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AfDB-IFAD: 30 Years of Abiding Partnership against Rural Poverty
Rome, 13 February 2008 — The 30th Anniversary Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) got underway on Wednesday in Rome, where many partners and stakeholders, including the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group’s President, Donald Kaberuka, reiterated the laudable achievement of their cooperation with the UN agency and the need for them to leverage and pool resources to tackle emerging challenges facing agriculture and rural development especially in Africa.
"Over the last 30 years, the AfDB and IFAD have forged a strong partnership which is set to grow even further. Our two institutions account for 50% of multilateral development assistance to agriculture in Africa. And our role in supporting rural development will remain critical," Mr. Kaberuka said in a keynote statement he delivered at the opening session.
Mr. Kaberuka highlighted emerging challenges facing agriculture and rural development in Africa, including growing disparities in rapid growth on the continent, mass migration of the rural poor to urban slums, and the tenuous nature of rural livelihoods in the face of climate change.
"While there are no easy answers, it is clear that in the overall scheme of policy responses, a number of areas must assume even greater importance: the role of smallholder agriculture, small- and medium- businesses, and the participation of youth and women," he added.
Ghana’s Vice-President, Aliu Mahama, and Cameroon’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Jean Nkueté, delivered statements on behalf of their respective presidents. The Managing Director of the World Bank, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and IFAD President, Lennart Båge, also delivered profound statements at the occasion.
Highlighting the importance of the Bank’s collaboration with IFAD and its sister organizations, including the World Bank., Mr. Kaberuka noted that there was renewed attention to agriculture, as reflected in the Bank’s active agricultural portfolio of US$ 2.1 billion, or 35% of its ongoing operations. He cautioned, however, that "As we commit more resources to agriculture, we must do so drawing on lessons of the past."
Messrs. Kaberuka and Båge signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the AfDB and IFAD, prepared by a joint AfDB-IFAD Committee set up in May 2007, to review an agreement signed by them on 25 July 1978, for close cooperation in the promotion of common goals. These include reducing rural poverty and hunger, enhancing the capacities of the rural poor, promoting rural business and linkages, and supporting good governance in Africa.
The MOU calls for more focused collaboration between the two institutions in order to ensure an enhanced level of partnership which will reinforce IFAD as the AfDB’s premier operational partner in agriculture and rural development.
The two institutions re-affirmed their commitment to focus their enhanced strategic partnership on efforts to mitigate climate change, and protect the Congo River Basin, improve fertilizer supply financing mechanism and rural infrastructure.
At the operational level, IFAD and the AfDB will promote joint planning, and portfolio review of co-financed projects, joint project design, appraisal and supervision missions, joint monitoring and evaluation, and the harmonization of loan administration, procurement and disbursement procedures.
Since starting collaboration 30 years ago, the AfDB and IFAD have formulated, implemented and co-financed 35 operations for a total amount of US$ 2.4 billion.