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Abstract

To address persistent poverty in rural communities, the Government of Belize and the European Union (EU) are investing €7.2 million in the Belize Rural Development Program (BRDP) under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF). The objective is sustainable economic growth of rural areas, in terms of more efficient and competitive small and micro enterprises, improving basic services for rural population, and strengthening the policy and institutional environment. BRDP is guided by a multi-institutional Steering Committee at the national level, and supported by a multi-sectoral Development Committee at the district level. BRDP’s methodology is bottoms-up, participatory, and enterprise focused. The EDF resources are granted via micro grants (< € 500), small grants (< € 10,000), and large grants (€ 0.2 million to 1.3 million). Investments are demand driven and combine infrastructure, capacity building, equipment, technological resources and training. Beneficiaries must contribute at least 25% of the total investment. When it ends in early 2010, BRDP will have invested with at least 2,500 poor families in some 111 villages and invested in small and large infrastructures such as 30 internet cafes, 4 training centers, irrigation and processing facilities, a farmers market, a village water system, 57 homes for poor families, 10 hurricane shelters improved, a rebuilt bridge on a main highway, and an upgraded 9 mile rural road. In the process, some 19 institutions, public and NGOs, will be in a better position to participate in BRDP 2 which is planned to start in mid 2010.

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