Food and energy security, particularly for the poor, has become one of the most important issues in development dialogues. Food prices reached a new historic peak in January 2011 and an estimated 44 million people in developing countries fell below the extreme poverty line of $1.25 per day in the second-half of 2010. In times of food insecurity, women are often likely to receive less food because of gender-bias distribution dynamics within households.
Multiple factors drive rising prices, including reduced production due to climatic extremes, high oil prices, and speculation. Moreover, inappropriate agricultural practices and overuse of agrochemicals degrade soil, water, and biodiversity, raising concerns regarding food safety and the negative implications for health, for both producers and consumers. The increasing financial, environmental, and health costs of current agricultural practices indicate that alternative strategies are required. The majority of the rural population also lacks energy security; their energy needs are currently fulfilled by fuel wood, which generates black carbon and is detrimental to health. Improved access to clean energy for the poor is essential for inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth.
The Regional Technical Assistance (RETA) proposes the conduct of regional studies to identify suitable regional interventions as well as assist the countries in mobilizing required resources to implement the CASP Phase II. Regional fora are being organized to propose harmonization of policies and standards to capitalize on the subregion's location and other competitive advantages.