Integrated Approach Programme on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa launched in Addis Ababa

By Ilaria Firmian

Last week in Addis Ababa IFAD organised together with GEF and partner agencies a 3-day workshop on the Integrated Approach Programme on Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This is a major programme of $116 million to support twelve countries (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda) targeting agro-ecological systems where the need to enhance food security is linked directly to opportunities for generating global environmental benefits. The 12 country projects will be supported by a regional ‘umbrella’ project for coordination, capacity building and knowledge services. (see: )

The overall purpose of the meeting was to finalize the results framework for the umbrella project and agree on its functions and its interactions with the country projects.
The first day of the workshop aimed at building a common understanding on the priorities of the GEF IAP, as well as on the main features of the umbrella project. The three guiding principles of the GEF IAP are Engage, Act and Track (EAT), reflected in the three core components of each of the 12 country projects.

The presentations shared by the country design teams were very interesting, and despite the distinctness of challenges addressed showed a number of common aspects, such as the focus on up-scaling (providing hierarchical support to institutions, or Engage) and out-scaling (facilitating farmer to farmer knowledge diffusion, or Act)  good practices, the adoption of landscape approaches and the complementarity between value chains approaches (bringing incentives) and landscape approaches (ensuring environmental sustainability) and tools for monitoring and assessment (Track).

An entire session of the workshop was dedicated to discussing resilience, with presentations from different stakeholders (Bioversity International, GEF-STAP, ICRAF) showing a range of different perspectives, that only partially took on board the social aspects of resilience – still too ecologically focused.

‘Resilience is a value-laden concept: each group of stakeholders (environmentalists, climate experts, local households) takes resilience in its own way. Each project will inevitable have a different definition of resilience which is based on project context and actions,’ said Steve Twomlow, Climate Adaptation Specialist. 

A general agreement was reached on the fact that the IAP needs to provide evidence that sustainable agriculture is good for food production system and the environment, and that this evidence has to reach policy makers.

In order to do that, many concrete actions have been proposed for  the umbrella project, including:
  • Providing support on knowledge management and cross learning among countries;
  • Building capacity of the country projects on measuring Global Environmental Benefits, including using tracking tools,  earth observation/satellite data and other Monitoring & Assessment (M&A) tools;
  • Managing inter-sectoral engagement  and facilitating policy dialogue to influence policy change
On the theme of M&A a Share Fair was organised on the afternoon of Day 2 to allow all participants to familiarise with methodologies developed by the  different agencies. Among many others:  the FAO Ex-Ante Carbon-balance Tool to estimate GHG emissions, changes in carbon stocks and enhancement of carbon sequestration; the ICRAF Land Degradation Surveillance Framework to check the Status and trends of ecosystem health; IFAD Multi-Dimensional Poverty Assessment Tool to measure poverty impacts, improvement in farmers’ livelihoods and food and nutrition security; and Bioversity International Diversity Assessment Tool for Agro-biodiversity and Resilience.

The workshop ended with the official launch of the Programme in the presence of experts from existing dry land and food security initiatives from African Union, European Commission, UNDP, French Embassy, DfID, Great Green Wall initiative, and others. They presented their respective experiences in a panel session and welcomed the IAP coming to join forces with existing efforts.