After 10 years, make or break for CAADP?

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      Next week, people will gather in Durban for the annual Partnership Platform of the continent wide Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). ECDPM will be there too.

      This meeting is an absolutely key milestone for the African Union ‘year of food security’ because, we believe, this year could really be make or break for the CAADP process. We’ve had ten years of CAADP, and now it needs to show more results. This 10th Partnership Platform is the right opportunity to do so.

      That said, there remains a number of questions that ought to be discussed.

      Will the participation of those on both the African and Development Partners sides be high level enough to instill the necessary political push and momentum so that the Platform results can be bold, and those results be then endorsed and later implemented by key decision-makers and leaders involved, starting with the AU Heads of State at their Summit in July?

      Can ownership of the process shift toward national level actors, including through a move to make AU member states the major providers of the financial resources for CAADP, instead of the donors, especially through the CAADP Multi Donor Trust Fund (MTDF)?

      ECDPM, along with our partners, recently concluded an independent report into the MTDF, which also revealed more broadly some key strengths and weaknesses of the CAADP overall .

      It says that really there is no obvious alternative outside the MDTF in order to support ‘Lead Institutions’ (AUC, NPCA, RECs) and the CAADP process at the regional, continental and international levels. Separate CAADP-earmarked budget support to different Lead Institutions would not guarantee the same level of coordination, lesson sharing and ‘cost-effectiveness’ (both within and between various African and development partner organisations). Neither would anything else promote a “whole-of-Africa” approach.

      Taking a stance of “no-more MDTF” and “no budget support to different Lead Institutions” would make it difficult to improve CAADP’s overall performance and impact. So there is a widely held perceived need for continuation of a CAADP multi-donor trust fund to support the overall CAADP process and its improvements (including the ability of Lead Institutions to assist countries in implementing CAADP).

      Nonetheless, the report points to a number of improvements that should be made in order to make the MDTF more effective, including:

      1. Improve MDTF governance and clarify the role of each Child Trust Fund (CTFs) for the Lead Institutions in relation to the broader CAADP structures and support.
      2. Establish new CTFs to support more African institutions (e.g. continental or regional networks of NSAs and knowledge institutes) as well as priority themes where more work is needed to improve food security.
      3. Devote a larger share of resources from all CTFs to urgently address demands from national stakeholders, so that there is enough support to sustain implementation progress in-country after National Agriculture Investment Plans are launched.

      Considering all this, the process to design any new trust fund should be deep. Informed and widely accepted improvements would not only increase the effectiveness of the MDTF, but would likely also encourage more donors to contribute to a future MDTF. And such process should also carefully examine the most suitable organisation to host a future MDTF, including African institutions such as the African Development Bank.

      In our view, and from what we found in the report, it’s probably the overall CAADP process that needs to be ‘re-launched’, including through:

      • a stronger role of countries in continental CAADP: this could take the form of AU member states funding Lead Institutions, and engaging in CAADP at higher level (e.g. through an African CAADP ‘control cabin’, similar to the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee); and some ‘National Champions’, for example Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, or Nigeria putting their full weight behind CAADP once and for all;
      • better mainstreaming of CAADP in official AU and RECs organs and processes;
      • a ‘Partnership Agreement’ for CAADP that can clarify and systematize the implementation of subsidiarity in CAADP processes and CAADP support (i.e. role and targets of each partner, which presently are often unclear and overlapping).

      The CAADP Platform meeting next week in Durban is designed to address all key topics not covered well enough by CAADP so far. This means that trade, land and so on are on the agenda. Yet the question remains over whether it will be able to instill political will and consensus to avoid remaining discussions at technical level.

      Over the years, we’ve seen these Platforms improve in organisation and effectiveness, but there is still a lot to be done and this year it’s make or break!

      The views expressed here are those of the author, and may not necessarily represent those of ECDPM.

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