ADB plans $14-billion assistance until 2025 to tackle aggravating food crisis in Asia Pacific
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has announced plans to invest at least $14 billion between 2022 and 2025 in a comprehensive programme to alleviate the worsening food crisis in Asia and the Pacific, and improve long-term food security.
ADB president Masatsugu Asakawa stated during an online press conference on Tuesday that the Asia-Pacific region is now facing numerous challenges, such as monetary tightening, currency depreciation and severe food insecurity.
Food insecurity, according to Asakawa, is the most worrying of these challenges because it affects all countries, rich and poor. Therefore, the ADB has decided to increase its assistance funding for food security in the region, where nearly 1.1 billion people lack healthy diets due to poverty and rising food prices this year.
Existing and new projects in farm inputs, food production and distribution, social protection, irrigation, and water resource management, as well as projects leveraging nature-based solutions, will receive funding, the ADB president said.
Meanwhile, the ADB will continue to invest in other food security-related activities such as energy transition, transportation, access to rural finance, environmental management, health and education.
Asakawa insisted that this is a timely and urgent response to a crisis that is leaving far too many poor families in Asia hungry and impoverished.
"We need to act now before the effects of climate change exacerbate and erode the region's hard-won development gains. Our assistance will be targeted, integrated, and impactful in the short term to assist vulnerable people, particularly vulnerable women, while strengthening food systems to mitigate the impact of emerging and future food security risks,” the ADB president said at the 55th annual meeting.
Asakawa noted that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has disrupted supplies of food staples and fertiliser, putting additional strain on a global food system already weakened by climate change effects, pandemic-related supply shocks, and unsustainable farming practices.
He stated that the ADB will apply the lessons learned from assisting its members during the global food crisis in 2007-08, as well as from implementing its food security operational plan the following year. Since then, ADB has invested $2 billion per year in food security. Food security was identified as a key operational priority by the ADB in 2018.
Asakawa explained that due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the stronger-than-expected monetary tightening in developed economies, sharp exchange rate depreciation, and financial instability, the ADB has lowered growth forecasts it made in April for the region for 2022 from 5.2 per cent to 4.3 per cent and from 5.3 per cent to 4.9 per cent in 2023.
Asakawa confirmed that the ADB will work with its members and development partners to address these issues. He believes that this work will result in a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, as well as the continuation of efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.