New Latin American pop star foundation "Alas" and WFP join forces against child hunger

Published on 26 March 2007

The Latin America Foundation for Solidarity Action (ALAS) – made up of leading Spanish-speaking pop stars including Shakira and Juanes – today signed an agreement with WFP to fight child hunger and malnutrition.

The Latin America Foundation for Solidarity Action (ALAS) – made up of leading Spanish-speaking pop stars including Shakira and Juanes – today signed an agreement with WFP to fight child hunger and malnutrition.

 

Forty million children live and work in the street, almost a nation of beggar-children who have to fend for themselves rather than be in school

ALAS Executive Director Lautaro Garcia Batallan

An estimated nine million children below the age of five in Latin America and the Caribbean suffer from chronic malnutrition.

 

The problem is particularly severe among the Afro-descendants and indigenous populations. Among the latter, chronic malnutrition rates rise as high as 70 or 80 percent.

Irreversible damage

“The impact of the crisis is extremely serious because it deprives children of those nutrients needed while they are growing. The result is often irreversible and permanent mental and physical damage which in turn prevents these children from achieving their potential and that of their communities,” said Pedro Medrano, WFP’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“We congratulate the ALAS foundation for signing this agreement as it will permit both organisations to mutually support each other in their efforts to eradicate chronic malnutrition and to promote good nutrition among pregnant and lactating women as well as children,” Medrano added.

Accord

The accord was signed during the inauguration of the ALAS regional office in Panama City where many United Nations agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) are headquartered.

As a result of the agreement, ALAS and its membership of internationally recognised pop-stars will work together with WFP in efforts to eradicate chronic child malnutrition.

Beggar-children

“Forty million children live and work in the street, almost a nation of beggar-children who have to fend for themselves rather than be in school,” said ALAS Executive Director Lautaro Garcia Batallan.

“We in the ALAS foundation have the commitment to encourage governments to meet the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the UN General Assembly in 2000.

“This agreement with WFP represents an important step forward in our objective of helping those who are assisting the neediest of our planet,” Batallan added.

"Double celebration"

“This week we have a double celebration. On one hand we inaugurate our regional headquarters and on the other we are signing this agreement with WFP.”

The ALAS headquarters like WFP’s regional offices, are located in Ciudad del Saber, a former US military base built along the Panama Canal.

Today, the site hosts many UN agencies, NGOs and research organisations.

Stars

ALAS was created at the initiative of the region’s most important and committed musical artists and business leaders, among them Shakira, Alejandro Sanz, Juanes, Mana, Diego Torres, Miguel Bosé, Carlos Slim (listed by Forbes as the world’s third-wealthiest man), Emilio Azacarraga, Alejandro Santo Domingo, Stanley Motta, Alejandro Soberón, Joseph Saffra as well as former Spanish president Felipe Gonzalez.

The honorary-president of the ALAS foundation is the Nobel Prize laureate, Gabriel García Márquez.

The musical artists have plans to hold a series of concerts with the aim of raising money that the ALAS foundation Hill use to support the best programmes that are being carried out in the areas of early education and improving nutrition.