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Submitted by Andre Joaquim Melo on
Shanta's suggestion in point 6. is surely worthy reflection, and I would like to add that the task is huge. I have worked among rural populations on projects that anchored on Agriculture in Zambia. I have interacted with lots of Agricultural officers: Policy makers, executives, implementers, evaluators, mention them, and learned a lot about how things are done in the sector. I tried to relate rural communities that are only served by government programs to those that are, in addition, served by agencies such as UNHCR, WFP and other NGOs like the one I worked for. I found that both types were equally "malnourished" in terms of benefits drawn from the programs, though each one had unique strengths and potential for good subsistence Agriculture. Agriculture, like many other socioeconomic drivers the world over, is not immune from "flippers." These are people/entities who take advantage of programs specially financed to improve the socioeconomic welfare of the less privileged of society to make huge profits out it regardless of its durability/sustainability. In many cases these are people/entities who have access to the kind of information and money not readily available or before it gets to the public, and they have considerable influence on the political/bureaucratic/civic system. They greatly reduce the portion of the program's resources that finally get to the intended target. As such, implementation at the most basic level ends up in mediocrity, and then we know the kind of results. Personally, I am an advocate of funding projects at the basic/grass root levels of implementation of government programs or other partnerships in Africa. This allows for cross-checks among actors/stakeholders including the final beneficiaries/target communities, adequate information to the targets about the program, to the officers about the community and the involved mutual costs and benefits of the program. This will most probably reduce the dead weight loss in all the resources as well as intentional misappropriation of resources, thus, improving the quality of results. This might look like a simplistic, theoretical ideology, but it can give way to a comprehensive framework that, if well implemented, can yield real, beneficial and sustainable socioeconomic results among many rural African communities.