure to promote trade and enhance access to markets, and building rural institutions. Both Ministers reiterated their satisfaction with the level of cooperation between IFAD and the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, and called for even stronger ties between the two partners and increased investments into smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia.

    Hon. Sileshi Getahun, the State Minister of Agriculture and Rural Develoment, welcomes Dr. Kanayo F. Nwanze, the President of IFAD.

    Hon. Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance an Economic Development, met with the President of IFAD to discuss ongoing cooperation between IFAD and the Government of Ethiopia.

    How to fight violence against women

    Posted by Hazel Bedford Monday, November 25, 2013 0 comments

    On the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it would be easy to write a sensational blogpost with a barrage of chilling statistics and passing reference to a handful of the many high-profile cases that have been in the news over the past 12 months. Gang rape, rape as a weapon of war, domestic violence, sexual exploitation. The list could go on.

    In order to understand gender-based violence better, however, I think it helps not to look at the sensational cases. It’s a complex issue, with no easy answers. It’s vital to take on board the complexity, the cultural specificity and the sheer prevalence of violence against women and girls the world over.

    Here’s one chilling statistic: worldwide, among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.

    Violence against women takes many forms. The internationally accepted definition is found in the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women: ‘“Violence against women” means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’ (Article 1).

    Because gender-based violence is such a massively complex issue, it’s true to say that there are no simple answers. And yet there are many many ways that we can make a difference. As today’s frontpage webstory points out, many of the projects IFAD supports do work to protect women against violence, or to enable women to protect themselves.

    The UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is a significant day on which to celebrate the projects that have won IFAD’s first Gender Awards, because it makes the point that many different kinds of interventions can work against gender-based violence.

    Economic empowerment is key. The statistics show that women who have no form of income are more likely to suffer domestic violence. So we know that enabling women to earn a living, to get access to credit and to build up savings or take out insurance, will make them less likely to fall victim to gender-based violence.

    Education is part of empowerment, of course, enabling women to find work, express their needs, participate in their communities and make their voices heard. Making girls safe against violence and exploitation while they are in school is vital to ensuring that they stay in education and reap the benefits.

    Strength in numbers
    India: the Sukalyani Shakti Dala self-help group holds a
    meeting. The group campaigns against alcohol abuse
    that is a main cause of domestic violence.
    As in so many other fields of life, there is strength in numbers. Enabling women to form groups, for almost any purpose, creates solidarity. And this can give them the confidence and determination to challenge the perpetrators of violence and the social norms that condone coercive behaviours towards women and girls.

    To give just one example: in India, a women’s self-help group supported by the Odisha Tribal Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme went from door to door in their village to campaign against the alcohol abuse that was one cause of the high rates of domestic violence. You can read more about their story and others in Trail Blazers – a book about IFAD-supported work with courageous women in India.

    IFAD supports women's groups and associations all over the world. Some of their achievements are highlighted in the recently published regional gender briefs, which also give statistics on the position of women and girls.

    A final thing to say is that violence against women is not an ‘us and them’ problem. It affects women and girls everywhere. Just a few days ago, a case emerged in my own country, the UK, of three women kept in domestic slavery for 30 years. Something that each and every one of us can do is to be aware that a colleague or a friend or a family member may need our support and our sensitivity.

    #ifadgender #gender awards

    Written by Jorge Esteban Moreno and Alessia Bartolucci

    Following the success of the joint Headquarters -country CPA meeting, on 7 November 2013, The Gambia team hosted a learning event on the Country Programme Approach (CPA) at IFAD headquarters taking advantage of the presence in Rome of a Gambia delegation attending the 2nd Financial Management Forum. The Gambia delegation was led by Mod K. Ceesay, Permanent Secretary II from Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. With a room full of participants, Lamin AD Sanyang (Chairperson of the CPA and Project Director of LHDP), gave a detailed presentation on the overall, progress, achievements and lessons learned made by the team. The CPA comprises the four IFAD-financed on-going projects namely: RFP, PIWAMP, Nema and LHDP under the Ministry of Agriculture. The approach enables the creation of synergies between all projects and consolidates IFAD’s operations in the Gambia. Single project performance is no longer considered sufficient and the CPA ensures maximum impact of project implementation.

    The CPA is seen as a platform that links all the stakeholders with the different projects through a participatory and consultative process that improves the sharing of information among these actors and contributes to policy dialog at all levels of implementation. The synergies created with the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Youth and Sports, which have converged to discuss a common mission, is considered as a very important step towards increasing the positive impact of IFAD projects. The Fund is giving an example by piloting the CPA in The Gambia and is leading other donors thus working towards harmonisation.

    During the presentation Mr Sanyang highlighted how this approach has increased the efficiency in coordination, management and supervision as well as the consolidation of a single M&E Database for all projects using a procured service provider. He also described the CPA as a model which is demonstrating great impact on both project staff and beneficiaries, especially in the areas of joint planning for training and implementation. He stressed that IFAD supervisions are done at the same time for all projects, and what government appreciates most is the fact that one mission by IFAD covers the whole portfolio, addressing promptly critical issues that are common to all the projects. These missions are overall led by the Country Programme Manager including field visits, pre and final wrap up sessions and mission members provide respectively their technical support. To this end, the CPA is being widely recognized by other donors and stakeholders as a visible and practical learning platform for project design and implementation as well as contributing to increased country ownership and capacity building efforts.

    The Q&A session provided quite a lot of food for thought. Discussions allowed to highlight that IFAD is working towards a CPA in other regions but with different set-ups and arrangements adapting to the country context. Discussions also triggered a number of queries concerning trade-off in supervision missions, gaps and institutionalization. At policy level, the CPA has contributed to a stronger focus of government on Agriculture, where the resource allocation to the sector has gone up from 3% in 2011 and projected to be 12% in 2014. This was triggered by three separate field visits to CPA intervention sites by Ministers of Finance, Agriculture and Youth. At institutional level, the CPA is operational at national/central level and is serving as learning anchor for reforming the Central Project Coordination Unit of MoA. As a result of all this, the Government nominated IFAD as the lead donor in the Agricultural Sector. The way forward is to cascade the approach down to the beneficiaries at field level.

    On a personal note it was inspiring to learn and interact with the Gambia delegation on how the CPA is a great example of synergistic interaction between their members to self-regulate and adapt to their landscape and context in a way that allows better efficiency or cost-time saving management that benefits the whole portfolio. Hopefully this type of interaction could be up scaled out/up in other regions as well as trickled-down to the beneficiaries. The learning event convinced us even more that this seems to be the correct approach to implement in The Gambia. From all indications, the CPA is really boosting up the projects and enhancing the governments participation and involvement in rural development and at the same time harmonizing the different donors’ approach towards development effectiveness.

    23 November 2013, Bangkok, Thailand — Coming on the heels of the successful implementation of its pilot implementation, the second phase of the “Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific” or MTCP2, a capacity building program funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), kicked off today in an official ceremony attended by various regional and national farmer organizations, including civil society organizations, government officials, and donor organizations.

    MTCP2 aims at supporting poverty reduction in the region through strengthened capacity of rural farmers and their organizations to influence policies impacting on the livelihoods of rural poor producers. It will have four program components such as, strengthening FOs and their networks, supporting participation of FOs in policy processes, scaling up FO services and their involvement in agricultural development program, and strengthening program management and coordination.

    Phase one of the project was a pilot grant implemented by FAO in South East Asia and the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in South Asia from 2009-2012 that promoted the inclusion of smallholder farmers and their organizations in policy dialogues at various levels and strengthened regional, sub-regional and national FO platforms in Asia.

    MTCP2 will build on the experiences and lessons learned from that phase and scale up the development of FOs in Asia and the Pacific region and will enhance the integration of poor smallholders, especially women and young people, through improved and inclusive services for FO members.

    When: Saturday, November 23, 2013, 9:00 AM
    Where: Amari Watergaate Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
    Who: AFA, La Via Campesina, ANFPa, PIFON, IFAD
    Farmers’ federations from Asia-Pacific, with support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will organize the “MTCP2 Launch and Start-Up Workshop” on Nov 23-24, 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand. The MTCP2 Launch will be held at Amari Watergate Hotel in the morning of Nov 23 while the Start-Up Workshop will be held at First Hotel in the afternoon of Nov 23 and the whole day of Nov 24.
    The consortium of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) and La Via Campesina (LVC), together with the All Nepal Peasant Federation (ANPFa) and the Pacific Island Farmers Organizations Network (PIFON), mobilized various farmers organization in 15 countries from the Asia-Pacific region, civil society organizations, governments, donor agencies and research institutions to identify areas of complementation/cooperation towards creating greater impact in unleashing the potentials of small-scale farmers to respond to poverty reduction, food security and nutrition. The start-up workshop hopes to provide opportunity for key implementers to prepare for the effective and efficient implementation of the MTCP2 project in 15 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
    MTCP2 or the “Medium Term Cooperation Programme with Farmer Organizations in Asia and the Pacific,” a capacity building program funded by IFAD, aims to strengthen the capacities of farmers organizations in Asia and the Pacific to deliver better, improved and inclusive services to their members and to engage in effective dialogues with governments, thereby making FOs more viable, responsive and accountable to their members, more respected by their partners and with greater participation in policy-making and program implementation processes of governments and IFAD country operations. Its primary beneficiaries are smallholder farmers who are current or potential members of participating FOs. Its main participants are 150 FOs representing 20 million small-scale farming families in 25 countries in Southeast and South Asia and the Pacific.
    In response to the growing clamor of FOs worldwide through the Farmers Forum processes of IFAD, and to the strong recognition of the role that small-scale women and men farmers play in poverty reduction, food security and nutrition, the first phase of the Medium Term Cooperation Program for Farmers Organizations in Asia and Pacific (MTCP1) was implemented from 2009-2012. The MTCP1 succeeded in bringing together different national and local FOs in 10 countries in Southeast and South Asia in regular dialogues among each other, well as with their governments and FAO and IFAD representatives, resulting to increased opportunities for partnership and involvement in policy making and country program processes as well as increased venues for farmer-to-farmer sharing of experiences and initiatives.
    MTCP2 hopes to strengthen the gains of MTCP1, expand the program further to other countries, and thus, make FOs effective channels for real transformation in agriculture – one that truly benefits small-scale women and men farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, and pastoralists/herders.

    The launch of this project will be graced by representatives from AFA, La Via Campesina, ANPFa, PIFON, IFAD, FAO, SDC, AsiaDHRRA, and other farmer, government, and civil society organizations.
    Journalists are invited to cover the official launching ceremony at 9:00 AM.
    For more information please contact:
    Ma. Estrella Penunia
    Secretary General
    afaesther@asianfarmers.org | +63917-813-8698
    Marciano T. Virola Jr.
    KM Officer
    afajun@asianfarmers.org | +63929-558-5533
    Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)
    Rm 206 Partnership Center, 59 C. Salvador St., Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City, Philippines
    Phone: (632) 436-4640 | Telefax: (632) 436-4640
    Email: afa@asianfarmers.org | Website: www.asianfarmers.org


    Interested but unable to attend? Join us online!


    Follow us on Twitter through hash tag #MTCP2 or Twitter account @AsianFarmersa


    Get updates through our MTCP2 Official Launch Page


    Read background materials and blog articles, see photos, and watch videos of the event from the MTCP2 Blog

    IFAD Asia Portal

    Register and get a wealth of knowledge and information about MTCP2 and other projects at the IFAD Asia portal
    ©2013 AFA | Room 206, No. 59 C. Salvador Street, Loyola Heights, 1108 Quezon City, Philippines Tel/Fax: +632-436-4640 | E-mail: afa@asianfarmers.org | Website: www.asianfarmers.org

    Fast Changes in DRC!

    Posted by Adriane Del Torto Thursday, November 21, 2013 0 comments

    by Adriane Del Torto, ACPM  DRC/RC

    Map of DRC -  Maniema Province in Red

    The mission team is complete! We are all in Kindu, in the Maniema province of the Democratic Republic of The Congo (which borders with North and South Kivu) to participate in ther Interphase Review of the Integrated Development Programme in the Maniema Province, better known as PIRAM. Aside from the CPM (Rasha Omar), CPO for DRC (Franck L. Kapiamba), CPO for Congo (Richard Bouka) and myself (Adriane Del Torto, ACPM), Technical Advisor for Farmers Organisations and Markets (Roberto Longo), The Director of  the West and Central Africa Division of IFAD (WCA) Ides de Willebois has also joined the team to see what this very important project has done to help the populations of the Maniema Province in DRC.

    Needless to say, before arriving here a week ago, I was quite apprehensive: fear of unknown, how awful could this place really be? A week after my arrival, I must say, it’s much better than I could possibly imagine, my colleagues can confirm!

    Ferry at River Crossing
    Because there is only so much to see in Kindu (really just a big village) we crossed the River Congo and headed out down RN 31, a a national route rehabilitated by PIRAM through OFID financing. RN 31 is road from Kindu to Kasongo. IFAD/OFID rehabilitated 133km of this road as well as over 135km of rural feeder roads since the beginning of the project in 2011.

    So what does this mean and how does it help the projet area? Well, let me explain to you what prices are like in Kindu. One cup of rice, maybe 250g costs about 0,50 USD, one liter of fuel for vehicles can cost anywhere between 2 USD and 10 USD, a small bottle of water at a local shop is about 1 USD a large one 2,50 to 3  USD. A simple meal at the hotel can cost you anywhere between 15 and 25 USD per person. Outrageous right? How can this be? We pay less in Rome if you know where to go. It’s quite simple really. I’ve included a map, so that you can see where the Maniema Province is (the red one) and you can see that it is a landlocked province.  Literally everything that comes to Kindu is imported by train or pirogue (local type canoe carved out of a tree trunk). It’s even very difficult for farmers to bring their produce into the cities because of lack of infrastructure.

    Non rehabilitated section of RN 31 - Yes the mission got stuck and more than once!
    This is why the RN 31 is so important. Since the road has been rehabilitated, believe it or not, the actual prices I mentioned earlier have gone down from what they were before. This is because to get from Kindu to Kasongo now takes a few hours as opposed to one week.  Also,  the cost of transportation for persons has gone down from 50 USD to 20 USD, consequently the cost of transportation of merchandise has decreased from 500 USD per tonne to approximately 300 USD per tonne. As a result, our cup of rice at harvest time can go down to about 0,20 USD. The total distance between Kindu and Kasongo is approximately 240km. This has improved access to over 173 villages and the overall population of the Maniema Province.

    Warm welcome to the mission
    While in Kasongo, we were able to meet with a few farmers groups that have received project assistance, either through the distribution of certified rice seed, capacity building for their organisation and in some villages we brought direct access to spring water by building water catchments for drinking water.
     The farmers groupings that received us with song and dance expressed their desire for further capacity capacity building and the need for some tools. Now that production has increased following PIRAM’s rice seed distribution, it is difficult for the women to continue to pound rice by hand to separate from the husks. 

    The project’s big challenge in the years to come is to provide seed to over 60 000 farmers in the next few years, ensure a production of rice seed in the project area, and ensure that the surpluses of rice are sold and handled in such a way to increase farmers’ incomes.

    All this to contribute to restoring Kindu back to its ancient  glory before the conflict: that of the cereal bank of East Congo!

    Successful Models inspiring Climate Change Finance

    Posted by Savis Sadeghian Wednesday, November 20, 2013 3 comments

    “This is one of the most important climate discussions in Warsaw. Your successful financial innovations for adaptation and mitigation should inspire climate change finance. Do not keep this knowledge and practice in this room - share and inspire,” said Christiana Figueres, Chief Executive of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

    She was speaking at the Momentum for Change (MFC) event on Financing Climate-Friendly Investments at the UNFCCC’s COP19 in Warsaw, encouraging winners to share their success to help raise ambition and scale up the global commitment to act on climate change.

    There is a need to shift development onto a more sustainable pathway without affecting the economy. Governments can be helped to leverage private sector investments towards climate friendly development using strategically targeted public funds and policies. Each of us can play a role in turning practical ideas into action on the ground. It is exciting and inspiring to see what has already been done by different actors across various sectors and countries. These are already demonstrating concrete results, from carbon markets to Geographical Information Systems (GIS).

    The winning Lighthouse Activities for the MFC Finance Pillar 2013 are selected as shining examples of climate action across the globe, combining innovation and passion. The winners  showcased their projects and experiences promoting low-carbon growth and highly climate resilient communities through the use of innovative financing mechanisms.

    Experiences ranged from supporting low-carbon growth in China to financing sustainable housing in Mexico. Within the mandatory carbon markets framework, the Director General of China CDM Fund (CCDMF) explained how through investments they provide funds to enterprises, mobilize significant market capital, and achieve verified emission reduction effects with direct reduction of over 7 million tons of CO2 equivalent. CCDMF represent a good experience to help address the enormous climate financing gap and support ambitious climate actions in China. While from the voluntary carbon markets a successful project example was reported by Carbon Clear, that showcased their Low Smoke Stoves project in Sudan. The project has already 5,000 stoves in use in El Fasher. It has multiple benefits such as improved access to modern energy, reduced indoor air pollution, strengthened local delivery infrastructure and reduced regional deforestation.

    Another interesting example was the Sustainable Energy Finance (SEF) Program, a unique multi-benefits model in the Philippines leveraging private sector investment in sustainable energy projects, reducing greenhouse emissions, improving energy security and strengthening economic development.

    Looking at multi-regional programs specifically targeting agriculture systems and farmers, a great example came from Redava with its Rental Solar Farms System Project. This project does not impose big up-front investment costs and long term obligations to farmers to get solar panels, but allows farmers to rent them with a 35% cost savings compared to diesel power. A cost-effective, convenient and clean solution that means a decrease of diesel consumption, improved access to electricity and a reduction of emissions.

    Last but not least, IFAD’s  Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) was showcased as a unique example tacking climate adaptation and channeling climate finance to smallholder farmers in accessing the tools and technologies to build their resilience to climate change. Elwyn-Grainger Jones presented how ASAP empowers community-based organizations to make use of new climate risk management skills, information and technologies and combine them with tried and tested approaches to sustainable land and water management. He referred to the work ASAP in doing in Yemen, with improved weather station networks providing farmers with more reliable seasonal forecasts while mapping technologies help to better understand and monitor landscape use in a changing environment

    The health-climate connection

    Posted by Christopher Neglia 0 comments

    As climate change brings new threats to health, such as the propagation of air and vector borne diseases, heat illness, and of course, from more intense disasters, human systems are challenged to respond to increased demand for heath services in conditions of greater strain.

    Yesterday evening at the side of COP19 in Warsaw, a rich discussion on food security, health and disaster risk reduction was had by a diverse panel of experts from the World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

    In Bangladesh, Dr. Iqbal Kabir asserted that over 36 million people living in coastal belts are vulnerable to climate related disasters, and that the cost of climate change to the health sector is $2.8 billion each year.

    It is even more staggering to extrapolate the health impacts at the global level. Luna Abu-Swaireh of UNISDR projected 226 million people each year are affected by disasters.

    Elwyn Grainger-Jones of IFAD said that unless we build the climate resilience of smallholders we could leave many without enough food to survive. Up to 80 per cent of the population in developing countries are dependent on smallholder farms for the food they consume.

    There was consensus on the panel that the notion of resilience should contribute to designing health systems that do not break when confronted with climate related shocks and stresses. But how to define resilience was a much larger proposition; and the panelists addressed different dimensions, depending on the mandate of his or her own organization. For instance, Dr. Braulio de Souza Dias of CBD spoke on the crucial need to maintain biological diversity, in particular genetic diversity, if we want to ensure our food systems have the capacity to adapt to climate change. “For centuries we have been simplifying agriculture, and this is breeding a more vulnerable world,” he said.

    More systematic knowledge of climate risks and vulnerabilities is key if health ministries and others at various governance levels can truly hope to fight the health impacts of climate change effectively. Presently, meteorological offices often have limited access to quality climate services that could offer a better picture of risk.

    Elena Manaenkova of WMO said more than 70 countries have only basic, or less than basic capabilities to provide climate services. This is something that the WMO is working on with national and subnational counterparts.

    Finally, the panelists recognized that the determinants of health are partially the result of policies in many other sectors. Therefore, vertical solutions made in health ministries cannot by themselves disentangle the interconnected problems of health and climate, which call for better collaboration in dealing with complexity.

    A matter of national survival: Building a climate resilient Philippines

    Posted by Christopher Neglia Tuesday, November 19, 2013 0 comments

    "The farther you are from the last disaster, the closer you are to the next one.”
    -Commissioner Naderev Sano

    The word resilient is often used in the lexicon of climate change. But nowhere will you find its use more fitting than when describing the resilient people of the Philippines.

    In the devastating wake of typhoon Haiyan, it is clear that the impacts of climate change are not years away, but happening right now. At a side event at COP19 in Warsaw, pioneering members of the Filipino Climate Change Commission were there to explain what their government is doing about this long-term problem.

    According to Lucille Sering, the Climate Change Act of 2009 was brought in after two major typhoons cost the archipelago state 2.4 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Now, they are in the process of implementing a policy framework with which to systematically address the growing threats to community life and the environment.

    Sering says that since bringing in the law, spending on disaster and climate change preparedness has increased 26 per cent, but is still short of the 2 per cent of GDP recommended by the Stern Review. Also, resources are weighted more heavily on post-disaster reconstruction, rather than adaptation measures that would proactively save lives and reduce damages.

    For Filipinos the growing frequency of intense storms makes taking action the only option. Typhoon Haiyan was the 25th typhoon to visit the country this year. Alarmingly, they are expecting two more before the end of the season.

    Yet those on the panel were not resigned to the inevitability of climate change. Antonio La Viña told the story of the Camotos Islands that were affected similarly to Leyte, but managed to evacuate over 89,000 people and were spared massive casualties. This, La Viña said, was because of a community empowerment programme, whereby the community deposited capital in an emergency assistance fund and invested in sanitation and drainage infrastructure.

    The panelists were all well aware that disasters are at the intersection of natural and human factors. Conditions of poverty, poor housing, lack of information about disaster risk all play their part in the severity of its toll.    

    “We have to manage the unavoidable, and avoid the unmanageable,” said Naderev Sano, whose family is from Tacloban.

    It’s this awareness, this willingness to confront the reality, this incredible resilience, that will best serve the Philippines as it rebuilds stronger than it was before.