Multi-functional landscapes: What is the right approach?

By Oliver Mundy

Eric Patrick, adaptation specialist at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), presented a new innovative pilot programme in a TED-like 'Landscape Talk' at the Global Landscapes Forum in Bonn in December. 

Patrick began with an analysis of three past water-harvesting projects that seemed to have failed.

Fences to manage grazing were removed. Many of the planted trees died. Water catchment structures were not maintained.

He talked to beneficiaries and other stakeholders to find out why. To his surprise their perception of the shortcomings were completely different to his own.

They said that the projects were successful. It offered them employment: the youth in particular. Materials were used for livestock kraals. The projects kept land out of the hands of the politically well-connected elders.

"Peoples' criteria for successful projects were quite different from our own," said Patrick.

Complexity of landscapes

Standard approaches to project design often have narrow assumptions of what success is. The reality is much more complex. Challenges such as land degradation, food insecurity and poverty are often intertwined.

Development institutions try to understand the interactions between humans and ecosystems. They increasingly recognise that landscapes have many uses and provide the basis for food and income for many different types of stakeholders.

Many institutions and approaches aim to improve food security, increase rural incomes and protect natural resources. But what is the best approach to achieve these multiple benefits? 

Piloting a new programmatic approach

IFAD is leading the new Integrated Approach Programme for Food Security (IAP); a GEF-funded multi-agency programme launched in June 2017. The programme aims to bring 10 million hectares of land, in twelve African countries, under integrated and sustainable land management.

The programme is piloting a new approach that is innovative in terms of its structure and components. 
The multi-agency programme focuses on dryland areas of 12 sub-Saharan African countries

The programme’s 12 country projects are connected by a 13th project that ensures joint monitoring, the exchange of knowledge and up-scaling of best practices in all country projects.

The three guiding principles of the IAP are Engage, Act and Track (EAT). They are reflected in the three core components of each of the 12 country projects. 

  • Engage: Bring together the right stakeholders in the right forum depending on what their interests are. 
  • Act: Identify proven practices that bring multiple benefits and up-scale these. 
  • Track: Monitor and assess the programme. 
Programme structure: one crosscutting project links all country projects

Most projects use the landscape approach to involve different stakeholders at different levels.  

The programme builds on the experience of multiple agencies. It is delivered in conjunction with AGRA, Bioversity International, Conservation International, FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, the World Agroforestry Centre and the World Bank.  

All 12 country projects will follow proven management techniques and the portfolio approach will help identify which project works in which context. 

View Mr. Patricks entire landscape talk here