Twenty-sixth Session

Rome, 18-21 September 2000



Issues for the attention of the Committee

  • The performance in tackling poverty and under-nutrition widely varies from country to country. In the period 1990/92-1996/1998 only 39 countries have succeeded in reducing the number of the undernourished of their populations. In the majority of the developing countries, especially in Africa, the food security situation has deteriorated and the number of the undernourished has risen.

  • At the global level, nearly six years after the Summit, the number of the undernourished stands at 792 million people in the developing countries and 34 million in the developed countries. If the present state of performance in tackling poverty in most developing countries continues, the WFS objective of reducing the number of undernourished by half, and other human development international goals set for 2015 may not be achieved.

  • Despite concerted efforts at national and international levels, food borne diseases still remain a serious global concern.

  • Conflicts have continued unabated in the post Summit years, proving to be formidable obstacles to long-term development and poverty reduction in the affected countries, apart from their immediate disastrous effects on human life and assets.

  • The incidence of natural disasters and the resulting damages have also remained high in the post- Summit years. Some causes of natural disasters are best tackled by development programmes.

  • An increasing number of developing countries report that they have adopted or are in process of adopting food security and poverty eradication programmes. Few, if any, however, report on the results of the actions being taken, such as in reduction of the number of the undernourished. It remains difficult to draw conclusions on successful actions or otherwise.

  • On certain key recommendations of the Plan of Action few, if any, reports document whether action was taken.

  • The Committee may wish to consider in future sessions an in-depth assessment of food security and poverty eradication programmes, and their results, in selected countries.


Table of Contents


1. It will be recalled that the Committee at its Twenty-fourth Session decided that, before the planned mid-term review in 2006, as set by the Summit, the Committee will undertake two full cycles of reviews beginning in 2000. It also agreed to hold its monitoring task every other year, in even years, and to undertake the review of the implementation of the commitments in two sets of clusters:

2. Based on the format developed by the Committee at its last session, Governments were requested to report on the actions taken to implement the first cluster of Commitments. A similar request was also sent to all relevant United Nations agencies, International organizations and regional and sub-regional bodies.

3. As of 28 June 2000 reports,1 had been received from 80 countries and the European Commission, two UN agencies, two international organizations, and 3 regional bodies. This document has been prepared drawing from the reports as well as from published and unpublished international reports. In synthesising the country reports more attention has been paid to those national or international actions that appeared to provide useful examples of efforts for eradicating poverty and food insecurity. It is to be noted however that while most national reports provide information on policies, programmes and the actions being taken to reduce poverty, few reports provide information on the results of the actions taken or being taken, in terms of reducing the number of the undernourished.

4. Most country reports also do not include information on action taken on certain key recommendations contained in the reviewed Commitments of the POA, notably actions relating to: advancing land reform, recognising and protecting property rights, water, and user rights to enhance access to resources by the poor; integrating population concerns into development strategies; and promoting stable employment including off-farm employment in rural areas. Countries affected by natural or man-made disasters, have seldom reported on steps taken to link post-emergency relief operations to development programmes.

5. Information and analysis on progress towards the WFS objective is presented in document CFS:2000/2. The analysis shows that only 39 countries have been successful in achieving reductions in the number of the undernourished, while in the rest of the developing countries the number of the undernourished people increased. At the global level, the average yearly decline in the number of the undernourished during the first six years of the 1990s appears too slow to meet the target set by the WFS for 2015.



6. The progress in democratisation and people's participation is increasingly becoming a feature of political systems in many countries. The proportion of countries with some form of democratic government increased from 28 percent in 1974 to 61 percent in 1998.2 Various studies show that democratic systems, the prevalence of the rule of law, and the establishment of property rights, through guaranteeing long-term security, encourage foreign and domestic investment that help boost economic growth.

7. As a continuation of the democratic process, a larger number of countries have held multi-party elections in the post Summit years. In the Republic of Korea the election of an opposition candidate as the nation's president in February 1998, for the first time in the nation's history, reflected an important step forward in the country's democratic system. The election of the opposition candidate in Senegal in March 2000 also reflected that democracy is well rooted in the country. In other African countries national elections were held in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa reinforcing democratic practices. After years of military dictatorship in Nigeria, a democratic presidential election was held and a civilian government installed. Ethiopia also held, in May 2000, a multi-party parliamentary election, for the second time since the overthrow of the military regime in 1991.

8. In Bangladesh free elections to the 4468 councils were held in December 1997. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, 83 percent of the eligible population was reported to have participated in the 1997 presidential election. In Tajikistan, following the reconciliation of the conflicting parties, a bi-cameral parliament was elected, which convened its first joint session in April 2000. Against the general trend of the democratisation process, there were however setbacks in some countries in the form of armed rebellion, for example, in Fiji and Solomon Islands; military coups in some countries, and presidential and parliamentary election irregularities in some others.

9. With the democratisation process, an important development that has taken place in many countries is decentralisation in the form of transfer of political, fiscal and administrative powers to sub-national and local levels of governments. In situations where countries are faced with internal discords along geographic and ethnic lines, decentralisation is recognised as a mechanism for bringing opposition groups into a formal consensus making process. In Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda, for example, decentralisation is regarded as an avenue to national unity and solidarity. In Russia the decentralisation of power to the states through the process of negotiation has helped national unity within the federal system.

10. The developed countries are providing wide-ranging forms of assistance to reinforce the democratisation and reform process in the developing countries. For example, Canada in its development assistance recognises human rights of individuals as a central part of the definition of development, and democracy and good governance as key factors for achieving development objectives. Japan under the" Partnership for Democratic Development" provides assistance for establishing institutions, holding of elections, strengthening civil society and developing human resources. The European Union and its member countries also support the promotion of democracy and the private sector as part of their development co-operation.


11. An overwhelming majority of States have made legally binding commitments to respect human rights. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been ratified by 144 States, the Covenant on the Rights of the Child by 191 States, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by 142 States. As at 15 May 2000, 193 States were a party to one or more of the main United Nations human rights treaties.

12. In this connection, there have been positive developments in strengthening human rights in a number of countries. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, press freedom is at its highest in the history of the country, with newspapers and journals having reached 401 in number. Women's political and cultural associations have also been established in the country. In El Salvador, actions were taken to evaluate and restructure government offices to reduce corruption and inefficiency. In Ethiopia an independent Human Rights Commission has been created. Steps are also being taken by the Government to establish an anti-corruption commission. In the Republic of Korea, Basic Law on anti-corruption, Human Rights Act, and the revised National Security Law, which previously had ambiguous provisions with respect to human rights, are now being considered by the national assembly of the country for adoption.

13. In Canada, the Federal Government recognises self-government as an inherent aboriginal right under the Constitutional Act 1982, and, has adopted an Aboriginal Action Plan re-enforcing the government's commitment to reconciliation, and enhancing the participation of aboriginal people in Canadian society. The European Commission (EC) has drawn up a provisional Human Rights Charter to be completed by December 2000, started publishing a yearly Human rights record and, in April 1999, agreed on a position towards countries infringing human rights records. The UK, in July 1999, has established a Disability Rights Commission with powers, inter alia, of issuing codes of practice to promote the equalisation of opportunity for disabled people and the elimination of discrimination. New Zealand is taking measures to close the income and economic gap between indigenous Maoris and other New Zealanders.

14. At the international level, the United Nations Human Rights Commission in April 2000 adopted a proposal to create a permanent forum on indigenous peoples. The forum will act as an advisory body to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and is expected to promote measures to improve the lives of indigenous people around the world. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressing the importance of integrating human rights and development, has decided to mainstream human rights in all United United Nations activities3.


15. In conformity with the Fourth World Conference (Beijing 1995) and the WFS recommendations, the issue of gender equality and women's empowerment is gaining importance in national and international policies and programmes. Gender equality is recognised in the constitutions of several countries including France, Spain, Niger, and Togo. The EC in January 2000 has integrated equality issues into the law. Many countries are also are mainstreaming gender issues in government actions, and are taking institutional and legislative measures to increase women's participation in social and economic life in their respective societies.

16. As regards access to education, several countries (e.g. Burkina Faso, Iraq, Syria, Tunisia, Senegal and Togo) have taken steps to ensure primary or basic education for all, including specific steps to increase girls' enrolment. In Cuba, in the year 1997-98, 50 percent of graduates were women, and women represented 65 percent of the technical labour force, signifying success in the government's efforts in enhancing opportunities for women. In Sweden through a programme called "gender forest", efforts are being made to reinforce competence of women forest owners for improved market competition. In the Netherlands various projects have been initiated for handicapped women, and vocational colleges provide practical job-related courses to women.

17. At international level, a special session of the General assembly "Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for Twenty-first Century", held in June 2000 as a follow-up to the Beijing Conference, adopted a Declaration, "Further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing declaration and Platform for Action". The Declaration pledges additional initiatives for women in the twelve areas identified in the Beijing Platform for Action, including poverty, education, health, violence, armed conflict, economy, power and decision making, human rights, environment, media, girl-child, and institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women.


18. The progress in conflict prevention mechanisms, since the Summit, has been limited, though there were significant steps in some countries in establishing mechanisms to avoid potential conflicts, and to stop ongoing conflicts. One important development in this direction was the relaxation of tensions in the Korean peninsula, following the meeting of the leaders of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea in June 2000, and the signing of an agreement focusing on reconciliation and unification, establishment of peace, exchange of visits of divided families and more cultural exchanges.

19. The Islamic Republic of Iran has proposed the "World Plan of Dialogue between Civilisations", which reportedly has been accepted by UNESCO, a proposal now in the UN calendar. Other important developments in this direction include: the signing by Bangladesh of the treaty of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in early December 1997 to end the long-standing problem insurgency in CHT; the signing of a peace treaty between Ecuador and Peru in October 1998 to resolve border disputes; the Amnesty referendum in Algeria; the initiation of the establishment of relevant Commissions with the objective of ensuring peaceful resolution of conflicts in Nigeria; the signing of a cease fire by Ethiopia and Eritrea in June 2000, within the peace framework brokered by OAU; and New Zealand's assistance to resolve the long-running conflict in Bougainville.

20. The Government of Canada, in addition to its bilateral and multilateral efforts, also took a number of initiatives aimed at conflict prevention and resolution, in the post-Summit years. These include organizing a foras and seminars aimed at promoting conflict prevention mechanisms, establishing in 1997 a peace building initiative comprising of a peace building fund and a programme. Canada also led "the Ottawa process" which resulted in the Ottawa Convention (now ratified by 99 countries) banning anti-personnel mines.

21. At international level, the UN Secretary General continues to pursue various mechanisms (special envoys, a foras, and special consultations) for peacemaking in conflict-affected countries. The Organization of African Unity (OAU), and other regional bodies through diplomatic actions, are also involved in efforts to prevent and resolve conflict.

22. Despite bilateral, multi-lateral and regional efforts, however, conflicts have continued unabated in the post-Summit years. Besides causing immediate human suffering and destruction of property, conflicts pose formidable obstacles to long-term development. A study on the impact of conflicts on agriculture shows that the estimated yearly output loss during 1970-1997 for all developing countries, excluding forgone income increases from development, was $4.3 billion at 1995 prices4.

23. According to various sources, there were 38 conflicts of varying scales in 1999, compared to 36 in 1996 (Table 1). More than 90 percent of the conflicts were local conflicts. In 1999, 7 million people became refugees, increasing the world's uprooted population to 35 million5 of which 14 million were international refugees and 21 million people displaced within their own countries. As of March 2000, the United Nations was running peacekeeping operations in 17 countries (4 in Africa, 1 in Latin America, 3 in Asia, 5 in Europe and 4 in the Middle East.6

Table 1. Number of Conflicts by Region (1996-1999)

Region 1996* 1997 1998 1999
Africa 14 13 13 16
Asia 14 14 13 11
Europe 1 1 1 2
Americas 2 2 2 2
Middle East 5 7 7 7
World 36 37 36 38

* Source: Wallensteen and Sollenberg, 1997
Source: Ploughshares, 1998 and 1999
Source: Relief web, 2000


24. In the post-Summit years, income in per capita terms increased in the East Asian countries as a continuation of past trends. The most remarkable increase was in China, where after increasing at a yearly average of 9 percent during the first half of the 1990s, income continued to rise, albeit at slower rate, but at a much higher rate compared to other countries. Income growth in Vietnam was also high. In the other East Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand) income increased during 1996 and 1997, but with the financial crisis in late 1997, witnessed a setback in 1998. The drop in income in these countries had a severe short-term social impact, especially in Indonesia, but did not bring a lasting setback on the gains previously achieved in reducing poverty and under-nutrition, owing to the strong economic base that these countries have attained through sustained long-term economic growth.

25. The increase in per capita income in the Latin America and Caribbean region was also somewhat a continuation of the first half of the 1990s. The growth in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Nicaragua, Surinam and Uruguay was above 3 percent per year, normally considered as the minimum long-term per capita rate of growth to reduce poverty rapidly. The success in poverty reduction, however, has been particularly notable in Chile, Colombia, and Surinam and, to some extent, Bolivia.

26. The North African countries also witnessed high rates of per capita income growth in the post-Summit years, except Tunisia, which had a negative growth in 1997. In the Near East countries, income declined for the region as a whole, though countries like Iran and Turkey, and, to some extent Lebanon, witnessed high rates of growth. The number of the undernourished in 1996/98 also increased from the levels at the beginning of the decade mainly because of the increase in Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen. With the exception of these latter countries the proportion of the undernourished is generally below 10 percent in the countries of the region.

27. In sub-Saharan Africa aggregate income per capita increased in 1996 and 1997 but declined in 1998. The performance at country level, however, differs widely from country to country. Only in a limited number of countries, were rates of growth of sufficiently sustained long-term nature to lead to reduction of poverty. Factors such as conflicts, political instability, lack of good governance, frequent incidence of natural disasters, desertification and environmental degradation, over-dependence on exports of a few primary commodities, low level domestic savings and investment, low level of foreign investment, debt burden, declining official development assistance undermine sustained growth and the ability to reduce poverty. With the exception of a few countries, notably Ghana, Gabon, Mauritius, Benin, Guinea, Mauritania, and Nigeria, the number of the undernourished has increased both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population, in most Sub-Saharan African countries, with the increase in the number of the undernourished being generally high in the countries affected by extended conflicts.

28. World Bank data up to mid-990s demonstrate that inequality in income within countries is also increasing in many developing countries. In Asia, the Republic of Korea and Indonesia have succeeded in narrowing income inequality, though in Indonesia's case the fall in inequality appears to have been associated with a decline in incomes of the top half of the income group. In Bangladesh, China and Thailand income inequality has widened. In India, the gap between some of the country's poor states and the better performing states is growing. Many of India's poorest states suffer from slow progress in human development, low rates of growth, particularly in the agricultural sector, inadequate infrastructure, and weak and fragmented institutions. The data also show that income inequality has grown in Eastern Europe and central Asia, and in Africa in the mid-1990s. In Latin America, income inequality seems to have also worsened in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Panama.

29. In the developed countries, after the 1997-1998 crisis in the emerging economies, GDP in real terms in 1999 increased in all OECD countries except in Turkey and the Czech Republic. In the current year, GDP in real terms in the OECD countries as a whole is forecast to grow at 4 percent. Reflecting the strong economic growth, the overall unemployment rate fell by three-tenth of a percentage point in 1999 and is foreseen to fall further in 2000 and 2001 by 3 million persons to reach 31,250,000 persons or 6 percent of the labour force. The reduction in unemployment reflects largely the substantial fall in unemployment in the EU and Korea.7 The phenomenon of unemployment and the resulting poverty, though affecting a relatively small proportion of the population, may have led to the widening of income inequality between the poor and other income groups in many OECD countries.

30. The income gap between developed and developing countries has also continued to widen enormously. World Bank data show that the ratio between average income of the world's richest 5 percent and world poorest 5 percent increased from 78 to 1 in 1988 to 123 to1 in 1993.8



31. In line with Commitment One (objective 1.2) and Commitment Two (Objective 2.1) countries are adopting and implementing policies and strategies to develop their economies and to tackle poverty and food insecurity. The reports of most developed countries show that their policies and strategies generally focus on employment and income generation to tackle poverty, while that of the developing countries show that the strategies of many of the countries focus on the agricultural sector as a base for promoting sustainable and equitable economic and social development as well as for reducing poverty and under-nutrition. Taking into account their lessons of experience, many countries have stressed the need for an integrated and comprehensive approach to combat poverty and food insecurity.

32. The Government of China, for example, places agriculture as the first priority in national development with a focus on grain production to achieve food self-reliance. The Government considers this approach as a pre-requisite for ensuring social stability and rapid sustained development of the economy; addressing rural employment and income; and avoiding excessive dependence on food imports and associated risks. China has increased the budget for agriculture by 50 percent in 1998 over the level in 1996, and is undertaking a series of short and long-term measures to accelerate agriculture and overall economic growth as well as reduction in poverty.

33. The Republic of Korea (ROK) also attaches the highest priority to sustainable agriculture, focussing on increasing rice production to enhance self-sufficiency in rice as a protection against world market instability, and possible emergencies affecting domestic agriculture. In order to combat the adverse effects of the recession posed by the economic crisis in Asia in 1997-1998, and to address issues of poverty and inequality, the ROK has put in place numerous programmes including the expansion of public service projects, and the activation of projects in local economies, making use of the unused labour force and resources in rural areas.

34. Among other countries in Asia, Bangladesh adopted a new agricultural policy in 1999 for rapid increase in agricultural productivity and income, and is promoting targeted income and employment generating programmes for the poor. Vietnam has implemented a Poverty Eradication Programme for the 1,715 poorest communes in the country. The People's Democratic Republic of Lao has adopted a forestry law, land law, agricultural law, and water resource law and investment law to improve the enabling environment for development and poverty reduction.

35. In Africa, Ethiopia, within the framework of its "Agriculture Development Led Industrialisation" (ADLI) Strategy, has designed a national food security strategy to address the income and food security needs of about 6.5 million people identified as the most vulnerable households. Ghana, under its 1995 strategy for poverty reduction and integrated rural development, is undertaking measures for the expansion of employment opportunities for the urban and rural poor, for improved access to basic public services such as education, health care, water and sanitation, and family planning services.

36. Uganda has designed a Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP) with the aim of "poverty eradication through profitable competitive, sustainable and dynamic agriculture and agro-industrial transforming subsistence agriculture to commercial agriculture". Mali, in 1998, has adopted a national strategy for poverty alleviation, which reinforces access to credit and other funds to poor population groups. Other countries in Africa which have taken or are in the process of elaborating a national strategy for poverty alleviation include Chad, Cape Verde, Madagascar and Mauritania.

37. In Latin America and the Caribbean, with the aim of enhancing food production and household income, the Dominican Republic has taken steps to improve the right of access to land for 2000 women. Costa Rica has taken steps to improve access to land and equity of income through, inter alia, a National Assistance Programme for enhancing production techniques that reached 29,241 people in 1999; and the Nicoya Peninsula agricultural development programme involving 2,600 families.

38. Nicaragua, under its Land Redistribution Programme, has provided land to 50,000 households. Bolivia has undertaken legal reforms to revise and modernise the terms for land distribution, and property rights to enhance development; Panama and El Salvador are also focusing on policies and programmes for increasing agricultural productivity, sustainability, and competitiveness with a view to reducing poverty and under-nutrition.

39. In North Africa, Morocco has strengthened measures to help farmers through providing agricultural credit and cancelling debts where necessary. In the Near East, Iran has created over 1000 co-operatives in the fields of agriculture, industry, mining, handicraft, and services involving more than 54,000 people, and generating new jobs for 20,000 people. The Government also improved subsidies targeting for the poor and vulnerable groups, and formulated programmes for employment generation in rural areas. Lebanon is implementing production programmes and policies to help farmers improve their production efficiency.

40. With the view to increasing production, the Arab Republic of Syria, has provided loans for the procurement of agricultural inputs including new seed varieties, and for development of irrigation technologies. The Government of Iraq has increased subsidised agricultural inputs to farmers, continued to build agricultural irrigation and drainage networks to increase food production, and has created new employment opportunities through activities such as establishing poultry farms. Tunisia has created a "Fonds National de l'Emploi" targeted at youth, and has created a fund for developing competitive fishing and agricultural marketing.

41. Among the developed countries, Canada, in its Action Plan for food security, emphasises that the Government's priorities include the need to better define the meaning to the Right to Food, and the actions required to implement it, and the reduction of poverty domestically and internationally. The United States Action Plan on Food Security indicates that, domestically, the Government's priority is supporting individual and family economic security through employment generation and increased human capital investment and appropriate government policies. Apart from using monetary, fiscal and trade policies that promote strong economic growth and job creation along with low inflation, the Government has introduced welfare reform policies, which provide strong incentives for welfare recipients to move from welfare into work and to be self-reliant.

42. Japan's agricultural policy aims at preventing the country's food self-sufficiency ratio from falling below the current level of 40 percent in calorie terms, and protecting the country from the impact of world market fluctuations. In this context, in July 1999, the Government adopted a "Basic Law of Food, Agriculture, and Rural Areas" for promoting agricultural production and maintaining the "multi-functionality" of agriculture.

43. Norway's policy is to have a strong agricultural sector with economical, ecological and sustainable production systems, a stable and predictable trade system, and sustainable systems to secure food. The EU has adopted Agenda 2000 setting out economic reforms for agriculture between 2000- 2006. The United Kingdom pursues a comprehensive range of policies aimed at sustainable growth of income and employment. Where problems arise with large-scale job losses, "new Rapid Response Units" provide practical help at the local level. A number of "New Deal" programmes with funding of 3.5 billion pounds have also been launched to help unemployed people move from welfare into work. France has created a social package for farmers as well as a poverty eradication strategy in October 1996, and, in 1999, doubled its budget for the " Fight Against Exclusion" Programme. In the Netherlands, job creation remains the Government's priority in employment policy. Ireland through the National Anti-Poverty Strategy (April 1997) tackles unemployment, educational disadvantage, income inadequacy, disadvantaged urban areas, and rural poverty.

44. The developed countries also continue to have strategies and programmes to support developing countries in their efforts to improve food security and to reduce poverty. Many developed countries attach importance to an enabling policy environment for food security in concert with OECD Development Assistance Committee poverty reduction targets. A number of developed countries have also reported their contributions to bilateral and multilateral debt relief initiatives, notably the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) Debt Initiative. In addition, some of the developed countries are also assisting developing countries in designing specific food security and poverty reduction approaches.


45. Apart from the humanitarian aspect and the fulfilment of the right of every human being to be free from hunger, as recognised in international covenants, there is a strong economic justification for SSN to support people who, either for structural economic problems or inability to work and earn income, or because of sudden economic disasters, suffer from hunger and malnutrition. A recent econometric study commissioned by FAO shows that widespread under- nourishment significantly reduces the growth rate of per capita GDP.9 Hunger and inadequate food intake considerably lower physical ability and cognitive development and learning achievement resulting in lower productivity, thus reducing the potential for faster economic and social development and improvement of well-being. This stresses the important role that SSN can play in human resource development, especially children, through the provision of food and enabling them to use their full cognitive potential. However, SSN should be targeted to the needy and should only supplement and not replace development and poverty reduction programmes.

46. In general, the types of SSN provided by governments, broadly remain as reported in document CFS: 98/3, i.e.: supplementation programmes, food-for-work programmes, food stamp programmes, food ration schemes, emergency relief food supplies, minimum wage laws, youth employment programmes, labour market regulations, unemployment benefits, subsidised employment schemes, employment guarantee programmes, insurance schemes and primary health care.

47. In many developing countries, SSN comprise of food-for-work programmes, school-feeding programmes, and direct support to people affected by emergencies or transitional food insecurity. Such programmes are often implemented with the help of international agencies such as WFP or bilateral donor assistance. To strengthen targeted development and SSN interventions, a number of countries are taking initiatives to identify the poor and to improve their information and monitoring systems, including through establishing FIVIMS.

48. The developed countries have more elaborate SSN systems to support poor, food insecure populations. There is however a growing interest in these countries for " Make Work Pay (MWP) " policies, i.e., redirecting expenditures from unemployment and other welfare benefits towards promoting employment opportunities. The interest in MWP policies lies in their potential to promote both efficiency and equity by fostering employment and decent levels of family income. In addition to the UK and United States (see para 40 & 42) Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and New Zealand have introduced them and other OECD countries are considering it.10


49. As reported in document CFS: 98/3, at the 24th session of the Committee, several countries, both developing and developed, have policies and mechanisms for maintaining food security reserve stocks in addition to operational marketing stocks. Information relating to the level of cereal stocks at the global level and their implications to world food security is given in document CFS: 2000/2.

50. All countries whether developed or developing, have also mechanisms to ensure food safety and quality. The effectiveness of these mechanisms, however, varies according to the countries' development status and to the priority they assign to this activity in their national programmes. In most developing countries, the food control systems suffer from a number of deficiencies which reduce their efficiency and expose the consumer to various types of food-bourne illnesses as well as food adulteration. Available data indicate that the problem of food-borne diseases is a growing global health concern. It is estimated that up to 30 percent of the population in industrialised countries may be affected by food borne illness each year. In developing countries, in 1990, the morbidity and mortality associated with diarrhoea was estimated to be in the order of 2700 million cases each year, resulting in 2.4 million deaths below the age of five.11

51. Recent developments in strengthening food safety and quality include: the creation by Belgium (in December 1999) of a Federal Agency for Food Chain Security to reinforce controls at all levels; Canada's numerous initiatives in food safety education and monitoring and surveillance; the establishment of joint food standards systems by New Zealand and Australia. The EC has stepped up food safety control campaign to raise public awareness across Europe, and, in 1998, adopted a resolution for consumer safety as well as new regulations to ban four antibiotics in animal feed. France, within the context of EU policy, has gathered epidemiological nutritional data through the Institut National de Veille Sanitaire; and has carried out population surveys on eating habits through the Institut Scientifique et Technique de la Nutrition et de l'Alimentation to identify vulnerable sectors for food programmes.

52. At the international level, the joint FAO/WHO codex Alimentarius Commission continued its work on the development of international standards, guidelines and recommendatios with the dual objective of protecting the health of the consumer and promoting fair practices in food trade. To respond to emerging issues in this field, the commission established two new Task Forces: one dealing with food derived from biotechnology, and the other with animal feeding practices. The Commission also decided to create a new Codex Regional Coordinating Committee for the Near East and to use Arabic and Chinese as official languages in meetings of the Commission, its Executive Committee and relevant Regional Coordinating Committees. Fifteen developing countries received assistance from FAO to establish and/or strengthen their National Codex Committees with a view to enhancing their participation in international food standards setting.


53. A number of countries have reported on the steps they have taken to improve access to basic education and primary health care, in line with Commitment Two, Objective 2.4. As regards access to education, for instance, Cuba, in continuation of the country's "Educate Your Child Programme", has ensured coverage of 95% of 5 year olds, and 97% of 6-12 year olds. Despite such and other successful measures, however, more than 130 million children in the world do not attend schools.12 An ILO report also shows that a large number of children under the age of physical maturity, who should normally be in schools, are forced to work because of poverty, either to care for themselves or to assist their parents.

54. Several countries are also taking measures to improve access to health services. Examples of such measures include: the training of 300 health care technicians in the field of reproductive health in Angola; the immunisation coverage of 9 contagious diseases to 98.5% of children in Cuba; the initiation of clean water programme, Programme d'Approvisionnement Group en Eau Potable des Populations Rurales (PAGER), in Morocco the formulation of village level Integrated Health Development Programme (1998-2002); a National Programme for Sanitary and Social Development (1998-2002) in Senegal; and the exemption of health service fees for the poor and the provision of insurance cards for the poor in Vietnam. In New Zealand, a health education kit was released in 1998 to provide food and nutrition guidelines for all population groups.

55. At international level, WHO has established a 15-member expert Commission to undertake a study on how concrete health interventions could lead to economic growth and reduce inequity in developing countries. The Commission will assess: (i) the nature and magnitude of economic outcomes (income and productivity growth, poverty reduction and social protection) of investing on health; (ii) the economics of incentives for research and development of drugs vaccines that address diseases primarily affecting the poor (iii) effective and equitable mobilisation of resources to deal with the major disease problems of the poor (iv) health and international economic relations (vi) development assistance and health and (v) costs and efficiency in addressing major diseases of the poor. The Commission's report is to be produced by end of 2001.


56. In conformity with Commitment Five, a large number of developing countries have put in place institutions to help them respond to emergencies in the event of their occurrence, as reported in document CFS: 1998/3. The institutions established vary from country to country in terms of functions, coverage and effectiveness. Some countries, for instance, have established national early warning systems to monitor food supply situations, while others have a full set of arrangements consisting of an early warning system, food security reserve, and a disaster plan of action to be brought into operation in the event of emergencies. The effectiveness of such arrangements in most developing countries is constrained by lack of trained and skilled manpower, inadequate physical and institutional infrastructure, and by lack of financial resources.

57. At the international level, much progress has been made technologically regarding the accuracy and timeliness of early warnings for many natural hazards. The ability to use satellites to forecast time and location of tropical cyclones, for example, has doubled, from the accuracy of a 24-hour forecast in 1990 to a 48-hour forecast in 1999. The warning time for tornadoes improved from around 8 or 9 minutes to nearly double at 17 minutes at the end of the decade. Also, with better information and understanding of natural phenomenon, engineers have been able to improve building norms and standards in many parts of the world.

58. Despite some successes in some areas, the incidence of natural disasters in the post summit years has remained high (Table 2), with enormous damage in terms of human life and property, and causing setbacks in economic growth. In 1999 natural disasters killed an estimated 100,000 people - the highest toll since 1991. The cost of the damage caused by floods in Central America in 1998 was estimated at US$8.5 billion and that in Mozambique (February-March 2000) was estimated at US$1billion. For the severe drought in the Horn of Africa, the UN has appealed for US$378 million to support the affected population. Data on the cost of the damage caused by other disasters are not available but the cost must have been enormous, especially those caused by large-scale disasters as the drought in the northern and western parts of India affecting 90 million people; the Cyclone Orissa in India which killed 10,000 people and affected over 12 million people; December 1999 the floods, which killed 30,000 people in Venezuela; the floods in China and in Bangladesh 1998; and the two earthquakes in August and November 1999 which killed some 18,000 people and injured 50,000 in Turkey.

59. At the international level, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UNHCR, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and numerous NGOs continue to play important roles in relief and emergency work. The FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture, FAO Special Relief Operations, the FAO Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and diseases also continued to provide emergency related support in their respective areas of competence. The WFP to facilitate its emergency operations has established mechanisms such as the Immediate Response Account (IRA) regional pipelines and contingency planning to get food to people before a problem reaches a crisis level. WFP has also created a "protracted relief and recovery operation" (PRRO) programme as a window for rehabilitation assistance. The developed countries have provided support through bilateral and multi-lateral channels to minimize the impact of crisis in affected countries.

Table 2. Number of Natural Disasters from 1996-2000

  1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 (first part)
Floods 27 24 23 34 12
Drought 1 7 6 6 6
Earthquake 7 9 11 16 3
Volcano 0 2 1 2 1
Hurricane/Tornado 18 11 7 7 3
Pests/ Disease 0 1 0 0 0
Fire 2 1 3 3 1

(Source: Relief Web as of June 1, 2000)

60. Following the drought-caused food crisis in the Horn of Africa, the Secretary General of the UN has established an inter-agency task force to design a long-term food security and agricultural development strategy for the sub-region. The aim of the strategy is to prevent the incidence of frequent droughts in the region. The WHO has also launched an action plan to save the drought-affected population in the horn from plummeting into a major health crisis.


61. As reported to the Committee at its 24th session, most countries (in line with Objectives 7.1 & 7.3) have made arrangements to facilitate and to monitor the implementation in WFS PoA. Recent developments in this regard include: the establishment, in Canada, of a Food Security Bureau with the responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the WFS PoA, and reporting progress to the CFS; and, in the Netherlands, the establishment in 1999 of the World Food Issues/ National FAO Committee Foundation to stimulate WFS follow-up. In the U.S. the Government will maintain an interagency Working Group on Food Security as the focal point within the Executive Branch for its continuing response to the WFS and to identify issues to address in Congress. The Food Security Advisory Committee will also continue to oversee the implementation of the Plan.

62. The ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security continues to play an important role as a mechanism for promoting cooperation among UN system organizations, at country level, on the implementation of the WFS PoA. Activities on rural development and food security stimulated by the ACC Network range from supporting the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), to developing Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS), addressing effects of natural disasters on food supplies, and assisting in activities in food aid. As of June 2000, 68 national Thematic Groups have been established, and a further 14 national Thematic Groups are at initial stages of development. At the international level, a network of interested UN system organizations and associated international and regional NGOs supports the Thematic Groups.

63. As regards follow-up to Objective 7.4 on the right to adequate food, considerable progress has been made in better defining the content of this right. Following two expert consultations held by the High Commissioner for Human Rights (HCHR) in 1997 and 1998, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) adopted in May 1999 a General Comment on the Right to Adequate Food, Article 11 of the Covenant. The General Comment constitutes an authoritative interpretation of that Article and is a milestone in defining the normative content of the right to adequate food. It will be recalled that the General Comment was presented to the Committee at its last session in June 1999. A major effort being undertaken is to find better ways of implementing the right to adequate food at the international and country levels, through better information-sharing systems and legislative and other technical advice. FAO has actively participated in this process and is exploring ways of strengthening its co-operation with the CESCR and the HCHR on a continuing basis.

64. The Economic and Social Council on 16 June 2000 has endorsed Resolution 2000/10 (April 2000) of the Commission on Human Rights to appoint a special rapporteur, for a period of three years, in order to respond fully to the necessity for an integrated and co-ordinated approach in the promotion and protection of the right to food. The rapporteurs will seek, receive and respond to information on all aspects of the realization of the right to food, including the urgent eradication of hunger; establish co-operation with Governments, inter-governmental organizations, and NGOs, on the promotion and effective implementation of the right to food; and identify emerging issues related to the right to food worldwide.13

65. The FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015 incorporates the programmes already launched by FAO to contribute to fulfilling the Summit's commitments. Of particular note, in relation to Commitment Seven, is the enhanced advocacy effort to raise the global profile of food security issues. The World Food Day Special Events/TeleFood Programme has continued annual campaigns to increase public awareness and promote solidarity in the fight against hunger. Thanks to the combined efforts of governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, the media and a number of well-known personalities, as well as of many dedicated individuals around the globe, major awareness-raising events took place each year to relay the World Food Summit call for action. In 1999 alone over 70 countries gave World Food Day/TeleFood activities a major role in reaching out to civil society, and the audience for widely broadcast television programmes amounted to several hundred million people.


1 The full text of all reports received will be available with the secretariat, in their original format and language, in a limited number of copies for consultation by delegates. The reports will also be made available on http\\

2 Entering the 21st Century, World Development Report 1999/2000

3 "Renewing the United Nations: A Programme for Reform", UN document A/51/1950, 14 July 1997.

4 FAO: State of Food and Agriculture 2000.

5 U.S. Committee for Refugees

6 keeping operations.

7 OECD Employment Outlook, June 2000, pp. 11-27.

8 World Bank ( htm)

9 "Malnutrition and growth: The (efficiency) cost of hunger", FAO, Economic and Social Policy Development paper, (forthcoming).

10  OECD Employment Outlook, op cit, pp. 7-10.

11 World Health Organization, Note for the Press, 21 January 2000. The information does not include data for China.

12 UNICEF, The State of the World's Children 2000.

13 UN, Economic and Social Council, E/2000/INF/2/Add.1