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Sustainable agriculture: is it optional and can it feed the world?

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, March 30, 2010 2 comments

Today we had the honour and pleasure of having Prof Robert Watson at IFAD. He gave a talk on climate change challenges and how the loss of biodiversity impacts food, water, engergy and human security.

Prof Watson is the chief scientific advisor of department of environment, food and rural affairs of United Kingdom and former scientific advisor to the White House and former World Bank chief scientist.

During his talk, he shared his insights on scientific, policy and economic interlinkages between climate change and loss of biodiversity. Prof Watson made the case for sustainable agriculture. He highlighted that the demand for food will double in the next 25 years which means we need sustained growth to feed world, to enhance rural livelihoods and stimulate economic growth.

"We need to think of agriculture as multifunctional taking into account economic, social and environmental aspects", said Watson. He also made the point that failure of rural development and trade policy failures are the cause for not benefiting evenly from yield increases.

He called for the need to embed economic, environmental and social sustainability into agricultural policies, practices and technologies. He mentioned that "global food security is achievable however, business-as-usual policies, practices and technologies will not work. This is why we need to address hunger problems with appropriate use of current technologies, emphasizing agro-ecological practices".

On the issue of GM, he said: "GM will only take off if brings real benefits." He also said "I am not convinced that organic agriculture will feed the world."

He passionately made the case for the need to integrate trade issues with environmental and agricultural issues.

One of my take home messages was Prof Watson's lecture was the need for solid rural development to be able to reap the benefits of science and technology and also the fact that sustainable agriculture is not optional but a must.

Due to being overwhelmed by a wave of emails and other things, this last post arrives late, from Rome..
Hakuna Matoke: Day 6 to 8 of the Learning Route and its end in Nairobi
After nearly a week together, much friendly teasing was going on between participants, especially of the Ugandans and their love of matoke, the plantain mash that is an essential part of every lunch and every dinner – and those of us not coming from Uganda weren’t missing this too much as we crossed into Kenya. Another noteworthy moment of the trip was our drive through the Rift Valley, I saw pink flamingos from afar and zebras just on the side of the road!

Day 6 we continued on relatively early in the morning to go to Gatundu South district to visit Gatundu Mwirutiri Women’s Initiative. Again, we were welcomed with a singing, dancing, and a round of hugs – something to introduce to meetings in Rome, too, maybe, as it really lightens up the mood! We were led into the courtyard of a house, where a tent had been built to shelter us from the sun. Just behind us, there were some cows, mooing, as well as sheep and chicken. We started the meeting by presenting ourselves, first our hosts, who also sang a song they had specifically come up with that affirmed a woman’s rights, including the right to vote and the right to land.
The Gatundu Mwurituri Women Initiative, or GMWI, is working specifically to protect these rights, by forming watchdog groups at the community level that any woman chased away by her in-laws after the death of her husband can appeal to for help in claiming her inheritance rights. The watchdog groups include members form the community, elders, paralegals, male and female, some of whom had come to share lessons from their work. One man in particular impressed all of us, starting from his introduction: “I am Joseph and I am a grassroots woman.” He experienced injustice against women in his family and decided to do something to fight for equal rights – and that he considers himself as a grassroots woman for that reason. Another male watchdog member present later referred to the reason for his participation in the group as the “grabiosis”, the greed that leads men to grabbing land from women and which he considers to be at the root of a lot of the family disputes over land that occur in the community.

The watchdog groups, which are supported by GROOTS Kenya with training and some funding, are run on a volunteer basis, and it was evident that the drive and dedication of its members was a key factor for their successful resolution of disputes in the community. In addition to the watchdog groups, GMWI also works on HIV/AIDS awareness, encouraging testing so that people are aware of their HIV status and can seek treatment if they have already been infected. GMWI has a group of orphans that meet regularly to help each other rebuild their lives after the death of their parents, including through revolving funds to help them set up small farming and business activities to generate income. One of the girls from the group gave a talk on HIV/AIDS, something which she does regularly to inform other children and youth in the community to inform them about how to prevent infection. She also spoke about the practise of wife-inheritance, i.e. the widow being wed off to another man from her late husbands family so as to “cleanse” her, and which has led to some of the highest infection rates in Kenya in the provinces were this practise is still common.
Following a lunch rice and stew and the sweetest mangos, the programme continued with a role play to tell the story of a family devastated by HIV/AIDS – one of the actors in this role play was Peter, who later took us to his inherited piece of land that he claimed with the help of the watchdog groups after the death of father and mother. His paternal uncle had grabbed the land from him, but thanks to the intervention of the watchdogs, which work in close collaboration with the local administration to make sure that the law is respected, Peter and his sister now have a title to the land in both their names. A key accomplishment of the watchdog groups is their focus on reconciliation of families even in such difficult situations, but also that those who seek help are empowered to stand up for their rights.

However impressive the work of the watchdog groups, however, it is evident that in addition to the problem of property grabbing from widows and orphans, there is a general issue of the perspectives young people have to stay in the rural areas and earn a living from agriculture. The area which we had come to is covered by tea plantations, with farmers producing for a market controlled by the Kenya Tea Board and middlemen buying their harvest for further processing. Peter told us that he was planning to continue his studies, provided he could come up with the money, to become an accountant. He still wants to use the land, but he wants to develop it and will probably, should things go according to his plan, not be farming full time. We all went away from this visit to Peter’s thinking about the pull of the cities, the opportunities opened up by education, and couldn’t help wondering whether staying in the rural areas was feasible or a romantic illusion.

This visit almost eerily prepared us for the next day, when we went to Kayole, a semi-slum (meaning most structures are permanent) on the outskirts of Nairobi, to visit the Young Widows Advancement Programme (YWAP). We were welcomed at the local administration, which doubles up as a community centre, and a dance class was in full swing in the courtyard. YWAP members introduced their stories, moving accounts of women that were infected with HIV/AIDS by their late husbands, who were left in a difficult and previously rarely occurring position of being a young widow, with small children, unable to defend herself against in-laws that wanted property back for their family, as they think that these young women are probably going to remarry, thus taking family property away into another man’s family. In this situation, the women have to fend for themselves, try to earn an income to maintain their children, facing social stigma as widows, thought to be outcasts until remarried. YWAP tries to provide support, immediate with small amounts of money and some space in their offices where women can stay for short periods of time, as well as with information on legal rights to inheritance, including to land in the rural areas. At the same time, they help the women face a live with HIV/AIDS and the fear of death, for instance, through the preparation of memory books about their family history, which they put together for their kids, should they be orphaned at a young age.

In Kayole, we also had a chance to listen to some stories in more depth. We went for house visits in small groups of 4 people, with our host walking to where she lives with us, a building with small bedsits, or rather, rooms, as there are really no facilities to speak of, with a communal toilet outside and the cooking done on a small gas cooker. Our host, Lilian W., is a mother of two who lost her husband, who was a matatu (minibus) driver, and has had to move to Kayole since she could not afford to keep the place they were living in as a couple. Since the death of her husband, Lilian has worked in a vegetable packing factory as a casual labourer, with no social security or anything (no unions allowed, obviously), working night shifts so that she can be back in the morning to take her children to school. Despite this, she has trained to become a paralegal to advise other women, and she told us that she is doing all she can to give her children a good education, so that one day her daughter can be a lawyer. Think of that next time you buy those neatly packed green beans from Kenya!

After the day in Kayole it took us almost two hours to get back to the guesthouse in Nairobi, even though the distance is only about 35 km, the infernal traffic that everyone who lives in Nairobi has to deal with every morning and every evening as they are going to work, be it in an air-conditioned four-wheel drive favoured by expats and rich Kenyans or a crowded matatu that is the only option for the majority of the population, though the latter at least have the liberty to overtake some of the traffic on the pavements and get to their destination just that little bit faster. Day 7 of the learning route was hot, dusty, and tiring, a week of impressions that gave us a lot to think about and ended on a note that was very relevant considering the increasing migration from rural to urban areas.
Day 8: the last day of the Route, a day of closure, as much as that is possible after a week of travelling, listening, discussing, sharing, arguing, singing, being welcomed in diverse places and languages, enjoying hospitality everywhere we went. Before starting, Ariel suggested some
time off to go to the Masai market, so participants went and we took some time to discuss how to structure the last few hours. Once everyone was back with their purchases, we worked on the innovation plans, meant to help everyone think through what they learnt, what they liked, and what they think could improve their own work once they get home. It was a quieter day than most as people went off to sit in their project teams discussing what they want to take home. In the late afternoon, everyone presented a short summary of their innovation plans for feedback, and after writing up the hard copies, gave their feedback on the Learning Route itself by filling out the evaluation questionnaire and writing a letter to a future ‘rutero’, i.e. participant in a Learning Route, to tell them about the experience.
On our final evening, at our celebratory dinner, certificates were handed out and many jokes were made, with even those that were slightly at odds with each other during the trip sharing a laugh. We also had a little gift for our massage therapist, Lilia from Madagascar, who contributed a lot to keeping participants happy! After we sang the song composed by Wilkister Oduor from Kenya Land Alliance (“I’m going home to innovate”), there were a lot of hugs and e-mails exchanged, and it seems to me that this was the best result of the Route, it created a lot of contacts, based not only on a common interest in promoting women’s rights to land, but also based on an experience together that all of us will remember for a long time to come.

World Water Day 2010 at IFAD

Posted by Roxanna Samii Wednesday, March 24, 2010 1 comments

What is the water footprint of 3 dozens of roses? In my case it was a wet boot of my car, a small price to pay thanking our colleagues who made IFAD's World Water Day a success.

Placemats are a fine way to convey a message. Gosh, I myself didn't know that for every kcal I consume -and I eat a lot- I consume almost a liter of water. And at my age I have to get rid of that as well. Small wonder the Dutch had to put dikes around them. Not so much to keep the salt water out as much as keep the neighbours from peeping in.

As at my early arrival I was hijacked for 'important corporate matters', it was Audrey who had the honor of facing our IFAD colleagues during the morning hours on all matters water from her conveniently located spot at the entrance of the restaurant. She must have pointed plenty many colleagues to the exhibit in the Qatar Information Centre because when I finally made it to do my turn of the Q+A (not QA) many water-related brochures and documents had already found new owners. We shall introduce the polluter-pays-principle to reduce possible wastage of precious knowledge!

My turn on the couch -not to be confounded with the work of our IFAD shrink- drew some notable visitors who had to pull a number to be seated. They were all offered a glass of water - from the tap. Frank wanted to know whether his proposed text on water would find my approval (which it did).

'Is this worth your while' inquired Rodney and 'Aren't you on your way to this Agricultural Water in Africa bash in Tunis' (yes to both). And then Abla draped herself next to me for a detailed briefing on her latest watery conquests in Eritrea. After a most vivid discussion on what is going well and what is doing not so fine, respectively 'when you come to support the new IFAD programme in September we can have a big lobster' and 'we really need to beef up the Zoba performance'.

I briefly thought of referring to the Ethics Commission and Mrs. Merkel (but it turned out that Zoba wasn't Greek) but then dropped the idea as I am fond of the crustacean (thermidor or a la plancha). All in all a wonderful experience which next time round we may want to share with our neighbours from the quartiere."

By Rudolph Cleveringa

La journée du 23 mars de Kanayo F. Nwanze et de sa délégation a été consacrée à une série de rencontres avec les plus hautes autorités maliennes.

Dès 9H00 GMT, la tournée a commencé par une visite au Ministre de l’environnement et des forêts, Pr Tiémogo Sangare, où le Président et le Ministre malien assurant l’intérim de son collègue de l’agriculture en déplacement, ont fait le point sur la coopération Mali/FIDA pour saluer notamment l’excellence des relations entre le pays et l’organisation.

Après une pause-déjeuner à la résidence l’ancien ambassadeur de la République du Mali à Rome, M. Ibrahim Bocca Daga, la délégation a pris le chemin de la colline de Koulouba, au sommet de laquelle se trouve le palais présidentiel. Dès 14H15 et pendant près d’heure d’affilée, le Président Nwanze qu’accompagnait toute sa délégation a eu des entretiens cordiaux et fructueux avec S.E.M. Amadou Toumani Toure, Président de la République du Mali. Le Président ATT a redit l’importance et l’appréciation du Mali pour le travail effectué par le FIDA dans le pays et notamment dans les régions du Nord. Il a particulièrement insisté du rôle du développement pour arriver à instaurer la paix dans ces régions, à travers notamment l’emploi des jeunes.

Une séance de travail avec le Premier Ministre, S.E.M. Modibo Sidibe, a suivi cet entretien au palais. A la primature, le Président du FIDA, Mohamed Béavogui, Léopold Sarr et Michel Kouda, entourés de tous les responsables des projets financés par le FIDA, ont longuement échangé avec le Premier Ministre sur les orientations et options prioritaires du Gouvernement du Mali en matière d’agriculture, de croissance économique et de développement.

Toutes ces rencontres, primordiales dans le cadre de la collaboration et du partenariat avec le gouvernement se sont achevées sur une note conviviale autour d’un dîner offert par le ministère de l’agriculture. Occasion pour les uns et les autres de se séparer dans un cadre charmant, au décor inspiré de l’art local, comme on en trouve dans la capitale malienne.

Signalons en guise de conclusion, que la gent féminine ayant fait partie de la suite de Kanayo Nwanze durant ce séjour au Mali, en l’occurrence son épouse Juliana et l’auteure de ces quelques lignes, ont eu l’honneur d’être reçues par la Première Dame du Mali, Mme Lobbo Traoré.

La presse malienne et régionale a amplement fait écho à cette visite très réussie !

Par Geraldine Mpouma Logmo

On Monday 22 March, during the opening ceremony on the second Africa Rice Congress, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mali, H.E. Modibo Sidibe awarded Kanayo F. Nwanze, IFAD President, with the Distinguished Service Award of the Africa Rice Center.

“Let me express my heartfelt gratitude for honouring me with the Distinguished Service Award. The Africa Rice Center is a fine institution and one which I am immensely proud to be associated with.” said Nwanze immediately after receiving the award.

“We know from the work of both the Africa Rice Center and IFAD, innovation and partnerships are fundamental to realizing Africa’s potential. And, as we also know, there is much untapped potential on this continent to be realized. Whether here at Africa Rice or in Rome at IFAD, I say that we owe it to Africa’s people to ensure that we achieve this goal. Working together, I am confident that we will.” It is with those words that the President concluded his acceptance speech. His speech was largely echoed by the Prime Minister when he formally opened the Congress.

Hundred of scientists, researchers, development practitioners and farmers from Africa, Europe, Asia and Latin America are attending the congress.

After the inaugural session, the President conducted interviews with a number of journalists.

By Geraldine Mpouma Logmo

Le Président du FIDA visite le Mali

Posted by Roxanna Samii Monday, March 22, 2010 0 comments

Kanayo F. Nwanze arrivé le 20 mars 2010 à Bamako, y a reçu un accueil particulièrement chaleureux, selon la plus pure tradition d’hospitalité du peuple de ce pays. Le Président du FIDA est au Mali pour assister au 2ème Congrès africain sur le riz. Il rencontrera également pendant son séjour qui s’achèvera le 23 mars, les plus hautes autorités maliennes.

Accueil à l’aéroport international de Bamako

C’est une très forte délégation qui s’est déplacée à l’aéroport pour accueillir le Président Nwanze ce samedi 20 mars, délégation emmenée par le Ministre de l’agriculture de la République du Mali, Mohamed Ag Agatan et comprenant entre autre Mme Nana Lansri Haidara, Commissaire à la Sécurité alimentaire, Mme Noor, la Représentante résidente de la FAO au Mali, Le Secrétaire Général du Ministère de l’agriculture, Pape Seck, le Directeur Général d’Africa Rice (ADRAO), le Directeur de l’Institut d’Economie Rurale du Mali, Mamadou Nadio, le Coordonnateur national des projets FIDA, l’ensemble des coordonnateurs des projets financés par le FIDA au Mali– en tout plus de 20 personnes étaient à l’aéroport au moment où a atterrit à 21H20 l’avion ayant à son bord le Président.

Accueil au bas de la passerelle de l’avion, puis le Président a salué les « corps constitués » et patienté au salon d’honneur le temps des formalités. Le cortège motorisé s’est ensuite ébranlé en direction de l’hôtel où réside toute la délégation du FIDA, soit le Président et son épouse, Mohamed Béavogui, Léopold Sarr, Michel Kouda et Géraldine Mpouma Logmo.

C’est le terrain qui commande l’action

La journée du 21 mars a été consacrée à la visite de terrain. Le Président Nwanze et sa délégation, accompagné de Monsieur le Secrétaire Général du Ministère de l’agriculture, de Mme Noor de la FAO et les responsables des projets se sont rendus à Didieni, petite localité située à environ 150 km de Bamako dans la Région de Koulikoro, Cercle de Kolokani. Ils y ont visité un micro projet réalisé par une coopérative de femmes appuyée par le FODESA. Dénommée Sabougnouma, l’association dirigée par la dynamique et enthousiaste Wasa Traoré a mis en place un micro projet de transformation de produits agricoles (céréales, arachides, karité, condiments) et mène parallèlement des activités de soudure, charge batterie, distribution de courrant pour l’éclairage du village. Les résultats obtenus par ces braves femmes, et qui leur ont valu à l’occasion de la visite les encouragements appuyés du Président et de l’ensemble des visiteurs, ont considérablement améliorés les conditions de vie de leurs familles et commencent à faire des émules auprès des femmes des villages environnants. Cette visite a donné l’occasion à ces femmes d’exprimer leurs besoins futurs, ce qui n’a pas laissé les personnalités présentes indifférentes et le terrain commandant l’action, promesse leur a été faite de trouver une réponse à leurs doléances à travers un appui renforcé du FODESA.

Didieni : riche de ses hommes, femmes, enfants et de sa culture

Si les populations sont pauvres dans cette bourgade du Mali, elles sont loin d’être misérables. Que non ! Elles sont même riches de leur hospitalité, de leur folklore, bref de leur culture. Le délégation qui a accompagné le Président à Didieni a eu droit à un accueil particulièrement enthousiaste, rehaussé par le folklore local bambara et peul : danses et acrobaties ont donné une véritable saveur à la visite de terrain qui s’est achevé par un copieux déjeuner champêtre offert par la coopérative des femmes. Au menu : de succulentes pintades, du mouton et des frites.

En fin d’après midi, de retour de Didieni, le Président a été reçu dans les bureaux de la coordination des projets FIDA au Mali à Bamako où les missions et activités du Programme Pays lui ont été présentées autour d’un plat de riz sénégalais. Encore cette hospitalité africaine légendaire !

Cette longue et enrichissante journée, commencée à 8H00 s’est achevée vers minuit après un dîner offert par le Programme Pays et auquel ont pris par une partie de la famille des Nations Unies au Mali, soit la Représentante résidente de la FAO, le Représentant du PNUD, le Représentant de l’UNESCO et celui de la Banque Mondiale. Cette soirée a été l’occasion pour le Président du FIDA comme pour la Représentante de la FAO de dire toute leur appréciation de la bonne entente et de la l’excellente collaboration qui existe entre la famille des UN au Mali.

Par Geraldine Mpouma Logmo

From Uganda to Kenya: Day 4 and 5 of the Learning Route!

Posted by Sabine Pallas (ILC) Wednesday, March 17, 2010 0 comments

From Kampala, we continued on to Kayunga district – also called the “United States of Uganda” for its tribal diversity - on Day 4 of the Learning Route, where we visited a group of 15 women that have been working with a rights-based organisation called AHURICA (Association for Human Rights and Civic Awareness) on understanding the implications of the spousal consent clause on women’s land rights. AHURICA undertook research in the community, at the same time raising awareness of the Land Act and in particular, the spousal consent clause, which stipulates that any land transaction by either partner in marriage can only be done with the consent of their spouse. The key issue with this is that not many marriages are actually legally registered in the district and in Uganda generally, where marriages are often customary only – what we would probably classify as cohabitation. Also, polygamy is widely practised, across religions, adding another layer of complexity to the question of how to secure women’s land rights.

The women from the Kayunga association, which was formed little under a year ago and is in its incipient stages, shared how they have become aware of their marital status through this action-oriented research project. They shared with us how they have started to feel empowered by the knowledge they gained on the rights of women as enshrined in the Land Act and other relevant laws in Uganda, for instance, those governing inheritance – and how they have started raising awareness by informing their own husbands on the importance of getting their marriages legally registered.

Legally registering marriages were identified as a first step to secure women’s land rights in this context, and the sharing their experience, the participants from Mozambique suggested promoting mass marriages, something they have successfully done in Manhiça district, where they brought 30 couple to the district registrar’s office in December last year to have their marriages legally sanctioned. Sounds like many a man’s nightmare!

Some representatives from the local administration, including the chair of the local council, were present at the meeting, and in fact the role play the women had prepared for us showed how land conflicts can be solved: women whose land rights are violated can report to the local council, which can summon all parties involved to find a solution and ensure that no-one stands above the law. The presence of the representatives of the local administration seems to indicate that there is an opening for women to bring their cases forward, however, it is likely the more progressive and transparent administrators are present, not the ones that are corrupt or ignore legal provisions because their personal belief system does not recognise a woman’s right to own land.

We spent that evening with a round of feedback on the experience of the Learning Route so far so as to improve it for everyone and went to sleep for a few short hours (time of departure for the next morning: 3.30 am!), excited about the next part of the route in Kenya – and happy about our rickety bus having been changed into two more comfortable models so we could spread out and sleep!

Day 5 was mainly spent on the bus and at the border between Uganda and Kenya, where the immigration formalities took a long time – and even so, when we came out walking into Kenya, our buses where nowhere to be seen! Turns out that the Kenyan border police was in a meeting to discuss strike action and hence there was no-one to clear vehicles. So having spent more than two hours waiting, I guess we could count ourselves luck to have passed through before a strike! Once in Kenya, it was quite striking how fast the landscape and climate was changing and it was quite a pleasurable ride, though still a long one! We arrived in Nakuru after 3pm and found a panel of members and partners of the Kenya Land Alliance (KLA), an ILC member, waiting for us to introduce us to the Kenyan context.

Catherine Gatundu from KLA also organised a field visit for us to go and visit two camps of internally displaced people (IDPs) near Nakuru the next day, and two of the panel speakers were representatives from an IDP network. Despite our sorry state after 12 hours of travelling, the panel was lively and gave us a good overview of the status quo of land issues in Kenya – though some of the complexity only started to become evident the next day when we went to see the camps. As we arrived at the first site, we were awaited by MACOFA (Mau Community Forest Association), a member of the Kenya Land Alliance, to plant some trees in the arboretum they are planting for the nearby school. We planted native trees such as avocado (and to my shame, I don’t remember the other ones), one for each continent represented in the Learning Route.

The first camp was desolate, people, mainly young women with a lot of children, living in overcrowded tents on a small plot, working as day labourers on nearby farms to get by, while the second camp was organised, an association had been formed, a committee elected (nearly gender equal, 6 men and 5 women) and money had been pooled to buy more land for farming. We discussed the difference between the two camps that evening, asking ourselves what accounted for the difference between them, as both were camps formed by IDPs that moved on from a camp at Molo town formed after the 2007-8 election violence when this was dissolved. Both camps were established by people using a government “compensation”, paid as a “go back home” package, to buy land since they could not go back to their original homes (in most cases, those who owned land went back to their original community, while those that rented land or had small businesses did not). We discussed the reasons for the different outcomes in the two camps, and one of the key factors seemed to be the ‘englightened leader’ in the second camp, who recognised the importance of involving all members of the association, who contacted Kenya Land Alliance to get information on legal procedures related to land acquisition, and who recognised the importance of going to Nairobi to follow-up with the relevant government department.

The visit to the IDP camps raised a lot of questions for those of us not coming from Kenya, as we were not that familiar with the complex reasons for the post-election violence in 2007-2008. Our lively discussion that evening answered some of those, and by this stage, participants were interacting much more also outside of the programme (in the little space there was!).

Representatives from ILC Latin America and Asia: Patricia Costas and Roshan Jahan

More to follow on the remaining two field visits in the next blog post(s)!

I am reminiscencing—a solemn reflection about the past week. Today, I finally resume the blog…after keeping you in suspense---suspense that is not deliberate. Perhaps I was overly optimistic and excited about blogging daily. But my first blog experience is interspersed with intermittent power cuts, weak internet connectivity—a hibernating computer—and a heavy workload. But I am resolute, better late than never, the saying going goes. Come with us as we share the intrigues, insight, interesting experiences and challenges of our last log before departing to Rome.

The workshop is insightful. We go in to talk about finance and investments into broad sustainable land management and its corresponding linkages with national development processes. But a number of issues emerge: the need to address land tenure and land rights; the need for a robust investment framework, and the need for a “green economy” in Zambia. It requires that Zambia move from business-as-usual to business “UNusual”. Land must be seen as an asset, a natural capital and a national pubic good. The sustainability of the country’s development path, requires that it pays attention to land management and its interlinkages with national wealth creation and sustainable development. Therefore, “financing and investments into sustainable land management is not an option but an imperative” says one participant..

Unlocking Financing Opportunities: Internal, External and Innovative Sources of Finance

We focus on three sources of financing namely: internal, external and innovative sources of financing. These three areas are not distinct in themselves but closely inter-linked and mutually re-enforcing. We are amazed at the depth of discussions. In fact, the discussion focus on the need to rationalize the use of huge existing resources and leveraging emerging funding opportunities from a variety of internal and external – public and private sources. Participants focus on internal resources such as pension funds….. This potential is untapped fully.

External Resources: The session on external resources, resonates well with participants. International agreements such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, require that, resources from development partners are aligned to Government Priorities. Therefore, land needs to be well positioned and integrated in key national development processes such as Zambia’s Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP). This is one clear way to receive the needed attention and corresponding investments into sustainable land management. The SNDP, which sets the direction of the country in the next 5 years, is a framework within which Government and development partners interact.

Essentially, participants resolve to include land issues into the SNDP. They define key actions. The imminent finalisation of the SNDP offers an opportunity, and requires a number of immediate actions to be devised and put in place between now and June 2010. Given the cross-cutting nature of land degradation and SLM, as well as the inter-linkages between poverty and land degradation challenges, the mainstreaming process requires joint and/or coordinated action between key stakeholders, as well as common understanding of SLM-related issues, options and solutions.

Innovative Finance: We start this session by showing an image of what I call “the paradigm shift” picture. This picture, courtesy of Roshan, depicts different perspectives (depending on the angle one views it). It is always hilarious to hear the different responses when we ask people what they see. I recall one participant say “I see a British girl with a bonnet”, another says “I see an old woman” and a third says, “I see both an old woman and a girl in the same picture”.

So why this image? What is the significance? It reminds us about perspectives, it is about the way one sees things, it is about stretching one’s imagination. And what does it tell us about innovative finance?

We draw a parallel between this image and innovative finance. Simply put, innovation finance is a paradigm that assumes that one can and should use ideas, approaches and resources yet to be fully tapped to address sustainable land management. This includes exploring …

We hold a chat show (another use of the knowledge sharing tools at the disposal of staff). We parade guest speakers including the project coordinator from IFAD’s rural financing programme in Zambia. He shares some good insights into the innovation and outreach facility. Carbon trading issues are also lighted. We follow the chat show with working group exercises outcomes on this are profound. Participants list a number of potential areas novel Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP).

Our First Reality Check

As we bask in all the excitement about the interesting issues and outcomes of the workshop and interesting perspectives, Soledad and I are confronted by one participant who feels Africa has had too many strategies and does not need more. As we talk about strategies, illegal logging in parts of Zambia goes on unabated, he says. He is frustrated. He is angry that not much is being done to stop the onslaught on land. He is angry at the rate of deforestation. He becomes confrontational but he provides no alternatives to address the challenge.

I try to be diplomatic, accommodating and tactful. But I am also firm with him. I can understand is frustration and perhaps he has a point. I am frustrated myself with the onslaught on land. But frustrations must be channelled positively. I explain to him that a strategy is not an end in itself but a means to an end. Therefore, the very essence of the integrated financing strategy is to outline some strategic choices and strategic actions to be implemented. It is not a panacea to all challenges but it offers strategic options, solutions and alternatives, at least, from the financing view point. He calms down after a while and offers an apology later.

The Political Economy of Resource Mobilization

I learn lessons and experiences from the dialogues at this workshop. It reminds me of political economy - what I call the political economy of resource mobilization. The issue of finance and investments cannot be devolved from other economic and political processes. It is about the relationship and interconnectedness between individuals and society and between markets and the state, using methods drawn from economics, political science, and sociology. In order to address the issue of finance, there is the need to concurrently address some of the following:

Economic Valuation of Land: Analytical work to develop evidence-based arguments to make the economic case for more investments into SLM and/or for reforming current practices is imperative. This is intended to raise awareness on the issues and to inform decision-making on finance and investments and to.

Advocacy and awareness: In order for sustainable land management to attract the attention desired, there is the need for information and communication work including strategic engagement of Parliamentarians and the media.

Social Mobilization: to engender positive behavioural changes. Therefore, through planned actions such as national greening campaigns, advocacy, and awareness raising, many communities, households, and villages can be empowered to invest in sustainable land management issues that bear in the implementation of the UNCCD.

Safaris and Strategies: A Journey of Resolve, Rejuvenation and Results

We conclude the workshop with a roadmap agreed by the Government and key development partners to develop the Integrated Financing Strategy. As we get ready to depart Chaminuka, I have no doubt in my mind, the workshop is a success. Commitments are renewed. Resolve to work together and to achieve results. To borrow Simone’s word, the workshop has been rejuvenating. We are all smiles, as we hand out certificates of attendance to participants. We take a group picture afterwards and it feels like a small family already.

And before I forget, for this last blog, we discuss the type of picture to post. Siv feels we should post the picture of participants in the conference—a ‘serious picture’. No pictures of zebras this time around other wise colleagues may feel we have been “safaring” all this while. So here we go with one of the nice picture taken at the meeting room.

It’s been a nice experience blogging through social reporting. Siv, Soledad and Simone have been very supportive in this and kudos to the team. We are off to dinner to have a drink after tedious preparations and all the work that has gone into this.

Thanks for following our journey on safaris and strategies. The actual journey towards the development of the integrated financing strategy continues. The workshop is just a tip of the ice berg. Stay tuned for some future blogs.

Just realised that couldn't upload photo...

The days are passing by fast on the Learning Route – Summary of days 1-3

Posted by Sabine Pallas (ILC) Saturday, March 13, 2010 1 comments

Nakuru, 13 March 2010

It’s Day 6 of the Route already and the first time since its start that I find the time (and internet connection!) to write a piece for the blog – there is little free time and working on the bus is next to impossible because of a rather bumpy ride (and a rather basic bus!).

Since we started on Monday with our opening workshop in Kampala, during which all of us presented the work of our organisations, we have visited two communities and participated in two panel discussions - I shall try to catch up with blogging about all this over the next few days! We have travelled nearly 30 hours by bus along roads that are sometimes just a bit bumpy, sometimes muarram, i.e. with no tarmac and very slippery because of heavy rain. The programme is packed and the travel tiring, but the participants are patient and good-humoured (the fact that Lilia, one of our participants pictured below, gives excellent massages helps!). Having been on the road together for a few days has started to forge friendships – which surely is one of the most important outcomes of such a route!

We arrived in Kagadi town, in Kibaale district, late Monday evening to stay on the campus of the African Rural University, founded and run by URDT (Uganda Rural Development and Training), who are also the ones that worked on the action-oriented research project with the community we then visited on Tuesday.

We were welcomed with song and dance (into which some of us enthusiastically joined in as you can see from the picture!) and spent the day hearing from women involved in the project, who had prepared presentations on a range of topics related to women’s land rights, including customary law, polygamy, and HIV/AIDS – in this case by two HIV-positive women that presented their testimony so confidently in front of the whole community, leaders from local and district administration and our group that it clearly showed they have overcome the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.

URDT used a very interesting approach to work with women from the community, the ‘visioning’ approach. This approach is a shift from the responsive or reactive orientation of research (problem-solving), towards fostering creativity – by envisioning positive change, people involved are focusing on what changes are most important to them and what steps they can take – one at a time – to get there. The women involved in the action-oriented research project, focused on what they wanted in relation their current situation, recognised the gaps and made conscious choices on what needed to get done. It was quite amazing what has happened in this community in the space of under 2 years, for instance, the women founded their own savings and credit cooperatives to make loans to group members and help them invest in improving their agriculture of setting up a small business. For me, the most impressive result was the poise and self-confidence which the women had so obviously gained through their participation. The visioning approach in particular caught mine and most of the participants’ attention and many said they were keen to replicate it at home (and even for their own personal use as a technique to overcome obstacles!).

The women also presented a role play about a polygamous marriage and the problems faced by the 4 wives upon the death of their husband (in this area, Christians and Muslims alike practise polygamous marriage) – and how to solve such conflicts by approaching the local authorities to mediate between the parties. We later visited some households to ask more detailed questions and found out that polygamy in this area seems to be a form of cohabitation in which one man has several ‘wives’, none of whom are legally registered, and all of which have a house and small piece of land- rather than having one home, the husband ‘rotates’, turning up at any of the wives’ houses when he feels like it. All of these wives cultivate a piece each of their husbands land, with all the proceeds going to him – in return, he provides the women with necessities such as salt and candles and takes care of sick children. Not a very good deal for the women, it seems!

We spent a fascinating day sitting in the shade of the trees, with a large group of other community members – and what looked like probably all the children of the village! – as an audience. The welcome by the community was exceptional and all of us learnt a lot to take home with us.

Day 3 we left very early in the morning to return to Kampala for a lunch panel organised by Uganda Land Alliance to share the experiences from the CALI (Collaborative Action on land Issues) project – this was quite a contrast after a day spent in the village, with the Minister of State for Land honouring us with his presence (albeit only for roughly 20 minutes, which is probably normal?), with technical experts sharing lessons from a project that involved civil society, the private sector and government in a national policy dialogue.

The CALI project consisted of studies to feed into policy formulation, as well as regional consultations and a national policy forum to get feedback on drafts of the policy from those affected by it in the rural areas. One of the participants in the grassroots consultations in NorthernUganda, Vincent Oling, stressed that to develop a good land policy, asking for communities to get involved is crucial. He said that there were challenges regarding the representation of the rural population in such consultations – and especially of women. He recommended that consultations should involve a representative sample from the community, rather than just a few people selected by community leaders, which will likely leave out women.
He questioned whether women’s land rights could ever be equal in a context of polygamous customary marriage.

Vincent also brought up the need to look beyond the land policy and start addressing land issues in government policies on minerals, oil, etc. – all of which affect the land rights of communities severely! He also stressed that it is never too late to meaningfully involve communities and that the current draft of the Ugandan land policy should again be shared with communities for another round of recommendations.

So, 3 days gone, another 6 days to go! More tomorrow, internet connection permitting...

Ready for a new dawn: Our land, our future and our destiny says Zambia

Posted by Elsie Attafuah Wednesday, March 10, 2010 0 comments

We have been planning steadily for the “D-day”---getting ready for the start of the workshop. We set the workshop place set for the first day and organise a dry run of some of the presentations. So far all is well. I am quite anxious to get everything ready, sometimes pushing the team to their limits. They have come to accept this and always make fun of me. Our team is excited, motivated and expectant—always interspersing our work with fun. And oh, before I forget, Simone is great. He actually went looking for flowers for Soledad, Siv and I on women’s day. We take a great picture together. A reminder of our own solidarity. A reminder of the role women play in development processes. So we are all set for the next day and we go to bed after the preparatory work.

I wake up perhaps before 4am the following day. My eyes pop open and I can’t sleep anymore. Waking up at dawn can bring some great feelings—at least--- if you look at the symbolism it brings. The dawn signifies a new beginning and freshness. So perhaps it is a new dawn to the first day of the workshop brings---a new dawn as we set off to the development of the integrated financing strategy.

We are off to a great start but with a hiccup

We are all set and participants are already flocking into the meeting room. It’s a good feeling. We start off with the usual courtesies and awaiting the formal opening of the workshop. We are told the UN Resident Coordinator (RC) is on his way and so is the senior Government official. At exactly 9am the RC arrives and we are happy. The RC has been great in supporting the work on sustainable land management. Great leadership from the RC and a boost to our journey.

So the media arrives including the national television. The Government Representative is not in and we are getting a bit nervous. After sometime, I get a tap on my shoulder from a colleague from the Ministry----the senior Government official is unable to make it he says---she is sending a representative. We are disappointed. but learn some lessons from this. It is always good to keep a realistic expectation, you can never be sure when it comes to politicians-a UN colleague say tells me. The formal opening is delayed but the workshop goes ahead without it. Finally, the official opening starts past mid-day and we go through the protocol that comes with it. Simone is the winner at the end of day. He is captured on national TV. He is immaculately dressed as he delivers the statement of the MD of the Global Mechanism.

There is a common thread in the statements from the RC, GM, UNDP and the Government. Sustainable land management is an imperative and investments must be made into it. The Integrated Financing Strategy is embraced as a unique opportunity for the country.

Getting ready for the technical session

We start off the more technical session by setting the stage. And then focus on some background discussion on the sustainable land management challenges in Zambia, the opportunities and to address these, and some future direction on where the country is going. This discussion is healthy and participants contribute significantly to enrich the debate. Some key issues are raised: land tenure, lack of robust regulatory and legal frameworks to address deforestation, lack of an investment framework on sustainable land management are some of the causes of land degradation. Any meaningful financing strategy will need to take these issues into consideration. It must address bottlenecks to financial resource mobilization at all levels including, policy, institutional, regulatory, and legal issues.

Furthermore, there is a call for a robust sustainable land management investment framework that will define investment priorities and areas that will be aligned to the Integrated Financing Strategies. There is a general consensus for an assessment of the value of sustainable land management and the costs of land degradation in Zambia. Here, the emphasis is on generating evidence to support sustainable land management policies and investments, based on demonstrating their existing and potential contribution to national development, poverty reduction and wealth creation.

We later introduce the concept, objectives and expected outcome of the Integrated Financing Strategy. There is a very positive response to it, and inarguably, there is a general consensus that there is a need for increased finance. Interestingly, the discussions tilt towards the need to tap into domestic financial resources namely: taxes, domestic savings, pension funds etc and how these may utilized for sustainable land management.

Weaving Knowledge sharing tools into the workshop

This is a unique experience and exciting. It’s time to apply knowledge sharing tools. I promised myself to do this and kudos to Roxy and team for all the training. I flip through my documents on knowledge sharing tools to make sure I get everything on my finger tips. We apply two of the knowledge sharing tools: name tagging (ice breaker) and the world café. Ice breaker was great. We adapt it and get people to crack jokes and tell a bit of stories about themselves. A great way of getting to know each others.

We named our café a discovery café. The participants love it and provide some very positive feed back. It is re-invigorating, experiential, refreshing and a relaxing, they say. Well, it is time to go now. Hopefully, we can post the subsequent blogs in a timely manner.

(Sorry for the late posting! - we had a power cut.)

Conocí a Simona Cutipa durante la Ruta de Aprendizaje del FIDA organizada por PROCASUR en Perú del 17 al 23 de enero de 2010. Su vida, su historia y su trabajo me conmovieron y creo que merecen ser compartidos con otros hombres y mujeres y más en estos días que se brinda tributo a las mujeres en ocasión del Día Internacional de la Mujer. Vi como bordaba delante de una máquina de coser y me fascinó. Sus dedos se deslizaban sobre la tela con una precisión increíble, bordaba de memoria: pájaros, flores, plantas y otros adornos típicos de su cultura, del Valle del Colca, sin ningún dibujo que la ayudara. Los pianistas son apreciados por la maestría con que tocan el piano y entonces pensé por qué no brindar tributo a la maestría y el arte de Simona, la mejor artesana bordadora del valle del Colca. Simona nació en Coporaque, vive en Chivay con su esposo y tiene cinco hijos. Simona empezó a demostrar su talento desde pequeña pues le encantaba dibujar. Comenzó a bordar con 13 años. Sus padres hacían bordados antiguos achocha (bordados de flores). Simona se siente sumamente orgullosa de sus raíces, de su tierra y de su cultura y la mejor herencia que le dejaron sus padres, según ella, fue su cultura: “la cultura de mis padres estaba en un cofre”.

El proyecto Sierra Sur tiene por finalidad potenciar los recursos humanos, naturales, materiales, financieros y sociales de los hombres y mujeres que se dedican a pequeñas actividades agrícolas y no agrícolas en la sierra sur como forma de mejorar sus medios de subsistencia y promover la creación de oportunidades de generar ingresos. Uno de los mecanismos utilizados para el fortalecimiento de los mercados es la contratación de servicios de asistencia técnica por parte de los beneficiarios del proyecto. Fue así como Simona empezó a colaborar con el FIDA en el proyecto Sierra Sur como capacitadora o proveedora de servicios privados de asistencia técnica.

Por un momento y ante la creatividad y el arte de Simona no pude resistir la tentación de entrevistarla durante unos minutos, a pesar de no ser una periodista.

A mi pregunta de qué había significado para ella y su familia haber participado y ganado un concurso de asistencia técnica del CLAR (Comité Local de Asignación de Recursos), Simona me contestó: “Yo me he presentado así cuando hicieron llamar por la radio. Dije: ‘voy a ver, voy a ver’. Varios se presentaron. Dentro de ellos aprobaron para mí y mi persona. Económicamente me ha ayudado bastante pues comencé a ganar un poquito más. Cuando me eligieron comencé a dar cursos. Mi fin eran ya ellos. Me dije: ‘voy a enseñarles a ver si algún día llegan a exportar siquiera un monedero o una cartera’. Una vez que aprendan ellos y ya se pueden enlazar en ese negocio”.

Simona, ¿qué sintió en ese momento cuando ganó el concurso de asistencia técnica? ¿Qué impacto tuvo en su trabajo como bordadora y capacitadora? ¿Qué impacto tuvo en acrecentar su autoestima y en aumentar los ingresos de su familia?

Los ojos de Simona se iluminaron y, sonriéndome, me contestó: “Para mí ha sido una alegría poder enseñar a un grupo de mujeres. Las mujeres en realidad estamos en la casa no más. Los hombres a veces trabajan y son machistas por el hecho que ellos trabajan y nosotras en casa no más. Yo siempre he pensado cómo se podía reunir a las señoras para yo enseñarles pero no tenía esa oportunidad, pero ahora con Sierra Sur ha habido pues y estuve alegre. Estuve alegre para que ellas pudieran obtener y llevar para la casa como yo lo llevé y ya en la casa ya tienen lo suficiente y ya pueden comer fruta que antes no se podían comer”.

Por lo que me dice, Simona, su trabajo ha tenido un impacto positivo en la alimentación de la familia, ¿es así?
“Sí, en la alimentación de la familia. Eso es como un pan de diario el arte que tengo.”

Y ¿cuál fue la reacción de su familia, de su esposo, ante su trabajo de capacitadora? ¿Estaban contentos?

“Sí, él estaba contento, también mis hijos contentos. ‘Enséñales, mami, que tienen que aprender’, me decían. A veces me tocaban en las temporadas bajas hacer cursos entonces no hay negocio. Entonces mi familia ya tenía para vivir y mejoró, mejoró.”

Simona, ¿y cómo ve su trabajo la Comunidad del Valle del Colca?, ¿cómo la ven, la aprecian?
“Bueno, la mayoría me aprecian. Antiguamente no se vendía, y ellos vendían su tostadito, su tunita. Entonces yo veía una vez que fui abajo, dije por qué no les dejo mi ‘arte’. ‘No tenemos plata’, nos decían. ‘Yo misma con mis manos, si no tienen plata, yo les dejo. Vénganse 15 días y en 15 días me lo traen.’ Entonces así sucesivamente les he dejado a las señoras la artesanía para que se vendan (¡hasta hamacas!) y después de vender me devolvían el dinero. Así hemos podido mejorar. Para mí eran felices, ¿no?, porque ellas también que se lleven algo y también va a llover para mí y también he abierto un mercado en Yanque. En Yanque no había ni un artesano. Entonces yo fui a Yanque, dicen que hay turismo. ‘Mejor en la madrugada bajo, agarro un taxi con mi máquina. Bajo y me pongo a vender, y así que me ven las señoras, ellas también van a hacer esfuerzo para que se venda.’ Me fui de viaje a España y cuando regresé de España donde estuve en una fiera, ya había tres señoras vendiendo artesanía en la Plaza de Armas en Yanque. Ya ves.”

Simona, cuénteme qué le parece: ¿cómo percibe usted y su comunidad el trabajo del proyecto Sierra Sur?, ¿con el proyecto han ganado las mujeres?
“Para mí está muy bien, Sierra Sur está bien porque ha entrado en buena hora y ahora las señoras ya trabajan, ya llevan algo a la casa, ya tienen su entrada, y tienen ya para decir, acá yo también tengo mi parte, pongo mi parte. Y ha sido bueno porque yo realmente me he dado cuenta que hasta para mí, para todas ellas ha sido bueno. Ha sido bueno.”

Simona, ¿y ha tenido un impacto también en, digamos, en el presupuesto de la familia, para la comida, educación y salud?
“Si, en la salud, hasta ahorros. Yo también estoy en el grupo de las mujeres ahorradoras. Entonces ha sido bueno. Todas saben bordar y aun así no estamos llenando el mercado. Porque hay muchos. Toditos ya saben. Todo el Valle ya sabemos, porque antes en esta parte alta no sabían nada, no sabían nada. Para mí no hay competencia, no disminuye mi trabajo.”

Simona, por último: ¿hay alguna cosa que le gustaría hacer o que le falta por hacer? “Sí, como yo podría enseñar a los niños en la escuela. O sea, desde niños ya uno debe de aprender para que no se pierda esta cultura. Esa es mi meta que tengo, porque hay niños también que quieren aprender.”

Elizabeth Farmosi

International Women's Day celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women . In most developing countries, women produce the bulk of the world’s food crops. Yet women face greater constraints than men, and lack the means, the services and the opportunities to increase their yields and their earnings. This year, the UN theme for the day is “Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all.”

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, time and again we witnessed how the women of Haiti took things in hand and provided the necessary for their families, friends and their community.

Marie Flore Monval Bourgin, is one of the extraordinary women working for the IFAD-funded Productive Initiatives Support Programme in Rural Areas project in Haiti.

In an interview, she talked about the role of women in Port-au-Prince and in rural areas in the aftermath of disasters. She also shared how she was impacted by the earthquake and gave us a first hand account of food security challenges as a result of migration to rural areas and shares some lessons with the women of Chile.

This year, the Rome-based United Nations agencies - the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) - used the occasion of the International Women's Day to commemorate three prominent leaders of Haiti’s nascent women’s movement - Anne Marie Coriolan, and Myriam Merlet and Magalie Marcelin - who lost their lives during the 12 January earthquake.

As we taxi off the runway on our way to Lusaka, I sit in my chair reflecting on our journey to one of the most beautiful countries south of the Sahara, Zambia. We are on our way to an inception workshop. I am with Siv on this flight to Lusaka and as we fly over the Alps with its amazing mountain top snow, I turn to look at her. She is in the same reflective mood. Perhaps she is thinking about the same things as me—a journey to support an integrated financing strategy - a journey to navigate the challenges and tap into financing opportunities - a journey to join Zambia as she deepens her efforts to address one of her most compelling developmental challenges, land degradation.

I am excited about the journey as I recall some of the keys to successful resource mobilization--- at the core is the ability to systematically and strategically access, utilize and efficiently manage financing and investments--- for sustainable land management. So why an Integrated Financing Strategy?

Her Beauty and her Resources

Zambia has great resources such as land, forests, rivers, plants, animals and biodiversity. One of the most beautiful in the continent. The country is richly endowed with a wide range of indigenous energy sources, including hydropower, coal and renewable sources of energy. With major perennial rivers such as Zambezi, Kafue, Luangwa, Kabompo, Luapula, and Chambeshi. The Victoria Falls is a must see.

Inarguably, land resources are critical to the human, economic, social and sustainable development in Zambia. Key sectors of the economy depend on land. Notably, the agriculture, natural resources, tourism, trade, mining and energy sectors depend on land and are key drivers of economic growth and export revenues in the country. Land provides employment and source of livelihoods for many rural communities.

Her Challenge: The Resource Haemorrhage and its Impact

But, one of the most compelling developmental challenges today is land and natural resource degradation. Between 250,000 and 300,000 hectares of forest are lost every year. Deforestation, biodiversity loss and soil erosion produce negative environmental impacts, often worsening the effects of climate change and droughts, whilst generating huge economic and social costs that hamper the achievement of national development goals such as Vision 2030.

So the Integrated Financing Strategy embraced by the country is to build on ongoing country processes and programmes to address land/natural resource degradation challenges. Clearly, finance is not a panacea for all the challenges. It is one of the means only.

I woke up from these reflections as we got off the plane in Lusaka. I am excited. We were off to Chaminuka but the road is bumpy. The rains have been intense in Zambia these past weeks and have left big gullies in the road. The driver navigates the path road so well to avoid pot holes that we say “Zicomo” (thank you in Bemba). Perhaps, the bumpy road is a good reminder that, charting the path to the development of a financing strategy is not straight forward. There will be twists and turns.

On our way we see ostriches. Siv is excited. We both take pictures. In fact, the area is known for its wildlife and natural scenery for safaris. We plan to take one later. Not a bad idea after all. But as I reflected on the path to a strategy for financing, I see a semblance to safaris. Safari is an adventure, it is place to explore the known and the unknown, there are choices to be made, a mix of things to see, and nature’s beauty to enjoy. But going safari can be tough and rough. The road can be bumpy but exciting and gratifying. Same with strategies.

Well, all I can say now is welcome to Zambia. Come with us to explore the design of an Integrated Financing Strategy. The journey now begins.

Learning route on women’s access to land in East Africa

Posted by Sabine Pallas (ILC) Sunday, March 7, 2010 0 comments

Kampala, Sunday 7th of March
ILC-Procasur-ULA Learning Route: “Action-oriented research and Policy Influence for Women’s Access to Land in Africa. The experience of Uganda and Kenya”

I arrived late last night at Entebbe airport and woke this morning to a sunny day – it has been raining buckets here in the past week, so this seems a good omen for our Learning Route!

The Route, organised jointly by International Land Coalition (ILC), Procasur, and ULA (Uganda Land Alliance), both of them members of the Coalition, starts tomorrow and continues until 17 March.

The Route includes case studies from the project “Securing Women’s Access to Land: Linking Research and Action” ILC has been carrying out in cooperation with the Makerere Institute for Social Research – MISR (Makerere University in Kampala) and the Institute for Poverty, Land, and Agrarian Studies – PLAAS (University of the Western Cape in Cape Town) over the last two and a half years. The aim is to link research and action by bringing together different stakeholders in small, action-oriented, research projects, accompanied and supported by MISR and PLAAS on the research side and by ILC on the advocacy side. All projects (except Rwanda, unfortunately) are participating in the Route with two people each, with one person coming from the community where research was carried out.

Having been involved in the coordination of the project from Rome, I can't wait to see what has been happening at the community level!

The Route also includes two panels on the work of Uganda Land Alliance and Kenya Land Alliance on influencing national policy, to which different stakeholders including policy-makers, are invited. Originally, the Uganda panel was suppose to be tomorrow, but it turns out that 8 March is a public holiday in Uganda. Why? Because it is International Women’s Day, of course! What better day to start a Learning Route on women's land rights?

Over the next 9 days, we will travel across Uganda and Kenya with a group of 25 people (mainly women!) from 11 countries, including Uganda and Kenya, of course, but also Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe (other countries with small research projects under the above mentioned project) – as well as Bangladesh and Bolivia (the representatives from ILC members taking a lead role in coordinating work on women’s land rights in Asia and Latin America respectively).

Tomorrow we open the Route here in Kampala and after lunch we set off to our first destination in Uganda on the Learning Route Bus! We are heading to Kagadi to see the work of URDT (Uganda Rural Development Training) on “Voices of Women’s Aspirations over land and land matters: The case of Kibaale district” from up close. More to follow in the next few days!

Greetings from Kampala to Rome,

P.S.: For more information on the Route, go to www.landcoalition.org and click the banner! For more on the IDRC- funded project “Securing Women’s Access to Land: Linking Research and Action”, go to: http://www.landcoalition.org/?p=2891

Partners and stakeholders pictured here from IFAD country programmes and projects in Afghanistan Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia,China, India, Indonesia, Kygystan, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam met last week in Cambodia to work together to uphold IFAD's commitment to the MDG3 Torch received late last year from the Government of Denmark.

Focal points collaborated in drafting their own plans for including one additional activity for gender equality and women's empowerment to their workplans for 2010. During the meeting, focal points received a copy of the Gender in Agriculture Sourcebook, published by IFAD, FAO and the World Bank. Together with Kyoko Kuskabe, Associate Professor of Gender and Development at the Asian Institute of Technology they studied how to draw on the reference material in the Sourcebook in the context of their own fieldwork.

The occasion also served to hold a Knowledge Market, share experiences and acquire new insights from one another using knowledge sharing methods learned during training provided earlier under the Knowledge Networking Programme for Rural Asia and the Pacific, a grant-fund regional programme cofinanced by IFAD and IDRC to support the development of the IFAD Asia and Pacific Regional Network.

Focal points, all members of the IFAD Asia and Pacific Gender Network that is just one part of the larger IFAD Asia and Pacific Regional Network, agreed to expand the gender network further by inviting colleagues from projects and programmes who could not attend the face-to-face meeting in Siem Reap.

They also committed to developping and sharing more sector-specific materials on how to make sure that project targetting and support to beneficiaries in technical fields like animal husbandry and microfinance can be improved.

A high point of the meeting was the technical competence and commitment to gender mainstreaming transmitted by The Chhun Hak, Chief of the Local Governance Unit at of the Ministry of Womens Affairs in Cambodia who explained in detail how his institution works with women and men in IFAD-funded village level investment activities to achieve MDG3 objectives.