By Kathryn McConnell
20 October 2011
Washington — The Peace Corps agreed with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme to expand collaborative efforts to end hunger in countries where Peace Corps volunteers work.
Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations for Food and Agriculture Ertharin Cousin signed a letter of agreement October 20 at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters in Rome. FAO Deputy Director-General for Operations Manoj Juneja and World Food Programme (WFP) Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla also signed the agreement.
“In response to increased food security challenges throughout the world, the Peace Corps is committed to doing its part to help address this critical issue at the grass-roots level,” Williams said. “Through the important partnerships with FAO and WFP, Peace Corps volunteers will have access to more tools and technical expertise to help improve food security in the communities they serve.”
“Our collaboration has expanded gradually over the years,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf, “and this agreement signals a renewed, enhanced commitment to harnessing the respective strengths and expertise of our three organizations to tackle the root causes of hunger and ensure sustainable food security and economic development.”
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said, “Today’s ceremony highlights the shared commitment of all three of our organizations to give vulnerable individuals in the many nations where we all work a hand up, not just a handout, to improve their own ability to produce and access food for their families and communities.”
Peace Corps volunteers have already worked with the FAO and the WFP in nearly 40 countries, where experts from all of the groups have shared techniques to promote food security through citizen participation, education and capacity-building.
In Swaziland, for example, the WFP provided Peace Corps volunteers with training on sustainable gardening and organic farming techniques. In Namibia, a recently returned Peace Corps volunteer and 20 community volunteers worked to build a community vegetable garden for people living with HIV/AIDS. In Liberia, Peace Corps volunteers worked with the WFP to teach proper food-storage, food-handling and cooking techniques to school employees.
Since 1961, Peace Corps volunteers have worked on projects ranging from fish farming and the introduction of small-scale irrigation systems to improved food processing and marketing. Volunteers have also helped address food availability and nutrition by building school gardens, developing agricultural microenterprises and teaching community members about good nutrition.President John Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961. Throughout 2011, the Peace Corps is commemorating its 50 years of promoting peace and friendship. More than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to advance better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, more than 8,600 volunteers serve in 76 countries.
The FAO leads international efforts to fight hunger worldwide, acting as a place where nations meet to negotiate agreements. The FAO also helps countries improve their agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all.
The WFP is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger, giving food to more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries every year.
The U.S. Mission to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome serves as a link between the Rome-based organizations and the U.S. government. President Obama has set a priority of ensuring that all people around the world have reliable sources of nutritious food.
With staff from the departments of State and Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. mission ensures that U.S. resources provided to the U.N. are used effectively and works to advance humanitarian aid, agricultural development, food safety, fisheries, forestry, financing for rural development and the role of women farmers.