Rome 25 June 2007 - A new US$10.9 million programme supported by IFAD will bring small loans and jobs to poor rural people in Sierra Leone. About 34,000 rural households will take part. The programme will focus on the four remote eastern districts of Koinadugu, Kono, Kailahun and Kenema.
This is the second development programme supported by IFAD in the war-torn country since the end of the civil strife and the installation of an elected government in 2002.
"To consolidate peace, the programme's primary target is young people, including ex-combatants, sexually abused young women and single mothers," said IFAD's country programme manager for Sierra Leone, Mohamed Tounessi. "IFAD is the only donor working in Koinadugu, the largest district covered by the programme and the most remote in the country."
The Rural Finance and Community Improvement Programme will be funded largely by a grant of US$9.9 million from IFAD. As a highly vulnerable indebted country, Sierra Leone is eligible for 100 per cent grant assistance under IFAD's newly approved debt sustainability framework.
The grant agreement was signed today by Foday Duramani Mohamed Seisay, Ambassador of the Republic of Sierra Leone to IFAD, and Lennart Båge, President of IFAD. The Government will provide additional financing of US$500,000, and programme participants will contribute another US$500,000.
The programme will establish rural financial services, using a model that IFAD has developed and applied successfully in Benin for 10 years. Villagers will learn how to set up and operate their own financial services associations, which will build equity and make microcredit available to their shareholders - ideally a few months after they are established.
The programme will also create jobs for young people and rebuild key infrastructure like roads, water supplies, schools and health centres.
All community members, and women in particular, will be involved in deciding on their priority needs. Villagers will select the activities they want to pursue. The programme will also conduct awareness-building campaigns, particularly about HIV/AIDS and nutrition.
With this programme, IFAD will have financed six programmes and projects in Sierra Leone for a total commitment of US$57 million.
IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, it develops and finances projects that enable poor rural people to overcome poverty themselves. There are 185 ongoing IFAD-supported rural poverty eradication programmes and projects, totalling US$6.1 billion. IFAD has invested US$2.9 billion in these initiatives. Cofinancing has been provided by governments, beneficiaries, multilateral and bilateral donors and other partners. At full development, these programmes will help nearly 77 million poor rural women and men to achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Since starting operations in 1978, IFAD has invested US$9.5 billion in 732 programmes and projects that have helped more than 300 million poor rural men and women achieve better lives for themselves and their families. Governments and other financing sources in the recipient countries, including project participants, have contributed US$9.1 billion, and multilateral, bilateral and other donors have provided another US$7.1 billion in cofinancing.
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