IFAD in Belize
Between 1985 and 2005, IFAD has invested in two rural development projects in Belize, which were both located in the southern part of the country, where poverty is most widespread and severe, particularly among the Maya and Garifuna ethnic groups. The projects were the Toledo Small Farmers Development Project, which closed in 1995, and the Community-Initiated Agriculture and Resource Management Project, which closed in 2005. The ongoing Rural Finance Programme is IFAD's third operation in Belize.
In 2006, the Executive Board approved a country grant amounting to US$100,000 that focuses on:
- Consolidation of experiences involving rural financial services under the Community-Initiated Agriculture and Resource Management Project
- The process of decentralization carried out by strengthening local governments and regional development coordination through the National Association of Village Councils
IFAD works closely with international partners in development in the Latin America and Caribbean region. One of the major development partners of the Government of Belize is the European Union (EU), which co-finances far-reaching programmes, including the nationwide Belize Rural Development Programme. But that programme does not include support for rural credit and financial services. The government asked IFAD to design and finance a complementary initiative to provide funds for financial services, in line with the programme's aims and with IFAD's mandate to help rural people overcome poverty.
In response to the government's request, IFAD designed the Rural Finance Programmea to expand and enhance rural financial services that are inclusive, sustainable and tailored to the needs of poor rural people. To achieve this, the programme works to strengthen capacity, diversifying and improving the services of the Belize Credit Union League and partner credit unions.