FAO and US Peace Corps sign agreement to strengthen collaboration
Sharing skills and knowledge to improve food security and living conditions of rural people
25 November 2004, Rome - The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United States Peace Corps have signed an agreement to enhance their collaboration and optimize efforts to help improve the conditions of rural populations around the world.
Specific areas of cooperation include food production, distribution and access, and support to the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) activities in low-income food-deficit countries. The organizations will also team up on projects related to small-scale irrigation; school gardens; natural resource, animal and plant protection; women in rural development; and planning and management in the agricultural sector.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed at FAO headquarters in Rome by FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and Peace Corps Director Gaddi H. Vasquez.
"FAO and the Peace Corps have a history of working together at country level," said Dr Diouf. "Increased collaboration will enhance our understanding of each other's work and allow us to share our respective skills and experience. It is also an important investment in human resources, which will support FAO's efforts to help rural people build a better life."
Through working together, Peace Corps volunteers in rural settings will benefit from FAO's technical expertise in agriculture and other food and nutrition related subjects. Because they live and work in the communities where they serve, Peace Corps volunteers are able to facilitate sharing of information, skills and technical knowledge.
For example, volunteers working in HIV/AIDS education and prevention can strengthen and contribute to FAO's activities in AIDS-affected communities. And FAO's expanding network of school garden initiatives can be coordinated with the Peace Corps' network of education volunteers. Joint activities are also expected to expand to training and preparation of field materials.
"Alone, the Peace Corps and the FAO have both made a real difference in the world. Now, as partners, we will combine our expertise, strengthen our partnership, and take our volunteer projects in exciting new directions to continue on the common goal of helping feed the world," said Director Vasquez.
Today, more than 7 700 Peace Corps volunteers are serving in 71 countries around the world in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, information technology, business development, the environment and agriculture. Peace Corps projects are developed locally in each country in collaboration with host country agencies and focus on pressing needs at the community level.
FAO has an extensive decentralized network of offices at regional and country level and is engaged, with the respective national authorities, in a wide range of field projects aimed at increasing food production and alleviating hunger and poverty.
FAO and the Peace Corps have been working together in a number of countries, often in support of school garden projects or projects linked to the SPFS. In Ecuador, for example, 20 Peace Corps volunteers have provided support to an FAO project on sustainable development of natural resources. In Kenya, FAO's Special Programme for Food Security is working with the Peace Corps and marketing activities have been successfully developed in Western Province.
Further collaboration between the two organizations is actively being discussed in a large number of other countries. It is expected that the newly signed agreement will give new impetus to the current collaboration and lead to a rapid increase in joint activities to the benefit of rural communities.
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