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Johannesburg, 22 Jun 2012. Martin Bwalya highlights CAADP’s achievements as well as the crucial need to improve institutional capacities if it was for CAADP’s results to be sustainable in the long run.
In an online interview with the Platform, the head of CAADP at the NEPAD agency, sketches out how the relationship between donors and African partners could evolve in future, stressing the importance of local ownership and the critical influence of the global financial crisis on development finances. The Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme was a key actor in addressing food insecurity and boosting agricultural productivity in Africa, says Bwalya.
Platform Secretariat: Thanks Martin, for giving us this interview opportunity and that you agreed for giving us your own perspectives on the CAADP agenda and the implementation status. Many countries conducted roundtables so far and did their sector planning and programming by now. Can you tell us where CAADP is right now in terms of operationalisation on the ground?
Martin Bwalya: Thank you so much for this opportunity. Coming to your question, we have seen very rapidly increasing momentum in terms of action at country level to engage in CAADP implementation. As we speak now, out of the 54 countries we have over 40 countries formally engaging into CAADP implementation. Out of these over 40 countries, 30 have signed their national compact which is an important milestone in the process of CAADP implementation. And out of those 30 countries, 23 have gone as far as finalising their investment plans as well as going through what we call the independence technically review of their respective investment plan and investigating and forecasting on the implementation of programmes along the priorities identified in these plans. Out of those 23, we have about 9 to 15 countries that have had very significant financing into the specific programmes of their investment plans. I should also mention that currently there is growing focus on supporting, strengthening and aligning capacities at country level in terms of CAADP implementation. [...]
Probably you would like to have a little bit of concrete explanation on what is in essence going on behind these investment plans, behind the compact. First of all, we see countries coming up in a very practically way to embrace planning and [...] ultimately committing to evidence based analysis. Thus, planning systems and the capacities to plan as well as the efforts for ensuring appropriate planning mechanisms are being strengthened and aligned. Furthermore, we see a different conversation between the stakeholders, both in terms what the public sectors are doing and also on how this is affecting the other state and non-state institutions around the common vision on agricultural development. [...]
"[...] Governments are becoming much more realistic, much more definite in terms of what financing agriculture means."
Another area to mention is commitment to inclusiveness, to collective responsibility and to look for synergies, complementarities as well as adopting much more comprehensive strategies and programme support. We also see a growing commitment or re-commitment to accountability in terms of asking ourselves about the results and critically monitoring performances. So, robust discussions are appearing and these are very much linked into solid analysis and solid evidence on what is happening. In addition, governments are becoming much more realistic, much more definite in terms of what financing agriculture means. This also includes thoughts on how to use public sector financing for raising additional private sector financing and supporting not just welfare directly but a broad based social-economic growth agenda [...].
Secretariat: CAADP has been around for quite some time, now. Looking back at the progress that has been made so far there is also obviously some criticism that could be taken, constructively. What could have been done better, Martin?
MB: There are some elements that could have been done differently, could have been done better. For instance, there could have been more forecast into policy directly, into policy elements in terms of strengthening policy designed systems, in terms of assessing the quality of policies themselves and also in terms of ensuring broad based analysis concerning the appropriateness of policies in place [...]. In addition, there could have been more deliberate efforts in building the whole institutional architecture for supporting implementation based on multi-stakeholder arrangements. [...] Apparently, in most countries it does emerge that with the investment plans in place, there is a better position [...] to get an improved conversation for institutional arrangements and aspects. This is especially important when beginning a conversation on policy issues which immediately becomes political and therefore difficult to move ahead.
We also appreciate that there are discussions around how much we have emphasized domestic resources and financing and how well we can actually support countries to look inward in terms of into the continent and into countries about investment financing, about capacity for private sector financing. [...]
Secretariat: We are talking about things that could have been done better. An important point about CAADP is that there is a huge amount of investment that comes through the donors. So what would you say in terms of the relationship with the donors? What could have been done better, from the donors' side and maybe also from the NPCA's side towards the donors?
MB: Yes, one of the unique character items of CAADP is the issue around this relationship and financing.
"[...] Development financing [...] as we have known it in terms of development aid is not going to be the same [...]."
One of the things that is really clear is that development financing – also on the background of the global financial crisis and the current debt crisis in Europe – as we have known it in terms of development aid is not going to be the same in terms of the amounts flowing but also concerning the instruments, the decisions, and the amendments. Another thing we have discussed enormously is the issue of development effectiveness. In fact if you look into the NEPAD principles and into the CAADP principles, you find statements calling for effectiveness in development partnerships by acknowledging not only local African responsibilities and ownership but also by stressing that we need much more mutual partnerships which are not just about support to the developing country or continent but look at what is mutually gained out of that flow of resources either way. Therefore, what has been managed in NEPAD and CAADP and the whole continent in terms of advancing CAADP implementation, is that countries are becoming much clearer, much more definite and much stronger about sitting at the table and ask for a local, a national agenda on agriculture. They also link this into evidence based analysis and enhance capacities for analysis to find that they are able to engage in much more robust negotiations in terms of private sector financing, in terms of agenda setting and in terms of what is the best way forward.
Especially in bilateral relationships there is still a lot that needs to be done on speaking the same language. I think we have slogans that are very good and mean very well in terms of local ownership and development effectiveness but the crucial question is how to translate these into reality. I also want to acknowledge here that we are talking about partnerships and relationships that have build over several decades, so they are not going to go away in a flash. Small but significant steps are being taken towards the issues mentioned but these are fragile and they can disappear due to inappropriate interventions and policy decisions and that is why we want to look through CAADP in detail for identifying these small significant steps and actually ensure that they are supported and strengthened, so that we can bring such practices to a critical mass for spreading their value [...].
Secretariat: Just one more thing, what comes to my mind here is the question whether CAADP can actually succeed without any substantial institutional change? What do you think, both on the African institution side and the donor institution side? Or do you think that this is actually an ideological question?
MB: No, I think this is what we are dealing with in sustaining the CAADP momentum. What you are saying there is inherent in the principles and targets of CAADP looking for transformation.
"[...] The issue of institutional transformation, institutional reform is the co-foundation for taking CAADP and development forward."
We are getting financing enough to deliver results but we also need to sustain what we are achieving. For this, the issue of institutional transformation, institutional reform is the co-foundation for taking CAADP and development forward. In fact a lot of what I mentioned in the beginning in terms of what is being achieved on the background of the investment plans is linked to this transformation agenda and that is why we are saying we have to look at the policies now, we have to look at the institutions because without that you can achieve six per cent growth but you are not able to sustain it. Therefore, even if the whole equation changes it is not just about achieving six per cent, it is about building the capacity to sustain six per cent.
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