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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, IFAD remains deeply concerned about its consequences for the well-being, livelihoods and food security of poor rural people. The COVID-19 crisis could undo the progress the world has made in reducing rural poverty (SDG1) and threatens to aggravate already declining food security (SDG2).

COVID-19 is already adversely impacting rural people, who may be particularly vulnerable to its effects – in terms of both the spread of the virus and its economic and social consequences. This is especially true for rural people living in fragile contexts.

Given the magnitude of the challenge presented by this crisis, IFAD has launched a multi-donor COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF). This initiative aligns with the UN socio-economic response framework and complements IFAD’s broader COVID-19 response efforts. It seeks to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the context of the crisis by ensuring timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity.

The Facility will leverage the UN Secretary-General’s Response and Recovery Fund and the work of other multilateral partners to achieve food security for the millions of poor rural people in the most remote and vulnerable communities.

The RPSF is a short-term strategy that feeds into IFAD’s longer-term development objectives. IFAD has initiated the Facility with US$40 million of seed funding from grant resources and expects to mobilize at least US$200 million from Member States and other donors to scale up support. Contributions received so far include CAD 6 million from the Government of Canada, SEK 50 million from the Government of Sweden, and EUR 6 million from the Government of the Netherlands. All funds will be disbursed by 31 December 2021 as an immediate COVID-19 response.

Objectives and planned interventions

The Rural Poor Stimulus Facility aims to improve the food security and resilience of poor rural people by supporting production, market access and employment.

The ultimate goal of the RPSF is to accelerate the recovery of poor and vulnerable rural people from the COVID-19 crisis. This will be achieved through IFAD’s target group having the capacity, assets and overall resilience to cope with shocks; through lessons that are incorporated into IFAD’s work from the implementation and innovations of the RPSF; and through a strengthened capacity to deliver digital support.

The planned interventions fall into four main categories:

  • Providing inputs and basic assets for production of crops, livestock and fisheries
  • Facilitating access to markets to support small-scale farmers in selling their products in conditions where market functions are restricted
  • Targeting funds for rural financial services to ensure sufficient liquidity and to ease repayment requirements so as to maintain services, markets and jobs
  • Promoting the use of digital services to deliver key information on production, weather, finance and markets.

Financing and delivery

All IFAD-supported country programmes that are at risk of not achieving their development outcomes due to COVID-19 are eligible to receive funding from the RPSF. Through the Facility, 85 per cent of funds will be used to support 59 of the most at-risk countries with country-level financing, and 15 per cent will support particularly innovative or strategic regional initiatives. For the country-level financing, IFAD has identified eligible countries based on a widely used COVID-19 risk index, along with relevant indicators on rural poverty. The amount allocated to individual countries will be determined by the total amount of financing available.

Activities financed under the Facility will be implemented through existing IFAD projects and programmes, as well as through non-state actors – farmers’ organizations, NGOs and private sector players already engaged in supporting IFAD – wherever they can add value to the response.

How to contribute

IFAD is grateful for the continued support of Member States as it seeks to ensure that, in a collective global COVID-19 response, the poorest and most vulnerable rural people are not left further behind. Member States wishing to provide contributions to the RPSF can do so through supplementary financing agreements with IFAD.

The Facility is already operational. Over a dozen proposals received are under internal review or have been already been approved.

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