First-ever regional meeting on food security in the Pacific Islands
Preparing for and responding to natural disasters as they affect access to food for millions of people in the Pacific Islands was a major theme at the first-ever meeting of the Regional Pacific Food Security Cluster Forum in Nadi, Fiji that took place from 26 to 28 April.
The joint FAO/WFP meeting of some 50 representatives from governments, non-governmental and UN organizations, was jointly hosted by the FAO and WFP Food Security Cluster co-lead Coordinators.
The three-day event aimed at fostering collaboration and sharing ideas and experiences amongst cluster members. The Cluster supports the work of in-country food security coordination bodies that include Government and Non-Government actors from six regional pacific countries: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu.
“The South Pacific region is among the most vulnerable to the threat posed by natural disasters,” said Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Jitendra Singh, who also attended the forum as chief guest. “In the past few years there have been two category five cyclones, Pam and Winston, as well as the El Niño drought, which were devastating for our region. Food Security Clusters across the Pacific region have coordinated the efforts of partners across the spectrum and have been instrumental in leading assessments to measure the impacts of these events and to inform action.
“We know there are already coordination gaps at the country level and these gaps become even more pronounced at the regional level. By bringing together Fijians and other Pacific Islanders to discuss the need for better and more productive food security coordination in this event, the Regional Cluster is also opening up opportunities for learning that surpasses country boundaries and that, strategically, provides Pacific Island Nations with a platform and a forum to discuss, network, and raise visibility for their work in the food security sector,” said Singh.
Head of Office WFP’s Pacific Office, Mr. Peter French said: “The Pacific region is unlike any other region on earth – and food security here is a unique, complex and highly diverse issue. On top of the challenges of growing food in small island nations, comes the looming threat of climate change. We all need to work together to find solutions – and the impressive participation of partners from across the food security sector in this week’s meeting in Fiji is a strong sign of this collaboration.”
FAO Nutrition and Food Systems Officer, Mr Joseph Nyemah noted that FAO has been working with governments, communities and households in the region for over 30 years. “Our support to countries under the Food Security Cluster builds on a wide range of ongoing technical cooperation projects and experiences gained from extensive in field and in government assistance to FAO member countries in the sub-region,” he said. “FAO technical cooperation to support emergency preparedness and response is an expansion and enhancement of our work on the ground to ensure that every programme is resilience proofed.”