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Overview

Fragility, migration, and water scarcity, combined with persistently high unemployment rates, are among the key challenges hampering rural development in the Near East and North Africa (NENA).

In the Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (CEN) subregion, the main obstacles concern currency volatility and sluggish growth.

The average number of undernourished people within NENA has doubled over the past 25 years — from 16.5 million to 33 million — amid acute pressure on natural resources. Climate shocks, together with economic and political disturbances have resulted in some of the toughest and most enduring poverty challenges in the world.

Across the NENA subregion, 22.4 million people have been forcibly displaced by conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Many young people have been driven off the land, disrupting food production, and exacerbating already high unemployment. As a consequence, poverty is on the rise, as is food and nutrition insecurity, especially in rural areas.

The crisis in Syria, in particular, is driving large-scale migration: Syrian refugees now make up some 25 per cent of the population of Lebanon and 20 per cent of the population of Jordan. Forced displacement has a strong rural dimension, as large numbers of displaced people originate from rural areas.

The consequences of the still-unfolding Syrian crisis have been far-reaching. They include the degradation of agricultural land and collapse in food production in the areas left behind, as well as increased pressure on natural resources, food security and agricultural production systems in host communities, and increased competition for jobs.

Tailoring solutions

In a highly diverse region, every rural transformation challenge needs to be tackled in its proper context.

In countries of the former Soviet Union with abundant water resources, we might be called upon to address solutions for improving farming skills, whereas in the Near East and North Africa, solving water scarcity and enhancing agricultural production are our priorities.

Across both subregions, increasingly severe droughts, or floods, and related losses in productivity and incomes, have hampered rural transformation.

Money, know-how and imagination

IFAD customizes solutions to address specific key challenges. By the end of 2016, we had invested US$889 million in 43 programmes and projects in the region, in partnership with 22 recipient governments.

It is our combination of funding capacity and expertise that makes IFAD a partner of choice for so many governments, agencies and NGOs. We partner with governments to help design and implement poverty reduction strategies, and work with local people and organizations to deliver them.

IFAD recently launched its Facility for Refugees, Migrants, Forced Displacement and Rural Stability (FARMS). With an overall budget of US$100 million, FARMS will focus on sustainable rural development and livelihood support for refugees, displaced persons and rural host communities.

Whether the focus is on managing land and water resources, tackling rural unemployment or linking farmers to markets, we have the skills and experience to make a long-term impact.

Learn more

Water scarcity and climate change are pressing issues in both CEN and NENA. NENA has the lowest share of the world’s available freshwater.

The global crisis of forced displacement has affected an unprecedented 65 million people worldwide, of whom one third, or 22.4 million, are from the Near East and North Africa.

Young people form 23 per cent of the total population in CEN and 28 per cent in NENA. Unemployment rates among young people – at 30 per cent in NENA and 18.1 per cent in CEN – exceeding the global average of 13.2 per cent.

The number of undernourished people in the NENA sub-region has doubled over the last 25 years, from 16.5 million to 33 million. This is the result of conflict, falling incomes and high unemployment, especially among women and young people.



Spotlight

Supporting date palm production in the Near East and North Africa

Rome, 29 March 2016 – IFAD has been recognized for its contributions to agricultural innovation and the date palm sector during the launch of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation in Abu Dhabi.

Projects and programmes

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Rural Competitiveness Development Programme
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Morocco

Rural Development Programme in the Mountain Zones – Phase I
Read More

Sudan

Butana Integrated Rural Development Project
Read More

Related news

IFAD and Sudan invest US$47.5 million to raise incomes and resilience to climate change

February 2018 - NEWS
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Sudan signed a financing agreement today to improve household incomes and resilience to climate change in the States of Sinnar, North Kordofan, South Dordofan and West Kordofan.

IFAD US$39 million investment to stimulate inclusive economic growth in Tajikistan

February 2018 - NEWS
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Republic of Tajikistan signed a financing agreement today to reduce poverty and stimulate inclusive economic growth in poor rural communities.

New IFAD-financed project in Jordan supports small ruminant production and reduces poverty in rural communities

December 2017 - NEWS
Nearly 12,000 rural families will benefit from a new financing agreement signed last month between Jordan and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Related publications

IFAD in Tajikistan: The virtues of village organizations

August 2016

IFAD and the Government of Tajikistan have been investing in building the capacities of village organizations and pasture users unions to participate in and influence processes that are important for the livelihoods of their members. The results have been very positive, as the stories contained here show. Local communities have been empowered in managing local natural resources on which they depend. The community-driven development approach is a very effective way to identify priorities (such as roads, irrigation, drinking water, electricity supply, and low-cost storage and marketing facilities) in rural communities, and has been able to provide the needed investments to improve rural livelihoods. Activities also targeted the needs of female beneficiaries, not only producing significant economic benefits but also strengthening the position of women in communities.

The participation of beneficiaries in all phases of the projects was a key ingredient in ensuring that there would be ownership, commitment and long-term impact. Members of village organizations were involved in setting priorities and decision-making from the outset. Linking community development to training and strengthening local project partners helped to ensure sustainability, so that these communities will continue to thrive in the future.

LANGUAGES: English

IFAD in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (CEN)

June 2016
The total population of Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States (CEN) is about 150 million, of whom more than half live in rural areas. In the CEN countries for which data are available, approximately 2 per cent live on less than US$1.25 a day, while the rate exceeds 6 per cent in some Central Asian nations. Since its establishment, IFAD has invested approximately US$797 million
in 59 projects in 13 countries of the CEN region.
LANGUAGES: English

African Postal Financial Services Initiative

April 2016
The African Postal Financial Services initiative is a joint regional programme launched by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the European Commission in collaboration with the World Bank, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) – a specialized United Nations agency for the postal sector, the World Savings Banks Institute/European Savings Banks Group (WSBI/ESBG) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).
LANGUAGES: English, French

Contact us

For more information about IFAD's work in Near East, North Africa, Europe and Central Asia,

please contact Sylvia Schollbrock, Portfolio Adviser, at s.schollbrock@ifad.org