FAO positioned to support countries tackle drivers of poverty
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 1.1 of eradicating extreme poverty requires dedicated actions that create a pro-poor enabling environment while building household resilience, particularly for those rural communities most vulnerable and prone to natural disasters.
Within this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting countries to build the resilience of rural livelihoods and enhance the capacity of the poorest to effectively withstand and manage risks and shocks, reduce disaster impacts and restore livelihoods following environmental or conflict-related shocks.
Central to eradicating extreme poverty is effective multi-sectoral coordination, which promotes integrated and well-tailored responsive interventions that support households’ exit from poverty.
Based on its core mandate and operational work on the ground, FAO is well positioned to support countries to address the underlying factors that drive and perpetuate poverty while at the same time, foster environmental, social and economic pathways to sustainable development.
FAO is unswerving in ensuring that “we leave no one behind, reaching those most vulnerable and marginalized to engage economically and proactively in the rural economy – all leading to achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda.”
Extreme poverty a rural phenomenon
Extreme poverty is primarily a rural phenomenon with an estimated 80 percent of the world’s 736 extreme poor living in rural areas across diverse landscapes.
The challenges they face and the potential pathways out of poverty are conditioned in large part by the territories in which they live, including the agro-ecological systems – comprising productivity of natural resources and climate conditions, linkages to markets and urban areas and the socioeconomic context.
In the 2018 FAO’s ‘ Rural Extreme Poverty framework: Ending Extreme Poverty in Rural Areas’ report, the number of the extreme poor in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to have increased from 276 million in 1990 to 413 million in 2015. The stark truth is, it is difficult to appreciate the situation that over 41 percent of the population in this region lives in extreme poverty.
FAO ending extreme poverty in rural areas
To support countries to accelerate progress in extreme poverty eradication, particularly focused on the rural poor, FAO has developed an extreme poverty framework to guide its work. The framework comprise of four main areas: food security and nutrition, economic inclusion, environmentally sustainable and resilient livelihoods, and preventing and protecting the poor and the vulnerable against risks and shocks.
Within these broad areas FAO is operationalizing country support, for example promoting economic inclusion such as through social protection, decent rural employment – notably targeting the youth and also women, increasing empowerment of the rural extreme poor. Additionally, FAO promotes broadening access to resources and services, such as land for the rural poor, as well as access to improved sustainable agricultural technologies and microfinance. This all will require effective multi-sectoral coordination.
Poverty and vulnerability analysis is a central first step to addressing extreme poverty, because without understanding the multidimensional root causes, and complex drivers and dynamics of poverty, we cannot identify and implement appropriate responses and effective measures to overcome these constraints and promote sustainable and resilient livelihoods.
Developing strategic alliances for joint action
It is vital to work jointly through strategic alliances at global, regional and national levels with other relevant international and national organizations promoting poverty eradication, including for example International Financial Institutions (IFIs), agencies in the UN System such as IFAD, UNDP and UNICEF, and NGOs.
In this regard, FAO is creating and further strengthening existing international bodies and networks to specifically target rural poverty and extreme poverty at global and regional levels.
This includes the Inter-Agency Expert Group Meeting in support of the Implementation of the Third United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2018-2027) and the International Decade of Family Farming (2018-2028).
Additionally, FAO and its partners is already disseminating good practices and knowledge on the reduction of rural poverty and extreme poverty through online platforms, seminars, and conferences, in collaboration with other UN agencies and strategic partners. As well, FAO is fostering bilateral and triangular cooperation, to share experiences and lessons, through enhancing partnerships through South-South Cooperation (SSC).
An article by Pamela Pozarny, FAO Senior Rural Sociologist