World community pledges a 20% increase in IFAD resources to combat rural poverty

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World community pledges a 20% increase in IFAD resources to combat rural poverty

Press release number: IFAD 10/03

Rome - Thursday, 20 February 2003 – The world community made a strong commitment today to eliminate the scourge of poverty that afflicts 1.2 billion people by significantly increasing financial support for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN specialized agency.

IFAD’s 162 member countries agreed on a replenishment of US$ 560 million to be invested over three years in fighting rural poverty.

The increase reflects a commitment from industrialized countries, OPEC countries and developing countries to continue to work together to eliminate rural poverty. For example, India, Saudi Arabia and the US have all increased their contributions substantially.

“The successful replenishment of IFAD’s funding signals that the international community is acting on the global commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing extreme poverty and hunger by 50% by 2015,” said IFAD President Mr. Lennart Båge at the 25th anniversary meeting of the organization’s Governing Council.

“It also demonstrates a growing awareness that we can only achieve the Millennium commitments by fighting poverty where it exists – primarily in rural areas. Of the 1.2 billion poor people living on less than a dollar a day 900 million live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.”

The Millennium Development goals were adopted at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000 and became the focus of renewed global attention at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. They provide specific targets on reducing poverty, hunger, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS and other critical world problems. But in spite of advances in some areas, progress is still too slow.

Funding for agriculture and rural development has dropped by 50% over the past 15 years – even though agriculture is the main income-earner, main employer and main engine of economic growth in most developing countries. According to Mr. Båge, the increased contributions to IFAD is a sign that this trend is reversing.

“The consequences of poverty – epidemic disease, migration, environmental devastation and armed conflict – do not respect national borders,” said Mr. Båge. They affect us all – no matter where we live. Only when we have eliminated the gross violation of human dignity and human dreams that is the result of persistent poverty will we have the foundations for long-term peace, stability and sustainable development.”

Mr. Båge said the replenishment will enable IFAD to do more to help people overcome poverty and that this, in turn, will help poor communities become more resilient.

“When the poor are empowered, communities become more able to cope with change, hardship and disasters. Fifty years ago droughts in Asia often led to famine. Today it is no longer the case because the institutional capacity to respond has deepened and democratic structures have given the poor a voice and a say.”

He said the famine in Africa that threatens 38 million people demands the world’s immediate attention, but that equal attention must be given to the underlying causes. He also committed IFAD to engaging in Africa and throughout the world to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

“Far more than a health issue, the social and economic impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is catastrophic. An entire generation of farmers is disappearing. While we engage in Africa, we must help prevent the same thing from happening elsewhere by building HIV/AIDS prevention and coping strategies into every project we do.”

IFAD has been fighting hunger and poverty in rural areas since 1978. It acts as a catalyst, bringing together resources, knowledge and policies to enable rural poor people to overcome their poverty. In the past 25 years IFAD has supported over 600 projects and programmes in some of the world’s most remote and harsh environments, with a total investment of USD 22 billion. These efforts have enabled more than 200 million small farmers, fisherfolk, landless workers, artisans, nomads, indigenous people and others to take steps to achieve better lives for themselves and their families.

IFAD places special emphasis on helping women as well as marginalized groups such as indigenous peoples. About 70% of the Earth’s extremely poor people are women. Almost all of the world’s 300 million indigenous people are impoverished.

IFAD’s projects, which are implemented with partners around the world, help the rural poor increase food production and income, and improve their health, nutrition and education on a sustainable basis. They do this in a variety of ways including developing credit and other financial services for the poor, strengthening the organizations that advance the interests of the poor, providing training and helping to secure rights to land and natural resources.

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 628 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.9 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.