Message from Judith Karl, UNCDF Executive Secretary, on the occasion of the World Food Day 2015

  • October 16, 2015

  • New York, USA

Three weeks ago, 193 Member States of United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals, setting a new development agenda for the next 15 years.

Meeting these Goals will not be possible if we cannot end hunger and malnutrition.

Despite significant progress, nearly 800 million people are still undernourished, 98 percent of them in developing countries. Three-quarters of all hungry people live in rural areas, mainly in the villages of Asia and Africa.

The theme for World Food Day 2015 is Social Protection and Agriculture: Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty.

This gets to the heart of UNCDF’s work on local financing mechanisms that work for food security and nutrition.

For rural areas and poor rural farmers in least developed countries, lack of access to finance is a serious impediment to improving food security and production efficiency.

Rural regions may have seriously under-funded development and infrastructure plans. Small scale farming households suffer from a lack of productive assets. Markets are often poorly performing and biased towards export, larger urban areas, and large-scale investments. Small agricultural entrepreneurs are often left underfinanced and lack access to markets. This also has implications for gender equality, as the majority of rural women depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.

In response to these challenges, UNCDF offers last mile financing models which ensure that the necessary financial resources are channelled through and managed at the local level in rural areas.

Local government is the tier of government best placed to interact with local communities and respond to specific local conditions affecting food security: weather and crop planting patterns, local trade flows, and causes of chronic and transitory food insecurity.

UNCDF’s models localize public finance through fiscal decentralization and structured project finance, mobilizing domestic resources for investment in productive enterprises and local infrastructure to help improve local resilience to food shocks. These include investments in micro-dams, production facilities, roads, storage facilities and irrigation infrastructure.

Our work on financial inclusion also contributes towards greater food security by helping farmers manage risks and improve their use of agricultural inputs, resulting in higher yields and incomes. We are also exploring models for sustainable agriculture finance which is needed for farmers who face economic shocks due to fluctuating prices and weather patterns.

On this World Food Day, UNCDF recommits to using its capital mandate by working with its partners to test and scale up local finance mechanisms that help to break the cycle of rural poverty in least developed countries.