The Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) is a programme embedded in the COMESA Adjustment Facility programme (CAF); which covers both COMESA and East African Community (EAC) and aims to assist countries from Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean (ESA-IO), to continue with the process of economic liberalization, by making available resources that help to address some of the short term transition costs at national level that may hinder the progress of liberalization.

It is funded by the European Union (EU) under the 9th and 10th European Development Fund (EDF) having been established through a Contribution Agreement between COMESA and the European Union (EU) in 2007. The RISM programme is operationalized by the CAF, in terms of both the objectives and the delivery of technical support and financial resources, in accordance with the principles of Aid Effectiveness.

Role and objectives of RISM
The primary objective of the Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM) programme is to improve the implementation of regional commitments at the Member State level. The commitments are defined through a set of defined indicators, against which all countries that are eligible for RISM funding, provide annual targets. The RISM program has two distinct cycles. The first cycle relates to the core function of RISM which is the formulation, implementation and Monitoring of the Regional Integration Implementation Programmes (RIIP) and its associated Progress Monitoring Report (PMR).

The main objective of the first cycle is for the periodic review of the achievement of set targets outlined in RIIPs and on that basis approved resources allocations from the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF).

The second cycle, which is a secondary process, involves the formulation and implementation of projects for those countries whose disbursements are through the project support modality. The project cycle provides an alternative disbursement modality for the countries that are not eligible for budget support.

While the budget support modality involves the transfer of funds to the Ministry of Finances of the Member States as soon as the allocation is validated by the EU, the project support modality involves formulating a Project Document, including specific objectives and budget lines for specific activities to be funded by the country allocation.

The Financial Benefits
The support provided through RISM is an incentive for bolstering regional integration as it helps Member States to honour their regional commitments under COMESA and EAC. It does so, through the provision of additional resources that support implementation of regional integration and trade related programmes at the level of the Member State. Though RISM does not finance the totality of transposition costs, it complements existing national resources and efforts on regional integration.

In 2012, the RISM programme was amended through a rider to provide wider support for national level implementation of COMESA and EAC regional integration commitments beyond revenue loss compensation.

How to access CAF-RISM Funds?
COMESA Fund Member States, can access RISM resources by submitting Regional Integration Implementation Programmes (RIIPs), which includes performance Indicators.

A Performance Assessment Framework (PAF), that is part of the RIIP provides for improved monitoring of transposition and implementation of regional programmes at national level. Continued support is based on the Progress Monitoring Reports (PMR), which highlight the level of achievement against set targets. The Secretariat also provides technical support to Member States during preparation of RIIPs, PAFs and RIIP Progress Monitoring Reports. 

Overall impact of CAF-RISM
The funding incentives to the Member States under RISM are already supporting regional integration, motivating the countries to: re-organize their national management, coordination, implementation and monitoring of regional integration programmes, through the establishment of National Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committees.

RISM achievements are showcased by the nine (9) Member States that received support in 2012 and achieved an average of 80% of their targets. RISM has also been instrumental in communicating challenges in the regional integration process through the strengthened technical ties between Member States and the Secretariat. The robust interactions with the Member States and the European Union that are inherent to the programme have fostered continuous refinement and enhancement of the programme. This has set RISM apart as a highly interactive, flexible, learning and adaptive programme with notable positive impacts on regional integration.