World Bank plan aims at ending poverty, hunger by 2030

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of its spring meeting this year in Washington, the World Bank has outlined an action plan with an aim to ending poverty and hunger by 2030.

The World Bank, in its report “Ending Poverty and Hunger by 2030: An Agenda for the Global Food System”, says: “We stand at a critical moment in history, where we can and we must help shape the evolution of the global food system,” the report says.

With 800 million people going to bed hungry every night, countries combating hunger must build better food systems that improve agricultural productivity in rural areas, invest in improving nutritional outcomes for young children and pregnant women, and boost climate-smart agriculture that can withstand a warmer planet, says the report released on Thursday.

In 2010, over 900m poor people (78 per cent of the poor) lived in rural areas, with about 750m working in agriculture (63pc of the total poor). About 200m rural poor could migrate to urban areas by 2030, based on urbanisation projections and assuming migration of a proportional share of the rural population that is poor (if three from every 10 people who migrate are poor). This will leave about 700m poor people in rural areas to be lifted out of poverty by 2030.

The report focuses on three areas that can have the greatest impact. The first is climate-smart agriculture. Climate change is projected to reduce crop yields by 15 to 20pc in the poorest regions if temperatures rise above two degrees Celsius.

This is also where food demand is expected to increase the most. Agriculture, forestry and other land-use changes account for about 25pc of harmful greenhouse gas emissions which are projected to increase.

The report said the food system must increasingly deliver three “wins” simultaneously: higher agricultural productivity, greater climate resilience, and reduced carbon emissions.

The second area is improving nutrition. Higher incomes improve access to food and nutritional outcomes, but to help end under-nutrition a broader approach beyond gains in income is required. Agriculture will need to become more nutrition-sensitive.

The report cited an analysis showing that scaling up 10 proven, nutrition-specific interventions in 34 countries having 90pc of the world’s children with stunted-growth could help reduce stunting by 20pc and prevalence of severe wasting by 60pc.

The third area is strengthening value across food chains and improving market access. Food demand is projected to grow over the next 15 years by about 60pc in sub-Saharan Africa and 30pc in South Asia.

The report says that poor farmers need to be better linked to markets to benefit from such growth. The report also outlines policy and investment areas to help achieve this end.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2015

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