Increased investment in Sahel will boost development and resilience of rural populations

– About one million rural people in the Sahel region will benefit from a new joint programme, the first of its kind, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced today. The US$180.4 million Regional Joint Programme will revitalize economic activities and food systems in the Group of Five Sahel countries and in the Republic of Senegal.

The project is known as the Regional Joint Programme Sahel in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change (SD3C) – G5 Sahel + 1 (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger) and the Republic of Senegal.

The financing agreements were signed in Ndjamena during the Ministerial Summit of G5 Sahel by Lassané Kaboré, Minister of Economy, Finance and Development of Burkina Faso, Issa Doubragne, Minister of Economy and Development Planning of Chad, Alousséni Sanou, Minister of Economy and Finance of Mali, Mamadou Diop, Minister of Finance of Niger, Maman Sidikou, Executive Secretary of G5 Sahel and Nadine Gbossa, Regional Director for West and Central Africa Division of IFAD. Ousmane Mamoudou Kane, Minister of Economic Affairs and the Promotion of Productive Sectors of Mauritania and Nadine Gbossa of IFAD also signed a letter of intent. Amadou Hott, Minister of Economy, Planning and Cooperation of Senegal signed the financing agreement with IFAD.

Over a six-year implementation period, the programme will include IFAD-financed activities implemented in two phases of three years each, with an estimated total cost in phase 1 of $55.7 million and in phase 2 of $53.3 million. In addition to the US$ 43.3 million approved by the IFAD Executive Board last December, IFAD will finance $65.6 million through future financing cycles or from development partners. The Green Climate Fund is contributing $71.4 million to the Regional Joint Programme.

This regional joint programme will be implemented together with the UN sister agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), as well as the G5 Sahel and the Green Climate Fund. It will strengthen the resilience of rural communities impacted by conflicts, climate change and the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The three Rome-based UN agencies’ experience in the Sahel will enable activities to be implemented quickly. Through their synergies, the agencies and their Member States aim to scale-up collaboration to support the Sustainable Development Goals. The Joint Programme with the G5 Sahel+1 stands on the “Resilience” pillar of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel (UNISS), and contributes to the “Resilience and Human Development” axis of the G5 Sahel Priority Investment Programme.

With some exceptions, most of the countries included in SD3C are undergoing conflict, particularly in border areas, which increases fragility. Terrorist attacks are frequent and often affect non-military targets, such as civilian populations, particularly in remote rural areas. Population displacements have resulted in large numbers of internal and external refugees, whose economic vulnerability has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SD3C will enhance business partnerships between farmers and pastoralists through training initiatives and by strengthening cross-border markets for agricultural inputs and produce. Marketplaces and rural infrastructure, including roads and small-scale irrigation, will be improved. The promotion of market information systems and cashless exchanges through ICT platforms will enable secure transactions at borders.

Women, who typically have limited access to land and finance, will make up 50 per cent of the programme’s participants. About 40 per cent will be young people, who face high rates of unemployment and will receive help in launching productive activities to gain decent incomes. Landless people and transhumant pastoralists will also be targeted. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, beneficiaries will learn about market management practices and hygiene, and health measures used to mitigate the spread of the virus.

While in Chad, Nadine Gbossa of IFAD will also meet with high-ranking government officials to discuss partnerships and IFAD new investments in the country. She will also visit the IFAD-supported Strengthening Productivity and Resilience of Agropastoral Family Farms Project to see first-hand the impact of IFAD’s investment on small-scale farmers in the rural areas of the country.

IFAD has financed 93 programmes and projects in G5 Sahel countries plus Senegal for a total of $ 3.3 billion, including $ 1.6 billion from IFAD’s own resources, directly benefitting nearly 4 million rural households.

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