Catholic Relief Services (CRS)International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in East and Central Africa (ASARECA)Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
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CRS has over six decades of experience managing complex, high-value and multi-year relief, rehabilitation, and development projects, the heart of which has been in East and Central Africa. For FY 2006, CRS has programmed $177 million in US government funds and $116 million in donated commodities. CRS has consistently met the terms and conditions of its bilateral and multilateral program agreements around the world in an efficient, cost-effective manner.

Experience with Rural Communities
In East and Central Africa, CRS operates as the hub of a large agriculture recovery and development network of national partners. An outcome of the ongoing CIAT-CRS Agroenterprise Learning Alliance has been a significant paradigm shift in how CRS works with rural communities. CRS now engages small (from 15 to 30 members) informal self help farmer groups (SHFGs) in a core set of integrated activities: (1) learning about and accessing new technologies (similar to the FAO Farmer Field Schools); (2) linking groups to markets through agroenterprise; and (3) internal savings and lending. SHFGs are able to access new technologies (such as seed of new varieties), use internal financial capital to qualify for loans and join apex organizations such as cooperatives or associations. In addition to collective purchase of inputs and sales, CRS often supports SHFGs to produce their own quality seed and planting material.

Experience in Agricultural Recovery Programming
CRS is a recognized leader in innovative agricultural recovery from disaster programming. Over the past decade, a commitment to learning and partnership has strengthened the capacity of CRS and implementing partners to quickly assess seed security for problems of seed availability, access or quality (either seed or varietal quality). CRS’ experience has shown that seed insecurity is invariably a problem of access. Issuing vouchers to disaster affected farm families as a demand subsidy is efficient in getting quality seed of the preferred varieties in time for planting and effective in empowering communities to take charge of their own recovery and to strengthen existing seed systems. CRS has successfully employed its “seed vouchers and fairs” approach in twenty countries in Africa since 2000.

Recently, CRS has expanded the coverage of vouchers to include small livestock and fertilizer in addition to seed. CRS and IITA both believe that a demand subsidy is appropriate for supporting the emergence of rapid, efficient and sustainable cassava and banana planting material systems.

In addition to seed-based agricultural recovery, CRS also has the capacity to respond to acute food insecurity through food-based programming. Currently, CRS has USAID/FFP programs in three of the six C3P countries – Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

Experience with Partnership and Consortia
CRS works in partnership with over 3,000 non-governmental, governmental, humanitarian and for-profit organizations and companies around the world. CRS has a solid record of successful substantive partnerships in agriculture relief and development in East and Central Africa. CRS has had a relationship with CIAT in agricultural recovery since the Rwanda Seeds of Hope project in 1995. In 1999, CRS collaborated with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in an OFDA-funded Seed Security Study in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan. CRS has been a member of both the FoodNet and the Vitamin A in Africa (VITAA) Steering Committees. And since 2002, CRS has partnered with CIAT in an innovative Agroenterprise Learning Alliance that includes all six of the C3P countries. CRS participates in several of the ASARECA networks - including the Eastern and Central Africa Rice Research Network (ECARRN), EARRNET (cassava), the ASARECA Animal Agriculture Research Network (A-AARNET) and the Eastern and Central Africa Bean Research Network (ECABREN). In each of the six C3P countries CRS collaborates with the national research programs in linking research with development. CRS works on agriculture recovery activities with FAO Technical Cooperation for Emergency (TCE) in Kenya, Burundi and Uganda.

CRS has been a lead agency and a sub-recipient in many program consortia throughout the world and has a proven ability to work in partnership with a wide range of stakeholders. For example, as the prime in a consortium of six partner organizations, CRS currently manages the $330 million, five-year AIDSRelief program, which provides anti-retroviral therapy to clients in nine countries. In addition, CRS has considerable experience in large consortia, as a member of ten Indefinite Quantity Contract consortia, one Leader with Associate consortium (EQUIP 3), and numerous monetization umbrella groups.

Experience with Sub-Grant Management
CRS administers small and medium-sized grant programs around the world. CRS works closely with implementing partners to ensure full compliance with USG regulations, standards and provisions, often in complex and highly variable grant-making environments. CRS has several grant-making models, all tailored to the specific sectoral, contextual, and institutional features of the environments in which local partners work. Methodologies reflect CRS’ concern for flexibility and include centralized and decentralized, regional and country-specific, community-based, multi-country, and multi-sectoral models.
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