Twenty-ninth Session

Rome, 12-16 May 2003


1. This document has been prepared to facilitate the Committee's consideration of the Anti-Hunger Programme. The first draft of the Anti-Hunger Programme was unveiled in June 2002 at a side event during the World Food Summit: five years later, at which time comments and suggestions were invited. The second draft responds to some of the comments and suggestions received. It gives particular attention to the policy framework for implementing the twin-track approach and shows how the achievement of the hunger goal is linked to the attainment of other Millennium Development Goals.

2. The Committee may wish to endorse the Anti-Hunger Programme as an approach for accelerating the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action so that the target of halving the number of chronically undernourished by 2015 is achieved.

3. The Anti-Hunger Programme (AHP) summarises the prevailing international consensus on some of the key actions that must be taken internationally and by nations themselves. Those actions are fully consistent with the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action. The Programme is built on the belief that the target can be realised within a sustainable development framework. The FAO secretariat also proposes the Programme as a step in the strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Anti-Hunger Programme is meant to be seen as a programmatic call for action by all stakeholders and actors in the fight against hunger – it does not suggest any centralised management or coordination not does it seek additional resources for any particular organization or programme.

4. The Programme is based on a twin-track approach to hunger reduction. This approach combines i) sustainable agricultural and rural development aimed at supporting and enhancing the livelihoods of the poorest and most vulnerable groups with ii) targeted programmes to enhance direct access to food and nutrition by the most needy. The two tracks are mutually reinforcing: one creates opportunities for the disadvantaged to escape poverty and hunger; the other equips them with adequate nutrition so that they can take advantage of these opportunities. In order to be fully effective, this investment needs to be accompanied by policies that induce complementary private investment flows and enable the poor and hungry to realise their full development potential while promoting the sustainable use of the resource base.

5. Such an approach is justified by the fact that in most developing countries more than 70 percent of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend, directly or indirectly, on agriculture for their livelihoods. By opening up opportunities for rural people, this approach is the most effective way to reduce hunger sustainably. Moreover, it reduces the pressure to migrate to the cities and thus has the potential to mitigate poverty and hunger in urban areas.

6. Guided by the twin-track approach, the Programme sets out five priority areas where action is urgently required if the WFS target is to be met, together with cost estimates for each priority area. The Programme estimates that additional public investment of some US$24 billion per year is needed annually to bring hunger reduction back on track to attain the WFS target by 2015, while the benefits are estimated to be at least US$120 billion per year. This public investment package includes:

7. It should be noted that these estimates are meant to indicate orders of magnitude only and will be subject to further research and refinement. Furthermore it should be underlined that in order to be fully effective, the public investment needs to be accompanied by policies that induce complementary private investment flows and enable the poor and hungry to realize their full development potential while promoting the sustainable use of the resource base.

8. Of the various conceivable options for sharing the public investment cost of the Anti-Hunger Programme, the one suggested in the paper assumes an equal sharing between the international donor community and recipient developing countries.

9. However, the Programme does not include the substantial complementary investments needed, for instance, to create conditions of security and peace or to establish systems of government accountable to the poorer members of society, both of which may be critical for ensuring inclusive access to adequate food. It does, however, reaffirm that, apart from being justified on moral and humanitarian grounds, investments in hunger reduction generate attractive economic and security benefits and are in the self-interest of rich and poor countries alike. While the Programme aims to ensure access to food by the most needy, both urban and rural, the investment in productive capacity is limited to rural people.

10. The Anti-Hunger Programme forms a central element of FAO’s contribution to the Millennium Development Project and the strategy to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. It has also been used extensively in the conceptualization of the agricultural component of “WEHAB” (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity), the five priorities proposed for special attention during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. As the international debate and the Millennium Development Project unfold, and the linkages with the measures required to attain the other Millennium Development Goals become clearer, the focus of the Anti-Hunger Programme and the estimates of costs and benefits will be sharpened.

11. Success in the struggle to eradicate hunger will require a strong, concerted and adequately financed effort by all parties committed and able to contribute to hunger and poverty reduction through sustainable agricultural and rural development. This paper concludes with a call for the creation of a voluntary International Alliance against Hunger, which would bring together governments, the international community, non-governmental and civil society organizations and the private sector in the fight against hunger.

12. The Anti-Hunger Programme provides a basic framework for FAO’s assistance to countries wishing to develop national food security strategies that are specially suited to their needs and resources. At the same time the final version of the Anti Hunger Programme will benefit from country initiatives to fight hunger, such as the Brazilian Zero Hunger Programme, which FAO is supporting (see Box below).

Brazil’s Zero Hunger Programme

On his election as President of Brazil, Luis Ignácio Lula da Silva, announced that his government would give the highest priority to the eradication of hunger through the implementation of the Zero Hunger Programme, Projecto Fome Zero (PFZ), a multi-component programme targeting the most vulnerable households. The objective of the PFZ is to eradicate all hunger in Brazil within four years. By adopting such an approach to cutting hunger and malnutrition, Brazil is setting an example which many other nations will be inspired to follow. As President Lula da Silva said recently, “Fighting hunger worldwide can only truly happen when hunger becomes a political problem, when starving people start getting policy makers worried about it”.

13. A number of comments and suggestions on the first and second drafts have been received. There were some recurrent themes in these comments. One was that the focus of the AHP should be on poverty reduction in general, of which agricultural and rural development should be seen as a part. Others, however, commended the focus on agricultural and rural development. Another comment was that even if it is conceded that it is reasonably clear what should be done to fight hunger, it is less clear how it is to be fought. A related comment was that it is not obvious that policies and institutions are strong enough to ensure that investments are not wasted. The impact of agricultural subsidies by developed countries on the profitability of agricultural investments in developing countries was a concern. The issue of empowering the poor, and women in particular, to assert their rights was another prominent theme. Other comments stressed the importance of ensuring safe and healthy working conditions and combating AIDS in ensuring food security. The urgency of providing more information on the modalities of the International Alliance against Hunger was stressed. It was also suggested that the title be changed to The Anti-Hunger Programme in Support of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

14. While it is not possible to provide an exhaustive review of all the valuable comments received, the Secretariat expresses its gratitude to all those individuals and organisations who provided them. Upon completion of CFS's debate on this paper, a final and formal version of the paper on the Anti-Hunger Programme will be published taking into account these comments and suggestions as well as the outcome of the CFS debate. This will include a change of the title as per the suggestion above.

Link to document Y8752E (PDF version)