SANTIAGO – The support that the governments of Latin America and the Caribbean have provided to the most vulnerable sectors of society via systems of social protection has been key in enabling the region to make advances in the fight against hunger over the past few decades, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization said Wednesday.
The FAO said in a report released in Santiago that the social protection measures have pulled some 150 million people out of extreme poverty worldwide.
Latin America and the Caribbean comprises one of the regions where the poorest quintile of the population is best covered by these social protection instruments, with an average coverage of 62.3 percent during 1998-2014, although this varies greatly among the various countries.
“Social protection is not an expense but rather an investment and its results are visible in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said FAO regional representative Raul Benitez.
According to the FAO, the social protection policies of the region’s governments have evolved from establishing networks to help the most critical cases to comprehensive systems of protection.
And countries have begun strengthening the initiatives to prevent families from slipping back into poverty.
One of the policies that has gotten the best results in the region is that of conditioned transfers, which are in place in 21 countries and support 129 million people, or about 21 percent of the population.
These programs have had positive impacts on nutrition, access to education and health care, family agriculture and local economies, the FAO said.
The main challenges in the coming years are to strengthen labor inclusion and productivity in poor rural households and consolidate the social protection coverage for all citizens according to their specific needs, with a strong emphasis on the rural population.