The far-reaching reform package was one of two major items, along with the Programme of Work and Budget for 2006-2007, introduced by the Director-General in his opening address to the 189 Member Conference.
Dr. Diouf told the 33rd Session of the Organization’s governing body that the reform proposals had been developed in response to calls by the international community for UN system-wide reform, as well as enhanced efforts by UN partners to work together to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Given steadily increasing demands on the Organization over the past two years, he appealed to the collective wisdom of members to give FAO the resources it needs for the coming two years. He noted that for 2004-2005, the FAO Conference had approved a budget level of US$749.1 million, which was an increase in nominal terms over the previous biennium but in real terms meant a cut in resources of some US$51 million.
Among the main challenges facing the Organization over the past two years had been the consequences of regional and global emergencies, such as:
- assisting 18 African countries affected by the desert locust through monitoring, surveillance and the treatment of 13 million hectares of infested farmlands in the countries of the Sahel and North Africa;
- helping Tsunami survivors, in particular devastated fishing communities, to build back their livelihoods through major relief and rehabilitation programmes in Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Maldives, Seychelles, Somalia and Sri Lanka;
- providing over US$7 million in assistance to 10 countries in the Caribbean following the cycle of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005;
- assisting farmers to restart their farming activities in the wake of the destruction caused by the earthquake in northern Pakistan, for which FAO has provided US$440 000 and launched an appeal for US$25 million to assist in agricultural rehabilitation
- playing a leading role in international efforts to contain at source the spread of highly pathogenic avian flu, for which an estimated US$ 500 million are needed for the next three years (2006-2008) to finance a global and country level strategy.
The Director-General said that the proposed new structure of FAO would facilitate the Organization’s efforts to help countries achieve the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, in particular Goal number one, calling for a reduction by half in the proportion of populations living in hunger and poverty.
With over 852 million hungry people in the world, Dr. Diouf said "It is high time we put a stop to this tragedy which also costs developing countries billions of dollars in lost productivity and earnings."
Information Officer, FAO
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