Effective Ways of Linking Relief and Rural Development: Oxfam’s experience of implementing programmes using EU Food Facility funds

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  OXFAM CASE STUDY DECEMBER 2012 www.oxfam.org.uk  EFFECTIVE WAYS OF LINKING RELIEF AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT Oxfam’s experience of implementing programmes using EU Food Facility funds John Magrath Programme Researcher Oxfam GB  2 WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM? The increase in food prices from late 2007 through 2008 created many challenges for developing countries, particularly for net food-importing countries. The effects of food price rises on the poor in these countries threatened to reverse what progress had been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty worldwide. At the same time, higher food prices provided an opportunity to stimulate the agricultural sector in many developing countries. In December 2008, the European Parliament and the European Council adopted a regulation establishing a €1bn facility for access to agricultural inputs and services, and improvements in agricultural productive capacity. This would become known as the EU Food Facility (EUFF). 1  On 2 December 2011, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for  Agricultural Development (IFAD) put out a press release that stated: „  The EU Food Facility has been a tremendous success. It proves that linking relief, rehabilitation and development can have a concrete impact on  people‟s food security‟  . It „   provided tangible evidence that investing in agriculture and nutrition improves global food security  ‟   and „  by linking farmers to markets and financial services, assisting in facilitating sustainable and profitable farming practices and creating new revenue streams, the effects of the EUFF will continue into their futures .‟  2   According to the press release, ‘ lessons learned from the initiative underscore the importance of: -focusing on marginalized farmers with high production potential, -combining input distribution with extension services, -building capacities of smallholder farmers and their communities, -rehabilitating rural infrastructures, and -involving all actors of the value chain in local seed production . ’ 3  These are bold claims, with important implications for future policy on how to support smallholder farmers. How far are they justified? Oxfam was programme manager or implementer in several EUFF-funded programmes which ran from late 2009 or early 2010, and the evaluations which followed these very much bear out the statement made by WFP, FAO and IFAD. In each country where Oxfam ran EUFF programmes the analysis from baseline surveys  –  and usually from lengthy experience in the areas proposed for intervention as well  –  concluded that farmers faced the same or very similar obstacles. They needed certain basic inputs, in particular seeds (better quality, timely and affordable) and irrigation water; they required both access to markets (roads and venues) and power in markets (organization and training, market information); they needed cash and/or credit (to tide them over lean times and/or as investments); and they needed services (such as agricultural advice and veterinary help). A baseline survey in Nepal was typical; it quantified low levels of food self-sufficiency by month, low consumption of various foodstuffs and various coping strategies, such as borrowing cash, and   3 concluded that these were ultimately due to ‘ serious problems of persistent drought, poor agricultural practices, lack of access to credit, low soil fertility, low level of government intervention and lack of specific programmes for food security for local communities ’ . A baseline survey for the Pakistan programme showed how farmers were exploited by middlemen who would lend money for inputs at high rates of interest, which meant that farmers could end up paying them back with half or in some cases up to 70 per cent of their produce.  As a result of the baseline studies, the Oxfam programmes set out to tackle these issues, in line with EUFF strategy (see Tables 1 and 2). Table 1 Oxfam EUFF programmes Country Cost (total: EC funds-plus other in millions of Euros) Number of beneficiaries Dates Nepal 1.608 46,000 12/2009  –  10/2011 Pakistan 2.290 35,000 01/2010  –  01/2012 Ethiopia 2.205 46,000 12/2009  –  12/2010 Eritrea 1.187 47,000 02/2010  –  12/2011 Tanzania 1.111 100,000 01/2011  –  10/2011 Mali 1.886 50,000 01/2010  –  01/2012 Total 10.287 324,000 Our experience demonstrates that it is possible to design and run relief programmes that target the poorest producers affected by a sudden negative change in circumstances in ways that provide them with effective help and which leave them better off and better able to withstand future shocks. ‘After attending training on implementing farming systems…I gained confidence that I can grow vegetables and sustain my family. I called my husband back from India…  we are now able to earn more from the vegetables than from the remittances sent by my husband. My husband can live with our family at home now. ’  Sarumati (Dadeldhura, Nepal) Moreover, our experience of the EUFF programme indicates that this is a valid approach to rural development more generally, in non-emergency situations. In ‘normal’ s ituations, the rural poor face regular uncertainty and recurrent shocks that leave people in a state of more or less chronic emergency. However, our experience in these programmes demonstrates the enormous potential that exists among some of the world’s mo st poor and marginalized smallholder farmers to rapidly generate large increases in both productivity and production, both of food crops and of income-raising products. But that is only possible if they get the right kinds of assistance to help them ‘ take off  ’  and if, importantly, farmers themselves are leaders of the process.  4 Table 2 EUFF programme intervention chain Social protection Inputs Organizational development Power in markets Convening and brokering Collective cash-for-work for infrastructure (e.g. roads, dams, irrigation works, tree planting, re-greening, etc) Unconditional cash transfers to meet food needs during the hungry season Food vouchers and support to traders Small livestock and veterinary services Beneficiary involvement, agency accountability Seeds, tools, feed, micro-irrigation, seed banks, grain stores Training on improved agricultural practices (e.g. composting) Land rights  Access to credit Stoves Formal creation of producer groups; also irrigation management groups, grain store groups, pasture management groups, etc Capacity building for new and existing groups Emphasis on women’s groups and women’s involvement Farmer to farmer Scaling up and broadening out organizations Business training Value chain analysis, market information Linkages with the private sector e.g. assistance in negotiations  Access to credit, bank loans, micro insurance Linkages with state authorities and service providers at local, regional and national levels Linkages with the private sector  Advocacy on budgets, policy changes, frameworks, etc, from local to national level WHAT OXFAM DID Oxfam managed (as lead agency) and implemented EUFF-funded programmes in several countries, as listed in Table 1. 4  In each case, Oxfam worked with and through local NGO partners. The programmes were founded upon: targeting poor and marginal farmers, with a particular focus on women farmers; beneficiary involvement; organizational formation, development and capacity building; and training on improved practices. The actions taken fell into several categories and spanned, in each programme, a spectrum of interventions. The balance varied and interventions overlapped, but most of the programmes implemented some work in each of the following categories: ã  Social protection, including: cash or food vouchers; the supply of key inputs, especially seeds, feed and tools; and cash-for-work for infrastructural development, such as micro-irrigation, roads, dykes or re-greening pastoral land; ã  Producer organization, via the formation of and/or strengthening of community associations through capacity building; ã  Creating access to markets for farmers and strengthening power in markets by bolstering producer organizations, convening and brokering partnerships, and co-operating with/linking to business and markets;
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