7 June 2022, Nairobi, Kenya: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today officially opened its East and Southern Africa regional office to help the institution meet its goal of reducing hunger and poverty. With three quarters of the poorest people in the world living in rural areas and depending mainly on agriculture for their livelihoods. But climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts of conflicts have the potential to push millions of vulnerable people into extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.
Since 1977, IFAD has made major investments in reducing poverty, increasing food security, improving nutrition and strengthening rural people’s resilience by providing more than US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to fund programmes and projects in developing countries. Last year, IFAD-supported projects reached an estimated 130 million people.
“The opening of the regional office is a key milestone for IFAD’s decentralization process, which seeks to build on the achievements by the institution for more than four decades. The increase of our presence in the region is also a demonstration of our commitment to serve the last mile, reaching the most marginalized people,” said Guoqi Wu, IFAD Associate Vice President, Corporate Services Department.
In East and Southern Africa, agriculture is the largest sector, employing 65 per cent of the labour force and accounting for over 30 per cent of the region’s GDP. Maize, wheat, rice, millet, potatoes and cassava are the main agricultural trade commodities, generating an estimated annual trade revenue of US$50 billion. Unfortunately, there has been a decline in agricultural production triggered by shocks such as climate change, COVID-19 and conflicts.
“The East and Southern Africa regional office in Nairobi will facilitate IFAD catalyze public and private investments in agriculture to benefit rural communities and enterprises in the 22 countries that we serve in the region,” said Sara Mbago-Bhunu, IFAD Regional Director for East and Southern Africa. “This will not only help position IFAD as a leader on food systems transformation but also enable the institution to scale up new and innovative approaches.”
The regional office will be hosted at the UN Complex in Gigiri and will support portfolio performance, facilitate country programme knowledge sharing, streamline business processes, crowd-in development finance, and expand partnerships, resource mobilization and policy engagement.
The office will serve 22 countries in the region: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Today, the region has 50 ongoing IFAD-supported projects and programmes valued at US$4.2 billion spread over 17 countries.