Saturday, April 23, 2011

Learning to live with poverty

So it may seem as the absolute number of poor has consistently grown – by current estimate an estimated over 1.4 billion women, men and children live in extreme poverty. Increasingly volatile food prices, the uncertain effects of climate change, and stifling of rural livelihoods by development juggernaut have impacted efforts to reduce poverty.

Despite the prescription to eradicate poverty having failed thus far, the Rural Poverty Report stays optimistic about eradicating rural poverty by the application of new opportunities that smallholder farmers can apply to boost their productivity. But, poverty eradication is inextricably intertwined with the need to feed the urban population, projected to touch 9 billion by 2050.

The report positions poverty within the market-driven demand-supply conundrum, seeking the need to strengthen the collective capabilities of rural people. While stressing the need for reforming the distorted global regime for trade in agricultural products, the report makes a demand on national stakeholders to provide an enabling environment for the smallholders.

Curiously, however, existing national policies may have removed poverty in many societies but that has been done by expanding the proportion and the absolute number of the destitute. Being a global agency that aims to ‘combat hunger and poverty in developing countries through low-interest loans’, IFAD views rural poverty predominantly from an asset perspective.

While acknowledging the multidimensional nature of poverty, the report misses out on the fact that poverty is a paradox of plural democracy that is wedded to global capitalism. Further, it does not take into account the glaring reality that as poverty gets increasingly associated with ethnic and cultural groups it loses political plot for its eradication. Consequently, it remains a game in `numbers’ that national governments and aid agencies play with growing immunity.

Published a decade after it had released its first poverty report, IFAD has covered significant new ground in analyzing the status of rural poverty across the world in the latest edition of its Rural Poverty Report. Although its conclusions are largely predictable, the report should nevertheless serve as a useful reference to researchers and planners.....Link

Rural Poverty Report 2011
IFAD, Rome, 319 pages, Price not quoted

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