Sana Jatta, Director East and Southern Africa Division

In the mid-1980s IFAD was busy building its image and reputation as the respectable dual international financing institution and UN agency with the unique mandate of investing in rural people and rural poverty alleviation in developing countries.

I happen to have been then the youngest member of the management team of one of its most successful cofinanced projects. Chance would have it that I would visit IFAD headquarters in September/October 1986 as part of a Dutch funded executive training programme for young managers of development projects. The then country programme manager of The Gambia and some IFAD staff who knew me from supervision missions to my project encouraged me to apply for the Dutch-funded Junior Professional Officer scheme. Although I was sceptical it would succeed given the novelty of the idea at the time I, nevertheless, quickly prepared and submitted my application.

"And look what I have finally succeeded in achieving as of today, Regional Director, and still counting, all with the great support of IFAD management and staff."

By March 1987, less than 6 months later, I had already taken up my new post as the proud first Dutch-funded African Junior Professional Officer (JPO) in IFAD's less than 10 years of history. By the end of two and half years as a Dutch funded JPO I became a full IFAD staff CPM. I never turned back since. And look what I have finally succeeded in achieving as of today, Regional Director, and still counting, all with the great support of IFAD management and staff.

After enthusiastically taking up responsibilities and assignments in fifteen countries (ten in Africa and five in Asia, ranging from Cape Verde to China), plus also working in three countries in Latin America, I believe the mutual investments IFAD and I made in each other have handsomely paid off from all accounts. Yet there is more to come as there are many years left in us both to take this partnership to the next level that none of us can imagine today!

Vive le FIDA. Vive le JPO programme.