Washington, DC — New analysis published today by ONE has found that 50 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty and 15 million children could be saved from chronic malnutrition if world leaders take urgent action to break the cycle of poverty and hunger in 30 of the world’s poorest countries. These new findings have been released to mark the launch of Thrive, ONE’s ambitious new campaign that calls on each of us to play our part in tackling the root causes of hunger and extreme poverty.
More than a billion people – one in five of the world’s population – live on less than $1.25 a day. This year, 178 million young children, more than twice the number of children in the United States, will be stunted due to malnutrition. Their brains and bodies will never recover.
Campaigners in France, Germany, the UK and the US will mark the launch of Thrive by staging “seed sowing” events at famous landmarks that highlight the need for investment in agriculture. In Washington DC, activists will gather at the pedestrian walkway in front of the White House and hand out seedlings asking people to participate in the campaign. They will also encourage passers-by to send a plantable seed-paper postcard to the White House urging the President to support effective, sustainable programs that save lives.
ONE and our supporters are calling on African leaders, donor governments and the private sector to focus on 30 of the poorest countries that already have smart agriculture and nutrition plans that are tested and affordable. Investing in these plans will help smallholder farmers produce more food, generate bigger incomes and pull themselves out of poverty. They will also give children a better chance to survive and thrive. Focusing on these 30 plans will pave the way for similar progress in other countries.
However, ONE’s analysis highlights a significant funding gap, as just 50% of the total funds required to implement the agriculture investment plans has been identified. This leaves a gap of around $27 billion that needs to be filled by donors, the private sector and developing countries themselves between now and 2015.
“The Thrive campaign asks each of us to help break the cycle of hunger and poverty by calling on world leaders to support these country-owned plans and fill the funding gaps,” said Ben Leo, Global Policy Director at ONE. “ONE’s new analysis shows that sustained investment in small-scale farming, together with a focus on ensuring children have enough nourishing food to eat, will have a huge impact on tens of millions of people around the world living in extreme poverty.”
ONE is asking governments to agree to a new compact on food security and nutrition in 2012, which should include:
• A new initiative at the G8 level to build on the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative that is results-driven, and that includes clear goals to lift 50 million people out of poverty and save 15 million children from stunting through investment in country-owned plans in 30 low-income countries;
• A renewal of the commitment made by African governments in 2003 to invest 10% of their national budgets in agriculture and rural development, while setting out new and improved goals with greater transparency and accountability;
• A new push to galvanise private sector investment in agriculture; and
• Measures to tackle volatility in global food markets, which have a disproportionate impact on the world’s poorest people.
Speaking at a ONE event to highlight the importance of agriculture in Dar es Salaam last month, President Kikwete of Tanzania said, “While agriculture employs at least 70% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, its potential is underutilized. Agricultural investment is no longer an option but a priority that calls for more resources to boost food productivity, to end hunger and generate more income through exports.”
About the Report: The report identifies 30 low-income countries that already have internationally endorsed agriculture investment plans. Together, these countries are home to around 26% of the world’s 1.4 billion people in extreme poverty, and 90% of the poorest people in sub-Saharan Africa. If fully-funded, these plans could lift an estimated 50 million people out of poverty within the coming decade. Of these 30 countries, 18 are also aligned with the UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement which aims to support national plans to substantially reduce undernutrition. The plans are ready to be implemented by governments, but need support and additional resources. The 18 SUN countries are home to 24% of the world’s stunted children. With sufficient resources to deliver the plans, alongside investment in agriculture, ONE estimates that 100 million young children could be less malnourished, and 15 million children under 5 could be saved from stunting.