Lessons Learned from Engaging Local, Non-State Actors through Data and Inclusive Dialogue for CAADP Implementation
The post is written by Shannon Sarbo, Deputy Chief of Party, USAID Feed the Future's Africa Lead Program.
From 2013 to 2019, Africa Lead, USAID and Feed the Future’s flagship capacity building program for African food security, worked to support agricultural transformation as proposed by the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). CAADP was adopted by African Union (AU) member states in 2003 as a policy framework to accelerate agriculture-led growth, elevate improved food security and nutrition, and increase incomes in Africa’s largely agriculture-based economies. CAADP is framed by seven ambitious goals to be achieved by 2025. In 2014, all African heads of state re-committed to these targets and principles in the Malabo Declaration. Although CAADP is driven largely by public sector institutions within countries, non-state actors (NSAs) at national and subnational levels play an important role in helping to inform plans, generate data, drive adaptive management, and improve programs to achieve these goals at the continental level.
Africa Lead’s approach to facilitating inclusive policy dialogue and coordination between government and NSAs is based on a model called “collaborative governance.” This model brings together public and private stakeholders in collective forums with public agencies to engage in consensus-oriented decision-making. Recent research across a range of policy sectors identified critical variables that can influence whether or not this mode of governance will produce successful collaboration. For instance, power imbalances between stakeholders are common in collaborative governance. If some stakeholders do not have the capacity, organization, status, or resources to participate – or to participate on equal footing with other stakeholders – the collaborative governance process will be prone to manipulation by stronger actors. Power imbalances can be particularly problematic when important stakeholders such as small-scale farmers do not have the organizational infrastructure to be represented in collaborative governance processes.
In response to this challenge, Africa Lead partnered with the CAADP Non-State Actors Coalition (CNC), a continental representative body of NSAs, to launch the Small Grants Program (SGP) to help grow the network of NSAs aligned to CAADP and improve citizen engagement in key food security investment priorities. The first iteration of the SGP focused on funding NSA efforts in two countries, Kenya and Senegal. With funding from USAID’s Bureau for Food Security, the SGP supported seven organizations (six in Kenya and one in Senegal) to explore participatory, bottom-up approaches to build NSA capacity for collecting and using data to engage with government at the subnational level. SGP partners were encouraged to pilot new approaches and models or scale up small projects that have demonstrated success.
Activities under the SGP generated lessons that may benefit other NSAs working to engage with government at the subnational level in food security issues in Africa. In collaboration with partners, Africa Lead synthesized the learning into the following five lessons:
The CAADP process is complex and far removed from subnational decision-making. To be useful for bottom-up, locally-driven reform efforts, certain actors need to serve as translators that contextualize the framework and interpret commitments for stakeholders at subnational levels. Not all aspects of CAADP are useful or relevant for local actors.
It is possible and beneficial to mobilize citizens from the community and village level to contribute to the prioritization, design, and monitoring of agricultural investments at subnational levels.
The capacity of citizens to contribute to a data-driven approach to prioritization, monitoring, and planning agricultural activities at the subnational level should not be underestimated. This approach requires relatively little investment but adds significant value to the quality of decision-making.
Policymakers and rural communities tend to prioritize infrastructure projects over investments in agriculture. While this issue ultimately depends on political will, NSAs can help highlight the return on investment for agriculture projects and generate evidence on the impact on food security and nutrition outcomes.
Since most agricultural activities are implemented at the community levels, the partnership between citizens and local governments is critical. When government leadership at the local level is open and receptive to collaboration with NSA, there is a unique window of opportunity for reform and for achieving effective results for grassroots communities through collaborative governance.
Watch a video of the SGP below or read Africa Lead’s Impact Brief here.