By Courtney Trenwith
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ties up with GCC funds to finance health, agriculture, rural infrastructure
Development funds from the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, plus the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have agreed to $243m in financing for health, agriculture, and rural infrastructure development projects in developing countries.
The announcement is part of the $2.5bn Lives and Livelihoods Fund, a joint effort involving the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Center, the Qatar Fund for Development, Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The new projects selected are in eight member countries of the IsDB: Tajikistan, Sudan, Djibouti, Niger, Mauritania, Cameroon, Uganda and Guinea. Specific details of the projects were not released.
The fund is the largest multilateral development initiative in the Middle East and North Africa and aims to alleviate poverty in the Organization for Islamic Cooperation member countries.
About $363m was approved during the fund’s first operational year in 2016.
LLF chairman Maher Al Hadhrawi, who is a representative from the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Center, said the first projects were under way.
“We successfully launched the first project - a malaria prevention and control project - in partnership with the government of Senegal in March. We are here today to prioritise more projects that will have the biggest impact across the Muslim world and lift the poorest people out of poverty,” he said.
Qatar Fund for Development director general Khalifa bin Jassim Al Kuwari said by pooling their funds together the organisations were able to make a greater impact.
“The Lives and Livelihoods Fund is the first multilateral partnership of its kind in this region, and demonstrates the benefit of partnering with other donor organisations and regional governments. By pooling our resources together, and combining grants with finance from the Islamic Development Bank, we are able to increase our impact and ultimately save more lives,” he said.
The Middle East head of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hassan Al Damluji, said of the more than 1 billion people in the world facing extreme poverty, 400 million are living in the Islamic Development Bank’s member countries.
“These countries urgently need access to finance for development projects that eradicate disease, provide basic healthcare, and invest in agriculture and critical infrastructure. The Lives and Livelihoods Fund was only established in late 2016, but already it is filling this gap by supporting projects that will enable people to lift themselves out of poverty,” he said.
The LLF is expected to invest $2.5bn over the next five years on projects that help the poorest people in 30 of the poorest Muslim countries lead healthy and productive lives. Administered by the IsDB, the fund combines $2 billion of IsDB financing with $500 million in grants from donors.
So far, $400 million in grants have been committed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (20 percent of the total up to $100m), the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development ($100m), the Qatar Fund for Development ($50m), the King Salman Relief and Humanitarian Aid Center ($100m), and the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development ($50m).