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Pioneering initiative to alleviate poverty

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Picture: B Mathur/REUTERS/October 15, 2008 – Delegates of the third India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) dialogue forum attend the three-day summit in New Delhi, India. Established in 2004, the IBSA Fund for the Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger is a mechanism for the three geographically and culturally diverse nations to come together with a shared vision to combat poverty and hunger globally, the writers say.

Siphamandla Zondi and Naledi Ramontja

South-South co-operation is a dynamic and transformative approach to international development that encourages countries of the Global South to work together and share knowledge and resources to address common challenges. Within this framework, the India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) Fund stands out as a shining example of effective collaboration and a powerful catalyst for positive change.

Established in 2004, the IBSA Fund for the Alleviation of Poverty and Hunger embodies the core principles of South-South co-operation. India, Brazil, and South Africa, three geographically and culturally diverse nations, came together with a shared vision to combat poverty and hunger globally. Their commitment to solidarity and collective action laid the foundation for this remarkable initiative.

The fund’s primary focus is on implementing projects that impact the lives of vulnerable communities in developing countries. These projects span a range of sectors, from healthcare and education to agriculture and infrastructure. What sets the fund apart is its emphasis on country ownership and inclusivity. The projects are tailored to the specific needs and priorities of the recipient countries, fostering a sense of ownership and sustainability.

One of the key strengths of the fund is its approach to capacity building. It invests in local skills and expertise, ensuring that communities are equipped to manage and sustain the projects once they are completed. This approach promotes self-reliance and nurtures a sense of empowerment among local populations. Moreover, the fund’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demonstrates its alignment with the global development agenda.

By targeting poverty and hunger alleviation, it directly contributes to achieving several Sustainable Development Goals, notably Goal 1 (no poverty) and Goal 2 (zero hunger). The success of the IBSA Fund can be attributed to its flexibility and adaptability. It has evolved to respond to changing global dynamics and emerging challenges. Its ability to shift focus when necessary, such as addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, showcases its agility and relevance.

The fund is also a testament to the power of knowledge exchange and best practice sharing. India, Brazil, and South Africa each bring their unique experiences in addressing development challenges to the table. Through this mutual learning process, the fund enriches the global dialogue on development co-operation. There are a couple of key constraints that the IBSA fund must overcome including its limited capacity to undertake projects and initiatives to address poverty and hunger across the South effectively. Administrative constraints are evident in the complex and time-consuming nature of decision-making and co-ordination involved.

Political and economic limitations represented by political instability, economic downturns, and changes in government policies in any of the member countries can impact the fund’s operations. Unfavourable political and economic conditions may result in reduced financial contributions or shifts in the fund’s objectives, hindering its effectiveness. The IBSA Fund is constrained also by its limited efforts to collaborate and forge partnerships with other international organisations, including NGOs, development agencies, and governments.

In a world characterised by competition and divergence of interests, the IBSA Fund shines as a beacon of collaboration and shared responsibility. It exemplifies the potential for countries of the Global South to play a pivotal role in shaping a more equitable and sustainable future for all. It is a remarkable example of the power of South-South co-operation.

By leveraging their collective strengths, India, Brazil, and South Africa have set an inspiring example for the world to follow, proving that together, nations can achieve extraordinary outcomes in the pursuit of a more prosperous and equitable world.

Zondi and Ramontja work for the Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation (IPATC) at the University of Johannesburg.