African heads of state urge world leaders to up investment in IFAD

Ten African heads of state have called on other world leaders to increase their funding to the International Fund for Agricultural Development or risk jeopardising Sustainable Development Goal target of eradicating poverty and hunger, particularly in Africa.

In a statement made available to Financial Street, they wrote, “We share IFAD’s vision of vibrant rural communities where people live free from poverty and hunger.”

Leaders of Angola, Republic of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ethiopia signed the letters sent to their counterparts in Europe, North America, The Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

Other countries which leaders endorsed the statement are The Gambia, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

“Investing in building the resilience of rural people is now more important than ever in order to secure food supplies, safeguard rural livelihoods, ensure that progress made over the years is not lost and prevent more rural people from falling into poverty and hunger,” they added.

Africa is addressing conflict, changing weather patterns, pests and the socio-economic impact of the Coronavirus Disease. Hunger levels on the continent are twice the world average.

IFAD is the only multilateral development organisation dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. In the letters, the African leaders called for a significant increase in contributions to IFAD’s 12th Replenishment, known as IFAD12 – a year-long consultative process during which member states come together to agree on strategic directions and mobilise funds for IFAD to provide as concessional loans and grants to developing countries.

IFAD’s Associate Vice President for External Relations and Governance, Marie Haga, said, “This support from the African heads of state is a testimony to the real impact IFAD is having on the lives and livelihoods of rural people in these countries.

“Their support demonstrates the importance of investing in rural areas to achieve national food security, environmental sustainability and economic development, which has a monumental impact on global stability and resilience.”

About 75 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods.

In the letters, the African leaders highlight the immense potential of African agriculture and the strong evidence that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty.

IFAD aims to deliver an overall programme of work of $10bn for the IFAD12 period (2022–2024), with over half of investments allocated to Africa. This would help more than 140m small-scale producers increase their production and raise their incomes through better market access and resilience, create jobs and improve food security and nutrition for those most at risk of being left behind.

“A successful replenishment has the potential to unlock billions of dollars in financing to transform rural economies and food systems around the world, as well as enable IFAD to double its impact by 2030 and contribute to ending poverty and hunger,” wrote the leaders.

As the pandemic sweeps across the world, the poor and the vulnerable suffer most, among them rural women, young people and small-scale farmers.

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