Rome — A four-day regional forum organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in collaboration with the Gambian government will be held in Banjul, The Gambia from 12 to 14 November 2012.
The Gambian Minister of Agriculture, Solomon Owens and IFAD Director for West and Central Africa Division, Ides de Willebois, will open the forum on 12 November 2012.
The theme of the IFAD-sponsored forum is "Results-based Management for Sustaining Rural Poverty Reduction - Lessons learned and Challenges." More than 250 participants are expected to attended including representatives of IFAD-funded projects, regional governments, development agencies and the private sector, as well as members of civil society and farmers' organizations.
Participants will review the performance and impact of IFAD operations on the livelihoods of the rural poor, in particular smallholder farmers in West and Central Africa. In addition, they will examine results-based planning, financial and budget management, effective partnerships, monitoring and evaluation , and performance and scaling up or replicating successes. A regional action plan will be developed along the lines of the theme of the forum, which will be assessed at the next forum.
IFAD's 2011 Development Effectiveness Report indicates positive progress in the region. The region, however, still faces challenges such as food price volatility, weak institutions, poor governance or transparency, and socio-political instability.
In West and Central Africa, agriculture is the main activity and contributes to 30 per cent of the countries' economy and employs 60 per cent of the population. Although its contribution to countries in the region is generally less than its share of the gross domestic product, the sector scores better than Sub-Saharan Africa countries as a whole. Many of the governments in West and Central Africa recognize the importance of investment in agriculture to stimulate growth for poverty reduction.
Prior to the forum, starting on 10 November, the International Water Management Institute and IFAD will organize a two-day event on "Improving Outcomes of Agricultural Water Management Investments: research results, lessons learned, and innovative new opportunities."
IFAD has 58 ongoing projects and programmes in 23 countries in West and Central Africa totaling US$ 990.5 million of IFAD financing. Seventy-six per cent of the portfolio (44 projects totaling $ 796.9 million) is concentrated in West Africa and the remaining 24 per cent (14 projects totaling $ 193.5 million) in Central Africa. IFAD's operations in the region support production and productivity based agricultural-led poverty reduction.
In The Gambia, since 1982, IFAD has financed nine programmes and projects for a total amount of $53.6 million. There are currently three ongoing programmes in the country: the Livestock and Horticulture Development Project , the Rural Finance Project and the Participatory Integrated-Watershed Management Project .
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested about US$14.3 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries through projects empowering over 400 million people to break out of poverty, thereby helping to create vibrant rural communities.
IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome - the United Nations' food and agriculture hub. It is a unique partnership of 168 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).