Haiti: Food Security Task Force Established By Three Rome-based United Nations Agencies

Published on 12 February 2010

ROME – The heads of the three United Nations Rome-based agencies announced the establishment of a Task Force for Food Security in Haiti.  The Task Force will support the government of Haiti in the implementation of a concerted, coherent and targeted, immediate and longer-term food security strategy that integrates agricultural production, and social safety nets.

FAO Director General Jacques Diouf, IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze and WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran will lead this Task Force. The announcement was made at a meeting entitled “Supporting Haitian-led Food Security Program,” held in Rome today where the three heads pledged that they would work together, combining the expertise and resources of their agencies. The Task Force will work in concert with relevant UN Humanitarian clusters, such as the Food and Agriculture clusters.

Haiti will not be alone in building back from this tragedy,” said the three agency heads adding that, “Haiti’s food security is a primary concern and Haiti cannot miss this spring’s planting season. We have just days to mobilize resources, logistics and capacity on the ground, to ensure that Haiti has harvests by this fall.”

The Haitian Minister for Agriculture Joanas Gué was the keynote speaker at the event. He told the group, which was attended by high level representatives from more than 70 nations, that the rural areas must be the backbone in Haiti’s recovery.

The devastating earthquake in Haiti left more than 200,000 dead and millions hungry and homeless.  “We share Haiti’s grief over the unprecedented losses and we praise Haiti’s leadership in dealing with this tragedy. We also mourn the victims from the UN family. We commend the Secretary General, the involvement of all UN agencies and NGOs and the generosity of nations and citizens everywhere who are helping Haiti in this hour of need,” said the three agency heads.
“FAO, IFAD and WFP have a long history of working in partnership with Haiti.  Before the earthquake, we worked together during the food crisis when support was required to grow more food. We have also provided emergency aid when hurricanes and mudslides hit, creating vital safety nets and helping to strengthen the agricultural sector,” they said.

While humanitarian assistance is needed for at least a year, the three agencies are geared up to provide technical and financial assistance for long-term food security, focussing our efforts on rural development and growth in the agriculture sector. Specifically, we are assessing how rural communities will cope with mass migration from the capital area to the countryside, with a view to helping the Haitian government design and prioritize programs to meet the changed conditions. We recognize the need to create social safety nets to stimulate the economy in urban and rural areas; to re-start urgently needed school feeding; and to ensure that the coming planting seasons are as productive as possible. In the longer term, agriculture sector policies and funding frameworks are required to pave the way for enhanced production and productivity.