Secure access to land is key to poverty reduction, IFAD President asserts

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Secure access to land is key to poverty reduction, IFAD President asserts

Press release number: IFAD 21/04

Rome , 24 May 2004 “…Secure access to natural resources, especially land, is fundamental to the eradication of hunger and poverty,” said Lennart Båge, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The links between secure access to land and poverty reduction will be discussed at a plenary session of the Conference on Scaling Up Poverty Reduction, organized by the World Bank and the Government of China, to be held in Shanghai 25-27 May. The session will be chaired by Båge and will take place on Thursday, 27 May.

Discussion will focus on ways to ensure secure access to land – by strengthening the capacity of rural poor people and their institutions to participate in decision-making and advance their own interests.

Rural poor people depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods, but the majority have limited access to land. This makes agriculture a difficult solution to poverty for people who have few assets and limited alternative ways of making an income.

There are compelling reasons for ensuring that rural poor people have secure access to land. It makes possible greater agricultural productivity and food security, economic growth in rural areas, increased family incomes and more-sustainable land use. It also contributes to conflict prevention and helps reduce migration to urban centres.

Access to land also empowers rural poor people, strengthens networks that give them a voice and contributes to a more participatory political culture.

This is a central issue both for IFAD and for the International Land Coalition (ILC), which will also participate in the session. The ILC, a global alliance of intergovernmental, governmental and civil-society organizations, is housed at IFAD. It works with rural poor people to increase their secure access to natural resources, especially land, and to enable them to participate directly in policy and decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods at local, national, regional and international levels.

IFAD is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. Through low-interest loans and grants, it develops and finances projects that enable rural poor people to overcome poverty themselves. Since 1978, it has invested USD 8.1 billion in more than 653 rural development projects in 115 countries and territories around the world. These projects have enabled over 250 million small farmers, herders, fisherfolk, landless workers, artisans and indigenous peoples to make a better life for themselves and for their families.