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Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty (MDG 1)

Target 1: reduce by half the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day, by 2015

Eliminating extreme poverty, defined in monetary terms, implies above all a policy of support for growth and development. This includes sectors of action which are generally excluded from the strictest reading of the MDGs: energy, transport, professional training not aimed at the young, non food agricultural sectors; and do not necessarily involve the poorest populations given that they include the banking and financial sectors and manufacturing. However, energy is an essential factor in sustainable development questions; professional training is a key element in fighting against poverty... J. Sachs, director of the Millennium Project, has declared infrastructure work in the energy and transport sectors one of the key policies for achieving the MDG. And France has recognised expertise in precisely these sectors.

In order to consolidate the connection between economic development policies and effective reduction of poverty, a great deal of attention has been focused on drawing up Strategic Frameworks Against Poverty (CSLP - Cadres Stratégiques de Lutte contre la Pauvreté (CSLP). The Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP) [1] supports the development, application and follow up of the CSLP, through a budget of 2.8 million Euros deployed to finance missions to support and train towards the creation of CSLPs aimed at collecting, analysing and communicating information on poverty; consolidating the application of poverty reduction budget plans within national strategies; improving coherence and efficacy of sector based policies and macro-economic policies; and supporting the deconcentrated and decentralised application of the said sector based policies.

In order to measure the impact of these development policies on absolute poverty, the PSF has financed a project on the ‘methods and tools for development strategies in the fight against poverty", to an amount of 900,000€. Within this framework, DIAL [2] has carried out studies to analyse the link between growth and inequality and also the link between socio-economic inequality and social cohesion. Furthermore, a statistics element has been funded which includes carrying out and analysing studies 1-2-3 in Africa to permit monitoring and evaluation of poverty and analysis of the poverty dynamic in Africa.

Target 2: reduce by half before 2015 the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

-  Malnutrition and food insecurity currently affects some 840 million people and the situation is worsening in Africa. Over ¾ of these populations live in a rural environment which explains the key role played by agriculture (improvement of food resources, generating revenues).
-  France allocates some 350 million Euros of development aid (APD) to this sector with 10% being dedicated to food assistance.
-  Aid for agriculture and food security is mainly targeted on the Priority Solidarity Zone (ZSP) (90% of the aid) with a less marked targeting on Africa and the Least Developed Countries (PMA) (around 60%).
-  A wide range of instruments has been deployed: project by gifts (29%), project aid by loans (15%), subsidies to French specialist research centres (29%), contributions to the IFAD and the FAO (8%), food aid (10%), technical assistance (4%), NGO subsidies (3%). Multilateral contributions represent approximately 20% of French aid in this sector. Over and above the IFAD and FAO obligatory contributions, it is comprised of food aid via the WFP and targeted fiduciary funds.

The rural sector is characteristically highly complex with many different sectors overlapping:

  • International environment;
  • National and regional public policies;
  • Pre-production management with environmental and land management concerns, the importance of innovation (research) and expert advice;
  • Local economic environment (credit, selling, services for producers, markets for goods and services);
  • Socio-economic realities for producers and their professional organisations.

French aid in the agricultural sector covers all of these complex aspects with an accent placed on five priority areas:

  • Prevention and response to crises and the fight against malnutrition via an improvement of early warning systems and needs evaluation systems, crisis prevention and management, notably in rural environments, the promotion of community based nutritional initiatives and targeted food aid.
  • Strengthening of food security and an improvement in living conditions in the rural environment. This requires an increase in production security while ensuring sustainable development of natural resources and ecosystems. It is accompanied by the development of social infrastructures in rural environments, secured access to land and the improvement of revenues for smallholders and improved value derived from local agricultural production.
  • Strengthening the competitiveness of agricultural production in developing countries. Basic products, notably agricultural produce, currently represent the majority share of export income in developing countries (cotton, livestock, etc.). Downward trends with regards to international prices have the knock on effect of slowing development and heightening poverty in rural zones. Key objectives therefore comprise limiting the impact of price volatility on producers’ revenues, developing local markets to reduce dependency on international markets and improving the organisation of professional market structures.
  • Strengthening the institutional environment. This requires first and foremost coordination of decision makers active in hunger prevention policies, deployment and strengthening of national and regional public agricultural policies, institutional capacity building and strengthening coordination between economic, agricultural and environmental policies. This must be carried out within a framework of good governance and within a new context of greater levels of participation from civil society stakeholders.
  • Strengthening scientific and technological bases. Promotion of sustainable agricultural and rural development requires new production and foodstuffs methods. This objective requires new bases of scientific and technological skills to be developed and communicated and a major effort to be deployed in terms of training all those involved (researchers, developers, administrations and social and economic actors) with regards to production methods which preserve the environment (management of soil fertility and water resources, reasoned use of fertilisers and healthcare products, etc.).

Supporting the rural development policy in Laos - target 1 of MDG 1

The capitalisation programme aimed at supporting the rural development programme in Laos is a particularly eloquent illustration of the complexity and wealth of French operations in the agricultural sector. The objective of the programme is to contribute to the country’s economic development and poverty reduction through the deployment of an efficient rural development policy adapted to the local context and also the country’s international environment. The content of the programme is based on strengthening the link between the structures in charge of drawing up rural development policies and strategies and the actual projects deployed in the field. It directly includes:

  • an institutional support element to (i) help the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) to monitor, evaluate and capitalise upon the experience gained from the various projects it is running and to develop its role of coordinator between the other ministries and financial backers (ii) diversify basic or continued training courses for rural development managers run by the Nabong Faculty of Agriculture (FAN) and to heighten the quality of these course, and (iii) help the National Institute of Agronomic and Forestry Research (NAFRI) to develop and communicate agro-ecological techniques;
  • two provincial areas of application: (i) one in the south of Sayaboury province, where the problem is development of mountain region agriculture based on food producing production exported to Thailand which include questions of the organisation of animal health services and the distribution of veterinary products, the definition of regulatory strategies, control and distribution of incoming agricultural materials... and (ii) the other on the Boloven plateau which is aimed at promoting quality coffee production mainly through organising producers and defining their relations with other actors in the sector.

The present initiative will also add value to other field projects financed by French aid or by another other financial backers wishing to take part.

[1] the FSP contributes towards the development of countries in Priority Solidarity Zones in the form of gifts, projects and material and service based investment programmes.

[2] Economic interest group carrying out economic analyses and statistical surveys relative to development.


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