Monday, November 25, 2013

IFAD Director West and Central Africa Speaks

IFAD Director for West and Central Africa

Ides v.d Does de Willebois,International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Director for West and Central Africa, in an interview with reporters explained that the National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development (Nema) is being implemented with a combination of funding from IFAD, the Government of The Gambia. Additional funding are expected from theIslamicDevelopment Bank (IsDB) and the World Bank He added that all the players have timeline for funding project and here the goal is to support agricultural priorities in the country.

According to him, the Nema project was designed to covertwo cyclesof funding and makes it for us (IFAD) to have alarger funding for the project at a tune of US $65 million. He added that in the past,IFAD plan its projects linked to the money they have in one cycle but that ended in many small money in a small country.
“In reality, a design of a large project is the same as implementing a small project and the implementation double the cost, which is inefficient.”
For the implementation of IFAD projects in The Gambia, he vividly said that implementing partners performance in The Gambia is very much on the right way but was quick to say that the challenges that they have seen is all during the design of the Nema project and are building on some of thesuccesses.
“During my field visit is the level of investment that I see sometimes that investment is too high. It is a matter of reviewing for cost effectiveness. You can build beautiful buildings and to reduce the cost and you are not working with one community alone. If you put a very costly construction, other communities will not be able to have a similar project in their local community; therefore, you need to be cost effective in designing your activities for the rural communities as a project.
In addition, he added that the money will finish, so you need to use local material when working in the rural communities and work closely with the rural folk.
On sustainability, he noted that when, he visited some project sites together with other implementing partners, many of the local communities are saying that they are waiting for further support from the government adding that his message to them was that they need to sit in groups with project staff to support them as well as think on how to utilize the money that is given to them by IFAD projects to do their activities that they can manage well.
“Their earnings and savings they make to help themselves, so stop waiting on government, stop waiting for projects, start doing things for yourselves and in that way the government and projects money will not waste you time to implement a successful project.”
With these, he believe that the local communities will then get sustainability and then funding should not only come from the government and donors, for them to wait too long.
According to him, it’s very important that development comes from the local people, development partnersand government provides support and level playing field for them.
His message to the youth including youth in The Gambia is to stay in the rural areas, stop going to the big cities only selling airtime.
“I would really encourage everybody especially the youth to stay in the rural areas, do farming so that they can produce what we want to eat in the cities.”
Again, what “I have seen in Africa for the past thirty years is that many farmers are old and young ones are not taking farming like our forefather, I don’t see the younger ones coming in, and if that continues we will only be importing food,” he said it is also important to entice the young ones to stay in the rural areas saying that “we still have some youth in the rural areas who are optimistic and are ready to work in the rural area, therefore, we need to support them technically and financially”.

On the Earth Observation Technology, pilot project in the country, he said that it was first seen some six to seven years ago in Madagascarhow useful this technology was and overthe years, they developed a time series and developed images and pictures where you can really follow and monitor the changes in land use.
Earth Observation tools, he went on to say that is an explanatory tool for policy makers to see what is happening and what is the patterns of the crop as well as for the implementers of projects and programmes,Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, for the community, because the farmers themselves in the community can see over a period of timewhat happen to their environment, their farms, etc.
So then IFAD became very keen in promoting the tool and over the years, it’s fortunate that the technology (earth observation) has become very affordable and now “we taught is a good time and together with European Earth Space Agency to see how we can work in countries in West and Central Africa using this technology to develop base line data, develop understanding of about agricultural sector, the natural resources and the environment and how this can be closely monitored over time.”
Why we have The Gambia after Madagascar, in reply, he said that sometimes it is IFAD Country Programme Manager (CPM) whoplanned activities and for that of The Gambia, it was through my CPM, Moses Abukari who was so fast that he decided to have the programme in West Africa and The Gambia is the first country where we piloted Earth Observation technologies in a village called Jarumeh Koto in Sami District, Central River Region North. He added, it is always important to have some project and government staff trained in this kind of technologies and he was pleased to see many active participants during the 5-day capacity building workshop delivered by Francesco Holecz(from Sarmap, service provider of this The Gambia pilot project).
“I can vividly say that is because of Moses Abukari CPM for West and Central Africa, we have this pilot project in first West African country- The Gambia, he is very smart in doing this and let me tell you that, there is no magic in having IFAD project in any country, all what it takes is to be smart.”

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