Community-based and last-mile infrastructure among most successful IFAD investments
Mar 26, 2021
Rome, 26 March 2021 – The construction of irrigation and drinking water infrastructure, roads, bridges and other forms of transport to and from markets are key ingredients of agricultural development programmes – and among IFAD’s most appreciated investments. These and other issues were presented earlier today, as IFAD country directors, technical experts and senior representatives of the Independent Office of Evaluation (IOE) met to discuss the findings of the 2020 evaluation synthesis report entitled ‘Infrastructure at IFAD (2001-2019)’.
With 30 per cent of all approved IFAD funding having gone towards infrastructure projects during the past twenty years, these investments constitute a very significant share of IFAD’s portfolio. IOE’s latest report confirms the important contribution of these investments towards poverty reduction, as well as their continued relevance and effectiveness.
The on-line webinar, which was open to the public, offered an important opportunity to share lessons and experiences on infrastructure based on the evidence collected from 35 IFAD-funded projects. During the event, IFAD country directors and technical advisors provided first-hand insights into issues related to the design, procurement and implementation of infrastructure investments on the ground. These perspectives were complemented by those shared by a panel of distinguished experts, who paved the way for a thought-provoking discussion on IFAD’s future projects by presenting options for green and pro-poor infrastructure investments.
Discussions centred on the positive track record and added value of IFAD-financed infrastructure projects. Specific issues included the importance of co-financing partnerships to provide infrastructure at scale, IFAD’s comparative advantage in the provision of small-scale, climate-smart and pro-poor infrastructure, and the increasing demand for infrastructure investments in partner countries, particularly in middle-income countries where the decreasing availability of concessional loans and grants drives the demand for productive investments.
In light of the above, experts recognized the urgency to reconcile IFAD’s strategic infrastructure approach with its infrastructure support capacity. Other areas that would require future attention include the decrease of investments in drinking water, the need for sustainable arrangements for infrastructure ownership and maintenance, and the limited availability of specialized technical staff and capacity to track the performance of infrastructure investments from design through to implementation and completion.
Looking ahead, the meeting concluded that increased future borrowing for infrastructure would need to remain closely linked to IFAD’s mandate to facilitate better access and sustainability for IFAD’s target groups, to enhance livelihoods resilience, to minimize elite capture and to safeguard the interests of poor and vulnerable groups. In this regard, the ongoing transition from government-owned and maintained infrastructure to more inclusive and stakeholder-owned models remains a top priority.