IFAD reaffirms commitment to help Pacific Islands cope with climate change impacts and boost rural livelihoods
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IFAD reaffirms commitment to help Pacific Islands cope with climate change impacts and boost rural livelihoods13 June 2023
Suva, 13 June 2023: An International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delegation to Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga, led by Donal Brown, Associate Vice-President of the Programme Management Department, and Reehana Raza, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, met royalty, key government officials, farmers’ organizations and other partners to discuss investments to promote inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth in Pacific Island countries. Through the development of community-driven productive and sustainable food systems, these investments support post-COVID recovery strategies and build long-term resilience, helping island communities withstand future crises.
“Tropical paradises are pretty tough places to live in reality,” noted Donal Brown while visiting Betio in Southern Tarawa and the outer island of Abemama in Kiribati, where IFAD is working to boost local food systems and access to clean water. “Climate change is very real and producing food locally is very challenging. Our investments - even simple, small-scale interventions at times - make a big difference to vulnerable communities.”
In a strong sign of the organization’s commitment to the region, the IFAD delegation inaugurated the IFAD Pacific Islands Country Office in Suva, Fiji on 5 June, in the presence of Fiji’s Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Biman Prasad. Brown acknowledged the Government of Fiji’s historic partnership with IFAD and its support toward the opening of the office. The office will improve IFAD’s ability to address challenges in Fiji and 12 other Pacific Island countries. The acting prime minister expressed his gratitude to IFAD for its contribution and support toward Fiji and the Pacific.
The delegation also visited several project areas in Fiji, Kiribati and Tonga to see first-hand the results of climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive agriculture practices promoted by IFAD. These initiatives aim to strengthen food security and improve nutrition, increase engagement with women and youth, facilitate linkages and improved access to markets, and develop institutional capacities to boost the impact of rural development strategies and programmes.
In Kiribati, the Pacific Islands Rural and Agriculture Stimulus Facility (PIRAS), in partnership with the Government of Australia, addressed the food security challenges created by trade disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic. It organized extended family groups (Kainga) and introduced advanced agricultural technologies, such as grow boxes, rainwater harvesting and composting to help them start vegetable gardens. Project participants have increased daily intake of vegetables from only once to three times a week, leading to better nutrition. Gardening has also provided much needed income, with Kainga selling up to 50-60 per cent of their vegetable production, which is in high demand. The Kiribati Outer Islands Food & Water Project, with support from the Korean Government, has introduced alternative rural livelihood options, including through improved technologies, and implementation of integrated organic/ethical trade initiatives.
In Fiji, the delegation visited project sites supported through PIRAS and Farmers' Organization for Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific in coordination with Pacific Island Farmers Organization Network and partners. At South Seas Orchid, the group learned about an out-grower programme supply chain initiative that is nurturing a floriculture industry by linking growers to markets. The initiative empowers women to operate their own businesses, thus creating income-generating opportunities.
After the January 2022 eruption of an underwater volcano that caused devastating ashfall and triggered a tsunami in Tonga, IFAD has focused on enabling communities to recover and restore sustainable livelihoods. The disaster directly affected 84 per cent of Tonga’s population, destroying entire coastal villages and badly impacting water sources, food production and infrastructure.
“With the support of our partners, the MORDI Tonga Trust and Australian Aid, IFAD has focused its efforts on food security and rainwater harvesting to tackle the urgent needs emerging after the volcanic eruption and tsunami,” said Reehana Raza. While visiting the ‘Atata and Ha’atafu resettlement communities, Raza saw how IFAD has supported those displaced from their homes. Farmers were given agricultural inputs and working capital for land preparation, nurseries were established for vegetable seedlings and tree saplings, and women home gardening groups were provided with technical training. “Although there is still lots to be done, it is satisfying to have worked side-by-side with these communities since day one, and to help them recover and rebuild," she said.
Total investment by IFAD in the Pacific region amounts to US$417.7 million, of which US$130.5 million is financed through the Fund’s programme of loans and grants. For every US$1 invested by IFAD, more than US$2 has been leveraged, 33 per cent of which is domestically financed.
Press release No.: IFAD/53/2023
IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency. Based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub – IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided more than US$24 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund projects in developing countries.
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