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Par Alice Brie
Comment anticiper les retards de pluies et donc les épisodes de sécheresse, les inondations, en l’absence de données climatiques fiables ? Quelle variété choisir quand les pluies sont en retard ? Au Mali, où les phénomènes extrêmes s’intensifient en raison du changement climatique, l’enjeu est de taille car leurs conséquences affecteront directement la production agricole des plus pauvres. Pour s’adapter à ces évolutions climatiques déjà observées, l’un des enjeux est de permettre aux agriculteurs les plus vulnérables d’anticiper ces événements extrêmes pour mieux adapter les techniques culturales. L’approche du PAPAM[1] à travers le don ASAP[2] appuie dans ce sens les petits exploitants pour qu’ils aient un meilleur accès aux informations climatiques et météorologiques.
©PAPAM/village de Baliani, Région de KAYES. Au centre, Adama Tounkara, paysan observateur tenant son carnet de relevé, à sa gauche le représentant de Mali-météo et à sa droite l'agent régional en Planification de l'ASAP, chef d'antenne ASAP de Kita. Les deux paysans en retrait sont les suppléants à M. Tounkara.

« Une perte de production agricole d’environ 17% est envisagée d’ici 2050 »

Le Mali fait partie des pays sahéliens qui sont parmi les plus durement touchés par le changement climatique. Les évolutions observées et les prédictions des tendances conclus à une augmentation de la température moyenne sur l’ensemble du pays, à une diminution progressive de la pluviométrie et une augmentation de la fréquence et de l’ampleur des phénomènes climatiques extrêmes. Plus particulièrement sur la pluviométrie, cette diminution est un phénomène déjà en cours puisqu’une diminution de 20% a été enregistrée de 1951-1970 à 1971-2000. Cette évolution a notamment provoqué une raréfaction des pluies au nord du pays[3]. Ce phénomène va s’amplifier dans les décades à venir. Il se caractérise par des cycles de saisons culturales raccourcis et par une installation des pluies plus tardives[4]. En outre, une perte de production agricole d’environ 17% est envisagée d’ici 2050, elle pourrait atteindre 28% si aucune action d’adaptation n’est entreprise.
Les petits exploitants évoquent déjà une difficulté à planifier les calendriers culturaux et les mouvements de transhumance à cause d’une perte de repères par rapport à l’arrivée des pluies et à leur modèle de répartition sur la saison. Heureusement, ces impacts négatifs peuvent être atténués par la diffusion d’information agro climatique.  

Aider les petits producteurs à prendre la meilleure décision

Le projet ASAP-PAPAM en partenariat avec Mali-météo appuie des groupes locaux formés à l’assistance météorologique dans la production et la diffusion vers les paysans d’information sur l’évolution de la campagne agricole et agropastorale. Ces groupes locaux disséminent des pluviomètres aux producteurs et communes pour comprendre l’installation des pluies dans  bassins de production. En retour, les producteurs reçoivent par les radios locales les conseils agro-métrologiques pour prendre les meilleures décisions de date de semis ou de choix de variétés. 

A ce jour, 750 pluviomètres ont été installés dans la zone d’intervention du projet et des paysans-observateurs et des journalistes ont été formé sur le relevé et la diffusion de l’information météorologique. Les agriculteurs participent désormais activement aux relevés pluviomètriques et leur utilisation montre de bons résultats dans l’aide à la prise à la décision. De plus en plus d’agriculteurs viennent spontanément vers le paysan-observateur pour savoir si les apports en pluie sont suffisants aux plantations ou bien pour des conseils sur le choix des variétés adaptées à la tendance climatique de l’année. 18 radios locales ont été appuyées pour la diffusion d’informations sur l’adaptation au changement climatique et pour la diffusion des résultats d’analyse de ces groupes. C’est ainsi quelque 22 000 exploitants qui peuvent maintenant bénéficier d’informations pluviométriques et près de 4000 exploitants qui bénéficient de données agro météorologique fournies par les groupes d’assistance météorologique. 

Produire et diffuser des données météorologiques ciblées pour mieux anticiper les effets du changement climatique

Fournir des informations crédibles et concrètes sur la météo et le climat à ces agriculteurs vulnérables a donc le potentiel d'atténuer les facteurs de risques qui menacent leurs moyens de subsistance, d'améliorer la sécurité alimentaire et leurs revenus. En fournissant des éléments sur la variation du climat et sur la pluviométrie, ces données peuvent aussi être utilisées pour l'élaboration d'approches et techniques agricoles novatrices, localement appropriées (semences améliorées, systèmes d’irrigation plus adaptés) afin de soutenir de nouveaux moyens de subsistance. Cependant, l’analyse et la diffusion de ces informations climatiques aux agriculteurs sont des processus complexes. Pour que l’information météo soit utile celle-ci doit identifier les informations les plus pertinentes pour des communautés bien ciblées. Se pose ensuite le défi de l’identification des moyens pour communiquer ces informations d'une manière appropriée à l’échelle locale. Enfin l’information météorologique ne peut être correctement utilisée que si des moyens sont mis en place pour évaluer et transmettre l’incertitude de ces mêmes informations. La prise en compte de ce degré d’incertitude permettra aux agriculteurs d’envisager plusieurs solutions en cas d’erreur de prévision. 


[1] Projet d’amélioration de la productivité agricole au Mali.
[2] Programme d’adaptation de l’agriculture paysanne.
[3] Déplacement de 200 km des isohyètes au Sud déjà constaté.
[4] Les premières pluies se déplacent progressivement de mai à aout voir même septembre pour certaines années.

Promoting family farming public policies in Brazil: beyond the main cities

Posted by Francesca Aloisio Wednesday, March 22, 2017 0 comments

By Paolo Silveri, IFAD's Country Programme Manager for Brazil


The need to strengthen the productive and commercial capacity of family farmers in north-east Brazil, one of the poorest regions of the country, was the focus of a forum held in Recife, Brazil, from 15 to 17 March.

The Eighth North-East and Minas Gerais Family Farming Managers Forum was organized by the knowledge-sharing programme Semear (meaning "to sow" in Portuguese), co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).

Over three days, we shared the lessons learned from IFAD-funded operations in Brazil with government representatives, civil society, the private sector and family farmers. The forum emphasized the need for the promotion of public policies that favour area-based development in the interior of the country, beyond the main cities.

Brazil is a major agricultural and industrial power with the strongest economy in Latin America and the seventh strongest in the world. Between 2004 and 2013, the proportion of the population living in poverty decreased from 22 per cent to 8.9 per cent. However, today more than 18 million people still live below the poverty line of whom 8 million are extremely poor. In the north-east part of the country, IFAD's intervention area in Brazil, one in four people in rural areas lives in poverty and in many municipalities poverty rates are above 60 per cent, with some reaching 90 per cent.

In order to reverse this situation and facilitate market access for small- and medium-sized cooperatives in this harsh environment, the forum agreed on the need to link technological innovation to family farming and foster specific policies, including technical assistance, extension services, production investments and financial services. Farmers' access to land was also flagged as a sine qua non for sustainable rural development.

This Forum is one of Brazil's main platforms for public policy dialogue on rural development and for fighting poverty in the country. It also serves as a bridge among the different actors involved in decision-making in state governments and the Federal Government.

Networking for scaling up is a key feature of IFAD's country programme in Brazil. This session of the Forum highlighted the lack of a national strategy for rural development, and the consequent need for political leaders and development workers to discuss priorities and harmonize policies across states and regions, to ensure that recent progress against poverty and in favour of smallholder farmers in north-east Brazil does not get lost due to the current economic crisis. Several development options were discussed in Recife, and an in-depth study on how to open markets for small farmers and artisans was also launched and discussed. This type of "hands-on policy dialogue" ensures harmonization and coordination through experience-sharing, originating mainly from IFAD co-financed projects.

Celebrating International Women’s Day 2017

Posted by Simona Siad Thursday, March 16, 2017 0 comments

To celebrate International Women's Day 2017 officials from the UN Rome-based agencies 
spoke about the importance of closing gender gaps in rural communities.

By Claire Ferry

The yellow mimosa was a badge of honour last week—sold on the streets, pinned onto lapels, attached to chocolates. Italy's iconic symbol of International Women's Day reminded us all of how much there is still be done before we reach gender equality. 

I was greeted with that same yellow flower as I walked into the Food and Agriculture Organization Headquarters (FAO), where the United Nations' Rome-based Agencies—FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP)—hosted a panel to mark the worldwide celebration. 

The opening session consisted of addresses by José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO; Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General of Climate and Natural Resources of FAO; Michel Mordasini, Vice-President of IFAD; and Amir Abdulla, Deputy Director of WFP. Following their remarks, a panel of four experts discussed the topic of "Women in the Changing World of Work." Evident throughout both sessions was this year's overall theme, "Step It Up Together with Rural Women to End Hunger and Poverty."

"The need to step up our work with rural women is urgent and vital," Vice-President Mordasini explained in his address. He called for a "deliberate and unambiguous focus" on improving the lives of rural women, outlining the many challenges they face in the workforce and at home. Mordasini made an important connection between gender equality and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda.

 "At IFAD, we have learned from our experience in the field that overcoming gender inequality is integral to transforming rural areas," he said. "We know that achieving sustainable agricultural development and resilience to global risks such as climate change or water scarcity would be 'mission impossible' without fully involving rural women, capitalizing on their knowledge, skills and engagement."

During International Women's Day, IFAD's Vice President called for a "deliberate and unambiguous focus"
on improving the lives of rural women, outlining the many challenges they face in the workforce and at home.

Mordasini's emphasis on women and their role in improving rural communities was echoed by the other speakers as well. As Abdulla stated in his address, "There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women."

The day's events focused on closing the gender gap in rural communities, but the messages still resonated with me.  As the experts rattled off statistics about rural women and relayed stories from the field, I found myself invested in the conversation as more than just a bystander—as a woman, I had a personal stake in this topic.

Kostas Stamoulis, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Development Department of FAO, served as the moderator. In a welcome change from common practice, the panel was made up of four women.

Valeria Esquivel, Economist and Gender Specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO), first laid the groundwork of women's presence in the workforce. She explained that with 27% fewer chances to participate in the labour market, women are put at a disadvantage from the start.  

The ILO predicts the proportion of people working in agriculture will decrease only slightly by 2030, dipping from 31% to 28% for women and from 28% to 24% for men. This means targeting the gender gap in rural sectors, especially in agriculture, will remain key in reducing world hunger and poverty.

With the facts established, Marzia Fontana of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London took a closer look at the specifics of gender inequality within rural communities. She provided a list of numbers about the gender gap, but Fontana's main point was the many disadvantages rural women face, even within their own communities and households: older women might not have the education necessary to break through barriers;  mothers are obliged to sacrifice incoming-earning opportunities to take care of children and the elderly; and women rarely have access to land or resources. And women of all ages work from dawn till dusk and beyond, with a huge burden of labour that leaves them neither time nor energy to change their lives.




Wafaa El Khoury of the Policy and Technical Advisory Division at IFAD echoed the statements of the other panellists, especially the importance of addressing the multi-dimensional problems of gender equality. What struck me most, though, was her emphasis on involving men in the process. 

"They [men] will either be the gateway or the obstacle," she said. 

Gender gaps in the workforce, forced responsibilities as caretakers, inadequate leadership presence—these issues are not exclusive to rural women, and in that, we can find common ground. The message that comes through time and again, however, is that only by empowering rural women will we win the battle against poverty and hunger.

The final panellist, Enrica Porcari, Chief Information Officer and Director of IT at WFP, closed the discussion with a personal message to all the young women in the room. She told her story of finding unlikely success in the IT industry and explained how she defied the odds. Porcari listed learning the difference between confidence and competence, never compromising oneself and the importance of humility as her pillars of success. 

"Pave the road for others who want to break the [glass] ceiling," she encouraged.

The yellow mimosas are no longer pinned to lapels or sold on the streets, but Porcari's message still rings loudly. IFAD experts are attending the Commission on the Status of Women at the New York United Nations Headquarters from 13 to 24 March, together with representatives of UN Member States, civil society organizations and UN entities. The meeting will continue the discussion of women's economic empowerment in the changing world of work, with a particular focus on the challenges faced by indigenous women. 

One day a year is set aside to celebrate women, but the work towards gender equality is year-round.

"If we are seriously committed to this vision, then 'step it up' means to employ every possible resource at our disposal for the cause," Mordasini said. "It means devoting ourselves to this issue not only on International Women’s Day, but every day."

Young or old, rural or urban—no matter our differences, we all deserve an equal shot at self-fulfilment.



Tchad: Les femmes actrices incontournables face au changement climatique

Posted by Christopher Neglia Wednesday, March 8, 2017 0 comments

                  ©IFAD/WCA Échanges avec les femmes de Saraf sur les effets du changement climatique et les techniques locales d’adaptation.
Par Alice Brie

Malgré le potentiel du secteur agricole tchadien, l’insécurité alimentaire touche la plupart des régions du pays. Ce problème est particulièrement lié à la vulnérabilité des systèmes agricoles face aux aléas et au changement climatiques. Une autre cause est l’inégalité entre les femmes et les hommes, qui demeure un obstacle important pour le développement rural puisque ce sont les femmes qui assurent en grande majorité la production alimentaire du pays. Avec un accès limité aux ressources, aux marchés et à la formation, les femmes sont aussi les premières impactées par le changement climatique, qui à la fois affecte leurs travaux agricoles et touche directement les ménages. Confrontées quotidiennement aux effets de ce changement, les agricultrices tchadiennes sont aussi porteuses de solutions pour s’adapter. Le PARSAT[1] accompagne les ménages vulnérables tout en soutenant l’autonomisation des femmes pour ainsi renforcer la résilience des systèmes de production et des populations face au changement climatique. La première mission de supervision du projet a été l’occasion de rencontrer des femmes membres de cette initiative.

« Pour les femmes, responsables à la fois des tâches domestiques et agricoles, la raréfaction des ressources naturelles et les changements climatiques augmentent directement leurs charges de travail »

Près du lac Fitri, la journée de Kadidja Abouna, débute à 5 heures du matin. Après s’être occupée de ses neuf enfants, elle part travailler de 7h à 18h sur sa parcelle, où elle cultive des haricots, de l’hibiscus et du sorgho. Sans aucune hésitation, elle affirme que ses rendements ont « diminué ces dernières années et que cela est dû aux changements des pluies qui finissent de plus en plus tôt ». Dans les autres localités d’intervention du projet, les constats sont du même ordre. Dans le village de Yao, le président du comité départemental d’action des agriculteurs, note la disparition des périodes de froid propices aux pépinières, la présence de plus en plus marquée d’insectes ravageurs, l’augmentation du nombre de pluies destructrices et des vents violents. A Mébra, ce sont les conflits hommes/nature qui deviennent plus fréquents. Ses habitants notent aussi une forte augmentation des températures et déplorent la baisse du niveau de la nappe ainsi que la disparition d’arbres fruitiers.

©IFAD/Sarah Morgan femme allant remplir ses seaux d’eau au puits.

Pour les femmes, responsables à la fois des tâches domestiques et agricoles, la raréfaction des ressources naturelles et ces changements climatiques augmentent directement leurs charges de travail. Pour les habitantes de Mébra par exemple, la perte du couvert forestier les contraint à commencer leur journée à 3 heures du matin pour la corvée de bois et la collecte d’eau. L’ensablement de la route à Saraf rend lui l’acheminement des marchandises au marché de plus en plus difficile pour les désignées vendeuses.

Au Tchad comme dans la plupart des pays d’Afrique, les femmes n’ont par ailleurs que très peu accès aux ressources économiques et productives qui leur permettraient de rebondir et diversifier leurs activités face aux aléas climatiques. Dans les régions du Centre Ouest, seuls les hommes bénéficient de la propriété des terres. Le droit coutumier empêche les femmes d'hériter de la terre ou du bétail parce qu'elles quittent le clan de leur père pour se marier. En conséquence, les droits sur les ressources productives sont concentrés essentiellement entre les mains des ménages dirigés par des hommes, tandis que les ménages dirigés par des femmes tirent beaucoup moins de revenus des activités agricoles. Ces ménages sont beaucoup plus exposés aux facteurs de risques notamment climatiques qui à la longue entrainent la faim.

Des actrices incontournables pour la protection de l’environnement et la lutte contre la dégradation des terres 

Les effets produits par le changement climatique entrainent la mise en place de stratégies innovantes, développées par les femmes, afin de mieux s’adapter et indirectement de protéger leurs environnements. Établissant des liens entre la désertification des sols, l’augmentation du temps de travail nécessaire à la corvée de bois et la disparition du couvert forestiers, les habitantes de Moito et de Mébra ont mis en œuvre des techniques efficaces, qui permettent de restaurer la fertilité des sols et d’économiser la quantité de bois nécessaire au ménage.


©IFAD/WCA, Agricultrice arrosant ses plants de salade grâce un puits maraicher financé par le PARSAT


Les femmes plantent par exemple des arbres à proximité des cultures pour faire face à la désertification. Avec l’appui du PARSAT, elles intègrent plus particulièrement le rôle éco-systémique des arbres pour les sols grâce aux apports en matière organique et la régulation hydrologique qu’ils produisent. Des fagots de bois consommés, elles réutilisent le charbon afin de chauffer d’autres aliments, ce qui a pour effet de limiter l’usage de nouveaux fagots et indirectement de réduire leur impact sur les forêts avoisinantes. Elles établissent de même une planification détaillée de la répartition en eau par activité (cuisine, hygiène, de boisson) et les quantités nécessaires pour chacun des membres du ménage. Cela leur permet ainsi de réduire la quantité journalière d’eau prélevée, et surtout de limiter le nombre d’allers et retour jusqu’au forage. Dans certaines localités, les femmes observant une meilleure rétention des eaux de pluies dans les bas fonds, privilégient les travaux agricoles dans ces zones. Elles utilisent de même des semences à cycles courts ou précoces afin de s’adapter au démarrage tardif des pluies et obtenir de meilleurs rendements.

Soutenir l’autonomisation des agricultrices pour renforcer la résilience des ménages

Kadidja, elle, a pris sa décision juste après que son mari soit parti en exil. En novembre, elle a rejoint un groupement d’agriculteurs soutenu par le PARSAT. Kadidja voit dans cette organisation paysanne composée de 27 membres dont dix femmes, « un objectif commun » : une meilleure gestion des bénéfices à travers un système d’épargne communautaire, qui lui permettra de mieux investir dans sa parcelle, d’augmenter sa production et le revenu de son ménage. Au sein du groupement deux femmes possèdent un rôle clé : Safi Issa est la comptable et Kadidja elle même s’occupe de la vente de la production. Le projet formera ces femmes en particulier au leadership et à la prise de parole afin qu’elles intègrent le comité de gestion agricole du groupement et qu’il prenne mieux en compte les besoins de son groupement et celui des autres femmes.

Kadidja voit aussi dans le PARSAT l’opportunité d’obtenir des formations techniques et un accès à des technologies agricoles pour qu’elle puisse s’adapter au mieux aux nouvelles contraintes climatiques auxquelles son milieu agricole doit faire face. Le FEM (Fonds pour l’Environnement Mondial), le FIDA avec l’ASAP (Programme d’adaptation de l’agriculture paysanne) appuieront à travers ce projet les ménages ruraux les plus vulnérables et en particulier les femmes afin d’accroître leur production agricole sur le long terme, de gérer les ressources naturelles et les écosystèmes agricoles de manière durable, mais aussi d’améliorer la conservation, la transformation et la commercialisation des produits animaux et agricoles, leur proposant ainsi des ressources complémentaires. L’approche est double puisque le projet inclut des mesures d’atténuation pour réduire les risques climatiques (notamment à travers la diffusion de données météorologiques), et des mesures d’adaptation afin de minimiser les effets du changement climatique. La combinaison de ces deux aspects permettra aux femmes d’améliorer leurs conditions d’existence et la sécurité alimentaire des ménages tout en leur donnant les moyens d’amortir l’impact de futurs chocs.


[1] Projet d’amélioration de la résilience des systèmes agricoles au Tchad.

Where there is water, there is life

Posted by Francesca Aloisio Tuesday, March 7, 2017 0 comments

The impact of water and rural infrastructure rehabilitation in Mozambique.

By Magali Marguet and Mawira Chitima

Yumma used to walk 3km, five times a day, to the nearest Limpopo river to fetch about 125 liters of water for her family. Normally, the five 25 liters containers needed per day were transported on Yumma head one by one, but over the last two years, her life has changed completely. Thanks to her community’s new multifunctional borehole, this morning she watered her family garden and later she will work with the other women of the village at their art and craft group.

Yumma, 40, lives in Matxinguetxingue, a semi-arid region in the Gaza province of southern Mozambique. It’s a small village of 89 households that depends on the subsistence farming of cattle and goats. She has four children and her eldest son helps tend the animals. Like most men in the community, her husband is a migrant worker in South Africa.

For years, growing vegetables to supplement the family diet was only possible in the wetlands 5 km from the village. But life for Yumma and her neighbours has changed radically. A borehole with 81 meters underground and a solar-powered pump is now supplying the village with up to 18,000 liters of fresh and clean water a day. The system has five water points: two for domestic water supply, one for family gardens, one for clothes washing and one the village’s animals. The community and its Water User Association (WUA) has been empowered. 
It all started with the idea of upgrading the borehole and constructing new water points to increase the community's resilience to drought, to manage water sources more effectively and to supply it to the animals’ drinking troughs. In 2012, the IFAD-funded Pro-poor value chain development project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL) was set up to address climate resilience, land tenure security and gender equity. The project effectively started three years later, encompassing horticulture, cassava and red meat value chain development, with the construction and rehabilitation of hydro-regulators in irrigation schemes. Other interventions include: the construction of multifunctional boreholes, shade clothes for year round horticulture production and the establishment of cattle fairs.
Being the animal husbandry activity the main source for income generation for almost all the household in Matxinguechingue village, the water supply reliability, and availability for cattle is seen by the beneficiaries as a boost to increase red meat production and hence increase the local community well-being.

Yumma's case illustrates the benefits gained with the upgrading of the Matxinguetxingue borehole. With the upgrading of the borehole, Yumma and other women are able to save some time which is used to generate new income from arts and crafts, but the advantages go far beyond this. Access to a reliable supply of water is priceless, as is the reduced gruelling labour for women and young girls and the corresponding increase in health and lifespan.

The rehabilitation of the Matxinguetxingue borehole also highlights the link between domestic and commercial water supply. Rural infrastructure interventions like this can have major implications on smallholder livelihoods, land management and resilience to climate change.

In fact, the situation has changed very quickly and positively in the districts covered by the PROSUL. The project has been such a success that the demand for similar borehole stations has increased. From the 14 achieved so far, it has now been significantly extended with a further 28 due to scaling-up. In the local currency, that will represent a total cost of 3.7 million Metical (USD 52.857,14) – approximately $105 per person, taking the example of the number of people and cattle in Matxinguetxingue.
A water through for cattle drinking in Matxinguetxingue
The PROSUL project is now at half-way of its implementation and itis already clear that its success must be evaluated from a wider perspective. Water and rural infrastructure interventions have significant impact on people’s livelihoods, their health and their resilience to climate change. And on a very personal level, for people like Yumma, it really is life-changing.


Mozambique - Pro-poor value chain development project in the Maputo and Limpopo Corridors (PROSUL) mid-term review mission – December 2016

IFAD Governing Council: Day 2 highlights

Posted by Francesca Aloisio Wednesday, March 1, 2017 0 comments

Recognizing the role of Indigenous Peoples

By Claire Ferry


The first day of IFAD's 40th session of the Governing Council was marked by keynote speakers and the election of the Fund's next president, Gilbert F. Houngbo. The second day, however, brought the focus back to the heart of the organization—the people it serves.

The biennial gathering of the Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum was held earlier in the week at IFAD's headquarters and it called on representatives from across the world to discuss indigenous peoples' involvement in IFAD-supported projects. Those representatives carried their message into the second day of the Council, voicing their praises and concerns to IFAD Member States in a panel discussion.

Pope Francis speaks to indigenous peoples' representatives

Just before the Council reconvened for the panel, the indigenous peoples' representatives attended a closed meeting with Pope Francis. He stressed the delicate balance between forging ahead with development while also respecting and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

"The right to prior and informed consent should always prevail," Pope Francis said. "Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict."

Francis highlighted the importance of women and young people in indigenous communities, urging governments to recognize the rights of all those involved. To bring about this change, the Pope proposed IFAD's funding and expertise as a "road map" to navigate the development that has too often left indigenous peoples in its wake.

"I think the Pope's words are important," Mirna Cunningham, President of the Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Autonomy and Development, said. "We have to remember that technological and economic development is not progress in itself, and IFAD can play a very big role with technical and financial support to ensure that these measures are considered with indigenous peoples."

As a token of all the indigenous peoples represented, delegation members offered gifts to the pope: an alpaca coat from Bolivian Andes, a blanket from the Igorot people in the Philippine Cordillera, and a Miskitu-translated bible from Nicaragua. Each gift serves as a reminder of the human faces behind every project.



Governing Council's panel on indigenous peoples

Following the meeting with Pope Francis, Cunningham mediated the Panel of Indigenous Peoples with representatives from Asia, Africa and South America.

Joan Carling, a former member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, praised IFAD for its clear actions in promoting indigenous peoples' right to free prior and informed consent.

She explained how better implementation of projects leads to real empowerment, allowing these communities to be at the centre of the decision-making processes. Specifically, Carling cited IFAD's ability to track the progress of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which she believes contributes to indigenous peoples' self-determined development.

One area she suggested bolstering, though, was IFAD's securing of women's land rights and initiatives. "We know that indigenous women are working on the lands, so the entitlement of women and the protection of lands is critical to the survival of indigenous peoples," Carling said.

Elifuraha Laltaika, a member of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, followed Carling's remarks with an update on the state of indigenous people in Africa, highlighting the lack of recognition of these communities by governments. Though the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights exists, Laltaika doubts how closely most governments have followed its guidelines. Despite this, he remains hopeful because of constitutional reforms in countries like Kenya and Tanzania. Constitutional inclusion of indigenous communities' rights, along with involvement by agencies like IFAD, opens the door to more extensive change in African countries.


Echoing Laltaika's emphasis on recognition, Maria Teresa Zapeta Mendoza, Programme Manager for the International Indigenous Women’s Forum, shifted the discussion to the marketing of indigenous peoples' products while maintaining respect for their culture. She again reinforced the importance of governments' acknowledgement of the peoples' rights, but furthered the conversation, saying, "IFAD and governments should see us as allies and should recognize that we are legally entitled people." Mendoza told of women in Ecuador trying enter the international fish market and people in Chile achieving sustainability through ecotourism. She called for support from both IFAD and governments, which would allow indigenous peoples to compete alongside everyone else in the marketplace.

Jorge Alberto Jiménez, General Director of the Bureau for Comprehensive Social Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, built on Mendoza's insistence that indigenous people could indeed occupy a competitive place in the market. He spoke proudly of El Salvador's indigenous population and its extensive knowledge of natural medicine, but acknowledged it needs the help of institutions like IFAD to jumpstart progress. Jiménez also recalled the genocide of nearly 30,000 indigenous people in 1932 and its role in El Salvador's history today: "We have to remember that our history is not in museums; it's in the hands of the people." With that, he called for constitutional reform and stronger implementation and monitoring of the policies in place.

To conclude the panel, Cunningham invited to the stage special guest Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Tauli-Corpuz acknowledged the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and praised IFAD for its outstanding implementation of the declaration. Though indigenous peoples still suffer from continued mistreatment, she urged IFAD and governments to listen to the aspirations of these communities and enter into multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Looking ahead: President-elect Gilbert F. Houngbo

The focus of the 40th Governing Council was appointing the next president of IFAD, but amidst such a monumental event, the president-elect himself did not lose sight of the rural people the Fund serves.

“I have come from the rural world," said Houngbo, a native of Togo. "I have first-hand knowledge of the harshness of this kind of life.”

The Indigenous Peoples' Forum and the Governing Council have concluded, but the work now truly begins as President Nwanze begins to hand over the reins to Houngbo. Throughout it all, though, it is the people who will undoubtedly remain the focus of IFAD's operations.



IFAD's Member States meet for annual Governing Council

By Kerri Devlin
Delegates representing countries from all over the world were in attendance at this year's Governing Council. ©IFAD
On 14 and 15 February development leaders, heads of state and representatives from around the world attended IFAD's 40th session of the Governing Council (GC), where IFAD’s sixth President was appointed.

In conjunction with the third global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, the GC, IFAD’s main decision-making body, met with rural farmers and government representatives from 150 nations to appoint the new President of IFAD and discuss IFAD's commitment to "leave no one behind" in the framework of the 2030 Development Agenda.

In the opening of the inaugural ceremony, Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD, gave his final opening speech to the Governing Council.

Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) speaks at the opening ceremony of IFAD Governing Council. ©IFAD
Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius, was introduced by President Nwanze to give a keynote address. Her Excellency emphasized the key role that women play in the economic development of Africa, saying “Africa will not advance and take her rightful place as a global leader unless she moves beyond the outdated mentality of past centuries, and until we offer our daughters the same right and opportunities as our sons.”

Gurib-Fakim also spoke of the hardships many African countries continue to face, highlighting the extreme poverty and lack of a thriving agricultural sector.

“Today nearly two in five children are malnourished and one in eight women is underweight,” said Gurib-Fakim.

Maurizio Martina, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policy of the Italian Republic also gave a keynote address at the opening ceremony.

He brought to attention how far the international community has come in thinking about and addressing the ambitious challenge that is within our reach: ending hunger and malnutrition.

Gurib-Fakim called upon every man and woman to play a role in achieving this goal, stating firmly that there is no acceptable number of hungry or malnourished. “Hunger and poverty, especially in rural areas are often the first link in a chain of factors that bring conflict, instability, humanitarian emergency and migration,” added Martina. 
Maurizio Martina, Minister of Agriculture of the Italian Republic speaks at the opening of IFAD Governing Council. ©IFAD
Nwanze followed and gave a statement to close the inaugural ceremony. In his final time closing the ceremony, the President of IFAD emphasized the importance of continuing efforts to meet the 2030 Agenda, saying that “investing in rural areas is not a choice; it is a necessity.”

“We will never eliminate poverty and hunger unless we transform rural areas into vibrant economies” said Nwanze.

“Rural development is also a moral obligation. When people face the prospect of dying in poverty and hunger, they migrate to cities and urban areas and beyond. For them, no ocean is wide enough, no fence will ever rise high enough, no border will impregnable enough to keep out desperate women, children, and men.”

Nwanze also discussed the way that IFAD focuses on long term solutions. He explained that by transforming lives and transforming livelihoods, we also transform communities. “When we invest in the economic and social development of rural areas, and when we bring clean water, electricity, roads, financial services to rural areas, then we are building communities that people don’t have to flee from,” said Nwanze.

In his final address to IFAD’s GC, Nwanze reflected on the achievements and reforms of the past eight years, and spoke to his successor’s challenges that lie ahead.

Nwanze cautioned that at a time when the world is plagued by conflicts, migration, climate change and political uncertainty, selecting the right person as IFAD President is a big responsibility.
Maurizio Martina, Minister of Agriculture of the Italian Republic speaks at the opening of IFAD Governing Council. ©IFAD
Representatives from Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, Morocco, Togo, Turkey, Dominican Republic and Switzerland were candidates for the position of IFAD’s sixth President. Delegates from Member States of IFAD met to appoint the new President, who will lead the organization.

Former Prime Minister of Togo, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo was appointed as new President of IFAD. He will serve for a term of office for four years, to take effect starting 1 April 2017.

With first-hand knowledge of the rural world and more than 30 years of experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management, Houngbo believes that “through a dynamic leadership of IFAD” he can “contribute to visible change in the hardship-laden lives of the world’s rural poor.”