USAID’s Sustained Engagement with Africa’s Agricultural Development Champions
This post is written by the Policy LINK team. With USAID support, the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) has aligned the African Union’s (AU) 55 member states around a common agenda.
When the AU announced the results of its third Biennial Review (BR) on March 10, 2022, the virtual event attracted a wide cross section of people. The more than 400 who signed on included ministers, civil society representatives, aid workers and — crucially — small-scale farmers. But absent from the long list of speakers was USAID.
Behind the scenes, though, USAID’s Policy LINK program, building on a more than decade-long legacy of U.S. government support to the CAADP, had quietly laid the foundations for the event — from facilitating its design to supporting its production.
The event wouldn’t have been possible, though, without the BR itself. The report it yields is the primary mutual accountability mechanism that the AU and its 55 member states use to track progress against CAADP commitments, which were articulated in the 2015 Malabo Declaration.
That agreement, named after the capital of Equatorial Guinea where it was signed, established continent-wide goals for “accelerated agricultural growth,” including ending hunger and halving poverty by 2025. Its signatories knew that getting there would take more than high-level pronouncements, though. That’s why the scorecard that anchors each BR report serves as “a transparency mechanism to drive transformation,” according to Dr. Godfrey Bahiigwa, who presented this year’s findings.
Dr. Bahiihwa, who heads the African Union Commission (AUC) Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment (ARBE), is a long-time partner of USAID, participating in its leadership development activities and working closely with the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security’s Policy LINK program and its predecessor, Africa Lead.
With funding from Feed the Future, USAID’s global hunger and food security initiative, Policy LINK provides “backbone” support to CAADP. The project has worked with AUC officials to help develop a CAADP business plan, which will guide the regional program’s efforts over the next two years.
To arrive at the business plan, Policy LINK organized nine workshops over six months with representatives of key AUC agencies, AU member states, civil society organizations, the private sector, academia and think tanks.
The process, which included “write-shops” aimed at forging consensus among the diverse group, eventually culminated in a 19-page plan that details practical actions — like focusing on seven program areas and establishing a new CAADP Advisory and Coordinating Committees — to enhance collaboration and propel AU member states’ last-mile push toward the Malabo targets.
The business plan comes as interest in the BR has spiked, especially among typically underrepresented populations. Attendees at the March 10, 2022, BR report launch hailed from 61 countries worldwide, and just over 23% of registrants identified as representatives of civil society organizations, farmers’ associations or independent farms.
Not lost on them was the fact that the BR report’s self-reported data showed that only one country, Rwanda, was on track to achieve the Malabo commitments by 2025. Although the data affirmed AU member states’ commitment to transparency, it also underscored the urgency with which African leaders must approach the coming two years leading up to the next BR.
That’s why the AU, with support from USAID’s Policy LINK program, will be organizing a regional training to engage Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other technical partners to more deeply understand the policy implications of the BR report and refine their CAADP workplans based on the data and recommendations it contains.
USAID will also be organizing follow-up consultations and opportunities for Missions and USAID implementing partners to engage at the regional level with REC workplans, as well as learn more about the BR process itself.
Interested in learning more about the BR and the BR report’s results? Check out this toolkit developed with support from USAID’s Policy LINK program.
To get an idea of the BR report’s reach, you can also view a dashboard detailing attendance — by country, gender, age and organization type — at the March 10, 2022, launch event. Or, you can watch a recording of the launch event.
To read more about the CAADP business plan, check out this story in the Policy LINK Newsroom.