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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

South Africa: a success story in reducing hunger

FAO awards country a diploma for its commitment to food security

FAO Director-General awards South Africa's Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, the recognition diploma.

7 September 2015, Durban, South Africa - During a ceremony on the side lines of the XIV World Forestry Congress in Durban, South Africa, FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, awarded a recognition diploma to the Republic of South Africa for its achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG-1c). The MDG-1 hunger target calls on countries to halve the proportion of hungry people in their population by the end of 2015, using the 1990 level as a benchmark.The award was handed to the country’s Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa at the request of His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa.

South Africa has maintained the percent of its population experiencing undernourishment at less than five percent since 1990 and has continued to bring down the absolute numbers of hunger over the past twenty years.

"South Africa shows how important political will to improving food security and nutrition is" said Graziano da Silva. "South Africa's very Constitution states that every citizen has the right to have access to sufficient food and water, and commits the state to supporting the progressive realization of the right to food,'" he noted.

In 1994, South Africa's Reconstruction and Development Programme identified food security as a priority policy objective.

The government refocused public spending on improving the food security conditions of historically disadvantaged people. That policy resulted in increased spending on various social programs, including school feeding schemes, land reform and farmer settlement production loans scheme for small farmers, infrastructure grants for smallholder farmers and a presidential tractor mechanization scheme.

The next decade, the government took steps to streamline and improve such programs, establishing in 2002 an Integrated National Food Security Strategy.

Today, South Africa’s development agenda continues to place food security and nutrition high on its list of priorities.

South Africa is one of the only two countries –along with Ghana- in Sub-Saharan Africa with under five percent of their populations undernourished. They provide two examples that major successes in fighting hunger can be achieved by African governments given strong political commitment.

"South Africa deserves credit for the continued resources and attention they have focused on slashing hunger," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. "More than that, South Africa deserves credit for the example they set for other countries, and for their willingness to act as partners and collaborators in Africa-wide efforts to strengthen food security and nutrition security."