2021 Programme Highlights: RFS draws on lessons learned and forges ahead into final programme phases

The RFS 2021 Programme Highlights showcase the achievements and innovations of the RFS regional partners, country project teams and beneficiary communities as they work together to enhance the long-term resilience and sustainability of smallholder farming systems across 12 African countries.

20 April 2022: The Resilient Food Systems (RFS) programme published its 2021 Programme Highlights, adding to the wealth of knowledge collected throughout the programme thus far, and orienting its focus towards the next steps for food systems transformation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Led by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), RFS is one of three Integrated Approach Pilot (IAP) programmes funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) during the Sixth Replenishment Cycle (GEF-6). The 12 country projects that make up the programme address the unique contexts in which they are situated and are connected by one regional hub that oversees the implementation of cross-cutting themes.

The programme was designed with resilience at the forefront, working in some of the most vulnerable regions in sub-Saharan Africa where land degradation and the drastic effects of climate change meet to challenge food security. With one quarter of Africa’s people undernourished and a population that is set to double by 2050, demand to meet food needs is steeply rising while soil quality declines under monocrop agriculture, deforestation, and agricultural intensification. The mission of the RFS programme is now more important than ever.

These many actors continue to demonstrate their adaptability and determination to reverse degradation in a diverse array of agro-ecosystems and invest in long-term solutions for sustained resilience and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. - Mr Anyonge Tom Mwangi (Director a.i. of the Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division – IFAD)

The 2021 Programme Highlights demonstrate the considerable progress that has been made toward our targets thus far. The programme has engaged over 3.6 million beneficiaries, building skills in local natural resource management, sustainable agricultural practices, the development of new value chains and alternative income-generating activities, and monitoring and evaluation.

Through efforts at the community level, over 484,000 hectares of previously degraded land have been restored through mechanical and agronomic interventions. Plus, 17 million metric tonnes of CO2e emissions have been sequestered or avoided through RFS project activities.

To ensure the sustainability of these results, RFS has been working with national and sub-national governments to bring together the right stakeholders in the appropriate forums to effectively align policy and institutional frameworks with realities on the ground. Across the 12 country projects, the programme has established 21 national, 66 sub-national and 987 local multi-stakeholder platforms, influencing 8 policies, policy instruments and regulatory frameworks focused on integrated natural resource management.

As the RFS is now entering in its fifth and last year, it is the right timing to amplify the knowledge sharing and learning process across the 12 participating countries and beyond. – Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, The Global Environment Facility

This reporting period was marked by programme-wide reflection, continual learning and updates to our monitoring and evaluation framework that will drive the programme forward into its final phase. The Regional Hub underwent a Mid-Term Review (MTR) to align programme activities with objectives to produce the most bang for our buck in food systems transformation. Overall, the programme’s successes were marked as “satisfactory” in the report, with excellent feedback and a clear direction moving forward.

The RFS monitoring and evaluation framework also received an update this year to align with the GEF-7 results architecture. The Regional Hub was quick to assist country projects in transitioning to the new framework, leaving the programme streamlined and ready to make this next year the best one yet.

In the GEF-6 IAPs, the RFS IAP offers a good practice example of how to consistently consider and measure resilience across a program” – Detlev Puetz, MTR evaluator

Valuable lessons drawn from the achievements and innovations of the RFS country projects and Regional Hub will not only inform the programme’s implementation in the years to come, but can also provide helpful insights for other initiatives, governments and implementation partners working to enhance the long-term sustainability and resilience of food systems around the world. The lessons, successes and experiences of RFS will inform the GEF-8 Impact Programmes, the scope of which will soon be streamlined into the new replenishment cycle.

Advancing food systems transformation is a mammoth task that draws on collaboration from community to global scales. With the RFS programme targets reiterated and a focused, driven team harnessing the power of all our partners, stakeholders and beneficiary communities, 2022 is sure to see the programme move even closer to achieving its goal of supporting the long-term sustainability and resilience of sub-Saharan Africa’s food systems.

To get all the details from this reporting period, download the 2021 RFS Programme Highlights report here!

Event Resources

  • Resilient Food Systems 2021 Programme Highlights

    20 April 2022

    In 2021, the RFS programme made significant progress toward enhancing the long-term resilience and sustainability of smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The 2021 Programme Highlights showcases the achievements and innovations of the RFS regional partners, country project teams and beneficiary communities across 12 targeted countries.

    The 2021 reporting period was marked by continual learning and movement towards the programme objectives. A shift in the programme's monitoring and evaluation framework and responding to the Mid-Term Review of the programme thus far are catapulting the programme through its final stages. The report highlights emerging lessons and experiences from country projects, including examples of how RFS projects are delivering global environmental benefits while building the resilience of smallholder farming communities and production systems to stresses and shocks. It underscores, inter alia, the importance of strategic partnerships in developing and implementing strong knowledge systems, nature-based solutions that attract private investments and innovative adaptation actions that leverage technological solutions and integrate gendered perspectives.

    More info

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