Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Mr Chairman, Mr President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I address the IFAD Governing Council on behalf of Jim Morris, our Executive Director, who regrets not being here in person. First of all, let me express my gratitude on behalf of WFP to Mr Lennart Båge for all your good work and for being such a good partner to WFP.

Rome-based UN agencies delivered a message together at the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Report in January. We reiterated our common commitment to achieving millennium development goals and spoke about the link between hunger and poverty. The MDG clock is ticking as we see Africa and some other parts of the world falling behind targets. 2005 may be a “make it or break it” year: if we are to honour the commitment to halve hunger and poverty by 2015, then a rapid scale-up is an imperative for all of us.

Hunger and poverty must be tackled together - as they are the cause and consequence of each other. In particular, the Rome-based agencies, who put the stress on the first millennium development goal of hunger and poverty, have an extremely important task, since achieving the first goal leads up to or helps achieve the rest of them.

The reduction of both hunger and poverty has a beneficial effect on achieving other MDGs: food enables children to complete their schooling, brings down child mortality, improves maternal health, helps combat diseases.

Whereas we have a longer tradition in working with FAO, with IFAD we still have avenues to explore. In 2004, thirteen WFP country offices reported collaboration with IFAD on fourteen different projects.

 

Last year, we helped rural populations in the dry zones of Sri Lanka , especially women, youth and people of low caste origin. WFP and IFAD improved the living conditions of 80,000 families through teaching rain-fed farming methods, modernizing irrigation, increasing access to savings and credit and enhancing market access.

WFP supports IFAD’s Participatory Irrigation Development Programme in Tanzania by providing participants with food in exchange for working on road construction. As of April 2004, 225 km of roads linking villages to markets were under construction. Workers receive maize, pulses, cooking oil from WFP. The construction of market access roads facilitates both the delivery of farm inputs and the marketing of crops.

Our successful collaboration in China continued through 2004. Complementary WFP and IFAD interventions ensured that the poorest farmers have access to credit and rise above the poverty level. Since the partnership began in 2001, WFP contributed 410,000 tons of food valued at USD 69 million while IFAD mobilized USD 140 million in loans, combined with USD 250 million of Chinese contribution.

These are some recent examples of our collaboration in the field. At the headquarters level, our agencies try very often to speak with the same voice, be it in advocacy fora or during meetings and events within and out of the United Nations arena. All Rome-based agencies are part of the International Alliance Against Hunger which aims to strengthen collaboration among the many groups committed to fighting hunger, including food producers and consumers, international organizations, governments, agribusinesses, scientists, academics, private individuals, policy-makers, religious groups and non-governmental organizations.

In addition to this unison of voices, which we support and value, we think it is essential for Rome-based agencies to act jointly, Our experiences show us that our concerted efforts bring additional benefits to the people who need our help. Together, we can make the year 2005 a breakthrough year on our path toward achieving the MDGs.

Let me conclude by referring to those millions of children to which the Prime Minister of Belgium and Mr Harcharik referred today. Yes, we can do much together, but the world, which showed so much solidarity with the victims of the Tsunami, must remain awake.Too many children, 25,000 of them, continue to die in silence from hunger-related causes every day. If television were there, especially in Africa , filming a Boeing 747 full of children crashing every half hour, would we not take another look at civil aviation? It is time to take another serious look at official development assistance.