Foreword from Mr. Aly Abousabaa, Regional Director CWANA & Director General ICARDA, CGIAR, and Mr. Michel Afram, Board Chair ICARDA


Any reflection on 2020 will likely dwell on the magnitude and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, our enduring memory will be of the ICARDA family of staff, farmers, partners, and donors, among others, who came together to overcome the challenges of lockdowns, travel restrictions, labor shortages, and supply issues. Their commitment enabled ICARDA to remain on track with our objectives across the Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) region.  

We were also grateful for the exceptional flexibility and adaptability of donors, such as the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) and the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who were key to our ongoing capacity building activities, bestowing additional support and leadership during these challenging times. Furthermore, our strong networks with country stakeholders, including the National Agricultural Research and Extension System partners, enabled swift action and contingencies to continue our work and keep our staff and family farming communities safe. 

  • Our work on climate-smart crops, genebanks, and international nurseries continued largely unaffected due to the vital support of donors and partners. Research, delivery, and training packages meant new and past improved crops varieties continue to flourish under climate change to boost yields and income throughout the region.  
  • Our sustainable crop and livestock programs, again with the support of our donors and partners, gained strength across Ethiopia, Sudan, and beyond. Our research delivered hardier, more productive community herds, the means to grow forage sustainably, and the social and economic insights needed to create more employment opportunities.  
  • Our land, soils, and water teams continue to restore soil quality and biodiversity throughout the region by upscaling pioneering and innovative approaches that protect and sustainably manage valuable water sources.  

More than anything, the pandemic made us determined to help drive CGIAR’s ongoing transition to a streamlined, integrated, and dynamic One CGIAR that delivers a greater impact and more robust food systems efficiently – both across the dry areas where we work and globally.

After officially joining the One CGIAR in late 2020, our restructured science teams were already in place for a much higher degree of integration. Across the CGIAR, and alongside our partners, donors, and other CGIAR Centers, we began developing the multi-stakeholder initiatives that will frame One CGIAR’s future work. We are also reaching out to relative newcomers, non-CGIAR countries, and bilateral donors to ensure that ICARDA continues to serve them either bilaterally or within One CGIAR. 

Above all, 2020 highlighted our long-term host country arrangements and the trust we have built with partners and donors over four decades in the CWANA region and beyond. Under a united One CGIAR, we will be uniquely placed to improve food and water security for dryland family farmers and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Regardless of the 2020 challenges, we see a bright and unified future. 


Michel Afram, Board Chair


Aly Abousabaa, Regional Director CWANA, CGIAR and Director General, ICARDA 

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