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New IFAD Funding for Afghans

New IFAD Funding for AfghansNew IFAD Funding for Afghans

A UN agency has signed an agreement with the government of Afghanistan to help ensure food security and improved economic status of thousands of rural households suffering from frequent food shortages in the war-torn country.

The financing agreement was signed recently by Kanayo F. Nwanze, president of International Fund for Agricultural Development, and Eklil Ahmad Hakimi, minister for finance of Afghanistan, a statement from the UN agency said, Albawaba reported.

Under the deal, the Support to National Priority Program, designed to improve livelihoods and access to food for approximately 57,000 households in six districts in Balkh, Herat and Nangarhar provinces, will include $48.5 million in financing from IFAD.

The Microfinance Investment Support Facility for Afghanistan will provide $2.5 million and another $3.8 million will be financed by the government and the beneficiaries, the statement said.

The new initiative will focus on strengthening Afghanistan’s institutional capacity to provide agricultural development services, as well as improve productivity, infrastructure and market linkages to increase smallholder farmers’ incomes.

In addition, the initiative will help nomadic herders – known as Kuchis –and rural women engage in crop production and livestock management.

This is the first initiative in a 15-year program to support the country’s rural development efforts. “Three-quarters of the Afghan population lives in rural areas, and 40% of rural households suffer from shortages of food,” said Omer Zafar, IFAD country program manager for Afghanistan. “Supporting improved access to food and economic opportunities is fundamental in the effort to lift Afghanistan out of poverty.”

In Afghanistan, rural families are often forced to cope with a multitude of challenges including conflict, economic and political crisis, and natural disasters. To survive, most rural households reduce essential consumption and food quality, purchase food on trader credit and take out high-interest loans to pay for daily necessities.

IFAD has been working in Afghanistan since 1979. Currently, the fund is investing a total $136.4 million in three programs, with a total cost of $152.4 million including co-financing, reaching more than 276,500 rural households.

Financialtribune.com