Italian football star Roberto Baggio shows solidarity to rural communities affected by floods in Peru
Lima, Peru (FAO) – Former football star and FAO Goodwill Ambassador, Roberto Baggio, today concluded his visit to Peru during which he experienced firsthand the support given by the European Union (EU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to over 10 000 families affected by the floods that struck the Cusco and Puno regions of Peru in January 2010.
1993 European Footballer of the Year, Baggio, traveled to Peru as part of the “Professional Football Against Hunger” Campaign, a joint initiative of the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL), FAO and the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission (ECHO). This campaign seeks to raise awareness of the unacceptable levels of hunger in the world.
During his visit to the Matinga and Quillihuay communities in the Cusco region on 11 May, Baggio met with small-scale farmers and alpaca breeders who have benefited from ECHO and FAO support. “The assistance given to these families has helped them to recover from the terrible tragedy they suffered,” said the footballer. “I am happy to have spent time with them and to be a part of this joint effort between FAO and the European Union”, he added.
Through the distribution of quality seeds, tools and veterinary medicines, the repairing of irrigation canals, the recovery of damaged land, and the provision of technical assistance, a FAO project funded by ECHO has allowed over 10 000 families to rebuild their livelihoods and agricultural and livestock production systems, lost during the January 2010 floods.
“The beneficiaries of this FAO project, funded by the Humanitarian Aid Department of the European Commission are small-scale farmers and livestock breeders who depend on their crops and animals to survive. This is one of Peru’s poorest areas,” said Alvaro De Vicente, in charge of ECHO’s Office for South America.
“The European Commission considers its partnership with FAO as fundamental,” added De Vicente. ”Most of our funding in South America is destined to emergency response and food aid. FAO brings the key technical know-how that is essential for providing effective agricultural assistance to farmers, as well as important knowledge on how to protect and adapt crops, stabilize soil and manage water,” he explained. “Our objective is, on the one hand to help the victims recover, and on the other to reduce future risks.”
After returning from his visit to the Cusco region, Baggio spent time with children from Oscar Ibanez’s Football School, in Lima where he demonstrated the football skills which have made him one of the sport’s legendary figures.
Football against hunger
FAO and the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) launched the “Professional Football Against Hunger Campaign” in 2008. In October 2010, 16 leagues and 314 clubs across 157 stadiums in 14 countries all over Europe participated in the second edition of the European football against hunger match day.
“Football has great potential to mobilize people. Through this campaign we call for their support to the almost 1 billion people worldwide who suffer hunger, 52 million of whom live in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, Executive Director of the EPFL.
During Baggio’s visit to Peru, a cooperation agreement was signed between FAO, the Peruvian Sport Institute and the Peruvian Football Federation to promote the “Professional Football Against Hunger Campaign” in Peru.
Best in the world
Roberto Baggio is considered one of the best football players in history. In 1993 he received the Golden Ball as European Footballer of the Year and was elected by sports journalists as the World’s Best Player. Since 2002, he is an FAO Goodwill Ambassador. In 2009, Baggio received the Peace Summit Award in recognition for his work towards world peace and his international humanitarian work.
“Baggio’s visit to Peru is another example of his solidarity. Raising awareness about hunger by showcasing FAO and ECHO’s joint work to such a broad audience could benefit thousands of people. The agreement signed today between FAO, the Peruvian Sport Institute and the Peruvian Football Federation will be another powerful communication tool”, stated FAO’s Representative in Peru, Valdir Roberto Welte, praising Baggio’s, the EU’s, the EPFL’s and the new Peruvian partners commitment to the fight against hunger.
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