Progress in Eastern and Southern Africa

Issue number 8: June 2008

Message from the Director

The theme of our special feature in this issue is water. Water is one of the key elements to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially since an increasing number of countries are facing changes in rain patterns resulting in irregular water supply as well as water shortages. Equally, the rise in food prices brings the issue of water to the fore, as water has “multiple dimensions” – touching on all aspects of development from domestic use to health and agriculture. For IFAD, supporting rural people to improve their livelihoods means addressing the problem of water availability and use through improved irrigation practices, soil conservation and water management. In Eastern and Southern Africa, most IFAD-funded projects and programmes seek to secure access by rural poor people to water and land and promote efficient management of natural resources as well as equitable delivery of water-related services.
 
In the next few months, the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Division will also be focusing on IFAD's forthcoming publication, The Evolving Face of Rural Poverty: Challenges and Response, a groundbreaking initiative that IFAD is undertaking in broad partnership with other institutions, regional networks and organizations of poor rural people. In order to best prepare for it, the division will hold a Regional Consultation Workshop on 15-18 July 2008 in Nairobi, bringing together people from governments, projects and rural organizations to exchange experiences, and discuss best practices and areas for improvement to further support agricultural development in Africa.

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Special feature on water: The multiple dimensions of water and development

In many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, poor rural people have limited or no access to the one asset they need the most: water. This holds true for almost all dimensions of rural water use: domestic, productive (agriculture, livestock and fisheries, agro-processing) and even cultural. With only about 3 per cent of the land being irrigated, smallholder farmers and livestock keepers still rely heavily on seasonal rainfall. As a result, crop and livestock production is less predictable. This unreliability of supply is further exacerbated by the effects of climate change, which, it is now recognized, is affecting the southern hemisphere the most (for example, floods and droughts). But water is not a stand-alone issue, nor is irrigation the only answer. It has to be considered as part of the wider framework of agriculture and rural development in which people, production, markets, finance, institutions and infrastructure are considered in an integrated way and are mutually supporting. “Water has a multiple [use] dimension when rural livelihoods and development are concerned,” explained Rudolph Cleveringa, Senior Technical Adviser at IFAD’s Programme Management Department.

In this light, development programmes and projects need to take into account the local context when addressing water issues. For instance, pastoralists in the Ethiopian highlands have very different needs than coffee growers in Rwanda, although they all need water. Different contexts require different types of rural or agricultural water management investments. Investors’ – and mainly farmers’ – choices should be guided by market or household food security, prevailing climate and associated farming systems, as well as the overall socio-economic and institutional environment.

Equally, investments in water infrastructure alone are not sufficient. Smallholders, livestock keepers and farmers need secure access not only to water but to land, as well as an array of services ranging from improved technology to finance and credit. “Access to water is intrinsically linked to access to land. One is a condition of the other,” said Audrey Nepveu, Technical Adviser at IFAD’s Programme Management Department. “They also need adequate political and administrative systems to be able to efficiently manage water resources and ensure equitable delivery,” she added.

For the last three decades, IFAD has been investing in the water sector, particularly agricultural water such as irrigation systems, livestock watering and, to a lesser extent, agro-processing and inland fisheries and aquaculture. Since the start of the Millennium, the proportion of IFAD’s total investment in the water sector is estimated to have increased from about a quarter to a third. “Water is a cross-cutting issue and is embedded in almost all our rural development interventions,” said Cleveringa. “We have very few water-only projects.”
In addition, IFAD launched the Learning and Knowledge on Innovations in Water and Rural Poverty Project (InnoWat) under the Innovation Mainstreaming Initiative, a three-year programme established in 2004 to enhance IFAD's capacity to promote innovations. Its purpose is to provide Country Programme Managers and local stakeholders with insights on innovative approaches and practical tools that they can use to develop and implement pro-poor water-related interventions. The project also seeks to strengthen IFAD as a knowledge management broker for development partners involved in water management.

In the "Water and the Rural Poor" report published jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), six categories of possible interventions in the water sector were identified for Sub-Saharan Africa in view of their poverty-reduction potential: better management of soil moisture in rainfed areas; investment in water harvesting and small storage; small-scale community-based irrigation schemes; improved water access and control for peri-urban agriculture; development of water supply to meet multiple water uses; and an environmentally aware system of improved water access for livestock in arid and semi-arid areas. These categories of interventions focus on schemes that are easy to operate and maintain locally and that target women and men smallholders. In addition, they rarely involve large-scale irrigation schemes.

In the ESA Division alone, 90 per cent of all on-going loan projects include some kind of rural water intervention, with half the projects having well defined agriculture water elements such as irrigation, livestock watering, water management or water for agro-processing, and the other half including domestic water interventions. This can be largely attributed to the long-standing partnership between IFAD and the Belgian Survival Fund, the Belgian government organization providing grants for development projects in Africa. IFAD’s contributions have also been growing due to domestic water choices expressed by local communities in the context of Community Driven Development projects.

In 2005, the ESA Division also set up the Improved Management of Agricultural Water in Eastern & Southern Africa Programme (IMAWESA) through a US$ 1.5 million regional grant to the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) for the period 2006-2009. To date, IMAWESA has interacted with all IFAD loan projects in ESA that have water-related components. It has provided technical advice and strengthened project capacity regarding agricultural water management. “We already have some great examples of projects that have put in place effective water systems,” said Bancy Mati, Programme Manager for IMAWESA, based in Kenya.

For instance, the IFAD-supported Upper Mandraré Basin Development Project (PHBM) in Madagascar has become a model of success for developing agricultural water. In a few years, the project doubled the irrigated land to 5,000 hectares and enabled 100,000 people in the region to become more than self-sufficient in terms of food production. Mandrare is now the food basket of the southern region. In Tanzania, the IFAD-supported Participatory Irrigation Development Programme (PIDP), which is now completed, is another example of developing irrigation. The programme managed to increase the availability and reliability of water through improved low-cost water control systems. “Both these projects have done really well,” said Mati.

One of IFAD’s latest projects in Ethiopia, the Participatory Small-Scale Irrigation Development Programme, approved in 2007, is another example of innovation in the water sector. The programme is reforming small-scale irrigation development approaches and practices in the country by giving farmers ownership of irrigation systems through their own water users' associations. “What’s great about the project is that it addresses household food security through irrigation, rather than develop irrigation only as an economic and market investment,” explained Cleveringa. The programme is also a good example of how multiple use systems can be a relatively cheap option, when introduced in addition to initial investments in water infrastructure to bring water to the community. “Ethiopia is a particularly good showcase for multiple-use systems for water, whereby the water supply chain is used for various purposes, from domestic to livestock to irrigation,” said Nepveu.  

In addition, IFAD is in partnership with other international organizations working on water issues. These include: UN Water (which at a global scale brings together 24 United Nations agencies addressing water issues), the International Commission for Irrigation and Drainage (ICID),the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and other international and national agricultural research and development institutes. Also, innovative grant projects such as the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry’s (ICRAF) Pro-Poor Rewards for Environmental Services in Africa (PRESA: in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea) and the World Soil Information’s (ISRIC) Green Water Credits (GWC: in Kenya) address payment for environmental services in relation to water in rural communities. IFAD also participates in the African Water Facility, an initiative led by the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) within the context of the Africa Water Vision and the Millennium Development Goals, to mobilize and apply resources to finance water development activities in Africa.

Government and non-governmental international organizations agree that to reach the water-related Millennium Development Goals, massive resources need to be mobilized. Furthermore, no standard solution can be applied to rural water management for sustainable poverty alleviation. Instead, decentralized processes in which local communities are formally and financially empowered to interact with the private sector and government guidance seem to offer the most suitable option to confront rural poverty.

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Success Stories from the Field

 

Monitoring and Evaluation: Getting it right with the Programme on Strengthening Managing for Impact

You often hear that monitoring and evaluations (M&E) systems of development projects do not work well – but why is this an issue? Because, in part, this makes it difficult for development agencies to report on how taxpayers’ money has been used. But it is also, and perhaps more importantly, because effective M&E can play an important role in helping understand how development projects are managed and implemented. At the same time, in an increasingly complex, dynamic and interdependent world, the application of technical M&E tools or impact assessments is not sufficient. At the heart of development interventions are people and their relationships, and therefore it is important for diverse actors to be able to work together to learn and adapt to changing circumstances.

The Regional Programme for Strengthening Management for Impact (SMIP) in Eastern and Southern Africa was set up with a US$ 1.1 million grant from IFAD to strengthen the capacity of development practitioners in the region. Capacity building covers various elements such as M&E, management information systems, strategic planning and leadership. Referring to SMIP’s approach to M&E, Mine Pabari, SMIP Regional Programme Facilitator based in Nairobi, explained, “One can’t train people simply on how to collect data and information. Unless there is an environment where people trust each other enough to share this information and knowledge and critically discuss the implications for their intervention, it will simply be a bureaucratic process with little room to influence action. In these circumstances, we often continue to repeat the same mistakes.”  

This may all sound obvious. However, in reality, the level of investment, including time, required to make this work is often underestimated, and the right mix of technical and soft skills and knowledge to assist this process is not readily available. “The development of an M&E system in order to manage for impact does not differ considerably from the Logical Framework Approach and Results-Based Management in relation to its technical development,” said Doda Johnson, an M&E consultant from Malawi who attended a training workshop organized by SMIP. “Where it differs is in the approach of developing the system and its place in the spectrum of programme management. The approach encourages participation from stakeholders, and takes into consideration the differences in perspectives and paradigms, creating an environment where people can learn and interact openly. M&E is used as a thread that binds the different systems within a programme or organization as a whole.”

The implementation of the three-year programme started in mid-2006 and is being coordinated by Wageningen International. Two sub-regional institutions (SRIs) were competitively selected as implementing partners: Khanya African Institute for Community Driven Development (Khanya-aicdd) based in South Africa for the Southern Africa sub-region; and the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR, a division of IFPRI) and Haramaya University in Ethiopia for the Eastern Africa sub-region. “While we were undertaking training events for project staff and service providers at the beginning, we also put in lots of effort on building capacity of those SRIs,” said Pabari. “By the end of this year, they’ll both be in a good position to act by themselves.”

To date, five training workshops have been held, with 103 participants from IFAD-financed projects and other development practitioners. Apart from training events, SMIP works alongside some projects to provide short- and long-term technical support. Two IFAD-financed projects were identified as “action learning sites” in Tanzania and Lesotho. The purpose of establishing these sites was threefold: to improve management practices under the two projects; to put projects in touch with trained service providers and provide real situations for service providers to apply their skills under coaching by the SRIs and Wageningen International; and to learn and share lessons on the application of skills and approaches. 

In addition to creating action learning sites, SMIP has also generated interest among other projects and institutions. “The SMIP programme was approached by the IFAD-financed Agricultural Services Support Programme (ASSP) and the Agricultural Sector Development Programme - Livestock (ASDP-L) in Zanzibar to help design a learning-oriented and participatory M&E system for them,” said Dr Elias Zerfu from the SRI IFPRI. The M&E planning workshops that took place “helped us to sensitize the stakeholders to know more about the programme, their roles and responsibilities and what they should expect,” explained one member of the ASSP/ASDP-L management team. “The development of a clear and shared understanding on what a programme is about by the stakeholders involved is the first indispensable step before even thinking about designing a M&E system. And yet, it is a step which is often not given sufficient attention and investment”, said Dr Zerfu.

In Southern Africa, Khanya-aiccd has had growing support for managing for impact in non-IFAD-supported projects. For instance, the SRI is training staff of the Department of Social Development in the Northern Cape, South Africa. Thevan Naidoo, Khanya SMIP Focal Point, explained that the initial training helped “the Department realize the importance of participation in development projects and to move away from a more traditional approach whereby the project matters more than the actual beneficiaries. But this is a process that will take time.” M&E training emphasizes continually asking questions, which often requires a major shift in mindset. As one Department official said, “We are not used to asking and answering questions. We’re used to just implementing what we’re told.”

“It’s not enough for SMIP to simply train people and provide technical support, “said Pabari. “Managing for impact is by no means simple and will continue to require all those who have participated in this process to reflect and learn from experiences in order to strengthen the methodologies and approaches. Consequently, we’re trying to develop a network of resource people, involving both service providers and project staff who are committed to build on and further the thinking behind how best to utilize information and knowledge to empower people to bring about positive change in their own lives.” To achieve this, SMIP has established a “Managing for Impact Network” to support pro-poor initiatives and share knowledge, experiences and opinions. In the meantime, the work continues. The next training workshop on “managing for impact” will take place at Haramaya University in Ethiopia from 15-25 September 2008.

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MALAWI: A rural livelihoods programme enables communities to decide on their future

The IFAD-supported Rural Livelihoods Support Programme (RLSP) was introduced in some of the poorest and most isolated areas of Malawi to help local communities develop the skills they so badly need to break the poverty cycle. Four years on, the programme has put in place the foundation on which to build their future, and the local communities are now able to take the decisions that will make a difference in their livelihoods.

 
 

People had trouble crossing the river

 

The programme, which began in August 2004, was designed under IFAD’s Flexible Lending Mechanism and will be implemented in three cycles of three years, with each cycle depending on achievement of the previous cycle’s objectives. The programme completed its first cycle in August 2007 and has now moved into its second phase, where it is being implemented in three districts in the southern region of Malawi: Chiradzulu, Nsanje and Thyolo. “The programme is intended to benefit poor rural households... particularly women-headed, those with the smallest land holdings, and those with school dropouts, widows, orphans and other vulnerable groups and disadvantaged households,” explained Alex Malembo, coordinator of the programme based in Malawi. To date, a total of 144 villages have participated in the programme, which exceeds the cycle-one target of 140. About 21,000 households have directly benefited.

Building capacity of village organizations

Initially, the programme focused on building capacity of village organizations as part of its investment in the “human capital” component (the other two components are village investment and programme management). A number of Village Development Committees (VDCs) were formed to represent a village or group of villages and facilitate development planning and management. “RLSP promotes active participation of beneficiaries at all stages of programme design, implementation and review through participatory approaches,” said Malembo. To this end, the programme used the so-called STAR/REFLECT approach, with which communities analyse their real livelihood issues in the context of their vulnerability and fully participate in the decision-making process.

 
 

Now they cross the bridge

 

From the start, the VDCs showed a strong spirit of volunteerism as well as a high level of participation. Not only were they effective in targeting poor and vulnerable households and designing activities appropriate for their resources and skills, but they widely understood the programme’s objectives and procedures at all levels, according to the final evaluation report at the end of the first cycle. “During community deliberations it was identified that the communities were lacking the skills which could help them earn a living if they were to be able to practice a trade and sell their products,” said Malembo. “The programme therefore embarked on a skills development exercise to empower individuals and eventually the community at large.”

Skills and literacy training

Skills and literacy training have focused on adult literacy as well as skills development for school drop-outs, orphans and village technical schools or polytechnics. “There is a high unemployment rate in Malawi, which leaves so many school drop-outs loafing around in the villages,” explained Malembo. “To create employment, the programme is supporting skills training for them.” School drop-outs were enrolled in vocational training schools and underwent trade test exams. It is anticipated that the graduates will be able to start their own business in the trade of their choice or be employed. The programme is also supporting schools for dropout orphans to reduce the number of delinquents in the communities.

 
 

A master trainer training a beneficiary

 

In addition, the programme has established village polytechnics. “This is a community-based technical school, situated right within the communities, and the trainers are people identified by the communities themselves,” explained Malembo. Pupils are already practicing artisans in different trades. They undergo a skills upgrading training together with training of trainers to become master trainers. The trainings are conducted by specialized vocational training institutions that are sub-contracted by the programme.  So far, a total of about 120 master trainers in trades such as carpentry, brickwork, tailoring and bakery have been trained, and they have in turn trained over 900 beneficiaries.

Literacy training was also implemented through the STAR/REFLECT approach. “After deliberations on community issues, the illiterate remain behind,” explained Malembo. “They choose words that were mentioned several times during the deliberations and try to learn to read using those words.” The literacy training has helped people to read advertisements, posters, newspapers, magazines and other publications. “They are now better informed about what is happening,” he added. Moreover, those who were not able to sign bank documents including cheques are now able to do so.

 
 

An orphan trained as tinsmith doing his work

 

More than 7,500 people (mostly women) have benefited from adult literacy training and almost 1,400 have received vocational training. “Skills development has had a great impact on people’s lives,” said Malembo. “A lot of businesses have sprouted due to self-employment, some beneficiaries have employed fellow community members, and graduates are now a local resource to the communities as and when required.”

Village bakery

Nthondo Bakery is one of the village polytechnics setup under the programme which has made a difference for the Nthondo community of five villages.  "This bakery is improving our lives," said Chamveka, one of the villagers who recall times when she was given maize unfit for consumption, in return for her labour.  She had no choice but to accept the rotten maize since she was desperate for food. "The bakery has reduced our poverty.  I have stopped working in other people's gardens since and my family is now living an independent, happy life," she added.

 
 

Bakery beneficiary

 

Richard Kawa is also a village polytechnic beneficiary who opened a modern bakery. "Before the bakery was opened we used to queue for hours to buy doughnuts, banana cakes and rarely bread; most of which was stale and prepared in unhygienic conditions," remembered one of Kawa's customers. Kawa said he had always wanted to own a bakery and soon after completing secondary school, he went for a baking course but was unable to get a job at the end of it. "I failed to secure a job because of my physical disability," said Kawa who has to use crutches. Through the RLSP, Kawa was identified as being one of the disadvantaged people in the area needing support.

Micro-projects

 
 

Goat kraal

 

The programme has also focused also on micro-projects for the communities, funding more than 400 projects ranging from small individually operated income-generating activities to larger public goods investments (such as roads). The communities selected a number of micro-projects in agriculture and livestock, natural resources management and water. Examples include livestock and small livestock rearing, food security/crop improvement, seed multiplication, orchards, bee-keeping and vegetable growing. Many of these projects are in their initial stage of development and it is too early to gauge their success or impact.

Water development and management

Water development and management is also a priority. With support from the programme, communities that didn’t have boreholes for domestic water started constructing them, and in Nsanje small-scale irrigation was introduced. To date, 53 boreholes have been constructed and are operating satisfactorily. However, the borehole committees are experiencing difficulties collecting fees from users and could face problems in the future if major maintenance is needed.

Revolving funds

 
 

Cassava for seed multiplication

 

A system of revolving funds has been put in place to allow VDCs to access loans to start up businesses. However, the use of revolving funds by VDCs was recognized as one of the shortcomings of the first cycle, mainly because VDCs were not legal entities, they already had too much to cope with in implementing their micro-projects, and the literacy level was too low to handle accounts. Although the enterprises themselves were generating good profit margins, loan repayments were falling behind schedule, with about 50 per cent of the portfolio in arrears. To remedy this situation, the district-level saving and credit organizations (SACCOs) will take over micro-finance operations during the second cycle of the programme. “The process of SACCOs has already started. All the VDCs have opened accounts with SACCOs and they are already depositing and borrowing from them,” said Malembo. To date, payments have increased from 34 per cent to around 67 per cent. “Hopefully this will improve even more,” he added to reach microfinance international standards. 

The programme started its second phase last September for another three years, and will continue build on the achievements of the first phase, implementing training and micro-projects under the same three components, but taking into account the lessons learnt during the first cycle.  

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Strategic partnerships breathe life and hope into an impoverished community in Brazil

 
 

Under the rural youth component of the project, more than 700 young men and women have been trained in agriculture-related activities

 

In the semi-arid northeast of Brazil, the IFAD-supported Dom Helder Camara project works with local governments, farmers’ organizations, civil society associations and state companies to improve poor people’s living conditions. Together they have brought safe water to communities, opened new markets for their farm products, trained young people and adults, and helped women obtain identity documents.

Naelson Medeiros was born 28 years ago in Sombras Grandes, a small community in the vast ‘grey land’, as the Caatinga forest is called because of the monochrome colours that dominate during the annual nine-month drought. 

For decades, Medeiros says, the only income sources for the 12 families living in the community were firewood they collected for charcoal production, temporary farm work in the few big local farms, and eventually migration to the cities. But the situation was continually deteriorating.

“Firewood was getting scarce,” said Medeiros. “Stones were all we had and you could see people around breaking them to sell the gravel to building companies.”

But in 2004, the Dom Hélder Câmara project came to Sombras Grandes and changed the situation dramatically.

 
 

The Dom Hélder Câmara project has already helped 15,000 women obtain identity cards, which guarantees their access to services, credit and land tenure

 

The Dom Hélder Câmara project is the local name for IFAD’s Sustainable Development Project for Agrarian Reform Settlements in the Semi-Arid North-East of Brazil. Dom Hélder Câmara was a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Olinda and Recife who had a deep commitment to the poor.

The project area includes about 60 municipalities in a semi-arid zone extending across six states of the North-East region: Ceara, Paraiba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. The municipalities were selected because of their high poverty rates and high concentration of agrarian reform settlements. The project area is among the most disadvantaged in the country in terms of access to housing, sanitation, education, health services and employment. Poor soils and severe cyclical droughts are major obstacles to agricultural productivity.
 
The overall objective of the project is to introduce sustainable improvements in income and living conditions for poor agrarian reform settlers and neighbouring smallholders. Importantly, the project is already influencing public policies for rural development.

“The Dom Hélder Câmara project is a major source of experiences for rural development public policies in Brazil,” said Guillerme Cassel, Brazil’s Minister of Agrarian Development, which is the executing agency for the project.   

Water improves incomes and health
“In Sombras Grandes, access to water was the first urgent step to stop this poverty cycle,” said Espedito Rufino, Executive Director of the project. “So we knocked at the door of Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras.”

As part of its corporate social responsibility programme, Petrobras had already formed an alliance with the Brazilian National Food Security Programme, Fome Zero (Zero Hunger), called the Petrobras Zero Hunger Programme.

The Dom Hélder Câmara project facilitated a new partnership with Sombras Grandes and the Petrobras Zero Hunger Programme. Petrobras visited Sombras Grandes and offered to refurbish wells they had dug in the past for use in oil drilling. They also agreed to donate basic infrastructure for the communities to build and maintain their own water pipes. In addition, the project agreed to train members of the farmers’ association to build their own community rainwater collectors.

Today the community has been transformed. Sombras Grandes has changed from a dry grey desert into a lush green oasis.

“Oil made a more precious liquid gush out for us: water,” said Medeiros, who is now the president of the Sombras Grandes farmers’ association.

Access to water has brought many positive changes to the community.
“Our health is much improved,” he said. “We produce 15 different types of pesticide-free vegetables that we and the neighbouring communities have incorporated in our daily meals.”

Creating market links

 
 

Naelson Medeiros sell his organic production in one of the vegetable fairs created in neighbouring communities with the support of the project

 

The next challenge was to make these achievements sustainable. This required improving the market links for selling farm produce. Once again, the support of the project was key. The project facilitated a strategic partnership between the community and Brazil’s Zero Hunger Programme, which now buys produce from family farms to supply schools and hospitals. Eleven tons of honey have been sold as a result.

With the support of the municipalities, the project also helped farmers establish eight vegetable fairs in neighbouring communities.

“These fairs are not only a source of cash for the farmers,” said Medeiros. “They are also fostering community life a lot. Before, people had to go to the city to buy food. Now they have it right here, and it’s of much better quality.” 

Thanks to the project, young farmers such as Medeiros have better agricultural and small business management skills. They have also improved their quality standards and the way they present their merchandise. “We sell everything we bring to the market,” said Medeiros.

Empowering people, winning awards

 
 

As president of Sombras Grandes farmers' association, Naelson Medeiros accepted Brazil's Best Rural Development Project award for 2007 from Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

 

Empowering people is central to the project. Women, young people and people of African descent (quilombolas) have benefited from specific initiatives to combat discrimination and exclusion.

In 2004, the project launched a campaign to help women obtain identity cards and other documents that enable them to qualify for state benefits. A recent government survey revealed that 4.5 million rural workers in Brazil were undocumented, and 90 per cent of women in the northeast region had no worker’s book. The campaign has already helped 15,000 women have their citizenship recognized, which guarantees their access to services, credit and land tenure.

“This successful experience is now being scaled up to the national level to promote rural women’s social and economic rights,” said Rufino.

The housing and living conditions have also improved considerably, thanks to the support of national programmes such as “Light for All,” which brings energy to isolated communities like Sombras Grandes. The project has also taught people how to build brick structures as a substitute for the mud houses they have built in the past.

In 2007, the Dom Hélder Câmara project in Sombras Grandes was awarded Brazil’s Best Rural Development Project. As President of Sombras Grandes farmers’ association, Medeiros collected the award from Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“This visit will remain in history,” said Medeiros. “We never thought that one day someone from our community could meet the President.”

“It was very good because I could explain to him how the Dom Hélder Câmara project is working,” he added. “He knows the region very well because he was born here. I also met other farmers and artisans and it was a good exchange of experiences.”

Transforming lives and landscapes
Perhaps the most impressive change that the project has brought about is the new perception that local settlers, particularly the young, have of their own natural environment.

“Before, we thought of this semi-arid region as a place where it was almost impossible to survive,” said Medeiros. “Today we have changed this idea and we see our land as full of potential. We are happy to see that it is worth investing and staying here. We do not need to migrate anymore.”

The rural youth component of the project has been one of the most successful. More than 700 young men and women have been trained in agriculture-related activities, in collaboration with local agrarian schools and farmers’ associations. Some of them have already become researchers and public servants in the local administration.

“Finally,” said Medeiros, “the community feels pride and sees hope for the future. Now we know that we will not go back to where we were before. We will be able to give a better future for our children, with access to the things that we never had. And this is very good. We are very grateful for these initiatives.”

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News & events



IFAD's new offices

The staff of IFAD is finally all together under one roof, in IFAD’s beautiful new headquarters. In a special ceremony on 2 June 2008, the United Nations flag was raised by the Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

Our new address:

IFAD
via Paolo di Dono 44
00142 Rome
Italy

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Grants and loans approved by the April Executive Board

Regional grants

FIDAfrique Network will Promote Knowledge Sharing and Innovation for Rural Poverty Reduction in Sub-Saharan.Consistent with IFAD’s objective to enhance its role as a knowledge organisation and use knowledge to improve development effectiveness, this grant will establish a unified knowledge network with the related infrastructure and institutional requirements, building on the strengths and experience of the FIDAfrique network in Western and Central Africa (WCA) and IFAD-supported thematic networks in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA).. The grant recipient is Western Africa Rural Foundation - US$2 million.
For further information, please contact:
Benoit Thierry, Country Programme Manager
Email: b.thierry@ifad.org

Local Market Services Development Project, grant recipient Traidcraft Exchange, US$1 million.  The objective of the grant is to test an approach for enhancing small producer access to markets, which enables them to increase their earnings and capture a greater share of the consumer prices; to develop a better understanding of needs (access to financial resources, capacity etc.) of innovative local market intelligence and brokering services; and to document best practices on how IFAD can promote and support the supply of these services. 
For further information, please contact:
Rob Donnelly
Head of Africa Programmes, Traidcraft
Email: robertd@traidcraft.co.uk

Country grants and loans

Mauritius: Marine and Agriculture Resources Support (MARS) Programme: loan of US$ 5.6 million and grant of US$ 0.4 million