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Happy World Food Day!
For those of you who don’t have October 16 etched in your brains, today is World Food Day. It is the anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 1945. One of the objectives of World Food Day is to “strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition, and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.”
So today is a good day to celebrate the good news that the world is making progress against hunger, as FAO reported last week and we noted in an earlier blog post. It’s also a good time to take stock of four years of growing global investments in food security, agricultural development, and nutrition – renewed attention that followed the 2008 global food price crisis.
Another sign of the increased focus on food and agriculture came during the U.N. General Assembly meetings in September. There were many side events and meetings on food security and nutrition — a sea change from years past. They included, for the second year in a row, a High Level Meeting on Nutrition, which focused on progress and next steps for the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement.
It was remarkable to witness how far the discussions on nutrition have come since the launch of the movement. No longer do policy makers in developing countries and donor agencies have to be convinced that investing in maternal and child nutrition is critical. The discussion has shifted to how do you plan, organize, and implement nutrition programs across sectors, especially agriculture, to achieve strong outcomes. High-level speaker after high-level speaker reiterated their commitment to nutrition and their understanding that nutrition can no longer be allowed to fall between the cracks.
Next week, USAID will release the first Feed the Future progress report. We will be watching for it with interest. As President Obama noted in his World Food Day message, there is a lot of work to be done to increase the pace of progress against hunger and malnutrition -- but with a strong push, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger by 2015 is achievable.
Asma Lateef is the director of Bread for the World Institute.
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