World Food Day 2007

Fittingly so, the ‘Right to Food’ marks the theme of World Food Day this year. Every year since 1980, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrates the anniversary of its establishment on October 16 with a day dedicated to raising awareness for the issues of hunger and malnourishment.
Food was many years ago recognized as a human right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and later accepted by 156 countries in the ratification of Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. With over an estimated 800 million people fighting hunger daily and severe obesity plaguing richer societies, it seems as if this right has been neglected. While 1 in 6 people in developing countries are malnourished, hunger knows no borders. It affects developed countries as well, while poor women and young children internationally are its most common sufferers.
The right to food means more than just something to eat. The FAO defines, “it means that every person – woman, man and child – must have access at all times to food, or to means for the procurement of food, that is sufficient in quality, quantity and variety to meet their needs, is free from harmful substances and is acceptable to their culture.”
This year the FAO and Telefood, a campaign of concerts, sporting events and other activities with extensive media coverage, demonstrate the increasing correlation between human rights, hunger, and sustainable development. Hunger is more than just lack of access to food, but also originates from poverty, lack of access to health care, education, clean water, and sanitary living conditions. The right to food is not only a governmental issue that national constitutions and state legislations must legally address, but also a responsibility resting on the shoulders of individuals, NGOs and the private sector.
Making it happen is the action plan of this year’s discussions. The suggested strategy entails a “twin-track approach” of strengthening individuals and strengthening institutions. Hunger reduction means improving productivity levels and livelihoods on one side, while building “social safety nets” on the other for the many who are not yet able to provide for themselves.


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