ROME, 25 April 2002 -- At the invitation of Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Heads of State and Government of the NEPAD Implementation Committee will seize the opportunity of their presence in Rome at the World Food Summit: five years later (10-13 June 2002) to prepare the Kananaskis meeting from 26 to 28 June in Canada, which will focus on partnership between the G8 and Africa.

NEPAD Implementation Committee comprises 15 countries and is chaired by President Obasanjo of Nigeria. NEPAD is the New Partnership for Africa's Development, a commitment of African leaders to the African people and to the international community to ensure the sustainable development of the Continent. It is based on a "holistic, integrated strategic framework."

The FAO has been supporting this initiative by cooperating with NEPAD Steering Committee and the Ministers of Agriculture to translate the strategic policy guidance of the African Heads of State in the agricultural sector into concrete programmes which later will lead to bankable projects at regional and national levels.

The World Food Summit: five years later will review progress achieved during the last five years towards ending hunger and consider ways to accelerate the process.
The Summit was originally scheduled for 5-9 November 2001 but has been delayed in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in the United States. "The purpose of this event is to give new impetus to worldwide efforts on behalf of hungry people," says Dr. Jacques Diouf, Director-General of FAO. "We must raise both the political will and the financial resources to fight hunger. The international community has repeatedly declared that it is dedicated to the eradication of poverty; eliminating hunger is a vital first step as 70 percent of the poor are in rural areas and their livelihood is mainly agriculture."

According to FAO, current data indicate that the number of undernourished in the world is falling at an average rate of only 6 million each year, far below the rate of 22 million per year needed to reach the 1996 World Food Summit target of reducing the number of hungry people by half by 2015. Although headway has been made and some striking success stories exist in individual countries and communities, much remains to be done.

World leaders are expected to commit themselves to accelerate progress towards the achievement of the hunger reduction goal. They are also expected to consider how to increase resources available for agricultural and rural development.