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Press Release 01/52

FAO ANNOUNCES THEME FOR WORLD FOOD DAY: "FIGHT HUNGER TO REDUCE POVERTY"


Rome, -- 14 September 2001 -- "Fight hunger to reduce poverty" will be the theme of this year's World Food Day, 16 October, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today.

World Food Day 2001 will focus attention on the world's 800 million people condemned to go hungry each day. Hunger leads to illness and early death, robbing people of their potential to work. It cripples children's learning capacity, undermines the peace and prosperity of nations and traps citizens in a vicious cycle of poor nutrition and ill health.

Hunger is a serious constraint to development. It is the first and most visible sign of poverty and any serious effort to alleviate poverty must fight hunger, which is a fundamental violation of the human right to food.

"We must raise both the political will and the financial resources to fight hunger. The international community has repeatedly declared that it is dedicated to the eradication of poverty. Eliminating hunger is a vital first step," says FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf.

Despite the push to fight hunger globally, efforts are falling short of the goals set out during the World Food Summit in 1996, when the international community pledged to cut the number of hungry in half by 2015. Today, the number is falling by eight million per year, well below the average rate of 20 million needed to reach the target.

Each year on World Food Day, FAO promotes broader public awareness of global hunger and malnutrition. World Food Day 2001 will be marked by a ceremony at FAO headquarters, featuring a keynote address by German President Johannes Rau and the announcement of the new FAO Ambassadors. FAO will confer the Ceres medal on Her Majesty Queen Fabiola of Belgium. These ambassadors support FAO's efforts to break the vicious cycle of chronic hunger; they also support TeleFood, which is an annual campaign of broadcasts, concerts and other events. Money raised from TeleFood goes to small, self-sustaining agricultural projects in the world's poorest countries.

More than 150 countries will host awareness-raising events on World Food Day, including art exhibits, concerts, teleconferences, essay and poster competitions at schools, tree-plantings, and award ceremonies to honour excellence in the fields of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

World Food Day commemorates the founding of FAO on 16 October 1945 in Quebec City, Canada.

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For further information on World Food Day, please contact FAO's Media Relations Branch (tel. 0039.06.57053625) or consult: http://www.fao.org/wfd/default-e.htm


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