The Saudi Fund for Development and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) strengthened their partnership today to support a $35.3 million project aimed at providing income-generating opportunities for women and men in coastal communities in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the side lines of the Islamic Development Bank’s annual meeting by Yousef I. Al-Bassam, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the Saudi Fund, and Michel Mordasini, Vice-President of IFAD. Earlier, Mordasini addressed participants at the IsDB meeting, which marks its 40th anniversary.
While agriculture accounts for roughly one fifth of Pakistan’s economy, rural women and men continue to make up a majority of the country’s poor people. The sharp rise in international oil and food prices in 2008 had a devastating impact on the country’s economy and widespread floods in 2010 added to its troubles threatening to reverse earlier improvements in poverty reduction.
The MOU specifically highlights the Saudi Fund’s contribution of $3.3 million for the on-going, IFAD-supported Gwadar-Lasbela Livelihoods Support Project, which is connecting small fishers to regional markets. The two target districts of Gwadar and Lasbela share three quarters of Pakistan’s coastline, where more than 60 per cent of the population lives in poverty. Because of their distance from the capital and limited connections with the rest of the country, these districts remain underdeveloped despite large fishing grounds and ample growth potential. To address these challenges, the project is improving infrastructure and marketing facilities, enhancing communities’ access to capital, and strengthening community and village organizations. The project aims to increase the incomes and enhance the livelihoods of rural and fishers’ households in the two regions.
The Saudi Fund announced two years ago an allocation of up to $12 million in grant resources to co-fund IFAD-supported projects in Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.
A founding member of IFAD, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia played a key role in the establishment of IFAD. The agreement establishing IFAD was negotiated under its first President, Abdelmuhsin M. Al-Sudeary of Saudi Arabia, who led the organization from 1977 until 1984. As a contributor to IFAD, Saudi Arabia has provided more than $466 million to combat hunger and poverty in developing countries.