Empowering communities to innovate for rural development

IFAD Asset Request Portlet

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Empowering communities to innovate for rural development

©IFAD/Elisa Finocchiaro

The rural community of Ccaccacollo, near Cusco, Perù. “Macataray” and “Racchipata” are two associations of women dealing with textile crafts. Some years ago they presented to the FIDA project their business plans and handicraft and now they have a market place where several touristic agencies bring tourists.

Over the last 15 years, IFAD-funded development projects in the Southern Highlands of Peru have generated considerable knowledge, experience and good practices on empowering poor rural people and their associations. They have raised the interest of other IFAD and external practitioners and a high demand for knowledge sharing. Yet, the processes and methods that made these results possible remain poorly understood.

Peru as a Learning Territory, developed in partnership with PROCASUR, aimed to fill this knowledge gap by creating a space for learning and capacity-building for both national and international rural development practitioners. The project focused on local experiences and knowledge, and gave local leaders and authorities, technicians, and development professionals from the region and beyond the opportunity to learn about IFAD's most relevant innovations directly from the actors who were instrumental in developing them.

Areas of focus included approaches, mechanisms, strategies, and successes and failures in the implementation of rural development projects in the areas of civic and financial inclusion, territorial development based on cultural identity, and local knowledge management.

The project's targets were to identify the most successful elements and processes to obtain sustainable results in these areas; disseminate best practices using the Learning Territories approach, where rural development practitioners can learn from the local talents; and form a network of local talents and rural development practitioners to share knowledge and replicate best practices.

Results and achievements

Peru as a Learning Territory has contributed to the training of local authorities, leaders, technicians and professionals in numerous public and private entities in the region. It has allowed them to adapt and implement innovations introduced by IFAD through its work. Thereby, it has strengthened IFAD's role in promoting and scaling innovations for the benefit of poor rural people.

A group of 145 leaders, technicians, professionals and government staff working in rural development in Latin America participated in Learning territories and a total of 26 local talents –more than half, women- have become trainers in rural development innovations. A fully autonomous training programme is now in place in Peru, with two more in the works.

The outcome of the project goes beyond learning, as it built a space for creating and testing innovations; it enables local talents to become leaders in their communities; creates an environment where associations and communities can design new solutions to the challenges they face, promotes local knowledge and maps out the physical locations of the local talents to generate a horizontal spreading out of innovations.

The pedagogical model, focused on the practical analysis of the tools, allows to meet the training need of rural microenterprises, farmer and indigenous communities, and technical teams of rural development projects.

By valuing the know-how of local talents, promoting local knowledge services and articulating them with the demand for training, the project was able to disseminate and scale up the best proven solutions to rural development problems. IFAD and others should continue to promote and improve these tools as a mean to truly include local talents in markets for knowledge services and rural technical assistance.

The project invested significant resources to build skills for sharing know-how and to create the legal conditions for local talents to become full-time providers of technical services in their communities. This has led to the creation of network of local providers and a sustainable market for services that spreads and scales up IFAD-sponsored innovations in the southern Peru.

The project helped create partnerships among IFAD operations in Latin America. Thanks to Learning territories, participants from Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Honduras were able to learn from Peru's experience.

They have established an ongoing collaboration to adopt the tools tested in administrative project management, territorial investment of resources, improvement of competitive mechanisms for resource allocation, monitoring and evaluation, and more. The project thus created the basis for a process of upscaling innovations from southern Peru to the whole of Latin America.