Roughly 40 percent of the world’s poor live in South Asia, where poverty is basically a rural problem. Therefore, a significant gain in rural poverty reduction in this sub-region will be crucial to reach the international poverty reduction target. Based on the analysis and experience of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), this paper argues that to be successful, poverty reduction policies in South Asia must focus on the less-favoured rural areas and on most disadvantaged sections of the rural poor (mainly women, the landless and indigenous peoples). In order to overcome disadvantages arising from remoteness, lack of social services, insecure and unproductive jobs, and discrimination as women or ethnic minorities, the rural poor need legally secure access to productive assets (mainly land, forests and water); sustainable or regenerating agricultural technology; access to markets; opportunities to participate in decentralized resource management; and access to financial services.
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