In the past month, you’ve been hearing from us that, to really make aid count, leaders must pledge 50% of it to the least-developed countries (LDCs) in the world. This is a huge part of the BFD (that’s big funding deal) that we want to see happen at the Financing for Development (FFD) meeting Addis Ababa in a couple weeks.
Earlier this month, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) put out their annual State of Food Insecurity report. This year’s report has some added significance because it marks the end of the fifteen-year monitoring period for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). And there is some good news – the world has achieved the target set in 2000 to halve the proportion of undernourished in the world.
However, this global success masks seriously uneven progress. Buried in an endnote in the publication lies this fact – since 1990, China and India alone account for 81% of the total reduction. In LDCs, on the other hand, the total number of undernourished has increased by 20 million people over the past 10 years, and their share of the world’s undernourished has increased by 10% (to 30%) since 1990.
Yes, the proportion of undernourished has gone down in the LDCs (-10% over 10 years), but it is decreasing at a rate that is still significantly slower than that of developing countries as a whole. To put it simply, if all of the LDCs were a single country, they would not have met the MDG goal, and, considering that the proposed target for the next set of goals (the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs) is zero hunger, we have a long way to go before 2030.
These facts don’t mean that ending hunger in these countries is an intractable problem – in fact there are tremendous success stories among LDCs in reducing hunger. Angola, Dijbouti, Mali, & Sao Tome and Principe have all made amazing progress. These countries have not only met the MDG target, they have also met the more ambitious target made at the World Food Summit in 1996 to cut the total number of people suffering from hunger in half. We need more of these success stories.
Success is not out of reach for any country in the world; but it requires resources, political will, and targeted measures like social safety nets. That is where the BFD comes in.
The solution is more than how much aid goes where – we need mutual accountability to end hunger and extreme poverty by 2030.
We call on donors of the European Union to grow to 0.7% of GNI, consistent with the their 2015 deadline. Of the major donors, only the United Kingdom has met this ambition. We demand that 50% of that aid to go to LDCs. Of major donors, Japan & the UK are close. More donors, including Ireland and Belgium have recently stepped up and are committing to give 50% of their aid to LDCs.
We believe that governments that receive aid should agree to a minimum amount of spending for basic services (or “social safety nets”) around nutrition, health and education, particularly for the poorest and most marginalized. The FAO report specifically states that social protection has directly contributed to hunger reduction. Addis is an apt location for this meeting, as Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program has proven to have had a positive impact on reducing poverty and hunger in vulnerable populations.
Governments also need to increase domestic resources to reduce hunger and poverty by utilizing fair tax policies, curbing corruption and stemming illicit financial flows. Ending hunger by 2030 will require a renewed commitment to inclusive growth – particularly agricultural development, infrastructure, energy poverty, trade and private finance.
Finally, none of this will be achieved – especially in agriculture, food security and nutrition, without strong accountability through a data revolution, without being able to reliably measure progress. We’ve made fair, but uneven, progress in reducing hunger in the past 15 years –to finish the job, we are going to have to put the poorest first.
This year is not one for business as usual. If leaders are serious about ending extreme poverty, they must prove that they’ll do what it takes to get to that last mile. Let’s make sure they do! Go on Twitter now and tell them to #DoWhatsRight at #FFD3!