The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund: a model for the future

A novel way of tackling Africa’s hunger and poverty challenges

28/07/2016 - 

The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) is pioneering a new approach to funding. Administered by FAO and in line with its Strategic Framework, the ASTF is the first fund by Africans for Africans. 

The ASTF, by pooling resources from Africa’s strongest economies as well as from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to support national and regional food security initiatives within the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) framework, currently focuses on increasing the resilience of livelihoods in rural communities facing recurrent crises, as well as on economic growth and sustainable development. The idea behind the ASTF and its governance are sparking efforts to create additional funds following the same model.

The ASTF is governed by a Steering Committee (SC) and a Fund Assembly (FA), which set priorities and approve grants. The Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU) at FAO handles the implementation of the funded activities. The Assistant Director-General, Technical Cooperation (ADG-TC) serves as the Secretariat, coordinating and monitoring all SC activities. The SC’s members include the African countries making major contributions to the fund, the chairs of the Regional Africa Group and the FAO Regional Conference for Africa, a representative of the African Union and FAO’s Deputy Director-General, Coordinator for Natural Resources (DDN). The FA serves as a consultative forum; its members share information on achievements, lessons learned and emerging issues to advise the SC on the future development of the ASTF.

FAO Representatives and FAO Sub-Regional Coordinators inform potential recipient countries of the PCU’s biannual calls for proposals, and work with them to prepare submissions. The PCU screens the applications, presenting the best to the SC for review and approval. Initial funding criteria include: location in Africa; countries in greatest need based on level of undernourishment, population displacement, low level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) for agriculture; and evidence of the country’s commitment to the ASTF’s goals based on co-funding, in-kind contributions or level of spending on agriculture and rural development with reference to its total budget. Enthusiastic response to the ASTF suggests that modalities such as these are the wave of the future.