ROME: The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) have joined forces to deliver sustainable access to nutritious food in the world’s most impoverished countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Saudi Royal Court and supervisor general at KSrelief, and Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of IFAD, signed a joint cooperation agreement at the UN agency’s headquarters in Rome in order to respond with concrete action to escalating hunger and malnutrition around the world that has resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both organizations share a mission to alleviate poverty and hunger. As part of the agreement, they will draw on their respective expertise and reach, and share knowledge to jointly address malnutrition and hunger. This includes collaborating on the strategy, design and implementation of projects in impoverished countries, including Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
“This agreement is a further step to expand the partnership between Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief, and IFAD, which aims to help many people in need and expand the humanitarian scope of Saudi Arabia globally,” said Al-Rabeeah.
“KSrelief is a leading humanitarian organization that has managed to build a wide network of partnerships aiming to alleviate the suffering of those in need. We look forward to building a solid partnership with IFAD, aiming to widen our scope of work.”
Houngbo said: “COVID-19 has amplified the hardships faced by the world’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are now experiencing an increase in hunger and poverty. It is vital for like-minded organizations to join forces to combat this.
“I welcome this opportunity to collaborate with KSrelief to ensure that people living in the most dire situations can sustainably grow, market and consume enough nutritious food.”
An international financial institution and UN agency, IFAD has provided more than $23 billion in grants and low interest loans to help vulnerable countries reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition and increase rural peoples’ resilience to shocks.
In 2019, IFAD opened a liaison office with Gulf Cooperation Council countries in Riyadh in order to strengthen partnerships within the region.
KSrelief was founded in 2015 by King Salman to be the humanitarian arm of Saudi Arabia.
To date, it has spent $5.26 billion, supporting more than 1,600 projects in 68 countries, with a focus on women and children, food security and nutrition, health, education, shelter, water, sanitation, and humanitarian and emergency relief coordination.
Following the signing of the new partnership, senior IFAD officials told Arab News that Saudi Arabia has played “a major role” in the organization since 1977. “It has been a key supporter of the fund for the past 40 years,” one official said.
Arab Gulf countries financed about 20 percent of IFAD’s initial funding and the first and second replenishments and, as a result, have a strong voice in IFAD’s governance. The fund’s first three presidents were Arab nationals.
“Saudi Arabia’s support for IFAD is critical to combating poverty and strengthening development in developing countries,” the official added.
Joint Saudi delegations visit Zaatari refugee camp in JordanKSrelief, Saudi volunteers provide services to Syrian refugees