Issue number 18: October 2010

Rural Finance in Western and Central Africa: Successes and challenges

Message from the Director

Wisdom corner

Do not follow the path, go where there is no path to begin the trail.
Ashanti Proverb from Ghana

There is no question that access to financial services is critical to rural development and poverty reduction.  Access to finance encourages investments in rural enterprises, including farms. However, banks are usually reluctant to work rural areas in developing countries because of the higher costs of doing business with geographically dispersed farmers, and the perceived riskiness of agricultural production, prices and policies.


Despite these challenges, rural finance has been expanding in the region.  Innovations in organization and technology have spawned innovative financial services and improved risk management instruments, which lower costs to both clients and financial institutions.

In this issue, we highlight the experiences and results from IFAD financed programmes in four countries which have supported successful innovations in rural finance. We take a look at the pioneering PADER programme, which is rapidly expanding access of farmers to finance in Benin. In the Gambia, we are already seeing the positive impact of the Village Savings and Credit Associations on the livelihoods of their members.  In Sierra Leone, partnerships between community banks and Financial Services Associations are bringing new opportunities to this post-conflict country, while in Nigeria, IFAD financing is strengthening microfinance organisations working in remote rural areas.  We also spotlight recently initiated rural finance projects in Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mali.

Finally we provide some web-based references for those seeking more information on good practices in rural and microfinance.

As you enjoy this special issue on rural finance, we would appreciate your comments and views through sharing ideas, experiences.

Mohamed Beavogui
Western and Central Africa Division

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Rural Poverty Report 2011 - New realities, new challenges: new opportunities for tomorrow’s generation

Rural Poverty Report 2011 websiteThe Rural Poverty report 2011 is comprehensive resources for policymakers and practitioners, especially those in developing countries. The report looks at who poor rural people are, what they do and how their livelihoods are changing. It explores the challenges that make it so difficult for rural people to overcome poverty, and identifies the opportunities and pathways that could lead towards greater prosperity for them and their communities. And it highlights the policies and actions that governments and development practitioners can take to support the efforts of rural people themselves, both today and in the years to come.

Young people and children make up the single largest group among poor rural people, and the Report emphasizes the importance of creating new and better opportunities for them – in particular, with a focus on expanding educational opportunities that specially address the skills young people will need to succeed in the rural context

The key global challenge underlying this report is that to feed the nine billion people who will inhabit the Earth by 2050, food production will have to be raised 70 percent and agricultural output in developing countries will have to double. Addressing this challenge will require that smallholder agriculture play a much more effective role in these countries, that rural areas make the most of opportunities for non –farm employment  growth, and that greater and more effective efforts are made to address the concerns of poor rural people as food buyers.

Through extensive research by a team of international, regional and national experts in the field of poverty reduction – as well as through case studies and interviews with poor rural people themselves - the report provides unique insights into rural poverty around the world and how the livelihoods of the rural poor are changing. It explores the challenges that make it so difficult for rural people to overcome poverty, and identifies opportunities and the way forward to greater prosperity. Ant it highlights policies and actions that governments and development practitioners can take to support the efforts of rural people to overcome poverty.

Among the topics covered in the Rural Poverty Report 2011 are:

Want to know more about RPR2011?

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Focus – Regional experience on rural finance in WCA – a review and way forward


IFAD's approach to its diverse portfolio of rural finance initiatives in West and Central Africa has evolved considerably in recent years and now combines innovative approaches with support for sustainable projects. The evolution continues; IFAD is focusing on projects that fit the criteria of ‘good practice’ in microfinance and adapting or in some cases abandoning those that do not.

IFAD-supported projects currently use a number of approaches to support rural finance initiatives in the region, some of which are more successful than others. Take the provision of credit within agricultural projects as a first example; the issue of financial viability, particularly in light of the poor repayment rate on loans, is key. Problems of technical and institutional viability are also raised, largely as a result of the way project funding has been designed. Other projects are looking for ways to render the credit facilities independent by converting them into credit unions, with all the difficulties inherent in such a change, in terms of project agents and beneficiaries. Few have succeeded in the conversion.

To avoid the pitfalls of the integrated approach, a new approach was defined that endeavours to ensure technical and institutional self-sufficiency of the project by using existing formal financial institutions, such as banks as distribution channels for financial services. Many banks have shown little interest in developing these services; they have not become widely involved in the analysis of loan applications or conducted follow-up. Moreover, the products on offer are too standard and not well suited to the rural poor, and repayment rates remain low. The sustainability and impact of this type of approach are difficult to count on.

An additional approach, which involves forming or developing self-managed microfinance institutions with the potential for long-term success, is currently the most widely disseminated. Its purpose is to ensure that the system established enjoys social viability through fuller beneficiary ownership, and financial viability through a better cost structure, while still meeting IFAD’s objectives of improving the living standards of the poorest populations. In some countries, IFAD has developed national programmes to address micro-finance sector development issues at different levels. At the national level, the focus is on design of appropriate regulatory frameworks and supervision capacity in order to facilitate the professionalization of sector operators. Support is also offered for microfinance institution consolidation and development. In some cases, an important action research component is included to develop financial products suitable to the poorest rural populations.

Although fostering support for trusted existing networks comes with some advantages, IFAD’s experiences with commercial banks have generally not been satisfactory. Procedures can be lengthy and costly, the release of funds is uncertain and commercial banks take few, if any, risks. They merely play the part of an extra link in the funding chain, without contributing expertise. But using rural banks and credit union networks has not met with much success either, in particular when these institutions are located in urban and peri-urban areas, and when their previous experience has involved relatively wealthy populations rather than IFAD’s target populations. The use of formal financial institutions as a channel for distribution of direct credit to poor rural populations does not seem very promising and should be pursued only with great caution.
It is clear that IFAD’s main aim in developing rural finance in the region should be to promote the emergence, development and strengthening of self-sufficient, sustainable rural microfinance institutions. However, there are certain pre-requisities to consider, such as monetary and political stability, a regulatory political environment that includes incentives for microfinance and grassroots institutions that are efficient, innovative and show real incentive to work together. The challenge in the coming years will be the implementation of the next generation of microfinance projects, aimed at establishing IFAD more firmly in the 'good practice' sphere.

IFAD is aiming to boost its penetration rate, providing adequate cover for existing demand while reaching greater numbers of poor and underprivileged rural populations in need of access to sustainable financial services tailored to clients' constraints and economic situation. IFAD aims to impact on the social capital of individuals and household living conditions, as well as strengthening social links within communities and encouraging economic development within the context of local development and decentralization. Emphasis will be placed on financial, social and institutional sustainability, including stakeholder ownership and management. Quality microfinance does not define a model, or a particular school of thought, rather a set of ethical requirements and standards in terms of professional performance that sets it apart from purely commercial microfinance.

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Field experiences



Members of VISACA

Village Savings and Credit Associations in The Gambia: The financial service keeping kids in school

Folklore is deeply entrenched in Gambian culture. There are stories of mythical dragons and dolphins with magical powers that can bestow happiness upon entire villages. But when it comes to tangible change, nothing has arguably had as much of an impact on rural populations as the Village Savings and Credit Associations (VISACAs), which are improving livelihoods in remote parts of the country.

How do VISACAs work?

The first village savings and credit associations were fostered by IFAD in collaboration with the German Development Bank (KfW) during the late 1980s. The associations were launched with one principle: that villagers both save and borrow from locally-owned and operated branches. As of January 2010, there are 74 VISACAs around the country, three quarters of which are fully operational.

Since 2005 there has been a 15% increase in the number of VISACAs in The Gambia and as of 2008 there were more than 44,800 members. The primary role of the VISACAs is to offer safe and easy access to savings. Both current accounts and term deposits are offered, along with instant access sundry accounts in some cases. As of 2008, more than 22 million Dalasis (US $891,000) were stored as savings in The Gambia’s VISACAs. The average deposit per member is about 497 Dalasis (US $20) – this is likely to grow as awareness of the benefits of VISACA banking increases.

Some VISACAs are diversifying into money transfer services, such as the Brufut branch which has partnered with Ecobank for Western Union money transfers. In March 2010, average transfers per month stood at $4200, enough to suggest that innovative partnerships and operations such as this one could bring real benefits to rural VISACAs.

"Our VISACA is having a great impact on the lives of the beneficiaries. Previously, the rate of school drop-out was too high compared to the recent statistics. Some children would stay out of school for a complete term due to lack of fees, but with the VISACA, credit is given to their parents to sort out their school problems" Management Committee member, Kabekel

How do villagers become members?

It’s simple. Villagers purchase a passbook and start saving. It’s possible to join as an individual or as part of a group, known as a kafo. About 40% of the country’s members are female; women account for the majority of kafo members.

How are VISACAs owned and managed?

"I am able to save my money and use it wisely, which the VISACA is always telling me to do. I am now independent."

35yr old female member, Kabekel

Once a piece of land has been acquired (land is often donated by a member or traditional authorities) and construction is complete, the VISACA must fulfill certain conditions of the Central Bank of The Gambia – such as selection of management committee, list of members, drafter of internal regulations – before it is deemed fully-operational.

"The VISACA has served as a means of safekeeping of funds for my family and I"

40yr old male member, Madiana

Each VISACA is governed either by the entire membership, with regular General Assemblies, or by a group of 10-12 elected members who form a management committee. In the case of the latter, gender parity is set at a minimum of 50% women; indeed, many VISACAs have elected female presidents. It is common for representatives of traditional and local government authorities to attend meetings and participate in deliberations. Management committees are not paid; instead the role is seen as part of social obligations to the community.

What are the achievements and challenges of the VISACAs since inception?

“Being part of the VISACA has given me the opportunity to improve my living standard through the income that I am generating from my garden”

45yr old female member, Madiana

Expansion of the VISACA system has led to a more professional microfinance sector, thanks to the creation of a microfinance department within the Central Bank to oversee the policy and regulatory aspects of microfinance, and the establishment of a microfinance centre to provide capacity-building for all microfinance-related entities. For the first time since inception, audited VISACA accounts are available. Ongoing training, supervision and the nationwide audit of VISACAs has also boosted the confidence of the village banking system.

As far as challenges go, ensuring a gender balance remains high on the list. There is a need for support to cater for the changing needs of clients, with provision for medium to long-term credit and investment in tree crop production.

There is also a need for mentoring activities to prevent food insecurity and inequality.

IFAD and microfinance in The Gambia

Total cost: US$7.9 million
Approved IFAD loan: US$6.1 million
Approved IFAD grant: US$400,000
Duration: 2008 - 2014
Directly benefiting: 45,000 households

The project provides carefully targeted support to help strengthen and consolidate existing microfinance institutions to enable them to deliver financial services to economically active poor rural people. Activities include training and technical assistance for developing new financial products and for improving management of services. It enables local communities to access social and economic infrastructure by linking with projects offering matching grants, such as the World Bank’s Community-Driven Development Project and the AfDB-supported Social Development Fund.
The project includes an innovative approach: mobilizing traditional village groups to reach the target groups of poor men, women and youths as clients for microfinance. Upon completion of the six-year project, it is anticipated that 180 rural branches of microfinance institutions and almost 3,000 GAWFA groups will be delivering financial services such as savings, loans and insurance to about 180,000 rural clients, more than half of them women.

Looking to the future, what’s next for the VISACAs?

Partnerships with commercial banks for Western Union transfers, collaboration with other major projects taking place in the country, increased coverage of VISACA benefits on community radio stations and micro-leasing, again in partnership with commercial institutions, for medium to long-term loans. In addition, study tours for VISACA officers will go a long way towards ensuring that the village banking system remains viable, sustainable and responsive to the needs of changing populations in rural areas.

“No Savings, No Membership” – Building on the COWAN method in rural Nigeria

"You can not sit down alone to plan for prosperity"

Nigerian proverb

85% of Nigeria’s 150 million people are employed in the agriculture sector and 60% of those are women. Improving technology and time-consuming production methods would bring real gains to the sector but progress is dependent on the provision of adequate credit facilities. IFAD has partnered with the Country Women Association of Nigeria (COWAN) and the Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN) to bring postive, long-lasting change to 12 Nigerian states.


COWAN is improving the lives of rural women by increasing their access to a range of financial services, available through its Africa Traditional Responsive Bank (ATRB) program. A unified product that combines African traditional savings with the formal credit system, the ATRB model is designed to increase savings margins and make capital accumulation competitive, while working towards the Millennium Development Goals.

Since 1982, COWAN has dispersed more than 74 million Naira ($100,000 US) to rural and urban poor families. Daily savings are a condition of membership; something that’s designed as a mechanism to feed the supply fund. “No savings, no membership,” goes the COWAN mantra. The approach has been successful and COWAN has witnessed reliable loan repayment and grassroots participation in ideas and policies that alleviate poverty, thanks to the participatory group dynamic of members.

Now IFAD is building on COWAN’s success under the Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN), designed to lay the foundation for the long-term development of a sustainable rural financial system that will eventually operate throughout the country.

Rural Finance Institution Building Programme (RUFIN)

Total program cost: US $40 million
Approved IFAD loan: US $27.2 million
Approved IFAD grant: US $400,000
Duration of project: 2010 – 2017
Directly benefiting: 345,000 households
Co-financing: Ford Foundation (US $0.5 million)

The objective of the programme is to strengthen microfinance institutions and establish linkages between these institutions and formal financial institutions in 12 Nigerian states. It lays the foundation for the long-term development of a sustainable rural financial system that will eventually operate throughout the country. By reaching out to poor rural people, the programme ensures that they gain access to financial services and can invest in and improve productivity in agriculture and small businesses. Marginalized groups, such as women, young people and those with physical disabilities, are particularly targeted by the programme.  The programme works to develop new alternative financial products, promote an improved legal, policy and regulatory framework, and establish linkages between the financial system and the rural production system.

After the war: Rural Finance partnerships bring opportunities to post-conflict Sierra Leone




Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war brought the country to its knees, slashing the standard of living and placing it near the bottom of the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Eight years after the end of the conflict, more than 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, earning less than US$1 per day.

At a glance: FSAs in Sierra Leone

Average loan: Under $100

Lending term: 4 to 8 months

Interest rate: Flat 2.5% per month

Available to: FSA shareholders only

While financial services are key components to rebuild the country and ensure a smooth transition to a sustainable economy, few micro-entrepreneurs have access to basic credit or savings facilities. The situation is even worse in rural areas, which are almost starved of rural financial intermediaries.

IFAD is funding the Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP), which is establishing seven community banks and 30 Financial Services Associations (FSAs) in in the four eastern districts of Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Kenema. Implemented by the National Programme Coordination Unit (NPCU), the programme is based on a model that IFAD has developed and applied succesfully in Benin for over 10 years.

Essentially serving as mall village banks which cater to the needs of very small businesses, FSAs build equity and make microcredit available. The NPCU has already established seventeen FSAs which are operating in remote rural areas. Each FSA is partnered with a nearby community bank for increased customer satisfaction and efficiency.

The benefits of the FSA-community banks partnership in a post-conflict setting are numerous. Each FSA maintains a special savings account with a community bank situated nearby in to which the mobilized savings of the FSAs are deposited. These deposits of FSAs in the community banks earn interests. Part of the interest earned by the FSAs is also given out as loans to FSA clients.

Clients of the FSAs can access of a maximum of $ 250 credit based on their credit history. Clients with good credit history who require more than the stipulated limit are recommended by the FSAs to the community bank for increased level of credit. The FSAs target different market segment which are very close to the bottom of the pyramid. The community bank, on the other hand, finances small and medium scale enterprises. Clients which have graduated from the FSA’s market segments are linked to the community bank for further loans. 

The FSA-community bank partnership isn’t the only important partnership in Sierra Leone’s rural finance sector. Rural community banks have linked with commercial banks - such as First International and Access Bank – to launch Western Union money transfer facilities, allowing the transfer of funds from Freetown and other large towns to remote villages.

Interbank trading is also now a possibility, giving community banks who wish to diversify their risks from loan capital to other market instruments the chance to lend to commercial banks on an overnight or tenoured basis – or indeed vice versa.

Rural finance partnerships like these are key to sustainable development in post-conflict Sierra Leone. “Na Wan Wod Kin Plit Kola” says the popular Krio proverb. “Together we can split the Kola nut.”

Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme (RFCIP)

Total cost: US$10.9 million
Approved DSF grant: US$9.9 million
Duration: 2008 - 2014
Directly benefiting: 51,000 households

The Rural Finance and Community Improvement Project (RFCIP) was approved in 2007.

An IFAD grant finances this programme, which contributes directly to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by improving food security and reducing poverty in Sierra Leone. The programme indirectly supports the government’s democratization and stabilization policies by mitigating the tensions and risks that have led to civil war in the past.

In addition to the overall objectives of improving food security and reducing poverty, the goals are to make significant changes to the rural finance sector, improving its strategies and operations, enhance the decentralization of economic and administrative decision-making and promote pro-poor investment in rural areas by the private sector.

A model for West and Central Africa: Benin’s Financial Services Associations

Described as ‘the most innovative feature of IFAD’s programme’ in a 2005 report, Financial Service Associations (FSAs) were first pioneered in Benin 13 years ago. Since then, the concept – an equity-risks sharing scheme that serves rural communities – has been so successful that it has been rolled out in other countries in West and Central Africa. Today Benin’s 190 FSAs are still going strong, owned and operated by the local communities that they serve. We take a closer look at the FSA model and the Rural Development Support Programme (PADER).

What is an FSA?

Employment in Benin's rural areas is almost entirely linked to agriculture. About 70% of the country's labour force is employed in primary production. While urban poverty has decreased in recent years, rural poverty is worsening and the country's rural producers hav not benefited from rising purchasing power in the urban areas.

Virtually every rural family in the north lives below the poverty line, but absolute numbers of poor people are highest in the rural areas of the densely populated south, where land pressures are rising

Halfway between a stock company and a mutual, an FSA is a village-level microfinance institution designed to improve access to formal financial services for the rural poor. FSAs offer credit and mobilise equity, but unlike cooperative systems based on savings deposits, they use local savings as equity rather than debt.

Shareholders can deposit money with FSAs with a shared equity risk, but borrower’s savings are locked as collateral in non-interest bearing accounts. In Benin, the FSA program falls under the Rural Development Support Programme (PADER).

Why have FSAs been so successful among the rural poor?

FSAs operate as independent institutions that are run by and for local communities. Only shareholders have the right to take out loans, and credit comes solely from the sale of shares. Because loans are generally small, wealthier customers are deterred, meaning that FSAs really are self-targeting. So far The amount of loans approved has surpassed US$13 million, representing more than 12 times the mobilized capital. The average recovery rate is about 96 per cent.

What else do FSAs offer that makes them stand out?

Since FSAs are run individually, they vary. Some offer long-term credit for changing needs and group approaches to marketing goods and produce. Others, like the branch at Ouinhi, offer tailor-made loan programmes to encourage parents to send girl children to school.

The Gnonnou-Yiazomè scheme, (meaning ‘girls at school’) is a financial service implemented by the Ouinhi FSA branch. It is designed to encourage mothers to send girl children to school.

Loans are requested by the school Parents’ Association, which redistribute them to mothers of female students in need. Part of the loan is used to pay school fees and the remainder is given to the mother to enable her to invest into revenue-generating activities that will allow her to repay the loan.

What kind of impact have FSAs had on rural communities ?



Sidonie AGBO pictured

The impact has been easy to measure. FSA membership in Benin is expected to increase to about 100 000 by the end of 2010. In the central Beninese town of Lobogo, Veronica Gadedjro and Sidoni Agbo are two women who are reaping the benefits of the local FSA’s success. In partnership with two  other women they received a 10 million CFA loan to improve their business. Their trade has since gone from strength to strength and they now co-own a shop in an urban area.

Another woman who received a 500,000 CFA loan to expand her shoe business has had such success that she is now financially independent and is able to pay school fees for her children and the family’s medical costs – without relying on her husband. But FSAs aren’t only for women. Edward Nondékohoun is a carpenter who has set up a sawmill after receiving two 5 million CFA loans from the FSA at Lobogo. As a result, people living in the area  can now purchase locally-made woodwork rather than travelling nearly 100km to Cotonou, Benin’s economic capital, to buy furniture at inflated prices. Other success stories abound ; there is the farmer who gave a new lease of life to his palm grove and the rabbit breeder who now runs such a flourishing operation that he sells rabbits to restaurants in Cotonou.



Edward Nondékohoun

Benin’s sustainable agriculture sector has significantly benefited under the FSA scheme. In Aize, near to Ouinhi in the Zou region, lowland rice production has been funded thanks to two FSA loans totalling 5.5 million CFA. The first loan, of 3 million CFA in 2008, has been fully offset, and the second is in repayment.

Benin’s FSA model has been so successful that it has since been replicated in Guinea, Mauritania, Kenya, Uganda and Sierra Leone. The programme also helped shape Benin’s rural microfinance policy, which was approved by the government in 2006. Following presidential elections in 2010, the new Government of Benin established a Vice-Ministry for microfinance development. Coordination with and among local and national authorities is a key aspect of grass-roots empowerment and poverty reduction.

Rural Development Support Programme (PADER)

Total program cost: USD 14.79 million
IFAD loan: 10 million
Number of beneficiaries: 56,000

PADER was launched in March 2007 as an umbrella group for IFAD’s portfolio in Benin – including the FSA program and other rural initiatives - designed to help reduce mounting rural poverty by assisting groups and individuals in starting and expanding mainly non-farm income-generating activities. The target population comprises about 56,000 people; the inhabitants of 280 villages in Benin, about 200 of which were once or are now involved in previous and ongoing IFAD-supported projects.

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Spotlight on microfinance

Burkina Faso : Programme de Developpement Rural Durable (PDRD)


Women living in rural parts of Burkina Faso have limited access to banks and traditional financial institutions. The Reseau des Caisses Populaires is a network of financial cooperatives that serve as banks in areas where there is no bank. To date there are 402 branches in the network, 79 of which are in PDRD project areas. Women can access small, low-interest loans (there is a 99% payback rate) savings accounts and educational seminars that address topics such as family planning, maternal health and child nutrition. So far, more than 13,000 women have signed up as members of the network.

Useful links

Ghana: Rural Enterprises Project Phase II

Funded by the Government of Ghana, IFAD and the African Development Bank, phases one and two of the Rural Enterprises Project were launched with the aim of delivering good-quality, easily accessible and sustainable services in rural parts of Ghana. So far, 32 participating financial insitutions (PFIs) have enrolled in the project, 30% of the target of 106, and 69% of microcredit funds have been dispersed. However, the number of clients who have received loans to date represents just 22% of the 22,000 clients targeted. The mission recommends that the monitoring indicators be modified: to reflect the total number of outlets, to include the number of clients operating bank accounts and to include the number of clients receiving loans from PFIs’ own funds, not exclusively Project funds. 

Useful links

Mali:Sahel Development Fund (FODESA)

In Mali, SFD operators Kondo Jigima, JIGIFA and CIDR are spearheading a drive to organise microcredit institutions into a network of 94 branches. This includes 17 Kondo branches in the Nara region (which are now up and running as part of the network), 53 JIGIFA branches in the Segou region (in process) and 24 CIDR branches (feasibility study complete). In the San region, 52 mutual savings and credit (CMEC) associations implemented by the PDR-MS and FODESA continue their activities. They include 20,933 members.

Useful links

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Resources on Rural Finance

IFAD Resources

Regional Strategy for Rural Finance – West and Central Africa.

The goal of the regional rural finance strategy is to increase the access of poor rural people to sustainable financial services. The strategy recognises that a focus on women, participation and local knowledge are pivotal to developing sustainable rural finance. It details three strategic objectives:

It is available in English and French at:

IFAD Rural Finance Policy 2009

The updated IFAD Rural Finance Policy provides guidelines to IFAD decision makers, consultants and partner organizations to ensure the development of a coherent and effective rural finance sector. These guidelines are intended to build clients’ skills to effectively participate in the ownership and oversight of local financial institutions; promote financial literacy training; and support protective arrangements for savers, borrowers and lending institutions.

It is available in EnglishFrenchSpanish and Arabic

IFAD decision tools for rural finance, 2010

The IFAD Decision Tools for Rural Finance are designed to provide decision-making support for country programme managers, consultants, project staff and technical advisers who develop and implement rural finance projects. Building on the IFAD Rural Finance Policy (IFAD 2009) as well as other good practice guides, this knowledge management tool is designed to help identify and answer the questions that arise in each rural finance project, provide background on key issues, define common terms, highlight risks and opportunities, and provide references for further investigation. Available in EnglishFrench and Spanish

IFAD has also produced number of publications and resources on a range of topics in rural finance. For more information, visit IFAD website.

Other resources

Here are some other initiatives that you may find useful.

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New projects

Republic of Côte d’Ivoire - Country strategic opportunities programme

This country strategic opportunities programme (COSOP) 2010-2015 is the second COSOP, and the first results-based COSOP, developed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for Côte d’Ivoire. The results-based COSOP is consistent with the new country context and takes into account the changes Côte d’Ivoire has undergone during the 13 years that have elapsed since the first COSOP was prepared.

IFAD’s overall objective in Côte d’Ivoire for 2010-2015, which is fully aligned with the strategic thrusts set forth in the PRSP and the PNIA, is to sustainably reinforce food security and incomes for small-scale food and horticultural producers. Within this overall objective are two strategic objectives, as outlined below:

Useful links

Republic of Guinea - National Programme to Support Agricultural Value Chain Actors

The Executive Board approved the recommendation for the financing to the Republic of Guinea for the National Programme to Support Agricultural Value Chain Actors. The proposed programme of US$8.70 million is set within the framework of the National Agricultural Development Policy – Vision 2015 (PNDA), the soil fertility initiative, the small-scale irrigation master plan and the land reform policy. It supports the objective of increasing profits for rural poor people through wealth creation set forth in the national poverty reduction strategy paper – phase 2 (PRSP-2). Specifically, the programme supports the priority area of value chain market integration, by intensifying and modernizing agricultural production and smallholder farming. In addition, the programme will complement the Village Communities Support Project – Phase II, which emphasizes social capital, decentralization and rural infrastructure.

Useful links

Republic of Guinea-Bissau - Rural Rehabilitation and Community Development Project

The project is financed by IFAD with a grant of US$4.7 million. With this project, IFAD resumed its partnership with Guinea-Bissau after an interval of 15 years. The project is the first-ever major investment project in Quinara and Tombali and, despite its small size, is proving to be an important motor of development in these two regions. The funding will significantly strengthen the project, allowing more investments to be made in agricultural production, food security and other rural development activities directly benefiting IFAD’s target group in the regions. These investments, to be channelled mainly through the local initiatives fund, will support the development of small-scale agricultural projects, improved input use, and better terms of trade for producers, and expanded and diversified agricultural production.

Useful links

Republic of Mali - Fostering Agricultural Productivity Project

IFAD will provide to the Republic of Mali a loan in the amount of approximately US$31.70 million for this project. The Fostering Agricultural Productivity Project seeks to increase the agricultural productivity of smallholder agricultural and agribusiness producers in the targeted production systems and production areas by improving agricultural technologies, increasing arable land and providing capacity-building for stakeholders at all levels, with a special focus on women and youth. The key project objective is to increase the productivity of smallholder agricultural and agribusiness producers in the targeted production systems (irrigated rice and vegetables, rainfed cereals, cowpea, fodder, livestock) within the targeted project areas.

Useful links

Republic of Mali - Northern Regions Investment and Rural Development Programme

The Executive Board approved a grant of US$1.05 million. The grant supplements IFAD’s original financing envelope for this programme. The additional grant funds mainly for the construction of irrigated perimeters and the production of improved seeds, supplementing the programme funds already devoted to these activities..

More information on Northern Regions Investment and Rural Development Programme

Republic of Nigeria - Community-Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme

The Executive Board approved a loan of approximately US$29.9 million to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to finance the Community-Based Agricultural and Rural Development Programme (CBARDP). The total programme cost amounted to US$68.5 million of which governments (federal, state and local) and beneficiaries contributed US$31.5 million and US$4.0 million, respectively. Given the good performance of the programme during its implementation period, Nigeria and IFAD agreed, during the design of the results-based country strategic opportunities programme to pursue the community-driven development approach and deepen the activities in the participating northern states by providing supplementary funds for agriculture development.

Useful links

Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe - Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme

The proposed supplementary financing will enable IFAD and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe to extend the benefits of the ongoing Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme (PAPAFPA) to a larger number of poor households throughout the country whose livelihoods depend on agricultural activities and artisanal fishing. The proposal responds to a specific request from the Government to broaden the programme’s coverage in the light of its interesting development approaches and the notable benefits it has managed to generate among poor beneficiaries. IFAD will provide the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe with supplementary funding of a grant of approximately US$3 million. The Government will contribute US$159,800, bringing to about US$3.16 million the overall value of this top-up.

More information on Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme

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Regional Project Implementation Workshop, Dakar, 8-11 November 2010

Theme: Value Chains for Opportunities and Growth: What Role for IFAD-funded Projects?

The Division is organizing the 5th Regional Project Implementation Workshop in Dakar, Senegal, from 8 to 11 November 2010 to bring a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including loan and grant project directors, government officials, farmers’ organization and NGO representatives, private sector, cooperating institutions, and IFAD staff.

The 5th Regional Project Implementation Workshop is organizing jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Senegal, and with the assistance of the West African Rural Foundation (WARF). The main topics for the workshop will focus on: a) facilitate continued improvement in project implementation through Action Plans prepared by the projects, and recent initiatives within IFAD; and b) discuss the promotion of opportunities and growth through value chains.

The results from the workshop will be integrated into the ongoing and operations; and will subsequently be used as a basis for programmatic fine-tuning, reorientation and planning.

A mixture of presentations, panel discussion, interactive sessions and group work will be used in the workshop. Other topics that will be covered include monitoring and evaluation, up-scaling, decentralization of IFAD. These discussions will be complimented with background documentation and case studies from projects.

For more information visit FIDAfrique website.

Global Consultation on Cassava as a Potential Bioenergy Crop, Accra, Ghana, October 18-19 October 2010

The international debate about the impact of bio-fuel production on poor rural people, particularly through their potential effects on food prices, land tenure and the environment, is lively, and focuses mainly on the trade-offs between food security and fuel production. Meanwhile, the increasing demand for fuels and the fear of rising fuel prices linked to global concerns about environmental pollution are leading policy makers to look more deeply into this emerging biofuel market as a potential contributor to rural poverty reduction and climate change mitigation.

The Consultation is being organized be the International Fund for Agricultural Development in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Foundation. The Consultation has also been sponsored by the Government if Italy and Finland.

The two-day Consultation will cover all aspects along the cassava value chain, with a special emphasis on biofuel/bioenergy production and inclusion of the poor and women.

For more information visit FIDAfrique website.

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Ms. Khadija Doucouré  has joined IFAD as Regional Gender Specialist for the West and Central Africa Region (WCA), based in the IFAD Country Office in Dakar, Senegal.  Khadija will be responsible for strengthening how IFAD-funded projects meet their objectives of gender inclusiveness and women's empowerment.  She will also work with IFAD and in-country CPMTs in the design of components and activities which recognize and support the role of women as rural entrepreneurs.   Khadija's experience and direct support will help to better mainstream gender considerations in IFAD strategic and business processes within WCA as we contribute to achievement of MDG3.

Before joining IFAD, Khadija served as Program Coordinator and Managing Director of the African Centre for Women’s Entrepreneurship (ACWE) with a mission of improving women’s economic empowerment, particularly in rural areas. As a specialist in Gender and Economic Development, she has conducted several field missions on behalf of institutions like the World Bank, the International Labor Organization, FAO, IFAD, UNDP, ECOWAS and CILSS in the area of women economic empowerment in West Africa and Central Africa.

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