Latin America and the Caribbean: uneven progress in hunger fight
Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme holds lessons for other countries in region, Diouf says
6 July 2007, Brasilia/Rome -- Despite positive results in the fight against hunger in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, progress has not been evenly distributed, said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf at a meeting today in Brazil.
“In the Latin American and Caribbean region as a whole, the number of people suffering from hunger fell from 59 million to 52 million between 1990-92 and 2001-03, a 12 percent reduction,” said Dr Diouf, speaking at the third National Conference on Food and Nutritional Security in Fortaleza.
But while substantial results have been achieved in South America and the Caribbean, progress has not been so positive in Central America, in terms of both the number and proportion of victims of malnutrition and hunger, Dr Diouf added.
Dr Diouf highlighted FAO’s involvement in Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme since it was launched by President Lula in 2003.
“FAO has learned very important lessons from this experience in Brazil,” he said. “These lessons can be applied in other countries engaged in combating hunger.”
The Zero Hunger programme, Fome Zero, has attracted keen interest in Latin America, spurring the launch of similar programmes in Nicaragua and Colombia, and of the “Latin America and the Caribbean without Hunger 2025” initiative, he said.
But, according to Dr Diouf, all these joint efforts to achieve food security must also take other problems into account, particularly rapid urbanization.
“In 1990 Latin America was already the most highly urbanized region in the developing world, with 72 percent of the population living in towns,” he said.
Other challenges to food security include the devastating effects of certain diseases, and insufficient access to land and water, as well as to credit, by the rural poor, Dr Diouf said.
“Climate change and the development of bioenergy sources are new worldwide challenges,” he added. “FAO is encouraging an approach which strengthens the effectiveness and flexibility of farming methods under current conditions, while preparing farmers to cope with the likely long-term changes.”
The FAO Director-General said that current difficulties in the Doha round of trade negotiations represented another potential setback in the struggle against hunger and poverty.
He added, however, that “if the political will is there, and if we strive for greater justice for the poorest, we can create a just and hunger-free world.”
More than 2 000 specialists and government and civil society representatives from around the world attended the Fortaleza meeting, which ends today.
After the meeting, Dr Diouf will travel to Bahia to sign an agreement tomorrow with Governor Jaques Wagner to enhance cooperation between FAO and the State of Bahia on issues related to food security, agriculture and rural development.
On Monday, 9 July, the Director-General will go to Brasilia, where he will meet with President Lula and Government ministers to discuss FAO’s work in Brazil. While there, Dr Diouf will sign an agreement with Brazilian Minister for External Relations Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim on the establishment of a strategic alliance on South-South Cooperation between Brazil and FAO. Under the agreement, Brazilian experts will support food security programmes in other developing countries. The two men will also issue a joint declaration outlining future cooperation between FAO and Brazil.
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