Team leader adaptation and water resources management at DFID
How does IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme help smallholder farmers cope with the impacts of climate change.
Why DFID supports the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP)
Team Leader, Adaptation and Water Resources Management at DFID explains why the UK supports ASAP and speaks about the opportunities for other donors to support the programme.
Online, 05 July 2013. The IFAD-led multidonor Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) aims to help smallholder farmers cope with the impacts of climate change so they can increase their resilience. In an interview with the Platform secretariat David Howlett of DFID’s adaptation and water resources management outlines some of the unique components of the programme. Giving the reason for the UK’s substantial financial support to ASAP, David highlights the opportunity for other donors and draws on the lessons that DFID learnt especially with a view to the wider development agenda, ie. the SDG debate and the development of a green climate fund.
// The ASAP Programme
Platform secretariat: David, in a previous interview I had spoken to IFAD’s Elwyn Grainger-Jones about the Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme- short ASAP. For those that have not watched that interview, can you briefly outline the basics of this programme and explain to us what makes ASAP unique.
David Howlett: ASAP stands for Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme. Mostly it is led by IFAD. The aim is to help smallholder farmers to cope with the impacts of climate change – both today and tomorrow. For example, how to they cope with droughts and floods in relation to their fields. What it does is, it adds grants alongside, it adds loans to least developed countries. ASAP is helping to make these agricultural developments climate smart.
// Why DFID is supporting ASAP
Secretariat: You are also working with DFID which funds ASAP. Why is the UK supporting ASAP?
David: We are supporting it from our international climate fund. This is 2.9 billion over three years and up to 50% of this is on adaptation. We have looked at the issues and we see agriculture as one of – perhaps the primary – focus that is going to be impacted first. The reason we are supporting ASAP is, because we see poor people at risk in developing countries and we need to take action and we are really pleased to be supporting IFAD to do that along with our other partners, which are supporting IFAD, which includes the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium and Sweden. I think other donors might also be joining.
// Climate change is not a business as usual
Secretariat: Is there anything that you would say is really unique? I mean obviously the set-up of the five donors is already unique. Is there anything very genuinely unique in terms of the approach of the agricultural side?
David: It really is the recognition that we need to do agriculture differently, that climate changes. We are seeing, for example, the floods in Pakistan, the droughts in the Sahel in Africa. And science is starting to say that this is pretty likely down to climate change. And we are seeing events outside of the developing world, like Hurricane Sandy in the US. We are really seeing differences happening now, if we talk for farmers or pastoralists on the ground, they are saying that climate is changing. What we need to do is from an agriculture and rural development prospective, is to really make sure that we are thinking about what the risks and perhaps opportunities of climate change are. And, this is not business as usual. That makes ASAP different. Maybe it is not unique, ‘cause others are also doing a range of climate-smart agriculture programmes that consulate agriculture; it is not completely unique. It is perhaps unique in terms of it being the first major investment into climate finance into agriculture.
// The need to see climate change as risk as well as opportunity
Secretariat: When I had spoken to Elwyn about the programme, he said that about 20% of the programme is probably genuinely new of the components. Obviously, 80% is known to some degree, because you can’t reinvent agriculture, because climate change comes on to the scene. How do you see that?
David: It is hard to say that it is 20% or 30% that is new or old. I think what we need to be clear about, what really needs to be new is an assessment of what climate change is going to mean to farmers, particularly women, and how that is going to impact on them. Because clearly, some of the things we might be saying is that rain is going to change – there is going to be less rainfall or hotter days. So, some of the things we should leave in the past like small-scale irrigation or water-harvesting – that is not a new approach. But what is perhaps new is, saying that we actually have to do more of this and also perhaps less of other things, which we don’t. You know, if we irrigate, let’s not start setting up expensive irrigation in regions we know where there will be water scarcity; there is a whole set of issues there. What is different, is putting climate alongside other risks as well as opportunities. And I think, just to conclude, farmers actually realise that climate is pretty important, and I think – we as donors of ministries of agriculture and international organisations – , we need to realise that climate is a real factor we need to address.
Secretariat: IFAD is also leading a discussion on scaling-up the idea of a lot of projects that have been piloted and never been taken to scale. And there was a big workshop in Addis Abeba just now. Do you think that ASAP can provide a suitable approach?
David: We are already pleased to see that the UK’s contributions have helped up to six million farmers. And as ASAP gets to scale, we could help eight million or even a larger number, if others come and invest into ASAP. It is making some real difference. Clearly, it is influencing IFAD’s entire investment and their loanit is not just a five million, ten million project; it is alongside larger loans. It is demonstrating how to do that. One of the really clear things to see is that IFAD is taking the lead and setting up a knowledge management component to this to share lessons of what they are doing. Also they are working very closely with the climate-change agricultural programme of the CGIAR. I think they are working closely with civil society and the private sector to learn lessons. In terms of scaling-up, I think they are trying to do that. I also think it is about perhaps what we as DFID are doing, is looking at our own investments in agriculture, what other agencies are doing and it is also public and private investment to deliver. It is not just climate benefit; we are focusing on increasing farmers’ incomes by helping them to adapt, looking to see how we can reduce the impacts on biodiversity, and also looking to see how we can by better binding practices, perhaps reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well; but that is really perhaps a third benefit. The principal is to focus on how to help smallholder farmers.
// Governing ASAP
Secretariat: You already spoke about the governance set-up, five donors being on board to support the programme. Does this constellation, with having a number of donors being on board on such a huge multi-million dollar programme change the governance of the programme?
David: No, it does not, because the first thing to say is that ASAP projects go through the IFAD’s normal governance structure. They have their design teams, their regional teams, they work very closely with their partners in country. And then the projects go to the approval of the IFAD’s board of which the UK and the others are also part of. We are not taking away from what IFAD is doing. What, I think, we are doing is meeting as a sort of contact group to listen to what IFAD is doing and to share our thinking and advice. That also has the opportunity of donors working closely together, because we find that the five of us have a lot in common interest around doing evaluation and understanding how our investments are delivering results and also better understanding on how we might do more climate-smart agriculture in other ways. We come together as an informal contact group. We are not part of the formal governance of the project and the programme; that really is IFAD. We then look at that at a board level in terms of any approvals.
// Joining ASAP’s contact group
Secretariat: Is there an opportunity for other donors to join you in the contact group and come on board?
David: The exiting thing is that they are looking into working up to in forty countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia. And I hope to the end of this year they will be putting to the board ten to eleven projects. There is a real demand of a country-level for ASAP to be supporting more activities. There is a real opportunity, as I have mentioned earlier, the original target was actually eight million farmers they were going to help cope with climate change; and now it is actually more. We are pleased to see that IFAD is reaching out to other partners to invest in ASAP for us all to work together. We are very pleased to see that happening and also are very happy to talk to any of the partners of the platform or outside of the platform because IFAD is looking at foundations and private sector investments, how we can bring us all together.
// Lessons learnt
Secretariat: It is obviously still a little bit early on, but are there already lessons that others can draw from DFID’s work with ASAP, if you look at the wider development agenda, especially the post-MDG framework discussion, the climate fund and so forth?
David: Starting off on what we are doing on climate funds, we are really pleased to see you have mentioned Elwyn Grainger-Jones at the beginning, he is really being active in going to meetings around the green climate fund that are designed at the moment with many partners being involved in that. In terms of developing indicators and result frameworks with ASAP, information has been shared already with the Green Climate Fund Secretariat and people involved in that. That is really positive. Concerning the post-MDGs, you know, we just had the High-Level Panel of that the secretariuat just reported. If you look at that, I think that is a really good framework to help to develop the SDGs. But clearly, food and water, energy are all embedded in that and clearly a programme like ASAP can also demonstrate how we can. Also, we still need to clarify the focus of the MDGs; and it will be an enormous opportunity to try to bring these things together, because we hear a lot about these things of food-water-energy nexus and I think there is, ASAP has a lot it can do in that area and also to share knowledge of what it is doing.
Secretariat: Thank you very much!
David: Ok. Thank you.
// Do you want to respond to this interview?
The interview was conducted by Pascal Corbé of the Platform secretariat.