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Climate change gets more funding than food security in Pacific

By Online Editor
6:22 pm GMT+12, 17/05/2014, Ethiopia

Reports by PACNEWS Journalist, Pita Ligaiula in Addis Ababa

Climate Change in the Pacific receives more funding from donors than food security, according to a regional government official.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC)’s Food Security Technical officer, Gibson Susumu said there is a need for climate change and food security to be given same priority in terms of funding.

“Now, we are seeing that most of the funding we receiving in the Pacific are directed towards climate change but not food security. There is already the Pacific Food Security Framework which already identifies priority areas to address in terms of food security.

“I think we need to take up these priorities to the Global donor community to address our food security priorities.

“We need to look at climate change and Food Security together because the biggest challenge to food security in the Pacific would be from climate change. I think we need to look at building the resilience of our food security against climate change," Susumu told PACNEWS in Addis Ababa.

Susumu said SPC is currently implementing a model farming project and its main goal is to enhance resiliency of food production system in the Pacific.

“We selected in six countries to pilot the project. Our activities involve evaluating vulnerability of food production systems as a result of climate change and assessing the adaptive capacity of the communities.

“From this assessment whatever findings we can pull out, we use those to identify adaptation solution. A lot of the finding from the assessment is related to the need to strengthen, evaluate resilience production system. Because most of this communities are facing a lot of production constraints because they are related to climate change impact. What we are doing now is evaluating the food production system by looking at crop varieties that are resilience to climate change,” said Susumu

He said many governments tend to commit to act on food security problems in the region but when it comes to reality, a lot of times the support it get is quite disappointing.

“I think the problem we facing in the Pacific in terms of support for food security is that a lot of food security issues are not reaching the global community.

“Food security, I think is still contained in the Pacific and yet be realised at the global level. We need a regional strategy that is in line with the global priority agenda, he explained.

He said the Pacific also needs a long-term financial mechanism to address food security issues.

“We already have funding for programmes like climate change, at diseases like TB and HIV. But we don’t have global funding to address NCDs if we are to address NCDs. I think we need to start from prevention and when we talk about prevention, we need to look at healthy diet, because all NCD problems we facing in the Pacific are related to diet problems. We need to start with prevention by promoting adoption of our healthy local foods.

He said the Pacific is currently facing a Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) crisis and people need to be encouraged to eat local healthy food rather than relying on imported foods.

“The heavy reliance is really due to aggressive campaign or promotion on this imported food. I think the perception on imported food is really due to mass media promotion on these imported food. So we tend to look down on eating local food like its inferior compared to imported food.

Susumu said it’s alarming that the Pacific region have the highest rates of NCDs in the world.

“World Health Organization is working with local focal points collecting data related to health in the Pacific. According to the data base we have the highest rates of NCDs in the world. So there is an urgent need to start addressing NCD problems in the region. One of the causes of the increase in NCDs in the region is mainly due to increase consumption of this poor quality imported food and neglecting the quality local food.

The data estimates that 75 percent of deaths in the Pacific are related to NCDs. So this study really pointed out that NCD is already a big problem in the region,” he said.