Sunday, April 15, 2012
IFAD: The State Of Rural Poverty Today
The population of the developing world is still more rural than urban: some 3.1 billion people or 55 percent of the total population, live in rural areas, according to International Development Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 2011 report on rural poverty.
However, between 2020 and 2025, the total rural population will peak and then start to decline, and the developing world’s urban population will overtake its rural population, the report added.
The report cited Latin America and the Caribbean, and the East and South East Asia where the number of rural people is already in decline.
Elsewhere, the growth of rural populations is slowing, while numbers will start to decline around 2025 in the Middle East and North Africa and in South and Central Asia, and around 2045 in sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite massive progress in reducing poverty in some parts of the world over, the past couple of decades-notably in East Asia-there are still 1.4 billion people living on less than US $1.25 a day, and close to one billion people suffering from hunger are children and young people.
The IFAD 2011 rural poverty report revealed that neither of these facts is likely to change in the immediate future, despite widespread urbanisation and demographic changes in all regions.
South Asia, with the greatest number of poor rural people, and sub-Saharan Africa, with the highest incidence of rural poverty, are the regions worst affected by poverty and hunger.
Levels of poverty vary considerably however, not just across regions and countries, but also within countries.
The livelihoods of poor rural households are across regions and countries, and within countries. Livelihoods are derived, to varing degrees, from smallholder farming-including livestock production and artisanal fisheries-agricultural wage labour, wage or self-employment in the rural non-farm economy and migration.
While some households rely primarily on one type of activities, most a vital role in most seek to diversify their livelihood base as a way to reduce risk.
Agriculture, the report stated also, plays a vital role in most countries-over 80 percent of rural households farm to some extend, and typically it is the poorest households that rely most on farming and agricultural labour.
However, non-farm income sources are generally important across regions, and income gains at the household level are generally associated with a shift towards more non-agricultural wages and self-employment income.
Rural poverty result from lack of assets, limited economic opportunities and poor education and capacities, as well as disadvantages rooted in social and political inequalities.
Yet, large numbers of households move in and out of poverty repeatedly, sometimes within a matter of years, the report highlighted.
So, while there are rural households that find themselves in chronic, or persistent poverty, relatively large proportions of people are poor only at specific points in time.
Households fall into poverty primarily as a result of shocks such as ill health, poor harvest, social expenses, or conflict and diseases.
Mobility out of poverty is associated with personal initiative and enterprise.
It is highly correlated with household characteristics such as education and ownership of physical assets, and it is also dependent on good health.