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20/12/2010

RuralInvest Spreads to Turkey

For the First Time Since Inception, RuralInvest Training Conducted Fully in Turkish

 Afyon, Turkey- The very first RuralInvest training in the Turkish language took place from December 2nd to 9th, 2010. The training, funded by FAO’s Investment Centre and co-funded by Turkey’s Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MOEF), successfully trained MOEF's staff on effective approaches to conceiving and implementing their own investment projects related to rural development.

 The training in Afyon was an important step forward for RuralInvest, which runs in 6 languages: Spanish, English, French, Russian, Portuguese and now Turkish, with an Arabic version close to completion.

An interview with co-founder, Aidan Gulliver, provides further background on RuralInvest.

 “RuralInvest began fifteen years ago in Guatemala as a result of a clear need for development of local capacities in preparing investment proposals,” Gulliver shared. “We found that proposals were often poorly prepared. We wanted to improve the situation by ensuring that all proposals answered a number of basic questions in order to improve the quality and ease of evaluation.” Gulliver explained further, “Once proposals are in the RuralInvest electronic form, they are easy to share. Performing sensitivity analysis and providing feedback becomes much more feasible.”

RuralInvest is used to train two types of constituencies:

Staff working with projects funded by International Financing Institutions (IFIs), such as the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and; Government ministries, including Ministries of Agriculture, and now in the case of Turkey, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry.

 RuralInvest is also being used more and more by private sector banks and some NGOs, but training is generally provided through agreements with government. A recent example is Equity Bank in Kenya.

 Evolution of a successful toolkit

 Since its inception in Guatemala in 1995, RuralInvest has proven successful and has spread throughout Latin America. In 2003 it was brought to Madagascar and also translated into English for the first time. RuralInvest began more or less as a simple Excel spreadsheet, but has since evolved into an in-depth, complex FAO product, with its own specially designed open source software, which allows the product to be publicly available. Where possible, RuralInvest is used as a web-based platform, however the possibility exists to install it directly onto local host computers.

 Successful Implementation

RuralInvest has been successfully implemented throughout the world.

 An early example of success was with PRODEPINE (Proyecto de Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas y Negros de Ecuador), a development project to support indigenous villages in Ecuador. Through the use of RuralInvest, the project successfully provided funding to communities in indigenous areas. The project allowed them to develop and strengthen investments in both income-generating activities, such as dairy processing and transportation, and non-income-generating activities, including the development of schools and health clinics.

 From 2001 onwards, various countries in Central America have been trained and supported in the use of RuralInvest through RUTA a multi-agency cooperation project based in Costa Rica. In Kenya, RuralInvest has been used successfully on a number of projects including with the Kenya Forestry Service (KFS).  The use of RuralInvest in project design arose from KFS management accepting  that in order for forest protection projects to succeed, forest communities must be offered alternative, sustainable income sources—an understanding that was then reflected in the project design.

Recently, training has been undertaken in Mexico and Chile, as well as in Turkey, and further courses are scheduled in Central Asia and Morocco over the next few months.

 Moving Forward: RuralInvest in Turkey

 The success of the RuralInvest training in Afyon is truly an exciting development. Gulliver shared, “there is a wide scope for expanding RuralInvest into different countries and different languages.” The MOEF training is a strong example of such.

Participants were well prepared and had clear goals on learning outcomes of the course. A range of technical units were represented, from those planning the Ministry’s work to those working in the field with local technicians on implementation of Government-funded projects.

The Director General of ORKOY (Turkey’s Directorate on Forestry) personally supported the training and is very keen that MOEF staff continues to receive training on RuralInvest—specifically to train their own trainers in order to expand institutional knowledge among Ministry staff, including local technicians.