2016 IFAD Grant Awards

By Ivan Cossio, Rima Alcadi, Julie Danskin


The notion of the IFAD Grant of the Year Awards was introduced as part of the 2015 IFAD Grant Policy, as a means by which IFAD intends to expand its knowledge and experience to enrich its lending operations, advisory services and knowledge products. The IFAD grant of the year award is awarded jointly to the IFAD grant sponsor and the grant recipient. IFAD has introduced 4 categories of Grant Awards: (a) Good Practice in Design; (b) Impact on Poverty Reduction; (c) Knowledge Sharing and (d) Innovation.

As the Grant Policy became effective in 2016, the 2016 IFAD Grant Awards were the first grant awards ever. The IFAD grants award committee was composed of 6 members: Sheila Mwanundu and Luisa Migliaccio from PMD, Torben Nilsson from SKD, Hazel Bedford from COM, Federica Cerulli from PRM and the Vice President, who was the Committee's Chair. QAG staff (Ivan Cossio, Rima Alcadi and Julie Danskin) acted as Secretary to the committee.

Those of you who assisted the Grants Award Ceremony yesterday know who the winning grants were. However, you may not know that very few grants were shortlisted - only between 3 and 5 for each award category. All grants shortlisted were impressive, in their own unique way, and choosing the one grant to award has not been an easy task. We tried to be as objective as possible in the selection process, basing ourselves on predefined criteria. It would be remiss of us not to pass on this information: in reality all grants shortlisted deserved an award.

Having said that, for those of you who were not at the ceremony, let us update you on the winning grants:


Good Practice in Design: this award went to the grant programme "Improve Dryland Livelihoods in Djibouti and Somalia through Productivity-enhancing Technologies," sponsored by Kaushik Barua. The proposal was developed by the consortium led by the private company Transtec with Vétérinaires Sans Frontières Suisse (VSF); and the School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences, of the Bern University of Applied Sciences (HAFL) - who were competitively selected. For the first time, specific annexes on financial governance and the selection process were added to the President's Report to reassure the EB: a best practice that is now being replicated for all private sector recipients. Co-financing of 100% was mobilized.


Impact on Poverty Reduction: this award went to the grant programme "Strengthening the Productive and Organizational Model of the Cooperativa Integral Agrícola Mujeres 4Pinos - Phase II", sponsored by Juan Diego Ruiz Cumplido. This small grant is making a big difference to the lives of indigenous women in Guatemala. In the past five years, the number of members has increased from 175 to 450 and 450 jobs have been created. Their production and sales figures have risen steadily: from US$770,000 in 2011 to over US$3.6 million in 2016. Without doubt, one of the transformative achievements of the cooperative is that, in less than three years, 70% of their members have increased their incomes to the extent that they are no longer living in poverty.


Knowledge Sharing: this award went to the PROCASUR grant "Strengthening Knowledge Sharing and Scaling up of Sustainable Innovation Using Learning Route Methodology - Phase II", sponsored by Benoit Thierry. The programme enhanced learning, sharing and innovation within the Asia and Pacific Region based on three core elements: 1) Mapping and packaging local solutions into live-field trainings, guided by farmers and government officials, 2) Building on the capacity of IFAD-supported projects and partner institutions to expand the use of the Learning Routes Methodology, 3) Enabling rural entrepreneurs/local champions to perform as peer to peer trainers and technical assistants, recognised by the government. Thanks to the engagement of provincial government decision makers and leaders from the Women´s and Farmers´ Unions, Innovation Plans were designed through Learning Routes benefitting over 47,000 rural people.


Innovation: this award went to the grant to Fundacion ACUA for the "Programme to Increase the Visibility and Strengthen the Entrepreneurship of Rural Afro-descendant Communities in Latin America," sponsored by Jesus Quintana. The aim of this regional grant was to overcome the social inequalities facing afro-descendants, who are among the most vulnerable populations in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. By the end of the grant, the income generated by the 44 afro-descendant entrepreneurs supported increased by nearly 50%, and 22 of their products have penetrated the national markets - for example a pesto made of aromatic herbs and a flour made of an indigenous vegetable. In collaboration with Slow Food organization, a tourist gastronomic route  has been established. Thanks to our collaboration with Fundación ACUA, IFAD is now one of the most prominent development agencies to support directly Afro-descendant communities.


As was stated by the Vice President in his introductory remarks, through this process, we gained a deeper appreciation for the results and impact that we are achieving through our grants portfolio. We also saw how much energy staff members are investing in managing these grants. Our deep appreciation goes to these committed IFAD staff members who are sponsoring these grants - going through a tough and rigorous screening and review process, reporting, supervising and sharing the resulting knowledge. Through this exercise, it was indeed evident that there are some very valuable jewels in our grants portfolio.


We already look forward to start working on the 2017 Grant Awards soon! Please do leave your comments on how you think this process can be improved.