People's Stories Livelihood

2019 humanitarian appeal to help support vulnerable people growing their own food
by UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
Feb. 2019
As global hunger numbers have continued to rise driven by the proliferation of conflicts and climate-related shocks, FAO is seeking $940 million to save the lives and livelihoods of some of the world''s most food-insecure populations.
In 2019, FAO is hoping to reach over 32 million people who rely on agriculture for their survival and livelihoods through a range of interventions aimed at boosting local food production and enhancing nutrition while strengthening the communities resilience to crises.
The support will help to address the root causes of increased food insecurity and malnutrition, particularly of the most vulnerable populations.
The planned activities include providing agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools, fertilisers and other inputs for crop farming, livestock restocking, providing animal feed and veterinary care as well training in farming best practices, new approaches to food production, and livelihood diversification strategies.
Humanitarian assistance with resilience longer-term projects also entails land and water management and conservation, improving agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers and supporting poor families with cash assistance.
Climate-related shocks, conflict, natural disasters, and outbreaks of plant pests or animal diseases continue to pose major challenges to poor farmers across the globe, disrupting their livelihoods, reducing access to income-generating opportunities, and forcing them to abandon their homes -- while also putting pressure on limited resources.
In addition, prolonged drought conditions in recent years in various regions have resulted in consecutive poor harvests in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Such challenges will remain a primary concern in 2019. Possible El Niño conditions climate phenomenon developing in the beginning of the year may compound the situation. El Niño hazards - usually associated with heavy rains, floods and drought -aggravate both global food insecurity and the coping capacities of vulnerable populations.
"Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for the majority of crisis‑affected populations," said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO''s Emergency and Resilience Division.
"Therefore, it is crucial to invest in agriculture and food systems support from the onset of a crisis to save lives and enable families trapped by fighting or living in remote areas to rapidly resume local food production and earn an income. With resource partners support, we hope to help restore livelihoods of millions of people, reduce their dependence on external food aid and build their resilience to withstand shocks."
FAO''s emergency response in 2019 will focus on assisting highly food-insecure communities in more than 30 countries. This includes Yemen - the world''s largest humanitarian crisis - where FAO aims to reach 8.6 million people with high impact interventions combining cash and agricultural livelihoods support. In Syria, 3.5 million people will benefit from restoring agricultural livelihoods and value chains.
In Somalia, the Organization intends to assist 3.1 million people facing acute hunger with emergency livelihoods support. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, FAO aims to help 1.8 million crisis-hit populations restore their livelihoods and enhance food production.
Support will range from efforts to boost local food production and improve household nutrition, campaigns to help livestock-dependent families keep their herds healthy and alive, and natural resource and land management projects to mitigate risks of floods or erosion and build community resilience in the face of climate impacts.
A major thrust will involve cash assistance that put money into the pockets of the most vulnerable people, so they can afford to feed their families while they work to resume household food production in the aftermath of crises.
See the full list of countries that FAO is targeting for assistance and to find out more about the Organization''s planned humanitarian interventions in 2019.

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Gutting payday loan rules will harm vulnerable families
by Komala Ramachandra
Human Rights Watch
Feb. 2019
Proposed plans to get rid of rules designed to protect largely low-income consumers from abusive high-interest loans risk the well-being of some of America’s most vulnerable households.
The United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently announced the proposal to rescind rules that would have meant payday and auto-title lenders had to make sure that customers could repay loans under the terms of the contract. Loans not meeting this requirement would be considered unfair and abusive.
When people get trapped in predatory loan agreements, they can end up sacrificing their own and their families’ welfare in order to make the repayments. This rule would have helped prevent people from becoming trapped by these types of predatory payday and auto-title loans.
Many payday lenders exploit cash-strapped people, often with limited access to other forms of credit, by offering them small, short-term and high-interest loans. Some borrowers have reported paying triple-digit interest rates, in some states over 600 percent, on their payday loans.
Payments then balloon in size and people have difficulty keeping up, forcing some to choose between their loans and basic needs. Research has shown that payday lending disproportionately affects African American, Latino, and poor communities.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s rules on payday lenders, finalized in 2017, created a national standard and safety measures to prevent this trap of predatory interest rates for payday and auto-title loans, while still giving access to small dollar loans. The rule was created after an extensive public comment period, with the participation of both payday lenders and the public.
Since the final rule was announced, industry lobbies have pushed for a rollback, saying that the rules would limit the access of low-income communities to much needed credit. The answer to limited credit access is not to allow more loans offering extortionate interest rates and unrealistic conditions that ultimately leave borrowers worse off.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau should instead be focusing its efforts on preventing abuse and empowering low-income communities to access fair credit with reasonable interest rates.
Stripping the very rules that protect the vulnerable does nothing to serve communities in need or advance consumer protections.

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