The Consortium for Improving Agriculture-based Livelihoods in Central Africa (CIALCA) is a longstanding consortium of two (formerly three) international agricultural research centers and national research and development partners that aims to accelerate the impact of agricultural research for development.
Following a call for proposals by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Belgium in April 2004, three research proposals were approved:
As the above projects proposed to operate largely in the same parts of Rwanda,Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), with similar national partner institutes, and due to the complimentary nature of the activities proposed, above institutes agreed to operate as a consortium to ensure cooperation and complementarity and avoid technical and financial duplication at the national level.
Whereas under the first funding phase (2006-2008) CIALCA consisted of three separate projects, under the second funding phase (2009-2011) CIALCA operated officially as one integrated project with the title "Improving agriculture-based livelihoods in Central Africa through sustainably increased system productivity to enhance income, nutrition security, and the environment".
The first phase of CIALCA aimed, among others, to determine the agro-ecological, socio-economic and farming systems characteristics of the CIALCA research sites, called "mandate areas". A number of technical research products were delivered, including improved banana and legume germplasm, an improved cassava-legume system, and integrated pest management approaches for bananas.
The second phase continued the investments made during the first phase, but with more emphasis on the promotion and dissemination of CIALCA products through collaboration with national extension services and international NGOs and the establishment of a Knowledge Resource Centre in Bujumbura, Burundi. CIALCA 2 also set forth the Consortium’s strong focus on scientific capacity-building, by training over 50 PhD and MSc students in a region that had lost much of its scientific capacity during the many years of conflict. An international scientific conference entitled ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Agricultural Intensification of the Humid-Highland Systems of sub-Saharan Africa was convened by CIALCA in 2011.
In the context of the reform of the CGIAR system, the formulation of the Humidtropics CGIAR Research Program (CRP) was initiated in early 2010 and from the start, the CIALCA operational area was identified as part of the intervention area for East and Central Africa. CIALCA+ was a bridge to Humidtropics, allowing CIALCA is to integrate its network into the new CRP and to adapt its activities and approaches to the vision, mandate and organization of Humidtropics.
CIALCA+ used agro-ecological intensification as a guiding paradigm, whereby intensification is based on maximizing the use efficiency of agricultural production factors, minimizing negative environmental externalities, and rehabilitating the natural resource base.
Since 2014 CIALCA has been integrated into the Humidtropics CGIAR Research Program.