5 March 2013, Brussels/Rome/Lilongwe - During a high level visit to Malawi, EU Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), met today with President Joyce Banda to discuss the country's challenges on nutrition and food security, and to underline ongoing EU and FAO support in this area.
Malawi has made progress in the fight against hunger but malnutrition remains endemic in the country, with over 47 percent of children suffering from stunting (when growth is held back due to a lack of access to nutritious food). This affects their development and it also causes increased vulnerability to diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: "The EU and the FAO share the same vision on nutrition and food security, and we will work together to help Malawi, and all of sub-Saharan Africa, tackle this problem. That is why I have announced my commitment to reducing the number of children who are stunted in the world by at least 7 million by 2025 and I am fully committed to make this pledge a reality."
Graziano da Silva, said: "Malawi has committed itself at the highest level to ending hunger and extreme poverty. It recognizes the right to food, invests in excess of 10 percent of its national budget in agriculture, and has transformed itself from an importer into an exporter of maize. The result is that Malawi is on track to meet the Millennium Development hunger target.
"FAO will continue to support the government's efforts in promoting food security and nutrition and tackling extreme poverty through an integrated and coordinated approach, involving social protection and other sectors that contribute to these goals," the Director-General added.
During several meetings to be held with Malawian ministers and authorities, Commissioner Piebalgs and Director-General Graziano da Silva were expected to stress the importance of efficient and effective coordination mechanisms between the different ministries in order to ensure food security.
They will visit a series of EU projects, including food security and agricultural centres, as well as a grain storage facility funded by FAO. They will also meet with representatives from the private sector, where they will also discuss the importance of investing in agriculture, which employs 87 percent of the population and accounts for about 36 percent of GDP, as well as for more than 70 percent of export revenues.
In November 2012 at the EU's European Development Days in Brussels, Commissioner Piebalgs and President Banda signed two agreements. The first, on agriculture, for an amount of €63 million, was designed to strengthen agricultural productivity and expand the area of land under irrigation, doubling household incomes in agriculture and contributing to 6 percent annual growth in Malawi.
The second EU contribution of €35 million will fund cash transfers to extremely poor households to help them out of poverty and hunger. It will make families more resistant to shocks such as high food prices, but will also improve school enrolment and health. This EU support is expected to provide benefits to a total of 83,000 households.
The EU is a major donor in Malawi, spending €605 million under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) between 2008-2013. That money is divided between: General Budget Support (€196 million), agriculture and food security (€188 million) and regional interconnection (€70 million) with a focus on road infrastructure. The rest is spent on areas such as governance, trade, water, HIV-AIDS and gender.
FAO has been supporting Malawi since 1986 in the design and implementation of policies and programmes to improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries and to ensure food security and good nutrition for all.
In the coming year FAO will be focusing on supporting the country in the implementation of its Agriculture Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) which reflects the priorities of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II and the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) of the African Union.
FAO will also, in partnership with the African Union Commission, the EU Commisssion and partners such as Brazil's Instituto Lula call on Member States, Civil Society, the private sector, Regional Economic Communities and Development Partners to join in the proposed partnership for "Intensifying efforts to End Hunger in Africa."
FAO's engagement in this partnership stems from the Organization's recent efforts to strengthen the identification and delivery of a focused set of products and services requested by member states in order to achieve a tangible impact at country level. Towards this aim, FAO is working with all member states to prepare Country Programming Frameworks that identify priority areas of intervention.
FAO's new decentralization strategy and this partnership provide an opportunity to achieve concrete results and maximum impact.