Reehana Rifat Raza, the Regional Director for the Asia and Pacific Division at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), was on mission to Bangladesh this week -on her first official visit to the region since being appointed.
The purpose of the visit was to meet with government counterparts, key development partners, the IFAD team in Bangladesh and to visit ongoing projects in the field, reads a press release.
In Dhaka, the IFAD delegation met with Amal Krishna Mandal, the Additional Secretary and Wing Chief, Economic Relations Division of the Ministry of Finance.
She praised the Government of Bangladesh for pledging US$2 million to IFAD's 2022-2024 replenishment cycle. This is the highest amount that Bangladesh has pledged during its 42-year membership to the fund.
Raza visited activities implemented under IFAD's Bangladesh portfolio, which is composed of eight ongoing projects with a total investment of US$1.25 billion, including IFAD financing of $475 million, making Bangladesh IFAD's second-largest country programme overall.
"It is a priority for IFAD to invest in a country like Bangladesh that seeks to address development work in key thematic areas such as climate change, youth, gender, food security and nutrition in its current and future development goals," said Raza.
She also commended the robust implementing capacity of national partners, which has been key to the success of the large and complex development portfolio.
Reehana Rifat Raza is an economist with over 20 years of experience formulating and managing innovative economic research while providing technical assistance in human development, governance, and service delivery. Raza joined IFAD in May 2022 from the Urban Institute in Washington DC, USA. She previously served as a Senior Economist at The World Bank and as an adjunct faculty member at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.
"Bangladesh has been doing tremendous work in rural development, empowering women and youth, transforming food systems and building climate resilience – all key interventions to achieving the sustainable development goals. Bangladesh being the first country visited by the new Asia and the Pacific Regional Director clearly shows the importance of the long-standing and successful partnership between the Government of Bangladesh and IFAD," said Arnoud Hameleers, IFAD Country Director, Bangladesh.
In a meeting with Mercy Tembon, World Bank Country Director, Bangladesh, Raza noted the ongoing partnership in increasing smallholders' access to markets and boosting agricultural productivity in Bangladesh. She also underscored the importance of sector-wide collaborative efforts to build long-term resilience to climate change and ensure food and nutrition security for all.
Raza also met with Edimon Ginting, Asian Development Bank Country Director, Bangladesh, to discuss a new co-financed project that will build the climate resilience of rural communities by improving their capacity to manage small-scale water resources management. This initiative builds on the success of previous project partnerships.
The IFAD delegation travelled to Jashore District to visit IFAD interventions implemented by Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) under the Promoting Agricultural Commercialization and Enterprises (PACE) project. Raza was able to meet with project participants who have benefited from micro-loans, training and access to innovative technologies. She saw how their participation in these activities has enabled their families to generate more income and create sustainable livelihoods.
Raza was joined by IFAD's Director for the Operational Policy and Results Division, Nigel Brett and the Lead Portfolio Advisor of the Asia and the Pacific Region, Liam Francis Chicca.