Political will and action to eradicate hunger
Among the countries rising to meet the challenge of translating hunger eradication efforts into large-scale programmes is Nigeria, which has committed itself to taking its national food security programme nationwide, no small undertaking given its population of more than 130 million.
In a presentation to the SPFS Oversight Panel, S.A. Ingawa, National Programme Coordinator of the SPFS in Nigeria, outlined the SPFS and South-South Cooperation activities in the country, which has the largest SPFS programme, with a budget of US$68 million, entirely funded by the Government of Nigeria.
The country's SPFS activities currently reach around 35 000 families. In 2002, Nigeria embarked on a five-year up-scaling process, with a goal of reaching 1 million people with its integrated food security programme, comprising irrigation, soil fertility improvement, crop intensification, animal production and health, aquaculture and artisanal fisheries, marketing, storage and processing components.
National ownership is a key element of the Nigeria programme, with FAO providing administrative and technical support on the ground, an arrangement hailed as a true form of partnership by the Nigerian delegation.
Another country committed to expanding its SPFS activities beyond the pilot phase is Pakistan, whose Ambassador and Permanent Representative to FAO, H.E. Mirza Qamar Beg, gave the panel a short overview of the SPFS in his country.
Based on the achievements of the pilot phase, Pakistan's SPFS was expanded to 109 villages nationwide under its Crop Maximization Programme with government funds totalling US$8.7 million. The expansion will benefit some 23 000 households over the next four years. Moreover, the President of Pakistan has recently requested that the programme be up-scaled to 1 000 villages.
The examples of Nigeria and Pakistan are part of a growing trend towards comprehensive, national food security programmes, which move beyond a focus on agriculture alone to begin to address many of the other policy and institutional constraints that leave so many people hungry.
New ways of working together
As in Nigeria, the growth in the number and scale of these national programmes is associated with greater national ownership, with FAO providing technical and administrative support.
This collaboration can be seen in a number of countries, who have called on the SPFS for support in the implementation of large-scale food security programmes. Perhaps the best known of these programmes is Brazil's Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) Programme, established by President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva with the goal of eradicating hunger within his first four-year term of office.
The President of Sierra Leone, Alhaji Dr Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, has established Operation Feed the Nation to make good on his pledge to end hunger by 2007. Similar large-scale programmes are under way in Cambodia, China, Guatemala, Mexico, Mozambique, Venezuela and a number of other countries.
In these countries, the SPFS provides critical technical support, but in addition, these large national programmes are providing models for up-scaling processes from which other countries may draw lessons. Each week more countries are coming forward, demonstrating a renewed commitment to achieve the goal of halving hunger by 2015.
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