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The Rural Solutions Portal: IFAD’s web platform to leverage South-South and Triangular Cooperation for better livelihoods

30 July 2018

©IFAD/GMB Akash

There are many innovative solutions to development challenges. However, one of the challenge is to share knowledge and lessons between countries and regions. To help fill this gap, IFAD built the Rural Solutions Portal, as a key component of its South-South and Triangular Cooperation (SSTC) activities.

Ashwani K. Muthoo, Director of the Global Engagement and Multilateral Relations Division at IFAD, tells us more about the Portal, how it fits within IFAD's development agenda and how he hopes it will develop over time.

What is the Rural Solutions Portal and what are its objectives?

One of the main objectives of IFAD’s strategy for SSTC is to make our 40 years of experience, knowledge and lessons widely available. As a key component of the strategy, the Portal helps advance this objective by making innovative agriculture and rural development solutions available to the development community, and in general anyone involved in the rural development sector.

These solutions are concrete initiatives, which solve specific development challenges to promoting sustainable and inclusive rural transformation.

Essentially, the Portal is a tool for sharing knowledge to improve agricultural productivity, food security and nutrition.

How will it help poor rural people?

The Portal is a platform for accessing rural solutions for better rural transformation. As such, it will help rural people and organizations in developing countries identify opportunities for replicating such solutions in their own development context for better livelihoods.

It should be noted, however, that the development solutions contained in the Portal - be they agricultural practices or social inclusion initiatives - will need to be adapted and customized to the specific contexts in which they are replicated. What is important is that communities can learn from one another to improve their livelihoods.

How is IFAD equipped to face the future challenges related to South-South and Triangular Cooperation?

SSTC is key to further IFAD's mandate and the SDGs. SSTC is enshrined in the Fund's Strategic Framework 2016-2025 and is also a priority in the context of UN reform. The Secretary-General’s proposal for a strengthened UN development system calls on international agencies to devote greater attention to SSTC; and, through this modality, promote partnerships and solidarity; and increase economic and social transformation.

IFAD is well prepared for ramping up SSTC as part of its business model. For example, the China-IFAD SSTC Facility was established in February 2018. We have also established three SSTC and Knowledge Centres, in Addis Ababa, Beijing and Brasilia, to promote SSTC in operations. All these, and other initiatives in the pipeline, will contribute to stepping up IFAD's efforts to establish SSTC as a highly valued development cooperation modality and embed it in the Fund's activities at the regional and country levels.

The Second High-Level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation will take place in March 2019. How is IFAD preparing for the conference?

This conference, also known as "BAPA+40" because it will be held 40 years after the Buenos Aires Conference on Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries, is high on the agenda for all international development organizations and Member States. The outcome of last year’s successful IFAD conference in Brasilia – the Brasilia Declaration and Action Agenda – is already being fed into the preparatory process of BAPA+40.

IFAD is actively engaging in the preparatory process for BAPA+40, ensuring that smallholder agriculture and rural development feature prominently in the agenda and that reputed speakers are mobilized accordingly. This includes IFAD's participation in the planned regional consultations and thematic meetings, as well as the preparation of a special session on agriculture.

We are not alone in this preparatory process. IFAD has a joint work-plan and joint activities with the other UN Rome-based Agencies, WFP and FAO. Together, we are working on developing a systematic methodology to more robustly assess the contribution SSTC makes on improving food security, nutrition and incomes. This methodology will be innovative in the development system, particularly because it targets rural development and agriculture projects.

What is your vision for the Portal in the coming years?

I would like to see the Portal populated with more experiences and knowledge both from IFAD and other organizations. This will provide rural communities with more potential solutions to the challenges they face. I believe the Portal should also become a tool to promote business-to-business linkages among organizations across developing countries including the private sector.

Moreover, I would like to see the Portal fully accessible to rural communities. As a web-based platform, the Portal can easily reach project staff, governments and NGOs, but we would like to penetrate to the grass roots level. This will require, for example, making sure the platform can easily be accessible on mobile devices and smartphones. We will also be working with local authorities and governments of developing countries to see if parts of the Portal can be translated into national and local languages. Internet connectivity is a big challenge, therefore we will make sure that ‘last mile connectivity’ is included in our strategies and promoted in our projects.

Overall, my colleagues and I regard the Portal as representing a concrete output of IFAD's SSTC strategy, and we look forward to leveraging its content to support the objectives of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Find out more on the Rural Solutions Portal.