Rural livelihoods in the context of COVID-19: impact and intervention needed for resilience
22 September 2020
Knowledge & Learning is a cross-cutting theme incorporated into the design and implementation of each country project and is a key function of the Regional Hub. Activities that support Knowledge & Learning, or Knowledge Management, work to capture, analyse, and disseminate the cumulative knowledge and experience of each RFS project and programme as a whole.
When implementing large-scale development projects and programmes in the agriculture, natural resources, and environment sectors, Knowledge Management is often “treated as an afterthought”, according to the GEF Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. The cumulative experience of a programme or organisation is an under-utilised resource that, if used correctly, could improve project impact, sustainability of project outcomes, and long-term capacity development.
Knowledge Management systems exist within resilience building projects and programmes, but often fail to be effectively embedded into project design and implementation. This shortcoming is both a product of and results in a lack of resources or expertise dedicated to Knowledge & Learning. Because Knowledge Management is not adequately formalised or incentivised, projects fail to capture and apply knowledge of what works and what doesn’t within adaptive management processes and within broader policy and decision-making processes.
Well designed and executed Knowledge Management systems that allow for frequent exchange of knowledge, documented learning and project adaptation can lead to transformational change. Ongoing Knowledge Management activities support RFS teams in translating evidence and project experience in to accessible products and tools that can feed into project design and implementation processes as well as decision-making and policymaking processes at the local-, national-, and continental-level. Making sure key stakeholders have the right information at the right time can improve the quality of decision-making and build efficiency both within and between projects.
By building Knowledge & Learning activities into each of the RFS country projects, RFS is contributing to growing Communities of Practice that operate within agriculture, natural resource management, and food security domains. Each of the RFS country projects operate within unique contexts, yet they all face common challenges. Communities of Practice capitalise on that commonality, connecting practitioners and stakeholders across countries and regions for peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, support, and collaboration.
Knowledge & Learning activities take place both within country projects and across the RFS programme as a whole. Within the programme, the Regional Hub is responsible for identifying, capturing, and disseminating knowledge for use and for learning for the country projects and external audiences. Through our Implementing Agencies, RFS offers an array of tools, methods and knowledge exchange approaches to connect country projects with each other and with the Regional Hub for support on implementation, filling information gaps and scaling-up learning. The Regional Hub develops knowledge products and tailors knowledge platforms, such as the Science-Policy Interface and the Resilience Atlas, to disseminate knowledge and key information and evidence to country projects in support of improved decision-making and project implementation.
The Regional Hub also organises South-South learning exchanges, annual workshops and webinars and cultivates relationships between country project for learning and collaboration. In May 2019, the RFS Uganda project team travelled to Kenya to see first-hand the technologies and approaches the RFS Kenya project is implementing to improve smallholder access to water and restore degraded riverbanks in the Upper Tana catchment. In March 2029, RFS project teams visited project sites in the Northern Ghana to learn how local farmers and communities are benefiting from Payment for Ecosystem Services, women’s empowerment and gender mainstreaming, Village Savings and Loans, and community engagement activities.
Explore the RFS Country Projects to see more examples of how RFS countries are implementing Knowledge & Learning activities.
Stories from the Field
Explore our stories from the field to learn more about how RFS country project teams are implementing activities related to the programmatic theme of Knowledge & Learning.
We have a growing library of reports, briefs, case studies, media, tools and guidelines. Explore all resources related to Knowledge & Learning to get greater insight into our programme activities.
Ahead of the 57th GEF Council Meeting in December 2020, the GEF Secretariat asked for contributions from GEF-funded projects and programmes for a “deep dive” into progress made, challenges encountered, and lessons learned to help improve GEF operations with a particular focus on adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. This report measures the contribution of projects to global environmental benefits and analyses the contributions of the three Integrated Approach Pilot (IAP) programmes to cross-cutting areas, such as inclusive stakeholder engagement, private sector mobilisation, mainstreaming gender, and integrating science and evidence into decision-making, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on implementation.
The lessons, successes and experiences of RFS and the other IAPs will feed into the preparation of the GEF-7 Impact Programmes, creating synergies between the ongoing GEF-financed projects and the design of implementation of projects through the new four-year investment cycle.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the RFS programme has made significant progress towards enhancing the long-term resilience and sustainability of smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The 2020 Annual Report showcases the achievements and innovations of the RFS regional partners, country project teams and beneficiary communities across 12 targeted countries.
The report highlights emerging lessons and experiences from the different countries, 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 – work that is essential for responding to crises now and in the future. It underscores, inter alia, the importance of strategic partnerships to develop and implement strong knowledge systems, nature-based solutions that attract private investments and innovative adaptation actions that leverage technological solutions and integrate gendered perspectives.
In the February 2021 issue of our newsletter, learn about RFS’s involvement in the new FAO initiative “Making Every Voice Count for Adaptive Management”. Read about how Mangrove User Associations are working to restore mangrove ecosystems in Senegal’s Saloum Delta on GEF’s IW:LEARN platform. Download the new SHARED toolbox for enhancing inclusive and evidence-based policy development and Enabling Sustainable Food Systems, an innovator’s handbook published jointly by FAO, RFS, and the French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE).
The Knowledge Centre is a central platform for sharing resources and information generated by the 12 Resilient Food Systems country projects and Regional Hub.
Within the Knowledge Centre, you can find helpful resources, tools, case studies, and news stories related to the different countries and themes of the Resilient Food Systems programme.