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Nurek – A special event to celebrate World Food Day has been held here by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Entitled Change the future of migration: invest in food security and rural development, the event was attended by governmental counterparts, ambassadors, donors, partners and media representatives. It highlighted the link between food security, migration and rural development through short dramas, cookery and poster-drawing competitions for children, and quizzes around the World Food Day theme. Also addressed was how migration can increase the workforce within host communities and bring new skills, knowledge and money to migrants’ home communities.

“Migrants can directly contribute to increasing productivity, employment opportunities, access to markets, knowledge and financial services for the benefits of their home countries and their families,” said FAO Representative in Tajikistan, Viorel Gutu.

The UN agencies stressed the commitment they and their partners have to maximising the contribution migrants can make towards poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, and the resilience of rural households in their home communities.

“World Food Day reminds us that while in the developed world, food is linked to abundance and diversity, access to food is still a constant battle for many,” said IOM Chief of Mission in Tajikistan, Dragan Aleksoski. “Food insecurity is too often a motive for migration as a mechanism to seek income-generating opportunities. IOM will continue to work with FAO, WFP, and other agencies and partners to ensure that people migrate as a matter of choice rather than of necessity. Consequently, we are strongly committed to combating factors, such as food insecurity, that lead to forced displacement.”

Special mention was made of a recently-published report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), and of the importance of a coordinated approach in addressing hunger and building the resilience of rural communities in Tajikistan.

This year’s SOFI report, published by five UN agencies , gives updated estimates of the number and proportion of hungry people on the planet and includes data at global, regional, and national levels. It stresses that conflicts, climate change and economic shocks are the major factors contributing to the rise of global hunger, affecting 815 million people worldwide. In Tajikistan, the prevalence of undernourishment decreased from 41.5% to 30.1% during the period 2004-2016, while the number of people affected has slightly decreased from 2.8 to 2.6 million.  

“Undernourishment costs Tajikistan US$41 million annually,” said WFP Country Director in Tajikistan, Paolo Mattei. “If children are to be healthy and achieve their potential, it’s vital they receive the right kind of nutrition when they’re growing up.”

The three agencies support the National Plan for Food Security and Rural Development in the country and are committed to improving food and nutrition security among the most vulnerable, including returning migrants.