| The NGLS handbook of UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds Working for |
|International fund for agricultural development (IFAD)|
Between 1978 and the end of 1995, the fund committed US$4.5 billion in loans under the Regular and Special Prograrnmes combined for 429 projects in 106 developing countries. The total costs of these projects stand at US$14.3 billion including substantial contributions by external cofinanciers and governments of recipient countries. During the same period, IFAD provided US$227.4 million to 601 research and technical assistance grants.
The regional shares of IFAD-suppoded projects approved between 1978 and 31 December 1995 under both Regular and Special Programmes stand as follows: Africa (sub-Saharan), 176 projects in 44 countries (35.0%); Asia and the Pacific, 110 projects in 19 countries (33.0%); Latin America and the Caribbean, 75 projects in 28 countries (15%); Near East and North Africa, 68 projects in 15 countries (16.9%).
In 1995, 33 loans were approved by the Executive Board for 37 projects under the Regular and Special Programmes, of which 12 were in Africa, ten in Asia, six in Latin America and the Caribbean, and five in the Near East and North Africa.
The loan terms for borrowers reflect the fund's lending priorities. For 1978-1995, 61.6% of IFAD loans under the Regular Programme were on highly concessional terms (an annual service charge of 1% and a maturity period of 50 years, including a ten-year grace period). Loans on intermediate terms (at a yearly interest rate of 4% and a maturity period of 20 years, including a grace period of five years) represented 26.9% of IFAD loans for that period, and those on ordinary terms (8% yearly interest and a maturity period of 15-1 8 years, including a grace period of three years) represented 11.5%.
In regional terms, 84.7% of IFAD loans to Africa under the Regular Programme were highly concessional, with Africa receiving a significant portion of IFAD's concessional financing. Most IFAD loans to Asia, 72.9%, were on highly concessional terms. In the Near East and North Africa region, the corresponding figure reached 40.2%, and in Latin America and the Caribbean 17.4%.
IFAD's specificity is reflected in the choice of projects it supports. Projects are selected to ensure that the poorest people in the poorest areas benefit from the fund's resources: small farmers, artisanal fisherfolk, nomadic herdspeople, rural landless, and poor rural women.
IFAD defines poverty as a "production problem" and poverty alleviation as "an investment." From this perspective. the answer to poverty lies in creating conditions for the poor to earn more and in understanding that "overcoming poverty does not mean less (economic) growth; it is a contributor to growth." IFAD's poverty alleviation approach mobilizes and enhances the ability of the rural poor to "expand their own income and to contribute to national growth." It is not simply a process of raising incomes, but involves structural change in economies and societies.
For IFAD, enabling the poor to participate in economic processes means:
• increasing and improving the poor's access to land through land reform, land titling, better management, and better conservation supported where necessary by irrigation, new technologies, and improved infrastructure;
• increasing the productivity and use of rural labour, emphasizing labour intensive technologies, and improved training for new skills; and
• making more capital available to the rural poor, mobilizing savings, providing infrastructure and developing financial services tailored to their situation and needs.
IFAD's regular programmes, or special programmes, such as the Special Programme for Sub-Saharan African Countries affected by Drought and Desertification, have a variety of aims.
A key objective is to secure access to land. Land distribution and ownership, including land titling, have decisive implications for the production capacities and income of the rural poor. Particularly in Latin America, the land issue has been at the heart of approaches to rural poverty. A number of the fund's operations in the region have facilitated land titling and have regularized land ownership for the beneficiaries of its projects.
For instance in Ecuador IFAD helped rationalize titles to land assigned under the Land Reform Programme. While the process of issuing titles is being completed, IFAD is helping issue temporary certificates of possession allowing access to credit. Similarly, an IFAD project in Honduras has helped small farmer and peasant groups regularize land rights in an effort to introduce long-term institutional credit and extension services.
IFAD also works to improve access to credit. The fund recognizes that the poor have great difficulty in securing access to resources, especially capital. For this reason, providing credit is a key IFAD activity. A high percentage (about 30%) of IFAD assistance to small and poor farmers goes to improving access to credit to purchase means of production (agricultural inputs, processing equipment, draught power, transport equipment and so on). One of IFAD's most important contributions in this field has been to replace conventional collateral requirements with group-based guarantees and develop innovative credit delivery mechanisms. IFAD-supported projects also give priority to promoting savings and to the voluntary formation of activity-based community and village groups.
Irrigation is another major component of IFAD-supported projects and is important in the development of rural infrastructure. The fund's experience with irrigation began with the co-financing of large-scale schemes. Noting that these schemes were not adapted to either the needs of the poor or to environmental concerns, IFAD's emphasis shifted to smallscale irrigation and improved water harvesting techniques. IFAD encourages small-scale, village-based schemes in which water users assume the responsibility for system maintenance and water management.
IFAD also works to develop entrepreneurial capacities for small-scale enterprises. Recent projects are designed to strengthen entrepreneurship for both on-farm and off-farm activities. Women figure prominently as specific targets in most of these projects. Unemployed rural youth are also increasingly targeted, as in the case of the Artisanal Fisheries Pilot Development Project for Algeria. This project is designed to provide young people with employment in new facilities that produce fishing equipment, make ice, and market fish. Fisheries projects that are based on group management and marketing activities and improved resource conservation are showing dynamic growth.
Increasingly, IFAD projects are seeking to place environmental preservation at the core of project design and implementation "to help break the vicious cycle between poverty and environmental degradation." Apart from credit, small-scale irrigation, land improvement, and soil and water harvesting, IFAD places emphasis on traditional crops, safe biological pest control in research, extension and training, and institution building. IFAD estimates that 50% of its projects involve investments with an environmental component.
IFAD's approach to rural women in development has evolved over the years. According to IFAD, "rural women are the architects of household food security as food producers, processors. traders and the guardians of family welfare." So IFAD seeks to increase the farm productivity and the off-farm incomes of women as well as to alleviate the physical drudgery of household tasks.
Since May 1986, the Special Programme for Sub-Saharan African Countries Affected by Drought and Desertification has been assisting smallholder farmers and other poor rural groups in Africa. The programme has focused on the needs and productive potential of rural women. Recently, the fund improved its information base for gender analysis and for raising awareness among rural women. Phases I and II of the programme were terminated on 31 December 1995.
IFAD has also taken a number of initiatives to implement the recommendations made at the 1992 Geneva summit on the Economic Advancement of Rural Women, which was launched at the initiative of six First Ladies from all world regions. An IFAD information and communications strategy is designed to bring the message of the Geneva Declaration for Rural Women to the field level. A number of information documents on the summit have been produced by IFAD to support advocacy initiatives.
IFAD has also developed operational guidelines for project gender analysis, which improve project design and provide a framework within which to evaluate a project's impact on rural women. Finally, the fund is preparing a handbook with basic information on development strategies with a gender perspective to respond to the needs of project managers, NGOs, consultants and others.
In addition, IFAD can make grants, which are limited by statute to 12.5% of the resources committed in any one financial year. These grants go to the poorest countries to speed up and enhance project preparation and finance project components under both the Regular Programme and the Special Programme. They also provide special operations facilities. develop agricultural research and training, and undertake initiatives with NGOs under the IFAD/NGO Extended Cooperation Programme.
Over the period 1978-1995, a total of 514 Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) for US$24.1 million were approved under the Regular and Special Programmes. More than 70% of all IFAD grants from 1978 to 1995 have been used to support agricultural research and training.
In its Tenth Anniversary Annual Report of 1987, IFAD identified four crucial directions for its research support activities:
• adaptive research related to problems faced by smallholders in specific agroecological environments, to be achieved by strengthening national research institutions and by promoting greater collaboration between national and international applied research activities;
• increased attention to traditional crop research;
• research on low-input technologies, farming systems, agroforestry and alley cropping; and
• technologies for sustainable agriculture that combine gains in productivity with measures to protect and improve the environment, such as biological pest control.
Recent research activities support one or another of these objectives. For example, in 1990 IFAD's traditional crop production research focused on rehabilitating date palms in the Near East and North Africa and on introducing improved cassava varieties in the drier tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the field of livestock, an IFAD grant to the Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) supports applied collaborative research about camels. IFAD has also played a major role in developing successful biological controls for important pests, such as the cassava mealy bug and crop borers in sorghum, maize and cowpeas in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, the fund's promotion of research into semiochemicals (substances synthesized both by desert locusts and host plants) that influence desert locust behaviour is yielding positive results of benefit to the poorest households in the areas concerned. In 1992, the Executive Board approved IFAD's contribution to a research effort by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to combat cassava green spider mite in Africa. In 1995 a grant of US$1.2 million was approved for the establishment of a Regional Animal Surveillance and Control Network (RADISCON) in North Africa, the Middle East and the Arab Peninsula. This programme aims at increasing livestock productivity through the reduction of zoonotic disease, and promotion of trade in healthy animals and safe animal products.
Training activities aim to help IFAD projects to succeed, and the fund finances training programmes on agriculture credit, the environmental dimension of rural poverty alleviation, and so on. Courses are designed for IFAD staff, project managers, national trainers or experts and policy makers.
One of the fund's most important training activities is the Agricultural Management Training Programme (AMTA) initiated in 1985, in conjunction with the World Bank and the African Development Bank. This programme, which is now in its fourth tranche, has been one of the principal instruments for improving capabilities with a direct bearing on the execution and environment of projects. At present, it puts major emphasis on the integration of externally funded project activities into the activities and responsibilities of farmers.
In 1991, the fund approved a grant to train personnel in specific institutions serving the rural subsector in Latin America and the Caribbean. Again in Latin America, the fund supported a rural development regional training programme in 1992 at the National University of Tucuman in Argentina. In 1995 a grant of US$300,000 was provided to the Rural Credit Unions in the Windward Islands—Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CCCU). This programme aims at strengthening the management capabilities of rural credit unions, while improving their capacity to support IFAD-financed projects in the area.
Information and Communications
IFAD's information and communications activities aim to increase public awareness about problems of hunger and poverty, agricultural and development issues, and IFAD's role in promoting sustainable rural development in the world's most vulnerable regions.
These activities are important to IFAD, which works to ensure that its message on alleviating poverty reaches a wider public. IFAD's target audience includes the public, scholars, development experts, NGOs, project beneficiaries and persons engaged in decision making and policy making.
To reach a broader public, the fund has strengthened and expanded its press contacts and uses film, television, and radio for its messages. Several national TV stations have produced documentary films on rural poverty and IFAD's approach to poverty alleviation.
IFAD publishes an annual report each year and produces brochures. surveys, leaflets, and studies. In 1991, the agency signed an agreement with New York University Press to publish a series of studies drawn from its experience in alleviating rural poverty. Two studies were produced, Providing Food Security /or All and Ghana Under Structural Adjustment The Impact on Agriculture and the Rural Poor. The first edition of IFAD's major report, The State of World Rural Poverty, was published in 1992.