Islamic Development Bank, Earth Institute partner on MDGs in rural Africa

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Earth Institute (Columbia University) formed a partnership in 2011 to work with African nations to support their efforts to end extreme poverty. The IsDB and the Earth Institute and its partner, Millennium Promise, are pleased to announce that the IsDB and its poverty reduction arm, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), have now extended more than $100 million in financing to help eight African nations combat extreme poverty, improve public health and achieve more sustainable development.

In each of these projects, host governments will partner with the IsDB, the Earth Institute and Millennium Promise to carry out the projects. The Earth Institute, led by its Millennium Development Goals Centers in East and West Africa, and Millennium Promise, will provide technical, operational and scientific guidance to the nations involved in the new initiative.

"The Islamic Development Bank is showing great and innovative leadership in addressing poverty in its member states," said Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute.  "In these new programs, the bank is applying cutting-edge methods to the fight against poverty, hunger and disease. It is a privilege and honor to be working along with the IsDB on this bold undertaking."

The combined $104 million will finance three major programs:

  • The ISFD's new flagship Sustainable Villages Program (SVP) in Chad, Mozambique, and Sudan ($40 million)
  • Scale-ups of the Millennium Villages Project in Mali, Senegal and Uganda ($29 million)  
  • Implementation of the Drylands Initiative in Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda ($35 million)

Spearheading the financing initiative is IsDB's president,  Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, who explained, "Alleviating poverty is part of the IsDB's Mission, and it will be better achieved if we cooperate with parties that have successful experience in the field. This is why IsDB, many member countries of which are among the least developed in the world, is partnering with the Earth Institute, which brings rich practical expertise that will help us ensure that our financing is effective."

The $104 million will be provided in the form of Islamic finance (long-term repayments at zero interest rates) to the recipient  countries, except in the case of a grant provided to Somalia. All of these countries are members of the bank.

"This new partnership between the Islamic Development Bank, Earth Institute, Millennium Promise, the MDG Centers and the eight Africa nations is a true measure of the steadfast commitment of all to achieve the Millennium Development Goals," said Amadou Niang, director of the MDG Centre for West Africa. "The countries have seen first-hand the impacts of the Millennium Villages project. The fact that they are now taking loans to bring lessons learned to scale across nations is tremendous testament to their ownership of the development program. We are very proud to work with these nations and the Islamic Development Bank to scale-up and help realize their vision and dedication to the MDGs."

The Islamic Development Bank's Sustainable Villages Project builds on the experience gained over the past seven years in the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), as well as the bank's long-standing and extensive work throughout Africa in fighting poverty. Both the MVP and SVP include an integrated package of science-based services and technologies to help rural African communities to improve public health, agriculture, education and standard of living.

For the SVP, the Millennium Villages Project team will provide technical and operational advice to the governments of Sudan, Chad and Mozambique in Africa, and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia, where the Sustainable Villages Project will be carried out. The aims are to accelerate deployment and implementation of innovative technologies and ensure that lessons learned in the Millennium Villages inform the design of the new programs, and that the systems in health, education and agriculture are up to national and international standards.

In support of the request of the bank's member countries, the IsDB is also providing financing to Mali, Senegal and Uganda to scale-up the existing Millennium Village work with the help of the Millennium Villages Project.

In addition, the Islamic Development Bank will be financing dryland nations including Djibouti, Somalia and Uganda, all facing tremendous sustainable development challenges, to implement interventions aimed at achieving the Millennium Development Goals and increasing resilience to droughts and other climate shocks. The Millennium Villages project will provide both advice and technical development expertise to the nations.

"Millennium Village interventions can be adapted to improve lives in even the most challenging contexts," said Belay Begashaw, director of the MDG Centre for East Africa. "Our long-term solution to boosting resilience of communities to weather shocks and diminishing the reliance on emergency relief is now serving as an important model for many parts of Africa beyond the current MVP host countries. Best practices and cutting-edge technologies of the MVP will now support the regional effort to escape the scourges of extreme poverty and famine. We are proud to work with IsDB on this exciting effort."

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