- The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was established in 1985 with 7 founding members.
- SAARC now comprises eight Member States: Afghanistan (joined in 2007), Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
- The Secretariat of the Association is located in Kathmandu, Nepal.
- The objectives of the Association include promotion of welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to provide all individuals the opportunity to live in dignity and to realize their full potential.
- Decisions at all levels are to be taken on the basis of unanimity; and bilateral and contentious issues are excluded from the deliberations of the Association.
SAARC Development Fund
- SAARC Development Fund (SDF) was established by the heads of the eight SAARC Member States in 2010 with the aim to promote the welfare of the people of SAARC region, improve their quality of life, and accelerate economic growth, social progress and poverty alleviation in the region. SDF has three funding windows i.e. Social, Economic and Infrastructure Window.
- The Social Window focuses on funding projects on poverty alleviation, improving health and education, and so on. Economic Window funds non-infrastructural projects related to trade and industry development, agriculture and so on. Infrastructural Window funds projects in areas such as energy, power, transportation, etc.
- Currently, SDF is implementing 90 projects in all SAARC Member States under its Social, Economic and Infrastructure funding windows.
Why in News?
- Grants from the SAARC Development Fund recently crossed $50 million for projects in the eight SAARC member States.