AVANTI: another step towards strengthening governments’ ability to report against the SDGs

by Eugenia Stefanelli Martín, Raphael Seiwald and Eloisa de Villalobos 

Last week the AVANTI – Advancing Knowledge for Agricultural Impact initiative was officially launched as a side event of IFAD's Executive Board. Member State representatives, IFAD staff and others attended the event to find out more about the new AVANTI initiative and how it can contribute to governments' capacities in managing for development results through increased M&E capacities and systems.

So… what is AVANTI?

AVANTI is an initiative that works with national partners to facilitate systematic self-assessments of country capacities to manage for results in the rural sector. Its objective is to facilitate better government decision-making for rural policies and strategies through improvements in areas like monitoring and evaluation, leadership, planning, statistics and sharing of good practices. AVANTI started in early 2018 for a three-year period and will work in up to 20 countries across all IFAD regions.

… And how does AVANTI contribute to achieving IFAD's mandate and the broader Sustainable Development Goals?

The objective of AVANTI is to promote better government decision making for rural policies and programmes, by enhancing the ability of national monitoring and evaluation systems to capture progress achieved against the SDGs.

It is clear that without adequate in-country results-based management and M&E capacities and systems in place, achieving and tracking development outcomes is challenging. This is why the international community is increasingly focusing on this. However, there are currently no systematic efforts (or standardized tools) to measure country capacities for results-based management in agriculture. This makes it difficult to understand which capacities there are in place, where the gaps are, and how to strengthen what exists in order to promote sustainable development.

This is why IFAD has sponsored this new initiative, to support countries that are working on improving their M&E systems for the agricultural sector. Using facilitated self-assessment tools, participants from government agencies will deepen their understanding of the challenges, success factors and open questions existing around M&E, focusing particularly on areas such as leadership, planning, statistics and sharing of good practices. These assessments will then serve as the basis for the development of national Action Plans for strengthening rural sector M&E capacities and systems. These Plans, in turn, are expected to lead to better development results and improved value for money in terms of returns on investments.

There are less than 12 years left to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and given the current global context, we know that a business-as-usual approach will not work. According to the 2018 report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 821 million people were undernourished last year, with hunger being on the rise for the third year in a row. We have to not only scale up efforts to achieve food security, but also make them more effective and more sustainable – now and over the medium-term.

©IFAD/Daniele Bianchi

The experts' view

During the launch event, we heard the enriching insights from a panel of experts from different fields (representatives from governments, donors, partners of other international organisations, NGOs and international development consultancies) telling us about their experiences, challenges in their day-to-day activities and suggested ways forward. We had the opportunity hear from H.E. Aminata Mbengue Ndiaye, Minister of Livestock of the Republic of Senegal, how initiatives like AVANTI can contribute to strengthening governments' abilities to deliver and achieve greater development results, through the strengthening of their manging, monitoring and reporting abilities. In particular, the Minister highlighted how AVANTI can contribute to create a coalition of champions, through the development of national Action Plans with clear priorities that are available to partners and donors for synergies and coordinated support.

These statements were supported by other panellists, like Oscar Garcia, Director of IFAD's Independent Office of Evaluation, and Bernard Woods, Director of Results Management and Aid Effectiveness division. They both agreed on the need to strengthen the institutional framework and greater demand of M&E capacities and systems, and pledged for initiatives like AVANTI that are another step in the right direction.

Lastly, we heard from Annette Kolff, Director of International Programmes at HELVETAS and Ethel Sibanda, Principal Consultant at Itad and AVANTI Ag-Scan lead, both representatives of the AVANTI implementing partners. It was crucial to hear about the importance of involving all stakeholders, including civil society and farmers' organisations, in development projects, and of AVANTI's potential of creating stakeholder platforms. Country ownership was also pledged as a fundamental pillar of AVANTI's approach in the countries and as a key factor contributing to greatest in-country results.

The panel and final Q&A discussion was truly engaging and the interest showed by colleagues in the room and online demonstrates the relevance and opportunity for initiatives like AVANTI.

Way forward

Fulfilling the promise of Agenda 2030 will require all of us to be more creative and innovative. That includes developing – and using – better tools to manage for results and to measure our progress. AVANTI represents a small, but important, contribution to this agenda.

IFAD, together with HELVETAS and Itad, has taken the lead on setting up AVANTI. Governments and partners are welcomed to ensure that these efforts are sustainable by showing their commitment and support.

To find out more about AVANTI visit: