Global Festivities to Celebrate World Food Day
Rome to Host New Run-for-Food Event
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WASHINGTON and ROME, Sept 19, 2006 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Among the events taking place in over 150 countries to mark this year's World Food Day on 16 October 2006, will be a 3.1 mile Run-for-Food race through Rome's historical center.
Heading off from the stadium next to FAO headquarters, the event will take place on Sunday 15 October, and cover the area around the Circus Maximus, Piazza Venezia and the Roman Colosseum, with between 2000 and 5000 participants expected to join the race. Participants will also be able to take part in an international food fair and a cultural presentation involving folkloric groups.
Every year, World Food Day is celebrated on October 16 to mark the anniversary of the founding of FAO in 1945.
This year, the World Food Day observance at FAO headquarters will include a musical presentation by an FAO Goodwill Ambassador; a keynote address by a high-level guest speaker, a papal message and a presentation of the World Food Day and FAO Goodwill Ambassadors video messages.
The theme of World Food Day this year is "Investing in agriculture for food security," recalling that in spite of the importance of agriculture as the driving force in the economies of many developing countries, this vital sector is frequently starved of investment. In particular, foreign aid to agriculture has shown marked declines over the past 20 years.
In 2003, African Heads of State and Government, in the "Maputo Declaration," committed their governments to allocating at least 10 percent of their national budgets for agriculture and rural development within five years. Despite the need, however, foreign aid for agriculture and rural development has continued to decline.
Declining foreign aid to agriculture
Foreign aid to the sector has fallen dramatically, from a total of over US$9 billion per year in the early 1980s, to less than US$5 billion in the late 1990s. Meanwhile, an estimated 854 million people around the world remain undernourished. Only investment in agriculture -- together with support for education and health -- is likely to be able to turn this situation around.
In 1996, Heads of State and Government from 176 countries attending the World Food Summit in Rome committed themselves to reduce by half the number of hungry people in the world by 2015. World leaders also recognized the need for investment in agriculture as fundamental to reducing hunger everywhere.
Investment in infrastructure in rural areas, especially in water, roads, power and communications, has a crucial role in kindling agricultural growth. If countries get these conditions right, dramatic benefits to agriculture and poor rural households can be expected.
As part of their commitment to the 1996 World Food Summit Plan of Action, world leaders identified the objective of exploring "new ways of mobilizing public and private financial resources for food security."
Following the World Food Summit: five years later, agreement was reached to establish an International Alliance against Hunger (IAAH). Set up as a voluntary association of local, national and international institutions and organizations aimed at eradicating world hunger and poverty, the IAAH works by mobilizing political will and taking practical actions. Through the IAAH, support is given to individual countries to set up National Alliances based on concrete activities that focus investment in agricultural and rural development to increase food security. To date 25 National Alliances have been formed and 23 are in the planning stage.
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SOURCE Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations