From the podium

From the podium

Mr Adam O. Kimbisa (Secretary General, Tanzania Red Cross, International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Societies - IFRCRCS)

Thank you for this opportunity to address this important international gathering on behalf of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and its members in practically every country in the world.

The commitments made in 1996, and reaffirmed now, are based on the recognition of the right to food, and the need for practical action to make the enjoyment of this right a reality. This is where the Red Cross and Red Crescent can make a contribution to reduce hunger, reduce vulnerabilities and mobilize the considerable capacities of individuals and communities.

The traditional role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies in relation food security has been to participate in emergency action when populations are threatened by sudden shortages and faced by starvation. In this, we have worked closely with out respective governments, in our role as auxiliaries, and with other international organizations and donor agencies. We have been doing this for a long time and – we believe – have done it quite well. We will continue to offer this form of assistance now, and in the future.

Over the years, we – like many others – have come to realize that food insecurity has its roots in social, economic and political processes, variations in weather and climate, and the international trade and financial systems. As a result of this way of thinking about famine, the International Federation has placed increasing emphasis on longer term aspects of ensuring food security.

This causation of disasters is partly the result of inadequate attention, in development processes and development planning, to the potential risks to local communities and the possibility of building corresponding risk reduction activities into the planning process. These risks are well understood by those most vulnerable. We believe an approach that helps analyze vulnerabilities and build on capacities of communities, with their active involvement, is required to take appropriate action.

This is the case, not least in the context of my own continent, Africa. The 52 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of Africa have committed themselves to make food security a strategic priority for the current decade, alongside the health of vulnerable people. To make this commitment a reality, we are incorporating food security planning into all disaster preparedness and response programmes, involving actual and potential beneficiaries in planning and programme development in order to enhance local coping strategies, and supporting the volunteers who form the basis and backbone of local presence of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

This has, so far, led to the establishment of Red Cross/Red Crescent Strategies for Food Security in three subregions (East, South and West) of Africa, underpinned by organizational structures in support of programmes at the country and local levels, and coordinated by an all-Africa Red Cross/Red Crescent Food Security Committee.

I would like to highlight, however – as others have done – the role of the pandemic HIV/AIDS as an increasingly important cause of food insecurity. This requires new approaches and also specific interventions for example by explicitly targeting those affected by HIV/AIDS in emergency operations, as the International Federation has done in its planning for responding to the situation in Southern Africa. As part of a long-term programming for food security, we are increasingly integrating interventions to reduce HIV/AIDS risks and consequences, for example in Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other countries in Africa, and also in other parts of the world.

Let me conclude by acknowledging the obvious: the challenge of ensuring that all human beings are in a position to enjoy the right to have access to safe and nutritious food is too large for any single country or agency to meet effectively.

In this regard we appreciate the weight given to broad international partnerships in the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and the emphasis on strengthening cooperation in the "Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later".

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies will pay heed to this and do all it can to combat hunger, wherever it is found, and whatever its causes.

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