"Youth against Hunger" is the theme for annual celebrations at FAO

Eritrea: boy with firewood
FAO/19434/R. Faidutti

Syria: after the day's work is done
FAO/19090/R. Faidutti

Nicaragua: picking green beans
FAO/20218/L. Dematteis

India: young girl with child
FAO/9424/J. Van Acker

"Youth against Hunger" is the theme for this year's World Food Day - which marks the anniversary of FAO's founding in 1945 - and for the Organization's annual TeleFood campaign. TeleFood aims to raise public awareness of the suffering of millions of hungry people around the world, and to mobilize civil society in the struggle against malnutrition and food insecurity.

This year, World Food Day will be observed on 15 October at FAO's headquarters in Rome - coinciding with TeleFood events in dozens of countries from October through December. The highlight of TeleFood '99 will be a concert in Jamaica, bringing together renowned musicians from the Caribbean, Brazil and Africa. The concert will be broadcast worldwide on 4 December.

"Youth against Hunger" was selected as the theme for the 1999 celebrations to underline the important contributions and potential of young women and men in achieving the objective of the 1996 World Food Summit - to reduce the present level of more than 800 million undernourished people by half, by 2015.

Worldwide today, there are more than one billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 - 85 percent of them live in developing countries and two-thirds of them are growing up in countries with per caput incomes below US$1 000. Only 12 percent of them live in affluent countries where per caput income tops US$10 000.

In both developing and developed countries, young people now entering adulthood will shoulder a heavy burden of responsibility, whether as the principal breadwinners in societies where the active workforce is shrinking, or as catalysts for accelerating development to meet the needs of rapidly expanding populations.

FAO is calling for urgent action to improve young people's access to essential resources and services, such as land, credit and training so that they can become innovative and productive partners to achieve national goals of food security. A study in Nigeria in 1992, for example, found that increasing the average education of farmers by one year, increased the value added to agricultural production by 24 percent.

In urban areas and in developed countries, young people can play a decisive part in the war against hunger by pressuring governments to live up to the commitments made at the World Food Summit and by dedicating some of their energy and imagination to local, national and global efforts to achieve "food for all".

Wherever they live, the imagination, ideals and energy of young people represent a vital resource for the continuing development of their societies.

3 May 1999

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