World

NGOs urge leaders to keep food security pledges

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Contacts: Sue Pleming: 202.552.6561 or 202.341.3814 (Cell) or spleming@interaction.org

Tawana Jacobs: 202.552.6534 or 202.297.1696 (Cell) or tjacobs@interaction.org

WASHINGTON, April 14, 2011—With food prices at record levels, financial leaders meeting in Washington this week must urge their governments to follow through on pledges they made two years ago to improve food security.

At the G8 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009, world leaders pledged to spend $22 billion over three years to improve food security and create sustainable solutions to ease the suffering of an estimated one billion hungry worldwide. To put this in the most basic terms, about one in seven people worldwide is hungry.

“The current spike in food prices has made it all the more urgent for leaders to follow through on their promises to deal with this food crisis head-on. It is not enough to make pledges at international summits,” said Samuel A. Worthington, the president and CEO of InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs doing relief and humanitarian work abroad.

The world’s financial leaders are gathering in Washington this week for the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Spiraling food prices are on the agenda.

“There needs to be long-term investment in agriculture, with a particular focus on women who are the world’s primary food producers but are often denied much-needed credit,” said Worthington, who is on a panel on Thursday at the World Bank to discuss the problem of rising food problems.

“Only through greater investment and empowering farmers can sustainable solutions be found to chronic hunger and malnutrition rates. Food should not be a luxury for so many of the world’s poor people,” he added.

Last week, World Bank President Robert Zoellick highlighted the importance of civil society in shaping development efforts. InterAction hopes international leaders will follow his example and allow active participation by NGOs in forming agriculture and other food security policies.

NGOs value their role in the World Bank’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), a mechanism that helps address underfunding of agriculture and other food security programs.

“Civil society representation on the GAFSP is a real step forward, though more must be done to ensure that local civil society participation is there too. Local expertise would strengthen this program,” said Worthington.

InterAction is the largest alliance of U.S.-based nongovernmental international organizations with more than 190 members. Our members operate in every developing country, working with local communities to overcome poverty and suffering by helping to improve their quality of life. Visit www.interaction.org