afrol News, 22 May - A rural development programme agreement was signed yesterday between the Nigerian government and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Nigeria was given a US$ 29.9 million credit on highly concessional terms to co-finance the programme to be implemented in the eight northern Nigerian states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Jigawa, Yobe, Kano and Borno.
The programme is to support the government's efforts "to address rural poverty by identifying the most deprived people and empowering them to effectively participate in development activities," according to a statement made by IFAD.
IFAD says the overall goal was to improve the livelihoods and living conditions of poor rural communities in the programme area, with special emphasis on women and other vulnerable groups. "This goal will be pursued by using federal, state and local government, community and IFAD resources in at least 234 village's areas in 8 Northern states of Nigeria."
In line with the on-going decentralisation process in Nigeria, the programme particularly was to "strengthen the local governments and village-level communities." Local partners of the programme were to participate in the implementation in the field.
IFAD informed that the project included five main types of activities: community awareness; empowerment and capacity building; sustainable agricultural development; rural microenterprise and financial support services; and village-level community infrastructure.
Since 1985 to date, IFAD has financed five projects in Nigeria, for a total loan commitment of about USD 102 million. All projects have focused on the needs of poor rural communities, smallholder farmers, artisanal fishermen, the rural landless and targeted women in particular.