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At a time when hunger is on the rise due to conflict and climate change, the 176 Member States of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today announced a target for contributions that will support a US$3.5 billion programme of loans and grants, reducing poverty and hunger for tens of millions of rural people in developing countries around the world.

The target, announced during the final consultation of the eleventh replenishment of the Fund, will enable IFAD to expand the size of its programme of loans and grants by 10 per cent, while deepening and improving its operations over a three-year period from 2019 to 2021.

During that time, IFAD estimates the projects and programmes it supports will help 47 million smallholder farmers increase their production through access to technology, finance and knowledge, while improving access to markets for 46 million. Additionally, 24 million people will be enabled to develop greater resilience to the impacts of climate change and extreme weather, 12 million people will see improvement in their nutrition, and 44 million people will experience better economic status.

“To achieve these goals, IFAD will intensify its work on climate, nutrition and gender –  key focus areas which will be mainstreamed across our portfolio,” said IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo. “We will also sharpen our focus on youth employment in order to meet one of the most pressing challenges faced by the world today.”

Houngbo said the renewed commitment from Member States comes at a critical moment. Last September, newly released figures showed that hunger increased for the first time in 10 years affecting 815 million people in 2016, up 38 million from 2015 because of climate change and protracted crises.

As world leaders set their sights on ending hunger and poverty by 2030 as part of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Houngbo said it’s never been more important to scale up efforts and to invest in long-term development.

“We believe that IFAD has a unique role to play, not only as an investor but as a trusted broker, an assembler of development finance, and a proven innovator sharing its knowledge and expertise,” he said.

Houngbo stressed that Member State ODA contributions remain the financial bedrock of the institution and that for every dollar invested, IFAD mobilizes much more in cofinancing, generating even greater impact. However, he said that the current pace of development may not be sufficient to achieve the SDGs. As a result, IFAD will embark on an ambitious plan to increase its impact further by exploring new ways to leverage its resources, while also focusing on increasing domestic financing and developing new funding sources, including the private sector.

Three-quarters of the world’s poorest and hungry people live in rural areas. Ninety per cent of IFAD Member State contributions will go to lower-income and lower-middle income countries. An estimated 25 to 30 per cent will be invested in fragile situations.

IFAD is the only United Nations agency and international financial institution exclusively devoted to investing in rural areas and harnessing the potential of smallholder farmers and other rural people to contribute to sustainable development. By working with governments, civil society, the private sector, and other partners, IFAD increases investments that are transforming rural areas economically and socially. Every three years, Member States replenish the resources that the Fund provides as concessional loans and grants to developing countries. From 2010-2015, it is estimated that IFAD-supported projects moved 24 million people out of poverty.

As an indication of its strong Member State support, IFAD has the broadest participation in its replenishment of all international financial institutions, with more than 100 Member States across all regions and income levels providing contributions and sharing the burden of financing its operations.

Since its founding in 1977, IFAD has received approximately $8.5 billion in Member State contributions, which have financed investments of $19.7 billion and mobilized a further $27.1 billion from domestic and international partners.

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