Gambia: FAO Rep - Poverty Remains a Predominantly Rural Problem

The country representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in The Gambia has stressed the need for efforts to be accelerated in the poverty reduction strides; saying "poverty remains a predominantly rural problem, as the majority of the world's poor are located in rural areas."

Dr. Babagana Ahmadu, who addressed the opening ceremony of the launch of a US$34M International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) funded project, also disclosed that it is estimated that 76 percent of the developing world's poor live in rural areas. Disparities between rural and urban areas, the FAO local boss pointed out, are on the rise, particularly in many developing and transitional countries.

"Globally," he indicated, "rural people and rural places tend to be disadvantaged relative to their urban counterparts and poverty rates increase as rural areas become more remote." Equally lamented by the FAO country representative is that people living in the rural areas tend to have less access to social services, exacerbating the effects of rural poverty.

"Over the years, there has been tremendous support to various types of interventions aimed at reducing poverty, and as it stand now it looks like most developing countries will not meet this critical target. Therefore, the fundamental questions [are] related to key critical issues such as insufficiency of assistance, miss-targeting of resources, lack of effective strategies or understanding the poverty and its dynamics. All could be true but one thing that stands out clearly is that resources made available to fight poverty are not being managed optimally for producing positive results - poor-project delivery," he stressed.

The FAO local boss further lamented that about 1.4 billion people still live in abject poverty despite the numerous national and global efforts during the past years on the first target of the Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to decrease extreme poverty by one-half by the year 2015. He indicated that as of 2011, the poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounted for five percent of total global income while the richest 20 percent accounted for three-quarters of the world's income.

"Furthermore, rural areas account for three in every four people living on less than US$1 a day and similar share of the world population suffering from malnutrition," he remaked, while assuring of their commitment to alleviating poverty

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