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More Investment Needed to Fight World Hunger

17 July 2015

GLOBAL - Eradicating world hunger sustainably by 2030 will require an estimated additional $267 billion per year on average for investments in rural and urban areas and in social protection, a new UN report says.

This would average $160 annually for each person living in extreme poverty over the 15 year period, so poor people could have access to food and can improve their livelihoods.

Prepared by FAO, the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), the report, which was presented in Rome today, comes ahead of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 13 - 16 July 2015.

The report notes that despite the progress made in recent decades, today nearly 800 million people, most of them in rural areas, still do not have enough food to eat.

Eliminating chronic undernourishment by 2030 is a key element of the proposed Sustainable Development Goal 2 of the new post-2015 agenda to be adopted by the international community later this year and is also at the heart of the Zero Hunger Challenge promoted by the UN Secretary-General.

"The message of the report is clear: if we adopt a "business as usual" approach, by 2030, we would still have more than 650 million people suffering from hunger.

"This is why we are championing an approach that combines social protection with additional targeted investments in rural development, agriculture and urban areas that will chiefly benefit the poor," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.

"Our report estimates that this will require a total investment of some $267 billion per year over the next 15 years. Given that this is more or less equivalent to 0.3 per cent of the global GDP, I personally think it is a relatively small price to pay to end hunger," Graziano da Silva added.

"This report helps us to see the magnitude of the challenge ahead of us, but we believe that we won't see gains in reducing poverty and hunger unless we seriously invest in rural people," said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze.

"Given the right kind of tools and resources, small-scale agricultural producers and rural entrepreneurs can transform struggling communities into thriving places," the IFAD President added.

"We need a dramatic shift in thinking to help the world's poorest break the cycle of hunger and poverty by 2030. We cannot allow them to be left behind," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

"We must invest in the most vulnerable and ensure that they have the tools they need not only to overcome hunger, but to enhance their resources and capabilities."

The report noted how the international community needs to build on the successful experiences of some countries that have effectively used a combination of investment and social protection to combat hunger and poverty in rural and urban areas.

In an advocacy note accompanying the report, the FAO, IFAD and WFP chiefs also noted that the Addis Ababa conference seeks to ensure that all countries, especially developing countries, have the means to implement national policies and programmes to achieve their development objectives, including the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.

Lifting people from below the poverty line and making this sustainable

According to the report, a "business as usual" approach would still leave some 650 million people hungry in 2030.

It contrasts this with a combined social protection and investment scenario whereby public funded transfers will be used to lift people out of chronic hunger by ensuring that they reach a US$1.25/day income which corresponds to the World Bank-determined poverty line level.

This social protection measure would cost an additional $116 billion per year - $75 billion for rural areas and $41 billion for urban areas. Some $151 billion in additional pro-poor investments - $105 billion for rural development and agriculture and $46 billion for urban areas - would also be required to stimulate income generation to the advantage of those living in poverty. The combination of social protection and investments brings the total to $267 billion.

Most of the investment would normally come from the private sector, especially farmers. However, private investments need to be complemented by additional public sector investments in rural infrastructure, transport, health and education.

In rural areas, pro-poor public investments could target small-scale irrigation and other infrastructure benefitting small holders. They could include measures such as food processing to reduce post-harvest waste and losses, as well as stronger institutional arrangements for land and water tenure, credit facilities, labour legislation, and other areas, to make farm and off-farm activities and markets accessible to marginalised groups, including women and young people.

In urban areas, the additional investments should ensure that people living in extreme poverty will eventually be able to provide for themselves.

The investments could, for example, target capacity building to impart entrepreneurial and other skills, including craftsmanship, and ensure fair labour contracts, provide credit facilities, housing as well as nutrition-related services.

From social protection to production

Social protection in the form of cash transfers will eliminate hunger immediately, and will improve nutrition by allowing the poor to afford more diverse and thus healthier diets and also fight "hidden hunger" - micronutrient deficiencies, including the inadequate intake of vitamins, iron and other minerals.

Given their meagre means and assets, people living in extreme poverty are initially not expected to be able to invest much in productive activities. However, as they become more productive through investments, they will earn more, and also save and invest more, and thus further increase their earnings.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

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