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Rural Livelihoods Newsletter No. 5

Welcome Message


President Zoellick Visits Rajasthan, India

South Asia Livelihoods Staff Meeting to Learn and Plan for the Future

National Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture

AADAPT Workshop on Impact Evaluation for Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Projects, Goa

Power in the People: The Human Resources Workshop in Bangladesh


Gemi Diriya Wins the "Aggie" for Good Supervision

Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development (AREDP) approved by the Board!

Indira Kranthi Patham Receives an Additional US$100 to Scale Up Successes


Out of Bondage into Business

Not Just a “Bad Tradition”: Ending the Jogini System in Andhra Pradesh

More Crop per Drop with SRI . . . and more capacity and enterprises too!

The Golden Grapes of Afghanistan: A story of value chain development

Community Based Procurement: Value for Money Analysis


Meet Tariq Ismati, Executive Director of National Solidarity Project (NSP) of Afghanistan

Transforming One Life at a Time: Aasha Devi’s Journey from Daily Wage Laborer to an Entrepreneur

Malathi Devi gains Food Security by adopting Systems Rice Intensification 

Parmesh Shah, Lead Rural Development Specialist, SASDA, World Bank, Washington, DC

Parmesh ShahGreetings to all our readers!  This fifth issue of the newsletter focuses on key challenges we face in the development of rural livelihoods for millions of poor households in the region.  The biggest challenge is that in spite of significant economic growth in most South Asian countries, growth has not translated into adequate economic opportunities for poor people.  Also due to a number of market imperfections and lack of last mile service delivery systems, poor households are paying a poverty penalty for consumption of food and other basic necessities. The best way to change this is by creating a foundation and ecosystem for inclusive growth.  This inclusive growth consists of three elements ─ social, financial and economic. Social inclusion should aim at organizing all poor households and small farmers into their own self managed institutions.  The financial inclusion includes access to various financial services including thrift, credit, insurance and remittance services at a reasonable cost, accessible at their doorstep.  The economic inclusion involves creating and adding value to various livelihood opportunities for the poor in a sustainable manner.

The major challenge for the rural livelihood programs today is to build on the initial work on social and economic community development and improve agriculture, livestock and non farm sector opportunities for the poor small and marginal famers and create an end to end support network for them.  This would include organization and aggregation of producers through economic mobilization, productivity enhancement, technology and innovation systems, credit and value addition.  Small and marginal farmers, who make the majority of the farmers, need integrated livelihood support systems.  During the course of the year, I have seen many examples of these aspects in various programs we support.  These include producer companies in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar working on the seed business; various horticulture and livestock productivity enhancement activities in Afghanistan; programs facilitating large scale access to micro-finance in Pakistan in remote villages; various value chain development activities for vegetables and horticulture in watershed management programs in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh; procurement centers operated as franchisees for maize in Andhra Pradesh; large scale work on farmer experimentation and farmer field schools for System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in Bihar and Tamil Nadu; livestock and milk value chain development activities through investment in small scale chillers and doorstep procurement in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh; and developing skills for wage employment in services and manufacturing sector in many states across India and in Bangladesh.  There is a need to learn from these and other examples, and develop an inclusive growth strategy for poor households and an institutional platform for pro poor investment and growth.

At the end of January, staff from headquarters and field offices and project partners from various programs in the region congregated in Washington DC to discuss some of these innovations, challenges and future directions.  I welcome your further ideas and suggestions regarding the issues discussed above.  We hope that we will be able to develop a collective road map for our future work in the next decade through this process. 


President Zoellick Visits Rajasthan, India
Smriti Lakhey, Junior Professional Associate, SASDA,Washington DC

Zoellick in RajasthanIn December 2009 President Zoellick visited several World Bank funded projects in Rajasthan, India.  In the villages in Tonk district he met rural families who had benefitted from the Rajasthan District Poverty Initiatives Project (DPIP). In Gulabpura village he met about 100 members of the Maitree Dairy Federation, which was initially supported by the now closed World Bank-financed Rajasthan DPIP and Srijan, a non-government organisation. The women members of the dairy federation shared that the project enabled them to come together to undertake a common dairy activity. They collected higher volumes of milk through a federation structure to benefit from better economies of scale. The large volume of milk collected also enhanced their marketing and distribution opportunities. The project formed 3000 dairy Common Interest Groups (CIGs) and introduced 59,000 cattle, resulting in 35 thousand liter of milk production per day. The Rajasthan DPIP organized 247,868 individuals into over 22,000 CIGs.

At the end of the day’s visit Mr. Zoellick announced that the World Bank had extended its support to the Rajasthan Government with a proposed assistance program of 490 million US dollars for four new State-level projects over the coming two years. The projects pertain to livelihood, water resources, rural roads and agricultural competitiveness. Of these, the Rajasthan Rural Livelihoods Project ($150 million) will aim to help increase and sustain incomes of the poor, especially women, in select drought prone districts of Rajasthan. This will be done through social mobilization, credit linkages to banks and micro-finance institutions, and new livelihood strategies that are adaptable to climate change.

South Asia Livelihoods Staff Meeting to Learn and Plan for the Future, Washington DC
January 27, 2010
Smriti Lakhey, Junior Professional Associate, SASDA, Washington DC

Over 30 participants comprising mostly of South Asia Rural Livelihoods team members from the headquarters and six field offices, project partners and specialists from other regions and sectors congregated for a one day retreat in Washington DC. The objective of the retreat was to share key innovations in rural livelihoods projects in South Asia region in the last decade and discuss the direction of the livelihoods projects in the next decade. The main themes discussed over four panel discussions were: 1) Agricultural Productivity, Climate Change and Food Crisis; 2) Service Delivery and Social Safety Nets for the Poor; 3) Creating a Rural Investment Climate through Financial Tools and ICTs; and 4) Moving From Project to Programmatic Approach in South Asia Rural Livelihoods. At the end of the retreat, the participants also discussed the implications of changing focus in livelihoods sector and what it means to our ways of doing business. Transitioning to a programmatic approach to rural livelihoods as in case of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission in India means that the livelihoods team will have to develop new skills, organize differently around new structures and meet the changed staffing needs to deliver our work effectively and efficiently in the new environment. Likewise learning from different livelihoods projects will be an important part of equipping the team with knowledge to be at the cutting edge in the next decade. To access the presentation made at the retreat, please click here.

Livelihoods Retreat

National Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture, Hyderabad
October 15, 2009
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC

The National Colloquium on Sustainable Agriculture in Hyderabad, India, brought together policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and farmers to discuss and debate the very pressing issues of agriculture, poverty, and sustainability in an effort to uncover ways in which to make agriculture a pathway out of poverty for small and marginal farmers.  Not surprisingly, the debate was intense at times. 

CMSA SignA central approach discussed at the Colloquium is a pilot in community managed sustainable agriculture (CMSA) managed by the Society for Elimination of Rural Poverty.  From a technical perspective, CMSA is very familiar.  It promotes bio-pesticides over chemical pesticides, soil nutrient management over chemical fertilizers, on-farm water harvesting, and multi-cropping and inter-cropping over mono-cropping.  This goes by many names—integrated nutrient management, organic farming, conservation agriculture, etc. 

So what’s different about this approach? CMSA is a development approach – not a technological approach. The pilot actually started because SERP wanted to find a way to reduce the cost of cultivation --- and therefore the need for unaffordable credit --- among poor farmers.   CMSA uses an institutional platform of community organizations and their federations to plan, implement, manage, and monitor the program and provide a single window approach for delivery of livelihood improvement services and enterprises, exclusively for small-farm holders. Over 300,000 farmers have adopted CMSA in Andhra Pradesh alone, covering 1.36 million acres of farmland—5.1 per cent of the net cropped area in the state—in just over four years.  The potential to scale up is immense.  

There is well established research showing that investment in agriculture produces more poverty reduction impact than investment in any other sector, but it won't help the poorest and most vulnerable farmers unless the approach to financing, innovation, cultivation, and markets shifts include those that have been passed over by other agriculture revolutions.

For more information see:  Changing "Business as Usual" to Save Smallholder Agriculture,  SERP's Community Managed Sustainable Agriculture Site 

AADAPT Workshop on Impact Evaluation for Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Projects, Goa
December 17-21, 2009
Natasha Hayward, Senior Rural Development Specialist, SASDA, Washington DC

Around 50 participants from Bank-financed livelihoods and water sector projects in India, Afghanistan and Nepal gathered in Goa, India, in mid-December to participate in the AADAPT cross-country workshop on Impact Evaluations in Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods.  The objective of the training event was to orient Bank staff, Project directors, M&E Specialists and project partners to the value of well-designed and rigorous impact evaluations (IE) - not only to measure end-of-project outcomes and results, but to provide answers to key operational and project design questions, during project implementation.  Presenters shared best practices in impact assessment design methodology, before each project team formed a working group, guided by an IE specialist, and worked on a design and IE plan for their respective operation.  Proposals were then shared with the plenary for further review and feedback.  The AADAPT team will continue to offer technical guidance all participating projects as they finalise and carry out IEs in their respective states.

DIME Participants-GOA

Power in the People: The Human Resources Workshop in Bangladesh
November 3-5, 2009
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC

Poverty alleviation is a long-term commitment, one that needs people with the dedication and skills equal to the massive task.  The challenge for development projects is to attract and retain those staff through superior recruitment and human resource strategies.

HR Workshop

The World Bank hosted a regional workshop, Impacting Project Outcomes through Institutional Development and Human Resource Management on November 3-5, 2009 in Dhaka, Bangladesh to discuss these issues and share challenges and best practices. The 3-day workshop brought together leaders from the public and private sector and development projects to discuss cultivating leadership, attracting and retaining quality staff, working with partner organizations, assessing performance and developing professional skills within rural communities. 

Several CDD and livelihoods projects have already introduced rigorous processes for recruiting quality staff, including psychometric and sociometric tests, village immersion, group interviews, etc.  These tools help project managers to identify staff whose behaviors, attitudes, and mindsets are best suited by: 

  • Recruiting using psychometric and sociometric tests rather than IQ tests;
  • Searching the open market through an independent agency;
  • Measuring and incentivizing performance; and
  • Ensuring transparency and fairness through an HR Policy.

Both public and private sector participants stress the need to keep quality staff by providing clear career paths, incentives for good performance, and the freedom to innovate and excel. The role of management is to create the enabling environment.  Read more and see the presentations from the event at under Investing in Human Capital.


Gemi Diriya Wins the "Aggie" for Good Supervision
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC

Aggie Award Gemi DiriyaThe World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Sector is responsible for over 260 active projects worth over US$16 billion worldwide.  Each year, the sector recognizes two projects each with an “Aggie” award --- a new one for innovative design and an ongoing one for innovative supervision.

We are proud to announce that this year’s winner for innovative Supervision was the Sri Lanka Community Development And Livelihood Improvement "Gemi Diriya" Project.  The team, led by Meena Munshi on the Bank side and Gamini Batuwitage on the client side, designed the project in a very participatory way—e.g., villagers actually create the operational manuals in participatory workshops so that client ownership is strong.  

During implementation support missions, the Bank team interacts with a large number of primary stakeholders and beneficiaries to “find out what is working and what is not”.  These forums and discussions have helped change some of the project design elements and/or refine operational procedures that were hindering the program.

A network of Community Professionals—villagers who have excelled in aspects of project implementation in their respective villages and receive extra training to provide support to other villages in mobilization, governance, financial management, and technical skills—now join missions with Bank staff. Their feedback and insights help not only to identify operational issues but also to resolve issues and conflicts on the ground. As fellow beneficiaries, the CPs are able to blend into a village, walk through and get better information about activities on the ground than Bank or national/state staff. 

Communications trees support improved governance by outlining for any villager who to contact at each level of the project system (with mobile phone numbers) and how long each level has to respond before the person can elevate the grievance to the next level. The levels extend up to the Bank.

Client to client technical assistance exchanges give project staff from the client side more exposure to development issues and an opportunity to build networks throughout the region.  For instance, the more experienced appraisal team from Sri Lanka’s Gemi Diriya Foundation visited the new appraisal team in Bangladesh to provide training and feedback on appraisal processes. The Bangladesh team got to learn directly from counterparts and the Sri Lanka team reinforced their own knowledge by teaching others. These exchanges are not limited only to clients; country office staff on the teams also join supervision missions of other projects in the region to observe, learn, and provide feedback.

Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development (AREDP) approved by the Board!

WB cube mediumOn March 9, 2010, the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a $30 million IDA grant to boost employment and incomes for people living in the rural areas of Afhganistan. 

AREDP will support the establishment of 13,000 Savings Groups, 6,500 Enterprise Groups, and 1,300 Village and Savings Loan Associations. The EGs will help maximize the economic potential of rural entrepreneurs to improve market access, deliver technical knowledge, raise basic business skills and leverage economies of scale to increase the value of their sales. The project will also work with  around 750 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are likely to be key drivers of rural employment.  It will support SMEs in building necessary skills, promoting market development and particularly encouraging business linkages  into the rural economy.

“The project will assist these institutions to build their own capacities, increase the value of trading, ensure production is oriented towards identified market opportunities, and create access to credit,” said Qazi Azmat Isa, World Bank Senior Rural Development Specialist and Project Team Leader. “The pilot phase of this program demonstrated that such an intervention can have an enormous impact in terms of improving employment opportunities and income of rural men and women. We have also seen in many other countries - in South Asia and beyond - that promoting synergies between private companies and rural enterprises provides a powerful force for boosting rural incomes.”

Indira Kranthi Patham Receives an Additional USD100 million to Scale Up Successes

WB cube medium

On December 21, 2009, the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved US$100 million additional financing for the Andhra Pradesh Rural Poverty Reduction Project (also known as Indira Kranthi Patham or IKP).  IKP seeks to enable the rural poor, particularly the poorest of the poor, improve their livelihoods and quality of life.

“This program has had a remarkable impact on the lives of the rural poor in Andhra Pradesh,” said Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. “We have seen incomes increase for close to 90 percent of poor rural households. This additional financing will help improve efficiency and effectiveness of the program by adopting new technologies and innovative service delivery models for achieving full inclusion of the poor households.”

The project has mobilized some 10 million poor women, or 90 percent of the poor in the project districts, into nearly 850,000 Self Help Groups. The groups have used seed money to pool resources and make small loans to help each other pay for education, medical treatment, food , and other small but important needs. The self-help groups have formed federations, leveraging their finances and influence, and even begun to deliver insurance, ambulance, extension, commercial and government services.

The self-managed institutions of the poor have collective savings of US$805 million, and leveraged commercial bank linkages of US$4.3 billion. This means that every US$1 invested by the project has leveraged US$12 from the commercial banks. Meanwhile, the project’s community managed sustainable agriculture program has led to aggregate annual cost savings of US$69.5 million and the employment generation program has created 185,748 jobs for the rural youth.


Out of Bondage into Business
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC and Malathi Helen, Communications Specialist, Vazhndhu Kattuvom Project, Tamil Nadu

India abolished bonded labor with the Bonded Labor System (Abolition) Act of 1976, and since that time, states have worked to identify, release, and rehabilitate bonded laborers.  However, the practice has not disappeared. Debt bondage is a deeply entrenched practice that is closely tied to income and asset inequality, lack of gainful employment opportunities, migration, and social customs. According to the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MLE) in India, it is the laborers, small and marginal farmers, and artisans in rural areas that are particularly vulnerable to falling into this state. In 2008/09 alone, 268,136 bonded laborers were identified, released, and rehabilitated, and 65,573 of those were just in the state of Tamil Nadu.

However, according to MLE, “Freedom from bondage would be meaningful only when the uncertainty and insecurity associated with bondage is removed through productive and income generating schemes.  In the absence of poverty eradication measures, the rehabilitated bonded labourers are likely to fall back into their original state of bondage.”  This is where programs like Tamil Nadu’s Vazhndhu Kattuvom Project (VKP) help former bonded labourers forge a new path away from the life that makes them vulnerable to such conditions in the first place.  Two cases from Thiruvallar district in Tamil Nadu illustrate the impact VKP is having on these groups.

Palavakkam VPRCMembers of the Village Poverty Reduction Committee (VPRC) of Palavakkam are members of the Irula tribe and were bonded laborers in a rice mill until an NGO secured their release in 2003. While they received rehabilitation benefits from the government and formed SHGs, they remained fearful of the outside world and saw little or no improvement in their opportunities or in the services they received.  One lady described their position as being the last in line to sample an ice cream treat . . . they were always left with the stick.  They could not get service at the ration shop, did not know how to access services, and had few opportunities to work. 

About two years ago, VKP entered their village—raising awareness of the project through cultural shows, auto rickshaw announcements, and meetings with community professionals. They reformed the SHGs along the project principles of inclusion, participation, equity, empowerment, and transparency.  The SHGs began saving and planning.  The VPRC was elected from among the poorest and began administering a village fund based on their participatory village development plan.

Now, the villagers, most of whom did not reach eighth standard education, are sending their children to school.  They operate a ration shop, have their Tribal Welfare Cards, have gotten old age pension for 13 members, and are getting training and employment in a variety of professions (embroidery, tailoring, etc.).  They also plan to form an economic activity federation to engage in dairying.  Describing the changes in their community, the women said “we are not afraid anymore” and “VKP is like being in my mother’s house”.   

Kumarapettai EAFIn Kumarapettai, formerly bonded laborers in a weaving mill have formed the Kumarapettai Silk Cotton Sarees Federation.  The idea of forming a weaving federation emerged from a livelihoods mapping exercise facilitated by VKP staff.  Federation members use their own funds plus financing from the VPRC and a bank to finance their looms and materials.  At least one member is an emerging community professional, who is showing talented for marketing in addition to community mobilization.  The federation is building its brand and identifying more outlets to display and sell their products.  They hope to operate their own retail outlet in time.

Through clear communication, mobilization, and capacity building and technical assistance, VKP is taking groups from being among the most vulnerable poor in India—bonded laborers—to being empowered communities with productive businesses.

Not Just a “Bad Tradition”: Ending the Jogini System in Andhra Pradesh
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC

Manemma, a woman between 35 and 40 years old, from Mahbubnagar district, cried when Lingaiah Gouwd from the Society for the Elimination of Rural Poverty (SERP) first approached her because he called “sister”, a word that jogins, like Manemma, in Andhra Pradesh do not hear. Jogini, and similar practices like devadasi and mathamma, involve marrying a young girl (often from scheduled castes and tribes) to a god or goddess, after which, she essentially becomes the common sexual property of men in the village, particularly higher-caste men. Jogins are among the most marginalized of people in rural society in Andhra Pradesh, “If we take tea at a hotel, they will break the glass afterward because no one will use the same glass as us,” explains Manemma with tears in her eyes.  Different sources describe different origins of the practice; however, one fact is consistent: jogini and systems like it are illegal according to the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

Jogini in AP

Manemma’s parents pushed her into jogini when she was 10 years old. As a jogin, she became pregnant and though she knows who the father is, she cannot make a claim against him within the social system. She explains that when jogins confront the fathers of their children, the response is, “Did I marry you?” She worked making beedi to provide for her daughter, Sunita, who she made sure was educated through 10th standard and is now married with two children of her own. 

Life has been a fight for Manemma. She fought the schools that required her to provide the name of her daughter’s father to be registered, and now she is fighting against the system that once marginalized her. Narsamma, who became a jogin at age 10, and Chinna Manemma, who became a jogin at age 7, share in Manemma’s fight.  All three women walked away from the jogini system within three months of SERP’s first intervention.  They joined a self-help group (SHG), which has received three progressively larger loans of Rs. 50,000; Rs. 100.000, and Rs. 400,000. They have used these loans to pay for family-related needs—a wedding, paying parent’s debts, savings for a favorite niece—which reflects their desperate need for inclusion:  “Even though we stopped, we are alone. We need families. We have built up our families.” All three work making beedi (local cigarettes) and as agricultural laborers.  Manemma had a provision shop for a while, which she sold to a competitor.  Now that they have made progress in creating “normal lives” for themselves, they are investigating better livelihood opportunities and training and working to pay back their loans so they can move forward. 

Though they faced antagonism from villagers and other jogins (there were 60 in their village) at first, the respect has built up over time.  Their village has stopped the jogini system completely; the three women will not even allow jokes about the topic.  Manemma, Chinna Manemma, and Narsamma, who belong to their village Social Action Committee supported by SERP, are now in what they describe as “campaign mode”.  They inquire in every village, visit temples on auspicious days, arrange for tents, and invite the police to prevent jogini ceremonies, and they participate in cultural programs to spread the word.

Social Action Committees—like the one to which Manemma, Narsamma, and Chinna Manemma belong—are created and supported through the Gender/Social Action Program (SAP) of the World Bank-financed Indira Kranthi Patham project (IKP), which is implemented by SERP. Social Action Committees (SACs) at the village and sub-district level comprising members of IKP self-help groups receive special training and materials to train other SHG members on a spectrum of social problems in addition to jogini, including violence against women, female infanticide, child marriages, human trafficking, and alcoholism. 

Social action has been difficult and sometimes dangerous work, especially when entering a new area. Lingaiah vividly recalls filing a case in 2001 against parents trying to make their daughter a jogin.  He found himself arrested, instead, and he was beaten by local men who did not want the jogini system challenged. It took the intervention of senior SERP officials to secure his release.  “The problem is that police are either unaware of the law against jogini or they see it as a ‘bad tradition’ rather than a crime, and they are reluctant to arrest perpetrators, who are often influential in the local area,” says Jamuna Paruchuri, project manager for SAP.  Over time, the SACs supported by SERP have established good working relationships with the judiciary, the police, and local leaders, who now often seek SAC intervention as a first resort to solve problems in the area.

Livelihoods projects seek first to reach the poorest and most marginalized rural people and help them join in the growth of their country.  However, the problem is not simply one of money, alone. Many social practices keep sections of society isolated and destitute, and projects must make special efforts—like SERP’s Social Action Program—to overcome social barriers to inclusion, opportunity, poverty reduction and growth.

More Crop per Drop with SRI . . . and more capacity and enterprises too!
Melissa Williams, Operations Officer, SASDA, Washington DC

Farmers in the state of Tamil Nadu need to get more crop per drop, and the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization and Water-Bodies Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) Project is working hard to help them with this goal.  The project is heavily promoting SRI, or System of Rice Intensification, to help achieve this goal.
SRI is a set of practices—planting more mature seedlings, planting one seedling per mound, having more space between plants, maintaining soil moisture instead of flooding, and weeding regularly.  It is not new technology; however, when these practices are taken together and properly implemented, SRI can use about 30% less water while increasing yields from 10-50%  over traditional paddy cultivation, according to farmer testimonials. The results have been so promising, that Tamil Nadu officials have set a goal of having 750,000 hectares under SRI in the next few years. Toward this goal, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and the state’s Agriculture Department have an interesting program with elements that could be adopted by livelihoods projects:

SRI FarmerTraining farmers.  SRI is a process and every step must be followed if farmers want to see the higher yields (sometimes huge yields).  The project has a massive effort to create demonstration plots and hold farmer field days throughout the cropping season so that interested farmers can learn each step in SRI.

Training agricultural laborers.  Farmers are not the only ones working the fields.  Agricultural laborers must also understand SRI processes.  Therefore, the project has held training sessions for agricultural laborers directly involved in SRI cultivation, who, with their new skills, can earn a higher daily wage working the SRI fields.  Daily laborers comprise a large portion of the target beneficiaries in livelihoods projects, and introducing SRI training can help them.

Support enterprise to support SRI.  SRI requires precision and labor intensive processes (lots of weeding), but implements---the square planter, the cono weeder, etc.—exist and new ones are being created to help farmers and laborers.  IAMWARM is working with local artisans, training them to make the implements and sell them in their local shops. 

Take the message on the road.  IAMWARM on Wheels is a mobile promotional and training unit that can carry customized messages to multiple villages each day.  When promoting, SRI, IAMWARM on Wheels is covered with messages and how-to posters mounted to the outside of the vehicle. Inside, are specialists in water and agriculture with take away materials, who can meet with farmers, describe the benefits of SRI, and answer questions.  Each IAMWARM on Wheels tour ends with a longer night meeting at the final village where farmers can spend more time learning about the technology.

SRI is already being introduced in some Livelihoods project—Indira Kranthi Patham, Jeevika, Tripti—and others.  The technical lessons from IAMWARM for large scale role out of the technology can easily be adopted and adapted, especially with a system of empowered local institutions and financial access that livelihoods programs have developed.  For more information, see the IAMWARM Web site at

The Golden Grapes of Afghanistan: A story of value chain development 
Smriti Lakhey, Junior Professional Associate, SASDA Washington DC (based on Grape Value Chain Project October Monthly Report by Roots of Peace, 2009, submitted by Usman Qamar, Senior Rural Development Specialist, SASDA, Afghanistan)

By adding value to the grapes using improved processing, branding, packaging and shipping, and exploring new market opportunities, grape farmers and merchants in Afghanistan have increased the grape yield and benefitted from higher prices in the market. Some farmers report that their yields have gone up by about 60 percent and the merchants inform that the price increased by as much as 50 percent in some markets.  These are the outcomes of the Grape Value Chain Project (GVCP), a component under the Horticulture and Livestock Project in Afghanistan. Grape farmers and merchants were shown how to add value to their produce to reap higher profits under this project.

Grapes harvested in AfghanistanValue was added to different parts of the grape production chain. Farmers were shown how to treat the grapes using Gibberellic Acid (GIB) to increase the size of the berries and increase their appeal to consumers and value to producers. Secondly, the grapes were branded using a label that showed that these were special grapes - the products of GVCP. This assured quality and made them attractive in the market. Thirdly, traditionally used large boxes for packaging the grapes for shipping were replaced by smaller carton suited for use on the bottom layers of cartons in the shipping containers. These new cartons, with the capacity of packaging only 7 kilograms, were strong enough to support the weight of several layers of paper cartons of grape stacked on top of them during shipment to Karachi and assured that the grapes inside were not damaged during shipping. Such simple measures immediately improved the quality of grapes reaching the market, established a brand name, and received higher prices for the farmers and the merchants.

Packaged grapes in AfghanistanAlthough the new prices received for grapes were higher than before, the market price for grapes in Peshawar (where the merchants marketed the grapes) continued to be an issue because the price of grapes was lower here than normal due to the large Afghan harvest. Imports of grapes in Pakistan from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan depressed the prices and added competition.

In response, the project scoped out new market opportunities and identified new locations – Islamabad and Karachi in Pakistan and New Delhi in India. To reach the distant markets, refrigerated shipping containers, known as reefers, was used. This has been the leading success to the value chain addition. Fresh Afghan grapes were transported to New Delhi by air. Price of grapes in different markets are provided on a daily basis to the farmers and the merchants so that they can make informed decisions about where to sell their produce. Two companies with which GVCP has started working to market the grapes made very good profits from the trial shipments in spite of the fact that Pakistan Customs imposed a 50 percent increase in import duties.

Experience from this venture shows that value chain development programs must have the flexibility to respond to challenges and opportunities that arise in the market place.  When GVCP realized that the unexpected large crop of Afghan grapes drove prices down in Pakistan to the point that the merchants in the project were not making the expected profits, new markets were explored and captured in India. Likewise, the idea of using refrigerated containers was new. It came out from an informal discussion between a merchant new to the project and GVCP staff, and yet this step turned out to be one of the most important value additions in the value chain of grapes.

Community Based Procurement: Value for Money Analysis
A.K.Kalesh Kumar (Senior Procurement Specialist), Shweta Rajwade (Consultant), Julian Boyle, Siddharth Dasgupta and Payal Madan (Program Assistant), World Bank New Delhi Office, India

The Procurement Services Unit of New Delhi office of the World Bank conducted a number of studies on Decentralized and Community Based Procurement with support from the Norwegian Governance Trust Fund. Eighty four successful sub-projects from 3 Community Driven Development (CDD) projects in India (in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) and local Government units (Gram Panchayats) in the state of Kerala, were studied in 2009.

Findings from the study shows that, while ensuring that the four basic tenets of Economy─Value for Money, Efficiency, Transparency and Fairness─ directed the procurement regime in these projects, the community, through various innovative approaches to procurement, followed a highly participatory process that focused on results and savings. The most salient findings of the study are that:

Better Value for Money was achieved in the community implemented works, which were undertaken by the community on their own without involving contractors. On most of the analyzed cases there were savings in cost and time. Savings in actual costs ranged from 11% to 56% as compared to estimates prepared by the State Public Works Department, while works that generally take 8-12 months for approval, contracting, construction and commissioning took only 4-6 months.

There is an enhanced ownership of assets resulting in their enhanced sustainability which could be verified from the near universal usage of the facilities and assets and the continuous involvement of the groups in Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of the facilities.

Compared to the conventional procurement cycle, the subprojects rated very highly for need identification, procurement planning and scheduling, developing specifications, award decisions, disclosure and contract management while scoring poorly on market search for bidders, tendering, tender opening and evaluation. The dichotomy of delivering a successful outcome while not following the conventional procedures can be explained by the practice of Relationship Based Procurement 2 , wherein the communities established a mutually beneficial and accountable commercial relationship between the purchaser and the supplier.

Relationship Based Procurement systems based on family and kinship arrangements cannot be fostered in all situations, given that the very kinship based social fabric could align with elite capture and nepotism. However, this was mitigated by a consciously articulated and implemented project design which ensured inclusive participation of the intended target communities through positive discrimination, and in-community capacity building. This was facilitated by highly motivated and trained project implementation teams that focused on the processes rather than outcomes per se.

You can download the full report from World Development Sources on the World Bank’s Web site.


Meet Tariq Ismati, Executive Director of National Solidarity Project (NSP) of Afghanistan
Mio Takada, Rural Development Specialist, SASDA, Washington DC 

Ismati - NSPAt thirty, Tariq might be the youngest Project Director of all the World Bank projects. Yet his professional experience in community-based development is extensive. At 18 years of age, straight out of high school, Tariq started working with an international NGO in Kandahar raising awareness about land mines among the communities while Afghanistan was still under the Taliban regime.  Born, raised and educated in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, Tariq is passionate about community development.

After the collapse of the Taliban regime in 2001, Tariq started working with the UNDP’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Program (DDR). He worked with ex-combatants ─ some of whom were opium addicts, to facilitate their reintegration.  He remembers it as one of the most challenging tasks of his career. Ex-soldiers and drug addicts gradually changed their attitude and started accepting disarming themselves and seeking medical treatment. “Changing social behavior requires very good communication skills,” says Tariq. He was even more convinced about the effectiveness of working directly with the communities after this experience.
In 2006, Tariq joined Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) as Program Officer for the National Area-based Development Program. Soon he was appointed as the regional manager, and then Chief of Operations. In April 2009, Tariq was selected as an Executive Director of NSP.

NSP, the largest national priority program of Afghanistan which works closely with communities, is recognized as the most successful development program in the country. Covering over 23,000 communities, it has benefitted over 18 million Afghans with basic social and productive infrastructure and human capital development projects.  From 2010 NSP will begin its third phase.

Tariq believes that NSP’s approach of working closely with the communities could overcome the challenges of deteriorating security in Afghanistan. Communities strongly support NSP despite the growing number of the incidents of insurgencies and attack against government authorities. “Afghan people have strong thirst for development. There is a huge demand for a program like NSP,” he says. How effectively NSP links the emergency, reconstruction and development will be the key for the continued success of NSP’s future, points out Tariq.  He also says that a more optimistic and hopeful messages about development opportunities in Afghanistan should be communicated to both the Afghan people and international communities; something he tries to do when he participates in international conferences and meetings.

Despite his heavy workload, Tariq is currently pursuing master degree through distance learning.   Most of what he has learnt about development, he says, is from outside the books. A swimming champion in Kandahar, Tariq loves music, especially traditional Afghan music. He was even jailed by Talibans when they caught him listening to music since music was strictly prohibited under that regime. Married, with sons and a daughter, Tariq is also taking care of his parents. He feels that he owes a lot to his parents as they took care of him during the most difficult time in Afghanistan.
On a parting note, when asked what is on his mind as a leader of such a large-scale and challenging program, he calmly answered “Willingness to take challenges and risks”.

Transforming One Life at a Time: Aasha Devi’s Journey from Daily Wage Laborer to an Entrepreneur
Smriti Lakhey, Junior Professional Associate, SASDA, Washington DC

Aasha from HPAt 37 years of age Aasha Devi has made a transition from being a daily wage laborer, making Rs. 110 per day, to an entrepreneur owning her own poultry farm business. A mother of four, Aasha Devi is married to a daily wage laborer as well. When the Mid-Himalayan Watershed Development Program (MHWDP) was launched in Himachal Pradesh, Aasha Devi joined “Laxmi” Common Interest Group (CIG), comprised of women interested in poultry. As a part of the livelihoods intervention, MHWDP provided her 20 high value Kuroiler chickens on a cost sharing basis, along with trainings on managing them and some funds for infrastructure needs.

Laxmi CIG meets regularly once a month to save Rs. 50 per person and discuss issues on poultry farming. Every week the CIG members aggregate the eggs produced and take turns to market them in bulk. The Kuroiler eggs fetch Aasha Devi and her group members higher prices than the eggs produced by local hens. Aasha Devi now makes a monthly income of Rs 3000 from selling eggs. The continuous stream of income from poultry farming has reduced her vulnerability which she faced in the daily labor market.

After two years of poultry experience Aasha Devi was confident to embark on a new business venture in September 2009. She bought 300 local chicks and established her own poultry farm. From the project she accessed Rs. 1100 for constructing a shed for the poultry farm. She was able to raise the remaining capital from a local cooperative bank, a business partner and from leasing a small plot of land she has. Aasha Devi, the entrepreneur, is very innovative. She uses her local chicken to hatch the eggs of the Kroiler chicken which does not have a natural instinct to hatch. Aasha Devi anticipates good business and an income of at least Rs. 5000 per month.

Being part of a CIG brings Aasha Devi and her group members social benefits as well. The group uses its collective power to protect each other from domestic violence. Aasha Devi now contributes significantly to the household expenditure and can make timely payments on her children’s school fees. Aasha Devi is very proud of the changes that she brought in her life and that of her children.

Malathi Devi gains Food Security by adopting Systems Rice Intensification (SRI)
Smriti Lakhey, Junior Professional Associate, SASDA, Washington DC

Malathi from BiharA woman who thinks she is around 40 years old based on calculation of the age of her eldest son, Malathi Devi is a mother of five children – 3 sons and 2 daughters. Like most women of Musahar community, a landless group of people traditionally dependent on forests who now work as casual laborers and whose name literally means rat diet (musa-rat and ahar-diet), Malathi was married around 10 years of age.  In the village of Aima in Bihar, Malathi used to cultivate her tiny land of 0.05 acres and worked as a wage laborer for farmers with large land holdings ─ her compensation 3 kilos of grain per day of labor. But farming season lasts for only about 3 months out of the year. During this time, Malathi’s responsibilities ranged from planting, weeding, cropping and beating the grains. During non-farming months she would seek casual jobs on construction sites or brick making factories as most people from Musahar communities do.

Malathi brings in some extra income to the household by rearing a buffalo which she has on “batai” – a traditional arrangement in which the animal is reared by a caretaker with whom the owner shares the milk and the price of the animal when it is sold. Still Malathi made only about Rs. 3,000 per month (USD 66) and had food security for only about 5 months. For remaining months she bought food pulling together all her resources and occasionally had to borrow on high interest rates from money lenders.

When a Village Resource Person of the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Project (BRLP) told Malathi about System Rice Intensification ─ a scientific technique for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice cultivation by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients ─ Malathi decided to give it a shot. With her hopes high, she also acquired 0.17 acres additional land on lease to reap the benefits of SRI. Based on technical support from Pradhan – a non-government organization working in partnership with BRLP – Malathi chose better rice seeds and fertilizers. The yield was 60 percent more using SRI than the traditional method before. Now Malathi has food security all round the year and additional cash in hand. She even saved Rs. 1000.

Malathi tells the story of how poor households use diverse income generating strategies to make their ends meet and how, with little innovations, significant improvements can be made in their livelihood.

Last updated: 2010-03-10

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