IFAD Strengthening its Support for Combating Rural Poverty in Central Africa - Yaounde Seminar will Challenge Governments and Donors to Foster Innovative Strategic Prgorammes

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IFAD Strengthening its Support for Combating Rural Poverty in Central Africa - Yaounde Seminar will Challenge Governments and Donors to Foster Innovative Strategic Prgorammes

Press release number: IFAD 26/02

Rome, Yaounde 11 May 2002 A two day Regional Rural Poverty Assessment and Strategic Opportunities Seminar for Central Africa will be held in Yaounde, Cameroon, from Tuesday 14 May to Wednesday 15 May 2002 at the Conference Centre. - Palais des Congres The Workshop features the participation of key government officials, parliamentarians and policy makers from Central African Republic, Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Republic of D.R. of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and of representatives of development co-operation agencies, international development organisations, financial institutions, and a number of key bilateral donors and civil society representatives. Ministers of Agriculture from all these countries will be participating. The workshop is organised by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests on behalf of Cameroon's Government and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). It will be inaugurated by H.E. Mr.Peter Mafany Musonge, Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon, Mr.Klemens van de Sand, Assistant President, Programme Management Department, IFAD.and Mr K..M. Amoako Executive Secretary of ECA

Today, 1.2 billion people remain mired in extreme poverty, the equivalent of living on less than one dollar a day. Of these, 44% live in South Asia, 24% in sub-Saharan Africa, 24% in East Asia and 6.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean. . In Western and Central Africa, the total impoverished population is on the order of 150 million persons, of which approximately 120 million people reside in rural areas. The Regional Poverty Assessment argues that, to be successful, poverty reduction policies must focus on rural areas and stresses the need for increased investment in agriculture and more attention on the part of regional governments and international donor if the Millennium Summit target of halving poverty by 2015 is to be met.

Seminar participants will discuss how Central African countries can meet the challenge of transforming agriculture to become a much stronger engine for economic development and poverty alleviation than it has been in the past. Participants will discuss the causes, variations and specific features of rural poverty in Central Africa. Participants will seek to identify strategic opportunities for reducing rural poverty and modalities for future partnership in the region.

Seeking to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals (adopted by the international community, IFAD's strategy and orientation and pursuit of development objectives in Western and Central Africa, in 2002 the Fund will continue to place highest priority on initiatives that contribute to meeting the following four strategic objectives: (a) strengthening the capacity of the rural poor, their organisations and improve the pro-poor focus of rural development policies and institutions; (b): raising agriculture and natural resource productivity and improving access to technology; (c) improving access to financial capital and markets; and (d) reducing vulnerability from major threats such as conflict and HIV/AIDS. To achieve these objectives, IFAD will continue to stress the importance of gender-differentiated target group participation in defining project objectives and priority activities; maximising the use of local knowledge and experience; and pursuing a strategic orientation to the Fund's investments through strengthened collaboration with governments, civil society and other donors to ensure that project interventions fit closely within the context of overall economic and sectoral development strategies for individual countries.

During his visit, Mr Klemens van de Sand, Assistant President, Programme Management Department, IFAD will visit the International Centre for Agroforestry Research (ICRAF) station in Yaoundé and some villages where ICRAF works. IFAD is supporting a four-country action research program in four countries (Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria) that seeks to diversify smallholder farming systems through the cultivation of indigenous fruit and medicinal trees. This project builds on indigenous knowledge to increase access to high value agroforestry trees to raise rural incomes and maintain biodiversity of forest resources.

To date, IFAD has financed 6 projects in the Cameroon for a total cost of USD 217.38 million and a total loan amount of about USD 46.23 million.

As of end-2001, IFAD had supported a total of 243 investment projects in 44 countries in Africa. Total IFAD lending in the region amounts to USD 2.559 billion. Each dollar IFAD has invested has generated an additional USD 1.14 from co-financiers.

IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations with the specific mandate of combating hunger and poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978 IFAD has financed 603 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7,3 billion in loans and grants. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low-income countries on very favourable terms, with up to 40 years for repayment and including a grace period of up to ten years and a service charge of 0.75% per year.

Note to Correspondents

The Press Conference of the Assistant President of IFAD in Yaounde is tentatively scheduled to take place at (Launching venue-Conference Centre -Palais des Congres) on Tuesday, 14 May 2002 at 11h45 a.m.