FOOD and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative to Zambia George Okech says there is need to devise schemes aimed at assisting poor communities to overcome financial constraints and manage risks.
Mr Okech says if schemes are implemented on a large scale, the social protection system can also contribute to an overall reduction of the poverty gap, empowering families and communities.
‘’Evidence shows that the reliable and regular social protection schemes can help poor communities to overcome financial constraints and manage risks that usually discourage them from pursuing higher returns,’’ said Mr Okech.
He explained that this year’s World Food day theme, “Social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty,’’ has been chosen in a bid to draw global attention to the role that social protection plays in eradicating hunger and poverty in communities, when it is prioritised in national development agendas.
Mr Okech said despite the successful expansion of social protection programmes worldwide, basic social protection coverage remains a privilege that only a small percentage of the world’s population can benefit from.
‘’Nevertheless, experience shows that the extension of social protection programmes in many countries has come at a relatively low cost,’’he said.
Mr Okech called on key players to utilise the World Food Day as an occasion for key partners to advocate for social protection in order to prevent rural households from falling into the cycle of rural poverty.
He further said, there was need for governments to promote togetherness based on the frame of the post 2015 development agenda, consistent policy frameworks and synergies between social protection and food security, agricultural development and rural poverty.
Mr Okech also pointed out, that there was need to stimulate debate among relevant stakeholders on the most efficient ways to ensure an integrated approach that addresses multi-dimensional vulnerabilities to food insecurity and poverty.
According to FAO, the World Food Day which usually takes place at the FAO headquarters, will be celebrated on an exceptional basis this year at Expo Milano and it will be a pinnacle event for the United Nations at the World Exposition.
‘’Falling just under the summit in September, 2015 and right before the UN conference on climate change (COP21), this event will be a great occasion to bring the results of the Post-2015 Agenda to the table and create momentum around key food security and nutrition issues,’’ says Mr Okech.
He explained that participating agencies include the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and other institutions will be represented at the highest level.
‘’It is anticipated that the United Nations (UN) Secretary General will be present together with senior representatives of the Italian Government,’’said Mr Okech.
He said at country level, the events or activities in line with the high profile approach to the World Food Day ceremony at Expo Milano, and decentralized offices will also participate in World Food Day ceremonies in their respective countries.
Mr Okech said this year, particular emphasis will be given at a global level to the World Food day poster contest,and a long-established outreach project for students across the globe.
World Food day is commemorated annually on 16th October and will be celebrated for the 35thtime this year. This auspicious occasion will also mark the 70th Anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. -NAIS