MBABANE - Amid several hunger emergencies – both natural and man-made – the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is marking World Food Day, 16 October, by highlighting both the challenges around the world and the real progress being made toward “zero hunger.”
“Every year, we witness hunger’s devastating effect on families, communities and whole economies,” said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin. “But despite horrific crises engulfing entire regions, we are making real progress in the fight to sustainably and durably end hunger and chronic malnutrition. Thanks to the work we do with our partners on emergency preparedness, support to family farmers, nutritional assistance – particularly in a child’s first 1,000 days – and building the resilience of communities to withstand shocks, millions of people are now better able to focus on building a future free of hunger for themselves and the next generation.”
According to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014 report, the total number of hungry people in the world is down by 37 million, to 805 million, and 63 countries have reached international hunger-reduction targets before 2015, proof of the progress possible when governments, humanitarian organizations and the private sector come together to make lasting change. Recent studies have outlined the devastating effect that hunger and under-nutrition can have on the lives of individuals, communities and national economies.
Data from a series of studies called the Cost of Hunger in Africa has shown that hunger is capable of reducing a nation’s workforce by 9.4% and national GDPs by up to 16.5%, severely limiting a developing country’s ability to make much needed investments and grow. This shows why the international community must continue to strive towards a world with zero hunger, a world in which children and families can build their futures and farmers can better provide for themselves and help their communities become self-sufficient, Cousin said.
Every year, WFP marks World Food Day alongside the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in Rome and offices around the world.
The theme for this year’s World Food Day is “family farming,” one of the many ways WFP is supporting local economies to build self-sufficiency and people to achieve zero hunger in their communities.
Here are just a few of the ways WFP is helping an average of 90 million people a year focus on their futures: • Providing emergency food assistance to people affected by natural and manmade disasters, such as the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and the civil conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Central African Republic and South Sudan
• Running or supporting school meals programmes in remote places, giving roughly 20 million of the poorest children a chance at a brighter future • Prioritizing the purchase of food in developing countries and from family and small-scale farmers to support local economies
• Partnering with companies and organizations around the world to improve WFP operations, create innovative solutions and raise funds and awareness
In 2013, Swaziland was among the first four countries in Africa to publish the Cost of Hunger study. The findings showed that 3 out of every 10 children in Swaziland are stunted, or small for their age, and that Swaziland lost 3.1% of its GDP to stunting in 2009. The Government has increased its awareness of childhood hunger and malnutrition by creating several new initiatives to reduce malnutrition and stunting, including the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement and inclusion of reducing stunting as a target in the Swaziland Development Index.
“Swaziland’s commitment to addressing under nutrition is strong and encouraging,” said Officer-in-Charge Margherita Coco at the World Food Programme in Swaziland. “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Government and other stakeholders as we work together towards zero hunger in Swaziland.”
More information about what zero hunger can do for people is available at www.wfp.org/WorldFoodDay.