On 13 December 2012, USAID Nepal has organized “Pre- proposal Conference on Feed the Future, Monitoring and Evaluation” in Maharajgung, Kathmandu with the major objectives that sharing overview of program nature and calling, Request for Proposal (RFP) to the national interested organizations with their technical and cost proposal within 10 January 2013. For university level students, this is good news that during submission of proposal from contractor, it should include internship program with $ 1, 325 US for three students per year.
Feed the Future program was proposed in 19 countries of world and Nepal is one of the most priorities countries. It is targeted to cover 16- 20 districts in the western Terai and Hills. Over the next five years in Nepal, Feed the Future aims to help an estimated 165,000 vulnerable Nepali women, children and family members—mostly smallholder farmers—escape hunger and poverty. Feed the Future Nepal will support the Government of Nepal’s efforts through balanced interventions in high value vegetable value chains and complementary support to rice, maize, lentils, and livestock under an integrated farming systems approach. These are the concepts as shared by Sheila Witjeans (Deputy Mission Director) and Luis Guzmem (Program Leader) from USAID along with their colleagues.
NEAT, HMRP, IFPRI and MoAD are the organizational structures with whom USAID is already collarating their Feed the Future program activities and now they are seeking collaborators to view these group’s M & E activities. Same time, USAID seeks national contractors to M & E of new upcoming four projects as i) Integrated Agriculture and Nutrition Program ii) Business Literacy Program iii) IPM CRSP and iv) CSISA. The first two will continue for five years and rest two for three years.
A key characteristic of the Feed the Future Nepal strategy is the linkage between agriculture and nutrition. These components are complementary and will be carried out through the same funding mechanism, for men and women in the target households. Feed the Future Nepal will enhance nutrition by adopting a value chain approach. However, today’s program was slightly differed than as organizer wished on their presentation. Here are some of the points;
i) Boundary of cost of proposal (even USAID is not clear on this aspect)
ii) Continuity of projects on future (what will happens after five years of implementation)
iii) D-U-N-S Number assignment to the contractor ( what will happened if they will unable to get within deadline)
iv) 16- 20 districts approach ( they will accept even the condition of omitting four districts from western region)
v) Limitation to the contractor to set their M & E proposal based the upcoming projects overview
Exactly, this is the good platform to coordinate between different organizations with showing their interest to conduct these programs following all the rules and regulation under the RFP. The complete information about RFP is available at http://nepal.usaid.gov/our-work/presidential-initiatives/feed-the-future-overview.html or http://nepal.usaid.gov/. However, the most wondered part is that, Feed the Future seeks to overcome its outcomes majorly from high value vegetable farming with considering women and children as primarily benefited aspect. But they are failed to include youth in Feed the Future program. Since, unemployment and brain drain is chronic problem of Nepal and what will its future in upcoming five years of progress when youths are not considered as one of the important part of completion of projects? From several studies, it shows youth are directly involved in value chain approaches in integrated agriculture directly or indirectly.
The most lacking part of such type of international organizations are that they follow top- down approach and seeks national and local contractors to overcome their targeted outcomes. But the proposed program will be more successful when it follows bottom up approach since we need to work from grassroot levels. How they will be able to provide benefit specially to the women and children?
These are some unclear statements from USAID and suggestive information to the USAID on Feed the Future program. Really, the pre- proposal conference gave much more ideas to organizer what they are lacking in planning at earlier time. My suggestive remarks is youth should be considered in mainstream of Feed the Future program (not only with women and children) and these can be judged in M & E proposal of contractors based on their interest to the program. Hopefully, USAID Nepal will addressed these uncertainties into opportunities with clear answers in their public website http://nepal.usaid.gov/ by Friday or upcoming Monday.