Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Rural Poverty Report

Recently the UN agency, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) published the 2011 Rural Poverty Report. This report is a comprehensive analysis of how many rural people live in poverty, who they are, and what challenges they face in the coming years (among other things). Here are some of the report’s key points:

“Despite improvements over the past 10 years that have lifted more than 350 million rural people out of extreme poverty, global poverty remains a massive and predominantly rural phenomenon – with 70 per cent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people living in rural areas.”

“The overall rate of extreme poverty in rural areas of developing countries has dropped from 48 per cent to 34 per cent, led by dramatic gains in East Asia…But extreme poverty still persists in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.”

“It is estimated that food production must increase 70% in the next four decades to feed a projected population of nine billion.”

A number of initiatives have taken place to ensure food safety, including some nations buying land in developing countries and helping farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change. Additionally, IFAD’s president Kananyo Nwanze claims that more emphasis needs to be placed on helping rural women, who make up 60-70% of the farming community. One obstacle that will be particularly difficult to overcome is that more and more youth around the world are unwilling to become farmers, and instead want to move to cities. On one hand it is good to encourage households to rely less on farming as a source of income (as it will help alleviate poverty), but on the other hand, that shifts people away from farming at a time when food production is most needed.

The only way forward, as the report states, is that “smallholder farmers, small enterprises, governments and large multinational corporations investing in the agro-food chain, all need a concerted approach to improve the livelihoods of those one billion people living in extreme poverty.”

The above video is one story that represents the challenges stated in the 2011 Rural Poverty Report.

-Clare Ortblad