22 July 2003, Rome -- The World Food Day/TeleFood theme for 2003 is International Alliance Against Hunger, to emphasize the need for global mobilization to create the political will to eradicate hunger, FAO announced today.

"How is it possible in this day and age that so many of our fellow human beings remain hungry?" said Dr Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General. "Nations must turn verbal commitments to fight hunger into practical programmes."

An international alliance against hunger will bring together the strengths of different groups all over the world to gain momentum to achieve the common goal of eliminating hunger in all its forms, FAO says.

Such an alliance would include all partners working in concert: food producers, consumers, international organizations, governments, private firms, scientists, academics, individuals, religious groups and non-governmental organizations. It would also include donors and policy-makers from both rich and poor countries.

"Political will is a must to achieve the goal of the World Food Summit. Nations will need to work harder to create the policy environment, provide the funding and implement the programmes to allow people to fight hunger and poverty," says Eva Clayton, FAO Assistant Director-General and Special Advisor to the Director-General, responsible for World Food Summit follow-up.

The World Food Summit goal

At the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, representatives of 185 nations and the European Community set a goal of cutting the number of hungry people by half by 2015.

Some 840 million people still suffer from hunger and malnutrition in a world of plenty. Hunger causes illness and death, robs people of their potential to work and cripples children's learning capacity.

Each year on 16 October, since 1981, FAO has celebrated World Food Day in commemoration of its founding on that day in 1945 in Quebec City. World Food Day is observed in more than 150 countries.

TeleFood, a public-awareness and fund-raising campaign including television shows and other special events organized by FAO, coincides with World Food Day to heighten attention to global hunger and to focus attention on achieving food security for all.

The theme of World Food Day/TeleFood 2003 is taken from the final Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later held in June 2002 in Rome. In this Declaration, Heads of State and Government or their representatives from 179 countries and the European Community renewed their global commitments made at the World Food Summit and called on all parties "to reinforce their efforts so as to act as an international alliance against hunger."

What is the International Alliance?

The International Alliance Against Hunger will strengthen political commitment for existing initiatives. It will help partners to develop a common vision. It will also provide a forum for advocacy, promote joint actions and facilitate information exchange through Web sites, newsletters and progress reports, according to FAO.

As the International Alliance Against Hunger takes shape, leaders in an increasing number of countries are putting the fight against hunger at the forefront of national priorities. They realize that only well-fed people can take part effectively in their country's economic and social development.

FAO believes that these efforts, together with national initiatives, are just the beginning of an expanding network of alliances dedicated to fighting hunger more efficiently.

"Hopefully, by 16 October 2003, many countries will have effectively launched their National Alliances against hunger," indicates Eva Clayton.

Several developing countries are establishing National Alliances. Among them Brazil, which is implementing the Zero Hunger Programme, Colombia, Ghana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Uganda.

"There is much assistance that FAO needs to provide to developing countries tohelp them in establishing effective alliances," according to Ms Clayton.

Among the developed countries, the United States has initiated the establishment of an Alliance Against Hunger, while a few others are building coalitions with non-governmental organizations concerned with food security issues.

Pierre Antonios
Information Officer, FAO
(+39)06 570 53473