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Overview

Economic transformation has made great strides in Latin America and the Caribbean, yet wide inequalities persist. Home to 595 million people, this region offers valuable lessons, but there is still much work to do.

Most impressive is that all countries in the region, except for Haiti, are now considered middle-income. However, one person in four still lives in poverty, and the poor tend to be concentrated in rural areas. Eighty per cent of the region’s population is urban.

Among the poorest and most marginalized are women, indigenous peoples, and those of African descent. Some 15 million people live by farming a huge variety of crops; others inhabit expansive forests. However, traditional agricultural techniques are evolving in the face of economic and climate change.

Transforming rural communities

IFAD has been active in this remarkably diverse region, where we pioneered community-centric development, for four decades. By encouraging local people to identify projects that could enhance their prosperity, and then providing training and financial assistance to carry out those projects, we have helped to transform communities and demonstrate the benefits of bottom-up development strategies.

Working together, with and for the poor

IFAD partners with governments, NGOs and communities to draw up pro-poor policies that benefit rural areas, and to implement them in the most effective ways.

By the end of 2016, IFAD was working with 19 governments to deliver 37 ongoing programmes across the region, with a total investment of US$770 million.*

Our breadth of expertise and geographical reach enables us to promote knowledge-sharing between projects and regions. Partnerships are fundamental to our efforts to further expand policies that level the playing field for small farmers through policy dialogue and South-South cooperation.

Examples of our work include helping:

  • young people become entrepreneurs;
  • farmers understand and access markets; and
  • indigenous peoples manage irrigation systems more effectively.

Everywhere we work, we bring appropriate solutions that raise rural incomes and help people respond to climate change.

* This amount includes the contributions of the Spanish Trust Fund, managed by IFAD.

Learn more

Some of the most marginalized population groups can be found among the region’s 125 million rural people.

Over a quarter of the region’s population continues to live in poverty. In recent years, the absolute number of people living in poverty has increased.

Rural areas continue to experience inequality. In Bolivia, for example, poverty declined nationwide from 61 per cent in 2005 to 39 per cent in 2013. However, in rural areas, 60 per cent of the population lives in poverty and 39 per cent in extreme poverty.



Spotlight

Overcoming inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean

Over the last three decades, the countries of Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) experienced a profound transformation which extended to rural areas.This economic and rural transformation resulted in many benefits, especially between 2004-2013, when millions of people left poverty behind. Despite this success, over a quarter of the region’s population continues to live in poverty. 

Projects and programmes

Brazil

Rural Sustainable Development Project in the Semi-arid Region of Bahia
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Bolivia

Integral Strengthening Programme for the Camelid Value Chain in the Bolivian High Plateau (Pro-Camélidos)
Read More

Mexico

Sustainable Development Project for Communities in Semiarid Areas
Read More

Related news

FAO, IFAD and WFP join efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean

November 2017 - NEWS
The three United Nations Rome-based agencies - WFP, FAO and IFAD - are announcing a new alliance that will unite their efforts to support the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty, boost rural development and move towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

IFAD President to commit support to Mexico’s agenda on rural poverty reduction

November 2017 - NEWS
Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will meet with high-ranking officials of the Mexican government on 24 November to discuss IFAD's support of Mexico’s agenda on rural poverty reduction, as well as its roadmap to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the 2030 Agenda.

IFAD President and Argentina’s key leaders meet to discuss rural poverty reduction commitments

November 2017 - NEWS
Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD), will meet with the ministries of foreign affairs, finance and agroindustry on 21 November to discuss the country’s progress and plans in eradicating rural poverty.

Related publications

Investing in rural people in the Dominican Republic

October 2017
Over the past 25 years, the Dominican Republic has enjoyed one of the strongest growth rates in Latin America and the Caribbean. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing and tourism.
LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Investing in rural people in Brazil

October 2017
Brazil is a major agricultural and industrial power, has the strongest economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, and is the seventh-largest economy in the world. It is the fourth-largest agricultural producing country, the main producer of coffee, sugarcane and citrus, and the second largest soybean, beef and poultry producer.
LANGUAGES: English, Portuguese

Investing in rural people in Mexico

October 2017
Mexico is the second-largest economy in Latin America. Despite being a large, upper-middle-income country, Mexico continues to have high rural poverty levels and wide social and economic disparities. While only about 21 per cent of the population lives in rural areas, they represent roughly two thirds of the extremely poor.
LANGUAGES: English, Spanish

Contact us

For more information about IFAD's work in Latin America and the Caribbean,

please contact Luisa Migliaccio, Lead Portfolio Advisor, at l.migliaccio@ifad.org.