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PAA Africa Programme

02/09/2013 - 

FAO and WFP have long been partnering to promote food and nutrition security of vulnerable communities. The Programme Purchase from Africans for Africa is a recent example of how the agencies can design and implement joint work for effective and efficient operations on the ground.

PAA Africa is being currently operated in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger and Senegal since February 2012. With a funding of USD 4.5 million provided by Brazil and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Programme is a joint initiative to promote food and nutrition security and income generation of smallholder farmers in Africa. Building on WFP’s Purchase for Progress (P4P) initiative and FAO’s expertise in production, the pilot activities support groups of farmers to become more involved in producing and marketing food, contributing to supplement and diversify diets in school feeding programmes, while strengthening dialogue with public policies.

By working together in areas complementary to their mandates, FAO and WFP give PAA Africa supported countries the benefit of their combined strengths. PAA Africa’s Coordinator for FAO, Israel Klug, points this design as one of its greatest value added, as “it allows the project to benefit from the comparative advantages of each organization”.  “In the context of PAA Africa, the complementarity of the organizations’ mandates is not only beneficial to improve operations, but might as well help advance public dialogue on the topic of local procurement”, he added. FAO has been working on the production side with its technical expertise, providing direct support to smallholder farmers on distribution of seeds and agricultural inputs, harvest and post-harvest training, integrated pest-management and school gardens for better nutrition. To guarantee a stable demand for farmers, WFP, leveraging its experience under the P4P initiative, utilizes its demand footprint to provide a guaranteed market for farmers’ produce, with the school feeding programme being the off-taker in all 5 PAA Africa supported countries.  In all countries, the agencies work in close collaboration during all phases of implementation, from production to the distribution of food. International experts have been working with both agencies for data collection, dissemination of information and dialogue with local partners to improve and strengthen institutional local food purchase programmes.

During the programme’s conception, the government of Brazil, as one of PAA Africa’s main funders, along with DFID, considered the inter-agency partnership not only fundamental, but natural. “They have been historical partners, so there was already a trust based relationship, and we (Brazil) had already had a good experience working together in Haiti, so for us it was almost evident that those should be the partners” said Milton Rondó Filho, General-Coordinator for International Actions to Combat Hunger from the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations. The complementarity of the organizations’ mandates is a major value added for the implementation in the field, and the agencies have in many occasions successfully overcome the challenge of conciliating different institutional and organizational cultures by working in close dialogue. The joint selection of areas where the project would be implemented and the collaboration in organizing PAA Africa’s international events are some of the examples of such dialogue.

 

From Headquarters to the field: what do FAO and WFP do?

PAA Africa’s strategic vision in promoting partnerships is based on the belief that joint instruments can help to consolidate operational networks between countries and prioritize the engagement and experiences of both agencies in Africa.

For Catherine Feeney, P4P Senior Programme Adviser at WFP, one of the key opportunities for WFP with PAA Africa was the opportunity to deepen their relationship with FAO. She stressed that even though FAO was already a key partner for P4P implementation, the partnership designed for PAA Africa “has given us a very practical opportunity to work together at the field level, while  it has also opened another door for dialogue at the Headquarters’ level at a time when  both organizations are undergoing important strategic reviews. 

The different models established by each pilot country reflect previous dynamics of inter-agency partnership at country level, and the Programme is contributing to identify new areas of mutual collaboration. In Malawi, for example, PAA Africa supported the strengthening of FAO and WFP partnership, which was already developed in the context of P4P activities. Both agencies are jointly implementing a home grown school feeding pilot in two districts, which is the merger of two development programmes: FAO’s Junior Farmer Field and Live Schools and WFP’s school feeding programme. The HGSF pilot works in two areas: the first one is the local procurement, which consists on transfers of funds to schools for them to purchase locally the food they need for school meals, while providing support to the farmers to produce diversified food products and sell them to the schools. The second area is the productive environment, which consists of school gardens which are used as demonstration plots for the community and pupils as well as to provide some food products to the schools. PAA has facilitated the creation of synergies between the different components of the pilot project and opened the door for long term impacts within the communities where HGSF is implemented.

The pilot project requires close monitoring and continuous adjustment of the implementation – since the very beginning, both FAO and WFP sat together and spent time in the design, the capacity building strategy and the implementation of activities; monitoring visits to Mangochi and Phalombe have become regular, with staff of both organizations often coming and going in the same cars. “I don’t know how many joint visits we have made to Mangochi” says Irene del Río, WFP P4P coordinator “but after a number of these visits, I can say that we all feel equally involved and responsible for the overall success of this project, and that all its parts fit seamlessly”.  The work in the schools is benefitting the whole community. The school children have diversified meals at school, including fruits, a variety of legumes and meat and fish. The schools’ staff and the parents of school children have been trained on management of funds, and how to maintain the school gardens and apply new agricultural techniques and plant new products. The farmers who are selling to the school now have a stable market and can plan their production in advance, while they receive training in production and commercialization and manage to increase the proceedings of their work.

 

Ways forward: PAA Africa’s phase 2

Building partnerships is a process and a means to achieve the project outcomes more efficiently and with greater impact. The constant exchange of experiences and findings are the core of PAA Africa strategy, being translated into practice through a joint design, planning and implementation of activities. The multisectoral nature of PAA intervention implies the involvement of a comprehensive range of actors. Promoting their full participation and engagement in an articulated manner is one of the main challenges of the Programme. As the PAA Africa teams recognize, there is a long path ahead towards a more integrated approach, with the opportunity to deepen inter-agency communication being seen as essential to reinforce national governments capacities as well as multisectoral mechanisms.

Consultative and advisory bodies to facilitate technical decisions, as well as participatory monitoring and evaluation mechanisms shall be implemented during the Programme’s second phase, in order to improve stakeholders’ communication and to support a more coordinated work on the ground. But above all, sharing a strong political will is the fundamental aspect for this partnership to be strengthened further in Phase 2, as stressed by WFP Catherine Feeney: “At headquarters level, once the commitment was there at the top, and it was certainly there at the very top, in both organizations, the will to make this work was there. That was an important commitment for us to have, and it’s still there and I believe it will continue to be there…perhaps even stronger”.


Lorena Braz, with collaboration of Rosana Miranda (WFP), Samson Kankhande (FAO) and Irene del Río (WFP)