Food Security Committee plans monitoring of actions to achieve World Food Summit goals

The 23rd session of FAO's Committee on World Food Security (CFS) ended on 18 April, after four days of discussion focusing on the first steps that need to be taken to achieve the World Food Summit's (WFS) overriding goal - to cut the number of undernourished people in the world by at least half by the year 2015.

Mapping the world's hungry is a first step to helping those in need

The Committee, which had a major responsibility in preparations for last November's Summit, now has the task of defining the ways in which the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action will be monitored and progress reported. The meeting was attended by 109 member countries and 44 observing nations, international organizations and NGOs, and was chaired by Pedro Medrano Rojas, the Chilean Permanent Representative to FAO.

One major component of post-Summit strategy is the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS), which is being developed to pinpoint where the hungry are. Hunger mapping is key to effective follow-up to the Summit, as it allows food assistance and technical support to be directed to those most in need. A workplan drawn up for the development of the system by an FAO Technical Consultation on FIVIMS held in March was considered by the CFS. It stressed that the mapping process should be country-driven, with governments and people intimately involved. Indeed, the Committee reiterated that the primary responsibility for implementing the WFS Plan of Action rests with individual governments.

The Committee reaffirmed its support for the objectives of FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), and welcomed its phased approach. The Pilot Phase focuses on small-scale water control, intensification of plant production systems, diversification of agriculture and identification, analysis and resolution of constraints that impede increased food production, and should provide concrete results for use during the Expansion Phase.

While confirming that the Special Programme addresses essential elements of food security, some delegates expressed reservations about making it either the spearhead for FAO's post-Summit activities or an umbrella for coordinating all FAO field activities. Nevertheless, recognizing the importance of the SPFS in achieving Summit objectives, many delegates requested rapid expansion to all low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) and called on donor countries and institutions to step up their financial support of the programme. The SPFS is currently operational in 18 countries.

Under the standing agenda item on nutrition, the committee discussed the contribution of street foods to food security, both as a source of food and of income. Ready-to-eat snacks and meals have become a major part of urban diets and economies. The committee recognized the need for quality and hygiene regulations to promote street foods as a healthy food source and supported FAO's work in providing technical assistance, training and education for street food operators and local governments.


12 May 1997

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