Oscar A. Garcia, member of the IFAD delegation that visited Bangladesh

Members of the Executive Board and senior staff of IFAD travelled to Bangladesh from 25 to 30 November 2017 to visit the Participatory Small-scale Water Resources Sector Project, the Haor Infrastructure and Livelihood Improvement Project  and the Promoting Agricultural Commercialization and Enterprises Project in the communities of Bagha, Narayonpur, Tokerghat and Aluto - co-funded by IFAD and the Bangladesh Government -  and to meet with high-level government officials, representatives of the United Nations system in Bangladesh and other international financial institutions working in the country. Mr Oscar A. Garcia, Director of the Independent Office of Evaluation of IFAD was one of the high officials who accompanied the delegation.

The year 2017 marks 40 years of partnership and cooperation between IFAD and the Government of Bangladesh. In addition to being IFAD’s third largest investment portfolio to date – with 25 completed projects, six ongoing and two more in the works – Bangladesh is also the first country in which IFAD projects were implemented. Since 1978, IFAD has invested US$717.2 million in loans and grants for 31 rural development projects, improving the livelihoods of 10.7 million households.

The objectives of the country visit were to strengthen the partnership between IFAD’s Executive Board, the Government and IFAD Management; chart IFAD’s 40 years operations in the country; reflect on the portfolio’s progress; and discuss the way forward and future collaboration. The visit was expected to contribute to better IFAD operations and strategies in Bangladesh and enhance IFAD governing bodies knowledge of the country.

Mr Garcia delivered a presentation of the country programme evaluation of IFAD-funded operations in Bangladesh that IOE completed in 2016. The main recommendations refer to: (1) Stronger focus on agriculture. Strengthening investments in extension and research, supply chain development, intensification, diversification, livestock and inland fisheries; (2) Access to credit to remain a priority: More specific mechanisms and further capacity development of the functionaries and specialized credit products and services are required (debt management, technology; business and marketing capacity development) if new projects are designed to link with the existing portfolio with export-led value chains; (3) Maintain environmental protection as a priority in light of emerging challenges: Carefully balance two competing priorities of environmental protection and poverty reduction in the context of two confronting realities of increasing agricultural intensity and population pressure; (4) Broadening policy and institutional support for the IFAD-supported programme: Engage more proactively with ministries at the central level. Engage as a partner in nation-wide policy processes; (5) Further investment in knowledge management: Develop a knowledge management strategy, including a plan for generating specific knowledge products.

The nine members of the Executive Board who visited the project are representatives from Angola, Brazil, China, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, Mexico and Nigeria.