FAO Liaison Office in New York
reviewed & published
IGAD Partner Forum Ministerial Meeting
José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General: September 26, 2013, UNHQ, NYC


1. Ladies and Gentlemen, two years ago, famine was declared in Somalia. A tragic moment that shows the failures and the possibilities of cooperation.


2. Famine happened because the international community was slow to react to the multiple warnings that were made, by FAO and others, of a rapidly deteroriating situation.


3. A recent estimate points to over 250,000 hunger-caused deaths in Somalia between October 2010 and April 2012.


4. But when we did react, we made a difference. In six months, famine ended.


5. Allow me to point out three key issues to avoid such a tragedy from happening again.


6. First, food security is an important foundation for peace, stability and sustainable development. There is a vicious circle linking violence and hunger that is not restricted by national borders. In a globalized world, hunger is not a problem of one country. It's our problem.


7. Second, the importance of partnerships. Working together, coordinating and complementing what we do, listening and responding to local needs, we achieve better results.


8. That is why FAO has aligned its support of the Horn of Africa with IGAD, its member countries, and development partners.


9. We also support IGAD to develop its regional CAADP and set up a Regional Resilience Analysis Unit.


10. We worked together with the World Bank and African Development Bank to prepare resilience and sustainable programs worth over 300 million dollars.


11. And, FAO, WFP, and UNICEF have a joint resilience strategy in Somalia. This is innovative not only in partnership but as a paradign shift from emergency response to longer term development. It includes as central elements cash-for-work programs and other stimulus to strengthen local production and local markets.


12. That brings me to my third point: we cannot just wait for an emergency to react. To achieve food security, we need to act before the crisis, building resilience. We cannot prevent a drought from happening, but we can prevent it from becoming a famine.


13. Have we learned our lessons from the famine in Somalia? I do hope so.


I thank you.

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