Yokohama - The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Japan have forged a partnership to promote human security through school feeding.
"WFP believes that providing a nutritious meal at school is a simple but concrete way to ensure that this will be the first-ever millennium free from hunger, and there's no more urgent place to start than Africa." said John Powell, WFP Deputy Executive Director, concluding a two-day annual consultation with government officials in Tokyo.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals, world leaders pledged to halve the percentage of the world's population that go hungry by 2015. WFP believes that one of the surest ways to achieve this goal is to provide malnourished children with both food and education. The agency is the largest organiser of school feeding programmes in the developing world, currently reaching some 16 million children. It aims to increase that to 50 million children by 2007.
"WFP is an important partner for human security. Its school feeding is a concrete way to enhance community empowerment, leading to future economic development," said Dr. Takahiro Shinyo, Director-General, Global Issues Department of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "We would like to cooperate with WFP in promoting the African Village Initiative." Japan has recently launched the African Village Initiative as part of a comprehensive aid package for Africa. This initiative, based on the notion of human security, aims at empowering local communities to meet their own needs with a multi-sectoral, holistic approach.
"For more than 100 years, the people of Japan have provided school meals for their own children. They know how effective school meals can be in rebuilding a war-torn country," Powell said. "For just ¥20 per child, per day, we can help children in places like Angola and Liberia get a healthy meal, a solid education and a chance to build a peaceful future."
Japan and the World Food Programme share a strong commitment to Africa and discussed challenges facing the continent such as HIV, hunger and peace-building. As the largest humanitarian actor in Africa, WFP invested some US $1.5 billion (¥155 billion) in food aid for Africa in 2003. Japan has placed increasing importance on Africa since hosting the first Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in 1993.
"There is still much to be done to halve the number of hungry people between now and 2015, but the World Food Programme is convinced that it will be possible as long as we have strong allies like Japan," said Powell.
Historically, Japan has almost always been one of WFP's top three donors. In 2004, Japan gave US $136 million (approximately ¥14 billion). Already in 2005, it has given close to half that amount, with donations of US $65 million (approximately ¥7 billion). The annual consultation between WFP and the Government of Japan, held in Tokyo from 3-4 March, underlined the complementary nature of WFP's strategic plan and Japan's policy priorities.
WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency: each year we give food aid to an average of 90 million people, including 56 million hungry children, in 80 countries.
WFP Global School Feeding Campaign For just 19 US cents a day (¥20), you can help WFP give children in poor countries a healthy meal at school -- a gift of hope for a brighter future.
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