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Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation celebrates 40 years of ‘life-changing ripples’

28 November 2011
“The CFTC is a trusted partner particularly noted for responding to the concerns of small states” – Deputy Secretary-General

The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) is celebrating four decades of assistance to member states, building capacity in democracy and human rights, economic development, governance, health and education.

Over 2011 to 2012, more than £31 million has been committed to the fund, managed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, to help transform the lives of people across the Commonwealth through training, expertise and support, delivering practical solutions to meet local needs.

Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith said: “The CFTC is a trusted partner and was established on the basis of co-operation, mutual interest and sharing within the Commonwealth family. CFTC is particularly noted for responding to the concerns of small states who are not as well served by the large global players.

“For 40 years, the fund has supported the Secretariat’s core mandates and in doing so, has helped shape the development landscape, through a ripple effect, bringing lasting change.”

CFTC programmes have had the biggest impact on the lives of people like Rutha Wilson, who runs a brick-making business on the Pacific small island state of Vanuatu. Ms Wilson and hundreds of local residents have benefited from a mobile banking initiative, through which loans are provided by banking officers visiting remote areas on motorbike.

Commonwealth member countries can request for technical assistance through the CFTC by sending proposals and expressions of interest for consideration to:

The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation
Commonwealth Secretariat

Marlborough House, Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HX
Fax: +44 207 925 1024
Email: cftc@commonwealth.int

The scheme also facilitated financial literacy training through seminars, information printed in the local language and a bi-weekly radio programme. Since it began in February 2010, more than 6,000 new bank accounts have been opened, with over US$1 million mobilised into savings accounts on the island state.

Ms Wilson’s is a story replicated across the Commonwealth.

The Fund is demand-led and financed through voluntary contributions from Commonwealth member governments and overseas territories.

A short video provides examples of recent CFTC assistance in several areas, such as:

  • Legal and technical expertise in marine geology which resulted in a successful ground-breaking joint submission by Mauritius and Seychelles to the UN that laid claim to nearly 400,000 square kilometres of seabed and ocean resources;
  • Debt Reporting and Management System (CS-DRMS) software, developed by experts at the Commonwealth Secretariat, which enabled Guyana to reduce resources spent on servicing debt and channel them into education and health;
  • Business training for women entrepreneurs in India and support, in collaboration with the Corporation Bank and the NTR Foundation, to access finance;
  • Technical assistance and expertise in the form of a judge and a public administrator, which helped ease a substantial backlog of court cases in Lesotho.

Retselisitsoe Calvin Masenyetse, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Justice in Lesotho, which was a beneficiary, said: “We have come up with justice reform that is going to change the whole landscape of administration of justice in this country. This intervention is monumental to us. It’s a big footprint that the Commonwealth has left with the Lesotho justice system.”

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