FAO Regional Office for Africa

Poverty and hunger are on the rise despite economic progress

Stakeholders eye strengthening poverty analysis for innovative solutions

Photo: ©FAO

06 November 2019, Accra — Zambian and Ghanaian delegates started the week by tackling the complex issues surrounding poverty and hunger, and highlighting innovative approaches in overcoming the challenges of the achievement of the first two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The event, organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and in partnership with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), is a five-day executive-level capacity development programme on ‘Strengthening the Use of Poverty Analysis to Achieve SDG 1 Poverty Eradication and SDG 2 Zero Hunger in Ghana and Zambia.’

Senior government officials from both countries, coming from different ministries, convened in Akosombo, Ghana to learn more and exchange experiences on how to strengthen multisector policies, strategies and programmes that address the economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities that poor households face daily. In his opening remarks, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Abebe Haile-Gabriel said, “Poverty is multi-dimensional and complex; those with the highest levels of deprivation are often hidden, located in remote regions, or they are minority or indigenous groups.” He added that the challenge of leaving no one behind runs around given this environment.

Additionally, Haile-Gabriel raised the concern that despite the economic progress recorded in the continent since the 1990s, majority of countries had increasingly found it difficult towards making progress in the achievement of goals on poverty eradication and ending hunger in the region.

Three-phase and two-country approach

The Executive Programme offers a platform for Ghana and Zambia to strengthen individual and institutional capacities to not only better understand and use a spectrum of poverty statistics and analyses in policy and programme design, but to strengthen monitoring and evaluation of these policies and programmes for impact, with a view to achieving SDGs 1 and 2.

According to Senior Rural Sociologist, Pamela Pozarny, “Growth by itself is not sufficient to combat poverty. Poverty is concentrated mostly in rural areas and we need to create an enabling environment through innovation—adapting multi-sector policies and strategies and addressing the economic, environmental, and social vulnerabilities that the rural poor face daily.”

The three-phase capacity development programme designed by FAO with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) in Zambia and the National Development Planning Commission (NPDC) in Ghana, has a two-country approach with the purpose of promoting the exchange of experiences and perspectives in a learning setting.

The programme kicked off with a virtual phase in September where participants followed a self-paced on-line course on main concepts and strategies related to SDGs 1 and 2. After this workshop, participants are entering a third phase of ‘coaching’ running through December and potentially beyond, when FAO and IFPRI will support the implementation of action plans developed during the workshop, which aim to put into practical application the new lessons learned.

During his keynote address, Kodjo Mensah-Abrampa, Director General of the NDPC, further highlighted the importance of effective inter-ministerial coordination not only in designing policies, but also in implementing them at national and local levels. Implementation coordination requires identifying responsibilities of various

institutions and regular face-to-face meetings and avoiding the detrimental effects of ministries working in the same rural development space competing for public funds rather than working together.

Additionally, he lauded FAO’s initiative in bringing together representatives from various ministries and countries to learn from one another, and noted this workshop comes at an opportune time for both countries in reflecting on their systems, policies, institutions and programmes.