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Agencies pool funds to revitalise food systems hurt by Covid-19

The SD3C will benefit 123,000 rural households in cross-border areas of the six countries, reaching almost one million individuals.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development is revamping efforts to strengthen the resilience of rural communities impacted by conflict, climate change and Covid-19.

IFAD has announced it 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).

Also on the bandwagon is the G5 Sahel and the Green Climate Fund.

The efforts are meant to revitalise 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. 

IFAD’s Executive Board on December 9 approved a highly concessional loan of US$29.7 million and a grant of $13.7 million.

The funds will implement the first ever Joint RBA Programme for the Sahel in Response to the Challenges of Covid-19, conflict and climate change, abbreviated as SD3C.

The SD3C will benefit 123,000 rural households in cross-border areas of the six countries, reaching almost one million individuals. 

Access to finance
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, in a statement.

“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.

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