The African Development Bank held talks with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Vice-President Gilles Carbonnier at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan on furthering their shared development goals.
The main purpose of the meeting, held on 20 January, was to discuss collaboration between the institutions and share the progress made since the signing of a Bank-ICRC memorandum of understanding to explore partnership opportunities.
“It is mainly through operation and cooperation that we are going to learn exactly how best to work together to be more relevant, more impactful,” Carbonnier said.
The Bank-ICRC collaboration centers on working in areas of fragility in Africa, with special emphasis on building resilience, particularly among women and girls.
Representatives from the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Complex, the Bank’s Transitional States Coordination Office and the Bank’s Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Complex were present. The talks were facilitated by Catherine Cudré-Mauroux, Bank Executive Director for Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg and Portugal.
Calling the Bank-ICRC partnership “a natural fit”, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Jennifer Blanke, said: “There’s a recognition that if you look at humanitarian work that might be in the same region year after year, you cannot deal with that, without some development element, which we can bring in. From our perspective, there are a lot of places in Africa where we want to be working on development impact.”
Another area of interest is investing in vulnerable women in the Sahel Region and North Africa.
“We know that we reach higher returns when investing in women. Studies demonstrate that women reinvest most of their income (up to 90%) in providing a social safety net for their families, with a ripple effect on health, education, nutrition and youth empowerment. Investments today will yield tomorrow’s returns,” said Vanessa Moungar, Director for the Bank’s Gender, Women and Civil Society Department.
Moungar’s department spearheads the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative, which the Bank sees as a key component of improving women’s access to economic resources.
Participants also agreed to focus on internally displaced persons and their host communities.
“The idea is to scale up our work in the field,” said Patricia Danzi, ICRC Regional Director for Africa. “We want to be able to do more than what the Bank or ICRC would have done alone.”
The ICRC and the Bank say future discussions will address technical, legal, financial and field aspects, with an eye toward accelerating the partnership implementation.