What can Canada do RIGHT NOW to help reduce rural poverty and malnutrition?

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Despite significant progress in global food security since the beginning of the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, many developing countries are not on track to meeting Millennium Development Goal 1 – halving hunger and extreme poverty. However, next week donor countries have a once-in-3 years opportunity to accelerate progress toward this goal through replenishment of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Watch this video to learn how IFAD-funded farmer field schools are making a difference in the lives of women in Zanzibar

[youtube width=”600″ height=”335″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycOEuh33Lmg

On December 15 -16, IFAD member countries will meet in Rome and make pledges to cover the next 3 years of IFAD operations and lending. ONE supports robust “replenishment” pledges to IFAD for three main reasons: (1) the Fund’s mandate to reduce rural poverty through women, small-scale agriculture and rural development, (2) it is one of the more effective institutions working towards food security, and (3) it is a model of efficiency in international development.

Its mandate. Holding dual status as a UN agency and an international financial institution, IFAD focuses on small-scale farmers exclusively, thus playing a unique role in the global food security architecture. To date, IFAD has empowered more than 370 million rural poor people to make better lives for themselves and leveraged US$19.7 billion in co-financing for its projects. In 2010 alone, IFAD reached 43 million rural poor people.

Its effectiveness. According to a recent report, IFAD has strong monitoring and evaluation, aligns its aid with national development strategies, and performs very strongly in financial accountability and transparency. Additionally, because IFAD projects coordinate multiple donors, IFAD 9 gives donors an avenue to maintain their commitments to strategic coordination and the improvement of multilateral institutions. All this means that IFAD is one of the most effective agencies out there working on agriculture.

Its efficiency. In the Center for Global Development’s 2011 QuODA database, IFAD ranked in the top four aid institutions globally on indicators related to “maximizing efficiency.” Additionally, IFAD has continuously improved its already efficient model of operations. Likewise, the ratio of its overhead expenses has improved recently, shrinking from 16% in 2008 to a projected 12% in 2012. In times of tight donor budgets, countries should prioritize efficiency when investing resources.

For these reasons, the Cannes G20 Summit called on countries for a successful 9th replenishment of IFAD. In ONE’s view, donors should make pledges at or above the levels of those made during its last replenishment. This will ensure that some small-scale farmers continue to get the support they need to farm their way out of poverty.

During the last replenishment (IFAD 8), donors recognized the important role that IFAD plays in global food security, and they made substantial increases in their pledges for IFAD 8. We must keep those up. The leading replenishment pledges in IFAD 8 were:

  1. U.S. (USD 90 million)
  2. Italy (EUR 53 million)
  3. Netherlands (EUR 49 million)
  4. Sweden (SEK 460 million)
  5. Canada (CAN 75 million)

Although many donors, like Canada, are currently struggling to meet domestic obligations, they must not forget the world’s poorest, who often live in rural areas and suffer from what Roger Thurow has called the “tragic truism” of hungry farmers, i.e. those that grow food should not go to bed hungry. IFAD can help right this tragic truism and move us closer to meeting MDG 1. Thus, ONE calls on IFAD member countries to replenish IFAD at or above IFAD 8 levels next week in Rome. And we’ll be watching to see if they do.

If you are a Canadian citizen, call or send an email to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) through Tuesday, December 13th at (819) 997-5456 or [email protected] to voice your support of IFAD, small-scale farmers and rural poverty reduction.

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