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FAO Regional Office for Africa

FAO urges dedicated actions to eradicate extreme poverty and leave no one behind

Supporting countries by providing a practical framework for tackling drivers of poverty


11 June 2019, Accra - Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 1.1, eradicating extreme poverty, requires dedicated actions to create a pro-poor environment while building household resilience, particularly for those rural communities most vulnerable.

Within this context, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is supporting countries to build resilience of rural livelihoods and enhance the capacity of the poorest to effectively withstand and manage risks, and restore livelihoods after 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’’, said Pamela Pozarny, FAO Senior Rural Sociologist.

She added, “We are committed to leaving 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.”

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 whilst fostering environmental, social, and economic pathways to sustainable development.

Challenges of extreme poverty in rural landscapes  

Many rural areas face the challenges of extreme poverty with an estimated 80 percent of the world’s 736 million extreme poor living in rural areas across diverse landscapes.

The challenges the extreme poor face and pathways out of poverty are largely conditioned by the territories in which they live.  These includes the agro-ecological systems - comprising productivity of natural resources and climate conditions, linkages to markets and urban areas.

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”, Pozarny stressed.

FAO striving to end extreme poverty in rural areas

To support countries to accelerate progress in extreme poverty eradication, particularly focused on the rural poor, FAO has developed the ‘FAO framework on rural extreme poverty’ 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 areas, FAO is operationalizing country support. For example, FAO is promoting economic inclusion through social protection, decent rural employment, notably targeting the youth and also women and increasing empowerment of the rural extreme poor. Additionally, FAO is promoting broader 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 the first key step to addressing extreme poverty, said Pozarny, “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 in promoting poverty eradication, including the International Financial Institutions (IFIs), UN agencies 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).

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