More than half of the population in the Sub-Saharan Africa lives under extreme poverty (US$ 1/day). This prevalence of poverty is higher than anywhere else in the world. Difficult conditions, droughts, famines, desertification, political conflicts, and under development continues to affect nearly 400 million poor in the region. This extreme poverty is causing nearly 240 million people suffer from continuing hunger. And these numbers are painfully and persistently increasing. Extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has not only resulted in malnutrition of millions of children, women, and elderly, but is also a principal cause of several other problems including high infant and child mortality rate, high maternal mortality rate, high incidence of communicable diseases, high incidence of treatable blindness, and low literacy.
Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa remains a rural phenomenon - where more than 50% of the population lives. 70-80% of the rural population lives on subsistence agriculture for livelihood. With little or no access to clean drinking water, energy, primary healthcare, and primary education, rural Sub-Sahara’s needs for development are immense, to say the least. It also provides an equally immense opportunity as there is a huge potential for development in agriculture, livestock and social businesses, which can transform the lives of Sub-Saharans, lift them out of poverty and make them active economic agents. Innovative and high-impact investments can generate tremendous impact and results.
IDB and ISFD in Sub-Sahara
Realizing the urgency for developmental interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) has launched a number of initiatives, for example, Special Program for Development of Africa and Bilingual Education, to name a few.
To take the fight against poverty to new heights, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), which is the poverty alleviation arm of IDB, has launched several programs in the Sub-Sahara, including Anti-blindness Campaign, Microfinance Support Program, Vocational Literacy Program and the Sustainable Villages Program.
The ISFD Sustainable Villages Program (SVP)
To combat hunger, poverty, disease and illiteracy in rural Sub-Sahara, the ISFD has recently launched an integrated, inclusive, and innovative initiative, the Sustainable Villages Program (SVP). With the help of new advances in science and technology, and the support of local and international experts, the Program will offer a “big push” to rural communities in selected countries. This ‘big push’ will address villagers’ needs in terms of essential services, which affect their daily standards of living and overall quality of life. These services relate to different sectors at the communities/villages’ level, including infrastructure, agriculture, health, education, communication, transportation, microfinance and the environment.
The overarching objective of the Sustainable Village Program (SVP) is to “Reduce extreme poverty in the selected cluster of villages in the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the help of low-cost, sustainable, community-driven and high-impact multi-sectoral development interventions that are tailored to the villages’ specific needs and designed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by end of 2015.”
The Sustainable Villages Program (SVP) will be guided by the following core principles:
i. Ensuring ownership of the MDGs: led by local communities, owned by governments and working in close partnership with NGOs, civil society, community based organisations, international/national developmental institutions and other donors.
ii. Promoting innovative, integrated, and inclusive development interventions coupled with community development, capacity building, knowledge sharing, and community-driven awareness campaigns.
iii. Promoting public private partnerships in the transformation process, including partnerships with NGOs, philanthropists, academic institutions and research centres, charity organizations and individuals.
The Program will cover – in its first phase - six IDB member countries over the coming 3-years. During the first phase, it has already been launched in Chad and Sudan during 1432H/2011G and will be launched for Mozambique and Kyrgyz Republic during 1433H/2012G for the second phase. In the third phase, Niger and Guinea will benefit from the programme.
Program Scope & Design
The Program Scope includes investments in the sectors that directly feeds towards the achievement of the MDGs.
A. Agriculture, Livestock and Environment (development of demonstration farms, storage ponds, irrigation well, storage facilities, village market places, agricultural equipment and inputs, veterinary pharmacies, etc.)
B. Community and Business Development (Training and capacity building, microfinance, bee-keeping initiatives, nurseries and demonstration farms for Acacia Senegal)
C. Health (Construction of primary healthcare units, mobile health clinic, medical subsidies, qualified staff, health information system)
D. Education (Construction of primary schools, education subsidies, school feeding programs, training of teachers, income generating activities)
E. Rural Infrastructure (Clean drinking water, rural roads, demonstration solar panels)
F. Program Management Organization (operations, monitoring and evaluation, administration, extension)
G. Consultancy and Technical Support Services (monitoring and evaluation, technical support, backstopping)
H. Financial Audit (auditing, reporting)
I. Trade Promotion and Facilitation (training and capacity building for trade)
Total cost for this Program is US$ 20.20 million/per country. The ISFD will contribute US$ 10 million as a soft loan and US$ 200,000 as grant per program/per country. Governments of Chad and Sudan will also contribute US$ 2.00 million each, and a remaining gap of US$ 8.00 million/per program will be bridged through partners and co-financiers.
Project Outcomes and Impacts
Following are the expected key results from SVP:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education, for boys and girls.
3. Improve child and maternal health and significantly reduce communicable diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and others)
4. Improve food security by increasing agricultural production
5. Support business development by providing access to microfinance
6. Achieve environmental sustainability
In summary, the SVP is really focused on bringing fundamental socio-economic changes in the selected cluster of villages/communities. The Program is not only geared to help these villages achieve the MDGs, but also help these communities sustain the momentum of development after the Program has been fully implemented. The aim is to empower the villages’ communities and provide them with the basic means/facilities so that they can take it on thereon. It is about giving the ownership to the village communities and charging them with responsibility of maintaining the benefits of development. With SVP, it is hoped that we will create success stories which can be scaled up and replicated elsewhere in the world. It is about developing a sustainable model of integrated, inclusive, and innovative development for communities which are far behind, in terms of human and social development and have little hope for future. With SVP, the ISFD, along with its partners and supporters, will not only be providing resources to these communities, but we will also be inspiring hope, fighting poverty and building solidarity.
Through this briefing paper, ISFD calls upon the donors’ community, NGOs, private sector organizations, and philanthropists to come forth and contribute to the Sustainable Village Program, help make it a success and help millions of poor people around the world break away from the vicious circle of abject poverty.