The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) held it 31st Board Meeting in Colombo recently, taking decisions on key issues to further promote regional integration and economic cooperation among its eight Member States.
Two projects – ‘Consortium for scaling up climate smart agriculture in South Asia’ and ‘Second phase of the Inter-professional Master’s Program in Rehabilitation Science’ – were approved.
The Project – Consortium for scaling up climate smart agriculture in South Asia – with International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and through SDF’s funding will promote sustainable and resilient agricultural intensification in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka through enhanced Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) capacity and technologies. The project will be implemented by National Agricultural Research and Extension Systems (NARES) and SAARC Agricultural Centre (SAC).
SDF CEO Dr. Sunil Motiwal said that this project, worth $ 3.32 million, will directly benefit over 7,500 smallholder farmers as well as researchers, extension workers, and policymakers in Afghanistan, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
“Impacts of climate change are being felt across South Asia, and we believe that there is a need to enhance adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers,” he said.
Smallholders will participate in validation of CSA technologies and will benefit from training, exposure visits, and knowledge events. Hence overall, more than 100,000 smallholders will benefit indirectly from development of strategies for scaling up CSA technologies. This is in addition to IFAD’s approved regional grant to support the launch of C-SUCSeS in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
The second project approved by the Board – Second phase of the Inter-professional Master’s Program in Rehabilitation Science for $ 1.5 million– will develop highly qualified professionals in the area of Rehabilitation Science to enable the provision of quality rehabilitation policies and services to people with disabilities in all the eight SAARC Member States. The Master’s Program is offered at the Bangladesh Health Professions Institute (BHPI), Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP).
Through this project, there will be 150 direct beneficiaries, 660 graduate and undergraduate students as secondary beneficiaries annually, and 234,432 patients or people with disabilities, or people with chronic health conditions, per year as ultimate beneficiaries.
The SDF, since its inception in April 2010 by Heads of the eight SAARC Member States, is mandated to build regional integration and economic cooperation through project funding in all the SAARC Member States – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The Secretariat is based in Thimphu Bhutan.
SDF’s governance structure includes its Governing Council comprising Finance Ministers of the eight SAARC Member States, and its Board of Directors comprises representatives from the Ministry of Finance of each Member State. The SDF Secretariat is headed by the Chief Executive Officer.
SDF has an authorised capital of $ 1.5 billion and total capital base of $ 511.52 million. Currently, SDF is implementing 80 projects under its Social Window funding scheme with a fund commitment of $ 73.74 million, and two more projects have been approved in principle in the social sector, five projects under the economic and infrastructure windows (including two in-principle approved projects) with a fund commitment of $ 73 million and MSME program with a fund allocation of $ 50 million in SAARC Member States. The cumulative fund commitment under the three funding windows, including the MSME program, stands at $ 197.4 million.
“Further, more than 10 bankable projects, including projects in Sri Lanka, are also under active consideration of SDF to co-finance in SAARC Member States,” said Dr. Sunil Motiwal.