Issue 17 – May 2011

Message from the Director

Poor young people living in rural areas are among the most vulnerable members of society, yet as the farmers and producers of tomorrow, they have the potential to help feed us all and thus solve one of the biggest challenges facing the world today.

In East and Southern Africa, young people under the age of 15 represent about 44 percent of the population. At the same time, 60 per cent of the unemployed are youth between 15 and 25 years old. A great majority of them live in rural areas, where smallholder agriculture is the principal economic activity. Unfortunately, too many smallholders are trapped in a cycle of subsistence, making agriculture an unattractive option for youth.

In order to make a real difference in the lives of these young women and men, governments and development agencies must invest in agriculture, boost economic growth in rural areas and invest in young people themselves. We need to make agriculture a business opportunity for Africa’s young women and men. Recognizing smallholder farms as businesses, irrespective of their size or scale, is an important first step towards making the rural sector a viable choice for Africa’s young people. We need to turn smallholders into entrepreneurs, and into the main engine of economic growth. Young people are creative, imaginative and dynamic. They can succeed in a business venture if given the opportunities and training.

Creating employment opportunities for youth must be a high priority for governments and their partners. However, we need to recognize the broad spectrum of youth and take into account the business or policy environment in which they are becoming adults. Special attention should be paid to young women in Africa, since they play a particularly important role in agricultural production and rural areas.

Investing in rural young people is an investment in the future. Youth and agriculture, and agriculture as a business for smallholders, should be key pillars for our vision and efforts to improve rural livelihoods.  

Ides de Willebois

General feature on rural youth



A girl returns home from school in Kossoye, Ethiopia    

As the last century came to an end, the United Nations singled out youth as a target group in the Millennium Development Goals, with a view to developing and implementing strategies that would provide them with decent and productive work. Ten years later, many international organizations have been focusing more on youth and development. In 2010, the United Nations reiterated its agenda by proclaiming an International Year of Youth, which started on 12 August.

In sub-Saharan Africa, young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years represent as much as 36 per cent of the labour force. As many as 70 per cent of them live in rural areas. The numbers are expected to continue to be strong, with an estimated increase of 26 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa alone (the fastest of all regions), to reach a global peak of 1.5 billion in 2035 from current levels of 1.3 billion, according to UN figures. 

IFAD has made support to young people a priority and is putting in place programmes that respond to their particular needs. “We should remember that these young women and men, with their hopes and dreams, hold our planet’s future in their hands. We must not fail them,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. “With our support and our commitment, young people living in poverty in rural areas can make the change from being some of the most vulnerable people in today’s world, to being active, productive and influential members of society. Today, they need our support. Tomorrow, we will need their contribution, their creativity, their commitment and their leadership.”

What do we mean by youth?



Portrait of a girl returning home from school in the Lake Tana Watershed project area in the Amhara, Ethiopia.    

“Youth” as defined by the United Nations includes all young people between the ages of 15 and 24. However, the definition can vary from country to country depending on specific socio-cultural, institutional, economic and political factors. It is also important to distinguish between teenagers (ages 13-19) and young adults (ages 20-24), since the sociological, psychological and health problems they face may differ.

As Paul Bennell explains,1 “The nature of the transition from childhood to adulthood has changed over time and varies considerably from one region to another. Rural children in developing countries become adults quickly mainly because the transition from school to work usually occurs at an early age and is completed in a short space of time. The same is true for poor young rural women with regard to marriage and childbearing.”

In Uganda, the National Youth Policy defines youth as all people between 12 and 30 years of age. While taking into consideration the UN definition of youth, the Ugandan Youth Policy acknowledges that since “the family and extended kinship ties loosen due to the different factors, many young people by the age of 12 years have assumed adult responsibilities.”  In Kenya, youth is defined as anyone between 15 and 30 years old, while Tanzania has adapted the United Nations’ definition.  In Ethiopia, the Government’s Youth Policy defines youth as that “part of the society who are between 15 and 29 years,” whereas Mozambique’s country definition for youth is anyone between 14 and 35 years of age.

“The starting age is important because it is essential to target youth when they are socially recognized and already an active part of society. It can be very early in some countries or a little later in others according to traditions, marriage status, land access, and so on…,” explained Benoit Thierry, Country Programme Manager at IFAD.

Gender is another important issue when addressing youth. “Rural development programmes that target young people need to take into account different gender needs.

Expanding girls’ education is the most obvious lever to change the situation of young women,” said Maria Hartl, a youth and gender specialist at IFAD. ”A number of IFAD programmes include skills development or income generating activities for girls and young women to help them break the cycle of isolation and chores. “Such programmes help them to socialize and to improve their education and skills, including knowledge about health, nutrition and finance,” she added.  For boys and young men, programmes can help them stand on their own feet, by learning new skills or finding employment. The example of the apprenticeship programmes in Rwanda and Madagascar illustrates this point (see story from the field below).

Understanding needs, developing the right solutions

It is important to understand who youth are in order to develop appropriate and differentiated solutions. “We need to do a social mapping of youth: from those who are educated, with higher degrees but nothing to do, up to people who have no education, no land at all,” said Father Godfrey Nzamujo, founder of a project at Songhai foster agricultural autonomy in Benin. “This is what we are doing at Songhai, trying to understand who the youth are and what their capacities are and how we can enable them to have opportunities.” The Songhai project is a 25-hectare farm that serves as a research and training centre for representatives of rural communities, and focuses on crop production, aquaculture and livestock production in a sustainable manner, with special attention given to youth. The model is attracting much attention and is being replicated and scaled up in 15 African countries.

Similarly, the Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools (JFFLS) model developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is also showing encouraging results as a practical way to help young farmers manage a farm and take business decisions. The young farmers examine the problems that threaten their livelihoods, weigh available options, and make decisions about what action they should take, and conduct experiments in the fields they cultivate. The JFFLS model has the potential to provide them with opportunities and enhance their self-esteem, while minimizing the risk of them adopting negative coping behaviours. In East and Southern Africa, it has been developed and tested in Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe since November 2003.

Helping young people build a future



Kenya - Farmers' Groups and Community Support Project-Phase 2    

During IFAD’s 34th Governing Council, which was held on 19-20 February and had a special focus on youth, there was widespread agreement that some of the key challenges to create economic opportunities for rural youth included access to land as well as access to finance and credit.

Facilitating access to land is crucial to promoting agriculture as a viable profession among youth. As one example to help young farmers, the IFAD- supported Support Programme for the Rural Microenterprise Poles and Regional Economies in Madagascar is helping place young farmers on 4- to 5-hectare plots. “It is very important to do so even if land preparation and start-up costs are very high,” said Mr Lucien Ranarivelo, director of the programme.

Access to finance and credit means increasing the availability of targeted loan facilities and simplifying the loan application process: many young farmers do not have the required skills to develop the detailed business plans needed to obtain a loan. The need to mobilize private sector financing in agriculture, particularly from the banks, was also highlighted during the Council. Through a variety of schemes, a number of IFAD-supported projects and programmes have started supporting micro-finance organizations to expand to remote rural areas and offer services to young farmers (see Uganda story from the field below).

In Rwanda, the government is promoting employment opportunities for rural youth by establishing Business Development Service Centres and Community Innovation Centres in rural areas. These centres are hubs for disseminating agricultural information on best practices for land management and production. They serve as information points for establishing businesses, including the development of business plans to source financing for rural investments by youth.

The critical role of farmers’ organizations

Farmers’ organizations are a key channel for young rural people to develop activities, gain access to services and natural resources, and make their needs and concerns heard in decision-making processes. Currently, young farmers are highly underrepresented through these organizations. Greater participation of youth in leadership positions is essential to develop viable partnerships with governments and creating the enabling environment essential to harnessing the potential of youth.

A global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum, held in February 2010 at IFAD Headquarters in Rome, recommended that IFAD mainstream youth in all of its policies and programmes, with a gender balance and an emphasis on developing capacity enhancement programmes for rural youth to engage in sustainable food production and rural employment. “Youth are often one of the most vulnerable segments of IFAD’s target group, in terms of access to assets and services and in terms of opportunities and capacities to engage in decision-making processes that determine their livelihood prospects,” said Philippe Rémy, Senior Adviser on farmers’ organizations at IFAD.

To respond to this recommendation, IFAD has begun to prepare a programme to map key actors, issues and success stories in the different regions where IFAD operates. The programme will cooperate with the IFAD’s on-going initiatives to address youth issues and review strategies and programmes for promoting decent and productive employment of young people in rural areas. It will eventually lead to recommendations in terms of policies and projects to help support young people, both women and men, engage and invest sustainably in farming activities. The recommendations will be discussed during the next global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum in February 2012.

The Farmers’ Forum, a bi-annual event, was created in 2005 by IFAD, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, La Via Campesina and the Network of Peasant and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa as a process of consultation and dialogue between farmers’ organizations,  IFAD and governments focused on rural development and poverty reduction.

The potential of information and communication technologies

Information and communication technologies are becoming widespread in Africa, especially since the arrival of faster internet connectivity through broadband cables in 2009. Most young people in rural areas are regular users of mobile services. For this reason, new technologies represent another great potential for extending best agricultural practices to rural youth, and to make rural living more attractive to them. Dr Agnes Abera Kalibata, Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture, believes that information tools and social network sites such as Facebook could be valuable for governments to interact with rural youth. “Young people are exposed to an information highway and bombarded with information every day, so how can we turn this information highway into a place where they can learn about market prices, extension services and other opportunities?” she asks. Another vehicle worth exploring is developing agricultural video games that could teach and entertain young people.

Changing the perception of agriculture in African countries

The rural economy is rife with challenges, and youth often perceive agriculture as an unattractive activity. Many of them prefer to migrate to urban areas, even if it means only finding precarious employment. “We have to change this and show that agriculture is also a business with work opportunities along the value chain,” explained Philippe Rémy. With the right enabling environment including the required training and skills, young people can become successful business or agricultural entrepreneurs if given the chance. During IFAD’s Governing Council, there was general consensus that agriculture should be promoted as a business venture to youth in particular. “When young people gain the skills and confidence they need to participate in community decision making and take management roles in local organizations, they improve their own situations while they contribute their energy and creativity to their communities,” said Nwanze. He added, “The International Year of Youth is an added opportunity to raise awareness and galvanize action.”

For more information:

Philippe Remy, Senior Adviser, IFAD,
Maria Hartl, Technical Adviser, IFAD,

Useful links:

Stories from the field

Promoting youth through apprenticeship




Girls stand outside a mattress shop in Gashora village, Bugesera district.    

In Rwanda, the IFAD-supported Rural Small and Microenterprise Promotion Project has developed a successful apprenticeship training programme, providing thousands of young people with the opportunity to learn a profession and develop the skills to start a business. Like in many other developing countries, informal apprenticeship is the largest provider of skills for the labor market, far surpassing the output of formal education and training institutions. Formal technical and vocational education is an option for a relatively small minority of young people. In this way, the 8-year project is filling a major gap in vocational training in the country.

Since the programme was established in 2004, it has provided training to more than 6,500 youth, who were trained for six months to one year in 30 different professions, including tailoring, carpentry, automobile repair, handicrafts, welding, leatherworks, footwear and electronics. Working with master craftsmen gave them not only the relevant technical skills, but also a good idea of how to run a small business. About a quarter of the graduates received loans for start-up businesses. Success rates stand at 81 per cent (36 per cent in their own enterprise, 45 per cent as employees).



Dusengimana Maritezari,18, makes and repairs shoes and is a member of the KIS TALON, Ruhengeri Youth Association of Shoe Repairers. Ruhengeri Town, Ruhengeri Province, Rwanda.    

Combining training with hands-on experience allows youth to gain the skills and experience to help them enter the labour market. It also gives apprentices the opportunity to build up social and economic networks that will go a long way toward setting up and running their own enterprise once the apprenticeship is completed. Flexible arrangements for payments of fees allow poorer youth to participate in informal apprenticeships.

The project has also been able to mobilize external resources, resulting in a significant expansion since March 2010. Another 1,500 apprentices have been trained since March 2010, half of them funded by non-governmental organizations, the other half self-financed by the apprentices. “The apprenticeship facility has worked very well in Rwanda. We’re now looking at ways of expanding it,” said Claus Reiner, IFAD Country Programme Manager.



Dusengimana Maritezari, 18, makes and repairs shoes and is a member of the KIS TALON, Ruhengeri Youth Association of Shoe Repairers. Ruhengeri Town, Ruhengeri Province, Rwanda.    

Based on the success of the project, the country is looking at developing a government-driven apprenticeship system. For IFAD, this would involve technical assistance, sensitization support as well as investment support to the concerned government institutions as they design and set up the programme, and possibly establish a fund to finance start-up businesses.

One of the partners with great collaboration potential for IFAD is the Education Development Centre, a non-governmental organization that is running the four-year youth livelihood project Akazi Kanoze. The project focuses on promoting youth employment, and has developed soft and hard skill training modules that are partially based on material developed by the International Labour Organization. These cover training on communication and decision making, business planning, marketing, client relations and leadership.  To date, Akazi Kanoze has been working with 80 trainers employed by 15 implementing partners (such as non-governmental organizations and local cooperatives) in urban areas, but it might soon extend into rural areas. 




Young apprentices work at Ruffin Razafindrakoto's cobbler's studio, Analamanga, Madagascar.    

The Support Programme for the Rural Microenterprise Poles and Regional Economies in Madagascar focuses on increasing the incomes of poor rural people in five of the country's poorest and most densely populated regions. It works towards creating efficient business development services that respond to the needs of small and micro rural enterprises, and building the capacity of these enterprises to identify their individual requirements. The IFAD-supported programme also assists in structuring traditional agricultural sectors into modern value chains from producer to consumer, to allow the sector to grow and become sustainable over the long term.  



Madagascar - Support Programme for the Rural Microenterprise Poles and Regional    

The programme supports young adults who are entering the job market by providing training and apprenticeships, based on the model developed in Rwanda, to assist them in eventually creating their own enterprises. It also seeks to develop a network of professional apex organizations to offer financial and non-financial services to small entrepreneurs.

“Apprenticeship is an effective way to get youth to enter the job market and gain valuable skills, so we’re trying to develop it further in Madagascar,” explained Benoit Thierry, Country Programme Manager at IFAD.



Young apprentice's learn to macrame at Monique Rafamantanantsoa's craft shop in Analamanga, Madagascar.    

The forthcoming Vocational Training and Agricultural Productivity Improvement Programme, to be presented to IFAD’s Board in the spring, will focus on training young farmers to become entrepreneurs. The programme's general objective is to train the new generation of Malagasy farmers and to contribute to an increase in the income of smallholder farmers through professional and vocational training (especially of young rural people). More specifically, the programme will seek to ensure that young rural people have better access to vocational training and appropriate, good-quality agricultural technical training, with a view to becoming integrated professionally (as farmers, technicians/extension facilitators or rural micro-entrepreneurs).

For more information, contact:

Useful links:

Uganda: Creating finance and credit facilities for rural youth



Local village scenes in Zirobwe village. There is a local savings and credit coop organization (SACCO).    

In Uganda, IFAD’s Rural Financial Services Programme is supporting the development of Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs) to provide financial services to poor people in rural areas. Such support includes community sensitization and training, formation and registration, and the provision of basic equipment such as safes, cash boxes and in some cases computers.  One such SACCO is the Panymur Rural Savings and Credit Cooperative Society Limited in Panymur Sub county, Nebbi district. It has been receiving programme support since 2003, which has also included a motorcycle and computer and accessories. According to its manager, George Odongkara, the SACCO has 1,720 members to date, of whom 670 are youth. The SACCO reports a savings portfolio of 97.4 million Ugandan shillings (UGX), equivalent to about US$ 40,000, share capital of UGX 110 million (US$ 48,000) and a loan portfolio of UGX 380.9 million (US$ 164,000). 

In Lwanga village, Nyakageyi parish, 28-year-old Patrick Augustin Nirwoth is one of the members who had benefited from the services provided by the SACCO. He could not go to university because he lacked tuition fees, so instead he turned to small-scale fishing on Lake Albert. “After my senior 6 in 2005, I did not have money to continue with studies. I had almost lost hope before I started fishing. Every day, I could save about 2,000 shillings, which I kept at home. When it accumulated, my friend advised me to start saving with a SACCO” Patrick explained.  “I then changed and started keeping 20,000 - 30,000 thousand shillings every week. Sometimes I could miss, but I persisted”, he added.



Uganda - Rural Finance Services Programme - June 2010    

In 2007, Patrick took a loan of UGX 200,000 (US$ 87), which he used to buy a solar panel and start a mobile phone-charging business. Later, he took a loan of UGX 300,000 (US$ 129) and topped up with his savings to buy a laptop. A third loan worth UGX 500,000 (US$ 215) was used to buy more chargers, a power battery, a small printer and small second-hand generator. With this equipment, Patrick set up an office that now employs two people. With three additional loans of UGX 1 million each (US$430), he has acquired a bigger generator, a battery, three solar panels and a photocopier diversify his business. Patrick’s determination drove him to enrol in a diploma course in business administration at Uganda College of Commerce, Pakwach. He will be graduating in October 2011. He still has plans to expand his business. “I intend to get a refrigerator so that I can provide my clients with cold drinks. I would also like to have a barber shop next to the secretarial bureau so that people can get as many services as possible from the same place,” he said.



Woman at loom at the Association Espace Metiers Solidarite Firaisankina' (EMSF) youth training center in Analamanga, Madagascar.    

Patrick is an inspiration to other young people. He has helped most of his friends join the SACCO and to open accounts. In his view, most youth are ignorant of the benefits of being in a SACCO.

The SACCO manager acknowledges that by focusing on youth, more young people like Patrick will become successful entrepreneurs and will not have to be dependent on their relatives or rely on handouts from others.

“Until now we have not been giving youth special attention in the SACCO, but we are now realizing that they need special status. We are already working on how to have specific products for our young members,” said Odongkara. He believes that in doing so, youth can overcome the dependency syndrome and move to a culture of saving and investment, as exemplified by Patrick.

For more information, contact:

Marian Bradley, Country Programme Manager, IFAD

Useful links:

IFAD in Uganda

Lesotho: Empowering the sheep and goat farmers of Lesotho and providing them with a more certain future



Farmers gather ouside the Ha Ntsie woolshed as they wait for their sheep to be sheared. The woolshed at Ha Ntsie had fallen into disrepair and was renovated as part of the SANReMP project, funded by IFAD.    

Farmers in the remote mountain villages of Lesotho rely for their survival on income from the wool and mohair of their sheep and goats. Many of them travel long distances to have their animals sheared, often risking the health of their livestock and reducing the quality of the wool and mohair. The Lesotho Government’s Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Programme (SANReMP), financed by IFAD, provides support through training and improved woolshed facilities to these farmers, enabling them to reduce the distances they travel and obtain higher-quality wool and mohair for sale.

Improving woolsheds and reducing livestock losses



Shearers trained through the SANReMP programme hard at work inside Ha Ntsie woolshed, Mphaki, Quthing District, Lesotho. The training, receved in July 2010, has helped them improve the quality and speed of their shearing technique, whilst improving animal welfare.    

The SANReMP programme has supported the construction and renovation of woolsheds in the Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing districts. In Ha Ntsie in Quthing district, after the 2009 shearing season and after many years of neglect, the woolshed floor started to collapse, leaving the building unsafe. If no action had been taken, farmers from the surrounding area would have been faced with a much longer trip to take their animals for shearing. Fortunately, SANReMP provided the support to renovate the woolshed before it was needed for the 2010 shearing season. This rebuilt woolshed provides the farmers with a more certain future.

In the remote village of Tsatsane in Quthing district, 40 km south-west of Ha Ntsie, farmers reported that they used to lose an average of 17 per cent of their herd while travelling to have their animals sheared. SANReMP responded to community aspirations in 2007 and supported the construction of a new woolshed. Having this new facility has allowed many farmers to avoid the journeys to more distant woolsheds, and this has reduced the hardships, natural hazards and risk of livestock death and damage.



Phothomane Clamboy uses the shearing skills he has been taught through the SANReMP training to shear a sheep at Ha Ntsie woolshed, Mphaki, Quthing District, Lesotho. The training has increased speed, improved technique and enabled farmers to get a better class of wool from their animals.    

In the first shearing season (2007/08) after the new woolshed had been built in Tsatsane, 127 farmers brought 4,923 sheep to be sheared. Fifty-four per cent of the wool produced was Class A. By the 2009/10 shearing season, more farmers were aware of the new woolshed; 333 local farmers brought 11,871 sheep to the woolshed for shearing, and produced a total of 31,668 kg of wool, 58 per cent of which was the best Class-A quality.  The farmers and the community are certainly benefitting from the new facility.

Training farmers and service providers

SANReMP offers a series of courses to educate farmers throughout the Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek and Quthing districts. At the start of the 2010 shearing season, a total of 70 farmers and 45 recorders were trained in such courses.

SANReMP helps to train shearers, farmers and wool classers so that they can work together to maximize their income. Mats’ooane Belebesi is the government recorder based at Ha Ntsie during the shearing season (April to June for goats and August to December for sheep). She explained, “During these periods, I am based here and record the number of animals that are sheared and the class of wool that is obtained. Since the shearers have been trained by SANReMP, the number of sheep shorn by a shearer per day has increased to 73 sheep from the range of 30-50 and the quality of wool has also improved.”



A newly sheared sheep is taken out of the woolshed by one of teh shearers at work inside Ha Ntsie woolshed, Mphaki, Quthing District, Lesotho. The training, receved in July 2010, has helped them improve the quality and speed of their shearing technique, whilst improving animal welfare.    

Phothomane Clamboy and Nqetane Kanono, two of the shearers at Ha Ntsie trained by SANReMP in 2010, added, “The farmers are pleased as we have been taught how to handle the animals better and avoid injuring them in the process. We have also been provided with modified shears, allowing us to achieve a longer cut which gets the farmers a better price for their wool. We are able to work more quickly and earn more each day.”

Training has also been provided to the classers who are hired by the farmers during the shearing season. They are now able to more accurately grade the wool and mohair, which helps the farmers obtain the best possible price at market.

In a classroom at the Mphaki Farmers Training Centre, a group of 20 farmers are two days into their week-long training course about animal husbandry, shearing, culling and wool classing. This course includes two days of theory and three days of practical training, with a test at the end. Lits’oanelo Chaka, the course lecturer explained, “There is no certificate at the end of the course, but we expect the farmers to go home and pass their newly learned knowledge on to others in their districts. Everyone who attends is keen to learn, having been picked to come on this course by his or her District Agriculture Association and Headquarters. They are ready to change, realize they have made mistakes in the past and want to improve their quality of living through having a higher quality of stock. Their lives will change for the better as a result of coming on this course.”

Pule Challa is Chairman of the Ketane Association and one of the farmers attending the training from his home in Ketane, Mohale’s Hoek district. He said, “I heard about the course via the Ketane Association and wanted to come to learn more and how to better look after my animals. In just two days I have learned so much: how to class wool, improve my stock through selective culling and we still have the shearing to come. I already want to tell others in the Association about what I have learned.”



A group of farmers attend the SANReMP training course in Animal Husbandry and shearing at the Farmers Training Centre in Mphaki, Quthing DIstrict, Lesotho in August 2010.    

Selingoana Mphunyetsane, a farmer from Ha Mafethe, Maphutseng and head of the Maphutseng Association had similar comments: “I have been a farmer for over ten years. I keep 45 sheep and grow my own maize, sorghum and beans, but I struggle to live on the income I get from the sheep and the crops I manage to produce. My hope is that I will gain knowledge which will help me increase my level of income.”

Looking to the future, he said, “The skills and knowledge of animal health being taught will allow better stock management which will result in a greater income from the sale of wool. This in turn will allow reinvestment in the flock.”

Lessons learned

This programme has shown what can be achieved by equipping farmers and associated workers who are key to developing the sheep and goat industry in Lesotho. By providing training to the best and most respected in their districts – those who are keen to further themselves – the programme ensures that knowledge will filter down into the wider community. This empowers the farmers, putting them more in control of their own destiny. The challenge is to combine this training and investment in improved facilities with sustainable rangeland management and fodder production.

For more information, contact:

Useful links:

IFAD in Lesotho

News and events

New network on market access launched in ESA

The Knowledge Partnership for Improved Market Access by Smallholders in East and Southern Africa is a new regional knowledge and learning network designed to:

The partnership connects three groups of people who generate and share experiences, lessons and ways to improve market access for smallholder farmers. These groups are:

The knowledge partnership will be funded by a US$1.5 million grant, which was approved by IFAD’s Executive Board in December 2010. The first meeting of partners was held at AGRA headquarters in Nairobi on 25 March 2011 and was attended by representatives of USAID, WFP’s Purchase for Progress programme, SNV, Kilimo Trust, ACTESA, Farm Concern, Agribusiness Initiative Trust, Pride Africa, Compete, as well as IFAD-supported projects in Mozambique (PROMER) and Kenya (SHoMAP, SDCP). The partners agreed on an initial learning agenda, which includes:

The grant was awarded to PICO Eastern Africa, which will facilitate the development of the community of practice and support local learning. PICO facilitators will be in contact with staff of relevant IFAD-supported projects to determine their interest in becoming sites for local learning initiatives. These projects will be asked to appoint representatives to the community of practice.

For more information, contact:

Helen Gillman, Knowledge Management Officer, IFAD

Presentation of the 2011 Rural Poverty Report - South Africa

The presentation of the Rural Poverty Report 2011 took place in Cape Town on 3 May. This was a high-level discussion event held by IFAD together with the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), the country’s premier research institute on international issues. The discussions focused on rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and on the development solutions that will enable poor rural people to harness new opportunities to generate economic growth.

“IFADs flagship publication – Rural Poverty Report 2011 – New realities, new challenges: new opportunities for tomorrow’s generation – is a comprehensive review of the daily reality facing the world’s one billion poor rural people, the challenges they face and the opportunities that are emerging for them to lift themselves out of poverty. This year’s report is the first edition since 2001.”

For more information, please click on the following link:
IFAD’s Rural Poverty Report 2011 - Presentation cape Town

Gender and rural microfinance learning routes in Uganda, March-April 2011

During March and April, a number of learning routes were held in Uganda on the theme of “Gender and rural micro-finance: new approaches, services and products in Africa”. The learning routes were funded through the FAO-IFAD Regional Capacity-building and Knowledge Management for Gender Equality Programme. The purpose was to sensitize and train a selected group of key practitioners of the rural microfinance industry in the South on how to scale-up best practices, the solutions available today in the rural finance sector and increase the understanding of gender issues. The routes were designed as a practitioner-to-practitioner training in order to increase awareness about gender differences in services and products, as well as strengthen women’s access to micro financial services. 

“Learning routes” is a methodology developed by the Latin American organization, PROCASUR Corporation. A learning route promotes exchange of knowledge and skills and meets demands for best available practices by community and farmer organizations, development projects and public and private organizations. It is a continuous process of training in the field that is organized thematically around experiences, case studies and best practices on innovative rural and local development in which local actors themselves become trainers. Through workshops, interviews, conversations and other activities in the field, the Learning Route generates a space for individual and collective learning for both participants and their hosts.

To know more about the Uganda learning routes follow these links:

Women’s land rights workshop, November 2010

The regional one-day workshop was held in Mozambique 19 November 2010 and was entitled "Opportunities and Challenges for Securing Women’s Land Rights".

The objective of the workshop was to share project and programme experiences on women’s access to land, with the aim of raising awareness on women’s land rights and their implication for poverty reduction and to enhance participants’ expertise in analysing and addressing these issues.

The workshop was attended by 60 participants from 13 countries. Six case studies were presented: the Pilot Project for Land Security in Niger; the Transitional Programme of Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Burundi; the Programa de Reconstucción y Modernización in El Salvador; the Programme de Promotion des Revenus Ruraux in Madagascar; the Sustainable Rangeland Management Project in Tanzania; and the experience in Mozambique of Fórum Mulher.

The interventions varied and included: legal support (Burundi); technical assistance for leasing agreements (El Salvador); providing a flexible mechanism for acquiring land titles that is accessible to vulnerable farmers and suitable for large-scale replication (Niger); village land use planning (Tanzania); and literacy, information, communication and awareness raising (Madagascar and Mozambique).

All of the case studies considered three aspects that were then discussed during the workshop: What have been the main actions and strategies adopted to improve women’s access to land? What have been the main challenges in securing women’s land rights? What could be improved or done differently in the future and what kinds of resources would be needed to do so?

The case studies presented a number of commonalities:

A report of the workshop proceedings is being prepared. For those interested in receiving it or for more information, please contact:

Mr Harold Liversage, Regional Land Adviser, IFAD




F. Mukunga, R. Mamitiana and Z. Juma collect their personal awards    

First Regional Financial Management Workshop for IFAD projects and programmes, September 2010

The Regional Financial Management workshop was the first of its kind held since IFAD took over direct supervision of its projects and programmes in 2008. The objective of the workshop was to upgrade fiduciary capacities and exchange experiences and best practices in the implementation of projects. This was in response to requests by project implementers.

The three-day workshop was hosted by the Kenyan Government and had an overwhelming participation of 128 staff from 14 countries, including staff from ministries, auditor general, projects, and IFAD headquarters and country offices.



Representatives from ESA projects collect their awards    

The workshop covered fiduciary issues of loan administration, financial management, procurement, audit and accounting. It also included the sharing of best practices from projects (Burundi, Kenya, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia) for possible replication.

Background was also provided regarding trends in the IFAD funded regional portfolio including growth rate, type and size of projects, and disbursement patterns.

At the end of the workshop, participants took a test on the workshop contents. About 80 per cent of participants demonstrated a more than satisfactory level of knowledge. At the Regional Implementation Workshop held in Maputo in November 2010 personal awards were given for the participants who had scored the highest results, as follows:

An award was also given to the projects that had achieved the highest overall fiduciary ratings during the 2010 portfolio performance review. Factors considered were general financial management, disbursements, counterpart funds, loan covenants, procurement and audit.

A number of important lessons were learned from the workshop:

For more information, please access the following website:
Financial Management and Good Governance

Grants and loans approved by the December 2010 Executive Board

Country loans

Regional grants

Regional Programme for Rural Development Training (PROCASUR): Learning Routes: A Knowledge Management and Capacity Building Tool for Rural Development in East and Southern Africa, US$ 1.5 million

Institute for People, Innovation and Change in Organizations (PICO)-Eastern Africa: Network for Enhanced Market Access for Smallholders (NEMAS) in East and Southern Africa, US$ 1.5 million

Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AFRACA): Increasing the Impact of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, US$ 1.0 million

Loans and grants to be submitted to the May 2011 Executive Board



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Appointments and staff movements

Congratulations and welcome to Etienne, Hellen and Joseph.

1/ Paul Bennell: Promoting Livelihood Opportunities for Rural Youth (June 2010)