President of IFAD, Lennart Båge, arrives in Dakar Thursday, 10 January 2002, on a five-day official visit to Senegal

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President of IFAD, Lennart Båge, arrives in Dakar Thursday, 10 January 2002, on a five-day official visit to Senegal

Press release number: IFAD 01/02

IFAD to launch its West and Central Africa Regional Poverty Assessment Report in Dakar Monday 14 January 2002

Rome, 9 January 2002 – Mr. Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is scheduled to arrive in Dakar Thursday (10 January) on a five-day official visit to Senegal at the invitation of HE Abdoulaye Wade, President of the Republic of Senegal. During the visit, President Båge is scheduled to meet with President Wade and to hold talks with HE Mr. Abdoulaye Diop, Minister of Economy and Finance, HE Mr. Pape Diouf, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, HE Mr. Modou Diagne Fada, Minister of Youth, Environment and Public Health, senior government officials and representatives of international development organizations.

The President of IFAD is also expected to join HE President Wade in the official inauguration of two-day consultation and launching event of IFAD’s West and Central Africa Regional Poverty Assessment Report in which official representatives of all 30 countries of the sub-region, representatives of international organizations, development co-operation agencies, and financial institutes, International and national NGOs and a number of key bilateral donors and civil society representatives will participate. The Conference will discuss the causes, variations and specific features of rural poverty in Western and Central Africa region. Participants will seek to identify strategic considerations and opportunities for reducing rural poverty in the region. The IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2001, officially launched in last year by Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations, will also be presented in the course of the conference. The Report argues that, to be successful, poverty reduction policies must focus on rural areas and stresses the need for increased investment in agriculture if the Millennium Summit target of halving poverty by 2015 is to be met.

Today, 1.2 billion people remain mired in ''extreme consumption poverty'' or 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, the report finds. The Conference will discuss how these countries can meet the challenge of transforming agriculture from a way of coping with poverty to a way out of poverty. The report states that the ramifications of this failure are especially acute in sub-Sahara Africa where the rate of poverty reduction is six times too slow to meet the 2015 deadline.

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 in the following technical areas: (a) improvement of food security, with particular emphasis on the needs of women and youth; (b) developing rural financial services that reach isolated populations without previous access to financial markets and are well integrated into the national financial sector framework; (c) capacity building in support of decentralised decision-making processes for participatory rural development; and (d) natural resources management and the environment, with emphasis on supporting anti-desertification initiatives. 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.

President Båge, who took office as the fourth President of IFAD last April, is expected to brief President Wade on the IFAD’s new strategic framework and strategy to strengthen its resolve in fighting rural poverty and to enhance the positive impact of its operations on the poor. His discussions with the Government officials are also expected to deal with IFAD’s on-going and pipeline projects in Senegal.

To date, IFAD has funded a total of ten projects in Senegal, for a cumulative loan amount of USD102million, extended on highly concessional lending terms, placing the country in 4th position in the region in terms of total funding. It has also provided Senegal with a debt relief of approximately USD 3.7 million within the framework of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Debt Initiative (HIPC-DI). IFAD projects in Senegal, worth a total of US$ 211.4 including domestic and external co-financing, have generally had a good implementation record to the benefit of 2,750,000 people of the poorest rural households. Since more than half of the country’s population (about 9 million) still lives in rural areas where the incidence of poverty is estimated at about 40%, IFAD’s projects play a major role in lifting the majority of Senegal’s rural poor out of poverty. Five of the 10 projects are still on-going with at least one more in the pipeline.

During the visit, President Båge is also scheduled to pay a field visit to the sites of one of these projects, the Agricultural Development Project in Matam, north of Senegal, which ended its mission successfully last year. In view of the highly encouraging achievements of the project, particularly in providing a solid socio-economic base for the resettlement of thousands of returnees who fled Mauritania following the boarder clashes and violent events of April 1989 between Senegal and Mauritania, a second phase project for Matam is expected to be discussed during the visit. The first Matam project, which received over USD 16 million from IFAD, fully realized its objectives of facilitating the integration of returnees into their communities of origin; raising agricultural productivity by rehabilitating existing village irrigation perimeters and by gradually introducing double cropping through improved water management, crop diversification and the introduction of animal traction; improving livestock productivity through improved extension and training, veterinary services and provision of water; strengthening grassroots institutions, development of rural financial institutions and the introduction of micro-credit for income generating activities; and initiating the process of integrating poor smallholders and pastoralists into the market economy through support for appropriate policy and institutional initiatives. Some 40 thousand people including several thousands of the 70,000 returnees who fled Mauritania in 1989 benefited from this project in freeing themselves of destitution and extreme poverty on a sustainable basis.

In addition to poverty alleviation, IFAD’s projects in Senegal, namely, the Integrated Rural Development Project of Mbour Louga, the Agro-Forestry Development Project, the Second Small Rural Operations Project, the Agricultural Development Project in Matam, the Village Organization and Management Project, the Rural Micro-enterprise Project, the Village Management and Development Project, the Agroforestry Project to Combat Desertification, the National Rural Infrastructure Project and the Village Organization and Management Phase II project, have contributed to the resumption of the country’s economic growth after the 1994 devaluation and the accompanying economic reforms, moving from 2% per year in 1994 to around 5% per year for the 1995-98 period.
Senegal now plans to finalize its poverty reduction strategy (PRSP) by the end of this year. At the request of the Minister of Agriculture, IFAD will provide support to help operationalize the rural dimensions of the PRSP, with a special focus on the effective participation of rural populations. In this regard, a rural forum is planned for early 2002.

Note to Correspondents

The Press Conference of the President of IFAD in Dakar is tentatively scheduled to take place at (Launching venue) on Monday, 14 January 2002 at 11h00 a.m.

IFAD is a specialized 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. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have had a chance to move out of poverty. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low-income countries on very favorable 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.