IFAD partners WFP, FAO to revamp Agriculture in Sahel

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is set to partner with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to rejig food systems and economic activities in specific Sahel countries.

The countries include Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania Niger and the Republic of Senegal.

This effort, IFAD in a statement revealed that it will help to strengthen the resilience of rural communities particularly impacted by conflict, climate change and COVID-19 pandemic.

To achieve the foregoing, the IFAD’s Executive Board on Wednesday approved a highly concessional loan of US$29.7 million and a grant of $13.7 million.

It added that it would implement the first-ever Joint RBA Programme for the Sahel in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change (SD3C).

SD3C is a scheme that was projected to benefit about 123,000 rural households in cross-border areas of the six countries, reaching almost one million individuals.

Women, who typically have limited access to land and finance, will make up 50 percent of the project’s participants.

About 40 percent will be young people, who face high rates of unemployment. Landless people and transhumant pastoralists also stand to gain from the project’s activities.

According to IFAD Representative and Country Director for Senegal, Benoît Thierry “If we want peace and development in the Sahel region, we must invest in agriculture and social capital. In particular, we must create jobs for youth,”

“The failure of national economies to create conditions for decent incomes for rural young people poses a threat to political stability, nurtures extremism and promotes migration,” he added

SD3C programme will also enhance business partnerships between farmers and pastoralists through training initiatives and by strengthening cross-border markets for agricultural inputs and produce.

Furthermore, market places and rural infrastructure, including roads and small-scale irrigation, will be developed. The promotion of market information systems and cashless exchanges through ICT platforms will lead to secure transactions at borders.

Also, farming households will receive training in agricultural best practices as well as kits.

Rural communities and vulnerable groups will also receive training on sustainable livestock management, risk management, development of small and medium enterprise business plans, conflict prevention and resolution and social mediation.

However, the total cost of the programme over its six-year implementation period is valued at US$180.4 million.

Thierry noted, “IFAD-financed activities will be implemented in two phases of three years each, with an estimated total cost in phase 1 of $55.7 million and phase 2 of $53.3 million”

“This is in addition to the US$ 43.3 million approved by its Executive Board”

IFAD will finance $65.6 million through future financing cycles or from development partners while the Green Climate Fund will contribute $71.4 million to the joint programme.

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