MANILA, Philippines – The World Food Day 2015 on Friday, October 16, will highlight the importance of social protection in ending poverty and food insecurity in rural agricultural areas.
Social protection is defined as policies and programs implemented to decrease poverty and vulnerability, according to the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.
The FAO added that the “blend of policies, programs, and interventions” help protect those vulnerable to poverty and food insecurity. These include social insurance, labor market policies and programs, social welfare, and social safety nets.
These programs and policies help families who may suddenly fall into the poverty and hunger trap to alleviate their situation by stimulating production and providing greater income stability through intervention. (READ: Who are the near-poor in the Philippines?)
The 2015 State of the Food Security in the World reported that social protection programs played a critical role in the progress of developing countries in achieving hunger targets related to Millennium Development Goals. (READ: Social protection programs vital to fight vs hunger)
However, only 38% of the world’s population receives social protection, and even less come from rural areas where most of the hungry and poor are located.
Social protection and agriculture
With the theme “Social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty,” this year's WFD puts the spotlight on the connection between hunger and enhancing agriculture through social protection towards zero poverty.
More than 75% of the world’s extreme poor and chronically undernourished live in rural areas, according to the FAO. This data are ironic as agriculture – one of the main forms of food production – is often an important part of their livelihood.
Limited access to resources, agricultural inputs, and services make it hard for family farmers in rural areas to use agriculture as a step out of the poverty trap. (READ: Voices from the field: Farmers need more gov't assistance)
In a report, the FAO said that social protection programs well integrated with those related to agriculture are the most effective.
The variety of challenges, the organization said, highlights the importance of social protection in rural areas. Programs under this may effectively support improvements in the areas – resulting in enhanced income and crop outputs.
In addition, social protection programs in 2013 were reported to have saved at least 100 million people in rural communities from extreme poverty. In the long run, these programs can eventually lead to the eradication of the cycle of hunger and poverty if properly implemented.
The World Food Day celebration coincides with the founding anniversary of the FAO – the UN’s leading group against the “eternal struggle” against hunger and malnutrition.
Aside from social protection programs, this year’s celebration seeks to gather multisector support toward agricultural food production; encourage cooperation among developing countries toward food security; increase the participation of rural residents in policies that directly affect their lives; and further strengthen international solidarity against food insecurity. – Rappler.com