European Commission and IFAD: Innovating together

 

Since 2006, the European Commission (EC) has collaborated with IFAD in financing a series of thematic and country programmes. This relatively recent partnership has grown in multiple and interesting directions, both in terms of funds invested, and the spread of programmes that benefit from that investment. From the US$50 million given to IFAD through the Food Facility of 2008, the EC now invests a total of more than US$326 million across selected thematic and country programmes. A relationship of trust, rigour and shared vision has evolved.

In partnering together we seek to test out new ground within the development arena, and expand into innovative, often cutting edge areas that have the potential to change the future of development. Over the last seven years, IFAD and the EC have joined forces in emerging areas of mutual and strategic interest – pro-poor agricultural research, remittances for development, support to farmer organization networks, public-private sector partnerships and agricultural risk management.

We have increasingly found ways to enhance complementarity and mutual benefits in the work we do together. The partnership has allowed IFAD to grow as a learning organization, while the EC has extended its operational outreach, benefiting from IFAD’s presence in the field, its staff, local networks and partnerships. The crucial injection of EC grant financing has enabled IFAD to scale up and mainstream successful ideas and innovations that have been tested through the loan portfolio, and explore new approaches or instruments for development, such as ways of partnering with the private sector. Our work together has a multiplier effect. The funds invested help extend the impact of investments and create new networks, build alliances and platforms that facilitate the work that is done together, as well as leveraging more funds from other donors.

Over the years the partnership has pushed both players in new directions. Through the CGIAR, we are backing research that may well provide the answer to future global food security needs. Such as developing rice varieties that can thrive in the harshest conditions; flooding, drought, soil salinity. EU financing has allowed IFAD to build on the work it has done in creating and managing the Farmers’ Forum, and in supporting farmer organizations and their networks as they make their voices heard and needs met, both regionally and nationally across the African continent. The Financing Facility for Remittances carries out innovative work in the emerging arena of remittances for development, and has had particular success in extending financial services into rural areas, enabling migrant workers to invest in agriculture and rebuild rural economies, and reducing the costs of sending money home.

The Technical Assistance Fund is forging new approaches to working with the private sector, and ensuring that the development agenda is kept to the fore within commercial ventures. This experience has provided the groundwork for a new programme in Uganda, also co-financed by the EU, which will create an equity fund to support small and medium rural enterprises.