Guinea-Bissau, like many sub-Saharan African countries, faced the turmoil of the global food crisis of 2007 and 2008 when skyrocketing international and domestic prices hit the country hard. Once a major exporter of rice, Guinea-Bissau now imports almost half of its food, including up to 90,000 metric tons of rice per year. As a staple crop, rice accounts for most of the country’s food imports. However, despite the significant hydro-agricultural potential of eight of its regions, many people living there have been forced into poverty because they remain isolated from food production areas and lack resources. (http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2011/05/27/guinea-bissau-revitalizes-agriculture-sector-increases-rice-production )
Towards a Solution
Since 2013, the India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation, known as the IBSA Fund, has been working with Guinea-Bissau to address this challenge. The primary objective in Guinea-Bissau is to reduce food insecurity by helping farmers to improve agricultural techniques for rice cultivation and to diversify their crops. It also focuses on agro-processing that provides a greater product life span and enables access to markets. In addition, providing energy access to rural populations has made night- time education possible while the ability to charge cell phones at any time has provided greater connectivity.
The IBSA Fund provides a network linking best practices and expertise which participants are able to access. For example, thanks to the network, 25 villages in Guinea-Bissau increased their access to energy as a result of solar energy equipment developed in India; experts from Brazil shared agricultural techniques and knowledge with farmers in Guinea-Bissau, resulting in a 12-per cent increase in rice yield and the diversification of crops and diets; and enhanced rice seeds developed by a public agricultural research institution in Brazil were shared with and cultivated in Guinea-Bissau.
The key methodological approach includes: Acting in phases/pilots and building on successes: Projects in a number of villages showed results and were expanded to other communities. Subsequent projects deepened successes or tried different approaches where challenges were greater; Designing activities through participatory processes: Projects involved villagers in the specifications, demand and implementation of activities and partnered with ministries, decision makers and key government entities; Signing mutual accountability compacts: Projects established clear, signed agreements with villages and government partners in which they committed to providing counterpart/in-kind resources in order to benefit from the partnership; and Leveraging local and Southern expertise: Projects capitalized on similar or relevant experiences in neighbouring or other developing countries.
The projects were evaluated with input from stakeholders, confirming both the development results and adherence to South-South principles (such as national ownership and leadership, equality, horizontality and non-conditionality). The village that capitalized the most on the project activities and gained its own development dynamics became a model village serving as a field school for the possibilities of agricultural development interventions. Overall, the projects improved agricultural production by training over 4,500 farmers in enhanced agricultural techniques for rice cultivation. They supported diversification of production by offering alternatives for new crops and introduced new seed types that improved yield and permitted agricultural production even during the rainy season. They rehabilitated low-lying lands for cultivation and trained partner farmers in water management and in processing and conservation of agro-products. Taking a multisectoral approach to development, the projects trained about 1,000 adults in functional literacy and provided solar energy equipment to 25 villages along with support for the villages to sustainably manage their solar utilities.
The projects were successful at bringing the spirit of change to rural communities. Through training by Brazilian and Indian experts and technology transfer from India and Brazil, the projects planted the seed of innovation by building the confidence that improvements in villagers’ diets, education and quality of life are possible and by supporting practical steps that enhanced livelihoods.
Ownership and leadership of local communities and government were key to the accomplishments and sustainability of those projects. Up-front training and support to communities so that they could develop a revenue stream from their solar equipment in order to purchase spare parts and repair equipment were important. However, the communities had to proactively engage in those management processes in order to assure sustainability.
Conditions required for replication are: (a) resources and technical expertise shared to broaden impact; villagers interested in learning and applying better agricultural techniques; (c) villagers’ commitment to manage and obtain sustainable revenue from solar energy equipment; and (d) villagers’ interest in gaining functional adult literacy.
UNDP Guinea-Bissau implemented the projects in close partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Guinea-Bissau. The IBSA Fund financed the projects, and the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation served as fund manager and as the Board of Directors secretariat and supported partnership- building.
The India, Brazil and South Africa Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation (IBSA Fund) is a remarkable example of cooperation among three developing countries and constitutes a pioneering initiative to implement South-South cooperation for the benefit of other Southern countries in partnership with the United Nations system. Its purpose is to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be disseminated to interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger. The IBSA Fund supports projects on a demand-driven basis through partnerships with local governments, national institutions and implementing partners. Initiatives are concrete expressions of solidarity and objectives range from promoting food security, to addressing HIV/AIDS, to extending access to safe drinking water, all with the aim of contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Contact: Ms. Ines Tofalo, Programme Specialist, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, Ines.firstname.lastname@example.org
Project name: IBSA Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alleviation: Partnering With Rural Communities
Sustainable Development Goal targets: 1.1, 1.2, 7.b, 12.2, 13.3
Supported by: IBSA Fund
Implementing entity: UNDP
Project period: August 2009-May 2015
Project status: Completed
URL of the practice: IBSA Fund http://220.127.116.11/ibsa/8