WASHINGTON, D.C.-- Today, Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams, FAO Deputy Director- General for Operations Manoj Juneja (representing Director-General Jacques Diouf), WFP Deputy Executive Director of External Relations and Chief Operating Officer Amir Abdulla (representing Executive Director Josette Sheeran) and Ertharin Cousin, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, signed a joint letter of agreement at the 37th Committee on World Food Security at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.
“In response to increased food security challenges throughout the world, the Peace Corps is committed to doing its part to help address this critical issue at the grassroots level,” said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams. “Through the important partnerships with FAO and WFP, Peace Corps volunteers will have access to more tools and technical expertise to help improve food security in the communities they serve.”
“FAO and the Peace Corps have a long history of working together in rural communities throughout the world,” said FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf. “Our collaboration has expanded gradually over the years and this agreement signals a renewed, enhanced commitment to harnessing the respective strengths and expertise of our three organizations to tackle the root causes of hunger and ensure sustainable food security and economic development.”
“Today’s ceremony highlights the shared commitment of all three of our organizations to give vulnerable individuals in the many nations where we all work a hand up, not just a hand out, to improve their own ability to produce and access food for their families and communities,” said WFP Executive Director, Josette Sheeran. Peace Corps volunteers have worked with FAO and WFP in nearly 40 countries, sharing techniques and practices identified to promote food security through broad-based citizen participation, education, and capacity building.
In Swaziland, WFP provided Peace Corps volunteers training on sustainable gardening and organic farming techniques. Additionally, Peace Corps volunteers and WFP worked together to provide nutrition and hygiene education to children. In Liberia, four Peace Corps Response volunteers have been assigned to WFP to provide information to community leaders on proper food storage, handling, and cooking at local schools. In Namibia, recently returned Peace Corps volunteer John Stoecker of Rolla, Mo., and 20 local community volunteers worked on a community garden to grow vegetables for people living with HIV/AIDS. Stoecker and FAO also coordinated with other local partners to organize a community gardening workshop.
“The launch of the renewed and expanded partnerships between the Peace Corps, FAO and WFP provides continued collaboration in the area of food security,” said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Agencies Ertharin Cousin. “The U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome is committed to supporting these partnerships by serving as the link between the Rome-based UN agencies and the United States Government.”
Since 1961, Peace Corps volunteers have addressed the adverse impact of food shortages in the countries they have served. Projects have ranged from fish farming and the introduction of small scale irrigation systems to improved food processing and marketing of food. Volunteers have also helped address food availability and nutrition through a variety of projects, including building school gardens, developing agricultural microenterprises, and educating others about good nutrition.
About the Peace Corps: President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps on March 1, 1961, by executive order. Throughout 2011, Peace Corps is commemorating 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. Visit www.peacecorps.gov for more information.
About FAO: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Serving both developed and developing countries, FAO acts as a neutral forum where all nations meet as equals to negotiate agreements and debate policy. FAO is also a source of knowledge and information. We help developing countries and countries in transition modernize and improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries practices and ensure good nutrition for all. Since its founding in 1945, FAO has focused special attention on developing rural areas, home to 70 percent of the world's poor and hungry people.
About WFP: WFP is the world's largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, on average, WFP feeds more than 90 million people in more than 70 countries. WFP now provides RSS feeds to help journalists keep up with the latest press releases, videos and photos as they are published on WFP.org. Follow us on Twitter @wfp_media
About USUN Rome: The U.S. Mission to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome (USUN Rome) serves as a link between the Rome-based international organizations and the U.S. government. With staff representing the Departments of State, Agriculture, and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Mission manages and ensures the effective use of U.S. resources provided to the U.N. for the benefit of the poor and hungry and works to advance U.N. efforts in the areas of emergency food aid, agriculutral development, food safety standards, fisheries, forests, financing for rural development, and promoting the role of women in this process. Visit http://usunrome.usmission.gov/ for more information.