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close this bookOvercoming Global Hunger (WB)
close this folderSession three - targeted interventions: what works best to reduce hunger
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View the documentTargeted interventions: what works best to reduce hunger
View the documentDiscussant remarks
View the documentDiscussant remarks
View the documentWorkshop spokesperson remarks
View the documentWorkshop spokesperson remarks
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Discussant remarks

Catherine Bertini

In bringing us together, the World Bank, the largest provider of financial assistance in so many countries, is going to help raise all of our expectations about what might be done to alleviate hunger throughout the world We certainly all share a common ground and the common purpose of eradicating poverty and hunger.

At so many of these conferences we can talk for hours and days, but what we ultimately have to do, as Mr. Al-Sultan said, is to act together, to act together within the United Nations, within the international financial institutions, through the governments, and with NGOs on behalf of and with hungry people SD as to make a difference.

In the United Nations we talk often about how we are working together to develop country strategies. We need to expand that work, not just within the United Nations agencies, but with each government and with the international financial institutions and the NGOs, so that together we can develop our strategies, together we can establish the appropriate directions, and together we can pool our resources to make a difference.

Regarding what works in targeting, we have similar questions at the WFP to those that have already been presented today Who are the hungry and the poor? Where are they located? How many people are in each location? What kinds of characteristics define these particular people and their needs? And ultimately and most important, what can be acne to empower these people and to put them on the path of sustainable improvement in the quality of their lives?

We have noticed several areas concerning targeting in which we could concentrate. One is the criteria Depending on the nature of the problem, the criteria for intervention can be defined to address either the needs of a particular category of people, for instance, pregnant and lactating women, or people in a particular area afflicted by the same crisis, for instance, victims caught in a war zone.

The second area is the administrative feasibility and costs of targeting. Sometimes the excellent scenarios envisaged by targeted interventions fail because they cannot be administered on a regular and sustainable basis. We must ensure that the basic ability to continue administrative support is present.

The third area is participation by the affected groups: the poor and the hungry We can overcome many of the difficulties of intervention programs if the poor themselves are involved in their design, in their implementation, in their evaluation.

The final area is the transfer of resources. Any intervention is most likely to attain its objectives when the resource transfer is appropriate and the method of transfer is direct.

Of course, when we talk about targeting, we also talk from the perspective of food aid. Before we can talk about sustainable improvements, sustainable development, sustainable differences in people's lives on the basis of their own food security, sometimes we have to talk about just helping people to exist from day to day. So many emergencies, almost all man-made, take our resources away. They take away the resources of the donor community and of NGOs because we, as a people, must help people survive, help people live As a result, we find that many of the resources that could otherwise be used for long-term sustainable development and for helping people make a difference in their lives are actually used to help feed people in Somalia, especially women and children, because the men are shooting at each other; help feed people in the former Yugoslavia; help sustain people's lives in southern Sudan or in Angola. That is one reason why President Masire's comments about the need for political solutions were so important, and why the commitment of political leaders is so critical to be able to solve these problems.

We can see many successes. We can see successes now in almost all of Somalia, for instance, where the work is now primarily on rehabilitation and development, and where we are making significant strides in helping to improve the country. We see a great success story in the drought that hit southern Africa a that could have affected 18 million people Because of the commitment of the donor community, because of the interaction between the countries in the region, the SADCC, the United Nations, and NGOs we were able to make a significant difference and avoid tragedy in southern Africa The World Food Programme was pleased and honored to be in a position to be able to coordinate that effort. But even though we are committed to development work, whether it is building schools in El Salvador, providing crops and animals in Somalia, or planting trees in Bangladesh, we still find that we must have a major commitment from the political leadership to make a difference, to end the man-made disasters.

We can concentrate on development if we have peace and stability If we have peace and stability we can concentrate on the process at hand, helping people help themselves to become self sufficient and self-reliant, and this is where food aid also becomes critical.

Some of the negatives have been mentioned in this panel and in others, but there are so many positives as well. One of those positives, in addition to the ultimate objective, which is helping people become self-reliant and self-sufficient, is that the donor community—we see this in the United States and in other countries around the world—understand the commitment of food, understand the use of food, understand the transfer of food from a wealthy country to poor people in a poor country, and understand the moral obligation to make that transfer.

Thus food as a resource becomes especially important in development over the long term, whether it is food for work, whether it is for projects that feed vulnerable groups, or whether it is monetization. The use of food becomes critically important in helping to reach those people who are targeted and to help them become self sufficient over the long run.

I am pleased to note that the WFP puts a high priority on triangular transactions in the purchase of food in developing countries for distribution in developing countries. Having spent more than US$250 million last year, the WFP is the largest purchaser of food for this purpose.

Fawzi Al-Sultan said that the rich do not go hungry. That is true However, one thing that I have found when I worked on hunger issues in the United States, and now working in the international community, is that even the rich understand hunger They understand hunger not like someone who is near starvation and not like Congressman Hall after his fast, but even the rich understand what being hungry for a day or two days is like, even if some may not understand what being poor is like As a result, I believe there is a major commitment among the people in the United State and among the people around the world to help people who are hungry, whether it is people from the United States sending surplus food or people from Bangladesh sending a contribution to the flood victims in the Midwest of the United States People around the world understand what it is to be hungry.

Thus I think all of us committed to helping to alleviate world hunger have in front of us the great challenge of reaching out to our publics, reaching out to our constituencies in the United States and around the world, and making sure that people understand not just the tragedies that they see on television about Somalia or the former Yugoslavia, but understand that hunger unfortunately affects so many people throughout the world. We must communicate the difference that we can make by increasing our resources, whether they be food resources, cash resources, or people resources, to help alleviate hunger around the world.

Working together with organizations such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the World Bank, the NGOs, the governments, and the multilateral institutions we can make a significant difference. We owe the poor and the hungry nothing less than our best.