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Inequality impedes development in Latin America and Caribbean
FAO Director-General addresses Regional Conference in Guatemala City
28 April 2004, Guatemala City -- Social inequalities are impeding development in the Latin America and Caribbean region, FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf warned today in a speech delivered to representatives and senior government officials attending the 28th FAO Regional Conference.

He said FAO would continue its support for governments and other partners in the implementation of "coherent and effective programmes" and for the mobilization of domestic and external financing.

"In the current context of globalization, competitiveness is crucial for growth and development. However, productivity should not conceal the inequalities of access to economic factors and the inequalities of income that affect millions of inhabitants of Latin America and the Caribbean, especially those living in rural areas," Dr Diouf said.

High inequalities

Dr Diouf said that the inequalities in the region are among "the highest in the world", with the richest 5 percent of the population receiving 25 percent of income, as compared to 13 percent in the developed countries.

"There are currently 221 million people living in poverty in the region and the number of rural poor has increased by 21 million since 1990," Dr Diouf said.

The latest figures show that poverty affects 44 percent of the region's inhabitants, rising to 64 percent in rural areas. There are more than 74 million rural poor in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Lower undernourishment

"It is, however, encouraging to note that the proportion of undernourished people fell from 13 percent in 1990-1992 to 10 percent in 1999-2001," Dr Diouf said.

"If the countries continue their efforts to combat food insecurity, this proportion could fall to 6 percent by 2015. The initiatives undertaken by individual countries, notably the "Zero Hunger" programme of Brazil and the "Campaign Against Hunger" recently launched by Guatemala, are very encouraging developments," he added.

Economic resources and political will

FAO regional conferences meet every two years to discuss with member countries development priorities in the region. The Guatemala Conference will examine the institutional and social conditions that are required for rural development projects to be integrated into a national policy capable of ensuring economic and social development.

"I am confident that with capable leadership and the necessary political will, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean will be able to rise to the challenges of hunger, malnutrition, inequality and economic stagnation," Dr Diouf said.

To improve food security, developing countries need to take up the challenge of agricultural productivity and market competitiveness, he added.


Contact:
Germán Rojas
Information Officer, FAO
(+502) 339 7785
(+502) 2010907 (cell)
german.rojas@fao.org

Nuria Felipe Soria
Information Officer, FAO
(+502) 339 7785
nuria.felipesoria@fao.org









Contact:

Germán Rojas
Information Officer, FAO
german.rojas@fao.org
(+502) 339 7785
(+502) 2010907 (cell)

FAO/H. de la Rosa

Jacques Diouf and Alvaro Aguilar, Minister of Agriculture, Guatemala, during the conference

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Inequality impedes development in Latin America and Caribbean
FAO Director-General addresses Regional Conference in Guatemala City
28 April 2004 -- Social inequalities are impeding development in Latin America and the Caribbean, said FAO Director-General Dr Jacques Diouf today.
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