Issue 11 - July/August 2006
Working with UN agencies at the country level
In this issue
Message of the Director
of Asia and the Pacific Division
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). As such, it has its own governing bodies, processes to enhance its financial resource base, corporate strategy and policy framework. IFAD’s mandate focuses its attention exclusively on rural poverty reduction through agricultural and rural development. Its physical proximity to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – the other Rome-based UN agencies working in related fields – creates important opportunities for synergies.
IFAD’s commitment to enhancing the effectiveness of multilateral development assistance is strengthened through being part of the wider UN system. This also provides opportunities for strategic partnerships with other specialized agencies of the UN that have expertise in areas relevant to IFAD’s work, such as public health, education, migration, employment, rights-based approaches, vocational training, emergency management, climate change and the environment. Closer strategic partnerships between UN agencies will not only enhance the effectiveness of the development assistance but also increase the efficiency of programme through the combination of human resources and strengthen the multilateral dimension of development cooperation.
IFAD is also a member of another part of the multilateral system, the group of international financial institutions (IFIs), with the advantage of mobilizing other complementary expertise and much higher levels of financial resources. As a member-based organization, IFAD is shaped also by the strategic outlook for multilateral development cooperation of its member countries.
For these reasons, IFAD emphasizes more than before its being part of the UN system, be it as specialized agency.
The examples below illustrate the extent to which IFAD’s cooperation within the UN system is focused at the country level. Ultimately, the cooperation of the UN system at the country level must lead to greater system coherence, consistency and effectiveness. Such cooperation must benefit the countries we serve, and it must allow each member of the UN partnership to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency. IFAD proactively pursues this partnership approach.
In addition, major benefits can be derived from corporate-level collaboration among UN agencies in shaping global policy, developing strategic visions, and in alignment and cooperation in areas where economies of scale can be of benefit. Within the three Rome-based agencies in particular, a strong effort will be made by the Asia and the Pacific Division for closer collaboration. Knowledge sharing events with the FAO Investment Centre, e-learning collaboration with its Library and Documentation Systems Division, and policy partnerships with its Agricultural and Development Economics Division are examples of such partnerships to be deepened.
Clearly, enhancing mutual effectiveness through closer cooperation among UN agencies at the country and headquarters level must be a high priority of the Asia and the Pacific Division.
Director of the Asia and the Pacific Division
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IFAD and UNOPS: building on operational strengths
We are facing a new challenge that some might call a mission impossible: achieve greater impact with fewer resources. How can we do this? By optimizing the comparative advantage of each organization, and avoiding duplication of effort and wasting scarce resources.
For 25 years, UNOPS has supported IFAD’s fight against poverty to improve the livelihoods of the poorest people. How does it do it? By recognizing and optimizing the strengths of both organizations.
Since 1981, IFAD and UNOPS have developed a close partnership that is responsive to the present UN reform initiatives and that allows each UN organization to do what it does best. As the main cooperating institution, UNOPS today supports 73 per cent of IFAD’s global portfolio – it is responsible for supervising projects and administrating loans and grants provided by IFAD and its co-financiers. This partnership has evolved and developed over time to include stronger and closer implementation and follow-up support to projects.
The UNOPS Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO), based in Bangkok, has committed resources and experienced staff dedicated solely to servicing the portfolio of IFAD in the region. Special efforts are made to ensure that staff are up-to-date with respect to IFAD’s thematic and poverty focused policies, strategies and procedures. UNOPS is in tune with IFAD’s specific requirements for increased sharing of experience and knowledge through regular interaction. Knowledge sharing is particularly important. APRO staff ensure that projects receive the best possible support ensuring coverage is broad, in-depth and in keeping with the changes occurring during projects’ life.
APRO continues to strengthen the relationship between Government, IFAD and UNOPS with regular meetings before and after supervision missions to ensure effective follow-up and implementation of recommendations agreed by all parties. APRO is committed to a results-based structure that affirms the quality of projects and promotes knowledge management and innovation. Achieving sustainability through building local capacities remains a top priority. Today, the partnership between IFAD and UNOPS has successfully implemented some aspects of the UN reforms and has strengthened both organizations' effectiveness and efficiency in reducing poverty.
Sunil Bhargava, Regional Director, UNOPS, Asia and the Pacific
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Broadening the existing partnership: UNOPS supports IFAD’s annual performance review
In order to improve partnership opportunities and enhance cost-effectiveness, this year the Asia and the Pacific Division contracted the UNOPS Regional Bureau for Asia to provide logistical and administrative support to IFAD’s annual performance review workshop. Based in Bangkok, the regional bureau established networks with country development partners, civil society organizations, regional partners and the Government of Thailand, which assisted IFAD greatly in bringing diverse stakeholders together.
UNOPS staff at all levels contributed to the proceedings and enhanced the quality of the workshop. Strategically located and part of most IFAD projects in the region as a cooperating institution, UNOPS staff in Bangkok already have working relations with most workshop participants, and familiarity with both local conditions and UN procedures. This helped from a practical standpoint in terms of logistics and cost savings, such as identifying and organizing the workshop venue and facilities, local service providers and accommodation. UNOPS staff helped to overcome the language barrier and improved communication.
UNOPS also contributed significantly to the workshop presentations and panel discussions. UNOPS presenters highlighted two major challenges facing IFAD project managers:
- the increased complexity and rapid changes in project development and management
- the continuing demand by donors and financing agencies for project managers to deliver high-quality outputs and tangible outcomes within a given timeframe
Working together as a team served as a partnership building exercise for both IFAD and UNOPS, improving communication and creating greater trust and recognition that both agencies are part of one ‘family’. The partnership on the workshop underscored IFAD’s desire to build on this productive relationship in the future.
Martina Spisiakova, Newsletter coordinator
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IFAD fully integrated into UNDAF for Bangladesh
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) for Bangladesh, which covers the period from 2006 to 2010, was signed on 30 March 2005. IFAD's proxy field presence for Bangladesh, participated actively in the UNDAF design process, which has resulted in integrating IFAD into the UNDAF for the very first time in Bangladesh.
As agreed at the time of UNDAF finalization, all UN agency country programmes have now been prepared with reference to the approved framework. IFAD’s new country programme (Country Strategy Opportunities Paper – COSOP), which overlaps exactly with the UNDAF period of 2006-2010, was agreed with the Government of Bangladesh on 16 March 2006 and approved by IFAD’s Executive Board on 19 April 2006.
IFAD's country programme falls within the UNDAF results matrix under national priority three: education and pro-poor growth. In particular, IFAD is aligned with UNDAF output 5.5 "vulnerable groups, in particular women, have access to food, livelihood/life skills, microfinance and agricultural extension services". This output has been translated into three concrete programmes in the new IFAD COSOP as follows:
Increased availability of agricultural technologies for vulnerable small farmers
This programme focuses on providing improved technologies to increase yields, demand-led agricultural extension and better links to markets through innovations such as contract farming.
Increased access to markets and financial services for small rural entrepreneurs
This programme supports growth in both agriculture and the non-farm rural economy, through innovations in microfinance and through promoting the development of micro and small enterprises that link rural areas to growing urban and export markets.
Increased access to economic opportunities for women
This programme increases women’s access to economic opportunities, leading to empowerment and increased gender equality. This initiative includes special activities to support women’s entrepreneurship, employment and rights.
Nigel Brett, Country programme manager
Read more about Bangladesh
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Partnering with the UN Country Team in China
The UN system in China is supporting national priorities and needs. This includes national strategies equivalent to poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), such as the 11th Five Year Plan and the Strategy of Building a New Socialist Countryside, within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In recent years, the UN system has given special attention to enhancing coordination, effectiveness and efficiency in support of national goals, through the introduction of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and UNDAF. The UN Country Team also works closely to strengthen the effectiveness of UN support at the macro level by building country level coordination, complementing and providing greater coherence within and beyond the UN individual agencies and thematic groups. In its Action Plan (2007-2009) IFAD also recognizes the need to enhance country level capacity, constructive engagement in country dialogue and donor collaboration.
Within the UN system in China, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been the key partner for IFAD. With similar geographic focus and target population, both agencies have been close partners in working with the Government of China in its efforts to reduce rural poverty. The complementary nature of the mandates of the two organizations – food aid and international financial assistance – has emerged as a synergistic asset that leads to a higher and more sustainable impact on rural poverty than a single WFP or IFAD funded project.
Since the IFAD/WFP partnership in China started in 1995, WFP’s China office has been providing invaluable support to the IFAD country programme in China. WFP’s China office provides IFAD with implementation support through IFAD’s Field Presence Pilot Programme. It also facilitates the building of partnerships, improved knowledge management and policy dialogue.
By the end of 2005, ten joint WFP/IFAD development projects have been conceived, approved and implemented with joint targeting, design, supervision and monitoring and evaluation. The collaboration has resulted in greater impact than separate projects and has brought additional value to the government, beneficiaries and to the two agencies.
Project reviews found that food rations improved food security of poor and very poor people and allowed them to participate in capacity building, health, education and land improvement programmes. Being trained in new agricultural production techniques and having attained higher levels of health and education also enhances their chances in accessing rural finance. Moreover, improved food security through food-for-work and food-for-training increases the ability of poor people to invest in assets. Project reviews also found that the combination of functional literacy, health training, land improvement and sustainable access to credit greatly reduces the likelihood that poor households will fall back into poverty when the project ends. Project interventions have therefore proved to be sustainable.
IFAD’s Field Presence Pilot Programme is based in the UN building together with country offices of other UN agencies. IFAD staff have participated in UN thematic groups on poverty, inequality and gender. They also regularly attend the UN Country Team meetings, which provide a platform for UN country agencies to discuss issues of common interest such as those related to pro-poor development and policies. Through these thematic groups and meetings, IFAD is able to contribute to UN initiatives and to address policy issues relevant to the attainment of the MDGs and government priorities.
IFAD’s focus on rural poverty reduction has been acknowledged by the UN Country Team and the Government of China. This provides IFAD with a comparative advantage and a mandate to continue its work at the community level on crucial issues related to the livelihoods of rural poor people. In addition, IFAD brings the knowledge and experiences that it has acquired through field implementation to the programme and policy activities of the UN common initiatives.
Partnering with UN agencies requires not only persistent field level coordination, but also institutionalization. Synchronization of objectives and specific interventions also requires some flexibility in terms of institutional procedures. Differences in programme time frame require special consideration. Continuous, open and candid dialogue on specific interventions at an early stage tends to yield the best collaboration among partners.
Sun Yinhong, IFAD Subregional officer
Read more about China
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WFP facilitating IFAD’s field presence in India
In 2001, IFAD and the World Food Programme (WFP) entered into a partnership in India. Having had no field presence in the country previously, IFAD approached WFP, which over the years has acquired considerable operating strength through the network of its own offices, institutional partners in the central and state governments and through many partners in communities and NGOs. IFAD was able to contribute lessons learned from its many years of experience working to improve rural livelihoods in different parts of the country, a strong pro-poor orientation and a network of resource people and institutions. The objective of the partnership is to create synergy in the activities of both agencies towards the common goals of sustainable poverty eradication and food security.
Following the decision of the IFAD Executive Board, the partnership became formal in June 2004 when the two agencies signed an agreement. Consequently, the IFAD Field Presence Unit was established at the WFP Country Office in New Delhi. The partnership involves the following:
- sharing of logistics infrastructure, office space and communications facilities
- local coordination and liaison
- sharing of inputs into project design
- joint funding of projects
- supervision and advocacy
Since 2001, WFP has cofinanced three IFAD-supported projects by providing food assistance. These projects include:
The current WFP commitment to IFAD projects in India in food terms is approximately US$20 million or about 42,000 metric tonnes of food grains. WFP’s food assistance has proved highly effective in targeting the poorest households and supporting nutritional inputs for strengthened social services. All three cofinanced projects support the most food insecure and vulnerable rural communities. The projects and the programme focus on social mobilization and capacity building among the communities with women receiving particular attention.
The main achievements of this partnership over the past three years include:
- improved quality of project implementation support
- closer liaison with government counterparts resulting in smoother clearances of missions, documents and reports
- improved support to project design, appraisal and supervision through the creation of a large local network of resource people and institutions
- cost effective outsourcing of many services such as the production of background studies, publishing and the recruitment of local consultants through local service providers
- closer networking and working partnerships with national NGOs, research and academic institutions, such as Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), BAIF Development Research Foundation, MYRADA, BASIX, and with donors and international agencies such as the UK Department for International Development (DFID), German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT)
- joint advocacy efforts such as the co-hosting of workshops and seminars and the production of joint evaluation studies and other publications
- joint participation in policy dialogue on issues of common interest
- WFP’s contribution to IFAD’s strategy development including the revision of the COSOP process, which was backstopped in India
- support to all other IFAD activities in India such as administrative backstopping of all IFAD/UNOPS missions and visiting staff members
By sharing insights and pooling experience acquired in their independent operations in India, both IFAD and WFP aim to deliver higher quality in project design improving the lives of thousands of poor families.
Pravesh Sharma, Former IFAD facilitator in India
Read more about India
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Partnerships, harmonization and coordination with the UN system in Pakistan
Over the past few months, IFAD has made a significant effort to re-engage with the United Nations (UN) system in Pakistan. This re-engagement ranges from high level country programme coordination to project level collaboration and logistical support.
In terms of UN agency coordination initiatives, IFAD has been engaging at different levels.
At the international level, IFAD recently participated as a panel member in a meeting of the Secretary General's High-level Panel for United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment, held in Islamabad on 24 and 25 May 2006. As a follow up to this meeting, the UN Country Team in Pakistan is initiating a fast track programme for achieving more UN coordination at the country level. IFAD is actively involved in this process.
At the national level, IFAD's proxy field presence in Pakistan, Qaim Shah, is a member of the UN Country Team and actively participates in its meetings and in Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) meetings. Most recently, at the recommendation of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and with the endorsement of the Donor Poverty Reduction Working Group, Tony Killick, Senior Research Associate of the Overseas Development Institute in London, and Qaim Shah co-authored an issues paper entitled "Improving Aid Effectiveness in Pakistan". The Paper, which discussed progress in implementing the Paris Declaration, was presented at the Pakistan Development Forum in May 2006.
At the sectoral level, IFAD also interacts with UN organizations through participating in donor thematic groups, in particular the group on poverty, co-chaired by UNDP and the group on microfinance.
At the local level, IFAD has joined the UN Country Team’s harmonization initiative and has agreed to support joint work programming with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Pakistan-administered Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). A strategic partnership with WFP was signed in late 2004 and a memorandum of understanding with FAO was signed in 2005.
At the level of project cofinancing, five of the past fourteen IFAD projects in Pakistan representing 35 per cent of IFAD projects have been cofinanced with a UN partner agency. These include:
In addition to projects that are directly cofinanced, a number of additional projects are being implemented with the active support from the UN system in Pakistan. For example, the ongoing Community Development Project is currently benefiting from a large technical assistance component executed by FAO.
Field level partnerships between IFAD and UN agencies were exemplified following the appalling earthquake in October 2005. Drawing on its long experience in the affected areas, IFAD project staff assisted the rescue and relief operations of WFP, FAO and UNDP identifying linkages with communities and helping with the distribution of food, temporary shelter, blankets, kitchen utensils and seeds.
IFAD projects are continuing to work with WFP at the community level, and there are ongoing discussions focusing on the possibility of linking the WFP food-for-work programme with the infrastructure rehabilitation efforts of IFAD's Community Development Project.
Finally, in terms of a logistical partnership, WFP and UNDP have both very kindly contributed to housing IFAD's proxy field presence since January 2005.
Qaim Shah, IFAD Proxy field presence in Pakistan and Nigel Brett, Country programme manager
Read more about Pakistan
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FAO assists IFAD in developing synergies with other IFIs
In 2003, responsibility within the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Investment Centre Division for the FAO/IFAD collaborative programme in Asia was transferred to its Asia and Pacific Service, which works directly with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the two services in the World Bank for East Asia and South Asia. This restructuring opened up various opportunities to strengthen collaboration between FAO and IFAD in Asia.
Some country programme managers at IFAD took the lead, drawing upon the work the Asia and Pacific Service has been doing for other international financial institution (IFI) partners. For example, building on the experience the Service staff had in working with poverty alleviation and area development projects in Sri Lanka for the World Bank, the IFAD country programme manager for Sri Lanka, Sana Jatta, approached the Service to take responsibility for the formulation of the Dry Zone Livelihood Support and Partnership Programme.
In 2004, it was agreed that the Service would not only continue to provide technical expertise, but also assist IFAD to develop synergies with work of other IFIs in the region. Some areas where this is being done are illustrated below.
Sector-wide approaches (SWAps)
In Viet Nam, a major effort is underway to prepare a SWAp-based operation that may fund up to US$250 million for a government programme for the development of the poorest communes in the country. The Service is working with the World Bank on the formulation of the programme. Atsuko Toda, the IFAD country programme manager for Viet Nam, is closely involved in the entire process, both at the country level and through close interaction with the formulation team working at FAO headquarters. This involvement is allowing IFAD to fine-tune its assistance, bringing its special experience in Viet Nam to the policy debate.
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Investment Centre staff have long experience in the preparation of GEF projects. This experience is being tapped by IFAD in western China. Ongoing IFAD operations will be used as the ‘GEF baseline’, and GEF funding will be sought for incremental activities to promote land management in degraded areas.
Supply chain development
The commercialization of the agricultural sector, which is taking place very rapidly in many Asian countries, often does not adequately involve the poorest farmers. Targeted interventions in supply and value chains can help to address this and the Service is working in various countries on such interventions. Drawing on this experience, a proposed IFAD-supported project is also being formulated for the Maldives.
IFAD is drawing on work that the Service has been doing for other donors and on its field presence in countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Myanmar in order to develop its programmes and projects.
The FAO Asia and Pacific Service works closely with FAO’s Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division, UN agencies and other IFIs on the preparation of needs assessments and rehabilitation and reconstruction operations in countries affected by natural or man-made disasters. Cooperation with the Service has allowed IFAD to be more involved in inter-agency initiatives and to expand its work in this area. For example, following the devastating tsunami in Indonesia, staff from IFAD worked alongside the World Bank, ADB and the Service on the post-tsunami strategy for the agricultural sector. In the Maldives, the Service formulated an emergency operation for IFAD funding. Similarly in Pakistan, an IFAD formulation team overlapped and drew heavily upon the work done by the investment centre team that carried out the Post-Earthquake Needs Assessment for the government in collaboration with the World Bank and ADB.
Daud Khan, Chief, Asia and Pacific Service, FAO
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Diversifying the consultant roster in the Asia and the Pacific Division
In order to diversify its roster of consultants, IFAD is seeking applications from qualified experts from the Asia and the Pacific region for short-term assignments. Consultants should be specialized in economics/financial analysis, rural/micro finance, credit, rural enterprises, community development, agronomy, livestock, fisheries, irrigation, natural resources, sociology/gender, institutions, monitoring and evaluation, sustainable livelihoods, and other pertinent disciplines, and should have innovative ideas on rural poverty reduction. Applicants should have a relevant higher university degree, be able to work in a team and write concisely in English. Applications from women are particularly encouraged.
If you meet these criteria, please send your full CV to email@example.com
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Innovation grant: call for proposals
In order to encourage innovation at the field level and to promote country ownership in the development of grant proposals, the Asia and the Pacific Division is proposing an “Innovation Grant” for ongoing IFAD funded projects.
The purpose of the innovation grant is to provide recognition for innovation champions and to support the replication of promising innovations by projects for further scaling up.
“In its simplest form, innovation is a process that adds value or solves a problem in new ways. For IFAD, it is the development of improved and cost-effective ways to address problems and opportunities faced by the rural poor…the most important innovations are those that change the way smallholders and other rural poor people invest, produce and market their products; manage their assets; get organized, communicate and interact with their partners and influence policies and institutions.”
Source: IFAD Initiative for Mainstreaming Innovation, Operational Framework for the Main Phase, 2004
- Describe the potential impact of the innovations developed in project areas on rural poverty reduction.
- Provide strategies for replication of identified innovation and for dissemination of knowledge.
- Specify how the awarded funds will be spent for this purpose.
Proposals should be a maximum of five pages long and should include a logical framework and a budget breakdown for estimated expenditure. They should be in the form of a concept note that will be provided upon request.
The grant will range from US$50,000 to US$100,000. In order to comply with IFAD grant policy, proposals should identify a recipient that is a legal entity, either a civil society organization in the project area or the country government.
Proposals can be submitted by/through any ongoing IFAD funded project in the region. According to the IFAD grant policy, grants are provided only to developing member states, to intergovernmental organizations in which such member states participate, and to civil society organizations.
Deadline and selection process
Proposals should be submitted by projects electronically to the Asia and the Pacific Division’s Grant coordinator, Carla De Gregorio by 30 September 2006. Once the most innovative proposal has been selected, it will be announced in the October 2006 newsletter and approved by IFAD according to its procedures.
For further information please contact Carla De Gregorio, Grant coordinator
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Publication by the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development
Strengthening Capacities of Organizations of the Poor: Experiences in Asia (SCOPE) is a project supported by IFAD, and jointly implemented by the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) and the Centre on Integrated Rural Development for Asia and the Pacific (CIRDAP). This publication reflects IFAD’s experience in building and strengthening rural poor organizations in Asia.
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