Colombia: The Chocó Says “Yes to Food and Nutritional Security”

Five UN agencies, singer Santiago Cruz, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the Government of Colombia organized a fair to showcase local experiences on the issue of food security and nutrition in the Chocó.

QUIBDO. –The fair “The Choco Says Yes to Food Security,” celebrated on the grounds of the University of FUCLA, brought together more than 300 people, among local authorities, indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians and representatives of the civil society and the United Nations System. 

The event was headed by WFP Representative in Colombia, Praveen Agrawal; UNDP the director, Silvia Rucks; the director of Nutrition of the ICBF, Bertha Forero; UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the MDGs and singer Santiago Cruz; Emperatriz Arango, of the Aqua Foundation and delegates of the Choco Government and the Mayoralty of Quibdó. 

This fair was organized within the framework of the Joint Programme for Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Communities in the Chocó Department to promote their Food Security and Nutrition, which is part of the Millennium Development Goals Fund (MDG-F). Five UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, FAO, WFP, and OPS) are part of the is joint programme. The purpose of the fair was to raise awareness among the society of Chocó, its government and the rest of the country about the importance of the food security and its current situation in the region. According to UNICEF figures, the national average of child undernutrition in Colombia reaches 6% whereas in Chocó the average is 6%. 

In Chocó, some 79,000 children under the age of 5 years old are undernourished (6%) and chronically undernourished (16%). With these figures, different sectors have united with the aim of revising and analyzing strategies that could guarantee better standards of living in the region. 

All for the Children

The WFP Representative in Colombia, Praveen Agrawal, stressed the need to ensure a balanced diet in the region. "It is important to focus on food security and reduce malnutrition rates, which is why it is important to focus on ensuring timely and adequate access to food, proper and healthy use them, as well as work on changing habits feeding, hygiene and exercise or in other words, change the chip and adopt healthier lifestyles, "said the official.  

UNDP Director, Silvia Rucks, emphasized the importance of accomplishing the MDGs. “As part of the joint programme, UNDP works in the institutional strengthening  through training in public policies on Nutritional and Food Security.” UNDP also offers the experts’ advice to strengthen public policies of Governorship and Mayoralty of Quibdó in issues related to inclusive economic development. 

Food and Nutritional Security Fair 

WFP's involvement additionally included the installation of a stand which presented demonstrations of how you can have healthy lifestyles and how to make diet variations with food that are available in each region.
Singer Santiago Cruz said that when a child is fed, we are also feeding his soul and spirit. ”It is our responsibility to guarantee food for the children,” he said before singing to the participants. 

The fair served as venue for several mayors of the region to sign an agreement in which they commit themselves to work for the nutritional and food security of their municipalities with the aim reducing the undernutrition rates, which are considered as the highest of Colombia.

The meeting also counted with the presentation of hornpipe by Tanguí and a dialogue of knowledge between Afro-Colombians and Indigenous people about the food security in their communities. In the same manner, the viewers could learn first-hand initiatives related to food and nutritional security that were accomplished in Choco by different projects and entities.  For this purpose, there were various stands with the products of the region and educational material so that people could learn how they work for nutrition in their municipalities.