SAARC Development Fund (SDF) Secretariat, based in Thimphu, was inaugurated by the Heads of State/Governments of SAARC Member States on the first day of the 16th SAARC Summit in Thimphu on April 28, 2010. The SDF Charter has been ratified by Parliaments of the eight SAARC Member States and the Instrument of Ratification issued on April 15, 2010.The primary objective of the SDF is (i) to promote the welfare of the people of SAARC Region, (ii) to improve their quality of life, and (iii) to accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the SAARC Region. To support the above objectives the SDF Secretariat will, amongst other, (i) identify, study prospect and approve projects, (ii) finance approved projects in the SAARC Member States, (iii) leverage funding i.e. arrange and mobilize financing and/or co-financing projects, (iv) provide grants for projects of strategic importance to SAARC, (v) provide financial and technical assistance, and (vi) manage the Fund.
The eight SAARC Member States i.e. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka created/established the fund. For a complete list of our members and country details, see the Member Countries page of our website.
The Governing Council is the apex management body of the SDF. The Member States are represented in the Governing Council, by their respective Hon’able Finance Ministers. The GC is the apex policy-making body of the Fund. The GC meets once a year for operational matters, the Fund is guided by a Board of Directors which comprises eight representatives - usually the Deputy Ministers /Joint Secretaries or equivalent rank officials from the Ministries of Finance of the respective Member States. In addition to these eight members, Secretary General, SAARC and the CEO of SDF are also members of the Board of Directors of SDF.
The Fund has fully functional workforce comprising a CEO, seven professional staff, three GSS-I staff and ten local staff members. The CEO, Professional staff and GSS-I Level staff are selected from the SAARC Member States.
The SAARC Development Fund (SDF) may mobilize and generate funds from both within and outside the SAARC region. The funds for the SDF may be raised from: (i) assessed contribution by the Member States; (ii) voluntary contributions by the SAARC Member States; (iii) contributions from non-regional contributors and (iv) contributions from private/public institutions from SAARC Members states and individual philanthropists.Depending upon the identification of regional infrastructure projects the extent of requirements of funds, and such other purposes as may be decided by the Governing Council, the Fund may access capital market.In addition, SDF may mobilize funds through Public Private Partnerships (PPP).
The SDF has three financing windows: (i) Social; (ii) Economic; and (iii) Infrastructure. At present only the Social Window is fully activated. The SDF Secretariat is in the process of operationalizing the Economic and Infrastructure Windows. The Fund hopes to have few investment projects running soon.
Projects are considered for funding if they meet the following criteria: (i) projects involving all SAARC countries, (ii) projects involving more than two but not all SAARC Member countries, (iii) projects located in one or more SAARC countries, of significant economic interest for three or more SAARC countries, and (iv) projects with significant focus on poverty alleviation, as envisaged under the social window, in any SAARC country having thematic linkage with more than two SAARC Member States as part of a sub-regional project.Priority is given for funding of projects recommended by SAARC meetings i.e. Ministerial, Secretary level, technical level, expert level, Governing Bodies of Regional Centre meetings and also SAARC Secretariat.
The SDF Social Window projects are aligned with SAARC Development Goals that include livelihood, health, education and environment related Goals. The projects that SDF has funded so far are designed to meet important and crucial social and economic needs of the SAARC member states. The SDF project portfolio includes projects related to strengthening the livelihood of the home based workers, addressing the needs of small farmers, reaching connectivity and content of e-governance to rural people, reducing the infant mortality and steps at ending violence against children in South Asia.