Stage Set for Impact in Dryland Africa
Second DMP Steering Committee identifies innovations most likely to succeed
Technologies are at hand that can markedly improve livelihoods of the African dryland poor while protecting their environment. But carefully-crafted interventions based on broad partnerships are needed if the promise is to become reality. These were the main conclusions of representatives gathered for the DMP's Second Steering Committee Meeting, hosted by North-West University, Potschefstroom, South Africa during 5-7 April 2005.
The group reviewed assessments of local technology, and environmental trends—especially biodiversity—that were carried out by national research teams during DMP Phase I (2002-2004). This information lays the foundation for achieving impact in Phase II, which began on January 1, 2005.
The promising technologies were grouped by sub-region:
Eastern and Southern Africa
Western and Central Africa
In opening statements on April 5, Dr. Klaus Kellner of North-West University welcomed the group, who were all impressed by the University's excellent hospitality. Dr. Mohamed Sessay of UNEP, the DMP Implementing Agency told the participants that DMP was a UNEP/GEF flagship project because of its size and importance, and reiterated their strong support.
Dr. Saidou Koala, DMP Global Coordinator gave a broad overview of Phase I results. This was followed by country reports given by the national representatives, and a report on the Coordination Unit's activities.
The second day (April 6) focused on finances/budget, and work plans for Phase II, presented by the sub-regional coordinators Dr. Ramadjita Tabo (West/Central Africa) and Dr. Andre van Rooyen (Eastern/Southern Africa). Dr. Koala then introduced management, coordination, communication, capacity-building and partnership issues for discussion by the Committee.
On the final day (April 7) Dr. Sessay led a discussion on DMP external relations, while Drs. Tabo and van Rooyen led discussions on strategies for achieving impact of the best-bet technologies.
Seventeen experts participated in the meeting, including 13 Steering Committee members and four observers. Steering Committee members include a representative from each of the nine member countries (Burkina Faso could not attend), plus the DMP Global Coordinator, one representative each from UNEP and UNDP, and one from the International Agricultural Research Centers (TSBF-CIAT in this case).
The discussions were lively and far-ranging, reflecting the DMP's broad and ambitious agenda. Some key issues are summarized below.
What was accomplished in Phase I, and what were the shortcomings?
National surveys characterized carefully-chosen benchmark sites for a wide range of agricultural and environmental features that are important to rural livelihoods, especially biodiversity. Technologies presently used by land-users to make their living in sustainable ways were compiled, along with findings from the formal research sector. Best-bets for emphasis in Phase II were identified, as discussed above.
Financial reporting was not sufficient to meet the requirements for the evaluation of Phase I. In Phase II, funds will not be released until the reports reflect the value of the money received. Reports of partner co-funding and expenditure must also be improved. Budgeting processes must be transparent.
Technical support to the DMP member countries from international organizations also needs to be made more systematic and transparent. More international Centers need to be actively involved.
What are the major issues for Phase II?
The success of Phase II (2005-2006) will be judged on its impacts. Many technologies have been identified for helping the drylands in the past, but few have had the expected impact. The challenge facing the DMP now is not only to pick those technologies most likely to succeed; it is also find the right strategies to translate their potential into real impacts that benefit the poor and the environment.
Constraints to impact that must be overcome include:
Ways to measure impact were discussed. A plan for monitoring and evaluation should be set into place now so the necessary observations are made and data collected. Impact criteria for complex concepts like biodiversity need to be made clear (indicators and impact targets are listed in the Project Document).
Since there is variability between countries, the impacts in Phase II may differ among countries. The regional coordination should have a dossier of technologies and let each country choose the three that are most likely to make impact.
While agriculture is the DMP's main focus and the main activity of the dryland poor, additional livelihood options could enhance and stabilize incomes e.g. when agriculture is hit by drought. This would also take some pressure off the land when it is most susceptible to damage. Such options are few at present due to the isolation of these areas, but include tourism and care of national parks and other natural resources.
Grass-roots organizations need to be engaged in Phase II. They should also be represented in the National Steering Committees. Agencies that commit resources to the DMP can also join the Global Steering Committee.
Namibia can serve as a model of how to engage broad participation, by learning from its FIRM (Forum for Integrated Resource Management) approach, which unites a wide range of agencies to catalyze impact. The land-care philosophy should be followed, which views sustainable land management as everybody's business. It gets the policy makers and politicians involved, not just the technologists. Key principles for success:
Training needs should be submitted to the Global Coordination Office by mid-May 2005.
Three training workshops are already planned by TSBF-CIAT/AfNET in collaboration with the Challenge Program on Water and Food-Volta Basin Project led by ICRISAT. Announcements will be sent to all DMP partners:
Communications and reporting
The exchange of knowledge among countries should be improved in Phase II. For example, systems such as the African Market Garden, fertilizer micro-dosing and land rehabilitation using indigenous species can benefit all countries when they are shared in detail. Ways to increase knowledge-sharing among DMP member countries were discussed, such as exchange visits, the use of geographical information systems, the new website and newsletter, and better reporting of results.
Reporting expectations and procedures need to be laid out clearly and met in a more timely fashion in Phase II. Standards should be set so that the necessary information is ready when the time comes to roll it up from the country level to the sub-region and then for synthesis across the region. The first 6-monthly progress report for Phase II is due on 1 July 2005. The Phase I characterization studies should be written up clearly and synthesis reports created for the sub-regions and for the entire DMP.
The internet can help DMP improve its sharing of knowledge. Countries should contribute information to the Global Coordination Office to be placed on the website and in the bi-monthly On the Edge newsletter. Email addresses of those who should receive it should also be provided by countries. Hard copies for the newsletter should also be made available to those who need them. A French version would be desirable as well.
In global-level publications, logos of DMP, GEF, ICRISAT and UNEP should be included, and UNEP should review before publishing to ensure there are no legal problems. In national-level publications, GEF and local partners' logos should be included.
Scientific and Technical Advisory Team (STAT)
This team will advise the DMP on technical support from advanced research institutions and international Centers for member countries. Experts are needed in:
Members should nominate candidates for these roles by mid-May 2005. STAT's membership should be defined by 1 July 2005.
Important international events that provide DMP the opportunity to raise its profile include:
Next Steering Committee Meeting
The next DMP Annual Steering Committee meeting will be held in Dakar, Senegal in the second week of February 2006. Exact dates will be fixed later by the Global Coordination Unit in consultation with UNEP.