UN's IFAD exceeds targets on helping rural populations move out of hunger and poverty

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UN's IFAD exceeds targets on helping rural populations move out of hunger and poverty

Rome, 14 October 2022: The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) surpassed its goal to make measurable strides in reducing poverty and hunger in the world’s rural areas, a rare impact assessment of projects representing a total investment of more than US$ 7.1 billion has shown.

According to its newly released IFAD Impact Assessment Report 2019-2021, IFAD's investments improved the incomes of 77.4 million rural people by at least 10 percent within the three-year period, compared to its target of 44 million. Over the same period, 62 million rural people saw their production, measured by the value of crop, livestock and fish production, rise; IFAD had set a target of 47 million. About 64 million rural people improved their access to markets, enabling them to sell their production, against a target of 46 million.

In addition, the assessment showed IFAD helped 38 million people bolster their resilience, as measured by their ability to recover from climatic and non-climatic shocks thanks to improved agricultural practices, access to technical assistance and credit, as well as the diversification of their income sources.

“We are deeply satisfied to see clear evidence of how IFAD's investments are transforming the lives and livelihood of millions of rural women, men and children,” said Sara Savastano, Director of IFAD’s Research and Impact Assessment Division. “In a context of economic difficulties and rising pressure on development budgets, this clearly shows donors that their investments can make an enormous difference lifting rural people out of poverty and contributing to global stability.”

IFAD is the only international financial institution that measures the impact of its investments at corporate level. The Fund systematically conducts rigorous impact assessments on a sample of at least 15 percent of projects.

The impact assessment included a total of 24 out of 96 projects completed during IFAD 11, a budgetary cycle covering 2019-2021. The 25-percent assessment rate is 10 percentage points higher than the 15 percent set by IFAD to measure its impact. The 96 projects represent a total investment of US$7.1 billion. 

Amongst other conclusions, the assessment confirms the importance of having a food system approach to design rural development projects. This means supporting the “midstream” of food systems and investing in the processing, transformation and distribution of agricultural goods to connect small-scale producers to value chains, create additional value and maximise the benefits of increased production and productivity.

It also showed positive outcomes for female empowerment in rural communities. Women who were part of IFAD’s programmes increased their decision-making power regarding the income sources of the households, a first step towards wider transformative changes in gender norms and female empowerment.

The report also notes that IFAD's target on nutrition was not met during the period, due at least in part to the fact that the projects assessed in the report had been designed before 2019 when IFAD started to include systematically a strategy to address nutrition in all its projects. The report also underscores the importance of integrating activities that stimulate behavioural change into projects to achieve better results on nutrition.

IFAD’s Impact Assessment process is part of the Fund’s commitment to improving the effectiveness of development programmes. “At IFAD, every dollar counts and it is essential for us to make the most effective use of each of them, particularly in a context when fiscal spaces are shrinking,” Savastano said. “By evaluating our past projects, the impact assessment provides essential information to better design and manage future projects.”

Find out more about the IFAD Impact Assessment report 2019-2021.

Press release No.: IFAD/51/2022

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$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund projects in developing countries. Last year, IFAD-supported projects reached an estimated 130 million people. A wide range of photographs of IFAD’s work in rural communities are available for download from its Image Bank.

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