At a time when hunger and poverty are increasing due to conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the world’s poorest countries are the first to pledge funds to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to support its work to ensure that the most vulnerable rural people can sustainably access nutritious food and decent incomes, the UN specialized agency has said.
IFAD noted that Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali have pledged to at least double their most recent contributions with large increases also coming from The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda, all in support of IFAD’s Twelfth Replenishment – a process whereby Member States commit funds to the organization for its work in 2022-2024. Argentina, Egypt, El Salvador, Mongolia, Myanmar and Nicaragua are also amongst the first countries to pledge funds.
“With the enormous challenges we all face right now, these pledges are a testimony to the impact of IFAD’s work on the lives of rural people. We welcome the commitment of these nations, who are themselves recipients of IFAD’s support, to prioritize rural people and invest in their most vulnerable populations,” said Marie Haga, IFAD’s Associate Vice President, who leads the mobilization of resources for the organisation.
“These countries from the Global South have sent a strong signal that they are prepared to stand up and help others tackle the immense challenges to end poverty and hunger. Now is the time for more of IFAD’s Member States to make bold commitments. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that no country can address these big issues alone. It is crucial to step up and work together to eradicate hunger and poverty and regenerate rural economies to build a more prosperous, peaceful and resilient world for us all,” Haga added.
On 11 December, IFAD will host its first formal pledging session and it is calling on Member States to significantly increase their contributions to help achieve the goal of a world free from poverty and hunger by 2030.
The Fund aims to double its impact by 2030, including through a new private sector financing programme and an expansion of its pioneering climate change adaptation programme (ASAP+). During the replenishment period (2022-2024) this would help approximately 140 million rural people increase their production and raise their incomes through better market access, contributing to creating jobs and improving food security and nutrition for the world’s most vulnerable people. This includes women, youth, Indigenous Peoples and people living with disabilities.
Three out of four of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas. A majority of them work in agriculture on small farms. While they produce 50 per cent of the world’s food calories on only 30 per cent of global agricultural land, many of them live in poverty and cannot feed their families.
This has been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic which has led to restrictions in trade and movement, preventing farmers from planting and harvesting crops, and from accessing markets to sell their produce and buy inputs. Disruptions to domestic and international food supply chains have also put millions of rural livelihoods at risk.
“The pandemic has shown the fault lines in our food systems and has given us the opportunity to rebuild a more sustainable and resilient world by improving the livelihoods of rural people,” said Haga. “We need to invest in rural areas and ensure the people who grow so much of our food can earn a decent income. And, with a growing risk of developing countries falling into debt distress due to the impacts of the crisis, we need to ensure we are ready to provide appropriate support.”
Research shows that economic growth in agriculture is two to three times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors. Investing in rural areas promotes prosperity, food security and resilience to weather changes, natural disasters, price hikes and other shocks. IFAD is amongst the world’s largest multilateral financiers of agriculture and rural development, active in almost 100 countries around the world.