As the Covid-19 pandemic raged around the world pushing millions more people into hunger and poverty, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) increased its support for the most vulnerable and marginalised people.
With 203 ongoing projects and total financing of US$7.5 billion, IFAD was able to reach 123 million people in 2020, according to the IFAD Annual Report 2020 released today, reads a press release.
"Despite the challenges of 2020, we remain convinced that our vision of a world free of poverty and hunger is attainable and should remain in focus," said Gilbert F Houngbo, president of IFAD.
"Doing more to build the resilience of rural people does not only mean scaling up investments. It also means going further to reach the people most likely to be left behind, to ensure the rural women and men IFAD serves are better prepared to overcome the challenges they face."
As the impacts of the pandemic threatened to roll back years of development progress, disrupt food system and cause a secondary "hunger pandemic", IFAD country teams immediately began working with governments to adjust ongoing projects so rural people could maintain their income-generating activities and not be forced to sell their meagre assets.
IFAD works in 35 countries across Asia-Pacific, with 55 ongoing programmes and projects for a total investment of US$2.55 billion. This includes an additional US$ 365.8 million approved in 2020.
Rural people in Asia and the Pacific are facing a range of challenges and threats, with climate-related hazards being among the most severe. For groups who have traditionally faced exclusion, these threats are exacerbated. The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic have added to existing vulnerabilities, undermining food systems and livelihoods in the region.
Building resilience to multiple threats is a priority for IFAD in its work in Asia and the Pacific. Inclusion is a strong theme across our portfolio, with women, youth and ethnic minorities receiving particular attention.
In April 2020, IFAD launched the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) with support from its Executive Board and member states such as Canada and Germany that made contributions. The Facility has helped rural people hang on to their livelihoods in this difficult period while also maintaining the supply of food. With supply chains and transportation disrupted, small-scale farmers have received seeds, fertilizer and other support to continue planting and production. Support for digital services like e-marketing and e-money were increased. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Pacific Islands, Pakistan and Papua New Guinea are among the countries to receive assistance from the RPSF.
In 2020 IFAD stepped up its work with particularly marginalised groups including women, youth, disabled persons and indigenous peoples. New grass-roots activities were started, and 10 times as many people participated in the Fifth Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum as ever before.