Solidarity and action through national alliances to reduce hunger
International Alliance against Hunger spawns fast-growing national movements
7 December 2006, Rome - Representatives of "national alliances against hunger" joined with government delegations attending a recent meeting of FAO's Committee on World Food Security for a Special Forum to review progress made towards reducing the number of hungry people in the years following the 1996 World Food Summit.
The national alliances form part of an umbrella effort established by FAO in 2003 known as the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH), a voluntary association of local, national and international organizations that are working together to eradicate hunger in diverse ways.
“With 49 national-level alliances currently operating under the IAAH aegis and many more countries expressing interest in joining the movement, momentum is clearly increasing to involve more people from more walks of life,” says Hervé Lejeune, FAO Assistant Director-General for World Food Summit Follow-up.
Progress in Brazil
According to Renato Maluf of Brazil’s National Forum on Food and Nutrition Security, a recent victory is the passage of a Law on Food and Nutrition Security, which provides a legal definition of the Right to Food. By upholding the legal Right to Food, the National Forum, which includes among its members 40 civil society organizations, 17 government ministries and observers such as FAO, provides policy support to the government’s ambitious Zero Hunger Strategy.
Special Forum participant Lorena Zamora Rivas of Nicaragua says that in her country, where some 27 percent of the population is undernourished, support to schools is fundamental, since a key cause of hunger is poverty resulting, in part, from a lack of education. Among the initiatives being supported through the Nicaraguan National Alliance against Hunger are family and school gardens, poultry raising and the introduction of small aqueducts to help poor farmers irrigate their crops.
The recently created Secretariat of Food and Nutritional Security helps to coordinate government, civil society and the private sector to increase the impact of hunger reduction activities. Secretariat head Andrés Botrán stressed the need to establish successful partnerships by sharing information, establishing trust, promoting dialogue, engaging in commitments and most importantly coordinating activities. Guatemala along with Brazil is leading the initiative “Latin America and the Caribbean without hunger 2025” recently endorsed by all Latin American countries. Mr Botrán sees the initiative as an example of a Regional Alliance against Hunger.
School feeding successes in Ghana
According to the Head of Ghana’s National Alliance Kwame Amoako Tuffuor and a leading advocate of the country’s school feeding initiative, in just two years 400 000 primary schools students are receiving a daily hot meal as a means of promoting school enrolment, as well as the health and well-being of students. At the same time, local farmers benefit by being encouraged to grow and sell their produce to the school kitchens.
Post-war reconstruction in Sierra Leone
In Sierra Leone, a country recovering from 15 years of civil war, half the population does not have enough to eat, and a family of six people may get by on as little as two cups of rice a day, according to Francis Webber of the country's National Alliance against Hunger. There the alliance is focusing on post-war reconstruction, campaigning to ensure that water is marketed as a public rather than a private good and thus can be accessed by all.
Civil society networking in Burkina Faso
In Burkina Faso, where an estimated 40 percent of the population is undernourished, a National Alliance against Hunger, composed of 20 different civil society networks as well as students from faculties of food and nutrition, has been increasingly active. According to alliance president Etienne Poda, the group works to support fair trade and to promote local production and consumption.
Twinning is promising
One way of benefiting from the experiences of others is through twinning arrangements between national alliances facilitated by the IAAH. Concrete results achieved through twinning between the United States Alliance to End Hunger with the Ghanian Alliance, and between Brazil’s National Forum on Nutrition and Food Security (CONSEA) with Haiti have lead other national alliances to express strong interest in engaging in a similar process.
In parallel, the full backing and support of the founding members of the International Alliance - FAO, IFAD, WFP and IPGRI - is a key element for the future, notes Hervé Lejeune. “The way forward will be through increased solidarity amongst our agencies at the country and local levels through the forum provided by the national alliances in order to achieve concrete results on the ground.”
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