Getting Ready for Take-off: Cross-cutting Lessons for Regional CAADP

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    Starting in March 2012, GREAT Insights has published a five part series to share findings from a mapping exercise of regional Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), which assessed the major challenges and opportunities for the design and implementation of a regional CAADP compact and investment plan. The monthly articles highlighted key lessons learned from four African regions- ECOWAS, COMESA, EAC and SADC.(1) Drawing from the experiences in the various regions, this final article summarizes and presents a synthesis of key crosscutting lessons from the regions and a number of ideas on how to address common challenges to make the regional CAADP compact more effective.

    Regional action on food security

    A key message emerging out of the mapping exercise shows that in all regional economic communities (RECs) there is increasing recognition of the importance and potential added value of regional action on agriculture. All RECs, in general, recognize agriculture development as a priority, but the manner in which regional action on this thematic area is taken forward, and degree of progress differs from REC to REC. Most RECs have developed separate regional food security strategies, policies and programmes, but they are now embracing CAADP as a comprehensive tool to complement existing efforts to address regional agricultural challenges. Although still in early stages, most RECs - COMESA, EAC and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa - have followed the example of ECOWAS and are actively working towards launching a regional CAADP compact and investment plan. Experiences from the regions show that a regional approach to food security can catalyze political and investment traction, attracting important stakeholders from all sectors to the regional cooperation processes.

    Articulating the national-regional nexus

    Despite the peculiarities of each region, all RECs share a common challenge of how to better articulate the national-regional nexus and ensure coherence between national compacts and investment plans and regional CAADP food security initiatives. There is consensus in all regions that the substance of a regional compact, i.e. policies, investments and actions of various actors, should complement the substance of CAADP compacts in the member states of that REC. However, this vertical coherence (between regional and national levels) is not yet quite visible. So far, no analysis has been conducted in any region to better articulate the coherence between national compacts and (existing or possible) regional compacts, as well as identify gaps where a regional compact could complement national efforts. As these RECs engage on the regional compact process, their regional CAADP approach should be designed in a way that is coherent with ongoing national efforts and fosters synergies between the two levels of intervention.

    Regional integration and the multi-dimensional nature of CAADP

    Experiences across all RECs also show that there is a need to ensure horizontal coherence and create synergies between different regional strategies, policies and programmes that are relevant for food security. Many stakeholders in all regions realize the importance of linking a regional CAADP to ongoing initiatives on agriculture and rural development, trade, infrastructure and natural resources. While some linkages will naturally emerge, such as on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, ‘agriculture trade corridors’, irrigation as well as existing regional agricultural programmes and institutions, other synergies will need to be carefully analyzed, to identify the opportunities for horizontal coherence between regional CAADP and other regional thematic areas (e.g. information and communication technology, financial/ monetary integration, etc). The implementation of regional CAADP has the potential to significantly contribute to overall regional integration and cooperation efforts. But because agriculture is inherently linked to other sectors, experiences in all RECs show that slow action on regional trade, infrastructure, and other related regional initiatives have consequences for regional food security and agricultural development. Assessing the progress made by the other policies and programmes relevant to food security, understanding their strength, weakness and bottlenecks, is crucial to avoid duplication and identify opportunities and challenges for the creation of synergies with regional CAADP. It is also important to identify how the regional CAADP processes can build on progress in other sectors and possibly contribute to removing current obstacles to other regional initiatives.

    Multi-stakeholder approach and participation of non-state actors

    While the CAADP process promotes a multi-stakeholder approach, non-state actor (NSA) involvement so far differs across countries and regions. From the national CAADP processes, it was clear that in some cases a genuine dialogue took place, while in others NSAs had difficulties to have their voice heard. In order to ensure a strong sense of ownership among regional actors and proper implementation of the regional CAADP compact and later on the investment plan, lessons from the national process show that it is particularly necessary to identify the right stakeholders who participate in the development of the compact, and clarify roles, responsibilities and differing views on the quality and substance of the regional compact. Arguably, farmers and other private sector actors are very important pieces of the CAADP puzzle, and need to be involved in the design and implementation of regional CAADP policies and investments, both as key contributors to food security and as beneficiaries of support programmes. The formulation of a regional compact should guarantee stakeholders’ ownership and aim at gathering support for its implementation. The regional CAADP process therefore should: be inclusive and transparent; effectively take into account the different points of view of all relevant stakeholders; and include the design of mutual accountability mechanisms allowing for the monitoring of stakeholders’ implementation responsibilities and the evaluation of food security impacts.

    Role of Regional Economic Communities

    Lessons from the mapping exercises raised the importance of clarifying the respective roles and responsibilities of RECs, ensuring that structures for regular information exchange and coordination are in place and function effectively, and that a sphere of duplication of efforts and competition is avoided. As a general rule, RECs are responsible for overall coordination and implementation of regional policies. But the political will and ability to drive a regional initiative such as CAADP is a major determining factor for the success of CAADP at the regional level. Both the ECOWAS Commission and COMESA Secretariat are commended by national and regional stakeholders for providing effective and timely assistance to member states with the identification of their food security needs and coordination of external support to them, especially during the national CAADP process. It was recommended in all RECs that strengthening the institutional capacity of these regional organizations will go a long way to enabling the REC support its member states.

    Development Partners’ support, coordination and harmonisation

    The mappings also clearly showed opportunities for and challenges of development partners’ support to the regions’ effort to strengthen agricultural development and food security. It is generally recognized that CAADP provides a useful rallying point for donors (and other actors) to align and harmonize their support. Nevertheless, it emerged that donor efforts still need to be stepped up to improve aid effectiveness around regional agriculture, including establishing or strengthening regional donor coordination mechanisms, strengthening linkages between donor initiatives on agriculture and other regional cooperation sectors, as well as between donor headquarters, regional and national donor offices; and moving away from a plethora of programmes and projects towards further alignment and harmonisation, possibly through joint programming.

    Ideas for faster progress and REC-specific roadmaps

    While there is consensus in most regions that implementation of CAADP at the regional level could be a significant contribution to the regional integration agenda of the RECs, it is clear that the complexities and dynamics of regional actors would influence regional policy directions and overall efforts to strengthen the regional dimension of CAADP.

    All RECs share common challenges but the status of regional CAADP implementation, likely pace of progress, economic and political dynamics as well as possible solutions are very different across the four RECs. While lessons can be shared across RECs, region-specific approaches are required. Going forward, each REC will need to stimulate regular and targeted dialogue among stakeholders on how and what they can contribute to the development and effective implementation of regional CAADP. In this sense, progress on the regional CAADP would require that all key regional stakeholders come together to agree on a ‘roadmap’ specific to each region, identifying the roles and contribution of each actor along the regional compact process. This ‘roadmap’ could bring together clear statements from each actor on what role they intend to play, better focused strategies and action points (or milestones), as well as improved coordination mechanisms.

    Following the recently concluded 8th CAADP Partnership Platform meeting, discussions around developing a roadmap for the design and implementation of a regional CAADP is taking place in certain regions (EAC, COMESA, ECOWAS). For those RECs where the regional compact process is new, the roadmap should help regional CAADP stakeholders focus on strengthening both the process to finalize and implement the regional compact and the content of the compact, which clarifies a number of policy issues.

    It is also important that the roadmap enables the regional CAADP to tap into the real business-led developments in the RECs such as infrastructure corridors, trade and investment joint ventures between neighbours, foreign direct investment flows, etc. This may require as ‘specific actions’ a combination of: institutional strengthening, more dialogue platforms, more investment, better policies but also more analysis, e.g. to understand the impact of poor business and trade facilitation on specific agricultural value chains with respect to intra-regional trade, and how small and medium enterprises/ farmers could better benefit from regional CAADP and related sectors such as trade corridors.

    Another key area of the roadmap should be the relation between implementation of CAADP at regional level and the overall regional cooperation efforts in the specific REC. The regional CAADP compact should be an overarching framework that: i) gives guidance to, and fast-tracks, a number of interventions for food security which are already in place (e.g. regional work on SPS, or value chain development); ii) promotes new regional policies and investments where gaps exist; iii) clarifies synergies and coordination among ongoing and new regional initiatives in several sectors relevant for food security.

    The mappings are available at

    Dolly Afun-Ogidan is Policy Officer at ECDPM

    1. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)

    This article was published in Great Insights Volume 1, Issue 7 (September 2012)


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