Staff Reporter 

SAARC Development Fund (SDF) marks 10 years today. In the past 10 years, SDF invested in the 90 projects being implemented across the eight SAARC Member States under the three SDF funding windows: Economic, Infrastructure and Social Windows.

With the recent activation of SDF’s Economic and Infrastructure Windows, SDF aims to foster synergies across the region to fund projects related to energy, power, transportation, tourism and other related areas. So far, 48 projects have successfully completed in the SAARC Member States.

SDF has an authorised capital of USD 1.5 Billion and total capital base of USD 529.37 million. The cumulative fund commitment under the three funding windows of including MSME Program allocation stands at USD 198.23 million. Of which, SDF has disbursed about USD 62 million.

“SDF’s mission was clear from the beginning – to promote Regional Integration and Economic Cooperation among the SAARC Member States through project funding and collaboration,” said CEO of SDF, Sunil Motiwal (PhD).  “The last 10 years have offered us new projects, partners for co-funding and many new interventions to enable SDF to become a strong regional financial institution.”

The CEO said that SDF increasingly realizes how critical these regional projects are. For instance, SDF’s flagship health project – Maternal & Child Health Care in all the member states for USD 15 million – is geared towards reducing child and maternal mortality, and ensuring that every infant and woman of childbearing age in the SAARC region is immunised.

Similarly, the SDF-funded project, Strengthening the livelihood initiative for home-based workers in the SAARC Region, popularly known as SABAH, was implemented with funding of USD 21.07 million.

“Along with the projects, SDF considers the partnership with the government of Bhutan and the support of all the eight SAARC Member States, an immense privilege in traversing this journey of promoting the welfare of the people of SAARC region,” said CEO Dr Sunil Motiwal. “As we move forward, we also have an ambitious plan ahead of us to make SDF a robust regional financial institution for the strategic growth of this region.”

SDF is also working with partners to fund Covid-19 projects to mitigate the financial losses and severe socio-economic impact of the pandemic. “Several Covid-19 proposals from the Member States are under our consideration and would be approved by the SDF Board as per the existing SDF policies,” said the CEO.

“The increase in our engagements in South Asia reflects our strong commitment to improving the lives of the region’s people. But there are challenges too,” said the CEO. “Development changes in the region, trade barriers, income inequalities and environmental issues come in the way of SDF in accelerating economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation.”