On 6 December, IFAD will release the Rural Poverty Report 2011: Meet the lead author, Edward Heinemann

On Monday 6, December during an international conference on food security at Chatham House in London, IFAD will launch the Rural Poverty Report 2011: New realities, new challenges: new opportunities for tomorrow’s generation.
The Rural Poverty Report 2011 is a comprehensive resource for policymakers and practitioners, especially those in developing countries.  The report provides latest estimates on poverty rates in rural areas of developing countries, as well as poverty trends in different regions. It has new information on how many people move in and out of poverty over time, as well as first-hand accounts from poor rural people on the challenges they face in their everyday lives.

RPR 2011 photo essay
The report looks at who poor rural people are, what they do and how their livelihoods are changing.  It explores the challenges that make it so difficult for rural people to overcome poverty, and identifies the opportunities and pathways that could lead towards greater prosperity for them and their communities.  And it highlights key global challenges such as the need to double agriculture output and increase food production by 70 per cent to feed 9 billion people in 2050.

It also highlights the policies and actions that governments and development practitioners can take to support the efforts of rural people themselves, both today and in the years to come.

Writing the report: the back story
Many colleagues were involved at different stages of the report’s preparation. You can find out more about these great people in the report’s acknowledgements, and there are many more who worked behind the scenes. At the end of the day, it ended up being an “all-hands-on-deck” exercise.

Having said that, the report would not have seen the light of the day if were not for Edward Heinemann and Bettina Prato.

Some 10 months ago, Ed, was asked to lead this process and finalize the report. For months, he worked around the clock and hardly left his office. I remember sometime in the summer, not having seen Ed around for weeks, I went up to his office to check on him. I knocked on his door and put in my head and I found an unshaven Ed typing furiously. I said: “Hi Ed, have not seen you around for some time, just came up to see how you were doing”.

Ed smiled and said he was fine. Closing the door, I thought to myself, “I guess he is so busy that he did not have time to shave” and I almost asked him, “Ed, why have not you shaved?”, but thought it was better not to do so.

There are many things Ed has learnt thanks to the Rural Poverty Report process and undoubtedly many experiences and conversations that will stay with him for ever. There is one other thing that, for the time being, seems to have stayed with him – and that is his unshaven look, which has now transformed to a well-groomed beard.

With six days to go to the big day, yesterday I asked Ed to share his state of mind about the launch. Here is what he had to say.

Edward Heinemann – the Rural Poverty Report lead author’s state of mind
“Back in July, when I gave in what I thought was the final draft of the Rural Poverty Report, my idea was that I would be able to wash my hands of it, do something else for a few months, and then re-engage once we had the launch presentations lined up. I got that completely wrong. From September on I spent days, weeks, months looking over galley proofs – a term I didn’t even know three months ago – til the words ran into each other; I rewrote briefs, prepared Q&As, drafted summaries of summaries and reviewed key messages. I looked over the text 273 times, and each time I did I found things that could have been said better, that should have been said differently, or that simply shouldn’t have been said at all. There were corrections and there were corrections to corrections. It was miserable. 
In my worst nightmares, someone somewhere dreams up a question that leaves me gasping for air like a suffocating goldfish.
Now, with a week to go to the launch, I’m looking forward to it, of course. I tell myself it will be fun. I do know that it will be worthwhile, because I am confident that the report will help us and our partners make a real difference in the lives of the poor rural people.”  

Visit the Rural Poverty Report 2011 website. Make sure you meet the women and men from rural areas whose thoughts and perspectives were influential in the preparation of the Rural Poverty Report 2011.Read testimonies |  Watch the video testimonials

Find out more about the report and join the virtual chats: Follow #rpr2011

  • On 6 December from 9:30 to 11:30 GMT, IFAD’s social reporting team will report live from the Chatham House launch event. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on this blog. Follow #rpr2011
  • On 9 and 10 December from 9:00 to 10:00 GMT and 14:00 to 15:00 GMT, Ed and Bettina will host a virtual chat on Facebook and Twitter. Please send your questions and comments.  Follow rpr2011
  • On 17 December from 9:00 to 11:00 GMT, IFAD’s social reporting team will report live from the Rome launch event. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and on this blog.  Follow #rpr2011
Looking forward to seeing you on line.