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Financial management and Field Assessment of the CARP Ugandan In-country partner Rural Enterprises Development Services Ltd (REDS Ltd)

The Norwegian Embassy in Zambia has for three years provided support to a regional climate program implemented by COMESA. Recognising the need to rapidly scale up support to adaptation to climate change in the region and also recognising that conservation agriculture is one important element of a more climate smart agriculture COMESA requested the Zambian Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) to assist with an assessment of conservation agriculture programs in the region. The assessment provided an input to the formulation of a regional program to be implemented by COMESA in collaboration with SADC and EAC and different other institutions.

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Programme on Climate Change and Adaption and Mitigation in the ESA Region being sponsored by the Norwegian Government together with the UK and the EU. Based on the successful implementation of a large national program on conservation agriculture in Zambia the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) is recognised as a leader in the region in rolling out conservation agriculture to small holder farmers. Based on this experience as well as the assessment of the status of CA in the region CFU was invited by COMESA to develop a detailed proposal to establish a Regional Programme to support the implementation of rapid and visible CA activities on the ground in a selected number of countries as a precursor to the overarching COMESA initiative. These activities are generally referred to as ‘initial anchor investments’, to highlight the key objective.

Uganda being a member state of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was one of 4 countries including Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania identified to receive early support for one of the component under the program. The aim of this component is to provide farmer driven examples of ‘state of the art’ Conservation Agriculture (CA) for CA National Task Force members wishing to engage in the promotion of CA through COMESA or independently via other (donor) agencies. These flagship projects are expected to attract the attention of Government authorities regarding the benefits of CA as an effective climate change adaptation strategy for farming communities; assist COMESA facilitate the prioritisation of CA within national agricultural policies and attract additional multilateral and bilateral support. As seen above CARP is considered as an integral component of the COMESA programme linking practice to policy development although it is managed under a separate contract.

During preliminary negotiations with the Norwegian Embassy in Lusaka and COMESA regarding the formulation of proposals it was agreed that in order to deliver on the objectives described above, a Conservation Agriculture Regional Programme (CARP) would be established by the CFU, which would be independently financed through a direct Contract with the Norwegian Embassy in Lusaka with the CFU being responsible for the successful implementation of the programme. The Contract was signed on the 17th June, 2011. In view of the CFU’s responsibilities, it was also agreed that the CFU would have the liberty to identify In-Country Partners (ICP’s) in each of the 4 countries above based on the CFU’s judgement of their background, expertise and capacity to implement the initial anchor investments and deliver concrete results. The ICP’s are supported by the CFU Zambia through a Regional Services Unit (RSU) established for this purpose and based in Lusaka. Subsidiary Agreements were signed between the CFU and all ICP’s with the REDS Ltd Agreement signed on the 28th June 2011.

The Norwegian Embassy in Kampala expressed concern regarding the managerial and field capabilities of REDS Ltd to effectively deliver the COMESA ‘initial anchor investments’ in Uganda. In discussions between the Embassy in Lusaka and CFU it is clear that these concerns are not shared by the CFU. In order to address these concerns it is deemed necessary that an independent assessment of the financial, administrative and operational activities of REDS Ltd is undertaken by independent consultant(s).

The overall goal of this consultancy assignment was to assess REDS Ltd’s financial, administrative and technical capacity to carry out the Conservation Agriculture Regional Programme in Uganda.

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