It has been demonstrated that to reduce rural poverty, improve farmers' livelihoods and generate growth, there is a need to support the emergence and development of adequate institutions and policies.
In this context, and in line with the first pillar of IFAD's Strategic Framework, our work in the first quarter of 2006 was devoted largely to capturing and sharing knowledge on community-driven development (CDD) and institutional analysis. Government representatives, staff from international development agencies, project directors, farmers and researchers participated in a workshop on CDD held from 14 to 18 March in Accra, Ghana and a training workshop on institutional analysis from 29 to 31 March in Montepulciano, Italy. At these workshops, we shared valuable experiences.
Why speak again about CDD? IFAD has been using a CDD approach in various projects. Some excellent results have been attained, but challenges remain. The Ghana workshop was an opportunity to share knowledge on local development and to pave the way for future operations.
The institutional analysis workshop provided practical concepts and tools to improve understanding of institutions and how they are critical to poverty reduction strategies and rural development.
Cassava was also prominent on the agenda during the first quarter. In fact, agricultural production markets are central to sustainable rural development. From 20 to 22 March, IFAD held a workshop in Accra, Ghana, to launch a regional initiative for the production and marketing of cassava. Again, we learned a lot through exchanging experiences, in particular those emerging from 10 years and more than a hundred million dollars of investments by IFAD in cassava in Western and Central Africa. The participants identified opportunities for improving cassava production and its marketability at the national and regional levels. Africa produces half of the world's cassava, most of it from basic subsistence farming. Cassava roots and leaves can help reduce poverty and increase the income of farmers if the right processing and marketing channels are built. We have a commitment here as we work to achieve IFAD's strategy for reducing rural poverty across Western and Central Africa.
CDD, institutional analysis and cassava: these are three clearly different topics, but they share a common goal – the empowerment of rural people at the grassroots level.
In this issue of the newsletter, you can read more about the results of the three workshops, which we consider important for the achievement of IFAD's objectives in Western and Central Africa. One of the most important outcomes of the workshops was the decision to promote communities of practice around these three thematic areas. Capitalization of lessons and harmonization of efforts are key if we want to accelerate poverty reduction in the region.
IFAD is in the process of developing a coherent approach to community-driven development (CDD) in Western and Central Africa. For that purpose, a regional workshop on CDD was held in Accra, Ghana, from 14 to 17 March 2006. Ghana was chosen because it has had a successful experience in decentralization and CDD.
“Community-driven development is a change in the approach to development, which positions communities as leaders, creators and managers of their own development," said Mohamed Manssouri, IFAD's country programme manager for Ghana and Cape Verde, at the opening of the workshop. "When you think about it, it's a small revolution. From beneficiaries, they become decision-makers.”
IFAD's Western and Central Africa Division started supporting CDD projects in the late 1990s and has acquired extensive experience in the use of the approach and in some of the associated mechanisms, such as community development funds.
"When putting into practice the CDD approach, all sorts of problems emerge in terms of financial management, political and institutional problems and power struggles," said Manssouri at the workshop. "It is precisely for this reason that we are meeting, to identify and define potential pitfalls."
So far the debate has focused on methodological aspects and innovative approaches. While projects focusing heavily on CDD were favoured by most international development agencies, including IFAD, between 1998 and 2001, many of the organization's current projects in Africa propose a more modest range of solutions to their target groups. Today these CDD projects require straightforward, fast, low-cost, bottom-up approaches.
With the ongoing decentralization processes and rapid development of civil society in Western and Central Africa, CDD remains very relevant to improving the implementation of IFAD's programmes and projects on the ground. IFAD and its partners are still on a steep learning curve. Project identification, formulation and appraisal teams need practical decision tools to help them determine when, how and how much CDD to apply.
The strategy paper that is currently being prepared by IFAD's Western and Central Africa Division underlines some other knowledge gaps. For example, there are questions about the usefulness of CDD in a post-conflict setting or in a crisis situation, and about the risks of over-investing in time-consuming meetings during participatory planning approaches. The paper will also call for better impact assessment and underline the role of communication and knowledge-sharing in CDD.
The IFAD-funded Rural Enterprises Project held a side-event during the community-driven development workshop in Accra from 14 to 17 March 2006. Ten project clients from eight districts were sponsored to mount a mini product exhibition during the workshop. Five of the exhibitors were women and five were men.
One of the exhibitors was Faustina Agyei, a 28-year-old woman with secondary education. She started off as a hairdresser after she finished school but changed course after enrolling with the project and now produces soap. Earning an average monthly income of 30,000 cedis (US$3.50) in 2001, Faustina estimates she now earns more than 600,000 cedis (US$66.70) profit from her soap-making business every month, and she has taken on two apprentices. With the support of her husband, a taxi driver, Faustina has been able to purchase their own taxi cab.
Thomas Owusu is 33 years old and from Jamasi in the Afigya-Sekyere District of Ashanti Region. He has basic education. Thomas is a wood carver and produces wooden artefacts of all kinds. He has benefited from small business management training and received a loan of 6,000,000 cedis (US$666.70) from the project. Now he makes an average monthly income of about 3,000,000 cedis (US$333.40), and he is a member of the Quality Traditional Crafts Association in the Afigya-Sekyere District.Philomena Asiamah is a 55-year-old teacher in Mampong in the Sekyere West District of Ashanti Region. She produces herbal pomades and ointments. She registered with the Business Advisory Centre of the Rural Enterprises Project in 2004. She has benefited from counselling services and established her own business.
A key requirement for overcoming poverty and hunger is access to productive resources. Cassava is one of the world's most important products in subsistence farming. It is an essential source of both calories and cash. In Africa, cassava production has more than tripled in the past 45 years. From 33 million metric tonnes in 1961, production now reaches over 100 million metric tonnes per year. IFAD invited all the main regional players to meet in Ghana from 20 to 22 March 2006 to discuss cassava's potential to help reduce poverty in the region.
IFAD has invested considerably in the development of the cassava commodity-chain in Western and Central Africa over the past ten years. The root and tuber programmes in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria have achieved impressive increases in productivity. This increased supply of cassava now requires a strong effort in the field of processing and market development.
Stakeholders in the cassava sector recognize that research centres, extension agencies and development projects have been relatively successful during the past decades in screening and disseminating improved planting material. However, national programmes have had greater difficulty in developing and disseminating appropriate cassava processing technologies, in assisting farmers to more effectively access new markets and in structuring supply chains.
The programmes in Benin, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria still invest about 30 to 40 per cent of their funds in root production, which remains a necessity. However, the programmes are focusing on increasing productivity and bringing down the cost of production, and not only on expanding production.
The cassava programmes are also making a shift towards a demand-driven approach with improved processing and marketing. In addition, in Central Africa, the fight against cassava mosaic disease remains central to food security strategies.
On the basis of its four cassava programmes, the Western and Central Africa Division will work in partnership with the private sector to develop its Regional Processing and Marketing Initiative on Cassava, which will link cassava producers to markets. “Linking with the private sector is essential,” said Mohamed Béavogui, director of the Western and Central Division, during the Accra workshop. “There is a strategic dimension of cassava for future generations. With increasing urbanization in the region, cassava products can offer a response to the growing demand for food products which will otherwise require an increase in food imports.”
Many possibilities are offered by growing cross-border trade. There are short-term opportunities for the development of high-quality cassava flour. In the medium and long term, there is also potential for the development of supply chains for starch, ethanol and animal feed industries.
The Regional Processing and Marketing Initiative on Cassava will require further investments in improved planting material, small-scale processing and post-harvest technology.
The Accra workshop has prepared an action plan to:
- upgrade traditional processing units
- establish a high-quality cassava flour value chain
- integrate smallholders in outgrower systems to make cassava available as an industrial raw material
A workshop on a cassava processing and marketing initiative was organized by IFAD from 20 to 22 March 2006 in Accra, Ghana. The objective was to launch the Regional Processing and Marketing Initiative on Cassava, which is linked to one of the most important agricultural products for rural poor people in Western and Central Africa.
Italian Ambassador De Agostini underlined that during the opening ceremony of the workshop, the Minister of Agriculture of Ghana strongly welcomed the cassava initiative, thanked the Italian Government for its support, and highlighted his own personal interest in the initiative as he is a cassava farmer.
The ambassador recognized the important role of IFAD in the fight against poverty and Italy's support to IFAD specifically through its financial contribution to the Regional Processing and Marketing Initiative on Cassava. IFAD's commitment to the root and tuber sector started almost ten years ago in 1996 through a series of programmes and projects such as the Root and Tuber Improvement Programme in Ghana. To provide a rough idea of IFAD's commitment to the root and tuber sector, he highlighted that to date more than US$100 million has been invested by IFAD in five programmes and projects in Western and Central Africa.
The Regional Processing and Marketing Initiative on Cassava will improve coordination at the Western and Central Africa regional level by setting up a regional network for national programmes, research organizations and private sector entrepreneurs. The network will encourage the exchange of information and expertise, as well as the cofinancing of common research projects for the countries involved in the cassava initiative.
The Western and Central Africa Division held a training workshop on institutional analysis in Montepulciano in Tuscany, Italy, from 29 to 31 March 2006. Financed under the Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation (IMI), the workshop involved 18 participants including IFAD staff, consultants and IFAD partners. The workshop focused on practical concepts and tools to better assess institutional issues in designing and implementing rural development projects and policies.
The concepts and tools help users find context-specific answers to questions such as:
- How do we improve the performance and impact of new projects by partnering with the right institutions,and how do we negotiate expected resultsthat are doable given the actors, their roles, relationships, resources and incentives?
- How can we turn around projects that are generating no results, weak results, or, worse, the wrong results?
- How can we be better equipped to engage in policy dialogue with partners?
- How can we contribute to making service delivery more “pro-poor”?
- Indeed, far from being an abstract intellectual concern, “good governance” becomes a very concrete issue at the local level. There, it has to do with how people relate to project-based interventions supported by IFAD and others in general, and with institutions – the “rules of the game” – in particular, and therefore, with how people relate to decentralized government units, technical line agencies, private service providers, NGOs, rural financial institutions and other such actors.
The Western and Central Africa Division's draft institutional analysis guidelines come with a simple set of frameworks and tools that help users to better understand institutions, starting with the negotiating of expected results, evaluating results, deconstructing them into functions, deconstructing each function into roles and relationships, and thus constructing project architectures, instruments and partnerships from the bottom up. Participants at the March 2006 workshop suggested using the framework and tools for the rural sector assessment of the performance-based allocation system, development of country strategic opportunities papers, mid-term reviews and evaluations, annual beneficiary assessment workshops, the drafting of project implementation manuals, and, of course, project design and trouble-shooting during implementation. The next training workshop will focus on project staff and will be held in francophone West Africa.
Benin: innovating with cassava and yam
Increasing their production capacity has enabled 312 villages participating in the Roots and Tubers Development Programme (PDRT) to process and market cassava and yam products, their staple foods. “Their goal is to bring new, high-quality and healthy products to market at a reasonable price,” explains Eric Patric Tetegan, the project manager.
The programme is structured around three components: processing, research and development, and marketing.
The processing component focuses on technologies used to make cassava and yam products. The programme has provided training on the use and construction of traditional ovens and yam storage facilities. Ovens were immediately built in Atacora/Donga and south Benin. Using cassava flour, the processing groups produce savoury and sweet biscuits and breads. The programme encourages processing groups to pay special attention to product hygiene and packaging. The products are very popular and should considerably increase incomes for members of the processing groups.
In research and development, the programme has worked in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin to select five processing technologies for sweet potato and cassava. The new technologies will be disseminated to villages to diversify their range of products for human and animal consumption:
- sweet (orange-fleshed) potato flour will be used to make biscuits for children
- cassava peelings will be recycled to feed small ruminants
- cassava morsels will be used to feed rabbits for reproduction in south Benin
- maize will be substituted for cassava flour to improve the performance of laying hens
- different food rations based on sweet cassava will be tested for fattening pigs
Under the marketing component, innovative programmes are being proposed alongside traditional training in accounting. To improve inventory management, members of processing groups and multi-village marketing associations are being trained in the building and use of yam storage structures. They are also being trained in marketing techniques to encourage consumers to buy their products, rather than those of their competitors, on the strength of good quality and reasonable prices.
For more information, please contact: Eric Tetegan, email@example.com
Guinea: supporting decentralized participatory development
Designed for implementation over a 12-month period, the Village Communities Support Project (PACV) stands as proof that, with decentralized participatory development, rural communities are able to take charge of their present as well as their future development over the long term. The project's impact is reflected in the fact that it has provided support to virtually half of all rural development communities in Guinea since the end of 2005.
Under the project, each community has prepared a local development plan and annual investment plans. These plans were developed through numerous discussions and negotiations on the microprojects to be carried out. This process helped strengthen the role of elected officials and social cohesion within the communities. The participants have embraced the project methodology and made it their own.
The project has sparked a true local development dynamic by bringing together elected officials, representatives of the administration, civil society, vulnerable groups, workers and the private sector (consulting firms and small and medium-sized enterprises). The project has injected considerable amounts of capital into the local economy, creating jobs for young people in particular. As of 31 December 2005, the communities have assigned 738 microprojects to local small and medium-sized enterprises for implementation.
The project is also focusing on long-term goals such as strengthening local governance and civil society in rural areas and promoting an enabling economic and social environment, particularly for women, young people and vulnerable groups.
The project infrastructure contributes to social advancement for vulnerable groups. Schools bring education to children, especially to girls. Health centres give women and children access to immunization, primary health care and essential drugs. Water points, in addition to improving collective hygiene, alleviate the burden on women as traditional carriers of water. Women are also very involved in managing the water points. And the construction of roads and bridges has helped to open up hitherto isolated areas and to promote trade among villages and different regions.
The impact of the project does not stop there. The role of the community councils who govern the rural development communities has been strengthened by the training, equipment and funding provided. Tax revenues have improved and are being used by councils to finance annual investment plans.
The goal of the project's second phase is to implement the decentralized participatory development strategy on a national scale and in priority sectors to combat rural poverty across Guinea.
For more information, please contact: Camara Aminatou Barry, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mali: helping women and young people overcome vulnerability
In the middle of the Sahelian belt, where the Mali Sahelian Areas Development Fund Programme (FODESA) is under way, agricultural production has been deteriorating as a result of a series of droughts. The area is also a magnet for locusts that devastate vegetation and crops.
Whether they are settled, nomadic or semi-nomadic, people in the area are extremely poor. They eke out a marginal existence with little access to safe water, health care and other basic services. They live under the constant threat of scarce rainfall and its severe effects on harvests and livestock.
The second phase of FODESA is breaking new ground by helping the women and young people who were often passed over by projects in the past. During the programme's first phase, only one project per village could be financed and implemented each year. This favoured large-scale projects that reached a large number of community members and strengthened cohesion around village authorities. Projects involving smaller, specific groups, such as women and young people, had little chance of being funded.
Following an evaluation of the first phase, the programme put measures in place to encourage the most vulnerable groups to take part in its activities and services. In practice, this meant:
- assigning priority to villages considered highly vulnerable
- allowing villages to submit up to three applications for support for microprojects, provided that two thirds of them are carried out by women or young people
The inclusion of gender equity among microproject approval criteria since 2005 has clearly advanced the programme's work on behalf of vulnerable groups, particularly women and young people. For example, previously just 16.5 per cent of projects were implemented by groups of women or young people, as compared with 24.8 per cent one year after the new measures were introduced.
Several participants have observed that by giving villages an opportunity to undertake a true development process involving all segments of society, the programme also helps alleviate frustration and pressure by dominant groups on the poorest and most vulnerable.
For more information, please contact: Kadidiatou Sidibe, email@example.com
Niger: a seed fair under the auspices of the PPILDA
Seed diversity fairs promote the use and conservation of broad genetic diversity to benefit farmers. On 2 December 2005, the Project for the Promotion of Local Initiative for Development in Aguié (PPILDA) launched its first seed fair in Guidan Tangno in the Niger.
In collaboration with the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the PPILDA sponsored three experimental fields for researching seed multiplication and diversification, in Guidan Tangno, Dan Saga and El Guéza, during the 2005 crop year. At the sites, producers from several villages came together to pool their practical knowledge on improving agricultural production.
The seed fair attracted a considerable number of people from the villages around Guidan Tangno along with representatives of IPGRI/FAO projects. Participants presented a great diversity of plant genetics. Some species had hitherto been endangered and others were considered unsafe for human consumption. Cassia tora for instance, is today an integral part of people's diets.
The fair will help consolidate long-term relationships among villages and enable village groupings that are PPILDA partners to participate more actively in project activities. In addition, the prizes awarded provide an incentive to rural people to persevere in the innovation process.
IFAD Executive Board approves loans and grants for Western and Central Africa
The 87th session of IFAD's Executive Board, held in Rome from 19 to 20 April 2006, has approved new loans and grants to support rural development programmes and projects in the region.
The US$20.8 million Rural Development Project in the Departments of Bouenza, Lékoumou and Niari in the Congo will work with poor rural communities to boost their access to markets, improved agricultural inputs and financial resources. Subsistence farmers who depend on rainfed crops and forest products for their livelihoods will participate in the project, and the involvement of women and young people will be a priority. About 30,000 households in general will benefit directly or indirectly from the project, representing half the total population of the target departments. Because transport costs and inefficient markets are the main constraints facing smallholders, the project will work to improve rural infrastructure such as feeder roads to give better access to markets. It will strengthen producers' organizations so that they can negotiate group sale of produce and identify market openings. The project will also support the development of existing rural financial systems so that they can provide appropriate financial services to rural poor people. Better quality inputs will be widely distributed, in particular disease-resistant cuttings for cassava. IFAD will support the project with a loan of approximately US$8.4 million.
A US$500,000 grant for the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) will help finance the Support Programme to the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Process in Western and Central Africa. The programme will foster policy dialogue among the various stakeholders by promoting investments and budget priorities based on poverty reduction strategy papers to respond to the needs of rural poor people.
A new IFAD loan will boost non-farm activities in Benin
The Rural Development Support Programme will make it possible for more than 56,000 rural poor people in Benin to gain access to financial services, technology and markets, increasing their well-being and incomes.
The US$14.8 million programme will be financed by a US$10 million loan from IFAD. A new loan agreement was signed on 17 February 2006 at IFAD headquarters in Rome by the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge, and the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries of the Republic of Benin, Fatiou Akplogan.
This programme will benefit farmers by introducing post-harvest technologies like storage facilities that protect crops from insects and pests, and by linking farmers to markets through training programmes to improve the quality of products. A major focus of the programme will be to increase access to savings and credit through the consolidation and expansion of 200 village banks called financial services associations.
With this programme, IFAD will have participated in financing nine loans to Benin for a total investment of US$226.35 million.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: a new loan to benefit poor farmers
Poor farmers and fishers belonging to 55,000 rural households in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will benefit from a new development programme.
IFAD has provided a US$15.5 million loan and a US$300,000 grant to support the US$26 million Agricultural Rehabilitation Programme in Orientale Province. The Belgian Survival Fund will cofinance the programme with a €5.2 million grant while the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will contribute US$3.4 million. The loan agreement was signed on 29 March 2006 at IFAD headquarters in Rome by the President of IFAD, Lennart Båge and the Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Rome, Italy, Innocent Mokosa Mandende.
The new programme will assist in the rehabilitation of the agricultural and fishery sectors by making financial services and new technology more accessible to poor farmers and fishers.
With this programme, IFAD will have financed five programmes and projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a total of US$60 million in loans and grants.
Sierra Leone: IFAD and AfDB launch two new projects
Sierra Leone is in a recovery phase after emerging from a brutal ten-year civil war that displaced a large portion of the country's population and extensively degraded its social, economic and physical infrastructure. The official end of the war on 18 January 2002 brought new hopes for peace and reconciliation and raised expectations for the rapid reconstruction of the country. The government is focusing on initiatives that will assist in the rebuilding of the country and its shattered economy.
Two new projects, the Agriculture Sector Rehabilitation Project funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Rehabilitation and Community-Based Poverty Reduction Project funded by IFAD, were launched during a two-day workshop held at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown from 15 to 16 March 2006. The Vice President of Sierra Leone, Solomon E. Berewa presided over the ceremony. He noted that with the assistance of development partners, the government has, over the past five years, made significant strides in rebuilding the livelihoods and assets of rural households and their communities. The event attracted a cross section of all the major actors in agricultural development in the country, including farmers, local council members, traditional leaders, parliamentarians, NGOs, diplomats, government officials, and several private business men and women.
Mohamed Tounessi, IFAD country programme manager for Sierra Leone, acknowledged the positive steps the Government of Sierra Leone has taken to work together with the AfDB and IFAD for the same objectives. The new project will use a community-driven approach. Rural communities will participate in designing, implementing and monitoring project activities.
IFAD's Governing Council: innovation on the agenda
From 15 to 16 February 2006, IFAD held the 29th session of its Governing Council. The theme of this year's meeting was how innovation could help meet the challenges faced by rural poor people.Panellists at the meeting discussed how to support creativity and risk-taking. IFAD's role is in helping poor people rise to the innovation challenges that they face. IFAD is currently managing a three-year initiative to expand its capacities for innovation, the Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation (IMI), with funding from the United Kingdom.
Closing the panel session on innovation, Lennart Båge, the President of IFAD noted that supporting and promoting innovation had been identified as a key characteristic of IFAD. Scaling up successful innovations is vital if they are to have a sustainable impact on rural poverty reduction.
Three round-table discussions were also held in conjunction with the Governing Council meeting: Securing Access to Land for the Rural Poor, Adaptive Research in Support of Pro-Poor Innovations in Rural Development, and Strengthening Rural Institutions for the Poor: Opportunities and Constraints.
The first Farmers' Forum, organized in conjunction with the 29th session of IFAD's Governing Council, was held on 13 to 14 February 2006 in Rome, Italy. The forum was inaugurated by the President of IFAD. The Farmers' Forum is a global process of consultation on rural development and poverty reduction, and will meet every two years in Rome.
The forum brought together leaders from more than 50 farmers' organizations representing small farmers and rural producers worldwide. At the high-level panel discussion at IFAD's Governing Council after the Farmers' Forum, Olaseinde Arigbede of the Union of Small and Medium Scale Farmers of Nigeria stated that poor people are innovators for life. “The key question,” he said, “is how can the developed world better support the everyday creativity that farmers are showing?”
IFAD Vice-President's visit to Mali
Cyril Enweze, the Vice-President of IFAD travelled to Bamako, Mali from 31 January to 3 February 2006 to attend the first Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture and the 24th FAO Regional Conference for Africa.
The Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture discussed the status of food security and prospects for agricultural development in Africa as well as the progress on implementing the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) with emphasis on country-level activities. The merging into a single action plan of the CAADP and the Sirte Declaration, stemming from the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government of the African Union on Agriculture and Water, held in Sirte, Libya in February 2004, was also recommended.
During the FAO Regional Conference for Africa, deliberations centred on the competitiveness of African agriculture, sustainable management of natural resources and liberalization to promote economic growth. The conference also discussed the African seeds and biotechnology programme. One of the main conclusions of the meeting was that the competitiveness of agriculture can be achieved by strengthening family farms as they are the backbone of agriculture, and at the same time promoting access to markets. The conference stressed the need to develop a strategy to facilitate public-private partnerships to improve farmers' access to financing.
IFAD's Vice-President met the President of Mali, M. Amadou Toumani Touré and the Prime Minister of the Government of Mali.
Promoting African agricultural policies
The African Agriculture Support Project, launched in 2005, is now under way in Cameroon and Ghana. Through this project, IFAD is working with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help improve agricultural policies and build capacity among experts in Western and Central Africa. The project enables countries in the region to benefit from the experience acquired by the OECD's Agriculture Directorate in its member countries and, more recently, in Brazil, China, India and South Africa.
On 8 February 2006, the Steering Committee met in Paris to assess the project's activities for the first time, focusing in particular on Cameroon where an agricultural policy analysis commenced in October 2005. The Steering Committee recommended that the project should encourage greater participation by civil society organizations and ensure that the needs of rural poor people are better reflected in agricultural policy dialogue. The Steering Committee also made preparations for launching project activities in Mali, the third pilot country, in June 2006.
The project has forged closer links between IFAD and the OECD. This year, two major international meetings organized by the OECD's Agriculture Directorate will focus on African agriculture and combating rural poverty: the World Agricultural Forum in Paris (16 to 17 May 2006) and the Dakar Meeting (2 to 4 October 2006). IFAD will be the OECD's lead partner in organizing these two events.
For more information, please contact: Jean-Paul Pradere, firstname.lastname@example.org
Monique Mputu Dieri has been appointed as the new IFAD field support officer for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and for the Congo.