March 14, 2014

CWS Applauds FAO, Government Cooperation in Efforts to End Asia-Pacific Hunger

Long Chamrung and his daughter work in their garden in Chheu Teal Korng Village
Long Chamrung and his daughter work in their garden in Chheu Teal Korng Village in Cambodia. CWS supports micro-loans for their family and others, providing training for fish, produce and mushroom farming. Photo: Annie Griffiths/Ripple Effect Images

NEW YORK, NY--Humanitarian agency Church World Service welcomes the decision by delegates from 41 countries across Asia and the Pacific to work closely with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to bolster efforts to erase hunger and achieve food security for the region.

“With hunger being a challenge worldwide,” said CWS President and CEO, the Rev. John McCullough, “any initiative that directly addresses the problem is a welcome one.”

The 32nd FAO Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific, held in Mongolia and attended by some 164 delegates representing governments from 41 countries, endorsed four FAO regional initiatives around hunger, nutrition, agriculture and food security.

Hunger and nutrition is a key focus for CWS worldwide.  The agency seeks to address both the immediate causes by ensuring proper nutrition to those who need it -- especially mothers and their children -- and the underlying causes of hunger, by improving community food systems and ensuring access to food.

“That the FAO and the conference participants have committed to working together to improve food security is significant and encouraging, particularly in a region where large and frequent disasters put an additional strain the food system,” McCullough said.

CWS supports communities in need across south Asia and the Pacific Rim, including projects in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In some communities in the region Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan has incorporated  sustainable models of food security into its development initiatives with farmers, widow-headed households, and agrarian community members to help vulnerable families to increase their food supplies.

Marvin Parvez, who oversees CWS's regional programs in Asia and the Pacific, said “We at the CWS regional office in Bangkok welcome this very positive development, where governments and FAO have committed to work together to ensure one of the basic human rights for the people of Asia.  We would encourage NGOs across the region also to support this effort to eliminate hunger from our region.”

McCullough expressed both hope and confidence that the approach agreed upon by FAO and the governments participating in the conference would, by 2015, help move the Asia-Pacific region closer to achieving Millennium Development Goal of reducing hunger by half among the estimated 870 million people in the world who are undernourished.

“With the conference’s focus on the FAO and governments working together to increase agricultural productivity and alleviate poverty while preventing degradation of the environment, it would appear that the wheels are in motion for even greater collaboration and efforts around the common goal,” McCullough said.

“Improving food security for the hundreds of millions of people—many of them in the Asia Pacific region—who are hungry is an immense challenge and we applaud the effort by FAO and governments in the region to meet it head on, together.”