The Asian Development Bank said Tuesday it will devote at least $14
billion through 2025 to help ease a worsening food crisis in the Asia-Pacific.
The development lender said it plans a comprehensive
program of support to help the 1.1 billion people in the region who lack healthy diets due to poverty and soaring
The Manila, Philippines-based ADB made the
announcement during its annual meeting.
“This is a timely and urgently needed response to a
crisis that is leaving too many poor families in Asia hungry and in deeper
poverty,” ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa said.
The plan calls for improving long-term food security
by strengthening farming and food supplies to cope with climate change and loss
of biodiversity. The ADB said the funds will go to both existing and new
projects spanning farming, food production and distribution, water resources
management and social supports.
Asakawa said that in the short-term, support will be
targeted at and designed to help the most vulnerable, particularly women.
In opening the ADB meeting, Asakawa noted that the
economic outlook has worsened with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, soaring
prices for many commodities and a harsher economic environment thanks to rising
interest rates and weakening currencies for many developing economies.
In a recent update, the bank downgraded its forecast
for growth in the region to 4.3% from an earlier estimate of 5.2%. Next year’s
outlook is for 4.9% annual growth.
Food insecurity threatens to undo decades of progress
and has worsened with the strife in Ukraine, a key supplier of grain,
and fertilizer to many countries in the region.
The situation will worsen as climate change amplifies
extreme weather, hurting harvests and triggering migration, Asakawa noted.
Last week, the U.N. food
the world is facing
“a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm,” urging donors, particularly Gulf
nations and billionaires, to give a few days of profits to tackle a fertilizer
supply crisis to prevent widespread food shortages next year.
In just one example, in Pakistan,
massive floods this summer
wiped out large swaths of crops, adding to worries over food shortages.
Even before the floods, some 38 million Pakistanis, more than 16% of the
population, were living in moderate or severe food insecurity, uncertain they
could obtain food or at times going without eating, according to the World
Health Organization. Nearly 18% of children were acutely malnourished.
Pakistan’s economy already was reeling from mounting
debt problems and soaring prices. The blow to the food supply and incomes will
tip those populations deeper into hunger, U.N. agencies have warned.
The coronavirus pandemic had already pushed 100
million more people into hunger, the ADB estimates. A 10% increase in food
price inflation could push another 64 million into poverty, it says.