US$20 million IFAD-supported project will help overcome water shortages and generate employment in Syria

Release number IFAD/31/07

Loan signingRome, 14 June 2007 – A new US$58 million project in Syria will create employment opportunities and reduce water shortages for about 190,000 poor rural families living in the north-eastern provinces of Deir Ezur, Hassake and Raqqa. With a rapidly increasing population, the three provinces are suffering from diminishing water supplies, decreasing agricultural production and growing unemployment. 

IFAD's North-eastern Regional Rural Development Project will be financed partly by a low-interest IFAD loan of US$20 million. The loan agreement was signed today by Samir AL-Kassir, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic to Italy and Lennart Båge, President of IFAD. This investment will be matched by a loan of US$17 million from the OPEC Fund for International Development and a contribution of US$20 million from the Syrian Government.

"The project will help small farmers to manage their resources sustainably and launch small businesses," said Hamid Abdouli, IFAD's country programme Manager for Syria. "We will address the severe water deficit and promote microfinance, microenterprise development, marketing, and partnerships with the private sector."  

The project will help local communities form farmers' and craftworkers' marketing associations. It will also help small farmers to modernize old and inefficient irrigation systems and to establish sustainable water users' associations.

The project will provide credit and advice to help young entrepreneurs develop business plans. It will also help the Savings Bank of Syria establish a sustainable microfinance system for poor rural people.

The interest earned from depositing IFAD's loan in Syria's Savings Bank will be used to cover the cost of technical assistance for the development of community-based associations. 

With this project, IFAD will have financed seven projects in Syria for a total of commitment of US$120 million.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, it develops and finances projects that enable poor rural people to overcome poverty themselves. There are 185 ongoing IFAD-supported rural poverty eradication programmes and projects, totalling US$6.1 billion. IFAD has invested US$2.9 billion in these initiatives. Cofinancing has been provided by governments, beneficiaries, multilateral and bilateral donors and other partners. At full development, these programmes will help nearly 77 million poor rural women and men to achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Since starting operations in 1978, IFAD has invested US$9.5 billion in 732 programmes and projects that have helped more than 300 million poor rural men and women achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Governments and other financing sources in the recipient countries, including project participants, have contributed US$9.1 billion, and multilateral, bilateral and other donors have provided another US$7.1 billion in cofinancing.