Rural people in crisis: The latest news from IFAD

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Rural people in crisis: The latest news from IFAD

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©IFAD/Francesco Cabras

Rural communities across the world are up against a myriad of challenges.

From Latin America, across Africa and the Middle East, all the way to the Pacific Islands – poor rural communities and small rural producers are up against a mammoth combination of crisis factors, including the effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine, a lingering pandemic, climate change, inflation and financial, social or political fragility.

The costs of food, fertilizer and fuel have surged dramatically against a backdrop of converging crises, including conflict and displacement.  

Although food price pressures eased up during the summer with the resumption of shipments of grain from Ukraine, not everyone breathed a sigh of relief. In many countries, food prices remained higher than the same time last year, while in poor rural communities, the unwavering high cost of inputs, such as fertilizer, and transport continues to threaten livelihoods and food systems.

As part of IFAD's ongoing efforts to build rural people's resilience to shocks, the Crisis Response Initiative was set up to meet increased needs of vulnerable communities, protect the livelihoods of small-scale producers and preserve development gains.

Here are selected highlights on the crisis from our teams in the field.

Latin America and the Caribbean

  • High food and fuel prices have sparked an uptick in social unrest across several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, while IFAD target groups have been hit hardest by an increase in fertilizer prices.

  • A slight decrease in food prices since July in Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay has done little to ease the lingering food insecurity for rural communities. 

West and Central Africa

  • From protests against rising food and fuel prices in Sierra Leone to Chad declaring a food emergency, the West and Central Africa region is experiencing a period of major instability that is likely to worsen as the number of countries in high debt and debt distress increases.

East and Southern Africa

  • Remote farming communities in the region are bracing themselves for high prices for inputs and fuel as they near the new season in October.

Near East, North Africa and Central Europe

  • Years of insecurity in Lebanon and Tunisia have been exacerbated by the fall in basic food commodities and the loss in purchasing power.

  • Limited access to staples including wheat, sugar, coffee, and milk is affecting in particular those in remote areas.

Asia and the Pacific

  • In Afghanistan, a small glimmer of hope, after the release of some grains from Ukraine and a good wheat harvest. This, say experts on the ground, could ease some of the pressure on rural livelihoods and food security – but the situation remains deeply fragile.
  • In Sri Lanka, where rural communities were already reeling from an internal economic crisis, the spike in fertilizers and fuel cost and the devaluation of the local currency has further exacerbated a volatile situation.
  • Almost 2,000 people died in the floods that hit Pakistan over the summer. In addition to human loss, the floods also damaged the country’s food supply, leading to a greater need for imports of wheat, seed and fertilizer.

IFAD’s global food crisis update illustrates the extent to which conflict in one region can impact the rest of the world, and in particular, communities that live below the poverty line or in remote areas – or both.

With Ukraine and Russia being major global suppliers of wheat, gas, fertilizers and other commodities, food insecurity will continue to be a problem that weighs heavily on local governments and citizens.