Thursday, April 28, 2011

Small development projects funded by middle income countries

The middle income countries of India, South Africa and Brazil have a joint international development fund to help fund projects for even poorer nations. The annual budget for this fund is only three million dollars. Due to the small budget, the IBSA Fund really tries to make the most of it's development dollar. Total budgets for most projects stay right around a half a million dollars. With US Aid and the Gates Foundation doing a lot of talk about funding projects the bring the most value form their money, there might be some lessons found within the IBSA Fund.

From the IPS, writer Marina Penderis gives us a few examples of projects funded by the IBSA.

The neighbourhood of Carrefour Feuilles in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has a history of violent gang conflict. In 2006 clashing members of that community were brought together through a waste collection and recycling scheme.

The budget for the initial 14-month project – one of the first supported by the IBSA Fund – was only 550,000 dollars, but IBSA is proud of the return on its investment.

The venture generates employment, reduces incidence of disease, prevents flood risk from garbage-clogged canals and, by recycling paper products into cooking bricks, even has a green effect. IBSA says it also has reduced violence in Carrefour Feuilles – and states that as being the main purpose of the project.

"The project provides a structure for people, who are traditionally from rival groups, to work together," explains Fernando Sena from the Brazilian Embassy in South Africa in an interview with IPS. "It employs 385 neighbourhood residents, including 207 women. Now 150,000 people benefit from improved sanitation."

The Carrefour Feuilles solid waste initiative was renewed after its initial run.

"The earthquake (that hit Haiti in 2010) didn't stop the project," says Sena. "And a study has been done to replicate it in East Timor."

Simultaneous to the first phase of the Haiti project, the IBSA Fund also started working with tiny West African state Guinea-Bissau's ministry of agriculture to train over 4,500 farmers (half of them women) in improved techniques of rice cultivation and citrus fruit and mango production, including in the monsoon-like rainy season. The budget for the first phase of this initiative was 498,750 dollars.

"This project is already in phase two and expanding to more villages," says Sena. "The idea is that the project will also provide solar energy equipment to five villages."

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