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Kuwait, Gates Foundation explore cooperation means to help people in need

By Bader Al-Sharhan

KUWAIT, Oct 31 (KUNA) -- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and State of Kuwait are exploring ways of collaborating to help impoverished and sick people in different parts of the globe, areas in which both sides are already active.
Joe Cerrell, Managing Director of Global Policy and Advocacy at the Foundation, visited Kuwait on Wednesday this week and met with officials from Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) to discuss how the two sides could collaborate in areas of common interest.
The discussions aimed at "trying to understand where their (KFAED) areas of common interest ... like global health or food security, where the common areas (of two sides') overlap that we could ... collaborate further in future," Cerrell said in a statement to KUNA.
He said his visit was an opportunity to meet with KFAED officials, get acquainted with the way they work and their current priorities in order to explore preliminary opportunities "where we might work together." Cerrell said the Foundation was focusing on overseas development assistant which was about USD 135-140 billion in value coming from 25-30 donors from around the world.
However, he added, the make up of this assistance was changing because grants were declining with more organizations now either thinking of giving loans or mixing loans with donations, the latter known as blended finance.
Cerrell's visit to Kuwait aims at exploring how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which mainly gives grants, "can work with entities like Kuwait Fund which is mainly a lending entity on how we might work together using our respective strengths to support projects of mutual interests," he said.
"There is a genuine sense of interest on both sides to think about areas where we might work together," he added.
One of the areas the Foundation is looking forward to get more partners on board is the Lives and Livelihoods Fund, an ambitious USD 2.5 billion project officially co-launched last June by the Foundation and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), each contributing USD 100 million to the USD 500 million grant facility. The Foundation is "looking for other donors to contribute," Cerrell said.
During the launch of the fund, which took place place in Maputo, Mozambique, IDB President Dr. Ahmad Mohammad Ali said said the USD 500 million from the fund would be deployed alongside USD two billion from IDB, in which Kuwait is a member, to scale-up support to pro-poor programs in IBD member countries over five years.
The fund, Cerrell explained, was one of those blended finance facility which was "a fantastic way to provide funding" for projects in health, disease control, agriculture and basic rural infrastructure in IDB member countries.
"We think it might be of interest in Kuwait. We are very excited about this instrument (fund) ... that might bring in more donors like Kuwait to support more projects we care about," said Cerrell.
Cerrel, meanwhile, met with officials from Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRSC) which he said was carring out "impressive projects" in many areas, mainly disaster relief, a field The Gates foundation supported.
He met with officials from Kuwait Foundation for Advancement of Science (KFAS) to follow up on the late Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait Prize, which was announced by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah during the 3rd African-Arab Summit, held in Kuwait late 2014.
The 2015 subject of the USD one million Prize, in honor of the late Al-Sumait for his endless philanthropic contributions in African, is health.
Bill Gates is a member in the Board of Trustees of Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait Prize.
Cerrell, on the other hand, said the foundation contributed extensively to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were adopted by world leaders during the Sustainable Development Summit in New York, US, last month.
He said technical teams from the foundation were heavily engaged in the SDGs, primarily health, hunger and agriculture areas.
Cerrell, speaking about the foundation, said it was spending a lot of time in efforts to eradicate polio, trying to have innovative approach to tackle the disease, get kids to be vaccinated. (end) bs