Abu Dhabi fund says economic gloom will not halt aid efforts

The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development has pledged to continue supporting developing nations as the worldwide financial crisis deepens.

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ABU DHABI // The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development yesterday pledged to continue supporting developing nations as the worldwide financial crisis affects not only them, but also the countries many rely on for aid. The ADFD said it will tap into its financial and human resources as the economy worsens, the state news agency WAM reported.

The comments were made in a report released to mark the UN's International Day for Eradication of Poverty. The fund called for an effort to help developing nations at a time when "global economic doom" may lead to a worsening of poverty worldwide. It stressed that financial support and initiatives for sustainable-development programmes must continue. As recession proceeds, unemployment will rise and there will be other negative socio-economic effects in many countries, the report said. A shortfall in financial aid would be likely to "worsen the situation in poor countries, with poor people being the number one victim".

If no action is taken, more than half the world's population will continue to live in poverty and battle with obstacles to development such as disease, unemployment, illiteracy, organised crime and conflict, the ADFD said. According to the UN, nearly 3 billion people live on less than US$2 a day. The comments follow recent remarks by such officials as Robert Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, who said the flow of financial aid must continue regardless of problems countries face at home.

The leaders of India and Brazil are among those who have stressed that the poor should not suffer for the mistakes of the wealthy. Developing nations are already under stress from rising food and energy prices, and the current economic situation "adds a crisis to a crisis", Mr Strauss-Kahn has said. The ADFD was formed to contribute to economic development through loans to finance projects aimed at alleviating poverty and providing health and education services, food security and infrastructure. Since it was established by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan in 1971, the fund has provided more than Dh13 billion in loans to 53 nations.

"The beneficiaries of our assistance include countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which makes the work of the ADFD an international one and not limited to one particular geographical location, despite the fact that our work is slightly focused on Arab countries in view of the special ties we have with our sister nations," the report said. The fund has given more than Dh19 billion in aid to the Arab world.

The development fund also manages loans and grants given by the Government of Abu Dhabi and plays a primary role in implementing, overseeing and evaluating its projects. In May the fund set up a holding company to help poorer nations produce more staple foods, to counter rising grain prices. In September, it lent US$100 million (Dh367m) to Sudan to support its balance of payments. * WAM