Re: Mainstreaming Food Security into Peacebuilding Processes

Karim Hussein IFAD, Italy

Dear Alexandra and Diane,

Thank you very much for the opportunity to contribute to this debate.

Armed conflict and the effects of state fragility may spill over borders, taking on a regional or global dimension. International support is often required to meet people’s basic needs, including security, and to ensure access to basic services according to humanitarian principles (e.g. neutrality; impartiality; do no harm; accountability; participation of affected populations).

This is a very important theme for IFAD, particularly now as the organisation prepares strategic priorities for coming years, reviews achievements over recent years and begins consultations on the 10th replenishment of IFAD's resources for the period 2016-18. Engagement in fragile and conflict-affected states and situations is an important dimension to this process. IFAD's mandate to enable poor people to overcome poverty covers all countries and regions that are internationally recognised as fragile states and situations and continues to finance projects and programmes in many contexts experiencing protracted crises linked to natural disasters, violent conflict, insecurity and instability. Therefore, IFAD has been reviewing its performance in fragile states and situations, reviewing priorities, strategies, instruments and best practices, as engagement in such situations will continue to be a priority in the coming years.

Some elements of IFAD experience that might be useful in the context of this e-forum are outlined below. First, of the 95 countries in which IFAD had ongoing operations in 2012, a total of 38, or 40%, were classified as fragile. Out of the 254 ongoing projects, a total of 105, or 41%, were being implemented in fragile states. Similarly, 40% of the projects in the current portfolio are in fragile states.  46 fragile and conflict-affected countries will have IFAD allocations in the period 2013-15 and they will receive some 45% of the total allocations in the current cycle (2013-15). These included IFAD-financed programmes that continue to be implemented in often remote, rural areas across the world, for example in: Burundi, Haiti, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Libya, Sierra Leone, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, South Sudan…. Indeed, IFAD is often one of the few international agencies to maintain operations and continue support to rural poverty reduction, capacity building and agricultural and rural development through long term crises and continues to support the strengthening of capacities for programme implementation, supervision and monitoring throughout crises. Third, IFAD-financed programmes prioritise the most vulnerable groups, particularly women, young people and the food insecure.  

IFAD’s approach in protracted crises is guided by its ‘Framework for bridging post-crisis recovery and long term development’ (1998), a ‘Crisis Prevention and Recovery Policy’ (2006), a consultation document for the EB on ‘IFAD’s role in fragile states’ (2008), evaluation insights on fragile states (2008).  The Crisis Prevention and Recovery Policy reaffirms the need for IFAD to help poor rural people to increase their resilience to external shocks and their capacity to cope more effectively with crisis situations, and to restore the means of livelihood upset by crisis and recognises the need to tailor actions to the needs of individual countries. The policy identified three key strategic initiatives as the basis for the positive outcomes of IFAD interventions in crisis areas: (a) empowering communities, by building robust and transparent rural community-based organizations with clear objectives and access to resources to implement their own micro-projects, to ensure a role for rural poor people in the decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods; (b) supporting an active role for women in community organizations and in other local public governance institutions; and (c) mobilizing NGOs and civil society organizations to complement public administrations in providing services to rural communities.

In October 2008, IFAD prepared a paper for its members reviewing 'IFAD's role in fragile states'. The review of project completion and project evaluation reports identified a number of key lessons to achieve better impact more consistently in fragile and conflict-affected states and situations. These included the need for:

  • - More profound in-country knowledge, by investing more in analytical work and contextual studies in fragile states;
  • - Clearer and simpler project objectives and design in fragile states;
  • Better donor coordination; and
  • - More direct IFAD involvement in project and programme supervision;

The paper also noted that governance issues affecting IFAD’s programmes must be tackled at the national level, and that IFAD must carefully evaluate whether it is matching the right instruments to specific situations and whether these instruments are being used flexibly in fragile states. At the time the paper was produced an undifferentiated approach was being used with respect to decisions regarding country programme managers (CPMs), country presence, supervision, quality enhancement procedures, etc. It is now recognised that the approach in fragile states and situations should allow for the provision of additional technical assistance for programme development if needed, and be sufficiently flexible to adapt projects and programmes over time.

Recent reviews and evaluations of IFAD-financed programmes in fragile states indicate that they generally perform less well in relation to others in stable contexts, according to standard indicators. This experience is not restricted to IFAD – other IFIs are facing similar challenges.  Traditional approaches and development financing models do not work as well in crisis contexts. Achieving results in fragile contexts and protracted crises requires more time and more resources than in stable settings, and at a greater risk. This seems to call for reflection on the appropriateness of the IFI financing models and approaches which sees state institutions as implementers of development assistance, in fragile states and situations and protracted crises. IFAD has committed to improve its operational effectiveness and performance in fragile states between 2013 and 2015, including special reporting on our work in fragile states in the annual 2013 Portfolio Review. In 2013-2015 IFAD will finance operations in a total of 98 countries. Of these, 48 are classified as fragile; 46 of them will receive IFAD financing.

When analysing its development effectiveness in fragile states, IFAD has found that that it has been key to implement programmes at the community level with a high degree of participation, particularly of rural women.  Also, that in line with its crisis prevention policy, IFAD will support conflict prevention by incorporating measures to mitigate the risk of foreseeable crises, natural and otherwise, and their impact on the Fund‘s intended beneficiaries during country strategy and project formulation. And that IFAD will continue to emphasize inclusive development and strengthening the capacities of the intended beneficiaries of IFAD-financed programmes as individuals, and to enhance the capacity of local organizations to cope with shocks when they occur.

Concrete and effective ways for implementing any policy updates in practice must be set in place, ensuring, among other things, staff capacity, the allocation of adequate budgeting, and the setting up of realistic timeframes of engagement. Through a review of programmes in fragile and conflict-affected states and situations IFAD has identified a number of lessons to achieve the desired impacts in fragile states and protracted crises: (i) More profound in-country knowledge is needed; (ii) Project objectives and design in fragile states should be clearer and simpler. (iii) Donor coordination needs to be enhanced in fragile states, as the capacity for internal coordination among line ministries in the partner country also needs to be taken into account. (iv)  IFAD needs to be more involved in supervision to help adapt and reshape projects and programmes during implementation. (v) Governance issues affecting IFAD’s programmes must be tackled at the national level. And (vi) IFAD must carefully evaluate whether it is matching the right instruments to specific situations and whether these instruments are being used flexibly in fragile states. The approach in fragile and protracted crisis contexts should allow for the provision of additional technical assistance for programme development if needed, and be sufficiently flexible to adapt projects and programmes over time.

On accountability, I believe that it is clear that national and local governments, their international development partners and local people and their organizations are jointly accountable for progress on food security in protracted crisis contexts. But establishing effective ways to objectively identify and measure progress towards specific targets, but in an impartial and participatory way, remains a challenge.

In reviewing practice in IFAD and among several other international development actors, we have also found that in order to improve programme performance and achieve development objectives in such difficult contexts it is necessary to:

  • * enhance capacity for situational and conflict analysis and ensure staff working in protracted crises benefit from tailored technical support;
  • * clarify and update institutional strategies for working in such contexts, learning from the practical experiences of staff and external partners on what works best to maintain programme effectiveness in these situations while scrupulously observing humanitarian principles;
  • * devote more resources to support operations in fragile and conflict-affected states and situations, and protracted crises;
  • * update and harmonize guidelines on, approaches to, and instruments for the provision of assistance and implementation of operations in protracted crises;
  • * adopt a flexible approach to programme design and implementation; and
  • * enhance risk management in these contexts, including security of personnel.

I personally think this could be supported by:

(i) Collaboration  among IFIs and other development agencies on approaches to operating in protracted crises, using existing networks such as the Busan New Deal Framework, the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, OECD’s INCAF and the UN’s Peacebuilding Support Office to exchange on successful approaches and experiences;

  1. (ii) Enhancing sharing of field experience and development of in-House expertise in this area, informed by deeper linkages with expertise outside the organisation; and
  3. (iii) Considering the utility and feasibility for establishing more tailored and flexible financing modalities in relation to fragile states and protracted crises, including perhaps a capacity to directly finance private sector and civil society organisations.

Hoping this contribution to the debate is useful in the construction of the Agenda for Action, we look forward to reviewing the experiences and perspectives of other participants in this Community of Practice and sharing further as we seek to work in partnership to enhance our performance in protracted crises.

For information, at the regional level IFAD has been supporting a number of initiatives to review experience in situations of fragility and protracted crises. I would like to mention, for example, the work by IFPRI that IFAD has supported on policies and investments for poverty reduction and food security in the Arab region: Beyond the Arab Awakening, The Programme Management Department also completed a detailed review of IFAD's performance in Fragile States at the end of 2013. I can provide further information on these if useful.

Best regards,