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Thirteen countries move closer to eradicating hunger

FAO honors achievements of Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, the Philippines and Uruguay

Photo: ©FAO/Seyllou Diallo
A woman selling vegetables in the Gambia, one of the countries honored by FAO for progress in fighting hunger.
30 November 2014, Rome - Thirteen countries today won recognition from FAO for outstanding progress in fighting hunger, an achievement which includes reaching international targets ahead of the end-of-2015 deadline.

Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, the Philippines and Uruguay are the latest in a growing list of countries to make great strides in combating undernourishment.

This includes the early achievement of the Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG-1) hunger target - to halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015 - or the more stringent 1996 World Food Summit (WFS) target of halving the absolute number of hungry people by 2015.

During a ceremony at FAO headquarters, the Organization's Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, awarded diplomas to government representatives of the 13 countries.

"You have overcome major challenges in difficult global economic conditions and policy environments. You have demonstrated the will and mobilized the means," Graziano da Silva said addressing the award recipients.

Progress in eradicating worldwide hunger over the next ten years "is gaining momentum", but much more needs to be done - 805 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment - the FAO Director-General said, urging countries to accelerate progress.

To achieve this, there is a need to "improve the quality and efficiency of food systems, promote rural development, increase productivity, raise rural incomes, improve access to food, and strengthen social protection," Graziano da Silva said.

According to FAO estimates, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Iran, Kiribati, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico and the Philippines have now reached the MDG-1 hunger target, while Brazil, Cameroon and Uruguay have also achieved the more ambitious WFS target of halving the number of hungry by 2015.

Among those who received diplomas on behalf of their countries were the Gambia's Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, Brazil's Minister for Social Development and Fight Against Hunger Tereza Campello, Cameroon's Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Menye Essimi, Ethiopia's Minster of Agriculture Tefera Derbew, Gabon's Minister for Livestock, Fisheries and Food Security Luc Oyoubi and Mauritania's Minister for Rural Development Brahim Ould M'Bareck Ould Mohamed el Moctar.

To date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015. Of the 63 countries which have reached the MDG target, 25 have also achieved the more ambitious World Food Summit (WFS) target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015.

Key success factors in reducing hunger

The UN State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014 (SOFI 2014) report, released earlier this year, identified several critical factors driving the success achieved by countries in reducing hunger. Chief among these is transforming political commitment into effective action.

Brazil, the report noted, has put the need to combat undernourishment at the centre of its political agenda with the launch of the Zero Hunger programme in 2003 which introduced social protection measures, such as cash transfers for the poor and national school meals, combined with innovative programmes for family farming. These links between social protection and productive support contributed to job creation and higher real wages, as well as significant decreases in hunger and greater income equality.

In several countries - including Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Mauritania, Mauritius, and the Philippines - the achievement of the internationally established goals is attributable to economic growth and the policies put in place by governments over the last two decades. In most countries, interventions in agriculture have been complemented by social protection programmes aiming to provide immediate relief to vulnerable population groups.

Cameroon was able to improve its food security status - the country achieved the MDG target in 2012, and has now also reached the WFS goal - despite several hindering factors. These included fragile political and security conditions in neighbouring countries and frequent natural disasters such as a series of droughts and floods between 2009 and 2012.

The statistics used to determine the attainment of the MDG and WFS targets are produced by FAO using official data provided by member countries and other international agencies.

The WFS goal was set in 1996, when 180 nations met in Rome to discuss ways to end hunger. The Millennium Development Goals were established by the international community following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration by the UN General Assembly in September 2000.

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