FAO Director-General warns of Horn of Africa, Sahel funding gap

Risk of losing window of opportunity

10 May 2012, Madrid - FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today warned of a major funding gap for activities planned by FAO in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.

Speaking at the Foro Nueva Economía international economic forum in Madrid, he said that although there is "increasing convergence" on how to boost food security and development", there is currently a significant problem - funding.  

A dramatic example is the funding gap for FAO initiatives in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, he said.  "In the Horn of Africa we are losing the window of opportunity to build on our recent achievements - which helped to overcome the famine declared last year in Somalia - increasing the resilience of families facing drought."

Boosting food security involved combining emergency action with support for family farming and smallholder production, promoting development initiatives in the long term, and reducing vulnerability to extreme events, he said.

Joint effort needed against hunger

With one in every seven people in the world suffering from chronic hunger and malnutrition, "fighting hunger is a challenge too great for FAO or any government to overcome alone," Da Silva added. "It must involve civil society, private enterprise, international agencies, and the governments of developing and developed countries. For this reason we have opened the doors of FAO to new allies with whom we share a common set of principles".

Graziano da Silva, who is on an official visit to Spain declared, "I am convinced that Spain will remain a strategic ally in the fight against hunger. The foundation of this alliance is based not only on the financial contribution, but on the shared certainty that a world without hunger is possible, that development can and needs to be sustainable, that countries can learn from each other, that multilateralism is the road we must travel to reach our goals, and that the progress of vulnerable countries also benefits the developed ones."

The Director-General yesterday took part in the first edition of the FAO-Spain Awards for achievement in the fight against hunger. Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain presided over the ceremony.

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano / FAO
First official visit of José Graziano da Silva to Spain.