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Director General  José Graziano da Silva

Heads of UN food agencies stress their complementary roles in fighting famine

FAO’s Graziano da Silva and WFP’s David Beasley in Washington underscore need for increased funding to tackle looming crises

6 June 2017, Washington DC – The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization the World Food Programme (WFP) emphasized their fruitful cooperation in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, noting how each UN agency exploits its own comparative advantage while also calling for increased funding to tackle pressing food crises in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan – where a famine has been declared- and Yemen.

Jose Graziano da Silva and David Beasley shared their views at an event organized by the Alliance to End Hunger, a coalition of more than 90 corporations, universities non-profit and faith-based organizations working together in the fight against hunger.

Their participation at the event was part of a joint trip to bolster support of the US government, one of the major partners for both organizations, for sustaining an outstanding partnership geared to tackling food insecurity and malnutrition worldwide, with special attention to addressing the situation in the four countries currently facing the greatest crisis.

Eariler this year, the US Congress appropriated an additional $1 billion for famine relief in the 2017 omnibus appropriations bill passed earlier this year.

Graziano da Silva hailed the United States of America’s strong support for FAO’s efforts to fulfill its mandate, stressing that an immediate, massive response is critical, combining emergency food assistance and support for agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

“I am very confident that the U.S. administration is very sensitive and aware of this issue and will deliver its commitment,” he said. He praised the Alliance to End Hunger’s work and urged its members to continue advocating among members of Congress for more resource mobilization.

FAO-WFP partnership: saving lives, saving livelihoods

FAO’s Director-General reviewed how the two Rome-based UN organizations have over time established close strategic, programmatic and operational relationships at country level, particularly in protracted crises and fragile and humanitarian contexts, with the aim of saving lives and rebuilding livelihoods, in a coordinated and complementary way.

“By joining forces to strengthen the resilience of the poorest and most vulnerable populations and increase local food production, FAO and WFP can maximize both the short- and the long-term impact of their interventions,” he said. “We need to highlight the need to both save lives and also save livelihoods,” he said stressing that  supporting local agricultural activity and food systems remains vital even during times of conflict.”  

Graziano da Silva and Beasley traveled together last month to visit some of the hardest hit communities in South Sudan, where they urged for peace, calling on all parties to cease violence and work together to ensure that food and other lifesaving support can reach people caught in a widening catastrophe after several years of civil war.