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Monthly Newsletter
October 2021

Welcome to the Resilient Food Systems (RFS) Newsletter.

Well into the second half of the year, we are taking the opportunity to pause, reflect and exchange lessons learned across the programme. This year’s virtual annual workshop series kicked off in July with a webinar on the new RFS M&E system. Since then, we’ve celebrated our successes and acknowledged our collective challenges during the RFS country roundtable event in September and learned about gender-responsive implementation in October. Up next: Science, Practice and Policy: Expert Dialogue on Food Systems and Resilience and Advocating for Resilient Food Systems: influencing decision making in November.
This month’s newsletter features two success stories from Southern Africa. In Malawi, we learn how the IFAD-implemented project encouraged small-scale charcoal producers to make the switch to beekeeping, resulting in more lucrative and sustainable livelihoods. In Eswatini, integrated approaches to land rehabilitation, implemented by the IFAD-supported CSARL project, helped the Nceka community fix its big gully problem. Two great examples of what can be achieved when resilience-building projects have the full backing of the community. 
Happy reading :)

Useful resources and links

Each month, the RFS Regional Hub gathers and shares useful resources under the broad themes of sustainable agriculture, resilience-building, land degradation and climate change.
Knowledge & Learning 

RFS country projects meet to exchange lessons and experiences at this year’s virtual Annual Workshop Series

On 22-23 September 2021, almost 100 participants from across the 12 RFS country projects attended this year’s virtual country roundtable event.  Due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, the RFS PCU was again unable to host the annual RFS programme workshop in-person this year. In its place, the PCU put together a virtual workshop series consisting of key learning and exchange events between RFS country projects, partners and key stakeholders.

Following the first event on transitioning the M&E systems to the new GEF-7 results architecture, the country roundtable created a space for all RFS country projects and Regional Hub partners to come together virtually to share progress and lessons learned. Project coordinators from each country shared the challenges they faced due to Covid-19. They also discussed their approaches to gender mainstreaming, and their experiences involving the local community in every step of the project. 
Full recap of the country roundtable event →
Malawi Value Chains & Market Access Sustainable Land Management 

From charcoal to honey: Why Malawian farmers are making the switch

Across Malawi, low electrification rates fuel the demand for charcoal in rural communities, which has led to an alarming destruction of forests and entire ecosystems. Tombozgani Kumwenda, a former charcoal producer and resident of Karonga in the northern region of Malawi, told the RFS project team, “I don’t think we were cutting trees not knowing how important they are. But charcoal production was the easier option for many of us.”
Now, the RFS Malawi project, implemented by IFAD in partnership with the Government of Malawi, is offering a more attractive livelihood: beekeeping. Through hands-on training, almost 200 community members have learned how to build apiaries, and how to colonise and manage hives. They also receive advice on how to access end markets for harvested honey and beeswax.
The beekeeping training has led to a more environmentally conscious community. Tree felling has decreased and charcoal production in Karonga has come to a standstill as community members realise anew the value of trees. According to Tombozgani, the community now understands the link between forest health and earning potential: “We are each other’s keeper. We know the destruction of trees will mean the end of our business.”
Read more about Malawi's beekeeping initiative →
Eswatini Rural extension & capacity Sustainable Land Management

Fixing erosion, stone by stone: the power of integrated approaches in Eswatini

In Nceka, a community in the eastern part of Eswatini, gully erosion is a serious problem that has worsened over the past 20 years. To address this problem, the Government of Eswatini, in partnership with IFAD through the RFS programme, is supporting community members in the construction of stone gabions to help plug the gullies and restore ecosystem functioning. Facilitators from the community received training in how to make gabions, and a dedicated erosion control group was established, consisting of 9 women and 5 men, to oversee and implement the groundwork.
Viewing the problem through an integrated lens, community members designed the intervention with the broader socio-economic and ecological system in mind. Once the erosion is contained and the area recovers, the community will plant vegetables and fruit trees and set up a solar-powered irrigation system, creating new sources of nutritious food for household use and for sale. The new indigenous trees will improve surface cover (a further safeguard against erosion), contribute to the community’s natural carbon sinks and promote biodiversity.
Learn about Eswatini's integrated approach to gully restoration →
Regional Hub Science, Policy & Institutions 

Resilient Food Systems SHARED Toolbox: A toolkit for enhancing inclusive and evidence-based policy development

Regional Hub partners ICRAF and FAO, in partnership with the Stakeholder Approach to Risk-Informed and Evidenced Based Decision Making (SHARED) Decision Hub, designed and developed a toolkit, in both English and French, to assist RFS country teams in strengthening the connection between science, policy and institutions across the local and national levels.
The toolkit’s design aims to provide easy step-by-step tools, approaches and methods that can be applied to RFS country project implementation plans. This toolkit is particularly useful if you are a:
  • Country project team, specifically the focal points for policy, institutional and multi-stakeholder work areas;
  • Relevant project focal points within partner government departments or development partners; or
  • Project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) specialists.
Read about the process and download the latest brief →

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Resilient Food Systems, also known as the Integrated Approach Program on Food Security (IAP-FS), is primarily funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

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to learn more about how we are building resilient food systems in 12 countries across Africa.
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