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Written by Beatrice Gerli, Gender and targeting specialist, IFAD

Forget about travelling only with hand luggage. Forget about preparing presentations on the outward flight and writing Back To Office Report on the return flight. Time on the plane becomes a major test for developing skills in child entertainment: and the actual work is yet to start. Taking a baby on duty travel is a mission within the mission. But my daughter Adelaide and I survived and I am here to tell our story.

Field visit to the women’s cooperative “cuatros pinos” ©IFAD/B. Gerli
In the last week of October we travelled to Guatemala city to support a regional workshop on rural women's economic empowerment. When it was suggested that I would take part I was still on maternity leave, with a blurred sense of what it would mean to be both a mother and a professional. The workshop dates coincided with the period I intended to breastfeed so I quickly figured that it was going to be either with Adelaide or not going at all.

Why not try

I hesitated but the encouragement of my supervisor Clare Bishop and the Country Programme Manager, Glayson Ferrari made me wonder: why not try?

The mission’s agenda was encouraging: most of the workshop activities were in a hotel and only a one day field visit. And the country has no major health-related concerns. Perhaps the one thing that made me more enthusiastic is the fact that Glayson has a young son and immediately reassured me that he would help me find a trustworthy babysitter.

The IFAD travel policy entitles breastfeeding mothers to take their babies with them on duty travel, up to one year of age. This in practice means that IFAD provides for their flight ticket and an extra 10% of the total daily allowance, so that extra expenses – a.k.a. a babysitter- can be covered. This is a fantastic help for those like me who want to reconcile work and personal life: breastfeeding and a mission.

Starting the journey with new luggage. 
And this is how it went

We flew all the way to Guatemala, which I have to say was not the most relaxing journey of my life – nor for the poor person sitting next to us.

Once we arrived, Glayson had found an extraordinary babysitter: she looked after the baby during the workshop days and she would call me whenever Adelaide was claiming her meal – which easily tied in with the coffee breaks.

What made a real difference was also the help that the Guatemala team (Glayson, Klarisse, Oscar and Gabriela) and all the workshop participants gave me, together with the positive atmosphere they created. This didn’t make me feel like I was doing something out of this world, nor made me look less professional in their eyes. Quite the opposite. Many participants at the workshop, including men,  opened up and came up to me to discuss their own experience in reconciling their role of parents with their work.


I came back to Rome, very happy about this experience.

Duty travel with a baby is probably not something one can do too often, nor on all the missions we are asked to attend. But I just wanted to share my experience with other mother professionals and get the message out there: if you feel alright about it, if conditions allows it- one can actually do it.

It was a beautiful adventure and - yes -   quite tiring. But I guess that is what parenthood is about.

Four women groups from Mohalbari, Surail and Damoir villages in Northern Bangladesh participated in a two-day leadership and mobilization training in Dinajpur to spread the initiative of successful women-led cooperatives improving the livelihood of the rural poor. Among the 51 participants, most were landless women coming from Hindu, Muslim and indigenous communities.

The training, organized by ALRD in partnership with SUSTAIN, is part of the project’s innovation plan that received ROUTASIA’s award of 25,000 USD last year.

ALRD’s Innovation Plan entitled “Strengthening Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood through Access to Land and Market” was launched in July 2015, as a result of ROUTASIA’s Learning Route on women’s empowerment in Nepal’s Chitwan and Kapilvastu districts, in December 2014. With the financial award and technical assistance of IFAD-PROCASUR’s ROUTASIA programme, ALRD and SUSTAIN, its local partner in Dinajpur, are now implementing the plan in the northern region of Bangladesh, where the existing farmer groups are located. ALRD’s plan aims to secure equitable land access and control for marginalized landless communities, including farmers, indigenous peoples, religious minorities and women in particular, and to improve their livelihood through effective management of natural resources.

Using local resources, local technology and indigenous knowledge, ALRD’s action plan integrated the People’s Initiative or “Gonoprochesta” model. This initiative promotes sustainable, small scale, family-based organic farming and rural enterprises, and provides direct access to land and market for disadvantaged communities, which in turn contribute to the country’s food security. The Gonoprochesta model empowers women by advocating their recognition at policy making level, and by enabling access to public land and to supporting services such as bank credits, agricultural inputs and technology, information and knowledge, and policy dialogue with government institutions. During the process, women are encouraged to create their own capital collectively, and to invest it in agricultural production of food and organic fertilizers.

By transforming into People’s Cooperatives, the initiative sets a unique example to improve quality of life without external financial assistance. It also creates an alternative market for the products of small farmers and entrepreneurs united by cooperative groups, creating a wide range of employment opportunities in rural Bangladesh, particularly for women. In terms of diversification, cooperative farmers use different types of production, including agricultural cultivation (rice, vegetables, fish) and fertilizer production (earthworm compost).

To analyze the socio-economic context in Bangladesh, the path of change and the participants’ respective roles in it, ALRD used a participatory discussion method. All participants agreed to the new vision of the People’s Initiative process promoting social and economic changes to improve their life and to protect their children’s future. They selected a name and a leader for each of their group, and they set up a work plan for the next three months. To create their initial capital, participants decided to save a handful of rice twice a day and to organize their weekly meeting on Fridays, where the saved rice is put on sale to generate financial resources for each group to be used for income generation activities. This collective way of farming enables them to use their small land as a homestead. It was also agreed that all activities would be monitored and guided by SUSTAIN, ALRD’s local partner organization. 

Who are the happiest staff in IFAD?

Posted by S.Sperandini Friday, November 20, 2015 0 comments

By Clare Bishop-Sambrook, Lead Technical Adviser (Gender and Social Inclusion)

Younger women? Older men? General service staff or professionals? As is often the case, it depends on the question you are asking.

A recent analysis conducted by the PTA gender team provides some interesting insights.

Our happiness is stable
Each year, IFAD conducts the staff engagement index survey which picks up on six areas of our work environment. The overall index has remained pretty constant at around 75% over the last four years, with little variation at the corporate level between women and men.

Collectively we are most comfortable with understanding the results we are expected to deliver and being held accountable for them (both rated over 90%). We are reasonably content with the level of initiative shown by our colleagues (72%) and our freedom of action without needing to go to our supervisors (68%). But we are least happy with people accepting responsibility for problems that arise in their work (57%) and directors seeking the opinions of people working in their division (63%).

Who are we?
Before digging deeper into the data, let us see who we are – or at least those 485 people who responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 31% were women general staff, a further 30% were international professional men, 28% were international professional women and the balance were male general service (7%) and national professional men and women (4%).

Over 40% of the staff are aged between 46-55 years and another 10% or so are over 55 years. Among the younger age groups, there are more women aged between 25-35 years and more men under 25 years. Professional men (international and national) and general service women tend to be in the older cohort, whereas general service men tend to be younger.

Digging deeper into the data
Men over 55 were consistently more positive across all six indicators. The same holds true for women over 45, but their positivity is much less pronounced than for men. One of the most interesting differences was the fact that as men’s age increased they rated the consultations by their director more positively, whereas the reverse was true for women. Young men and women were both concerned about colleagues accepting responsibility for work-related problems.

Among men, national professional officers have the greatest clarity about what they are expected to deliver (100%) and their accountability to deliver (95%). However, they have the lowest freedom to act without consulting their supervisors (55%).

Male general service staff were least enthusiastic about their colleagues’ ability to accept responsibility for problems that arise in their work (49%) and about the level of initiative shown in their division (60%).
There were fewer differences in the results between women professionals and women general service staff. The most notable ones were that general service women felt there was less initiative shown in their division (66%) whereas professional women were more concerned about people taking responsibilities for work-related problems (53%).

What more needs to be done to improve our worklife in IFAD?
Although overall staff engagement has remained relatively constant in recent years, breaking down the data like this highlights significant differences within the staff population. If we want to improve the index, we need to speak to those who are least happy. That means we need to find out more from male general service staff, younger staff, and women in all categories.

For insights from the 2014 Global Staff Survey, contact gender@ifad.org

Written by Alessandra Casano, Financing Facility for Remittances

On 16 November, the G20 leaders gathered in Antalya (Turkey) adopted the Leaders Communiqué, in which paragraph 21 is entirely dedicated to remittances and financial inclusion.

"21. The private sector has a strong role to play in development and poverty eradication. Through our G20 Call on Inclusive Business we stress the need of all stakeholders to work together in order to promote opportunities for low income people and communities to participate in markets as buyers, suppliers and consumers. Our G20 National Remittance Plans developed this year include concrete actions towards our commitment to reduce the global average cost of transferring remittances to five percent with a view to align with the SDGs and Addis Ababa Action Agenda. We are promoting financial inclusion by helping to open up access to payments, savings, credit and other services. We welcome the continued work on financial inclusion within the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI)."

Download report
During 2015, considering the work of IFAD in the field of remittances, migration and development, the GPFI commissioned a formal study to IFAD on "The Use of Remittances and Financial Inclusion", in collaboration with the World Bank, subsequently submitted to the G20 leaders gathered in Antalya. This is the first IFAD publication officially endorsed by the G20 leaders.

In addition to the report on "The Use of Remittances and Financial Inclusion", IFAD and its Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) is mentioned in the G20 National Remittance Plans for the European Union, which also refers to the African Postal Financial Services Initiative.

"Page 3, para. 1c.  The EU is funding through its external cooperation instruments, flagship initiatives in the field of remittances such as the Financing Facility for Remittances (FFR) and the setting up of the African Institute for Remittances. The Institute set up in Nairobi, will be engaged in data collection, technical research and information sharing. The ongoing EU-funded action "African Postal Financial Services Initiative" aims at enhancing competition in the African remittances market through enabling African post offices to offer financial services."

This mention will further facilitate IFAD's work in the field of remittances, migration and development and highlight relevance of its work at global level.

About the GPFI: the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI), officially launched on 10 December 2010 in Seoul, is an inclusive platform for all G20 countries, interested non-G20 countries and relevant stakeholders to carry forward work on financial inclusion, including implementation of the G20 Financial Inclusion Action Plan, endorsed at the G20 Summit in Seoul. Spearheading the implementation were the three key Implementing Partners: the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI),  the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). In 2012, the World Bank joined the GPFI as Implementing Partner. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) joined the GPFI as implementing partner in 2013, whereas in 2014, the Better Than Cash Alliance and IFAD also joined as implementing partners. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands is the Honorary Patron of the GPFI.

Sharing and learning forum on the nexus between nutrition and gender

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, November 17, 2015 0 comments

by Marian Amaka Odenigbo

Sensitization forum
IFAD-funded project managers
From 2-5 November, the Government of Zambia and IFAD's East and Southern African (ESA) division organized a workshop on the "Nexus between Nutrition and Gender" in IFAD investments.

The purpose of the workshop that took place in Livingstone, Zambia  was to consolidate efforts towards operationalization of nutrition mainstreaming and advocacy on nutrition-sensitive agriculture with a gender lens.

The event brought together nutrition officers at district and headquarter levels, extension workers, gender focal points and staff of IFAD-funded programmes and projects, government staff in ministries of Agriculture Fisheries and Livestock.

Thanks to the participation and representation of IFAD-funded projects from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique, representatives of UN agencies, National Food and Nutrition Commissions, NGOs, Civil Societies and other development partners, the event benefitted from a good sub-regional outlook on the above mentioned issues.

Sharing of experiences
Country managers of the IFAD-funded programme proudly shed light on their experiences on mainstreaming nutrition in agriculture and rural development interventions.

Mr Kwibisa, the programme manager of Smallholder Agribusiness Promotion Programme (SAPP) in Zambia stressed the importance of ensuring that nutrition programmes invest in a wide variety of nutritious commodity as he believes this will help to raise awareness about the importance of mainstreaming nutrition in development initiatives. He indicated that investing in small-livestock, beans, groundnuts, cassava and beef has led to a dietary diversity and as a result family diets in the programme areas improved drastically.  

According to Martin Liywalii, the programme manager of Smallholder Productivity Promotion Programme (S3P) in Zambia increasing food production and productivity is necessary to have good nutrition activities. He further reiterated that provided there is an integrated approach to nutrition mainstreaming there is no "side-effect" if programme interventions are also focused to increase sales.

His story was quite informative, as it showed that even if an investment programme may not have a nutrition focus at design, during implementation it is indeed possible to rectify this omission. What S3P did was to include nutrition-related activities during the programme mid-term review and make inclusion of nutrition compulsory for the programme implementers.

Learning from others
Participants expressed their zeal to acquire knowledge on the nexus of nutrition and gender issues. “The lessons that others shared at this workshop are most useful for us as they allow us to improve our efforts to mainstream nutrition in Mozambique programmes”, said Maria Arraes De Souza.

Karen Mukuka, the assistant nutrition officer in the Zambia ministry of Agriculture was interested to learn from her Malawi counterpart how nutrition activities were coordinated among and between the various ministries.

Working collaboratively
The Resident Coordinator, UN-Zambia and
the IFAD Country Director, Zambia
The call to work together resonated fully with the workshop participants.

Janet Rogan, UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia in her remarks underscored the fact that nutrition is front and centre on the Global Goals agenda – better known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She challenged the participants to work differently, complement each other’s work and to break the “silos.” Furthermore, she asked the participants to continuously measure the impact of their development work and encouraged them to involve people so that they do not leave anyone behind.

Bertha Muthinta, the representative from Integrating Gender and Nutrition within Agricultural Extension Services (INGENAES) in Zambia highlighted the similarity between IFAD's and INGENAES work. She called for joining hands in an effort to achieve more impact on nutrition-related investments. Similarly, Maria Dieci the representative from Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) underscored the challenges of evaluation, tracking nutrition impact and scaling up nutrition actions in rural development programmes. She expressed IPA's willingness to collaborate with interested partners.

As the event came to an end, the participants had an opportunity to do some group work on action planning for a strategic approach to mainstream nutrition and gender in their respective programmes. They were encouraged to further adapt the action plans according to their various country programmes, as doing so would translate in contributing to achieve the targets of SDG2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

A platform for coordination and action on Land Governance

Posted by Beate Stalsett Monday, November 16, 2015 0 comments

Written by Elisa Mandelli, Policy and Technical Advisory Division, IFAD

Competition for land has never been greater. IFAD has observed that pressure on land and natural resources are increasing as a result of a rising world population, climate change, food prices volatility, declining soil fertility and the need for global food and fuel security. This has prompted many governments and development partners to increase their efforts to address land tenure and resource governance issues in developing countries. In fact, good land governance is more important than ever.

In this challenging context, the “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” (VGGT) have been endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in May 2012 with the aim to strengthen land governance by providing guidelines to governments, international development organization and other concerned stakeholders. Following on from the international mobilisation for land security, the global land donor community came together in early 2013 and recognised the need to coordinate the implementation of land governance programmes, share information on best practices among the international community, and, where applicable, join forces in international policy, advocacy and programme work. This understanding led to the creation of the Global Donor Working Group on Land (GDWGL) which was formalised in August 2013.

As explained on the GDWGL’s website, “The Working Group aims to improve land governance and enhance transparency and coordination of its currently 24 bilateral and multilateral members with each other and with external government, non-governmental and private sector stakeholders”.  Its objectives are to improve information and lesson learning but also coordinate initiatives at the international level, highlight challenges around land governance, and agree on collective actions.

IFAD is one of the founding member of the Group together with FAO, World Bank, the Department of International Development of United Kingdom, USAID, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other bilateral and multilateral members. IFAD is convinced that this platform represents a unique opportunity to promote Tenure Security and the interests of poor rural people at an international and cross-cutting level.

The Working Group met first on the 14th of October as a side event of the Committee on World Food Security, and a second time the 16th of October for its 6th meeting at IFAD Headquarters in Rome to take stock of the progresses that have been made in land governance and define next steps for 2016. 

Credit: Global Donor Platform for Rural Development / Romy Sato, 2015

Day 1: Promoting the Voluntary Guidelines

During the first day of the GDWGL meeting, the Group tackled the issue of the Voluntary Guidelines as the first soft-law instrument on the governance of Land Tenure that has been internationally negotiated and agreed. The participants presented practical examples of how these Guidelines have been promoted and integrated into donor supported activities. Among the different contributions, the Lead Technical Specialist in Land Tenure at IFAD, Harold Liversage, illustrated how, with a total budget  of US$ 300 million (of which US$ 159 million from IFAD), 112 loans, 14 grants, IFAD has supported projects related to the governance of Land and Natural Resources in 59 countries. Founding member and Host Organization of the International Land Coalition (ILC), IFAD considers land governance as a critical condition for poverty eradication but it addresses this issue as an integrated element of broader programmes for inclusive rural development and not as stand-alone projects.  In line with the Global Land Indicators Initiatives, IFAD attaches much importance to innovative and effective ways to “measure” the positive impacts of land governance on poverty eradication.    

Day 2: Opportunities for a “Collective Action”

The second day, the Group focused on the concrete opportunities linked to the objectives on the Road Map for 2014-2017. Heath Cosgrove, USAID’s Land Office Director, emphasized the need to strengthen the Roadmap with proposals for collective action : “We need to go beyond lessons sharing and engage into a collective action to drive further implementation of the VGGTs and to achieve the SDGs”. Therefore, the members split into five working groups in order to capture good ideas for feasible, concrete and collective action around five headline priorities: 
  • Strengthen land related information exchange, coordination and cooperation in priority areas;
  • Promote country partnership models to support and deepen land governance initiatives. 
  • Support private sector in order to improve land governance through their core business procedures.
  • Assist donor governments in their contribution to global land governance through coherent approaches.
  • Ensure a global coordination and impact delivery for better land governance strengthened through single open and accessible hub.
The five working groups have identified concrete and realistic outputs and opportunities for action that ranged from the organisation of a global event for lessons sharing around land governance, the promotion of trainings on VGGT’s implementation and Land Tenure Security for Government staff and the development of land indicators.

The GDWGL will meet again on March 2016 during the World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, in Washington-DC. You can find more information on the GDWGL activities as well as the Minutes and the presentations realized during the meeting in the GDWGL’s website. Stay updated!   

By Mia Madsen and Ahmed Subahi

70th Anniversary of the United Nations - Khartoum (Sudan)
At the end of October, the IFAD Country Office (ICO) in the Sudan participated in a joint United Nations (UN) celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the UN.

As part of the week-long celebration, a public event was organised on 29 October at the National Museum of Sudan in Khartoum. The event included a photo exhibition, showcasing work and achievements of UN agencies in Sudan working on humanitarian and development issues, including those related to agriculture and rural development.

The photographs presented by the Sudan ICO highlighted areas of work important to IFAD’s country programme in the Sudan, which included sustainable crop cultivation, rural finance and women’s empowerment.

Curiosity among young people

The Sudan has been a priority country for IFAD since 1979, and ICO staff members were delighted to see that visitors were interested in learning more about IFAD’s work in the Sudan.

A majority of young people in attendance were curious to learn about IFAD-funded projects, and their strategic and operational approaches in the Sudan and worldwide.

They wanted to know what IFAD stands for, why IFAD is not working in Darfur, how the funding is organised, and how IFAD and the Government of the Sudan cooperate in the implementation of projects. Representatives of IFAD’s ICO team in the Sudan were present to answer questions and distribute materials at the information booths.

The event brought enthusiasm and excitement – owed in great part to the presence of young people from the universities, fresh graduates and UN volunteers who helped to organize the exhibition. Other attendees involved members of the diplomatic community, government officials, special guests and the general public.

“The exhibition was extended for another day so that more visitors could attend it,” said Ahmed Subahi, IFAD's Country Programme Officer in Sudan.

Different kind of celebrations

Later in the evening a music concert was organised, with the popular Sudanese female Singer Nancy Ajaj and Balimbo musical band performing. In general, the event has been described as a success, with more than 2 000 visitors.

Other joint UN70 celebration events in Khartoum included a lecture on the UN Charter at 70 held at the University of Khartoum, an official commemoration event, and a Youth Art Exhibition on the new Sustainable Development Goals. The UN agencies in Sudan also joined the global campaign to celebrate the UN Day and the 70th anniversary of the United Nations by lighting up monuments and buildings worldwide with the official blue colour of the United Nations.

In Sudan, the famous Meroe Pyramids and the National Museum of Sudan were coloured in blue light on 24 October 2015. The global event of turning the world UN blue received wide coverage on social media using the hashtags #UNBlue and #UN70, and was shared with millions of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Flickr and more.