IFAD’s investments in Asia and the Pacific comprise its largest regional portfolio. As of the end of 2012, it was providing more than US$1.6 billion in financing for 60 ongoing programmes and projects in 19 of the region’s 30 countries. IFAD also provides regional grants and country-specific grants across the region. With cofinancing by development partners and funds from governments and other domestic sources, all of these operations represent a total investment of more than US$3 billion.
Most of IFAD’s investments in the region support financial services, agricultural technologies, production services and community development for poor rural people. Natural resource management is another area of increasing investment.
According to recent assessments, IFAD-financed programmes and projects in Asia and the Pacific have performed best in terms of their approach to targeting and their emphasis on addressing the links between poverty and gender. Their greatest challenges are in the areas of funding disbursement and financial and project management.
More than half of resources allocated to grant-funded programmes in Asia and the Pacific support research on innovative technologies, while about a third support training and capacity-building in rural communities. Other grant-funded activities involve advocacy, policy dialogue and knowledge sharing.
Rural poverty in the region
Due to the impact of the most recent global slowdown, domestic fiscal policies and natural disasters, GDP growth in the developing nations of Asia moderated to 7.2 per cent in 2011 compared to 9.1 per cent in 2010. Nevertheless, the Asia and the Pacific region as a whole is well on course to meet the first Millennium Development, halving poverty by 2015, and its East Asia and South-East Asia sub-regions have already done so.
But the proportion of undernourished people remains high, particularly in rural areas of South Asia. There is also a risk that trends such as slower economic growth, environmental degradation and resulting higher food prices may set back prior gains in food and nutrition security.
Although rising food prices reduce real incomes of the poor and increase poverty, both rising prices and rising demand for food have created attractive investment opportunities in the agricultural sector. An important policy challenge is to ensure that higher food prices are transmitted to food producers – especially smallholders – and that impediments to market access are removed through larger public investment in rural infrastructure.
The Asia and the Pacific region also faces challenges posed by climate change, including the delayed onset of rain during the planting season and the inundation of low-lying coastal areas due to rising seas. Over 70 per cent of the region’s population depends on agriculture and other natural resource-based activities, and climate variability is undermining their livelihoods. As a result, IFAD-supported projects and Country Strategic Opportunities Programmes in Asia and the Pacific increasingly focus on enhancing the capacity of poor rural people to adapt to climate change.
Find more details on IFAD operations in Asia and the Pacific via the links to country pages below. You can also visit the Asia and the Pacific regional community, a collaborative online platform.