FAO meeting discusses hunger in the mountains


The findings of the report, “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity”, were presented during an event at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) headquarters on 24 February 2016. Moderated by René Castro Salazar, FAO Forestry Assistant Director-General, the meeting was an opportunity for FAO colleagues to discuss ways of addressing the rise in hunger and malnutrition in the mountainous regions of developing countries.

“In line with FAO’s mandate to end hunger, improve nutrition and make food systems more resilient, this report show that mountain peoples require urgent attention,” said Castro Salazar. “Unfortunately, the findings are not good – in 2012, 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries was considered vulnerable to food insecurity. This is a staggering increase of 30 percent, compared to the conditions of mountain peoples in the year 2000.”

Nathalie Troubat of the FAO Statistics Department underlined the need to have reliable statistics for creating an enabling environment for improved food security and nutrition.To estimate vulnerability to food insecurity in mountain areas, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat and the Statistics Division jointly developed a specific methodology - the FAO 2015 Mountain Vulnerability Model. “The aim of this model was to provide the most accurate possible estimate of the vulnerability to food insecurity in mountain areas, based on the best technologies and data available,” she said.

“One in three mountain peoples is food insecure, and this number is unacceptably high”, said Thomas Hofer, Coordinator of Mountain Partnership Secretariat, in his presentation of the aim and main findings of the study. “We hope this study can serve as a basis to inform policy makers, support advocacy campaigns and promote investments in mountains.”

Sharing her personal experience, Brave Ndisale, Deputy Director of the FAO Social Protection Division, zoomed in on the case study on Malawi, where she grew up. Ndisale explained that a number of factors are compounding food insecurity, including the deforestation of mountains, which has led to floods in the nearby lowlands, as well as the impacts of climate change.

Proposing a facility, through which resource partners could provide grants to support action for mountain development, Laurent Thomas, FAO Assistant Director-General and Coordinator for Technical Cooperation and Programme Management, concluded the series of proposals to address the dire situation.
“We would like to propose a strong alliance of resource partners that are committed to break the cycle of poverty and hunger of mountain communities and slow outmigration from mountain areas – for the benefit of all,” he said.

Several FAO colleagues from various divisions suggested project ideas, case studies, research, additional reports as well as sources of funding that could be tapped for support.

The study, published by FAO and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat in December 2015, was launched on International Mountain Day.

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Photo: FAO/Roberto Cenciarelli

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