Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Togo's former prime minister, has been appointed as the new president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Houngbo beat seven other candidates, including three women, to emerge as president and will lead the U.N. rural poverty agency in making investment decisions that address critical challenges affecting rural livelihoods and development issues in developing countries.
IFAD's role in ensuring adequate attention is given to agricultural and rural development programs is seen by many observers as key in helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger in the world. Facilitating more investment in the world's rural areas is aimed at meeting a growing demand for food security, reducing migration and recurring conflicts.
“We have to keep our ambition and at the same time be realistic and pragmatic,” Houngbo stated in a press statement sent to Devex. “We have to demonstrate that every dollar invested will have the highest value for money."
Houngbo — who has over 30 years of experience in international development, diplomacy and financial management — will join IFAD from the International Labour Organization, where he has served as deputy director-general since 2013. He has also worked at the United Nations Development Programme, where he served as the assistant secretary general, Africa regional director, and chief of staff. Between 2008 and 2012, he served as the prime minister of the West African country of Togo.
As the sixth president of IFAD, Houngbo is expected to take over from Nigeria's Kanayo Nwanze in April.
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