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Africa:World Food Day 2006

Today (Monday) is World Food Day. The day is celebrated every year on 16 October, the day on which the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded in 1945. The FAO says the theme for today’s World Food Day is “Investing in agriculture and food security.” Gawain Kripke is senior policy advisor with OXFAM, the international humanitarian assistance agency. From Washington, he explains to VOA English to Africa reporter James Butty the significance of today from his organization’s perspective.

“World Food Day is an occasion to remember that there are hundreds of millions of people who simply do not have enough to eat, and it is within our capabilities to feed everyone in the world. It is a tragedy, a human tragedy, a moral tragedy that people are hungry in this day and age,” Kripke said.

The FAO’s “hunger map” shows that much of the world’s hungry people are in Africa. Kripke says this is a challenge to rich countries to do something about hunger.

“Hunger is one of main challenges that the United Nations and the countries of the world have identified as a Millennium Challenge goal. We want to cut the amount of hunger inn the world. And unfortunately, many places are succeeding in reducing hunger, but in Africa the trend is in the opposite direction. Approximately one-third of Sub-Saharan African people have too little eat or not the right food to eat. So this is a real problem and a challenge to humanity, and especially to rich countries who need to develop new strategies to make sure that people don’t go hungry,” Kripke said.

The theme for this year’s World Food Day is “investing in agriculture for food security.” Kripke says the theme represents food empowerment.

“It’s very important that we think about hunger not of a lack of food but a lack of resources because we do provide for hungry people, countries like the United States provide food aid. But that’s only a stopgap measure. It’s a temporary measure. In the end, people need to be able to feed themselves. They need resources. They need land, tools, and they need the capacity to create food and economic security and pull themselves out of poverty. Too much of our aid is focused on dealing with emergencies. We need to spend more money on empowering people so they can feed themselves and pull themselves out of poverty,” Kripke said.

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