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South Asia Rural Livelihoods Newsletter, No. 2



  • Agriculture is Back!



Agriculture is Back!
Adolfo Brizzi

Agriculture is back with a sense of revenge. It may have been neglected for too long. The present global food crisis is reminding us that we should not take cheap food for granted and that the consequences of high prices on poor people will be devastating. At the same time everybody now turns to agriculture as part of the solution. The fact that agriculture came so much under the spotlight in such a rapid and unpredicted manner may have taken many by surprise and we may still be struggling to see how to make space for it in the development agendas and work programs. But the message is clear; both from the clients, our top management, and our stakeholders; and the recent food crisis has only made the case even more compelling.

We clearly will have our homework to do to explain what agriculture will be doing differently now and avoid falling in the traditional way of doing business. This is obviously extremely relevant for South Asia that has such a large farming community and where most of the poor are rural and we could roughly say that 80% of the rural population partly depends on agriculture. Fortunately in South Asia we are not starting from scratch and we are well positioned to entrust agriculture with the new role that it deserves. Our program, both on irrigation and rural livelihoods, has been strong over the last couple of years and is poised to make the agriculture sector more responsive to the new context. The rural livelihood program in particular has by now shown the remarkable potential and energy that can be unleashed by i) organizing communities and groups and giving them "voice"; ii) facilitating their access to productive assets and opening up new economic opportunities, and iii) helping farmers and women’s groups reach scale through their own federations and becoming an attractive market for the private sector. In this respect the livelihood program will represent a strong platform for the revival of agriculture in South Asia.

In the recent G8 meeting in Osaka to address the food crisis, a 10-point plan was laid out for rapid action. This includes "creating an enabling environment to stimulate private sector led investment in agribusiness across the value chain" and "encouraging innovative instruments for risk management such as crop insurance for small farmers".

Our knowledge management work in rural livelihoods can help share innovations in private sector partnerships with communities, agriculture and food security to mitigate the crisis. In the last year we have made substantial gains through the regional workshop in Colombo, introducing the newsletter and publishing best practices through learning notes, but we need to do more to make this community of practice really engage and share with each other. Our first steps this year are to make this newsletter and website external to share with clients across the region. I invite you all to give feedback and express your knowledge needs and ideas so we can make this process more demand driven and useful.

I would like to welcome Qazi Azmat Isa to the Kabul office who will be coordinating our rural development program in Afghanistan. Welcome also to Gayatri Acharya who is joining our cluster in the Katmandu office and coordinating our program in Nepal and Bhutan. Farewell and good luck to Shweta Banerjee, who has completed her term as Junior Professional Associate and is leaving the Bank in July. I would also like to thank Parmesh Shah, Natasha Hayward, and Melissa Williams who have kept this new initiative going and continue to work to make the newsletter better with each issue.

I hope that you can take time off in the summer to spend with your families and are refreshed for another challenging but exciting year for us at SASDA.

Regards, Adolfo

 Agriculture and Rural Anchor’s Microfinance Tour to Gemidiriya Project
Renate Kloeppinger-Todd & Jonathan Agwe (

Sri Lanka | May 11th - 17th, 2008. Participants from all over the world signed up for this event. A 1-1/2 day technical seminar prepared them for the subsequent field visits and also enabled the Sri Lankan stakeholders to learn from the experiences of the participants. The team was divided into two groups to allow for intense discussions with Gemidiriya members and their organizations while visiting village savings and credit organizations and their clients to determine first-hand the progress achieved on the ground. The tour provided the opportunity for demonstrating their results by the Gemidiriya team, and networking and cross fertilization between rural finance stakeholders from Africa, East Asia, Latin America, South Asia and World Bank and IFAD staff.

Rural Finance Tour

All indications are that this intensive South - South exchange will have an impact on project design and implementation in quite a few countries. A study tour report is being drafted with details of the lessons learned. This learning event built on the highly rated Ghana Rural Finance and Bansefi Mexico Study Tours undertaken in April 2007 and March 2006, respectively. The Sri Lanka Study Tour focused on a CDD approach and the development of rural livelihoods and access to finance. The objectives of the study tour were to (i) provide Bank TTLs working on CDD/CBD-based rural development projects and senior members of client governments where access to finance is an issue, with the opportunity to learn about the important aspects of the development of a system for rural finance based on community banking, and utilizing ongoing support for livelihood activities; (ii) encourage cross fertilization through joint learning between the TTLs, the senior government officials and the GD Project counterparts; and (iii) determine if and how parts of the project, or even the complete Gemidiriya Concept/Approach, can be replicated in other countries, if deemed valuable.

The Sri Lanka Gemidiriya Projectis a successful comprehensive project addressing the issue of improving rural livelihoods in poor districts of Sri Lanka. A major part of the program are its microfinance operations that consist of the establishment of village savings and loan groups, a village-level credit organization, federations, and linkages to banks. All of these are happening in an environment where there are some commercial banks and financial cooperatives, and in some cases, microfinance institutions (MFIs). However, none of these addresses the needs of the poorest parts of the rural population and few are willing to deal with them at all. This project is considered so successful by the government of Sri Lanka that they have submitted an application to the Bank to support the extension/ expansion of this concept/approach throughout the country.

 Nepal Development Marketplace 2008 Awards: "Securing the Peace through Development"
Twenty-five Nepali Civil Society Organizations Win Grants for Projects to Secure Peace through Development
Benjamin Crow ( and Rajib Upadhya (

Kathmandu, June 24, 2008: Twenty-five civil society organizations from across Nepal won grants from a Rs. 37.5 Million (US$600,000) award pool funded by a partnership between the World Bank and the Nepal Poverty Alleviation Fund. The Society of Economic Journalists supported the program. The winners received approximately Rs. 15 lakhs (US$20,000) each to implement innovative ideas aimed at delivering basic services and expanding livelihood opportunities in rural populations.

"This is my first opportunity to be involved in a development event like this and I’m extremely honored to a part of it," said Mr. Nima Rumba, acclaimed Nepali actor and singer and jury member for the competition. "My hope is that this competition will help to empower, strengthen, and finance rural people to bring change to their communities."

The finalists ranged from grassroots service providers, including public sector development agencies, community-based organizations, and nongovernmental organizations; to schools and universities; and private sector businesses. Their enterprising ideas and creative partnerships focused on improvements in the delivery of basic services in areas of health; water and sanitation; agriculture, irrigation, and food security; small business and micro enterprise support; energy; information and communication technologies; infrastructure; and employment creation.

Projects featuring employment creation, income generation, organic farming, and tourism development were among the winning ideas. Using DM funds, they will have up to one year to carry out their projects to bring about change in their rural communities.

Titled "Securing the Peace through Development," the competition was designed to generate fresh thinking about the delivery of basic services to the poor and expanding livelihood opportunities to rural populations to enhance the peace process through development. After receiving a total of nearly 500 eligible proposals from all parts of the country, 50 finalists were chosen to participate in a national competition in Kathmandu to select the 25 winners. An independent jury of distinguished guest judges, from various segments of Nepali society, was formed to examine the detailed proposals received from the finalists and to publicly interview them at the final competition event before selecting 25 winners. "The innovative, homegrown solutions to deliver basic services to rural communities that were presented here today have a huge potential to make a difference in the lives of poor people," said Ms. Susan Goldmark, World Bank Country Director for Nepal. "Without peace, it will be very difficult to have development, and, conversely, without development, there will be no peace."

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program sponsored by the World Bank and various partners that uses a transparent process to identify and support grassroots initiatives with innovative approaches to solving challenging development issues on a global, regional, and country basis. The program has awarded nearly US$34 million to roughly 800 small-scale projects over the last seven years. For more information about the Nepal Development Marketplace 2008 and the list of winning projects, please visit:

 Team from Afghanistan Tours Andhra Pradesh

February 2008. Through the livelihoods learning funds, a team of six from the Ministry of Rehabilitation and Development and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock traveled to Andhra Pradesh for an exposure visit. The main objective of the immersion was to introduce the visiting team the project design and the key results on the ground. Project proposals are invited for the next round of exposure visit fund to study particular aspects of another project within the region. For more information contact Natasha Hayward (

 Workshop on Governance and Accountability in Rural Livelihoods Projects

A two-day workshop, "Mainstreaming Governance and Accountability Action Plans in Rural Livelihoods Projects in India" was held at the Shangri La Hotel in New Delhi, India on June 20-21, 2008. The main purpose of the workshop was to serve as a forum to introduce and orient project teams to key fraud and corruption risks and provide an opportunity for discussing and facilitating better design of Governance and Accountability Action Plans (GAAPs) in rural livelihood projects. The workshop facilitated and promoted peer learning among project teams by discussing best practices in GAAP preparation and implementation.

Over 50 participants, including livelihood project team members, World Bank staff and consultants attended the workshop. The participants expressed a strong commitment to the GAAP agenda. The workshop saw the emergence of a broad consensus on - the development of realistic GAAPs with a livelihood sensitive methodology to ensure desired outcomes; identification and prioritization of critical risks to find entry points and tailoring interventions; project design that builds on a project specific risk assessment framework, and incorporates transparency, and demand-side approaches into project design, in addition to appropriate fiduciary safeguards; creation of processes that are effective at mainstreaming and dissemination of emerging good practices; and a focus on institution building as a mitigation strategy for F&C risks to support direct managerial interventions. The workshop was planned and supported by the Agriculture & Rural Development (SASDA). For more information contact Samik Das (

 Learning and Design Workshop on M&E and Social Accountability

Mussoorie, India | May 28 - 30, 2008. The objective of the workshop was to strengthen results-based Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) systems and the complementary development of MIS to promote Social Accountability of Bank-assisted projects in the watershed, forestry and livelihood sectors. This workshop was attended by 40 participants, out of which over 90% were from client project teams.

M&E Workshop

The workshop defined the elements of a comprehensive Monitoring and Evaluation System, present techniques, tools and best practices with which to build such systems and help participating project teams to assess how their current M&E systems could be strengthened. Case studies were drawn from Bank projects in India as well as abroad. Workshop sessions were interactive and practical with a focus on helping participants to develop a tangible product (action plan) to take back and which will be followed up by subsequent supervision missions. For more information contact Ai Chin Wee (

 Community-managed Green Solutions Improve Livelihoods in Pakistan
Naila Ahmed (

Building sustainable livelihoods and improving household income requires a wide range of interventions. The Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) engages over 70 Partner Organizations with varying capabilities to work in 31,500 villages with more than 92,300 communities in 113 districts across the country. Indus Earth is one of the more innovative partners working in Balochistan and the Sindh coastal areas, implementing various technical solutions that create an enabling environment to improve livelihoods and household income.

Pakistan N. Ahmed

They thoroughly test the technology in the field and then hand it over to local, trained community organizations who manage them. This work has improved the living standards and livelihoods of neglected and under-privileged communities - through activities such as wind turbines to provide electricity, solar lamps, water heaters, cookers, stills, portable and stationary bio gas plants, developing efficient irrigation systems and grow coconut trees as part of an income generation scheme (one coconut tree can provide Rs. 3000 or $50 per month).

They are also implementing new netting techniques and sea farming of fish, crab, and shrimp. The modern fishing nets will be brought in to replace the outdated and inefficient design being currently used by fisher folk in order to increase their catch and ultimately household incomes.

Women sit under the solar powered lamp posts chatting and doing their embroidery work at night. These lamp posts are scattered around the village and provide light to all the households of Village Abdullah. "The introduction of light in this village has meant that our days are longer and we can spend more time on our embroidery work that we sell in Karachi."


PPAF’s cumulative activities geared towards improving the lives and livelihoods of the poor entail over 1.9 million microcredit loans (impacting 11.4 million with 45 per cent women beneficiaries and close to a 100 per cent recovery rate), over 16,500 health, education, water and infrastructure projects (impacting 8.3 million with 50 percent women beneficiaries), 238,900 trained individuals, staff and communities (42 percent women). For more information, visit



Community Nutrition Centers For Healthy Mothers and Babies
Shweta Banerjee & Lakshmidurga Chava

To address the prevalence of anemia and other nutritional deficiencies among pregnant and lactating women and to prevent infant and maternal mortality, neonatal deaths and congenital abnormalities, community organizations and project staff of the Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Projectjointly developed the concept of nutrition centers. In a Center, the village organization undertakes identification and enrollment of pregnant women and allots responsibility of cooking food to an SHG by rotation. These centers conduct health camps, measurement of height, weight and fortnightly assessment of pregnancy status.

There are three committees managing the center: Purchase Committee, Social Action Committee and Monitoring Committee, each of which includes two pregnant women.

About 200 centers have been established on a pilot basis with positive results. Over 600 women delivered children since the pilot began and there were no maternal deaths reported for any woman who enrolled in the fourth month. All children born were above the minimum weight of 2.5 kilograms. The diagram below compares statistics with the national average. A group of 15 pregnant women using this facility with average age of 23 years increased their weight by six kgs in three months after joining the nutrition center. In the case of Gadham Bhavni, her first son was born weak and malnourished and she was unable to breastfeed due to malnutrition. During her second pregnancy, she joined the nutrition center. She is able to breast feed her second son who was born at 3 Kilograms (Normal birth weight is considered to be 2.5 Kilograms).

Nutrition chart









Meet Subuddhi from Rajasthan

No. 2 Subbudhi picA Below Poverty Line farmer, Subuddhi has a family of five in Ramgarh village in the Dausa district of Rajasthan. He owns 2 acres of land and grows wheat, millets, sorghum, cluster beans & lucerne for subsistence and fodder. He is a member of the Bhumiya Baba dairy CIG that was formed through the Rajasthan District Poverty Initiatives Projectin March 2004 with 15 Members (3 Women and 12 Men). The project financed his purchase of two buffaloes and a calf. In addition, he received a subsidy for shelter for buffaloes, manger and a chaff cutter. Soon after, with the project’s partnership with Rajasthan Cooperative Dairy Federation, he was linked to the local cooperative. Now he owns 3 adult buffaloes and one 12-month old heifer. His animals are stall-fed with dry and green fodder and concentrate feed, and are milked twice a day. He pours milk at the collection centre both times in the day.

Subuddhi’s total net income for 2007 through the dairy business was US$923, putting him above the poverty line. Bhomiya Baba Dairy CIG has emerged as a Self Help Group, saving US$1 per member per month. The SHG has started interloaning since 2004 at 1% interest rate per month. The group has saved US$1125 and has no bad debts so far.


 Demanding Better Governance: Initiatives in South Asia
Sanjay Agarwal (

Since 2005 a unique effort to initiate and mainstream social accountability (SAc) initiatives in government, local government and NGO service delivery, with support from the Trust Fund for Environmental and Socially Sustainable Development has been ongoing in the South Asia Region (SAR). The effort has focused on the following activities - (i) developing centers of excellence for social accountability; (ii) establishing a community of practice of SAc (SASANET) by building a consensus of key decision makers and other stakeholders on SAc; (iii) providing financial and technical assistance for SAc initiatives initiated by governments, local governments and NGOs; (iv) supporting pilots for SAc initiatives in World Bank projects; (v) creating and disseminating knowledge about local SAc initiatives through case studies, workshops, training of trainers, curriculum development and a monthly newsletter titled Vox Populi.

Five centers of excellence on Social Accountability have been created till now under this initiative. The centers are – (i) Center for Good Governance(CGG), Hyderabad; (ii) Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration(YASHADA), Pune (iii) Tata Institute of Social Sciences(TISS), Mumbai; (iv) Consumer Unity and Trust Society(CUTS), Jaipur; (v) Kerala Institute of Local Administration(KILA), Thrissur. A community of practice for SAc practitioners has been established in the South Asia Region (SASANET). A dedicated Web site ( and a Sasanet monthly newsletter "Vox Populi" have also been launched to further bring this community of SAc practitioners together. The initiative has strengthened the institutional capacity of the above-mentioned organizations and developed a core group of social accountability practitioners who are well versed in SAc tools such as community score cards, citizen report cards, public expenditure tracking surveys, social audits, etc. These practitioners today are in a position to act as resource organizations and provide technical assistance on SAc issues to project teams and other organizations.

Through this initiative, innovative demand-side SAc mechanisms such as participatory expenditure tracking, and community based monitoring have been introduced through pilots and integrated into several Bank projects. These Bank projects have SAc components that entrust financial management and oversight to communities and promote downward accountability. Activities such as --- project websites and display boards to disseminate project information; social audits through village-level social audit committees; report cards and community score cards to evaluate CBOs/VOs; grievance redressal cells with a help line; and incentive funds to promote timely implementation, transparency and good governance, are common in the above projects.

The impact of this effort goes beyond World Bank operations and influences public expenditure processes of not only governments but also other donor agencies. Pilot projects undertaken under this initiative have resulted in increased support from both State Governments (Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Sri Lanka) and Bank Projects (Bangladesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, etc) for SAc initiatives. The initiative has laid the foundation for the institutionalization of demand side accountability approaches and the formulation of governance and accountability action in Bank projects and government programs.

The initiative was recently awarded the Sustainable Development Network Governance and Anti-Corruption Award 2008 for increasing transparency and improving governance through social accountability initiatives. More information on this initiative can be found on the SASANET Web site:

 Out in the Field: Meet Sandeep Dave

Meet Sandeep Dave, Project Director, Karnataka Watershed Development "Sujala" Project. When Sandeep took over the project in May 2006, the project had unsatisfactory ratings for implementation. He encouraged his team to focus on partnerships and greater transparency, working on the philosophy that for the project to deliver tanglible results, it was important to tackle systemic issues first. In 2007-2008, the project won three national awards: The National Productivity Award, the National Water Award and the Earth Care Award.

Sandeep focused on equity and inclusion of women. He wanted to challenge the norm of watershed projects being biased in favor of the landed classes, especially large owners. Caps on investment per farmer and income generating activities for the landless were put in place. Women SHG members were given Rs 75,000 or US$1800 (the highest in India) as a grant to their group and a choice to choose from 250 activities and skill up-gradation. A fair and uniform payment system addressed NGO grievances reducing attrition rate, while the emphasis on transparency ensured trust. New innovative initiatives like the soil health card for micronutrients deficiencies, meteorological data, and community based Resource Persons named Jala Mitra proved successful and are now being scaled up the project.


Selected in Indian Administrative Service in the year 1987, Sandeep Dave has worked in diverse sectors that include rural development, power, higher education, industries and textiles.

Sandeep is married to Mala who is a trained interior designer but as he affectionately says, has chosen to be "his back stopping officer". They are blessed with a daughter, Mekhala, aspiring to be a lawyer, and son Siddhanth who wants to be an aeronautical engineer if not a soccer star. When not at work, he enjoys listening to hindi film music and watching bollywood films.

For more on Sujala Project visit the project’s website You can also read the Livelihoods Learning Note on Sujalaby Grant Milne.


Last updated: 2009-04-15

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