C 2001/INF/22


Thirty-first Session

Rome, 2-13 November 2001


Table of Contents








This document covers a wide range of activities in which FAO cooperates with other UN system organizations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The list is selective rather than exhaustive and is intended to highlight some of the important issues for which inter-agency collaboration has been, is and will be crucial in achieving internationally-agreed development goals. The document generally excludes cooperative activities with IFAD and WFP, as these are described in the joint FAO/IFAD/WFP publication "Working Together to Fight Hunger and Poverty".

Examples of FAO's participation in inter-agency collaboration are grouped according to major themes: reducing hunger and poverty, the sustainable management of natural resources, and responding to disease, disasters and emergencies. They are indicative of the breadth, both geographical and technical, of FAO's participation in cooperative activities at the international and national levels. It closes by highlighting FAO's involvement in a partnership arrangement that aims to strengthen policy coherence and cost-effectiveness of UN system field-level activities.



1. Following on from its `Rural Development Strategy: From Vision to Action' of 1997, the WB requested FAO's assistance in identifying priorities for investment in food security, poverty reduction and economic growth, with particular attention to promising approaches and technologies that could contribute to these goals. In response, FAO prepared the `Global Farming Systems Study: Challenges and Priorities to 2030', investigating how to improve investments in the rural sector designed to eradicate poverty and representing a milestone in incorporating production and livelihood realities of the rural poor in strategy formulation and investment planning.

2. Based on the practical development experience of more than 50 soil, crop, livestock and social scientists from all FAO departments, an atlas of 72 farming systems across six developing regions of the world has been assembled. FAO's experience in agro-ecological zoning proved invaluable in building a farming systems database for the central, qualitative task: making expert judgements on the future evolution of farming systems and their development priorities. More than 100 maps depicting agro-ecological zones, land use, and animal and human populations are available from FAOMAP (on-line catalogue of key FAO Global Information System maps and images), and the profiles of the principal systems, from a perspective of reducing hunger and poverty, will be published in an FAO/WB publication, Farming Systems and Poverty, due in November 2001. These provide the Bank, other development agencies and governments with a new means for targeting policies, technical assistance and investment to relieve hunger and poverty.

3. Development efforts have led to a gradual reduction in hunger, but these efforts need to be intensified if the World Food and Millennium Summit goals of halving hunger are to be met. The FAO/WB publication examines the various ways that poor farm households can escape poverty - intensification, diversification, increased farm or herd size, increased off-farm income and migration away from agriculture - and rates the relative importance of these as sources of poverty reduction in different farming systems if the goals are to be met. It shows that diversification, including on-farm processing and other value-adding activities, is an extremely important way to escape poverty and thus needs support. Increased off-farm income is another major source of poverty reduction, so governments and development agencies need to focus on improving the linkages between farmers and local business, especially in relation to job creation.


4. There are two areas concerning irrigation in which FAO is collaborating with the WB. In the first of these, benchmarking irrigation services, guidelines have been drawn up for benchmarking in the irrigation and drainage sector, giving a step-by-step approach to benchmark services provided by irrigation institutions to farmers and farmer associations. The benchmarking process enables the institutions to improve their services by comparing their performance over a period of time and against similar irrigation schemes both within the country and in different countries. The guidelines have been published by the International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID) as a joint FAO/IPTRID/WB publication and disseminated widely. Benchmark irrigation schemes have been initiated in India and Mexico. These activities are being integrated with on-going WB projects in those countries.

5. The second area is smallholder irrigation, in which IPTRID is collaborating with the WB in three ways: reviewing the experience of the WB, FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and other organizations in promoting smallholder irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa; promoting innovation in smallholder irrigation technologies through smallholder irrigation exhibitions and contests; and promoting smallholder irrigation research and development in selected countries in West Africa and Central America.


6. Secure access to land, whether through title or guaranteed long-term use, provides a safety net within which rural families can diversify and improve their livelihoods and food security. It encourages personal investment to raise farm productivity and to manage natural resources sustainably, and can produce income for local and central governments through well-designed land administration systems.

7. Three WB projects recently approved in Central America and prepared with the assistance of FAO will enable rural and indigenous communities to gain access and legal title to arable land. In Guatemala, a Land Fund project will help 7 500 poor rural families acquire land and improve the efficiency of land markets. The Land Fund is a priority for the government and responds to a commitment made in the Peace Accords that ended years of civil conflict. A similar programme in Honduras will aid the acquisition of land and formation of sustainable farm enterprises by cooperatives of landless and land-poor rural families. In Panama, a land administration project will help enhance farm productivity by supporting policy and institutional strengthening, land regularization and a consolidated national system for protected areas and indigenous lands.

8. In European transition countries and the new Central Asian republics, there has been a major shift from collective to individual land ownership. This has required changes in policy and legislation, and the development of new institutions and services to protect property rights and stimulate land markets. Investment projects are focusing on the enhancement and strengthening of land administration structures to support market transactions, and development of new skills, particularly in the market-related fields of valuation and real estate management.

9. In Asia, FAO has been helping to formulate a number of land administration projects financed by the WB. These include a 20-year Land Titling Programme in Thailand, which has focused on improving the land tenure system and strengthening services for provision of titles and valuation. Similar assistance has also been provided recently to WB land tenure-related projects in Cambodia, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.


10. FAO and the WB are cooperating in the Soil Fertility Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa (SFI). The SFI supports the larger goals of food security, poverty alleviation and environmental protection, with the objective of improving the productivity of cultivated lands and the revenue of farmers through technology adaptation, combined with policy reform. Building on its long experience in promoting sustainable land management systems in Asia and Latin America, FAO has assisted over 20 African countries in preparing SFI Action Plans that emphasize practical field activities for small farmers and aim toward shifting to more sustainable and productive systems of land husbandry.


11. The FIVIMS initiative grew out of the 1996 World Food Summit with the following objectives:

12. The FIVIMS Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG), representing diverse perspectives and interests on issues of food insecurity and vulnerability, has 28 members from the international non-governmental, bilateral and multilateral development communities. Their shared commitment is to reduce global food insecurity and vulnerability and to attack its multiple causes, which are deeply rooted in human poverty. Fourteen UN system organizations are members of the FIVIMS IAWG.

13. In September 2000 a global project on `Improving Methods for Poverty and Food Insecurity Mapping and its Use at Country Level' became operational, with funding support from the Norwegian government. This project is a global FIVIMS initiative through a partnership arrangement with Centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), UNEP-GRID (Global Resource Information Database) and FAO. The overall objective of the project is to enhance the scientific understanding of poverty and its relationship to food insecurity and vulnerability, by placing these issues in a spatial context and making environmental linkages, together with the most effective and efficient measurement and monitoring methods.

14. This project will operate at two levels. Internationally, it will act as a poverty and food insecurity mapping network, promoting state-of-the-art Global Information System (GIS) techniques and facilitating the exchange of the best, standardized GIS databases. At the country level, these new cartographic techniques will support the development and maintenance of FIVIMS in at least six pilot countries. The ultimate target beneficiaries are all poor, food-insecure and vulnerable groups who could benefit from improved, more effectively presented information.


15. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations University (UNU) collaborate with FAO on establishing human nutrition standards through expert consultations: most recently, for instance, on energy and protein and amino acid requirements. Similar collaboration exists with WHO on diet, nutrition and non-communicable diseases.

16. Since 1995 FAO has collaborated with the UNU in the International Network of Food Data Systems (INFOODS) project, which involves the production, compilation and use of data on the composition of foods. Activities include training, preparation of standards and guidelines, the publication of the bi-monthly Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, and preparation of regional food composition tables and databases. There are now 18 fully functional INFOODS Regional and Sub-Regional Data Centres around the world.

17. Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger is a global education initiative designed to encourage children and young people to become actively involved in helping to create a world free from hunger and malnutrition. It provides model lesson plans and resource materials on such topics as: What are Hunger and Malnutrition? Who Is Malnourished? Why Is There Hunger? and What Can We Do To Help End Hunger and Malnutrition? Teachers are encouraged to adapt the materials to meet local needs and conditions. The initiative was developed by FAO and a broad coalition of international organizations (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] and the WB) and national and regional institutions.

18. As part of its work on nutrition education in primary schools in developing countries, FAO is a member of the Mega Country Health Promotion Network initiated by WHO and involving a number of partners: the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UNESCO, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Education Development Centre (EDC), Education International (EI), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and, more recently, also the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the WB. Nutritional aspects are an integral part of health promotion strategies and practices.


19. In view of the challenges facing developing countries in the WTO multilateral trade negotiations, FAO has intensified its collaboration with UN system and other international organizations to strengthen the trade capacities of developing countries. The main elements of this collaboration include the provision of information and databases on trade; training and support for policy development; and analysis and support for the organization of trade-related UN conferences.

20. FAO has made significant inputs to the Agricultural Market Access Database (AMAD), which is jointly operated and sponsored by FAO, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the WB, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the European Union (EU). The AMAD database, which is publicly accessible through the Internet, includes information on market access conditions for agricultural products in 46 countries.

21. In close collaboration with WTO, UNCTAD, the WB, the International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Regional Economic Commissions and several regional and sub-regional institutions, FAO provides technical advice and assistance to member countries on trade-related capacity, particularly with regard to the main WTO Agreements affecting agricultural trade: the Agreement on Agriculture, Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary/Technical Barriers to Trade Agreements, as well as the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

22. FAO collaborates with organizations such as UNCTAD and OECD in normative analytical issues related to the implementation of the Uruguay Round Agreements and to the new round of negotiations, particularly as regards trade and food security. In addition, FAO is cooperating with WTO, UNCTAD, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the WB in assisting WTO member countries in their attempt to implement the Marrakech Decision on Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries.

23. Finally, in collaboration with UN agencies and other international organizations, FAO contributed to the Third UN Conference on LDCs, held in Brussels in May 2001. FAO provided assistance to the preparatory process at the country level (in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme [UNDP] and UNCTAD) and organized a thematic session on agriculture and food security during the Conference.


24. Collaboration between FAO, the WB and the IMF to monitor developments in global food markets is well established and coordinated through a Task Force that deals with emerging crises having an impact on the food security of vulnerable countries. The Task Force has met on several occasions to discuss developing market conditions, emerging market difficulties in the form of price spikes such as those that occurred during the 1995-96 season, longer-term trends in the instability of international prices of basic food commodities, and alternative policy instruments that could be used by the international community to deal with the consequences of unexpected developments or substantive changes in the international policy environment.


25. Since 1997 FAO has been working with the WB to strengthen national systems of food and agricultural statistics in Africa. FAO is also a member of the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21), a consortium set up in November 1999 to boost statistical capabilities, especially in poor countries, through promoting a culture for setting and monitoring policy based on evidence and fostering well-managed national statistical systems that use resources effectively. Its founding organizers are the UN, OECD, the WB and the IMF.

26. FAO compiles statistics on all segments of the agricultural economy, receiving data from and providing data for a variety of UN and other international organizations. This information is disseminated through FAOSTAT, the world's largest and most comprehensive agricultural database. Also, FAO actively participates in inter-agency statistical work, including tracking progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

II. Sustainable Management of Natural Resources


27. Since the establishment of the GEF in 1991, FAO has worked in close collaboration with it and its three Implementing Agencies: the WB, UNDP and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). FAO has long been involved in the formulation of GEF projects (about 30 projects to date) and is or has been associated in the execution of some 30 more GEF projects, primarily with UNDP and UNEP and mainly in the fields of biodiversity and international waters. Moreover, a number of preparatory projects are being implemented that are likely to lead to full-scale projects.

28. In December 2000 it was agreed that the GEF would become the financing mechanism for the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Convention. As the existing GEF Implementing Agencies did not have expertise in this area, in May 2000 the GEF Council approved an initiative to expand opportunities for UNIDO and FAO to become Executing Agencies. FAO's expertise in newly emerging areas of interest to the GEF, such as POPs and agricultural biodiversity, is the major underlying reason for its desire to promote greater collaboration with FAO. Consequently, FAO is currently developing its first formal work programme directly with the GEF.


29. As the Task Manager of Chapter 10 of Agenda 21 on `Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources', FAO has been collaborating with all relevant UN system organizations to draft the Secretary-General's report for the 10th Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (acting as the Rio+10 PrepCom) and the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002.

30. Extensive collaboration with the WB, UNDP, IFAD, the Global Mechanism (GM) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the GEF has been pursued on the Soil Fertility Initiative for Africa, as well as on the implementation of the African Integrated Land and Water Initiative. FAO is working with the UNCCD Secretariat in preparing National and Regional Action Plans to Combat Desertification and assisting the Secretariat and the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD in organizing regional workshops and support to thematic networks.

31. FAO collaborated with UNEP, the UNCCD Secretariat, the GM and other international and national institutions in the preparation of a project for a global Land Degradation Assessment in Drylands (LADA). This project is funded by GEF-UNEP and will be implemented by FAO, together with other UN system organizations and the Millennium Assessment Programme.


32. The latest in a series of targeted documents on erosion mapping and measurement has been jointly authored by FAO and the staff and consultants of the Regional Activity Centre of UNEP in Split, Croatia. This is entitled "Guidelines for erosion and desertification control management with particular reference to Mediterranean coastal areas". A series of joint workshops are testing and applying the principles, initially in Malta and Tunisia, following similar trials with the earlier practical guideline for erosion mapping and measurement. All Mediterranean countries are participating in the evaluation of the principles, which can be easily modified for other regions. FAO has remained closely involved in this programme for more than 15 years.


33. FAO is one of several international organizations contributing to the Clearing-House website of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. Among the pollution source nodes, FAO's initial contributions have focused on nutrient and sediment mobilization. This has been done on an interdepartmental basis by drawing on internal resources and databases of nutrients and sediments, references and case studies, reinforced by contributions covering coastal and estuarine fisheries as well as mangrove management.

34. Current activities involve additional partners in identifying and describing initiatives that can contribute to the process and reinforce existing regulatory conventions, include codes of conduct, guidelines, indicators and case studies of coastal region and hinterland management.


35. The Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF) is an innovative mechanism for ensuring collaboration among international organizations working in forestry. Chaired by FAO, the CPF joins together ten other key organizations with global responsibilities: the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), GEF, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the UNCCD Secretariat, the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), UNDP, UNEP, and the WB.

36. The principal objectives of the CPF are: to support the work of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF); to enhance cooperation and coordination among its members; to strengthen political commitment to sustainable forest management; to help implement the UNFF Plan of Action; and to assist the UNFF in monitoring and reporting on progress toward sustainable forest management in all countries.

37. Although the CPF is still in its early stages, it is clear that it will provide synergy and will be an important mechanism for FAO to operate together with other international organizations to promote sustainable forest management throughout the world.


38. The WB is undertaking a comprehensive review of its forest policy, aiming to develop and implement a new strategy for its work in the forest sector. As part of this process, the WB decided to draw on the strengths of FAO as the world's major international forestry organization. FAO has prepared analyses and background papers on sustainable forest management, global markets for forest products, forestry and poverty, and other key issues. In addition, FAO has hosted seminars and workshops as part of the policy review process.


39. FAO has been assessing global forest resources for over 50 years. The most recent assessment, Forest Resources Assessment 2000, was coordinated by FAO in collaboration with the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). FAO took the lead for tropical forests and the overall global synthesis, while UNECE collected and analysed data for most industrialized countries with temperate and boreal forests.

40. The partnership between FAO and UNECE has become more effective over time and is expected to continue to grow and evolve in the future. The complexity of forest information and the requirements from international bodies are increasing, so additional partnerships, including some with non-governmental organizations, are being forged. The successful collaboration between FAO and UNECE, including the involvement of member countries, will serve as a model for additional partnerships. As a result, knowledge about global forest resources is rapidly expanding, and the capability of nations to make wise policy decisions about forests is also increasing.


41. In their most recent meetings, the FAO Committees on Forestry and Agriculture stressed the important role played by FAO in providing technical information and serving as a neutral venue for discussions related to climate change. In particular, agriculture (broadly defined to include forestry and fisheries) is one of the most important sectors both in terms of the potential to stabilize the climate, as well as in terms of the potential impacts of climate change on human well-being.

42. FAO has formed an active partnership with the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). An example of this collaboration is an upcoming expert meeting on forest definitions related to climate change, which will be co-hosted by FAO and the IPCC in January 2002 in Rome. Forestry definitions are of critical importance under the Kyoto Protocol, and this meeting will start a process that will provide key technical input to the UNFCCC, as well as to the UNCBD and the UNCCD.

43. FAO will continue to build capacity in countries on climate change issues related to agriculture and food security; to collect data relevant to the UNFCCC process; and to promote best practices that assist in the mitigation of and adaptation to potential climate change, including carbon management in biomass and soils such as conservation agriculture and substitution of fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.


44. On the basis of its long-standing experience in mountain watershed management and action affecting the livelihood of highland communities, FAO was designated the lead UN agency for the International Year of Mountains 2002 (IYM 2002). This international year will focus on the broad range of social, economic and environmental issues related to mountains and the people who live in mountain environments.

45. This work cannot be carried out in isolation. The UN General Assembly has identified UNESCO, UNEP and UNDP as the main UN system organizations to work with FAO on mountain issues. In addition, a broad coalition has been established, which also includes the DESA, the UN International Secretariat for Disaster Reduction, the WB, the UNU, and the World Tourism Organization; plus eight additional UN agencies that are affiliated with the process. The work of these organizations is coordinated by an Inter-Agency Group on Mountains established in 1994 to support the implementation of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21.

46. In addition, the Mountain Forum was established to provide direct links between the broad range of national, non-governmental and international organizations working on mountain development issues. A global network has been established, with regional nodes in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. The Mountain Forum, whose secretariat is located in Nepal, is a global network of mountain peoples, professionals and organizations that catalyses action aimed at equitable, sustainable mountain development.


47. Developing good environmental policy requires accurate data and information. Most countries will only undertake costly solutions if they are sure that they address relevant aspects of the problem, and that the benefits are proportional to the magnitude of the negative impacts of global change. The inadequacy of scientific data and information highlighted during the Earth Summit in 1992 prompted the creation of three global observing systems covering climate, oceans and land.

48. In 1997, after a planning phase, FAO offered to host the secretariat for the GTOS at its headquarters. During the first phase, it became clear that the GTOS could only succeed with the active support and involvement of partners holding important environmental databases or concerned with international policy development. The result is a unique partnership involving FAO, UNEP, UNESCO, WMO and the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU).

49. The GTOS:

50. Data incompatibility, when data for the same variable is measured or processed using different methods, is a significant constraint in building global terrestrial data sets. The GTOS has developed methodology sheets based in large part on work that the five sponsoring organizations have carried out, supplemented by inputs from expert panels. These sheets define and characterize the variables and provide information on the main measurement methods used (units, frequency, accuracy, etc.) and the major holders of datasets.

51. The socio-economic aspects of global environmental change are often of paramount importance, so GTOS has identified and described more than 60 socio-economic databases that can support integrated and inter-disciplinary analysis of terrestrial data.

52. GTOS projects, such as the Terrestrial Carbon Observation (TCO) theme, respond to the needs of the policy and scientific communities for data on the terrestrial component of the global carbon cycle. TCO uses satellite and in situ measurements and models to estimate carbon fluxes between the terrestrial surface and the atmosphere. The data will then be used to generate maps of terrestrial carbon sources and sinks on a seasonal, annual, inter-annual, and decadal basis.

III. Responding to Disease, Disasters and Emergencies


53. Today, perhaps more than ever before, animal and plant health and safety are in the forefront of global concerns, and FAO continues to collaborate with other UN system and international organizations on these issues. For instance, FAO provides, together with UNEP, the interim Secretariat for the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, which includes preparations for its Conference of Parties and support for the implementation of the PIC Procedure. The interim governing body of the Rotterdam Convention and its subsidiary body, the Interim Chemical Review Convention, both meet on an annual basis.

54. FAO and UNEP also cooperate on the disposal of obsolete pesticides in developing countries and countries with economies in transition. FAO, WHO, UNEP, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and OECD coordinate their activities in chemical evaluation and management through the Interorganizational Programme on the Safe Management of Chemicals (IOMC). Moreover, FAO, the WB, UNIDO and others are now planning a further large-scale intervention for the disposal of obsolete pesticides in Africa.

55. Together, FAO, the WB, UNEP and UNDP sponsor the Global Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Facility, which is based in FAO and provides policy advice and support to the implementation of IPM in developing countries.

56. FAO and WHO jointly provide the Secretariat to the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), which makes recommendations on Acceptable Daily Intakes and on Maximum Residue Levels to the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR).

57. In the area of animal health, FAO is collaborating with WHO on zoonoses, particularly brucellosis, tuberculosis, Rift Valley fever and parasitic zoonoses. A new area of collaboration is the monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in animals and its impact on humans. Also, FAO is collaborating with the WB in promoting a new research programme on animal diseases for consideration by the CGIAR system.


58. FAO has a long tradition of cooperating with other UN system organizations involved in emergency and humanitarian assistance. FAO is an active member of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and attends the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA). Through these inter-agency mechanisms, FAO engages in dialogue with other UN system organizations on support to initiatives aimed at bridging the gaps between relief, rehabilitation and sustained development.

59. For instance, FAO has established close and effective cooperation with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in providing emergency operational support to countries affected by natural and complex disasters. In the context of OCHA's Consolidated Appeals, FAO has the overall responsibility for formulating the agricultural component, supporting interventions aimed at addressing immediate agricultural relief and rehabilitation needs.

60. In close collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and others, FAO provides assistance to refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs), returnees (former refugees and IDPs) and other vulnerable populations affected by natural or man-made disasters. FAO aims to reduce the vulnerability of internally and externally displaced people in a sustainable and integrated manner by striving to reach beyond the humanitarian intervention to address issues on the protection of the environment and support to sustainable food security. FAO's added value in UNHCR's refugee and IDP assistance lies primarily in the Organization's comparative advantage in providing technical advice to governments to improve resettlement policies and in supplying agricultural and veterinary inputs to displaced persons and their host families.

61. In the area of bridging relief and rehabilitation assistance, FAO collaborates closely with UNDP to implement projects that contribute to longer-term development while operating in an emergency mode. For instance, FAO participates in joint inter-agency assessments led by UNDP for the evaluation of short-term agricultural rehabilitation measures.


62. The recurrent food crises in the Horn of Africa serve as a stark reminder that, in spite of the enormous scientific progress made over the past century, there remain vast numbers of highly impoverished people, primarily in rural areas. Over the past 30 years Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda, have suffered several serious food shortages, leading to large-scale human and livestock mortality. The region has been prone to such crises because over 40 percent of its 160 million people live in a chronic state of food insecurity with little resilience to shocks such as the prolonged drought and conflicts that triggered the most recent crisis. Although a large-scale relief operation was launched to prevent famine, the UN recognized that a longer-term development strategy was also needed to reduce the risk of people in the region again being brought to the brink of starvation.

63. At an ACC meeting in Rome in April 2000, the UN Secretary-General launched an Inter-Agency Task Force on the UN response to long-term food security, agricultural development and related aspects in the Horn of Africa. The Task Force, chaired by the Director-General of FAO, consisted of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP), WHO, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the WB and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development for the region (IGAD). A core team led by FAO worked closely with all partner agencies through workshops, meetings and multi-disciplinary missions to formulate a broad strategy and action plan in close consultation with the countries and stakeholders. The final report outlining a strategy and framework for action in the concerned countries and representing a high degree of consensus by the partner agencies, was submitted in October 2000. The process of formulating individual national food security programmes and one for the region has already started under the auspices of the WB.


64. Ensuring adequate food quality and safety are critical elements of the right to food and the realization of the goals of the World Food Summit (WFS). Special attention is given to the food production system from the point of production to the final consumer. This implies a multi-sectoral approach, which in turn is reflected in cooperation between the relevant international institutions dealing with the environment, food and agriculture, public health, and trade.

65. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) is an international expert scientific committee established in 1956, initially to evaluate the safety of food additives. Its work now also includes the evaluation of contaminants, naturally occurring toxicants and residues of veterinary drugs in food.

66. To date, JECFA has evaluated more than 1 300 food additives, approximately 25 contaminants and naturally occurring toxicants, and residues of approximately 80 veterinary drugs. The Committee has also developed principles for the risk assessment of chemicals in food that are consistent with current thinking on risk assessment and take account of recent developments in toxicology and other relevant sciences.

67. The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) is the standard-setting mechanism for food quality and safety, particularly as related to international trade in food. The CAC is an inter-governmental body supported by the Secretariat of the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, located in FAO.

68. The Codex Alimentarius itself is a collection of international food standards, which have the principal aim of protecting the health of consumers. Wide adherence to harmonized and science-based food standards contributes to fair practices in food trade and to the avoidance of unjustified trade barriers. Inter-governmental decisions on these standards are based on the principle of sound scientific analysis and evidence.

69. FAO is launching an inter-agency facility to strengthen the capacity of LDCs to achieve food safety and quality standards recognized by the WTO Agreements. This facility will draw upon the experience gained in inter-agency cooperative seminars, workshops and projects undertaken since the entry into force of the Agreements, and WHO, the International Organization of Epizootics (OIE), the WB and WTO are collaborating with FAO.


70. Launched in 1974, the UN Onchocerciasis Control Programme (OCP), the joint responsibility of WHO, UNDP, FAO and the WB, has been one of the most successful disease management programmes in Africa. Its 20-year eradication campaign against river blindness has assured total control in 11 countries where the parasite-caused disease formerly raged and threatened around 30 million people in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Today some 25 million hectares of previously uninhabitable arable land are being rapidly settled.

71. A massive influx of people and livestock, however, poses both a socio-economic concern and a threat to the fragile ecosystems of the fertile river valleys. In 1995, FAO was given the role of lead technical agency in formulating and monitoring a plan of action to develop the agricultural potential of onchocerciasis-freed areas with minimal negative impact on the environment. FAO proposed a development framework with a support strategy to help participating countries tackle key issues concerning land tenure, access to credit, decision-making mechanisms, transhumance, conflict resolution, gender equality, and appropriate farming systems. Over the last two years, FAO has been supporting the 11 countries in identifying priorities and opportunities for the sustainable development of recovered areas under pilot investment projects that will help lay the groundwork for long-term socio-economic development through multilateral investment assistance.


72. Today, it is widely acknowledged that HIV and AIDS have substantial economic and social impacts on individuals, families and households, communities and thus society as a whole. The disease is killing people in their most productive years, decimating the workforce, impoverishing households, shredding traditional safety nets and tearing the social fabric of the communities, for many the only reliable support systems. Furthermore, in many Sub-Saharan African nations AIDS has destabilized health systems, education, industry, formal and informal agricultural sectors, transport, political stability and civil society.

73. In view of the devastating health, economic, social and more recently political impact of the AIDS epidemic, FAO has increasingly begun to view it not only as a health problem but also as a legitimate agricultural and food security topic. It has therefore made it an integral part of its activities targeting rural populations, their livelihoods and farming systems. This has led to increased collaboration with other UN system organizations in trying to set up partnerships with national institutions dealing with health, extension, and communication and to increase national capacity through training.

74. FAO is at present conducting a study on the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural extension organizations in Malawi and Zambia with the support of UNAIDS and UNDP. The findings of the study have been recently discussed in national workshops in both countries.

75. FAO is presently also launching a joint programme with UNAIDS to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and on rural poverty. It is based on close collaboration with WFP and IFAD regarding emergencies and poverty alleviation. As part of this programme, FAO is convening a technical meeting in December 2001 on `Mitigating HIV/AIDS Impact on Food Security and Rural Poverty: an Agricultural Sector Strategy', with participation from several partner organizations. Collaboration with other organizations such as UNESCO, ILO, the International Organization for Migration and WHO is also foreseen in this context.

76. FAO and UNFPA have on-going projects in Cameroon and Mali related to the promotion of reproductive health and gender equality. In Cameroon the project aims at reaching women and youth to increase their access to health services, while in Mali the project objective is to change the attitude and behaviour of men vis-à-vis women's rights to reproductive health and socio-economic responsibilities in the society.

IV. Maximizing Programme Impact

77. This year FAO joined the UN Development Group (UNDG), which groups key UN system organizations engaged in development activities at field level. The UNDG seeks to strengthen policy coherence and cost-effectiveness so as to maximize programme impact and minimize administrative costs. It promotes, in particular, a more unified presence at country level through, inter alia, concerted directives to Resident Coordinators and field representatives. Recent UNDG work has addressed tracking progress in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, UN system cooperation in connection with Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers, post-conflict peace building, and evaluation of Common Country Assessments and UN Development Assistance Frameworks.