8 December 2003, Rome -- FAO said on Monday that it had signed a $5.8 million agreement with the government of Brazil, strengthening its collaboration and support of the country's Zero Hunger Programme.

Under the terms of the accord between the Organization and Brazil's Special Ministry for Food Security, FAO will provide the country with technical assistance in carrying out an evaluation of the successes achieved by the programme.

"Just ten months after the Programme was launched we are already seeing tangible results," said Henri Carsalade, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation.

"We can already begin to evaluate the Programme's impact not merely in the improved nutritional status of the pilot communities - the most immediate impact - but also through changes in other areas - such as education, health and living conditions," he added.

Brazil has signed an agreement with FAO to carry out an in-depth technical evaluation of Zero Hunger initiatives, both current and future. The costs of the evaluation will be entirely financed by Brazil.

It is hoped the analysis will refine the Programme, which aims to address the root causes of poverty which result in hunger.

The Zero Hunger Programme has two parallel strategies to fight hunger in Brazil both in the short and longer-term.

An emergency response aims to provide food for the hungry and a longer-term strategy aims to improve professional training, reduce poverty and stimulate food production.

The new accord will also strengthen development at the community-level following initial emergency responses.

In order to kick-start the Programme, FAO gave one million dollars to Brazil's President Luiz Inázio Lula da Silva shortly after its launch so that projects could begin immediately.

Now, ten months on, FAO is lending its support to the Special Ministry for Food Security to ensure that an adequate social network exists to support the change so desired by the millions of Brazilians who survive on less than a dollar a day.

FAO will work closely with the Ministry in order to improve interaction between existing community-based development initiatives and to establish a food security system at the local and national level, in collaboration with local authorities.
Nuria Felipe Soria
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570 55899

Recent video footage from Zero Hunger Programme pilot projects is available for television broadcasters only.
For further information contact Enrique Yeves, Chief, Multimedia, tel. (+39) 06 570 52518.