Development Aid Not Reaching the World´s Poorest

1 in 5 People Lives on Less Than $1 a Day, Says Council Chief

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, FEB. 21, 2002 ( One-fifth of the world´s population lives on less than $1 a day, the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reports.

Of those people, 75% live in rural areas. IFAD said that if the international community does not intervene immediately, by 2015 the number of poor will rise to 2 billion from the current 1.2 billion.

On Tuesday, Lennart Bage, president of IFAD, called for more and better directed resources to combat rural poverty in order to meet development goals.

Speaking at the 25th session of the IFAD Governing Council, the president referred to the growing realization that «chronic poverty is a source of instability and a breeding ground for desperation.»

In spite of the goals set by the September 2000 Millennium Summit in New York, in which the international community pledged to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, the ranks of the poorest continue to grow.

Development aid is showing an alarming rate of decline. Countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) gave an average of just 0.22% of their gross national income in Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2000, a figure way below the target of 0.7% set by the international community as long ago as 1970.

Some estimates suggest that the level of aid needs to be doubled if the Millennium Summit goal is to be achieved. A recent joint report prepared by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund put the extra figure needed at $54 billion per year.

Yet resources aimed at combating poverty also need to be better channeled if they are to help the people who really need them, Bage told the IFAD conference.

«International development cooperation must increasingly focus on where the poor are -­ the rural areas -­ and the sources of their livelihood ­- agriculture and related activities,» the IFAD president said in his opening address, at the start of the two-day session.

«Since a great majority of the poor live and work in rural areas, there should be greater balance in the way ODA is channeled between rural and urban areas,» Bage said.

Three-quarters of the world´s poorest people live in rural areas, often in remote and isolated regions where access to land, water, finance and markets is scarce. Progress toward helping this vital sector has been hampered in recent years. Aid for agriculture has dropped from 20% of overall relief spending in the late 1980s to just 12% now.

At the same time, domestic public investment in agriculture has also fallen, Bage said. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, the figure spent on the rural sector dropped from 6.2% of total expenditure in 1990 to 3.9% in 1998.

Given such trends, it «is hardly surprising that during the last decade the rate of poverty reduction fell compared to the previous two decades,» Bage added.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation