19 December 2008 Efforts to reduce rural poverty in 16 developing countries received a major boost thanks to $258 million in new funding approved by the United Nations agency working to help men and women in impoverished areas increase their incomes and improve their communities.
The Executive Board of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) approved more than $197.55 million in loans and $60.83 million in grants for the projects during its meeting this week in Rome.
“The agreement of the Executive Board to this package will enable IFAD to continue to work closely with national governments and partners to help poor rural people in these 16 developing countries build better lives,” said IFAD President Lennart Båge.
“The rural poor, who are the most vulnerable to global problems like climate change and financial crisis, are at the centre of IFAD’s work and we are single-minded in our commitment to do more and serve them better. The Board’s support will allow us to do that,” he added.
The largest portion of the newly-approved funds, over $100 million, will assist several African nations, including the strife-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as Swaziland and Kenya, to reduce poverty, improve food security and enhance living conditions.
Projects in Asia and the Pacific will benefit from some $96 million in funds to, among other things, increase agricultural production and market access, acquiring vital inputs such as seeds and tools, and rehabilitating necessary infrastructure.
Several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Yemen and the West Bank and Gaza, are also set to benefit from this fresh injection of funds.
Meanwhile, IFAD reported that its member States have backed a $3 billion, three-year programme for the agency, which, coupled with co-financing from its many partners, could mean as much as $7.5 billion for agriculture, poverty reduction and food security for the world’s most vulnerable rural populations.
As part of this package, members agreed on a target of $1.2 billion in new contributions to help poor rural people already suffering from recent spikes in food and fuel prices.
“This significant increase from IFAD’s members, especially given these financially tough times, is an extraordinary expression of political resolve to support poor rural people,” said Mr. Båge.
Some 75 per cent of the world’s poorest people – some 1 billion women, children and men – live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. With the new resources, IFAD will be able to create and support economic opportunities for an estimated 60 million of them.
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