|Overcoming Global Hunger (WB)|
|Session three - targeted interventions: what works best to reduce hunger|
I Fawzi AZ-Sultan
This conference truly represents an opportunity to generate the political will to end hunger. I am here to commit IFAD fully to collaborate in that effort Today, more than 1 billion human beings are absolutely poor, most of whom live in rural areas, and three-fifths of whom are women. These groups live with hunger as a constant companion, with the threat of famine looming whenever drought or other adverse events occur. Hunger is not the only international problem, but in human terms it is perhaps the largest, and one that represents a major challenge to hopes for a new period of economic expansion and democratic transformation.
Let me offer a simple observation: rich people do not go hungry The problem of hunger is basically a problem of the inability of a large number of poor people mostly in developing countriesto command access to sufficient food. The question is, how do we improve that access and make it more secure?
For some the challenge is to increase the overall supply of food. For others it is general economic expansion. However, these sorts of macroeconomic developments are difficult to engineer. While the general expansion of employment and increased global food supplies are good objectives, they are bluntand slowinstruments for addressing the specific problem of hunger, because seldom do resources intended for general agricultural or rural development reach the poor and the hungry. The impact on hunger of broad-inrush support for agricultural development has often been disappointing: the poor and hungry still have little access to land, credit, training, or technology. There are also risks of adverse effects on the poor during the transitional periods of adjustment programs. We must make sure that the poor do not fall through the cracks in the matrix of reform.
To combat hunger, therefore, we have to be more direct in our approach. But trying to deal witch hunger as a matter of welfare is simply not financially feasible for most developing eloping countries. IFAD's fifteen years of operational experience in 100 developing countries suggest that the only sustainable response to hunger as a mass phenomenon is to enable smallholder farmers, the landless, and poor rural women to improve their own productive and income-generating capacities Empowering the poor with the resources necessary to pull themselves out of hunger would not only have a direct impact on hunger, it would also contribute to national growth by increasing the supply of food and other crops and widening the market for manufactures. However, resources are scarce, and to make the maximum impact on hunger we have to ensure that our support has an explicit beneficiary orientation and is as carefully targeted as possible to the hungry to minimize leakages to other groups.
In what follows, I will principally be referring to solutions to chronic poverty. However, IFADs work in drought stricken areas shows that the development of more resilient production systems can significantly reduce the impact of natural disasters. Moreover, actions taken during the course of emergency operations can become the seeds of resumed and sustainable development in the future. Working with the World Food.
Programme, example, we have found that food aid provided through targeted food-for-work schemes can be made into a development resource that supplies immediate needs and strengthens future production capacities.
Unfortunately, some misunderstandings about the idea of targeting still exist. Some economic purists believe that targeting represents a misallocation of resources into areas that would not be served under free market conditions because of lower returns. The reality is, however, that in many of the rural areas in which the hungry live and IFAD operates, markets are weak and monopolistic, and sometimes virtually nonexistent. In these circumstances untargeted resources do not necessarily flow to the highest return areas; they tend to flow to the most socially powerful Apart from market failures, there are also significant government failures, including weak government institutions, that fail to reach the poor and respond to the priorities of the socially powerful. A clear orientation toward poor beneficiaries and effective targeting can foster participatory grassroots institutions through which the poor can express their needs and obtain productive services. Rather than creating distortions, targeting can thus help to overcome institutional failures, both in markets and in governments, in their capacity to reach the poor.
The type of targeting I have in mind involves identifying the specific obstacles the hungry face in raising their incomes and food production and seeking to eliminate these constraints in a sustainable way. Naturally this necessitates better identification of who is hungry and at risk. We also require a better understanding of the underlying causes of why people are hungry. This sort of understanding of the who and the why of hunger leads to a positive type of targeting. One example is credit. Targeted credit using group guarantees to replace collateral requirements that builds, where possible, on traditional informal financial institutions, can sharply reduce transaction costs and offer the poor the means to use purchased inputs to improve their productivity. In IFAD projects we have found that the repayment rates of the poor, especially women, are extremely high The poor are bankable.
Another powerful form of targeting is to encourage research to emphasize technologies suitable for smallholder farmers and to develop extension systems that respond to their needs. Yet another is a focus on small-scale water conservation and control methods and on the crops and animals poor farmers raise. Other forms of targeting are also important. Apart from food-for-work schemes, employment guarantee schemes and strengthening health, education, and nutrition services in poorer regions have proved effective. In our view targeting means focusing on issues that are of special and unique concern to the poor, which requires both resources and a willingness to give these issues the necessary priority.
Targeting has to be complemented with eliciting t e full participation of the intended beneficiaries, offering the hungry the means to choose, and to benefit from, the productive services and institutions they need to change their situation. The beneficiaries' involvement in project design and implementation often lowers the costs of implementation and improves the project's sustainability. In the IFAD-supported Niger project, which we are presenting as a case study, for example, the involvement and contributions of the beneficiaries to development work has lowered the cost of irrigated land in the project to less than US$1,800 per hectare, one of the lowest in the country. Access to small-scale irrigation allows the villagers to produce a highly profitable green pepper crop, with significant and lasting increases in their incomes. In the other case study the project in Indonesia, the target group has been offered the means for self-reliant development through a group based credit scheme that has given them access to bank financing As a result the beneficiaries have increased their incomes by as much as 50 percent in three years. Moreover, an institutional structure for poverty alleviation has been forged that is both cost-effective and sustainable, as well as being capable of countrywide replication.
There is now, I believe, enough experience of effective interventions at the microeconomic level and macroeconomic policy adjustment programs to provide the basis for a coherent approach to the challenge of hunger. It is evident that well-conceived macroeconomic and sectoral policies are of critical importance for underpinning the process of development. We are certainly not saying that they should be abandoned: experience shows that targeted hunger projects have the most sustainable results when developed in a supporting macroeconomic and sectoral framework. To overcome hunger what we have to ensure is that the function of targeting the poor is performed, that it is adequately funded, and that it is supported by the right policies and programs at the sectoral and macroeconomic levels.
This does not mean, however, that all development institutions should be doing the same thing. Each has accumulated different experiences and has different comparative advantages. Take the example of macroeconomic policy formulation. While many institutions have sought to claim expertise in macroeconomic policy formulation, it is the Bretton Woods institutions that have the operational experience in and practical responsibility for these issues. What is true of macroeconomic programs is also true of targeted hunger eradication projects. Experience in and responsibility for targeting resources to the poor and hungry do make a difference, and we should recognize and build upon this as we organize our campaign against hunger. I would also say that a comparative advantage and experience should better govern the division of labor among multilateral institutions, it should also affect the way we deal with NGOs. NGOs have a unique capability of leading innovation at the local level. They are the pathfinders who seek out means of getting people to participate and test options without huge investments. Professor Yunus' Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, for instance, is an outstanding example of a local initiative that later could be scaled up into a large, national-level endeavor. We in IFAD are proud that we were among the fist to recognize and give outside support to what Professor Yunus is seeking to do.
The general need for a greater focus on the hungry and more cooperation has often been verbally acknowledged I would like to make a more concrete gesture of intent on the part of IFAD. I am therefore committing IFAD to shifting its resources toward the most direct possible delivery to the poor and hungry To that end, I am working for IFAD to reduce its own costs in the project development cycle by more than 20 percent next year while maintaining the same level of financial commitment to projects and programs for the hungry and poor. We are also seeking stronger collaboration with other development and financial institution-s. During the last decade, the trend in IFAD has been toward a higher and higher percentage of projects initiated by IFAD. This may have been justified for a certain period by the preoccupation of the major international financial institutions with macroeconomic rather than poverty issues. But it is no longer justified. I have instructed my staff to raise significantly the level of collaboration with other multilateral and bilateral development finance institutions in the coming year by every means we can devise.
A proper attack on hunger requires a real partnership to deal with the obstacles the hungry face, principally as producers, for the poor are rarely simply poor, they are poor farmers, poor fishermen, poor herders. And it involves changing our own style. It means reducing the drive by all institutions to seek to address everything, while simultaneously making exaggerated claims to policy uniqueness. It also means moving toward more practical collaboration that really draws on the strengths of each institution.
Talking about targeting and collaboration would not be very useful without referring to the role of the single most important global development institution, the World Bank. The Bank's commitment to resolving the question of hunger will be decisive, and its sponsorship of this conference is a clear reaction of this commitment. The poverty assessments the Bank is undertaking in a number of countries to identify the causes of poverty is a further indication of that commitment. May I express my hope that these assessments can be made a more collaborative exercise from which all of us could benefit.
We also have to reflect upon what sort of commitment to hunger will make the crucial difference. First, I believe that what we should aim for is not the reduction of hunger, but its elimination. This offers a clear target to aim for, a yardstick by which to measure progress during the coming years. Second, and again reflecting the need for risible and quantifiable commitments, I believe that the World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions should consider earmarking specific and adequate resources for targeted attacks on hunger, funds that are large enough materially to reflect the magnitude of the problem. These funds should be available for supporting the projects and programs of institutions that have demonstrated their ability in the area of targeted and sustainable interventions against hunger. Such institution could include IFAD and other development agencies specialized this area, area, well as national institutions, NGOs, and private voluntary organizations.
To remind you of my earlier remark, legitimate universality of concerns does not necessarily imply equal experience in all areas of concern Experience at the macroeconomic level is not easily and immediately translatable into expertise in local-level, targeted operations. This is why our collaboration must emphasize and draw upon the unique capacities of each of us, and must ensure that the materials are available to make the most of them. This collaboration could be developed in at least three different forms. At present, the volume of resources devoted to overcoming hunger is simply too meager compared to the scale of the problem and the number of the hungry. IFAD, for example, can only finance one project every two or three years even in countries where large numbers of people suffer from chronic hunger It would be relatively easy and cost effective to replicate these projects elsewhere in these countries and have two projects a year there instead of one every second year. We all need to use our influence to assure that increased levels of resources are devoted to eliminating hunger.
A second from could involve complementing the sectoral and large scale infrastructure investments financed by the World Bank and other multilateral financial institutions by having other institutions, like my own, undertake components and activities that link these infrastructure investments to initiatives to reach the poor and hungry at the village and grassroots levels. We and the Bank are looking right now at exactly this kind of collaboration in Armenia. Such a collaborative linkage would give World Bank sectoral investments a greater beneficiary orientation, and thus increase their impact on eliminating hunger.
A third form could involve a sort of subcontracting, if I may put it like that, by the World Bank to institutions that have special experience with participatory efforts to alleviate poverty. Interventions in marginal areas with large numbers of poor, scattered beneficiaries need a simpler, more flexible, and more responsive project cycle to deal with the informal associations and organizations of the poor, the NGOs, and other grassroots institutions Approaches that are appropriate for large-scale infrastructure projects may not be cost effective in these areas, and this could provide a strong Logic for a subcontracting type of collaboration.
We have all been receiving signals that business as usual is not enough People are expecting something new and concrete from this conference. I think they want a new and specific focus on the elimination of hunger as a legitimate and separate objective. They want sufficient funds explicitly and separately allocated for this purpose. And they want to see those funds used by those who can use them best for the purpose: "universal" multilaterals, specialized international agencies, NGOs, and national-level institutions, with all of them acting in a mutually supportive fashion.
It is now within our power to satisfy these expectations and make real inroads into hunger, soon. What is needed is the willingness to invest in hunger eradication and to target the hungry, not to the exclusion of everything else, but as part, and an important part, of our regular activities, with quantifiable targets and quantifiable and separate means This conference hall is far from the world the poor and hungry inhabit, but if we show the commitment to launch a process of concrete programs and collaborative actions, we can translate the rhetoric here into meaningful changes in the daily lives of the hundreds of millions of the world's hungry.
Ruth Bamela Engo-Tjega
I represent the Advocates for African Food Security, a coalition of more than thirty nongovernmental organizations, representatives of United Nations bodies, governments, and inter governmental organizations working together on the issue of food security, with a special focus on the role of women food workers.
The work of this umbrella group, created in 1986, is built on three targeted interventions The first one derives from each human beings basic right to food, but in this case the right to food is not, as usually perceived, a right to receive food passively or a right to be assisted, but rather a right to merit one's own food. It is an active right that creates a responsibility to its holder and duties to the country and the international community expected to provide an appropriate environment.
The second targeted intervention of my organization focuses on women who are the main food providers, with a world of experience in all the stages of food systems. This intervention entails the recognition and support of women who are involved in food activities so that their productivity will eliminate hunger in their communities. One aspect of the support they need is a reduction of their burdens so that they have enough time to invest in ending hunger in their communities.
The third targeted intervention of the Advocates for African Food Security is the need to understand what we are aiming at and to define food security. Indeed, food security for the advocates means food produced, preserved, processed, stored, and distributed as close as possible to where it is consumed.
This perspective ensures that the index of local food security will be higher than the index of dependency on externally provided food, and the presence of a national strategy ensuring that the right to food is addressed at the highest political and planning levels.
To ensure the implementation of these three targeted interventions, the Advocates for African Food Security have initiated a process with three specific functions: the debate function, the advocacy function, and the need to build anti-hunger structures within the continent of Africa.
The debate function's objective is to clarify ideas concerning food security and hunger; ensure that major aspects of various definitions and strategies pertinent these issues are understood at the intentional, national, and local levels; and that the roles and duties of each group or level are well defined. This is important for negotiation and for planning purposes.
This debate is realized through the Advocates' yearly symposia and their participation in meetings like this one. The debate function has helped the Advocates to come up with their own definition of food security, which initially was: "food locally produced, processed, and stored, available year after year despite natural or human-made famine" The debate function also helped us to measure the limitations of our first definition as we recognized that all foods could not be locally produced This debate also helped to communicate to audiences like this and to individual countries that food is not a woman's issue, but a community issue that needs to be part of macroeconomic planning, whether it be at the international or country level.
The debate function finally helped to spell out states' internal and external duties, which range from providing land, credit, training, and other executive, legislative, and administrative measures oriented specifically toward the realization of food security, to ensuring that international policies on food do not place people of certain countries in a state of perpetual dependency.
The Advocates' second function is an advocacy function. The widespread concern to overcome hunger has not led to concrete actions We realize that hungry people, as we have all repeated in this conference, do not have a voice Our advocacy therefore started at the international negotiating level in 1986 with the negotiation of the United Nations Program of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development, through the LDC Program of Action adopted in Paris in 1990, and lately with the New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s adopted in 1991. Our involvement in these negotiations was to ensure that resources flowing to Africa will consider food security as one of the priorities in a continent where 168 million of its 650 million inhabitants go hungry.
In this advocacy process we learn that food security strategies are expensive and necessitate important infrastructures, such as storage, research, and so on. We learn to encourage the international community and institutions like the World Bank to address these expensive aspects that African countries cannot yet afford instead of distributing food. We also learn to highlight the danger created by industrial countries that flood African countries with surpluses of their subsidized food, discouraging local production, changing patterns of consumption, and eliminating many possibilities of employment, thereby encouraging migrations.
Building antihunger structures in Africa constitutes an action that gives a purpose to the Advocates' debate and advocacy functions. One aspect of this work has been to bung African women food workers to many of the international and national debates. This gives them the opportunity to clarify their own positions; to know what they stand for; and to understand the key role they play, not only in their families and communities, but also at the national and inter national levels, so that they can comprehend the magnitude of the problem and understand the need to work with others.
Our last three symposia were held in Ghana, Tanzania, and Cameroon In Ghana (1991), in a village with a deficit of food, the symposium led to women traders getting a vehicle from a rural bank to ensure that instead of spending four weeks searching for food to be sold in the village, they would only use three days. In Tanzania landless women farmers prepared a document for presensation to the local government that explained the importance of the link between food security and land ownership In so doing they became the voice of the hungry, the advocates within Tanzania In Cameroon the focus was on the quality of street foods used by the majority of hungry people in urban areas, reminding all of us that food security must, from the beginning, deal with both quantity and quality.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, I will share the following experience with you. When we were asked yesterday to give our vision of food security in the year 2000, my vision was, "that African palaces will eat the food of their land happily, and will make the whole continent feel happy and proud to do the same." I was a little bit destabilized when my neighbor on the right was shocked by my level of unconsciousness, that I could be here at this conference and not understand the urgency of the problem and be incapable of understanding that I needed to contribute three to five words toward a strategy that will work right away. He actually left the group, and I missed him This event made me think and helped me state something that is very close to my heart visions are abstractions that are so dear that you can actually touch them Visions need to be extremely clear and detailed so that we can, with no difficulty, put them into life. But clear visions have something a little bit spiritual that generally comes through a long experience of want and hope. It is a dream of a future that is not present and that may never come, but its importance remains.
My plea for all of us hunger activists is that we should spend some time listening to the visions of the hungry. It may help our interventions to be more targeted.
In bringing us together, the World Bank, the largest provider of financial assistance in so many countries, is going to help raise all of our expectations about what might be done to alleviate hunger throughout the world We certainly all share a common ground and the common purpose of eradicating poverty and hunger.
At so many of these conferences we can talk for hours and days, but what we ultimately have to do, as Mr. Al-Sultan said, is to act together, to act together within the United Nations, within the international financial institutions, through the governments, and with NGOs on behalf of and with hungry people SD as to make a difference.
In the United Nations we talk often about how we are working together to develop country strategies. We need to expand that work, not just within the United Nations agencies, but with each government and with the international financial institutions and the NGOs, so that together we can develop our strategies, together we can establish the appropriate directions, and together we can pool our resources to make a difference.
Regarding what works in targeting, we have similar questions at the WFP to those that have already been presented today Who are the hungry and the poor? Where are they located? How many people are in each location? What kinds of characteristics define these particular people and their needs? And ultimately and most important, what can be acne to empower these people and to put them on the path of sustainable improvement in the quality of their lives?
We have noticed several areas concerning targeting in which we could concentrate. One is the criteria Depending on the nature of the problem, the criteria for intervention can be defined to address either the needs of a particular category of people, for instance, pregnant and lactating women, or people in a particular area afflicted by the same crisis, for instance, victims caught in a war zone.
The second area is the administrative feasibility and costs of targeting. Sometimes the excellent scenarios envisaged by targeted interventions fail because they cannot be administered on a regular and sustainable basis. We must ensure that the basic ability to continue administrative support is present.
The third area is participation by the affected groups: the poor and the hungry We can overcome many of the difficulties of intervention programs if the poor themselves are involved in their design, in their implementation, in their evaluation.
The final area is the transfer of resources. Any intervention is most likely to attain its objectives when the resource transfer is appropriate and the method of transfer is direct.
Of course, when we talk about targeting, we also talk from the perspective of food aid. Before we can talk about sustainable improvements, sustainable development, sustainable differences in people's lives on the basis of their own food security, sometimes we have to talk about just helping people to exist from day to day. So many emergencies, almost all man-made, take our resources away. They take away the resources of the donor community and of NGOs because we, as a people, must help people survive, help people live As a result, we find that many of the resources that could otherwise be used for long-term sustainable development and for helping people make a difference in their lives are actually used to help feed people in Somalia, especially women and children, because the men are shooting at each other; help feed people in the former Yugoslavia; help sustain people's lives in southern Sudan or in Angola. That is one reason why President Masire's comments about the need for political solutions were so important, and why the commitment of political leaders is so critical to be able to solve these problems.
We can see many successes. We can see successes now in almost all of Somalia, for instance, where the work is now primarily on rehabilitation and development, and where we are making significant strides in helping to improve the country. We see a great success story in the drought that hit southern Africa a that could have affected 18 million people Because of the commitment of the donor community, because of the interaction between the countries in the region, the SADCC, the United Nations, and NGOs we were able to make a significant difference and avoid tragedy in southern Africa The World Food Programme was pleased and honored to be in a position to be able to coordinate that effort. But even though we are committed to development work, whether it is building schools in El Salvador, providing crops and animals in Somalia, or planting trees in Bangladesh, we still find that we must have a major commitment from the political leadership to make a difference, to end the man-made disasters.
We can concentrate on development if we have peace and stability If we have peace and stability we can concentrate on the process at hand, helping people help themselves to become self sufficient and self-reliant, and this is where food aid also becomes critical.
Some of the negatives have been mentioned in this panel and in others, but there are so many positives as well. One of those positives, in addition to the ultimate objective, which is helping people become self-reliant and self-sufficient, is that the donor communitywe see this in the United States and in other countries around the worldunderstand the commitment of food, understand the use of food, understand the transfer of food from a wealthy country to poor people in a poor country, and understand the moral obligation to make that transfer.
Thus food as a resource becomes especially important in development over the long term, whether it is food for work, whether it is for projects that feed vulnerable groups, or whether it is monetization. The use of food becomes critically important in helping to reach those people who are targeted and to help them become self sufficient over the long run.
I am pleased to note that the WFP puts a high priority on triangular transactions in the purchase of food in developing countries for distribution in developing countries. Having spent more than US$250 million last year, the WFP is the largest purchaser of food for this purpose.
Fawzi Al-Sultan said that the rich do not go hungry. That is true However, one thing that I have found when I worked on hunger issues in the United States, and now working in the international community, is that even the rich understand hunger They understand hunger not like someone who is near starvation and not like Congressman Hall after his fast, but even the rich understand what being hungry for a day or two days is like, even if some may not understand what being poor is like As a result, I believe there is a major commitment among the people in the United State and among the people around the world to help people who are hungry, whether it is people from the United States sending surplus food or people from Bangladesh sending a contribution to the flood victims in the Midwest of the United States People around the world understand what it is to be hungry.
Thus I think all of us committed to helping to alleviate world hunger have in front of us the great challenge of reaching out to our publics, reaching out to our constituencies in the United States and around the world, and making sure that people understand not just the tragedies that they see on television about Somalia or the former Yugoslavia, but understand that hunger unfortunately affects so many people throughout the world. We must communicate the difference that we can make by increasing our resources, whether they be food resources, cash resources, or people resources, to help alleviate hunger around the world.
Working together with organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Bank, the NGOs, the governments, and the multilateral institutions we can make a significant difference. We owe the poor and the hungry nothing less than our best.
An intervention can be targeted on those who need it most and also on what works best. On the one hand, we can focus on those most in need, not just the poor, but the poorest of the poor, especially women, those most vulnerable to hunger On the other hand, we can focus on those actions that are the most cost effective We have to ration scarce resources to make sure that we use them effectively for those who need them most.
The imagery of targeted intervention conjures up an image of armed police breaking down the door to round up "the usual suspects " This kind of aggressive terminology may reflect one of the basic problems of the international development community, our attitude and the way we work with the poor A better image might be a joint venture between development institutions and those most vulnerable to hunger: the poor, especially poor women and their children.
Some assumptions underlay the workshop's results. One is that poverty is a fundamental cause of hunger A second assumption is that the World Bank and other development institutions want to reduce poverty. Echoing Mr. Al-Sultan's point, let's not just talk about reducing poverty; let's talk about eliminating poverty He used the term hunger, but let's go even further. And third, perhaps most debatable, is that poverty reduction depends ultimately on long-term, broadly based economic growth that can be sustained by the Earth (a major qualifier). Given that this last assumption is true, there are still other actions by, with, and for the poor that we need to take now to create by the year 2000 a future that we can live with.
The dominant vision that emerged from yesterday's workshop is participation It has become a major theme throughout this conference for good reasons I am talking about participation by those most vulnerable to hunger (I want to emphasize that over and over again) in the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs that respond to these people's special needs for empowerment of the poor, especially women This can be done through education; increased income and savings, improved nutrition and health, including family planning; and for those with access to land and natural resources, agricultural and natural resources research and extension that supports the food security of the poor, not just a focus on commodities, but on the farming systems of the poor.
Beyond the ideological and ethical reasons for encourage participation by the poor, there is a practical reason. Programs for the poor work only with the willing involvement of the poor This willingness comes only when they know that their voices are heard, that their concerns are given consideration at least equal to the concerns of the investors in or donors to programs, and that they are trusted to make decisions that control resources. Trust and control of resources are the biggest problems with participation.
Saying that we know how to foster participation is fashionable; that all that is needed is the will to do it. However, it is not that simple, especially given that we are concerned with hunger. We need participation by the poorest of the poor, who are often marginalized even from the associations in their own communities How do you invoke their participation?
I was really very pleased yesterday, at the close of our workshop, by the comments of the World Bank spokesperson: that the Bank is committed to learning and trying promising techniques for promoting participation by the poor However, the spokesperson did not mention the fact that during the last two decades the research and development for finding successful techniques has been done mainly by the NGOs. Why do major development institutions not take this experience more seriously? Speaking personally now, I think the reason relates to scale. NGOs have been very effective at encouraging the participation of the poor, even the very poor, in pilot programs that reach a few hundreds or thousands of people, but it is rare to see major-scale involvement of the poor by NGOs This is why there is so much excitement about the few large scale examples of micro credit programs, in particular, which are found especially in Asia The Grameen Bank is only the best known.
One of the things bedeviling the Bank and other major institutions is that they often simply consult people outside the institution and call it participation You know: we talked to an NGO here, or we talked to an institution there, and that is participation That is not We have to be careful to maintain the discipline of sticking to the pursuit of real participation We can't be content even to just consult NGOs that are close to the poor We have to kind ways to allow the poorest people to control at least an important part of the program or project resources.
The most general reason to pay heed to the NGOs is that they have a wealth of experience in giving the poor a voice in decisionmaking and in controlling resources. We still have much to learn. We still have a lot of experimentation to do But the NGOs are for the most part where the research and development is occurring, not in the "'puzzle palaces" of New York, Washington, Rome, Geneva, and so on.
Specifically, in support of participation, the workshop recommends three actions for the Bank and other institutions. The first is to create an enabling environment, including the legal, administrative, and policy frameworks, that is aimed at reducing hunger. The second is to delegate control of resources to the targeted groups.
The third is to provide training and technical assistance to community-based organizations
Regarding family income, the workshop participants felt strongly that the World Bank and other major institutions could do a lot to channel more resources to micro credit schemes, particularly through NGOs, which have shown an unusual capacity to manage micro credit schemes for the benefit of the very poor There should also be a concerted effort to link the poor into the mainstream financial systems at some point in the future It should not always be the case that a fund is set aside for credit for the poor. Eventually, the poor themselves can and should have direct access to the mainstream financial systems.
The workshop recognized that income is not enough A family can have adequate food, and some family members can still be malnourished.
Many health and behavior-related problems can cause malnutrition, and therefore need attention We urge the continued search for delivery systems that work best Delivery of what? Primary health care, of course, is very important; also maternal and child health care, including reproductive health and family planning, cost effective nutrition education, not just attached to health programs, but to other programs that deliver financial and education services; micronutrient supplementation schemes; and, where needed and as needed, mother and child supplemental feeding, not as temporary programs, but as programs that are always there to help those who get in trouble nutritionally.
Our final point is that even if food production is sufficient now (there has been a lot of talk about how the world has plenty of food), we have to look to the future, locally and internationally The future is threatened by environmental degradation, degradation of the very resource base that produces food and other commodities So agricultural and natural resources research and extension needs to be strengthened and focused on the commodities, crops, and farming systems (livelihood systems) of the poor.
In summary, the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the U. S. Agency for Intentional Development, and other major institutions can help reduce poverty, but only to the extent that they can truly believe that the poor are their clients. The Bank, other development institutions, and governments are really supposed to be the fiduciary intermediaries between the investors and donors on the one hand, and the poor on the other. Investors and donors are there usually with the support of grassroots taxpayers of whatever countries are providing the donations or the investments These ordinary people want to see the poor helped, and it is the job of the Bank and the borrowing governments to see that that is what happens, that the poor are helped, especially to help themselves. This objective requires development institutions to act much the way commercial businesses do. Getting close to their clients or customers is the key to success. The institutions I am talking about need to be closer to their clients the poornot just the investors and donors the NGOs, who have made a serious commitment to getting dose, know what a fundamental transformation it requires in the way you do business We welcome the Bank's commitment and that of other institutions to fighting hunger, but we know that commitment is only credible if the Bank accepts that the participation of the poor is going to involve fundamental changes in the way it designs, implements, and evaluates programs and projects Meaningful change in this respect involves organizational pain, and therefore real leadership.
The sovereignty of nations is often given as a major reason why the Bank and other lending institutions cannot really make things happen at the national level. Well, as I've seen it, one of the most remarkable developments in the last decade or two is that only invading armies could have had more impact than the expert missions of the Bank and the International Monetary Fund. If you can get national governments to swallow the need for structural adjustment, you can get them to accept the need for the poor truly to participate in their own development. A committed Bank has an obligation to educate investors and the borrowing governments, and to take a good dose of its own medicine: internal structural adjustment Physician, heal thyself.
Our vision about gender equity recognizes that women are central to realizing the goals of this conference for overcoming global hunger and poverty We have heard this in extraordinary fashion from every one of the conference speakers If you noted, this morning the men on the platform made excellent speeches What was extraordinary, and a change, was that every one of them underlined the importance of women as a natural and essential component for erasing hunger and poverty That is a change Men and women are moving in the right direction Now we are talking words. But perhaps the words at this conference will soon be transformed into actions.
Some of the actions that emerged from the group discussing targeting interventions to reduce hunger included, for both the national and international communities, the design of programs that will help women to overcome constraints, and for the World Bank to give greater attention to women in their economic and sector analysis as well as in their poverty assessments Women should be an integral part of the programs, not an add-on.
On to the next vision, the empowerment of the poor. All our visions relate to people, their participation, and their resulting empowerment When we talked about empowerment of the poor, we recognized that providing disadvantaged groups, especially women, with greater access to information and education was imperative. For these disadvantaged groups we determined that this was one of the critical elements that could help people move up out of poverty.
We envisioned a redirection of resources to ensure basic education for all, and to provide gender neutral curricula, including an adequate focus on family planning, health, and nutrition.
When we talk about empowerment, it is the people's participation that is involved One of the means is through groups such as Ruth Engo Tjega cited when she talked about the Advocates for African Food Security. This international NGO has worked since 1986, and was initially concerned with lessening the burden for women and increasing food production It is currently involving people in examining their programs, working toward community-based decisions It is building antihunger structures in Africa The programs to alleviate poverty should be community-directed and should start with people finding out what works, what doesn't work, and moving on from there.
The other vision that I would Like to talk about is employment, because people are hungry, they are poor, and there just are not enough jobs in the world In whatever country we visit, there is unemployment and there is underemployment. Let us hope that we can have hill employment. That is a goal, a really big goal We are saying that one of the ways to achieve that is by self-employment, that is, to try to develop cost-effective mechanisms that provide opportunities for the poor to earn more income to reduce their hunger and to move them up and out of poverty by doing it themselves They help themselves by creating businesses of their own It is through such self-employment that women pro duce much of the food that sustains life for low-income people.
We had two long-term actions to suggest in regard to employment One was to increase the availability of working capital, training and technical assistance to the unemployed and underemployed, or, as we might call them "economically active poor." Another long-term goal was to give greater support to those sectors where the poor are predominately employed and that are often overlooked in programming.
And then a shorter-term goal, which we heard cited earlier today, the focus on food-for-work programs. They do work, sometimes, in the short term. There is a difference of opinion about this.
Ultimately, all people, women and men, should be involved in policy, planning, decision-making, and working. Together they just might be able to stay the course for humanity and make life better for more people, while employing the principles of equity, sustainable development, and democratic participation.
A number of participants commented from the floor; then the speakers responded
[First floor participant It seems as though in the past, there was a certain amount of disagreement about whether or not poverty had actually been alleviated in Mexico or in other places because of World Bank interventions. In this connection, what are the indicators that show that poverty is being alleviated, and how will World Bank lending officers in the field be given the incentives to make the kind of loans that will make a difference for the poorest people? Won't they have to have their whole psychology changed about the kind of loans we need to be making to end poverty?
Second floor participant Fawzi Al-Sultan said that it is the rich who have food, but even the rich eat potatoes and rice that were grown from soil, not from fields of dollars Because of the economic focus of this conference, we have thus far largely ignored environmental problems associated with agriculture that are now beginning to threaten our food supply, such as erosion, desertification, salinization, deforestation, overgrazing, and the depletion of aquifers. Also of concern are monocropping and diminishing genetic resources, as well as the abuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and potentially catastrophic are the as yet unknown effects of the destruction of the ozone layer and global warming. These trends are all exacerbated by agribusiness oriented, capital-intensive pro grams frequently pushed by multilateral aid institutions such as the World Bank Unless these.
Institutions are willing to chat he their approach to agriculture to a more sustainable one, we cannot share the World Bank's assurances that the food supply will always keep up with population. Mr AlSultan, in the vein of what you said about business as usual not being enough, do you believe that IFAD and the Bretton Woods institutions are willing to work with NGOs in combating hunger by promoting sustainable agriculture?
Third floor participant In the late 1970s, targeting assistance to the poor was a principal focus of attention In 1978, half of the resources from the IDB's Fifth Replenishment were supposed to be targeted to help the poor in Latin America In 1981 Congress enacted legislation that urged the World Bank and the other multilateral development institutions to emulate the stated objective of the IDB by putting half of their resources into helping people who were absolutely or relatively poor. After 1981 other issues were emphasized. Are we now going back and picking up where we left off, and essentially dropping this whole twelve years or so of emphasizing economic policy reform in borrower countries, or is this something we are now factoring in as we are trying to target assistance to the poor? Do we look at economic policy reform as limiting our capacity to target assistance to the poor, or is it another factor that we keep in mind as we try to target assistance?
Caio Koch-Weser: The first question was about the indicators on which we can base the argument that poverty has been alleviated. The picture is mixed. In some countries poverty has clearly been alleviated and poverty indices reduced In other countries the situation is much less clear. We could even argue that the crisis of adjustment in many countries in the 1980s led to a demonstrable increase in the incidence of poverty.
When it comes to measuring how we have done, in a number of countries, Morocco, for example, we have established, together with governments, careful systems of household surveying, of measuring living standards, that give us much better idea of the incidence of poverty than we had some years ago. These measurements show that in Morocco, ten years of successful reform and adjustment, which had its social costs, have reduced the incidence of poverty from 21 to 13 percent In some other countries, Egypt, for example, the situation is much less clear. However, we also have to ask ourselves what would have happened if no reform policies had been introduced We have to do much more work on measuring poverty, on having benchmarks, and on having governments accept them, but overall we are on the right track.
As to how committed to poverty reduction Bank field officers are, and can we really expect them to do a good job unless attitudes change, I believe that the vast majority of Bank staff is truly committed to the Bank's central objective, which is to reds e: poverty How to achieve that is a much more complex issue I would point to one important area here, the training and sensitization that takes place in the Bank across departments and across regions based on years of experience, so that we learn, say, what China has done or what Morocco has done for the Egyptian case or the Yemeni case This cross-fertilization, training, and sensitization needs further strengthening. We are not doing enough yet, but we are doing it.
Fawzi Al-Sultan IFAD's projects are essentially at the level of the poor beneficiaries. Sustainability is the key element in project design Let me give you a couple of examples One is the high-lands in Central America, where the predominant technique of the poor is to slash and burn to get access to more land so they can feed themselves. The land has very low productivity. This is a major environmental disaster that takes place on a daily basis. What we first have to do is to teach the poor new techniques of intensive agriculture that use natural fertilizers. We have to teach them terracing, which is a form of more intensive agriculture. We have to do research on the varieties of the foods that the poor grow and eat There is also intercropping In Nigeria, for instance, we are growing cassava with coffee, and in the highlands they have been growing plantains with coffee and some other crops. So at this stage we should focus on this type of sustainability, particularly using techniques similar to what the farmers already know and understand, while at the same time trying to solve the problems of environmental degradation.
Fundamental to almost all IFAD's projects is research that goes into the types of crops that people grow. To take Nigeria as an example, cassava was a small investment, less than US$1 million. We were able to develop a variety of cassava that produced almost three times as much. Almost overnight we had a food that made almost every poor home self-sufficient in the basic crops that the family ate, and families even had surpluses.
Another issue is that you need resources. We can only go so far at the basic beneficiary level with the resources that we have. When we talk about participation, that is not talking to governments. It is talking to the beneficiaries, forming groups in much the same way Grameen Bank has been doing. We get the women together, we get the men together, and we understand from them what they want.
One constraint that we have in common with almost every multilateral organization is that we have to work through governments We would all like to be able to deal directly with the beneficiary groups, but then you cannot really complete projects in the sense that you have to have infrastructure, for which you have to talk to the government.
Fourth floor participant: We speak of the poor and the very poor and the poorest We have to be aware that if we do not have the specific will to reach the poorest, we will not reach them. Most of our programs often not only do not reach the poorest, but contribute to increasing the gap between the poorest and the rest.
My second comment is about women. It is true that women are central for overcoming hunger, central for overcoming poverty, it is nor always true to say that women are the poorest, or that we can work with women and this is almost enough. Just look around Washington, D.C., look around this country. Who is in the street? Who is in jail? It is not the women. It is the men. This is not unique to the United States. It is something you and in many countries. We need to work with families, and we need to work with women in a way that will not reinforce the breakdown of families and the disappearance of the men.
Fifth floor participant I am encouraged that the WFP is beginning to take a more integrated approach to food, agriculture, and long-term development. However, I found one comment disturbing, and that was that it seemed to be alright to rely on wealthy nations to send food as food aid. The problem with this is that it feeds into a system of chemically-intensive overproduction in the United States and Europe that destroys small farmers, rural communities, and the environment Some sustainable agriculture and farmers' groups around the world are beginning to Look at alternative ways to provide what is clearly needed in terms of food aid. This gets back to food security being based on food produced, processed, and stored as close as possible to where it is consumed, and this also applies to food aid. So 1 wonder to what extent the WFP is looking at ways of not necessarily providing food aid from wealthy countries, but from neighboring countries or regionally. Is it examining the possibility of international grain reserves that would be used only for humanitarian aid, and to which all countries could contribute, thereby eliminating the justification for overproduction?
Catherine Bertini: The food aid that we provide is provided primarily but not exclusively, by the wealthy donor countries. Contributions come in from around the world. The major donors, like the United States, the European Community, Australia, Japan, Canada, and others, contribute either food or cash or both depending on the situation in their country; and naturally domestic priorities, politics, and interests in the donor countries govern what kind of aid they contribute. We and others are given the surpluses sometimes, but the United States and other countries also make a conscious effort to make specific budgeted pledges to help the poor throughout the world.
Some countries give primarily cash. Japan, for instance, which does not have a food surplus, purchases food. Some countries like Sweden have gone much more to giving cash, which we use to buy food. The WFP is the largest purchaser of food for triangular transactions in the world. Last year we spent US$200 million buying food in developing countries for distribution in developing countries. .
For all of us in this business it is important to try to ensure that food is not used either to keep people dependent or to disrupt the local marketplace. Sometimes the wrong kind of food or too much food gets to a place, but it is critical for us in such situations to move the food, to make a difference, rather than just keeping an earlier commitment that might now actually be harmful to the local economy.
To sum up, we are strongly committed to helping to improve the local economy in the country we are attempting to help. Our absolute priority is to help people become self-sufficient and self reliant. We want to use food as a tool, whether it is food that is contributed by donor countries or whether it is food we have purchased for consumption in the developing country.
Sixth floor participant Fawzi Al-Sultan said that IFAD, as a multilateral agency, has to work with governments, but you also said that IFAD discusses projects from the beginning with the potential beneficiaries. You have also worked in the World Bank Can you offer the Bank some suggestions? The Bank seems to have difficulty in getting into dialogue with beneficiaries.
Fawzi Al-Sultan: Earlier we outlined different approaches whereby the Bank could move closer to beneficiaries. One of them is where you replicate an activity that has already worked. This can be done quickly A second is subcontracting, working through NGOs. The key is how to change the way we do business' not just ear marking more resources, but using a much simpler project cycle.
Caio Koch-Weset As Fawzi Al-Sultan has pointed out, there is no tradeoff between sound macroeconomic policies and adjustment on the one hand, and well-designed, targeted interventions on the other. Good macroeconomic policies will also produce the robust growth that gives asset and income distribution and redistribution a better chance These are complementary actions, not alternatives.
We have heard a call for renewed political commitment on all sides, recipients and donors, to a food security vision and concept for the future, and we have discussed participatory approaches that stress empowerment, particularly of women. These participatory approaches are a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition. By participation we must mean not just hearing and consulting, but, as the NGO representatives pointed out, we must trust local communities and recipients to make decisions about the use of resources. We now have an opportunity for joint complementary action guided by a vision of food security, a coherent approach based on complementarity, on the relative strengths of the various actors, and on division of labor.
A number of people have suggested that the Bank, IFAD, and some other international financial institutions should do business differently, become committed to learning the techniques appropriate for participation, not just consultation. The poor have to become our real clients. This requires establishing the legal and policy environment for participation, delegating local control of resources to community-based organizations, having components in our lending addressed to women that are not just add-one, and encouraging self employment by providing working capital and training in a cost effective manner.