The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is joining with the other Rome-based UN agencies (RBAs) – 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 to revitalize economic activities and food systems in the Group of Five Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger) and in the Republic of Senegal. These efforts will strengthen the resilience of rural communities impacted by conflict, climate change and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
IFAD’s Executive Board today approved a highly concessional loan of US$29.7 million and a grant of $13.7 million to implement the first ever Joint RBA Programme for the Sahel in Response to the Challenges of COVID-19, Conflict and Climate Change (SD3C).
SD3C will benefit 123,000 rural households in cross-border areas of the six countries, reaching almost 1 million individuals. Women, who typically have limited access to land and finance, will make up 50 per cent of the project’s participants. About 40 per cent will be young people, who face high rates of unemployment. Landless people and transhumant pastoralists also stand to gain from the project’s activities.
With the exception of Senegal, 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. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates their economic vulnerability.
“If we want peace and development in the Sahel region, we must invest in agriculture and in social capital. In particular, we must create jobs for youth,” said Benoît Thierry, IFAD Representative and Country Director for Senegal. “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”.
The programme will enhance business partnerships between farmers and pastoralists through training initiatives and by strengthening cross-border markets for agricultural inputs and produce. 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.
Farming households will receive training in agricultural best practices as well as kits. Rural communities and vulnerable groups will receive training on sustainable livestock management, risk management, development of small and medium enterprise business plans, conflict prevention and resolution and social mediation. In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, beneficiaries will learn about good market hygiene, and other health measures used to mitigate the spread of the virus. Value chains will be reorganised to relaunch local economies.
The three RBA’s experience in the Sahel indicates that the SD3C programme activities can be implemented quickly. A synergistic approach is being put forward by FAO, IFAD and WFP member states to promote greater collaboration to support the Sustainable Development Goals. Their joint action with the G5 Sahel+1 represents 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.
The total cost of the programme over its six-year implementation period will be US$180.4 million. 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 in phase 2 of $53.3 million. In addition to the US$ 43.3 million approved by its Executive Board today, 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 joint programme.