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A New Alliance for the Elimination of Rural Poverty in Latin America

FAO and IFAD lead an alliance that brings together leading regional rural development specialists to create 21st century solutions to the problems of rural poverty.

The members of the Alliance stressed that their priority will be to reach out to governments with concrete ideas that can improve countries' capacities to end rural poverty

August 30, 2017, Santiago, Chile - The reduction of rural poverty has stagnated in Latin America in recent years, and has even risen in some countries of the region, such as Guatemala, Mexico and Costa Rica, FAO said today.

Despite decades of economic growth in the region and wholesale efforts by governments, today almost half of the rural inhabitants of the region are poor and about one third are indigent.

"Rural poverty reduction strategies were created last century, and are based on assumptions that are no longer necessarily valid. We need 21st century solutions to this problem,” explained Berdegué.

To change this situation, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD, have created the Alliance for the Elimination of Rural Poverty in Latin America.

This Alliance is made up of the main Latin American experts on rural development and its central mission is to propose innovative solutions that can have a concrete impact on the lives of millions of people.

The Alliance was formally constituted in an event that brought together twenty-five specialists at the FAO Regional Office in Santiago, Chile.

Without reducing inequalities there is no way to eliminate poverty

"It is easier to climb the first thousand meters of a mountain than the last hundred to the summit," said Julio Berdegué as a way to explain that the policies required today are not the same as those that reduced regional poverty in the last fifteen years.

According to FAO, the poorest among the poor are the one who suffer the most: rural poverty fell by less than one percentage point between 2012 and 2014, and remains at 27 percent.

"The rural poor live in marginalized areas that governments and organizations find more difficult to reach. There are also other types of issues, such as gender inequalities and the exclusion of indigenous peoples and afro-descendants, who face greater challenges, "said Lauren Phillips, IFAD policy specialist. (watch video)

Without reducing inequalities there is no way to eliminate poverty, was the general conclusion reached by the experts that make up the Alliance.

Tailor made solutions for each country

The Alliance will create a regional proposal to present to the governments of Latin America, and will work with pilot countries to create intervention carefully crafted to their national and territorial realities.

In that sense, the Alliance will be a regional public good that all countries will be able to access to improve their poverty-fighting strategies.

"The process of poverty reduction has become an uphill struggle, and we need increasingly polished strategies to continue advancing," said José Molinas, Minister Executive-Secretary of the Technical Secretariat for Economic Planning and Social Development of Paraguay.

Arnolodo de Campos, former Secretary of Food Security of the Ministry of Social Development of Brazil, stressed that it is not only a matter of creating new programs and policies: "The biggest challenge is to integrate them, to make them jointly seek the same objectives." (watch video)

A new common sense

The Alliance's work program seeks to generate a new common sense, regional and shared, on the best ways to eradicate rural poverty hot spots which have resisted previous approaches.

"We must go beyond agricultural technology and access to land and think about the transformation of production systems. The ultimate goal is to enable people to make productive use of their time throughout the year, and not just depend on farming cycles," said Alain de Janvry of the University of California (see video).

According to FAO’s Regional Representative, there is a need to incorporate a broader view of poverty that looks beyond income: "We need to broaden social protection and its linkage with economic inclusion strategies."

The Director of the Institute of Agricultural Development of Chile, Octavio Sotomayor, stressed that, "We are facing a new scenario: there are fewer fiscal resources in all countries. That forces us to be very creative. "

The members of the Alliance stressed that their priority will be to reach out to governments with concrete ideas that can improve countries' capacities to end rural poverty, not at a theoretical but at a practical level.

"What we want with this Alliance is to be able to give better support to those who have to design and implement public policies to eliminate rural poverty. It is about putting together many of the best capacities that we have in the region in service of decision makers who have a serious interest in ending rural poverty", Berdegué said.

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