PNPM Progress: A Path Towards Sustainability in Indonesia

Indonesia’s Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Mandiri (PNPM), or National Program for Community Empowerment, is a government-led, multi-donor trust-funded pilot program, which is managed by the World Bank Group (WBG) and delivered through the PNPM Support Facility (PSF). Also funded by: AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government 

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Photo Credit: World Bank, PNPM (Peduli) Indonesia: Caring for the Invisible

 As the Government of Indonesia’s flagship community-driven development (CDD) program, PNPM strives to improve the socio-economic welfare of the poor and most marginalized groups by expanding opportunities through community consultation at all phases of the program, empowerment, and capacity building of civil society organizations (CSO). The key elements of PNPM-CDD programs include: community development, institution building, community block grants, strengthening local governance and partnerships, and technical assistance for program development

In working with numerous Indonesian and local CSOs and a handful of implementing partners, PNPM programs are currently active in roughly 6,000 sub-districts, 73,000 villages, and 33 provinces. Nearly Rp1.4 billion, which roughly equates to USD 21 million, is allocated to each village per year solely for development purposes. In the first year, PNPM programs helped nearly 12,000 marginalized individuals to build confidence, gain new livelihood skills and training, access information and public services, and to create new opportunities to participate in community life.

However, addressing the root drivers of social inclusion are not just about improving economic conditions, but about fully integrating individuals into every nook and cranny of civic life—increasing participation and breaking down social barriers by changing mindsets and reversing engrained stigmas. The Government of Indonesia realizes the marginalized are important and unappreciated assets (financial, labor, social), and often benefit less from public programs and poverty reduction schemes.

In this manner, local and national CSOs have a comparative advantage and are well positioned to empower marginalized groups to become more self-reliant and able to live dignified lives. CSOs work with a diverse range of marginalized groups in rural and urban Indonesia: female micro-entrepreneurs, street children, LGBTQ, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and people living with HIV/AIDS among others. Though CSOs have a limited financial capacity to provide services and activities such as mentoring and training, the PNPM has established grant making to mitigate the costs.

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Photo Credit: Source Unknown, PNPM Program Indonesia

PNPM programs have provided women, specifically, with business training and equipment, skills training, and loan arrangements to start businesses. As a result, women’s groups are now running laundries, phone card counters, food production, and coffee shops, for example. However, CDD programs in Indonesia could benefit from a thorough gender analysis needs assessment to identify which constraints women face particularly in a rural environment. Programs also need to collect and analyze disaggregated data between men and women, between rural and urban villages, and among communities, households, and individuals, to best target those in need and to measure participation. Affirmative action and inclusion of marginalized groups, such as women, must be addressed through quotas.

In 2015, the Government of Indonesia introduced the new Village Law, which is the new master framework for village development and community empowerment and embodies many of the aforementioned principles of the PNPM-CDD program. Although adopted and enacted to ensure sustainability of the PNPM programs, this framework also brings attention to the many challenges and implications it faces for future implementation.

Firstly, the programs must find a better, comprehensive way to measure accountability. Under the new law, the some 73,000 villages are seeing a large influx of resources from the government and outside funding agencies such as AusAid, CIDA, DANIDA, USAID, EU, UKAID, and the Dutch Government. The district governments have low capacity to monitor the cash flows and implementation of village governments. Who will provide the accountability and oversight and perform the audits? Or, who will be responsible for strengthening the oversight? The programs need a strong monitoring, evaluation, and learning (ME&L) framework—built-in accountability targets and performance-based indicators—to ensure precise development results and to prevent elite capture of village transfers.

A community-led development (CLD) approach, however, introduces such social accountability measures, supporting regularized processes such as public forums, at which local governments can demonstrate transparency and accountability and citizens can review and challenge the progress of targets and goals. CLD also supports communities to generate and access timely, locally relevant data that informs priority setting and strengthens progress tracking.

Secondly, it is important to remember that an increase in resources does not necessarily equip the villagers with the skills and expertise needed to obtain jobs and administer good service delivery. CDD projects often do not benefit everyone and takes years to trickle down to the most marginalized groups. How do we streamline this process to ensure that the most vulnerable are receiving the resources?

Lastly, although the law provides a strong legal framework for mainstreaming PNPM-CDD principles in village socio-economic activities, it does not necessarily guarantee sound implementation in practice. The PNPM-CDD programs must be sustainable and fully integrated into the local system of government. The law does not specifically address what it can impact in the short term versus what it can affect in the long term, which is necessary to ensure sustainability and resiliency. PNPM-CDD programs could learn from the CLD’s approach to sustainability and resiliency.

The CLD approach addresses sustainability and resiliency by addressing challenging factors such as climate change and population growth and how this in turn puts strong pressures on rural areas. The CLD approach calls for a process that includes actions to ensure that a program and community are resilient to climatic, political, and economic shocks. Local communities must have a regularized process of disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness.

The PNPM-CDD programs in Indonesia are promising and making considerable progress. However, the programs can build upon this progress by introducing several key distinguishing principles introduced by the CLD approach, namely: a keen focus on facilitators as mobilizers and “agents of change” rather than “beneficiaries,” a gender-mainstreamed approach, built-in social accountability measures, timely and disaggregated data, strengthening legal existence through ME&L, and implementing sustainability and resiliency safeguards.

Advocating for Youth Leadership to Achieve the SDGs

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Mary Kate Costello addresses youth attendees of 2017 Winter Youth Assembly.

In keeping with The Hunger Project’s priority to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through community-led development, advocacy for youth leadership and engagement has been at a forefront. The Hunger Project took a leading role in both the United Nation’s 6th Annual Youth Forum and the Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations at the beginning of February 2017.

Follow-up: Click here to read Mary Kate’s article on young women’s cooperatives.

The Hunger Project’s Senior Policy Analyst, Mary Kate Costello, has been an active member of the United Nation’s Interagency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, and is now co-chair of its new Task Force on Young Women’s Economic Empowerment. Such engagement afforded The Hunger Project the opportunity to chair two sessions during the Youth Forum: breakout sessions on SDGs 2 and 5.

Mary Kate participated in the SDG5 session as a panelist, focusing on the importance of young women-led cooperatives, especially at the grassroots. Not only will cooperatives provide improved income generation for young women, but also offer unique social inclusion – especially for marginalized persons such as those with disabilities and indigenous women. Mary Kate stressed Coop UK’s research that cooperatives have an 80% success rate in their first five years compared to 40% for other economic initiatives and investments. Discussion during the breakout session included hindrances to gender equality in the economy as a result of both discriminatory laws and discriminatory practices that do not adhere to favorable laws for women. One such example noted was Ghana’s policies entitling women and men to have the same allowances in owning land. However, this is not reflected in the percentage of land owned by women. Approximately 15% of men own land in Ghana, whereas less than 10% women own land.[1]

The Hunger Project, as a leader in integrated community-led development, was asked to moderate one of the Youth Forum’s Media Zone Panels. Mary Kate Costello engaged with three youth leaders about their work toward SDG2, ending hunger, in their respective home countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, and Colombia. Issues covered included how to encourage youth interest in agriculturally focused employment, mobile phone technology and grassroots capacity assessments and rehabilitation of abandoned fisheries to generate exponential income. The full panel is available here.

The week rounded off with chairing and speaking in the Winter Youth Assembly

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Winter Youth Assembly attendees discuss their leadership initiatives toward SDGs 1 and 2.

interactive session on SDG1, ending poverty. The Hunger Project, alongside cohosts Campus Kitchens Project and FeelGood, looked
at existing youth-led initiatives toward ending hunger that mitigate poverty. The United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delivered the keynote address via their Lead Technical Specialist, Mattia Prayer Galletti, challenging that youth development need not only include youth in program design and implementation, but more important youth leadership in both aspects.

The Hunger Project, out of its pillar to empower women, is an organizing partner of the upcoming CSW Youth Forum from 10 – 12 March 2017, and will be featured in a plenary panel on the topic of young women-led cooperatives again. This year’s CSW Youth Forum is the second of its kind, chaired by UN Women and YWCA, as a youth-focused “opening” to the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. The Hunger Project will maintain its engagement in the arena of youth development and leadership as a key element of community-led programming to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

[1] http://news.trust.org/item/20160516120134-jqvsx

The Role of the Small-Scale Farmer in Minimizing Climate Change Impact

Climate Change and Food Security

The State of Food and Agriculture 2016 has made it clear that the agricultural industry is currently at a point in time where the actions taken by farmers, development organizations, and governments today will directly affect the livelihood of millions in the future. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that “in order to meet the demand for food in 2050, annual world production of crops and livestock will need to be 60 percent higher than it was in 2006”. The remarkable challenge we have ahead of us, however, it to not only end hunger by 2030, but to also limit the impact of climate change. We must put our most sincere efforts into making our agriculture systems and local capacity as efficient and sustainable as possible.

In order to limit the global impact of climate change, it is imperative that the global temperature increase remains under 1.5 degrees Celsius. 81 nations of the world have committed to combat climate change and to adapt to its effects by signing The Paris Agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Coming into affect November 4th, the committed nations will begin efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, adapt their energy sources, and to enforce policies that lesson their impact on climate change.

Climate change and food insecurity are very interrelated global issues; they each are negatively impacting the other. Compared to a projection discounting climate change, the world will experience a 5-7% crop yield loss by 2050. As climate change becomes more predominant, we will see rising temperatures that limit crop growth, loss of freshwater sources that negatively impact aquaculture, and heat waves that adversely affect livestock. Likewise, agriculture contributes to at least 21% of global emissions worldwide, releasing carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. These effects will vary regionally, but by 2030 will negatively affect all four food security dimensions: access, availability, utilization, and stability.

  • In South America, climate change will greatly impact hunger in less-developed regions. Much of South America will struggle in aquaculture due to fish species moving southward, much more frequent and extreme tropical storms, and species extinction. Tropical forests will be affected by water availability, and rainfed agriculture will experience higher crop losses.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa will experience similar problems to South America. Because 95% of crops in this region are rainfed, the frequency of extreme wet and dry years will drastically decrease crop yields of the small farmers. Fishery employment is expected to decrease by 50%. Plants and animals will also undergo reduction in numbers region-wide.
  • Climate change will alter Asia’s agricultural zones northward and will limit rice and other cereal crop yields. Many countries in Asia will see coastal flooding as well as a loss of aquaculture and freshwater resources. Similarly to South America and Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia will experience biodiversity loss.

What Small-Scale Farmers Can Do

In the midst of a problem that is generally regarded as a policy issue, small scale farmers have a large role to play in decreasing the impact of climate change on agriculture and livelihood. There are several key actions that must be taken to address the constraints on agriculture by climate change:

  1. Strengthen small-scale farming systems. Farmers must learn how to adapt practices to changing climate, build adaptive capacity in implementing effective actions in changing situations, and must
  2. Diversify both their agricultural production and their income sources. Farmers need to diversify their crop so as to be able to withstand weather variation. They must also spread financial risk by diversifying how they are making their living.
  3. Manage natural resources in a sustainable way. Farmers must implement sustainable growing systems, such as FAO’s Save and Grow model, which cuts down fossil fuel use and doesn’t exhaust their resources. Agroecological production systems also efficiently utilize inputs (i.e. recycling biomass).
  4. Improve infrastructure, credit, and social insurance. Improved infrastructure ties into more efficient farming techniques. Support to risk management and diversifying finances allows farmers to adapt to changes in their markets.
  5. Reduce gender inequalities. Women face disparities in responsibilities, knowledge, and training opportunities in farming innovation. Rural women also face an increased workload when freshwater becomes scarce.

Though small-scale farmers may disproportionately bear the financial burden of reducing climate change impact, it is important to state that the costs of doing nothing greatly outweigh the costs of implementing these interventions. FAO’s Director-General Jose` Graziano da Silva believes “We have the opportunity to end hunger within our lifetimes. This is the greatest legacy we can leave to future generations”. Our actions today can lessen the impact of climate change and ensure a productive food system for the future.

IFPRI and Partners Release 2015 Global Hunger Index

IFPRI

According to the 2015 Global Hunger Index (GHI), a joint publication by IFPRI, Concern Worldwide, and Welthungerhilfe, significant progress has been made in decreasing levels of global hunger. The 2015 GHI for the developing world fell 27 percent from the 2000 GHI. However, the levels of hunger in the world are still unacceptably high, with 795 million people going hungry, one in four children affected by stunting, and 9 percent of children are affected by wasting.

For the last ten years, IFPRI has calculated the GHI in order to chart progress over time and country by country. This is the tenth year that IFPRI has calculated the GHI, with an interactive map showing where hunger levels are most dire.

More than 13 million people were uprooted due to violence in 2014. Conflict has forced 42,500 people per day to flee their homes. More than 40 countries have been affected by internal conflict since 2000, most dealing with multiple civil wars within the last decade. These conflicts deeply affect human welfare, trapping citizens in a cycle of poverty. Countries suffering from repeated and protracted conflict are more likely to experience higher levels of malnutrition, reduced access to education, and higher infant mortality rates than a more stable country.

It is unsurprising that the first two of the three countries with the highest index numbers – the Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia – are experiencing persistent violent conflict and instability. Due to insufficient data, indexes could not be created for some of the world’s most dire situations, such as Libya, Syria, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Somalia.

Conflicts in areas such as Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and South Sudan have presented complex situations with a shifting nature to the conflict that make peace settlements challenging. This year’s report has drawn a direct linkage between regions where poverty is most severe and persistent and armed conflict. In order to properly address the implementation of this year’s UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the international community must find durable and long-lasting solutions to conflict in order eliminate food insecurity.

Below is a chart of index numbers from The Hunger Project’s program countries.

Country 1990 1995 2000 2005 2015
Benin 46.1 42.6 38.2 33.3 21.8
Burkina Faso 53.0 46.1 48.4 49.6 31.8
Ethiopia 71.1 67.3 58.6 48.5 33.9
Ghana 45.7 36.8 29.9 23.3 15.5
Malawi 58.9 55.9 45.3 39.1 27.3
Mozambique 64.5 63.2 49.2 42.4 32.5
Senegal 36.8 36.9 37.9 28.5 23.2
Uganda 39.8 40.9 39.3 32.2 27.6
Bangladesh 52.2 50.3 38.5 31.0 27.3
India 48.1 42.3 38.2 38.5 29.0
Mexico 16.8 16.9 10.8 8.9 7.3
Peru 30.7 25.0 20.9 18.8 9.1

IFPRI and The Hunger Project feature ODESZA in 2015 Global Nutrition Report Video

Screen Shot 2015-09-11 at 10.47.50 AMThe official video for the 2015 Global Nutrition Report (GNR), featuring popular electronic music group ODESZA‘s song Kusanagi, launched on Monday, November 9th. The video summarizes key messages about global malnutrition and its effects on strong development. Produced by The Hunger Project’s Policy Analyst, Mary Kate Costello, the video features imagery and video donated by The Hunger Project, accurately depicting the realities of extremely impoverished persons and the challenges of malnutrition.

As Post 2015 nears, the 2015 GNR bears heavy weight in development dialogues about priority issue areas to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The reality that no country is on track to achieve all of the nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly is sobering given that countries can lose up to 11% GDP as a result of malnutrition. To meet health, WASH and economic indicators, nutrition must be prioritized.

This video marks a turning point for nutrition experts and champions as it aims to reach new audiences by featuring music from a musical group such as ODESZA, which has a social media following of more than 70,000 millennials and electronic music fans. This type of video calls on the millennial generation that beholds the chance to end extreme poverty, hunger and malnutrition in all of its forms to share the message and take action: “To policy makers everywhere from everyone: malnutrition affects everyone on earth.”

Music:
ODESZA – “Kusanagi”
http://odesza.com

Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 1.08.18 PMThe United Nations’ much anticipated Third Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) has come and gone. Over four days, more than 6,000 high-level development actors gathered to discuss the needs and means to finance the implementation of the Post 2015 Development Agenda. What was declared as the final draft of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) left much to be desired, especially according to CSOs.

In the wake of the Zero Outcome Document of the Post 2015 Development Agenda, The Hunger Project and CONERN Worldwide‘s FfD3 side event, Financing Community-led Development: Putting People First, proves to be timely and crucially relevant. The Preamble of the Zero Outcome Document outlines five areas for intended outcomes by 2030: people, planet, poverty, prosperity and partnerships. The content states the need for integrated programming, cross-sectoral partnerships, leaving no one behind, and creating self-reliance for sustainable development. These points were key points made during the aforementioned FfD3 side event.

Chaired by Tom Arnold, coordinator ad interim of the SUN Movement, challenged attendees to consider grassroots, bottom-up development initiatives that place women at the center and prioritize partnerships with local governments. Orla O’Neill, Assistant Country Director of CONCERN Worldwide Ethiopia, spoke specifically about resilience-building and why it must be achieved at the community level. Orla noted the truest fact in development: poverty is complex and solutions must be designed accordingly at the local level. Much like her co-panelists’ affiliations, Orla explained that CONCERN integrates sectors of development and engages community members as partners and key stakeholders, rather than beneficiaries. CONCERN’s specific purpose around their efforts is “the ability of a community, to anticipate, respond to, cope with and recover from the effects of shocks and stresses that drive or exacerbate malnutrition in a timely and effective manner, without compromising their long-term prospects of moving out of poverty and hunger.” This is backed by the inalienable priority of communities being at the center of decision-making because of community members’ skills, experiences, opinions and closest understanding of their culture and needs.

Neguest Mekonnen, Country Director of The Hunger Project-Ethiopia provided the programmatic example of The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy. Focusing closely on the role of women and voluntary leadership roles in local community clusters, Neguest discussed the need to mobilize several communities together to leverage available resources and capacities in order for people to invest in and be agents of their own development. A cluster of communities yields strength in numbers in establishing strong social accountability mechanisms to hold local governments to account and successfully partner with them to fulfill basic human rights services in the long-term. In the Epicenter Strategy, this includes training of trainers in local communities to fulfill “animator” roles as HIV educators, literacy and numeracy teachers, agricultural farming technique teachers, advocates for healthy pregnancies and micro-finance committee leaders. Without these local leaders and community knowledge, the lynchpin in mobilizing and transforming mind sets from hopelessness to empowerment would be impossible.

What is the role of youth at the local level? Burkina Faso’s UN Youth Envoy for the Post 2015 Development Agenda joined the panel as a youth representative for Restless Development. Cheick, a young male and development leader of several NGOs, spoke about the critical role of leveraging the large youth population for leadership roles at the grassroots level to mobilize and positively impression youth, especially at the adolescent age. Telling examples of failed development attempts to construct desirable and central water pumping stations in a village, Cheick explained that such a shortcoming was due entirely to a lack of community decision making and youth leadership. Without awareness of cultural traditions and emerging changes as recognized by youth, development initiatives risk failure – and wasting money – when solely implementing based on “expertise” or data. Cheick stated that the reality is that “youth want to be agents of change, not passive recipients of action.”

Speaking on behalf of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) of the United States Government, Beth Tritter, Vice President of Policy and Evaluation spoke from the lens of a foundation that stemmed from the UN’s first Conference on Financing for Development in Doha. Beth explained that MCC aims to yield results that outlive investments through prioritizing country ownership and country implementation to adapt initiatives most appropriately to local conditions and needs. Two mutually benefitting strengths of MCC: strengthening good governance and investing directly in citizens. Beth also noted that MCC’s scope covers all sectors and seeks to work with a multitude of stakeholders to achieve a shared vision of sustainable development. From the CSO perspective, it is encouraging that a community-oriented foundation that results from the first FfD still operates today, proving to other donors that their approach is worth adopting.

Financing community-led development is not only appropriate, but economically and sustainably promising. To achieve this, panelists called for multi-sectoral funding streams for longer term programs – estimating between five and eight years – as well as flexibility to accommodate changes to maintain relevance. There was also a strong preference for funding that benefits collaboratives or alliances. Such groups bring a multitude of expertise across sectors and are accountable to one another to fulfill goals. Most importantly, financing community-led development must prioritize community decision-making, community ownership, and country ownership in the longer term. Development initiatives must mitigate dependency, providing hand ups, solutions, training and alleviating time. This will not be accomplished to the utmost through “trickle-down” funding, higher level decision making and exclusive resource provisions. Invest in empowerment, locals, women, youth and integrated, long-term programming is the means if the goal is truly sustainable development that leaves no one behind.

Gender and Food Security: What Have We Learned?

On May 7, 2015 InterAction’s Agriculture and Food Security Working Group hosted a Learning Event designed to bring members up to speed with the latest evidence on the fundamental role of gender in food security, to empower us all in our advocacy. The video of the 90 minute event is here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sool11TSmuE]

Katherine FritzKatherine Fritz, PhD, MPH, Director of Global Health Research and Interim Director of Gender, Economic Empowerment, and Livelihoods Portfolio, ICRW

Dr. Fritz has 20 years of experience as a social science researcher, strategic gender advisor and program developer. She works closely with other senior staff at ICRW to design and evaluate programs that address the overlapping needs of women and girls in areas of economic strengthening, health, freedom from violence, and leadership. Dr. Fritz has evaluated the strengths and gaps in corporate-funded women’s economic empowerment initiatives and led an assessment of Australian Aid’s women’s economic empowerment programs across several countries in Asia and the Pacific. She leads ICRW’s collaborations with the private sector on enhancing women’s economic status through formal employment, entrepreneurship and inclusion in global value chains.

Michael OSullivanMichael O’Sullivan, Economist, World Bank

Michael is an economist and the land thematic leader for the World Bank’s Gender Innovation Lab. He analyzes the impact of agriculture and land projects in Africa to identify ways to strengthen women’s economic empowerment. His current research centers on issues of gender in the economic sectors in Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger and Uganda. Michael previously worked on USAID projects for Chemonics International and Mercy Corps, and served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Burkina Faso. He holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Sylvia Cabus HSSylvia Cabus, Gender Advisor for the Bureau of Food Security and Feed the Future Initiative, USAID

Sylvia previously worked for Catholic Relief Services in Kenya, Morocco, Mali, and Burkina Faso. In the U.S., she worked as a program officer with Heifer International, Handicap International, and USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. She also served as Gender Analyst with DevTech Systems, an international development consulting firm, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon. Sylvia received an MA in International Relations from John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a BA with Honors in History from the University of California, Berkeley. She is from the Philippines, grew up in California, and currently lives in Washington, D.C.

Pat MorrisPat Morris, PhD, President, Women Thrive Worldwide

Dr. Morris previously managed a global portfolio of social and economic development projects at Development and Training Services, with a view to promote equality, accountability, and sustainability. She also served as Executive Director of Peace X Peace, a global network of peace-builders in 120 countries. Dr. Morris managed nine country offices in conflict-affected countries for Women for Women International, and was Deputy Director of the Commission on the Advancement of Women at InterAction. She also founded Creative Associate’s Center for Women’s Leadership in International Development and served as President of the Board of Directors of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Dr. Morris has worked closely with the U.S. Government to advance initiatives empowering women and girls. This included time as a team leader for USAID’s GBV Strategy Research Agenda Project and Project Director for the State Department assessing programs with marginalized populations.

The Far North Region of Cameroon Facing a Humanitarian Disaster

Credit : UNHCR/ B. Ngarguena

As Nigeria continues to fight the islamic extremist group Boko Haram, a humanitarian crisis is looming in the Far North region of Cameroon. In the far north, Cameroon shares one of its longest borders with Nigeria, which has now become very insecure because of frequent transboundary attacks by Boko Haram militants.Since the beginning of this terrorist group’s activities in Nigeria, most of the villages near this border have been deserted, causing massive internal displacements of populations.Thousands have also crossed this border to seek refuge in Cameroon.

The Far North Cameroon is densely populated and predominantly Muslim. Before the influx of Nigerian refugees, the region already faced human development challenges such as low literacy rates, a poor health system, lack of infrastructure, limited access to clean water and discrimination against women. In many villages there, families use their children as farm laborers or cattle rearers rather than sending them to school. Polygamy is also common in this region, causing women to be married early with little say in family decision-making. Many attribute this prevalence of early, child or forced marriage (ECFM) to traditional Islamic practices or local traditions.

In addition, desertification, recurrent floods and erratic distribution of rainfall makes the Far North Cameroon one of the most food-insecure regions in the country. The main staple foods in this region are corn, millet, rice and sorghum, but food production barely meets the nutritional needs of people.This fragile nutritional and food security situation is now compromised because of the massive arrival of Nigerian refugees. The arrival of refugees is disrupting subsistence farming activities and creating additional stress on the already meager food resources of the region.

Despite the fact that Cameroon has deployed an impressive number of soldiers to secure this border with Nigeria and prevent these terrorists from penetrating Cameroon, Boko Haram combattants are still managing to behead Cameroonian farmers and destroy and loot their properties. In January 2015, Cameroon’s  Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development estimated that because of insecurity 70 percent of farmers in some areas of the Far North Region deserted their farms and many more missed out on key farming activities, such as timely planting.

The massive influx of refugees – now amounting to over 23,000 – also places stress on education, water and sanitation improvements. This has become so critical that Cameroon’s Head of State, Paul Biya, recently assigned 4 billion CFA Francs ($6,842,997.77) for the building of schools and provisions of basic equipment for refugees. First Lady, Chantal Biya, followed up with a 50 million CFA Francs donation ($85,537.47) for the supply of sanitation equipment to ease the strains affecting Cameroonians and Nigerian refugees. Yet, as the rainy season approaches, these strains make it likely that there will be epidemics of cholera and other waterborne diseases, further worsening an already complex situation.

The majority of these refugees and resulting internally displaced populations in Cameroon are women and children. They also make up the majority of victims of rape, murder, abduction or ECFM to members of Boko Haram. Children are being forcefully indoctrinated into Boko Haram and trained to commit heinous murders heinous such as  beheadings.

It is important for the global humanitarian community to prioritize this ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Far North region Cameroon by protecting refugees and internally displaced populations, especially women and children. In time of peace women and children are already the most vulnerable population in developing countries, and time of crisis they are the hardest hit. The ongoing humanitarian crisis in the far north of Cameroon is also an occasion for the government of Cameroon and the international development community to reflect on durable solutions to the development challenges that have traditionally plagued this region.

Linking WASH, Nutrition and Agriculture: Indicators to Measure Progress Across SDGs

IMG_1425Many development actors and United Nations Member States have suggested – where possible – that indicators for the SDGs measure progress towards more than one target, or be “multi-purpose.” On March 27th, the International Coalition on Advocating for Nutrition (ICAN) hosted a discussion at the UN titled Indicators with Impact: how to measure nutrition in the post-2015 development agenda. CONCERN Worldwide, Action Against Hunger, The Hunger Project, Farming First, WaterAid and WASH Advocates co-organized a follow-up discussion on Thursday, April 23rd about inherent linkages between nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and agriculture during a week of negotiations about Financing for Development and Means of Implementation. Attendees and panelists discussed how indicators for these three sectors can meaningfully measure progress to ensure a sustainable and comprehensive Post 2015 framework.

With only 15 years to meet this agenda, efforts will require broad scale-up of effective partnerships, the realization of national ownership and efficient methodologies.

In her opening remarks, moderator Åsa Skogström-Feldt, CEO of The Hunger Project, stated that the development community knows that “nutrition-sensitive agricultural interventions address both hunger and nutrition, and failure to address WASH issues can undermine both nutrition and food security…These issues are inextricably linked.” Åsa challenged attendees to ensure that solutions – and the way in which we measure progress towards them – acknowledge interlinkages and address the root causes underlying the manifestations of hunger and poverty in all of their forms.

Susan Carlson, Chair of the Women’s Committee of the World Farmer’s Organization set the context for discussion as a female farmer herself and representative of rural, farmers’ voices from the Global South. She urged that agricultural initiatives seek to shift subsistence farming toward sustainable livelihoods through an increase in funding and investments from a variety of actors to ensure adequate commitments.

Indicators in the UN Statistical Commission’s preliminary list for target 2.2 for nutrition do not reference lactating mothers and two indicators on target 2.4 address climate change mitigation but omit adaptation, resilience, and the vital topic of soil quality referenced in the target. Improving these indicators to more holistically measure progress will not only uphold the targets and their goals, but also offer a significant avenue of opportunity for partnerships between actors focused on value-add for nutrition and WASH.

Expounding on gaps in the current draft of the SDG indicator framework, Dr. Andrew Trevett, UNICEF’s Senior Adviser for WASH, stated that a crucial and clearer global indicator for water security – as it affects food production and the linkage to time poverty – is missing. Improved water supplies and access yields increased productivity of small farmers and opportunity for economic empowerment of women [in rural areas.] Current WASH priorities in the SDGs include elimination of open defecation, universal access to basic water and sanitation, raising service levels to deliver safely managed water and sanitation services and progressive elimination of inequalities. WASH access – as it reduces exposure to fecal pollution – is critical for improved nutrition outcomes, especially stunting in children and pregnant women’s retention of nutrients.

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These points brought the discussion full-circle to the driving topic of this event: nutrition. Hien Tran of Global Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation returned after speaking on the previous event’s panel about specific nutrition indicators that can be broadly and feasibly applied across sectors at both the global and national levels.

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On this panel, Hien focused on the conceptual approaches to selecting the best indicators for the Post 2015 framework, noting that they must be sensitive to differing national capacities: “We can see how the integration of these sectors paves the way for partnership opportunities, thus improving [our] shared capacity to strengthen the implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda.” Looking at nutrition in its simplest form – with respect to agriculture – Hien highlighted a “feedback loop,” wherein nutrition-sensitive agriculture can provide an accessible supply of diverse, nutritious foods, and improved nutrition leads to better health which can help improve productivity on the farm. The glue in this “feedback loop” is the inclusion of WASH, reinforcing Dr. Trevett’s point that without safe water and adequate sanitation, any possible gain in improved nutrition will be undermined by water-borne diseases and unclean conditions.

So, what implications do the inherent linkages between WASH, nutrition and agriculture have in determining [the best] indicators for the post-2015 framework? Hien noted that considering policy implications across sectors is particularly important because it has been emphasized that developing indicators is a technical process, and rightfully so. However, the technical process must be informed by a very strong, complete, and nuanced understanding of linkages and policy implications across sectors.” The baseline criteria for indicators is that they be methodologically sound, outcome-focused and allow for global comparisons. But, the value of an indicator is not only in its effectiveness in measuring progress for a particular target, but also how policy implications from the interventions underlying a particular indicator apply to progress toward other targets.

Hien used the example of an indicator for the prevalence of stunting in children under 5, which will solidly measure progress towards ending all forms of malnutrition (target 2.2). This indicator captures a non-income dimension of poverty as stunting reflects cumulative effects of inadequate food intake and poor health conditions that result from exposure to unsanitary environment common in communities living in endemic poverty. The implications from initiatives to address stunting have implications for eradicating poverty in all its forms as well as measuring progress toward target 1.2 to reduce – at least by half – the proportion of all persons living in poverty in all its dimensions (according to national definitions).

Those living in poverty – the people at the heart of what the SDGs are intended to address – face multiple burdens, thus programmatic interventions cannot ignore these overlapping challenges. The selection of indicators must reflect and take this into account.

Multi-purpose Nutrition Indicators: Measuring Progress of Comprehensive Post 2015 Development Agenda

IMG_0895The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are meant to be a comprehensive and universal framework for improving development and eradicating hunger and poverty – in all of its forms. Its current draft is favorably ambitious. However, there is wide concern among implementing multi-laterals, NGOs and member states about the capacity to achieve the goals given the large number of targets and a possibly exponentially larger set of indicators.

During the United Nation’s Inter-Governmental Negotiations last week (March 23rd – 27th) member states expressed general favor for indicators and targets that are cross-cutting and multi-purpose to ensure that implementation, monitoring and measuring be feasible without compromising the goals; indicators must heed synergistic approaches for multi-sectoral prioritization. The United Nation’s Standing Committee on Nutrition’s policy brief, Priority Nutrition Indicators, notes that 194 Member States unanimously endorsed the below eight nutrition indicators at the 65th World Health Assembly, broadly consenting that they can efficiently and comprehensively measure progress in the most critical areas of nutrition and other development outcomes.

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On Friday, the 27th, members of the International Coalition on Advocating Nutrition (ICAN) – World Vision, The Hunger Project, Save the Children, CONCERN and Action Against Hunger – hosted a timely, multi-stakeholder discussion at the United Nations to discuss specific nutrition indicators that are inherently multi-purpose and thus critical for inclusion in the SDGs. Moderated by World Vision Ireland’s CEO, Helen Keogh, panelists discussed achievements in various development areas via nutrition initiatives, opportunities to leverage the comprehensive nature of the SDGs, why nutrition indicators are so crucial and how nutrition can be fully addressed in the Post 2015 Global Development Agenda Framework.

Anthony Caswell Pérez, Director of International Affairs, Advocacy and Child Rights Governances of Save the Children Mexico, noted that these eight indicators were devised from lessons in development over the last 15 years and have strong, supporting scientific evidence. Pérez pressed the importance of breastfeeding as a multi-purpose indicator: high impact, but low investment for food security and nutrition, and also benefits the SDG health target on ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030.

Hien Tran, Global Policy and Advocacy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, challenged that the current targets of Goal 2 lack strength and ambition to truly improve nutritional impact for all people, not just those considered to be “low hanging fruit.” The nutrition indicators above will not only pave way for improved nutrition for marginalized people, but will also behoove other areas of development (i.e. education, health and decreases in maternal morbidity). This allows for broader application, increased capacity in measuring across sectors and feasibility in their application at both the national and grassroots levels.

Nutrition is a driver of development, but also an outcome of development improvements. Ambassador Caleb Otto of the Mission of the Republic of Palau to the UN noted that achievements to improving nutrition can be hindered by a multitude of issues: addiction, poverty, breastmilk substitutes and poor policies supporting gender equality. He called for stronger political will to address the critical issues of poverty and women to enhance nutrition. While this will rely heavily on much needed data about ideal methodologies of implementation, it is nevertheless an example of needed policies for an enabling environment.

Attendees furthered the technical discussion by highlighting the linkages between agriculture and nutrition, stating that without good agricultural practices, access to land, women’s labor rights and access to markets, nutrition will not be possible for all people. Additional attention was placed on linkages between WASH and nutrition and others discussed the impact of climate change on nutrition as it affects crop availability or composition.

Nutrition is not only a cross-sectoral issue, but also universal. Almost every country in the world faces longterm health risks attributed to some form of malnutrition. This is true across classes, ages and gender. Addressing malnutrition will not only save lives, but will also reduce inequalities and build resilience (ICAN, February 2015). If the development community intends to achieve sustainable development in a mere fifteen year period, efficiency and effectiveness through nutrition initiatives as they are specified in the SDGs’ indicators will be critical.