DSWD, partners to roll out new program against hunger
MANILA, Philippines – A forum on Philippine-Brazilian hunger mitigation and rural development strategies called “Harvest the Future: Nourishing Filipino Children, Empowering Filipino Farmers” was held on Friday, December 13.
It showed a convergence of interests in eliminating hunger, food insecurity, and reducing poverty in the Philippines.
Led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Philippines has been working in close consultation with the Brazilian government and UN agencies – the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – to see how the success of Brazil’s Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program can be adapted and implemented to empower local farmers and nourish families in the Philippines. (READ: Brazil dreams of zero hunger)
Minister Milton Rondo Filho, the Coordinator-General of International Actions in the Fight Against Hunger, and Engr Israel Klug, an international consultant of the FAO and PAA Africa Program coordinator, shared the background and successes of Brazil’s Zero Hunger strategy.
Rondo stressed the ability to forge partnerships and bring various stakeholders together as a key component in the success of Brazil’s program.
In Brazil’s case this was made easier with the existence of the National Council for Food Security, which brings together about 20 representatives of ministries and 40 representatives of civil society to discuss and align projects against hunger.
Rondo believes that both Brazil and the Philippines share extreme similarities that could pave the way for the program’s success here.
Klug, for his part, highlighted Brazil’s ability to combine its Conditional Cash Transfer programs (CCTs) with other strategies against hunger to keep undernourishment numbers low (around 8%) among the 10% poorest Brazilian households.
He said the strong solidarity in the fight against hunger fostered by strong state food assistance programs are factors in Brazil’s success. These programs include the organized National School Feeding program (PNAE) and the Food Acquisition Program (PAA). The PNAE already allows Brazil to cover 23% of its population.
The PNAE provides daily meals for around 45 million children enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, while the PAA program utilizes uses food that is distributed to 20,000 institutions in Brazil to provide food for vulnerable people. Food products are bought directly from poor farmers.
According to Klug, the key elements of success for these 2 programs lie in the following: managing the equilibrium between diversification and the targeting of poor farmers; attractive prices and procurement methodologies; logistics; and customized support for poor smallholder farmers.
Partnership Against Hunger Program (PHP)
Herman Ongkiko, communities project manager of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia presented a plan on how the Partnership Against Hunger Program (PHP) will implement country specific policies in 2014 to attempt to replicate Brazil’s success story.
Ongkiko described the PHP as “a collaborative effort between the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Agrarian Reform, and the Department of Agriculture to engage poor households and work closely with the rural communities to provide essential social and economic services toward eliminating hunger and alleviating poverty in the countryside.”
The PHP framework seeks to align the different mandates of each agency – hunger mitigation (DSWD), poverty alleviation (DAR), and food self sufficiency (DA) – in terms of programs and projects on the ground, with the assistance of WFP and FAO.
This collaborative multi-stakeholder program will target the creation of a community food hub (a localized version of Brazil’s community food banks) to serve as a facility that can store food items for the various feeding programs of the DSWD and other similar on the ground programs of other agencies like the education, health, and local government departments.
Local smallholder farmers will be tasked to ensure a steady food supply for various feeding programs. Because community food hubs will be used, partner beneficiaries will be empowered to become economically sustainable. This will ultimately benefit their families and communities.
Identified as pilot testing areas, the PHP program will start in Region 5, then Region 8, and certain areas of ARMM due their high rates of malnutrition and poverty. If the programs are successful in the pilot areas, they could be rolled out nationwide, as was the case in Brazil. – Rappler.com
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