Minister of State Peter Power announces major new initiative on Hunger. Key decisions include appointment of Hunger Envoy
The Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power T.D., today announced his response to the Hunger Task Force Report which was presented to the Taoiseach at the United Nations last September.
Minister Power signalled that the eradication of hunger will become a cornerstone of the Irish Aid programme. He also announced his intention that Ireland will take a leadership role internationally on the hunger issue. The Minister of State endorsed the thrust of the report and its three priority areas which are; increasing smallholder agricultural productivity in Africa; targeting maternal and infant under-nutrition and working to ensure that governments internationally fulfil their commitments to eradicate hunger
The Minister also announced the appointment of Kevin Farrell, formerly of the World Food programme (WFP), as Special Envoy for Hunger to oversee Ireland’s response to the global hunger crisis. The appointment of an Envoy was one of the key recommendations of the Hunger Task Force.
As Hunger Envoy, Kevin Farrell will promote and assist efforts at national, regional and international levels to reduce hunger and food insecurity and meet the Millennium Development Goal to halve global hunger levels by 2015.
Minister Power stated that the Special Envoy has been tasked to ensure that efforts to address hunger are implemented effectively across the Irish Aid programme, in line with the broad recommendations of the Hunger Task Force. He went on to say:
“He has a well-deserved reputation, both nationally and internationally, with an established track record on hunger, particularly in Africa. As Envoy he will be a strong voice for those denied the basic right to food. We will use Kevin’s enormous experience to drive forward the work of the Hunger Task Force report and to identify other initiatives to help tackle this scourge”.
Commenting in advance on the response to the Hunger Task Force Report, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin stated:
“It is a fundamental human right that people have enough food to eat and a sustainable livelihood. The devastation caused by hunger and food insecurity is instinctively understood in Ireland, for historical reasons. We have taken a lead in highlighting these issues internationally. The steps announced today will ensure that the struggle against hunger is at the heart of our overseas aid programme and of our broader foreign policy objectives in the years to come”.
Minister of State Power concluded:
“What we are witnessing is a silent tsunami of hunger. The international community has the resources and the technology to tackle the crisis. We know what needs to be done. We now have to build the global political will to give hunger eradication the priority it deserves. There are sufficient commitments and policy positions on the table. They need to be translated into coordinated action to save lives. I am determined that Ireland will accept the challenge to speak up internationally on behalf of the hungry”.
Note for editors:
The 2006 White Paper on Irish Aid identified hunger and food security as fundamental elements of the global development challenge and included a commitment to establish a Hunger Task Force to identify the additional, appropriate and effective contributions that Ireland can make to international efforts to reduce global hunger.
The Task Force, which was established in 2007, comprised 15 members, including national and international experts and was chaired by the Former Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mr Joe Walsh. The Task Force presented its report to the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen, at the United Nations in New York in September last year in the presence of the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon.
The Government is working closely with the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, which was established by the UN Secretary General last April. Minister of State Power will also attend a special international Conference on hunger in Madrid on 26, 27 January which has been convened by Prime Minster Zapatero.
The Special Envoy for Hunger will be appointed for a term of 18 months. He will submit a report to the Minister of State for Overseas Development on the progress Ireland has made in relation to the implementation of the Hunger Task Force recommendations next year.
Mr Farrell worked for the World Food Programme (WFP) from 1989 to 2008, in key positions including Head of Great Lakes Operations in WFP Headquarters in Rome, Head of the WFP in Uganda and Somalia. From 2002 until 2008 he was the WFP Head in Zimbabwe, developing one of the largest WFP operations internationally, in response to the emerging food crisis there.
Previously, Mr Farrell worked as field director with Concern Bangladesh and as Chief Executive Officer in the ISPCC in Dublin. He also served as Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN Iraq Programme and Director of Humanitarian Operations for the same programme in New York.
21st January 2009