Learning from the IFAD-funded Community-based Natural Resource Management Project in Ethiopia

By  Jenny Ferguson

On 14-15 October 2014, IFAD Ethiopia Country Office in cooperation with the project management unit for the Community-based Natural Resource Management Project (CBINReMP) in the Lake Tana region of north western Ethiopia hosted a first quarter review workshop in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia. For the first time the different project stakeholders came together to discuss their recent progress and develop a common way forward. The training on new reporting requirements will help the partners to present important project achievements more clearly, identify challenges and meet the project objectives.

Financed by IFAD, the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the main goal of CBINReMP is to reduce poverty for about 312000 households in the Lake Tana Watershed. The main activities concentrate on combating land degradation and promoting sustainable land management in order to increase agricultural productivity, household food security, incomes and climate change resilience. Lake Tana is also recognized as a globally important ecosystem hosting a rich diversity of endemic species and providing a habitat to migratory birds. Addressing the needs of the human population while conserving the natural ecosystem is a complex task that can only be successfully managed if the project implementing partners with their different skills join forces and effectively coordinate their work.

The first joint meeting of the different implementing partners of the CBINReMP
during the 1st quarter review meeting and reporting workshop in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia.
The idea of the workshop was to support this process of cooperation and to facilitate all partners to monitor their work effectively in order to be able to amend plans if they encountered obstacles, to consult each other’s expertise and promote solutions. IFAD Ethiopia’s monitoring and evaluation officer explained to the stakeholders the twofold gain obtained by reporting: Individual reports for the project components not only serve to support each partner’s own planning process but also provide vital information feeding into higher level reports to funding partners. It is crucial for these reports to align with the requirements of the legally binding funding agreements to ensure that the project can be successfully operated and eventually achieve its goal. Therefore, the workshop was a combination of a 1st quarter review, a training in the Results and Impacts Management System (RIMS) as well as a joint discussion and analysis of challenges in implementation and reporting.

Diverse activities to promote a common goal

Welcomed by Dagmawi Habte-Selassie, IFAD Task Manager for the CBINReMP, and Markos Wondie, head of the CBINReMP project management unit for the local Bureau of Agriculture, the stakeholders took the floor and presented their progress. The Bureau of Environmental Protection, Land Administration and Use (BoEPLAU) shared their experiences in land certification and improving secure land tenure for the farmers of the watershed. By reinforcing a sense of ownership, land holders are encouraged to invest in land rehabilitation and to practice sustainable land management.

Other partners like Bahir Dar University, the Ethiopian Institute of Biodiversity, the Organisation for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara (ORDA) and the National Biogas Programme reported their activities in wetland conservation, in conducting trainings for the creation of employment opportunities through fish farming, seedling production and the planting of fruit trees, the construction of community gene banks and in-situ forest conservation sites, measures to achieve climate change adaptation and mitigation and the introduction of alternative energy systems.

A joint way forward

With an overview of the recent project work, all implementation partners shared their views on key implementation and reporting challenges in a joint discussion. Through this cooperative exercise of problem analysis and the identification of common difficulties the partners recognised the necessity to support each other and to share possible solutions.

Learning about the IFAD Results and Impact Management System

This spirit of sharing and cooperation was carried over to the training session on the IFAD Results and Impacts Management System (RIMS). After an introduction to RIMS, the participants were encouraged to evaluate together with the monitoring and evaluation officer which indicators to use in the reporting for CBINReMP and how the indicators should be defined to adequately match project objectives.

By giving all stakeholders a say in shaping the reporting format, by creating an opportunity to voice concerns and propose alternatives, a new culture of open communication and cooperation was initiated. Recognizing a joint interest in coordinating project activities and in tackling common challenges, all project stakeholders including the coordinating staff in the local PMU and the Country Office were able to take home key lessons for their future work.

Lake Tana is a globally important ecosystem hosting many endemic species and providing a habitat to migratory birds