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FAO Press Release 02/10

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FAO Regional Conferences 2002

Cairo, 5 February 2002 - Heads of 30 African non-governmental and civil society organizations (NGO/CSOs) concluded a two-day consultation held in parallel to the 22nd UN Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Regional Conference for Africa (4-8 February).

NGO/CSOs leaders expressed concern about new challenges resulting from the recent Doha meeting of the World Trade Organization on agricultural commodities. The groups said that structural adjustment programs continue to have a negative impact on the agricultural sector in Africa.

Participants stressed that achieving food security for Africa requires shared responsibility among governments, producer organizations, NGO/CSOs, FAO and other development partners and the private sector. This is in line with the Plan of Action adopted by world leaders at the World Food Summit held in Rome in 1996, the consultation's report said.

The 1996 Summit also resolved to reduce the number of chronically hungry people in the world by half, at a minimum, to 400 million by 2015. To reach that goal, the number of the hungry would have to drop at an average annual rate of 20 million. FAO's findings have indicated that the annual rate of reduction has averaged at about 6 million people in the late 1990s. A World Food Summit: five years later will convene in June, 2002 in Rome in an effort to mobilize political will and financial resources needed to meet the target set by the 1996 WFS.

The NGO/CSOs consultation produced a Cairo Declaration on Food Security in Africa and a detailed plan of action aimed at translating previous political commitments into concrete actions to promote food security in order to reduce poverty in Africa.

The plan of action identifies as priorities the achievement of food sovereignty and the right to adequate food; effective models of agricultural production; peace, democracy and good governance; programs to curb the growing HIV/AIDS threat, public health; gender equality; financing for agriculture and the improvement of rural infrastructures.

African NGO/CSO leaders also called for the amendment of African constitutions to include the right to adequate and safe food for all, to develop a code of conduct for the right to food, to raise consumer awareness about genetically modified organisms
(GMOs), to monitor the effect of WTO decisions on African agriculture and to support and enhance indigenous food preservation methods.

The Cairo declaration for food security attached great importance to the success of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and called for the establishment of national and regional working groups among government, FAO and NGO/CSO representatives to support it.

The NGO/CSO consultation's report will be presented at the ongoing 22nd FAO Regional Conference for Africa for adoption. This is the first of a series of Regional Conferences held in the run up to the World Food Summit: five years later. FAO will also assist NGOs and CSOs in organizing similar events at the remaining regional conferences.

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