28 March 2017

Africa: UN Food Agencies Highlight Successful Collaboration in the Field

press release

Rome — Interagency country team in Madagascar recognized for teamwork that yields results

In an example of how the UN's three Rome-based food agencies are stronger working as one, staff from the Madagascar interagency country team were today recognized for their work to promote rural resilience and boost food security in the African island nation.

The country team was selected as winner of the biennial FAO-IFAD-WFP award for excellence in fieldwork for its efforts in 2015-16 to support the people of Madagascar as they coped with the consequences of consecutive years of drought.

The three agencies head up the Food Security and Livelihoods Cluster in Madagascar, an international mechanism for coordinating responses by UN agencies, nongovernmental organizations, governments and other humanitarian actors during food security crises.

Every two years, the three Rome-based UN food agencies recognize an interagency country team which best exemplifies how FAO, IFAD and WFP can effectively work together to leverage their unique strengths to help countries tackle critical hunger and nutrition challenges.

A team effort

With generous financial support from the European Union, the FAO, IFAD and WFP offices in Madagascar pooled their expertise to help the people of Madagascar cope with the impacts of recurring drought and El Niño, in a variety of ways.

FAO provided farmers with drought- and disease resistant seeds and agricultural equipment, and worked with them to build their capacity to cope with environmental stresses and improve post-harvest storage practices.

This was complemented by IFAD-funded projects working to support the implementation of Madagascar's national strategy for agricultural services. Activities included strengthening the capacity of farmers' organizations across the country, scaling up field school participatory learning efforts and promoting wider use of agricultural innovations and improved farming practices such as micro-irrigation systems new methods for intensifying rice production.

WFP responded to urgent food needs providing food assistance and cash-based transfers as well as coordinating a school feeding programme that used purchases of Madagascar-produced agricultural products to safeguard child nutrition.

The three agencies also assisted the government in formulating its national development plan for agriculture, fisheries and livestock.

Working as one

The results achieved in Madagascar would not have been possible if any one agency had acted alone" FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said during an award ceremony in Rome today.

Noting that this team effort was "based on our deepest desire to contribute to a world without hunger and extreme poverty," Graziano da Silva praised the interagency country team for doing a "great job aligning the strategy of the three agencies and identifying synergies and complementarities" in very trying conditions.

And Madagascar still needs the combined support of the Rome-based food agencies, he added, noting that just three weeks ago, Cyclone Enawo struck the island country, flooding larger areas and destroying crops.

"There is strength in unity, and by working together we can be more efficient and more effective," said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of IFAD. "The main beneficiaries of better collaboration are the women and men we work with in rural communities. All we do is join hands to work together on their behalf, to ensure that they can earn more money, eat more nutritious food, and be more resilient to the shocks that they experience every day."

"To achieve our shared goal of Zero Hunger by 2030 it is imperative that we identify synergies in our partnerships to leverage respective strengths and maximize our collective impact. The women, children and men who are furthest behind demand nothing less of us," said WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin.

Pulling together toward 2030

Also today, Cousin and Graziano da Silva signed a new memorandum of understanding between WFP and FAO aimed at ramping up interagency cooperation to achieve the 2030 Development Agenda.

Through enhanced collaboration the two organizations seek to play a more strategic role in supporting countries in implementing the Agenda, especially efforts to achieve the second sustainable development goal of "Ending hunger, achieving food security and improved nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture."

Existing country level collaboration between FAO and WFP will be enhanced and scaled up, while at the global level, the organizations will collaborate on thematic areas, throwing their combined weight behind initiatives that are key to achieving the SDG targets.

At the close of the award ceremony, Graziano da Silva presented Cousin and Nwanze with FAO 70th Anniversary Medals in recognition of their untiring efforts to advance the cause of zero hunger during their tenures at WFP and IFAD and the strong collaboration that has existed between the three agency heads. Nwanze is set to step down on 31 March after two terms as IFAD president; Cousin's five-year term as WFP executive director will end on 6 April.

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