On the sidelines of the Islamic Development Bank’s Annual Meetings (“IsDB”) in Sharm el Sheikh on 1-4 June 2022, the Lives and Livelihoods Fund (“LLF or the Fund”) engaged with stakeholders on its role in its markets of operation, informing them how it drives impact through collaboration. The Fund took the opportunity of these discussions to host a panel discussion as well as enter into and sign agreements with Mauritania, the Maldives and Cote d’Ivoire.

Panelists were drawn from the international development world. These included Dr Abdul Hakim Elwaer, the Assistant Director-General of the UN FAO and Regional Representative of the Regional Office for the Near East and North Africa; Dr. Waleed Addas, Head of the LLF, and LLF donor representatives, Mr James Carty, Head of the Middle East and East Asia at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Mr. Khemais El Gazzah, Senior Advisor at Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development.

Panel discussion

The panel was delivered in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Local Development and saw panellists share their respective experience with the LLF over the past six years, referencing how engaging with country-level decision-makers, partners, and donors have been beneficial to investing in human capital, particularly in the current global context and post-pandemic environment. 

In the discussion, the implications and role of multilateral development cooperation platforms in strengthening the capacity of beneficiary countries to build resilience against emergencies and their economic impact in the future were unpacked. The panel also highlighted the importance of executing practical cooperation models to support sustainable growth and development in the health, agriculture, and basic infrastructure sectors and the role such cooperation plays in realizing the SDGs’ human development goals.

The Director General for Country Programs, Mr. Anasse Aissami, at the IsDB, provided opening remarks, following which H.E Mahmoud Shaarawy, the Minister of Local Development of the Republic of Egypt, delivered the keynote address.

Commenting on the importance of investing in human capital, H.E Mahmoud Shaarawy expressed his appreciation for such an initiative: “The Ministry of Local Development is proud to co-organize this panel discussion. Muslim Countries, like other countries, have suffered on many fronts due to the pandemic and its implications. Therefore, seeing representatives of leading development organizations and policymakers coming together today to discuss opportunities of investing in human capital is reassuring“.

His Excellency also shared his perspective on implementing socio-economic projects post the pandemic, stating that despite the global disruption, sustaining focus on developing essential systems and securing livelihoods among the most vulnerable remains pivotal for mitigation against future threats: “By integrating innovative investment models that improve underlying systems of healthcare and economic empowerment, countries will be able to drive a resilient recovery from the pandemic and lay the foundation for more equitable, sustainable and robust growth“.

According to Shaarawy, Egypt’s commitment to structural reform of the economy preceded the pandemic. He emphasized that Egyptian governmental initiatives such as the Decent Life and The Upper Egypt Local Development Program (UELDP) have introduced multiple growth opportunities to enhance competitiveness, raise living standards, and empower people to lead economic development.

On his part, Mr. James Carty emphasized incorporating effective partnerships to deliver results while ensuring development effectiveness principles: “The LLF represents one of the most influential investing models in human capital in the Middle East. Since its inception in 2016, the Fund has been leveraging the capacities and grants from six major development partners in the region; the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre KSRelief and Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) in addition to the funding of the IsDB.”

 “Through this innovative model, we don’t just address an immediate need but help create fundamental change in country systems for generations.” Carty added.

Signed Agreements

Over the past six years the LLF has focused on projects in Health , Agriculture and basic infrstructure. The importance of these is even more relevant now in light of the food security challenges being faced across the world. To date, the LLF has 37 active projects in 22 countries to lift the poorest out of poverty across IsDB Member Countries. During the Annual Meetings agreements were finalized to increase the number of these projects with agreements signed for projects in health and agriculture.

In healthcare, a US$ 16 Million agreement was signed with Mauritatania for the LLF to provide support to achieve universal access for women, newborn children and adolescents with quality health and nutrition care. Through this project the LLF will provide health facilities in six administrative areas with emergency equipment that is aimed at reducing the maternal and neo natal mortality rates and contribute to capacity building of health work force and create demand to increase utilization of RMNCAH-N services.

In agreement worth US $ 13.5 Million with Maldives, the LLF will be equipping 200 fishing vessels in the island country with refiregeration sea water systems that will enable the conservation and storage of fish that have been captured while also investing in strengthening market linkages. Separately, an agreement has been signed with Côte d’Ivoire in which the US $ 47 Million LLF investment will improve the nutritional status of women and children during the critical 1,000-day period and help ensure that children reach their full physical and cognitive potential and increase their productivity as adults, resulting in higher incomes. The project will improve the delivery of quality health, nutrition, and WASH services and will focus on the northern regions and rural and peri-urban areas.

Dr. Waleed Addas, Head of the LLF, commented: “The discussions that the LLF participated in during the Annual Meeting, and the commitments made with respect to Health and Agriculture, are demonstrable of our focus on driving impact through collaboration. Through the panel discussion, which was convened in alignment with the annual meeting’s theme of Beyond Recovery: Resilience and Sustainability, we were able to share the experiences of the LLF as well as build on these through the reflections of other members of the panel. We look forward to continue to make an impact across the projects that we support.”

Courtesy by :https://www.zawya.com/en/press-release/companies-news/llf-collaboration-and-development-assistance-in-the-post-pandemic-world-eqn5ke9v