RUAF is a leading Centre of Expertise and Global Partnership on sustainable Urban Agriculture and Food Systems. The Partnership is formed by strategically selected expert institutions with a significant track record in urban farming or work on urban food system solutions, and consists of cities, research institutes and NGOs.
RUAF seeks to contribute to the development of sustainable cities by facilitating awareness, knowledge generation and dissemination, capacity development, policy design and action planning for resilient and equitable urban agriculture and urban food systems.
Since 1999 RUAF has engaged with over 100 local and international partner organisations and worked in 50 cities in over 40 different countries around the world. RUAF supports local and subnational governments, urban producer organisations, NGOs, CBOs, research centres and other stakeholders with training, technical assistance, action-research and policy advice. RUAF publishes the Urban Agriculture Magazine, books, technical and methodological guidelines and working papers on urban agriculture and city region food systems reaching about 800.000 readers globally today. In addition, we support local, national and international knowledge exchange, advocacy and learning activities.
The RUAF partnership is oriented towards the delivery of practical and high-quality results in action, research and planning projects, applying a demand-driven and participatory approach while remaining flexible and providing room for change and innovation. RUAF also seeks to respond to arising global agendas (localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals –specifically SDG Goal 11 on the Development of Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 2 on Ending Hunger- and implementation of the New Urban Agenda) through focus areas in which it has, or can mobilise, expertise, and through networks which can grow its impact.
The RUAF network was initiated in response to the needs identified by a group of representatives from 28 international organisations, including UNDP, FAO, IDRC, GTZ and CIRAD, that met in Ottawa (Canada) in 1994 and recognised the need to address the increasing “urbanisation of poverty” and growing urban food insecurity related to urban-rural migration, lack of formal employment, rising food prices, growing dependence on food imports, increasing dominance of supermarkets and fast food chains, and challenges posed by climate change.
The RUAF Foundation seeks to contribute to reducing urban poverty, enhancing urban food security, improving urban environmental management and stimulating participatory city governance. RUAF contributes by enhancing the capacities of local authorities and other stakeholders and facilitating the integration of (intra- and peri-) urban agriculture and city-region food measures in the policies and action programmes of local, regional and national governments, civic society organisations and private enterprises, with active involvement of the urban producers and other relevant stakeholders.
Nature of the RUAF network
The RUAF Foundation is an international network in which optimum use is made of the relative strength of each of its member organisations. The RUAF network is oriented towards the delivery of practical and high-quality results, applying a demand-driven and participatory approach while remaining flexible and providing room for change and innovation. The RUAF research and development projects, as well as its training and advisory activities, are undertaken in response to the support needs expressed by our local partners (local and regional authorities, NGOs, universities, urban producer groups, private enterprises and other stakeholders). RUAF applies a participatory approach to project planning and implementation. Project process and results are regularly reviewed together with the local partners to improve the impact and sustainability of the projects and to enhance the partners’ self-learning capacity.
Experiences gained in certain types of activities are shared among the partners in the RUAF network, systematised, and published as RUAF working papers, policy briefs, guidelines, training manuals, and so on and disseminated to various types of users, through the RUAF website, the Urban Agriculture Magazine, and the publication of books and working papers
Areas of work
The RUAF Foundation focuses its activities on the following 5 areas of work:
- Planning Resilient urban food systems
- Short food chains and local economy
- Food security and social inclusion of the urban poor
- Productive reuse of wastes & wastewater
- Urban agriculture and city adaptation to climate change
The RUAF Foundation maintains strategic working relations at the city, national, regional and international levels with a wide variety of partners.
- At the international level, RUAF is maintaining close working relations with such partners as UN FAO - Food for the Cities Group, UN Habitat - Urban Planning and Environment Branch, World Bank - Urban Planning Unit and ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability. With these organisations, we cooperate in joint projects and also in the organisation of thematic international electronic conferences, regional workshops, study visits and sessions on urban agriculture and urban food security in main international conferences such as the World Urban Forum, World Food Summit, Resilient Cities Congress, and World Water Week.
- Important regional and thematic networks with which we cooperate include the Red de Investigación en Agricultura Urbana para America Latina y America Central (AGUILA), the Reseau Francophone en Agriculture Urbaine pour l'Afrique de l'Ouest et du Centre, the Arab Urban Agriculture Network, the East African Urban Farmers and Livestock Keepers Platform, the Chinese Urban Agriculture Association, the Leader + Network in Europe, the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), and the Climate Change and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
- RUAF collaborates with various international NGOs including CARE, World Vision, Welthungerhilfe, Cordaid, Practical Action, OXFAM, International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), and Heifer International, as well as with various leading research and consultancy organisations such as the CGIAR institutes IWMI and CIP, Stirling University, Ryerson University, McGill University, Wageningen University & Research Centre, NRI, CIRAD, GIZ, and WASTE.
- RUAF cooperation with the private sector is fairly recent but is quickly growing, as demonstrated by our partnerships with agroprocessing and input supply firms, banks and credit institutions, energy and water companies, and corporate organisations providing grants out of social responsibility (e.g., building companies).
Main sources of funding
RUAF’s past and current main funding sources include the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), the European Union, IDRC (Canada), UN Habitat / Ministry of Environment Norway, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), CDKN (UK), the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), CARE (Netherlands), Welthungerhilfe (Germany) and various municipalities and other organisations participating in the RUAF programmes and projects.
Organisational structure and management
The RUAF Foundation is an international network organisation, legally established in the Netherlands (fiscal number RSIN 813254887) as a professional but not-for-profit organisation under Dutch law.
- Board: The RUAF Foundation is governed by a Board of Trustees that meets twice a year to provide oversight to and control the RUAF Director and the International Secretariat. The Board reviews progress made in the realisation of the RUAF strategic development plan and yearly working plans and assesses and approves annual reports and audited financial statements. The Board also defined a clear salary and reward policy.
- Director: The RUAF Director defines the RUAF policies and strategies and formulates the Strategic Development Plan after consultation of the RUAF Board and Network Platform. The Director prepares annual activity plans and budgets, as well as the annual and accountancy reports, balance sheet, statement of assets and liabilities and other documents required by the Board. The Director is also is responsible for the day to day management of the RUAF Foundation and its International Secretariat and provides strategic guidance and inspiration to the RUAF Network Platform.
- International secretariat: The Director is aided by the International Secretariat that assists the Director in overall strategy development, international coordination of the RUAF programmes and projects, financial management and administration, management of external relations, and provision of support services to RUAF network members, as well as the acquisition and implementation of their own portfolio of projects and assignments.
- RUAF network platform: All RUAF network members are represented in the RUAF Network Platform. The Network Platform decides on new members, membership criteria and performance assessment. The network members participate in the discussion of new RUAF policies and strategies, the formulation of joint projects and the representation of RUAF in strategic events.
- Programme/project management: RUAF programmes and projects are managed by a programme- or project-coordinator who is appointed by the Director.
- Financial administration: The RUAF Foundation contracts with a specialised administration and accountancy firm for the administration of the RUAF Foundation applying state-of-the-art automated online accounting to provide a high degree of transparency and accountability to partners and funding agencies and allow continuous monitoring of income and expenditures on a project-by-project basis (for each line of activities and for each partner within a project).
- Information management: The information managed by the RUAF Foundation is maintained “in the cloud” and is directly accessible worldwide to RUAF staff and Board by Internet, allowing enormous flexibility, collaborative work on project documents and publications while in different locations, virtual team meetings, and so forth.
Monitoring and Evaluation, Quality Management, Financial Control
Monitoring and evaluation: The RUAF Foundation applies an integrated and participatory methodology for the monitoring and evaluation of its programmes and projects, including the following mechanisms:
- inbuilt monitoring to record the direct results (outputs) of the activities (number of people trained, trees planted, etc.), to monitor the progress realised in relation to the targets set and to obtain feedback from the participants in—and users of—our work;
- outcome mapping to monitor the degree in which RUAF is effectuating the desired changes in local institutions and organisations;
- Impact assessment, often implemented by local universities, to measure the impacts of the activities on the livelihood of the ultimate target groups both in quantitative and qualitative terms (e.g., increase in income, enhanced food security, better access to land, social inclusion, improvements in gender equity);
- external evaluations, often included in the larger programmes of longer duration, consisting of an external midterm review of the advances in the programme and the results obtained, and leading to recommendations for improvements in the focus and strategies of the programme and its future development.
Monitoring and evaluation results are used at several levels to reflect on process and results, draw ”lessons learnt” and identify possibilities for improving on-going or future programmes and projects.
Quality management: RUAF Foundation has an adequate Quality Management System in place. Roles and responsibilities of all bodies and functions in the RUAF Foundation are clearly described and are periodically reviewed. Clear guidelines, procedures and formats have been established for all main work processes.
Financial control: During project implementation, effective financial control on and supervision of project partners are applied. Quarterly, half-yearly and/or annual financial statements on each project are presented to funding agencies and project partners. Annually, a consolidated financial statement for the RUAF Foundation is prepared and presented to the Board. An external audit is conducted for the approval of the Foundation’s yearly accounts under the requirements of Dutch law. RUAF projects and programmes are subject to these audits. See the annual reports for the auditor reports.
RUAF has an anti-corruption and anti-fraud policy in place. Transparency, good governance and the quality of the management and administrative system are given due attention when selecting RUAF project partners. When needed, specific capacity development is provided to project partners in order to ensure good quality of their administrative and financial control system.
Sound procedures are in place for contracting out of services and purchase of goods, project based staff time monitoring, expense claims and recording of general and project related costs, financial closing of projects and programmes, treasury and debtor/creditor management, annual audits.