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Peace corps strengthens global partnership with FAO and WFP

Letter of agreement signed during Committee on World Food Security annual meeting

Photo: ©FAO/Alessia Pierdomenico
L-R: Amir Abdulla, WFP; Aaron S. Williams, Peace Corps; Manoj Juneja, FAO.
20 October 2011, Rome/Washington, D.C - The Peace Corps joined the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), and pledged to support and expand food security-related activities that will combat hunger in Peace Corps countries worldwide.

Today, Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, FAO Deputy Director- General for Operations Manoj Juneja (representing Director-General Jacques Diouf), WFP Deputy Executive Director of External Relations and Chief Operating Officer Amir Abdulla (representing Executive Director Josette Sheeran) and Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, signed a joint letter of agreement at the 37th Committee on World Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.

"In response to increased food security challenges throughout the world, the Peace Corps is committed to doing its part to help address this critical issue at the grassroots level," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. "Through the important partnerships with FAO and WFP, Peace Corps volunteers will have access to more tools and technical expertise to help improve food security in the communities they serve."  

"FAO and the Peace Corps have a long history of working together in rural communities throughout the world," said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. "Our collaboration has expanded gradually over the years and this agreement signals a renewed, enhanced commitment to harnessing the respective strengths and expertise of our three organizations to tackle the root causes of hunger and ensure sustainable food security and economic development."

"Today's ceremony highlights the shared commitment of all three of our organizations to give vulnerable individuals in the many nations where we all work a hand up, not just a hand out, to improve their own ability to produce and access food for their families and communities," said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. Peace Corps volunteers have worked with FAO and WFP in nearly 40 countries, sharing techniques and practices identified to promote food security through broad-based citizen participation, education, and capacity building. 

In Swaziland, WFP provided Peace Corps volunteers training on sustainable gardening and organic farming techniques. Additionally, Peace Corps volunteers and WFP worked together to provide nutrition and hygiene education to children. In Liberia, four Peace Corps Response volunteers have been assigned to WFP to provide information to community leaders on proper food storage, handling, and cooking at local schools. In Namibia, recently returned Peace Corps volunteer John Stoecker of Rolla, Mo., and 20 local community volunteers worked on a community garden to grow vegetables for people living with HIV/AIDS. Stoecker and FAO also coordinated with other local partners to organize a community gardening workshop.

"The launch of the renewed and expanded partnerships between the Peace Corps, FAO and WFP provides continued collaboration in the area of food security," said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies Ertharin Cousin.  "The U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome is committed to supporting these partnerships by serving as the link between the Rome-based UN agencies and the United States Government."

Since 1961, Peace Corps volunteers have addressed the adverse impact of food shortages in the countries they have served. Projects have ranged from fish farming and the introduction of small scale irrigation systems to improved food processing and marketing of food. Volunteers have also helped address food availability and nutrition through a variety of projects, including building school gardens, developing agricultural microenterprises, and educating others about good nutrition.