Not a day goes by that conflict does not rage in some part of the world. Equally, not a day goes by that some person, some family or some community does not take a step on the road to a better, more secure future, one free from conflict, hunger and poverty. And both can happen in one and the same place.
Both conflict and development are driven by a profound dissatisfaction with the way things are. But the one is a destructive response, while the other is positive and constructive.
Waiting for peace to take root before we begin to nurture development is a luxury we cannot afford. IFAD has a history of working with the most marginalized and disadvantaged rural populations, in the most difficult to reach areas, the most fragile situations and the most degraded environments. And we must continue to do so. If we want to help 80 million rural women and men to raise themselves out of poverty over the next three years, we have to go to where they are. They may be in least developed countries, fragile states, or pockets of intractable poverty in middle-income countries. Poverty finds the vulnerable wherever they are, and so must we.
The same conditions that provide fertile ground for unrest and conflict also create an urgent moral imperative for development: gross injustice, severe disparities in opportunity, lack of infrastructure and the tools to make life better, poor governance and corruption, intense competition for resources, greed, and lack of access to education or credit. Remove the obstacles and provide the tools, and people will begin to build a better world around themselves.
Our goal is to promote hope instead of hate, to see communities brought together to overcome adversity, not split apart by it. When we approach rural communities, we must look not only at what they are, but what they could be – and what they want to be. As IFAD’s experience has shown time and again, we need to forge partnerships with rural people and let them take charge of their own futures.