World Food Program, Food and Agriculture Organization Heads Visit the Alliance to End Hunger

June 8, 2017

Nathan Magrath, Alliance to End Hunger

Left to Right: Rebecca Middleton, Executive Director, Alliance to End Hunger; José Graziano da Silva, Director General, FAO; David Beasley, Executive Director, WFP (Photo: Nathan Magrath/Alliance to End Hunger)

On June 6, the Alliance to End Hunger hosted the heads of the World Food Programme and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for a discussion on current opportunities and challenges facing global food security.  FAO Director General José Gaziano da Silva and WFP Executive Director David Beasley covered an array of topics including current and looming famines, the importance of international food security institutions, and how to approach international food assistance and development in today’s political environment.

The event marked the second time in a year that da Silva and Beasley had visited the Alliance to End Hunger.  In attendance were executives and senior staff representing approximately 50 organizations – including nonprofits, corporations, universities, and US government agencies. Rev. David Beckmann, president of the Alliance to End Hunger and Bread for the World, provided opening remarks; and Rebecca Middleton, the Alliance’s Executive Director, moderated the discussion.

The event took place against the backdrop of four current or looming famines in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria; and much of the discussion touched on these emergencies.  “David [Beasley] and I just recently visited South Sudan,” explained Graziano da Silva. “If there is one thing that is apparent, it is the need to build more ties and broader partnerships across multiple stakeholders.”

David Beasley stressed the urgent need to tackle these emergencies now: “The next six months are critical. If we don’t stop these famines in their tracks, we will find ourselves needing to spend more on a military response.”  Beasley also elaborated on the effectiveness of funding for multilateral food security efforts. “Where there is hunger, there is migration and extremism. Food security programs are a powerful weapon against these forces.”

The discussion also covered topics relevant to the world’s medium- to long-term food security outlook, including increased partnerships and a focus on agricultural development for vulnerable populations. Specifically, Mr. da Silva explained that there is an increased need to focus agricultural development on the local community level, especially as the globalizing of the world’s economy presents new challenges to smallholder farmers and households.

In closing, da Silva stressed the need for continued U.S. leadership in tackling global food security.  “The leadership of the United States is invaluable. The disease of hunger does not recognize borders, and will have an effect on everyone.”

Beasley encouraged participants to stay engaged in advocacy. “As a conservative Republican,” stated Beasley, “I can confidently tell policymakers that funding given to anti-hunger organizations like WFP and FAO can do more to prevent and combat extremism than many other measures the U.S. takes.”