Lopatka: Progress in the fight against starvation is encouragement for our development cooperation
Vienna, 16 October 2012 – Almost every eighth person in the world is undernourished. According to data of the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation FAO 88 million people suffer from hunger, one third of them living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Agricultural production and fair access to food are becoming increasingly difficult due to climate change, the lack of structures in the developing countries and insufficient distribution policies.
"Despite these challenges significant progress has been made over the past few years in the fight against starvation", Reinhold Lopatka, State Secretary in the Austrian Ministry for European and International Affairs, said on the occasion of today's World Food Day and tomorrow's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. "The first Millennium Goal, i.e. reducing the number of people who suffer from hunger by fifty percent by 2015, was already achieved in 2009 according to data of the World Bank. This success is an encouragement and fills us with optimism for our further commitment in development cooperation." There is still a pronounced geographic imbalance in the fight against hunger. While Asian and Latin-American countries have been able to achieve significant success thanks to their dynamic development, other regions are still lagging behind the goals and require continued efforts.
"Austrian development cooperation (OEZA) and its partner organisations are fighting for an improvement of living conditions and opportunities for development in rural areas", Lopatka said. "It is important that suitable framework conditions are created that ensure socially just and ecologically sustainable development." This implies increasing agricultural productivity, preserving natural resources, fair access to social and economic services and infrastructure, and including the people in political decision-making processes.
Lopatka mentioned Austria's commitment in Burkina Faso as an example of successful partnership: Austria supports one of the poorest regions of the country, Boucle de Mouhoun, in cooperation with the regional authority in charge. A regional development fund has been established endowed with means provided by OEZA that is managed by local partners. Similar successful projects have been implemented in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Georgia over the past few years. "The OECD has recently praised Austria's partnerships and our special emphasis on ecological and social sustainability of development cooperation a role model for other donors", the State Secretary said.
In addition to the bilateral level, Austria is also a member of the international financial institutions (IFIs) for global food security. IFIs support developing countries in many ways: by subsidising sustainable irrigation systems, granting loans for agricultural projects, ensuring access to markets or developing social security networks.
"No single country will be able to solve the major problems of our times alone. The interaction of international development cooperation with national governments, the civil society and the private sector is indispensable for long-term success", Lopatka concluded.
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