7 January 2003, Rome -- For the first time,
a programme of decentralized cooperation has been signed by the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) and the Italian government representing a new kind of partnership
between local authorities in Italy and in developing countries to focus on food
security and rural development.
Over the next two years an Italian trust
fund of $2.3 million will launch pilot projects aimed at improving the lives of
rural communities in a number of developing countries.
new approach to fighting hunger and food insecurity, the initiative will enable
FAO to work not only with the central government but also with local authorities
- at municipal, provincial and regional levels - of both developed and developing
Italy's approximately 8000 municipalities, 100 provinces and
20 regions give some idea of the potential of the new initiative whose objective
is to mobilize the social, human and financial resources of local Italian authorities
to fight hunger and malnutrition.
As civil society and local authorities
play an ever increasing role internationally in the fight against hunger and poverty,
decentralized cooperation establishes solid, cross-cutting partnerships between
organizations while encouraging active participation in democracy and the mobilization
The direct participation of local authorities also serves
to strengthen the public sense of ownership, a condition FAO believes is important
for sustainable development.
The new kind of triangular partnership (between
FAO and local authorities in developing and developed countries) builds partly
on commitments from different stakeholders made at the World Food Summit: five
years later, held in June 2002, to work together towards an international alliance
During the World Food Summit in 1996, Heads of State
and Government committed themselves to reducing by half the number of people on
the planet suffering from chronic malnutrition by 2015. The number currently stands
at 840 million people.
Many FAO programmes correspond to objectives set
by local institutions. The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), for example,
aims to help farmers in low-income, food-deficit countries to overcome social
and economic barriers to increased production through simple, low-cost and environmentally-friendly
The first decentralized cooperation pilot project
is expected to be launched by FAO and Rome's town council, with Italian government
support, in the Rwandan capital Kigali. The project will focus on developing agriculture
on the outskirts of the city.
Further similar initiatives with local
authorities in other countries are in the pipeline, FAO said. In France, the town
council of Montreuil is expected to offer its support to local Mali authorities
being advised by Vietnamese experts as part of South-South Cooperation, within
the SPFS programme.
FAO hopes the results of these pilot projects will
encourage the development of further decentralized cooperation programmes with
the support of other donors.
Javier Perez de Vega
(+39) 06 570 52026