From the Inter Press Service, writer Sabina Zaccaro unpacks the study for us.
Rural poverty rates have dropped only slightly in the last decade in South Asia, home to the world’s largest number of rural poor, about 500 million. Most of them are considered extremely poor.
Only 11 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are reported to live in extreme poverty, and six million in the Middle East and North Africa. But the largest percentage increases in the number of hungry people in 2009 relative to 2008 were in the Middle East and North Africa, 14 percent, and in Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 percent.
Volatile food prices, the effects of climate change, and a range of natural resource constraints will further complicate the fight to rural poverty, according to the report.
The report also points out that over the past ten years, 350 million rural people managed to escape desperate poverty, though global poverty remains a predominantly rural phenomenon. About 70 percent of the world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas.
The report notes that over the past decade, extreme poverty in the rural areas of developing countries has dropped from 48 percent to 34 percent. The greatest improvement is in East Asia, particularly China.
The number of extreme poor in this region fell by about two-thirds over the past decade, from 365 million to 117 million, as did the rate of extreme poverty, from 44 to 15 percent.
The study points out that changes in agricultural markets are leading to new opportunities for smallholder farmers to boost productivity.