The Gambia Country Programme Approach from the perspective of project staff

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.