It is no Longer a Question of Outside Experts Deciding What is Best for the Rural Poor

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It is no Longer a Question of Outside Experts Deciding What is Best for the Rural Poor

Press release number: IFAD 39/02

IFAD To Launch Rural Poverty Strategy For Asia And The Pacific: Hotel Novotel Soechi Medan
25-26 Sept 2002

Jakarta; Medan: More than two thirds of the world's poor are in Asia, and poverty is disproportionately concentrated in the rural areas of the region. To reduce poverty in the Asia and the Pacific Region, all strategies of policy and programme - must focus on the poorer households in less favoured areas, with special emphasis on women and the various marginalized peoples.

''While investing in the rural poor is necessary, understanding how to do it better is crucial. It is no longer a question of outside experts deciding what is best for the poor and imposing predefined solutions on them'', says Phrang Roy, Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).'' We must remember that a key element of human dignity for any individual is gaining control over major decisions that affect his or her welfare'' Roy emphasises.

Through its work in the region, IFAD has found that poverty is not just multidimensional. Findings point to the fact that individuals have been deprived of their capabilities to lead the kind of lives they value; this capability approach pioneered by the Nobel Prize winner, Mr.Amartya Sen underlies our strategies to reduce poverty. Poverty reduction, then, is not a matter only of service delivery. It is about finding ways and means to enhance the agency of the poor, of women and of men to transform their production capabilities and their lives.

East and South East Asia have provided the world with a shining example of what economic growth can do for human development. But some of the socio-economic issues that have recently emerged seem to highlight the limitations of a poverty reduction strategy that focuses on high economic growth alone. These limitations are proving to be major constraints to the reduction of rural poverty.

Note to Editors: Mr. Baragan Saragih, Minister of Agriculture, Indonesia, and Mr. Phrang Roy, Assistant President, IFAD External Affairs Department, will be addressing a joint Press Conference in Medan, on 25 September 2002 at 9.45 a.m. Hotel Novotel Soechi Medan, Tel. 62-61-4561234. Refreshments will be served.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations with the specific mandate of combating hunger and poverty in the most disadvantaged regions of the world. Since 1978 IFAD has financed 603 projects in 115 recipient countries and in the West Bank and Gaza for a total commitment of approximately USD 7.3 billion in loans and grants. Through these projects, about 250 million rural people have had a chance to move out of poverty. IFAD makes the greater part of its resources available to low income countries on very favourable terms, with up to 40 years repayment and including a grace period of up to ten years and a service charge of 0.75% per year.