Rome, 28 January 2000 -- A USD 23.15 million "Mountain Areas Development Programme" will support about 37 500 families (153 800 people) who are subject to considerable social and economic deprivation in the Republic of Albania. Of the total amount, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing USD 13.23 million loan to the government. An agreement was signed today at the Fund's Headquarters by H.E. Mr Anastas Angjeli, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Albania and Mr. Fawzi Hamad Al-Sultan, President of IFAD.
Programme activities will initially focus on fourteen mountain districts of Albania, comprising areas where IFAD already has supported some interventions; seven new districts are being added. The typical farming family comprises about four persons, who cultivate on sloping land, grow cereals, some tree crops like fruits, grapes, potatoes and own one cow and small ruminants. Families often supplement their meagre income from their sons working in cities or abroad. The estimated annual household income from farming in the mountains is about USD 1 150 (less than USD 290/capita).
The recent crisis in Kosovo led to a tide of refugees into Albania. Nearly 300 000 of an estimated half a million people were housed in private homes, adding to the strain on the family economy and the infrastructure system in the programme area.
The goal of the programme is to raise the standard of living of people in the poor mountain areas through increased agricultural production and incomes from agricultural and related rural enterprises, better household food security and improved infrastructure. Based on the experience gained from the two interventions previously financed by IFAD in Albania, and realizing that the establishment of an appropriate permanent coherent delivery mechanism is indispensable in transitional economies, the programme will establish a Mountain Areas Development Agency (MADA) which will be in charge of programming, planning, fund management and the provision of informational, technical, financial and managerial support for mountain areas development.
Beneficiaries will be involved in the final design and implementation of small irrigation schemes, in the production of seeds as members of seed growers associations, and as members of rural financial services.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development has so far extended 3 project loans to Albania on highly concessional terms, for a total loan amount of US dollars 33,853 million.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialised United Nations agency with a specific mandate to combat hunger and poverty by helping the rural poor in the poorest regions of the world. IFAD helps them increase their food production, raise their income and improve their health, nutrition and education standards. Between 1978 and 1998, IFAD has committed a total of USD 6.4 billion in loans and grants, for financing 520 projects in 113 developing countries. The total cost of these projects amounts to about USD 18.5 billion, which includes contributions from external co-financiers (USD 5.7 billion) and from government of recipient countries (USD 6.7 billion).