World Alliance Against Hunger Proposed by Vatican

In Preparation for U.N. Food Summit in Rome

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ROME, JUNE 7, 2002 (Zenit.org).- On the eve of a summit of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the Vatican proposed an international coalition to struggle against world hunger.

To eliminate hunger “is necessary, indispensable, possible,” but it requires courageous decisions, said Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, the Vatican´s permanent observation mission at the FAO.

“The balance sheet of the past year on the levels of food security in the world, made available to us by FAO, reveals an increase of the hungry and a growth of situations that produce food insecurity,” the bishop said, when he addressed the session of the FAO Committee on World Food Security, which is preparing the summit. The four-day summit starts here Monday.

To address hunger in the world, “it is indispensable to create an alliance in the sector of cooperation for development,” which, to be effective, must be perceived “not so much as a new commitment, but as a strategy of intervention to eliminate hunger,” the Vatican aide added.

“The whole world can understand that only a capacity to exert positive stimulus and pressure on public opinion can guarantee a concrete, continuous and vigilant governmental endeavor,” he said.

“To eliminate hunger in the abstract might be difficult, but to allow every person to have bread and daily food is necessary, indispensable and possible, we know it,” the archbishop concluded.

FAO´s Anti-Hunger Program, which will be proposed at the world summit, is outlined at www.fao.org.

An additional public investment of $24 billion annually must be made in poor countries to halve the number of hungry people by the year 2015, FAO says.

Without this investment, FAO fears that there would still be 600 million hungry people in 2015 — far short of the target of 400 million set by the World Food Summit in 1996. FAO stressed that the public investment should be accompanied by private resources.

Almost one person in seven does not have enough food to eat, FAO said. Most of the hungry people live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Heads of state and government, international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations will meet in Rome for the “World Food Summit: Five Years Later,” to take stock of progress made toward ending hunger, and to identify ways to accelerate the process.

The Anti-Hunger Program combines investment in agriculture and rural development with measures to enhance direct and immediate access to food for the most seriously undernourished. It focuses mainly on small farmers and aims to create more opportunities for rural people, representing 70% of the poor, to improve their livelihoods on a sustainable basis.

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