Pathways Provides Building Blocks for New Programs

As CARE Pathways wraps up Phase 1 of its programming and prepares to move into Phase 2, we have begun to assess the program’s influence on its core countries and beyond. The findings are impressive: Not only has Pathways directly reached more than 65,000 female smallholder farmers in its six core countries, but the program has also had a significant influence on work conducted in those core countries and beyond. To date, the program has influenced at least 20 other programs in its core country offices, impacting at least 3.5 million beneficiaries in 600,000 households. Pathways’ iterative learning process has facilitated the incorporation of elements of Pathways’ programming into emerging CARE programs. Three recently awarded CARE programs are described below, each of which has been partially modeled off of Pathways programming.


Harande, which means ‘food security’ in Peulh, is a new program in Mali designed to achieve “sustainable food, nutrition, and income security for 225,000 vulnerable households by 2020.” Using CARE’s hallmark gender-centered approach, Harande will be carried out in 375 villages by a highly experienced six member consortium. The consortium, led by CARE Mali, also includes Save the Children and Helen Keller International, and three Malian non-governmental organizations: YA-G-TU (Organization for Women’s Protection), Sahel-Eco, and the Research and Technical Applications Group (GRAT). Harande focuses on providing vulnerable households with the ability to adapt to a dynamic environment, including new challenges posed by climate change, and the sustainable capacity to reduce future risks, increasing their long-term resilience.

Harande will draw from CARE Pathways’ experience with the Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS). In the Harande program, FFBS will be open to all participants and focus on market-based production. The FFBS will last approximately nine months and serve as a platform for building producer capacity on sustainable agriculture, business management and market literacy, nutrition, and gender equity. Farmers will have the opportunity to learn from one another’s experiences and use demonstration plots managed by graduates and relays. Members of the FFBS will also be encouraged to join village saving and loan associations (VSLAs) to finance their crop production, while VSLA members are encouraged to join the FFBS to increase income from farming.


Another program that capitalizes on learnings from the Pathways’ FFBS is SHOUHARDO 3 in Bangladesh, a follow-up on two very successful initial phases of the program. SHOUHARDO 3 seeks to improve gender equitable food security, nutrition, and resilience of 578,000 poor and extremely poor people by 2020. Project interventions recognize gender equality, governance, and youth development as cross-cutting issues and draws upon USAID and CARE experiences and frameworks to develop inclusive markets. SHOUHARDO 3 will implement climate-smart project interventions that catalyze increased agency of women, adolescent girls, youth (male and female), and poor and extremely poor men to advocate for more responsive public services, improved legal rights related to land tenure and gender-based violence, and inclusion in agricultural markets. The program will also support women in demanding equal allocation of household food and decision-making about their own and their children’s health.

Agricultural interventions and disaster risk reduction/climate change adaptation interventions will be closely linked under SHOUHARDO 3. This will be accomplished through the FFBS that will introduce climate smart agricultural techniques and technologies to poor and extremely poor producers. To accelerate knowledge transfer for farmers in SHOUHARDO, CARE will utilize a cascading FFBS model beginning with the establishment of small self-selected producer groups. Producer groups will engage 15 to 20 farmers in each SHOUHARDO 3 community.  Producer group members will select Lead Farmers who will demonstrate new techniques and technologies via ‘innovation plots’ through the FFBS. Volunteers and extension agents will in turn train groups of lead farmers who will then transfer technical knowledge to producer group members, and volunteers will follow-up with producer group members to ensure that technical knowledge is being transferred effectively. This proven model delivers technical training efficiently and at scale. Inclusive livelihood development will increase off-farm income, effectively engage youth in productive activities, and will increase resiliency to natural disasters and man-made shocks. 


Another Bangladeshi project benefitting from Pathways’ learning is the SHOMOSHTI Project. This project will utilize a “push-pull” strategy from Pathways’ operational framework to address both the social and economic dimensions of poverty, aiming to increase the income and social well-being of 200,000 poor and disadvantaged households in Bangladesh. The project will use the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) approach as its core pull strategy, seeking to develop inclusive market systems that will generate opportunities for the disadvantaged to engage in markets as producers, workers, consumers, and entrepreneurs. The “push” strategies will take a rights-based approach to addressing the social dimensions of poverty, identifying social triggers and galvanizing a process to empower the community to identify its own problems and mitigation strategies. This approach will build the capacity of poor and disadvantaged households by building up their human, financial, and social capital. The project is highly adaptive and focused on systemic change.

Scott Merrill, contributor