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